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Spiked versions of long-handled peasant flails. From Paulus Hector Mair's combat manual ‘Arte De Athletica’. Public Domain

Deadly Medieval Weapons: The Spiked Flail (Video)

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The spiked flail, one of the more unconventional medieval weapons, boasts a unique design with a swinging head attached to a handle. Historical accounts place its use primarily between the 14th and 16th centuries by groups like the Hussites and Landsknechts. This weapon demands a distinctive combat style, relying on a continuous and forceful swinging motion for effectiveness. Understanding its dynamics is essential. An essential lesson from the exploration of the flail is the significance of maintaining the right distance. Its deceptive reach and the unpredictability of the head's movement make it crucial to avoid getting too close. Attempts to block the head often result in counterproductive outcomes due to the flail's unique and unpredictable mechanics.

The flail's momentum makes quick angle or direction changes challenging. Combatants found success by launching the weapon into a quarter, letting the head seek its target and capitalizing on the flail's unpredictability. In essence, the flail demands a different approach to combat, focusing on range, motion, and exploiting its unique traits. Despite the challenges, the flail remains a fascinating and formidable piece of medieval weaponry, showcasing the ingenuity of the era's weapon craftsmanship.

Top image: Spiked versions of long-handled peasant flails. From Paulus Hector Mair's combat manual ‘Arte De Athletica’. Public Domain

By Robbie Mitchell

Robbie Mitchell's picture


I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

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