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Mounted Combat:
Weapons: Mass Weapons

© 2000 Maitre R.P. Alvarez, All rights reserved

Richard Alvarez bio


Introduction to Mounted Combat
The Horse: Selection and Training
The Rider: Technique and Tack

Saddle, Lance and Stirrup


This term applies to those weapons designed to deliver the most damage by virtue of their shape and weight. Some include cutting edges, some do not. The simplest form of mass weapon is the club or cudgel. The wooden sword or club was also used in tournaments as a "weapon of courtesy" instead of sharpened steel swords.

Practice Flail, Horseman's Axe, Flanged Mace

The modern trooper of course has a wide variety of night sticks or billy clubs available to him. Most are made of stout hickory, and are particularly useful for crowd or riot control. They are strong and well balanced. A somewhat more humane baton in use by troopers in Europe is made of a PVC section, wound with cord and mounted with a leather or rubber hand guard. This is strong, lightweight, slightly flexible and less concussive in use.

Maces are simply clubs with flanges attached to the head. They may be simple or ornate, made of wood or metal. The multi-flanged metal head is designed to tear as well as crush upon impact.

The War-hammer combines the crushing power of the mace with the penetrating power of a sharp spike. One of the most famous examples of this weapon is that of Jan Zizka, who wielded a war-hammer shaped like a fist holding a dagger.

The horseman's axe is smaller and lighter than the foot soldiers, and the shaft is usually shorter as well. One form has a small sharp axe head edge with a trailing back spike. This gives the rider a choice of cutting or penetrating power. Others have two heads or blades curved to increase cutting surface on the pass.

Variations on the horseman's axe

The flail is the most difficult weapon to use on horseback. It consists of a handle and a head, linked together by a chain or tether. The head may be wooden, metal or in the case of practice weapons, rubber. In addition to the forward momentum of the horse, the direction of rotation for the head must be taken into account. The flail was developed to wrap around an opponent's shield. The chain accelerates the speed of impact while preventing the transmission of the shock to the combatant's hands. The major drawback to the flail, is the uncontrolled rebound of the head, which could strike the horse or rider.

Closeup view of practice flail. Head is made of hard rubber.

The area of engagement for most of the mass weapons is similar to that of the sword. The flail, because of its rebound, should really only be used in an area from Nine o'clock overhead around to about five-thirty.

Blind side area for mass weapons is the same as that for the sword, just behind the rider's left shoulder.

The Lance

The Sword

Projectile Weapons

Back to Mounted Combat: Weapons


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This file was last modified Sunday, Mar 26 2006, 17:15:14 EST