The Medieval age was an age of advancement in war and weaponry. The tribes of Europe needed the best weapons possible as they fought with the Romans and eventually each other for dominance of the continent. Tribes such as the Vandals, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Franks, Alans, Huns, and Burgundians began to migrate throughout the contient starting around the third century. These movements were the foundations for the war culture of the middle ages.
The Romans used, in comparison to the Germanic and Asiatic tribes migrating into Europe, fairly simple weapons. They primarily used a throwing Javelin, which in Latin is pilum, a sword called a gladius, and bows and slings. Their armoring came in the form of a bronze helmet, bronze shield, and a bronze breastplate or lorica. Some of these weapons were adopted by medieval Europe. However, many were modified. For example, the pike and halberd are modifications of the javelin. There were also many weapons that originated in the medieval age. Some examples would be the hellburner, chain mail, and the mace. There are four categories of medieval weapons: Armor, melee, missle, and siege. Each was necessary for a successful medieval army.
In the medieval ages, chain mail and plate armor were introduced. Chain mail was many rings of metal chained together to form protective body armor. It was good defense against the typical medieval sword. However, plate armor replaced it when blunt melee weapons began to gain prominence. Plate mail armor, however, eventually retired when guns became the standard weapon in late medieval times.
Melee weapons were present in pretty much every medieval battle. Swords are the first weapon that comes to most people’s minds. However, there were a lot of other important medieval melee weapons. In fact, the pike may have been more used than the sword. The pike was important for two reasons; it allowed a compact army to be less penetrable, and it was a weapon well suited for killing horsemen. The halberd, a variation of the pike, is a battle axe added to the edge of the wooden base. It allows pikes to be used not only for thrusting blows, but also for cutting blows.
This increases the pikes versatility. However, the pike still was not a good short range weapon. This is where maces, war hammers, and swords were used. The broadsword was a 36-48 inch metal blade that was best used with two hands. It was typical for a medieval battle field. However, the introduction of chain mail called for the use of blunt, forceful short range weapons rather than just piercing weapons. war hammers and maces filled this role. A war hammer is essentially a hammer attached to an elongated metal handle. A mace is simply a spike ball attached to a similar handle.
The most important missle weapon of the medieval time was the longbow. Because of it’s ability to cover long distances, it was ideal for castle defense. However, longbows were not very accurate so they were often used in groups. The crossbow was the longbow’s well-suited descendant. It couldn’t shoot as far, but had better accuracy and more strength. The last category is siege. Four siege weapons, some of these weapons are still used today, were introduced into Europe during the medieval age. The four weapons are the battering ram, the catapult, the cannon, and the hellburner.
The battering ram used the physical phenomena of momentum to break down many castle gates. A battering ram is pretty much a large log attached to a mechanical rigging system. The log is pulled back, and gravity pulls it down with a force into whatever object is in front of it. Battering rams don’t have to have this rigging system- they can be used manually by a group as well. The catapult was a giant slingshot. It was used to fling large stones into army formations or into walls. The cannon is pretty much a gunpowder powered slingshot. It was used in a similar way. They were often smaller and more effective. The hellburner, or demolition ship, was a sort of torpedo. They were essentially small boats packed with kegs of gunpowder that were set on fire.
As times go on, humans advance. This inevitable fact of history was even more true for the medieval age- an age in which many tribes from throughout the eastern hemisphere migrated into Europe. To do battle with each other, they always needed any marginal advantage they could get. Hence, the weapons of the medieval ages- the war hammers, crossbows, hellburners, and halberds- were created.