A battle axe was initially (long before the Middle Ages) a utility axe adapted for combat. Since it wasn’t possible for everyone to buy a weapon, people took what they had when they went to war. Eventually, some blacksmiths specialized in battle axe making.
Battle axes were used a lot during the Migration Period in Europe as well as in the Viking Age. Norman knights used this weapon against Anglo-Saxon infantry, which was depicted on the famous 11th century Bayeaux Tapestry.
The shape and use of battle axes
This weapon came in many sizes; and larger ones, such as the Danish axe, could only be used with both hands. There were two ways to use a battle axe. Most often it was used in hand-to-hand fighting, but on some occasions, it could be thrown at the enemy as a missile.
Many famous knights, including King Stephen of England, Robert Bruce, and Richard the Lionheart, used some type of battle axe. Many English and continental European families have battle axes on their coat of arms.
A typical battle axe had a socketed head with an inserted wooden haft. Strips of metal called langets were sometimes added to protect the haft. The sides of the axehead were sometimes decorated with engravings or mosaics.
In the late middle ages, battle axes were made of metal completely. The type of axe that was used as a weapon was much sharper and narrower than that which split wood. Before plate armor was invented, a battle axe could cut a part of the human body in one blow.
The basic battle-axe form evolved into other weapons, such as the halberd, poleaxe and other polearms.
Axes were quite useful until steel plate armor was invented. After that, this weapon became almost useless in its original form. This new type of armor protected its wearer from axe and sword blades.
That’s why many weapons – including the axe – changed to include some sharp points that could go through steel plate or at least damage its joints. The rear of the battle axe now had a curved pick fitted to it, and some axes also had stabbing spikes.
However, even with these additions, the battle axe was rarely a fatal weapon in the age of plate armor.
How was the battle axe invented?
Before the Middle Ages, people without weapons armed themselves with the tools that they had at home.
How it was used?
It was used in close combat, or it was thrown at the enemy.
Who used battle axe in war?
At first, only the poor used this weapon, but later even the kings had them.
Why this weapon stopped being effective?
Plate armor was invented, and battle axes could not penetrate it.
Which similar weapons were devised after battle axe?
Those weapons were the halberd, poleaxe and similar polearms.
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