Nursery Rhymes

Pole Axe

Medieval life and Times

Definition of a Pole Axe
The pole axe was a weapon which consisted of a broad, short axe blade mounted on a wooden shaft, or pole, which was between 4 and 5 feet long. The name of this weapon is derived from the word 'pollaxe' from old English word "head axe" - they were originally an axe mounted on a pole.


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

  • Names of other types of Medieval Pole Axe - Polearm - Polehammer - Bec de Corbin - Bec de Faucon - Hache
    • A Bec de Corbin was a type of polehammer which used in the 1400's
    • A Bec de Faucon was a polearm with a large hammer head instead of an axe which also featured a spike or curved fluke. The length was between five and seven feet long
    • The hache bore an edged, axe shaped cutting blade on the front side with a small hammer head or curved spike on the back. The hache also featured a long rectangular or diamond cross-sectioned spike at the top of the shaft.  
  • 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 fighting weapon
  • The Medieval Pole Axe weapon could be mounted on either a long shaft or a short shaft
  • A blow could apply tremendous force
  • The axe struck with force could apply significant injury to a knight in armor
  • The weapon was used as a grappling or cutting weapon and capable of cutting off the limbs of an enemy in one stroke
  • Soldiers who used the Medieval Pole Axe 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
  • A Gisarme was a massive, ornate spear-like polearm of the 1600's
  • A Glaive was a broad-bladed, single-edged polearm. This consisted of an 18 butcher-knife on a 6 - 7 feet pole
  • A Partisan was similar to the  gisarme but had a broad, sword-like blade ranging from 2 to 3 feet in length. The blade of the partisan was double-edged

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 Pole Axe 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 Pole Axe was predominantly used by a Foot Soldier. 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 Pole Axe 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 pole could be strengthened by its reinforcement with metal rims. The training required by a Foot Soldier to use the Medieval Pole Axe :

  • Training method - The training methods practised in the use of the Medieval Pole Axe were directed towards fighting armored knights on horseback
  • Soldiers were trained in various manoeuvres to Strike, Swing, Cleave and Poke their enemies by effective use of the pole and the axe
  • Training method - The training method practised in the use of the Medieval Pole Axe 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

Making a Medieval Pole Axe
This Medieval weapon was made by a Blacksmith. 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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