Weapons Of The Middle Ages Essay

This essay has a total of 862 words and 5 pages.

Weapons Of The Middle Ages



Every culture's arsenal is based on the technology and raw materials available at the
time. Prehistoric peoples, often called the Stone Age cultures, made wide use of stone,
shaping axes and grinding tools, and creating spears and arrows in order to promote their
survival. As technological skills evolved, so did the type of implements used for
survival.

During the Bronze and Iron Ages, we see the development of metal tools and weapons, which
persisted through the Middle Ages, which were dramatically altered over time. Finally,
the appearance of gunpowder in Europe in the early 14th century brought about the
obsolescence of many weapons - and made the castle useless as well.

While the castle was, arguably, the most formidable weapon of medieval warfare, when we
generally think of weapons we think of something much smaller, movable, and able to wreak
havoc and death on an opponent. During the early Middle Ages, double-edged swords, axes
and metal-headed spears dominated. Short bows and arrows were also used. Interestingly,
the Saxons considered the value of a sword to be the equivalent of 120 oxen or 15 male
slaves, and any man possessing a sword had great status. Simple to construct and easy to
wield, these weapons remained popular, in various forms, throughout the Middle Ages. And
by the 9th century, the Vikings adopted another formidable weapon - the battle-axe, with
its trumpet-shaped blade and wreaked all sorts of havoc with these heavy axes.

As the first millennium approached, new and more devastating weapons appeared. First and
foremost was the crossbow, a vicious device still used in modern times. Known in Norman
Europe, the crossbow probably developed alongside one of the earliest forms of siege
engine, the ballista. So destructive was the crossbow that the Church banned its use in
1139. But, the decree did not deter advocates of this mighty weapon. Indeed, the most
prized members of a castle's garrison were those who wielded the lofty crossbow.

During the 12th century, the three most prevalent weapons were the sword, the battle-axe
and the spear (or lance); however, the crossbow rapidly gained popularity. Combined with
the increased prevalence of horse warfare (which eased movement and gave an advantage to
its warring riders who carried spears) and the introduction of massive siege engines,
these hand-held weapons allowed invaders like the Normans to overawe less
technologically-advanced peoples.

The peasants, on the other hand, generally fought back with the only weapons in their
possession: the tools that they used to till their fields and tend their homes - hayforks,
flails, sickles, axes, clubs with spikes, and boar-spears. Interestingly, these same
tools eventually became an integral part of the weapons inventory of most armies.

Siege engines were critical participants during any major onslaught on a castle.
Continues for 3 more pages >>




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