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Fantasy weapon set. Source: Zaleman / Adobe Stock

18 Terrifying and Impressive Historic Weapons

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There is no end to the multitude of close combat weapons, from swords to spears, scythes, pikes, maces, glaives, flails, partisans, and hundreds more. Often designed to inflict the greatest damage possible, historical combat weapons are both terrifying and impressive.

Chinese steel weapon, c. 18th century (Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain)

Chinese steel weapon, c. 18th century (Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain)

Italian fauchard, c. 1525 AD. This is a weapon developed from an agricultural tool, the pruning hook, with which a farmer would lop off unwanted branches on his fruit tress. It was particularly popular in western European countries (Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain)

Italian fauchard, c. 1525 AD. This is a weapon developed from an agricultural tool, the pruning hook, with which a farmer would lop off unwanted branches on his fruit tress. It was particularly popular in western European countries ( Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain)

Mace Made for Henry II of France, c. 1540 AD. It is decorated with tiny multifigured battle scenes in gold and silver (Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain)

Mace Made for Henry II of France, c. 1540 AD. It is decorated with tiny multifigured battle scenes in gold and silver ( Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain)

16th Century Hunting Knife Combined with Wheellock Pistol. Wheellock pistols sometimes were combined with swords, knives, axes, maces, spears, and even crossbows, which could be used in the event the pistol misfired (Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain)

16th Century Hunting Knife Combined with Wheellock Pistol. Wheellock pistols sometimes were combined with swords, knives, axes, maces, spears, and even crossbows, which could be used in the event the pistol misfired ( Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain)

Partisan Carried by the Bodyguard of Louis XIV (1638–1715). It bears the king’s motto and sunburst above the crowned arms of France and Navarre, which are encircled by the collars of the royal orders of the Holy Spirit and Saint Michael (Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain)

Partisan Carried by the Bodyguard of Louis XIV (1638–1715). It bears the king’s motto and sunburst above the crowned arms of France and Navarre, which are encircled by the collars of the royal orders of the Holy Spirit and Saint Michael ( Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain)

An Italian glaive, c. 18th century. A glaive is a European polearm, consisting of a single-edged blade on the end of a pole. They were sometimes forged with a small hook on the reverse side to better catch riders (Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain)

An Italian glaive, c. 18th century. A glaive is a European polearm, consisting of a single-edged blade on the end of a pole. They were sometimes forged with a small hook on the reverse side to better catch riders ( Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain)

Japanese Javelin, c. 1615 – 1868 (Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain)

Japanese Javelin, c. 1615 – 1868 ( Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain)

Chinese parrying weapon, c 18th century (Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain)

Chinese parrying weapon, c 18th century ( Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain)

Indian Parrying Weapon (Madu), 18th–19th century. A parrying weapon is a handheld weapon used to block or defend, usually in conjunction with a single-handed sword. (Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain)

Indian Parrying Weapon (Madu), 18th–19th century. A parrying weapon is a handheld weapon used to block or defend, usually in conjunction with a single-handed sword. ( Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain)

Fauchard of the Bodyguard of Cardinal Scipione Borghese-Caffarelli (1576–1633). An example of advanced metallurgy involving bluing, gilding, engraving, and damascening, as well as encrustation with gold and silver. The blade is decorated similarly on both sides with a series of medallions and ornamental strapwork cartouches outlined in silver-encrusted dots and set against a blued background finely damascened with gold scrolls (Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain).

Fauchard of the Bodyguard of Cardinal Scipione Borghese-Caffarelli (1576–1633). An example of advanced metallurgy involving bluing, gilding, engraving, and damascening, as well as encrustation with gold and silver. The blade is decorated similarly on both sides with a series of medallions and ornamental strapwork cartouches outlined in silver-encrusted dots and set against a blued background finely damascened with gold scrolls ( Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain).

German staff weapon carried by the bodyguards of the Prince-Electors of Saxony, c. 17th century (Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain)

German staff weapon carried by the bodyguards of the Prince-Electors of Saxony, c. 17th century ( Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain)

A Kiribati weapon made with wood and sharks’ teeth. Kiribati is an island country in the central Pacific Ocean (Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain)

A Kiribati weapon made with wood and sharks’ teeth. Kiribati is an island country in the central Pacific Ocean ( Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain)

European Linstock weapon c. 18th century. A linstock is a staff with a fork at one end to hold a lighted slow match (Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain)

European Linstock weapon c. 18th century. A linstock is a staff with a fork at one end to hold a lighted slow match ( Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain)

German military flail c. 16th to 19th century. The chief tactical virtue of the flail was its capacity to strike around a defender's shield or parry (Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain).

German military flail c. 16th to 19th century. The chief tactical virtue of the flail was its capacity to strike around a defender's shield or parry ( Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain).

Indonesian spear, 18th  – 19th century (Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain).

Indonesian spear, 18th  – 19th century ( Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain).

French Partisan c. 1700. A partisan is a type of polearm that consisted of a spearhead mounted on a long shaft with protrusions on the sides which aided in blocking sword thrusts. (Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain).

French Partisan c. 1700. A partisan is a type of polearm that consisted of a spearhead mounted on a long shaft with protrusions on the sides which aided in blocking sword thrusts. ( Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain).

A Flemish Halberd, c. 17th century. A halberd is a two-handed pole weapon consisting of an axe blade topped with a spike mounted on a long shaft. It always has a hook or thorn on the back side of the axe blade for grappling mounted combatants (Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain).

A Flemish Halberd, c. 17th century. A halberd is a two-handed pole weapon consisting of an axe blade topped with a spike mounted on a long shaft. It always has a hook or thorn on the back side of the axe blade for grappling mounted combatants ( Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain).

South Indian wavy spear, c. 18th – 19th century (Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain).

South Indian wavy spear, c. 18th – 19th century ( Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain).

Top image: Fantasy weapon set. Source: Zaleman / Adobe Stock

By Joanna Gillan

Comments

Pete Wagner's picture

I wouldn’t call it a weapon where there’s no logic behind the shape of it – as in imagining how it’s ornate design would be more effective in use than a more simple form.  Otherwise, I’d see them more as ornaments, like for a rich guy’s wall or display case, or two-bit museum of curiosities, coming possibly via some crafty, after-the-fact, metal work.  Another case here where commercial value trumps historic value.

Nobody gets paid to tell the truth.

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