Many of the medieval weapons had already existed in late antiquity, but they were further improved during this period. The way armies were equipped had a lot to do with social and political changes in medieval Europe.
After the tenth century, armies were no longer controlled by states. Instead, there were smaller feudal armies, led by local warlords.
The greatest change was the rise of mounted armies. When the stirrup was invented in the 8th century, many warriors – including the knights, but not just knights – became able to fight on horseback.
In earlier times, they could only arrive on the battlefield by horse. Now they could use swords and spears from horseback.
As Henry II of England declared in 1181, every knight had to have a hauberk – which was a coat made of chain armor (mail) – a helmet, a lance, and a shield. Also, heavily armed knights had a sword and some other weapon, such as the war hammer and mace.
Infantry mostly relied on pikes (long spears invented after the lance, only for infantry), clubs, and other static defensive weapons, but over time, longbow and crossbow became more and more important.
Some medieval armed forces, such as the Norman army, were composed mostly of archers with shortbows or mechanical crossbows, while the English preferred the longbow.
The most common medieval weapons
- The swordwas the most important weapon in the middle ages. It was a symbol of prestige and was handed down through the generations of warriors. The sword was also a part of the ritual of becoming a knight when a sword was dubbed no a man’s shoulders. At the beginning of the Middle ages, swords were heavy weapons that could cut through chain armor. But when plate armor was invented, swords became sharply pointed for thrusting, and the blades became longer.
- The dagger was a thrusting weapon that was used for close-combat fighting, self-defense, and assassinations. Initially, only the low-born used daggers, but in the 14thcentury, even the knights began to wear them at the right him and use when necessary.
- The lancewas a long spear, similar to javelin and pike, but unlike those weapons, it was designed to be used by knights and other cavalrymen. During battles, lances were not thrown on the enemy. They were used for thrusting, but because a lance was extremely heavy and long, it could only be used once during one fight.
- The staff weapons were long, two-handed weapons that infantrymen used as a defense against the knights. Those were the poleax, halberd, war hammer, mace.
- The crossbow was invented in China, arrived in Europe and became very popular in the 12th It was a powerful weapon that was easy to use and could make terrible wounds. It was also very accurate and was used with great effect in siege warfare and against heavily armored knights. The crossbow arrows were called bolts, and they were much shorter and heavier than any other type of arrow at that time.
- The longbow – a really long D-shaped bow – was invented in England in the 13thcentury, and it was used a lot for another three hundred years. It was easy to make, but it required some skill to use it, so archers had to start practicing shooting from an early age. A longbow could fire ten times more arrows than a crossbow at the same time. Longbow arrows were long shafts, stabilized by fletchings, with an arrowhead that was shaped according to the purpose.
What was the most important weapon that every knight had to have?
It was the sword.
Which types of bow were used in the middle ages?
Those were the longbow and the crossbow.
What was the lance?
It was a long spear designed for the cavalrymen.
How the invention of the stirrup influenced medieval warfare?
It enabled warriors to fight on horseback.