TOOLS OF THE WARRIOR MONK
On this page you will find a "generic" list and photo description of the various tools of the Warrior Monk's craft from the period of their inception around the 1120s to the Siege of Malta in 1565.
The lance was a pole weapon or spear designed to be used by a mounted warrior or cavalry soldier (lancer). During the periods of Classical and Medieval warfare it evolved into being the leading weapon in cavalry charges, and was unsuited for throwing or for repeated thrusting, unlike similar weapons of the spear/javelin/pike family typically used by infantry. Lances were often equipped with a vamplate – a small circular plate to prevent the hand sliding up the shaft upon impact. Though best known as a military and sporting weapon carried by European knights, the use of lances was widespread throughout Asia, the Middle East and North Africa wherever suitable mounts were available. As a secondary weapon, lancers of the Medieval period also bore swords or maces for hand-to-hand combat, since the lance was often a one-use-per-engagement weapon; assuming the lance survived the initial impact intact, it was (depending on the lance) usually too long, heavy and slow to be effectively used against opponents in a melee.
The best known usage of military lances was that of the full-gallop closed-ranks charge of a group of knights with underarm-couched lances, against lines of infantry, archery regiments, defensive embankments, and opposition cavalry. Two variants on the couched lance charge developed, the French method, en haie, with lancers in a double line and the German method, with lancers drawn up in a deeper formation which was often wedge-shaped. It is commonly believed that this became the dominant European cavalry tactic in the 11th century after the development of the cantled saddle and stirrups. Cavalry thus outfitted and deployed had a tremendous collective force in their charge, and could shatter most contemporary infantry lines. Recent evidence has suggested, however, that the lance charge was effective without the benefit of stirrups.
Lances were typically about 4 meters in length ( about 12 feet). They were normally made of ash, but in the field, were made from locally available trees. Tipped with a conical point, this allowed for penetration of armour when delivered from a charging horse. This was the weapon of choice for the initial charge. A full line of charging Knights with lance was a fearful sight, and a tremendous force to stand against.
A sword is a bladed weapon intended for both cutting and thrusting. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographical region under consideration. A sword in the narrowest sense consists of a straight blade with two edges and a hilt, but depending on context, the term is also often used to refer to bladed weapons with a single edge (also referred to as a backsword).
During the Middle Ages sword technology improved, and the sword became a very advanced weapon. It was frequently used by men in battle, particularly during an attack. Around the 10th century, the use of properly quenched hardened and tempered steel started to become much more common than in previous periods. The Frankish 'Ulfberht' blades (the name of the maker inlaid in the blade) were of particularly consistent high quality. Charles the Bald tried to prohibit the export of these swords, as they were used by Vikings in raids against the Franks.
Wootz steel which is also known as Damascus steel was a unique and highly prized steel developed on the Indian subcontinent as early as the 5th century BC. Its properties were unique due to the special smelting and reworking of the steel creating networks of iron carbides described as a globular cementite in a matrix of pearlite. The use of Damascus steel in swords became extremely popular in the 16th and 17th centuries.
It was only from the 11th century that Norman swords began to develop the crossguard (quillons). During the Crusades of the 12th to 13th century, this cruciform type of arming sword remained essentially stable, with variations mainly concerning the shape of the pommel. These swords were designed as cutting weapons, although effective points were becoming common to counter improvements in armour, especially the 14th-century change from chain mail to plate armour.
It was during the 14th century, with the growing use of more advanced armour, that the Hand and a half sword, also known as a "bastard sword", came into being. It had an extended grip that meant it could be used with either one or two hands. Though these swords did not provide a full two-hand grip they allowed their wielders to hold a shield or parrying dagger in their off hand, or to use it as a two-handed sword for a more powerful blow.
A dagger is a knife with a very sharp point designed or capable of being used as a thrusting or stabbing weapon. The design dates to human prehistory, and daggers have been used throughout human experience to the modern day in close combat confrontations.
The term dagger appears only in the Late Middle Ages, reflecting the fact that while the dagger had been known in antiquity, it had disappeared during the Early Middle Ages, replaced by the hewing knife or seax.
The dagger reappeared in the 12th century as the "knightly dagger", or more properly cross-hilt or quillon dagger, and was developed into a common arm and tool for civilian use by the late medieval period.
The earliest known depiction of a cross-hilt dagger is the so-called "Guido relief" inside the Grossmünster of Zürich (c. 1120). A number of depictions of the fully developed cross-hilt dagger are found in the Morgan Bible (c. 1240). Many of these cross-hilt daggers resemble miniature swords, with cross guards and pommels very similar in form to swords of the period. Others, however, are not an exact match to known sword designs, having for example pommel caps, large hollow star shaped pommels on so-called “Burgundian Heraldic daggers” or antenna style cross and pommel, reminiscent of Hallstatt era daggers.
The Old French term dague appears to have referred to these weapons in the 13th century, alongside other terms such as poignal and basilard. The Middle English dagger is used from the 1380s.
During this time, the dagger was often employed in the role of a secondary defense weapon in close combat. The knightly dagger evolved into the larger baselard knife in the 14th century. The baselard was considered an intermediate between a short sword and a long dagger, and became popular also as a civilian weapon.
A falchion is a one-handed, single-edged sword of European origin, whose design is reminiscent of the Persian shamshir, the Chinese dadao, and modern machete. Falchions are found in different forms from around the 13th century up to and including the 16th century. In some versions the falchion looks rather like the weapon-seax and later the sabre, and in some versions the form is irregular or like a machete with a crossguard.
The blade designs of falchions varied widely across the continent and through the ages. They almost always included a single edge with a slight curve on the blade towards the point on the end and most were also affixed with a quilloned crossguard for the hilt in the manner of the contemporary arming swords. Unlike the double-edged swords of Europe, few actual swords of this type have survived to the present day; fewer than a dozen specimens are currently known.
Two basic types can be identified:
One of the few surviving falchions (the Conyers falchion) is shaped very much like a large meat cleaver, or large bladed machete. This type is also illustrated in art (e.g. the Westminster Hall mural, shown to the right) The type seems to be confined to the 13th and 14th centuries.
The majority of the depictions in art reflect a design similar to that of the großes Messer. A surviving example from England's 13th century (The Thorpe Falchion) was just under 2 pounds in weight. Of its 37.5 inches length, 31.5 inches are the straight blade which bears a cusped or flare-clipped tip similar to the much later kilij of Turkey. This blade style may have been influenced by the Turko-Mongol sabres that had reached the borders of Europe by the 13th century. This type of sword continues in use into the 16th century.
In addition, there are a group of 13th- and early 14th-century weapons sometimes identified with the falchion. These have a falchion-like blade mounted on a wooden haft 1–2 ft long, sometimes ending in a curve like an umbrella. These are seen in numerous illustrations in the mid-13th-century Maciejowski Bible.
An axe (in American English also spelled ax) is an implement that has been used for millennia to shape, split and cut wood; to harvest timber; as a weapon; and as a ceremonial or heraldic symbol. The axe has many forms and specialized uses but generally consists of an axe head with a handle, or helve.
It is said that Richard the Lionheart favored an axe while he was in the Holy Land.
A mace is a blunt weapon, a type of club or virge that uses a head on the end of a handle to deliver powerful blows. A mace, wooden or metal shaft, often reinforced with metal, featuring a head made of stone, copper, bronze, iron, or steel. Within the Templar Rule, there is specific mention of equipping brethren with Turkish maces.
The head of a military mace can be shaped with flanges or knobs to allow greater penetration of plate armor. The length of maces can vary considerably. The maces of foot soldiers were usually quite short (two or three feet). The maces of cavalrymen were longer and thus better suited for blows delivered from horseback. Two-handed maces could be even larger.
During the Crusades Period, armor such as mail protected against the blows of edged weapons. Solid metal maces and war hammers proved able to inflict damage on well armored knights, as the force of a blow from a mace is great enough to cause damage without penetrating the armor. Though iron became increasingly common, copper and bronze were also used, especially in iron-deficient areas.
One example of a mace capable of penetrating armor is the flanged mace. The flanges allow it to dent or penetrate thick armor. Flange maces did not become popular until after knobbed maces. Although there are some references to flanged maces (bardoukion) as early as the Byzantine Empire c. 900 it is commonly accepted that the flanged mace did not become popular in Europe until the 12th century, when it was concurrently developed in Russia and Mid-west Asia.
Maces, being simple to make, cheap, and straightforward in application, were quite common weapons.
It is popularly believed that maces were employed by the clergy in warfare to avoid shedding blood-the images of the Bishop of Dorpat shows him carrying one (sine effusione sanguinis). The evidence for this is sparse and appears to derive almost entirely from the depiction of Bishop Odo of Bayeux wielding a club-like mace at the Battle of Hastings in the Bayeux Tapestry, the idea being that he did so to avoid either shedding blood or bearing the arms of war. Certainly, other bishops were depicted bearing the arms of a knight without comment, such as Archbishop Turpin who bears both a spear and a sword named "Almace" in The Song of Roland or Bishop Adhemar of Le Puy, who also appears to have fought as a knight during the First Crusade, an expedition that Odo also joined.
Maces were very common in Eastern Europe, especially medieval Poland, Ukraine. Eastern European maces often had pear shaped heads.
The Pernach was a type of flanged mace developed since the 12th century in the region of Kievan Rus', and later widely used throughout the whole of Europe. The name comes from the Slavic word pero (перо) meaning feather, reflecting the form of pernach that resembled a fletched arrow. Pernachs were the first form of the flanged mace to enjoy a wide usage. It was well suited to penetrate plate armour and chain mail. In the later times it was often used as a symbol of power by the military leaders in Eastern Europe.
A crossbow is a type of weapon based on the bow and consisting of a horizontal bow-like assembly mounted on a stock. It shoots projectiles called bolts or quarrels. The medieval crossbow was called by many names, most of which were derived from the word ballista, a torsion siege engine resembling a crossbow.
They almost completely superseded hand bows in many European armies in the 12th century for a number of reasons. In modern tests, longbows showed a higher rate of shot than crossbows of the same energy, due to the difficulty of the shooter in handling the mechanical parts for loading in the same time as the bow was pulled. With lots of training, a longbow man can achieve a high degree of accuracy that is comparable to the much steeper learning curve in aimed shooting with the crossbow. Despite strength training, there are physical limits to the longbow, unlike the crossbow, which can store several times the energy, but will be less efficient in translating stored into kinetic energy due to the thicker spring material. There is no record from the Middle Ages comparing longbowmen and crossbowmen shooting in one army from a similar position, although such occasions are known with visiting Englishmen in the Baltic and Scots in the French army.
In the armies of Europe, mounted and unmounted crossbowmen, often mixed with slingers, javelinists and archers, occupied a central position in battle formations. Usually they engaged the enemy in offensive skirmishes before an assault of mounted knights. Crossbowmen were also valuable in counterattacks to protect their infantry.
It was the bolt from a crossbow, one of Richard the Lionheart's favorite weapons, that felled him in the end of his life.
A kite shield was a distinct type of shield from the 10th–12th centuries (First through Third Crusades). It was either a reverse teardrop shape or later on, flat-topped. The tapering point extended down to either a distinct or rounded point. The term is due to the shape's resemblance to an early European kite.
Believed to be an evolution of the simple round shield purely to guard one whole flank of a rider when in combat, the shield gained popularity amongst professional soldiers as it allowed them to guard their foreleg when in a mêlée. It was either flat in section, or featured a gradual curve, to better fit the contour of the human torso. The shield is most closely associated with the Normans, who were one of the first cultures to use it widely.
The kite shield predominantly features enarmes, leather straps used to grip the shield tight to the arm. Unlike a boss, or centralized grip, this allows a greater degree of weight distribution along the arm, rather than the weight pulling on the wrist. It also allowed the horse's reins to be gripped with the liberated left hand. Kite shields were strapped in a variety of different patterns, such as a simple left-right grip (where the left side strap is looser than the right, thus allowing an arm to be slid in and then grip the right strap), top-bottom (the same configuration but with the loose strap below the tight strap) and various cross-bracing (where two straps meet in an x shape). All these types of grips have appeared on various illuminated manuscripts, and it appears to have been a matter of preference which was used. It could also be slung across the back with a guige strap when not in use. It was superseded by the small triangular heater shield by about 1250.
The shield sometimes featured a domed metal centerpiece (shield boss), but it has been generally accepted that this was decorative rather than providing protection for the hand as on a round shield. It is also taken that a large number of kite shields featured no boss, and this was also a matter of preference. However, the addition of a boss may have made the deflection of incoming blows easier. The shield was usually made from stout but light wood, such as lime, and faced in either leather or toughened fabric, such as canvas. Most shields featured some form of reinforced rim, generally toughened leather, although some historians believe the rims on certain shields would have been constructed from metal.
The heater shield or heater-shaped shield is a form of European medieval shield, developing from the early medieval kite shield in the late 12th century as depicted in the great seal of Richard I and John. The term is due to the shape's resemblance to a clothes iron.
Smaller than the kite shield, it was more manageable and could be used either mounted or on foot. From the 15th century, it evolved into highly specialized jousting shields, often containing a bouche, a notch or "mouth" for the lance to pass through. As plate armor began to cover more and more of the body, the shield grew correspondingly smaller, until by the mid 14th century, it was hardly seen at all outside of tournaments. Heater shields were typically made from thin wood overlaid with leather. However, they were often also made of metal or like materials, or were made of wood braced with metals such as steel or iron. Heater shields often featured a strap, called a guige, for the shield to be slung over the back when not in use.
A pavise is a both a large convex shield of European origin used to protect the entire body, as well as a smaller version for hand-to-hand combat and for wearing on the back of men-at-arms. It is characterized by its prominent central ridge.
The pavise was primarily used by archers and crossbowmen in the medieval period, particularly during sieges. It was carried by a pavisier, usually an archer, or, especially for the larger ones, by a groom. The pavise was held in place by the pavisier or sometimes deployed in the ground with a spike attached to the bottom. While reloading their weapons, crossbowmen would crouch behind them to shelter against incoming missile attacks.
The pavise is popular in the renditions of Teutonic Knights and their employment of dedicated sections of crossbowmen.
The arquebus is an early muzzle-loaded firearm used in the 15th to 17th centuries. An arquebus was originally a “gonne” with hook, and later a matchlock firearm. Like its successor the musket, it is a smoothbore firearm, but was initially lighter and easier to carry.
It is a forerunner of the rifle and other longarm firearms. An improved version of the arquebus, the caliver, was introduced in the early 16th century. The word is derived from the English corruption of calibre as this gun was of standard bore, increasing combat effectiveness as troops could load bullets that would fit their guns (before, they would have to modify shot to fit, force it in, or cast their own before the battle).