Nursery Rhymes

Halberd

Medieval life and Times

Definition of a Halberd
The Halberd was a weapon used during Medieval times which consisted of a pike fitted with an axe head. Halberd another name for a poleaxe or an axe on a pole. The word halberd is derived from the German words Halm (meaning staff) and Barte (meaning axe).
 

Description of Medieval Halberd
The weapons used the Medieval times include the Halberd. The description of the Medieval Halberd provides basic facts and information about the weapon is as follows:

  • Medieval Halberd - A pike fitted with an axe head. This weapon had a broad, short axe blade on a 6 foot pole with a spear point at the top with a back spike
  • This lethal weapon of the Middle Ages always had a hook or thorn on the back side of the axe blade for grappling enemies on horseback
  • Used as a versatile weapon against knights on horseback. The weapon was constantly developed and refined to include metal rims over the shaft making it more effective against swords. The pole increased in length to become more effective against pikes
  • Halberds were used for close contact and medium distance fighting - the length of the poles determining the weapon type
  • The weapon struck with force could apply significant injury to a knight in armor
  • The hook or thorn was used for grappling the target's armor or the reins of a warhorse
  • The weapon was used as a grappling or cutting weapon and capable of cutting off the limbs of an enemy in one stroke
  • Halberds were particularly effective against knights wearing plate armor and for reducing the effectiveness of the shield
  • The axe head could apply significant injury to a knight in armor, or a knights horse. Horse armor was developed to counteract such injuries but the sheer force applied from a long pole was extremely effective against horses. The Medieval horse, called a Destrier was the favored horses of knights in Medieval Times
  • Soldiers who used halberds were also armed with a dagger and a sword to enable them to battle enemies who had been unhorsed. This weapon was far too unwieldy to use in close combat
  • Type or group of weapons - Polearm - A group of pole-mounted weapons. Were all variations of poles measuring between 4 and 14 feet long with different 'heads' - spikes, hammers, spears, axe etc

The Medieval times were an extremely violent era in history featuring battles in both Europe and the Holy Land when the crusades, and the crusaders who fought them, were numerous. Feudal Lords and Knights and their men at arms used such weapons as the Medieval Halberd in different types of warfare. The quest for power led to invasions of lands and territories which had to be fought for. Siege warfare, waged to win a castle or a walled town or city, was a frequent occurrence during the Medieval times. Warfare during the Medieval era called for a variety of weapon expertise. Knights and men-at-arms (who consisted of foot soldiers or archers) used different types of weapons. The Medieval Halberd was predominantly used by a Foot Soldiers. The weapons used were dictated according to status and position. The weapons, armor and horse of the Knight were extremely expensive - the fighting power of just one knight was worth 10 ordinary soldiers.

Medieval Halberd Training
Skill in the use of Medieval weapons and understanding the strategy of Medieval Warfare was necessary and a played a vital part in Medieval life. The training required by a Foot Soldier, or infantry to use the Medieval Halberd :

  • Training method - The training methods practised in the use of the Medieval Halberd were directed towards fighting armored knights on horseback
  • Soldiers were trained in various manoeuvres to Strike, Swing, Cleave and Takedown their enemies by effective use of the hook or thorn
  • Training method - The training method practised in the use of the Medieval Halberd was based on strength, agility and accuracy in hitting the target
  • A "hit" was scored in Medieval weapons training by making light contact with a defined target area

The Makers and Making of the Medieval Halberd
This Medieval weapon was made by a Blacksmith. This weapon was cheap and easy to produce. The materials required to make this weapon were:

  • Iron
  • Steel

Langets were added to strengthen this type of weapon. These were metal strips riveted to the the shaft of polearms to reinforce the torque against the head, and to provide protection to the potentially weak point between the weapon-head and the shaft. Blacksmiths are usually associated with making weapons in a village smithy but Medieval blacksmiths were also an important part of a fighting army, making new weapons and repairing and the maintenance of old weapons.

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