The Medieval Sword in the Modern World
Medieval and Modern Texts Concerning Crucible Steel
For Meyer, there is no point in being delicate because fighting hard and with skill might well save your life. Sign up to get a Weekly Email from Medievalists. Smartphone and Tablet users click here to sign up for our weekly email. As Meyer himself says, I am not writing for great fighters or artists, nor have I intended to write this as a historical monument to combat, presenting the art as worthy of serious attention, but only to write a book of instruction…[for] those who love this art.
Meyer says of rapier combat, when your opponent will not cut at you, you should also not cut the first stroke at him to hit him, but see how you can provoke him to strike; and when he strikes, then parry that blow…and you shall quickly cut after that parrying. He also says, as soon as you feel that [your opponent] has been weakened, then before he recovers, cut quickly to his body, whether low or high.
Kick your enemy when he is down, in other words, and he will stay down. Previous Post Previous Post.
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Three types of bows increased the power of medieval archers, giving them more range and capacity to kill—recurve bows, crossbows and longbows. The point of most weapons was to incapacitate rather than to kill.
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Prisoners, especially those of high status, could be ransomed for money or leveraged for political influence. Medieval warriors often carried daggers designed not for cutting but for punching through the gaps in armor. Medieval warfare was mostly decided by sieges, and here a different sort of weapon mattered. Traction trebuchets were in use from the start of the Middle Ages.
The arrival of the counterweight trebuchet in the 13th century increased their power, making even great castles vulnerable.
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In July , the garrison of Stirling Castle surrendered to Edward I rather than face Warwolf, Edward's massive counterweight trebuchet. From the 14th century, gunpowder starting changing war , as Europeans adapted this Chinese creation for a new use—guns. Over the next two centuries, they evolved into the devastating weapons that would make castles obsolete. The parallel development of handguns was equally important. Used in small numbers in the 14th and 15th centuries, they were becoming prevalent as the Middle Ages ended.
Easier to use than bows, they let rulers field large armies with limited training, increasing the scale of war. Emerging out of the Middle Ages, they were the weapons that ended the medieval way of fighting.
Some more unusual weapons go largely unnoticed. The caustic powder quick lime was dropped on attackers in sieges and naval battles, getting through armor and clothing to burn eyes and skin.
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The humble caltrop, a spiked metal device, was scattered on the ground to puncture enemy feet. Unlike many medieval weapons, it is still used today, scattered across roads by drug gangs to puncture police tires.
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