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Medieval life and Times

Definition of a Flail

The Flail was a weapon a jointed weapon consisting of a spiked, flanged or knobbed steel bludgeon joined by a chain to a short wood or steel haft used in Medieval Times by Knights and Foot Soldiers

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

  • Medieval Flail - The Medieval flails were used as armor-fighting weapons. The Medieval Flail developed from a steel ball on a wooden handle, to an elaborately spiked steel war club
  • Both Knights on horseback and foot soldiers used flails
  • The Knights version of this weapon was generally smaller and lighter
  • The Medieval Flail was initially made of a spiked metal ball attached to a handle with a hinge or a chain
  • The Medieval Flail weapon was mounted on a short shaft
  • Multiple chains and balls were later attached to the shaft making the weapon even more formidable
  • The chain allowed the weapon to build up momentum before striking the enemy
  • The Medieval Flail was highly effective as an offensive weapon but difficult to use in defence
  • A variation of the Medieval Flail is a weapon called a chain mace leading to some confusion between these two Medieval weapons
  • Used as a versatile, close contact weapon
  • A blow could apply tremendous force
  • The weapon struck with force and momentum could apply significant injury to a knight in armor
  • The weapon was primarily used for bludgeoning an opponent and was particularly effective against opponents wearing plate armor and reducing the effectiveness of the shield
  • Type or group of weapons - Bludgeoning Weapon

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 Flail 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 Flail was predominantly used by Knights and 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 Flail 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 Knights and Foot Soldiers to use the Medieval Flail :

  • Training method - The training method practised in the use of the Medieval Flail was based on strength and accuracy in hitting, or 'bashing' the target using momentum to increase the force
  • A "hit" was scored in Medieval weapons training by making light contact with a defined target area. A blunted or wooden weapon was used when practising with an opponent

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

  • Iron
  • Steel

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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