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Spears

PostPosted: Mon Apr 12, 2004 1:26 am
by Sir Smittens
While equiping soldiers with spears, I started thinking…

I've always thought that spear hilts were made of wood. But if this is true, wouldn't a blade cut through it? Maybe I should have just PMed TwoTonic, but as always, the more thoughts the better.

Re: Spears

PostPosted: Mon Apr 12, 2004 3:21 am
by TwoTonic Knight
Sir Smittens wrote:While equiping soldiers with spears, I started thinking…

I've always thought that spear hilts were made of wood. But if this is true, wouldn't a blade cut through it? Maybe I should have just PMed TwoTonic, but as always, the more thoughts the better.


Haft or shaft, not hilts. Yes, a blade can cut through the wood of any spear or pole arm, in fact, it was a specific method of dealing with those type of weapons. Hack off the business end and you were half way home. Now, I don't really know about medieval shafted weapons in general, but in earlier times, it was common to have a butt-spike on a spear so that you could still use the remains as a weapon. Not as good a one since the butt-spike wasn't as purpose-built for killing, but it left you with something to fight with.

The common counter-measure for actually protecting the metal head was to have metal strips run down the sides of the shaft for a short ways. You couldn't protect the whole weapon because it became too heavy and unwieldy - all I can dredge to mind is that it was usually a foot or two.

Good thinking to realize that on your own!

PostPosted: Mon Apr 12, 2004 3:33 am
by Sir Smittens
Thanks for the info, it was one of those things that just drives at your mind until you figure it out!

PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2004 6:45 pm
by Stephen
Remember that there were different kinds of spears and they were used in different ways.

A throwing spear or javelin was only used once in battle, so they were made pretty light. The Romans made throwing spears with a long thin metal shaft to hold the head - it would bend on impact so the enemy couldn't throw it back.

The lance is a spear the knight carries and uses from horseback. The lance is a first strike weapon and after the knight hits his target he has to let go and switch to a sword.

The pike is a long spear, 10 or 12 feet long. It was heavy and hard to maneuver so it was not very effective unless there was a big group of men with pikes working together. Pike regiments were around, but there weren't a lot of them until the end of the Middle Ages.

There were other versions of the pike - halberds and other kinds of polearms - that were designed to be used by a footsoldier against a knight on horseback. They were mostly for stabbing and sometimes had hooks or barbs for pulling the knight off his horse. Those were the only ones that had to have protected shafts.

As for protecting the wood, if you've ever tried to chop down a tree, even a small tree, you know that wood can be surprisingly strong. Remember that a polearm is only being held at one end, and will move sideways when it's hit. So even a direct hit with a sharp sword will probably only knick it. Think about trying to chop through a broomstick without using a chopping block.

Stephen