The Seven Most Deadly Weapons of the Crusades, or Were There Eight?
Any weapon can be deadly when properly used, so by no means is this list all inclusive. The timeline of the Crusades spans from 1096 AD to 1272 AD, with the 9th Crusade dealing with the Muslim Near-East and North-Africa. Of course, there were many other Crusades all over Europe during the same period. This list does not include the many minor Crusades that were to follow well into the 14th and 15th centuries. Furthermore, many of the soldiers who participated in the Crusaders were paid fighters who owned or were supplied their armor and weapons. As for the peasants who came along, they only had simple weapons, mostly implements used for agriculture, since they could not afford any luxuries of warfare. This is not to say that the weapons were inferior. So, what were the worst tangible (or perhaps invisible) weapons enemies would have encountered during the Crusades?
Frederick II (left) meets al-Kamil (right), in a manuscript illumination from Giovanni Villani's Nuova Cronica. ( Public Domain )
Number 7: Mace or Club
The mace is a type of club. When it comes to length, it varies between two or three feet, or 70 to 90 centimeters. The shaft was made of wood while the ball was usually of iron. The ball may have had flanges. While this was more suited as an infantry weapon, some horsemen could also have carried the mace. However, their mace was much longer to enable the rider to reach down and swipe his opponent. The purpose of the mace is to crush bone since it is a top-heavy weapon. One blow from a mace could break a man’s bones easily without causing a wound. However, many maces had flanges. While a ball can crush, a mace with flanges can penetrate flexible armor in order to crush the bone underneath, possibly causing the victim to hemorrhage.
Saladin's attack on Jaffa ( Public Domain )
Number 6: Spear
The spear is a simple handheld weapon. However, the spear has proved to be an effective close combat weapon. The length of the spear is between six to eight feet (1.8 – 2.4 meters). The purpose of the spear in combat is to keep the enemy at a distance by thrusting at him or if the infantryman in question has extra spears or a sidearm he can rely on, he could throw it at the enemy.
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Cam Rea is an author and military historian. He has written numerous articles for Ancient Origins, Classical Wisdom Weekly, and has authored several books, including: The Wars of Israel: A Military History of Ancient Israel from the End of Judges to Solomon
Top Image: Knights of the Holy Ghost embarking on the crusades. After a miniature in a manuscript of the XIVth Century in the museum of the Louvre. ( CC0)
By Cam Rea