How much did a medieval mace weigh?

medieval-maceThere were a variety of maces in the Middle Ages. They differed in shape of the head (Studded MaceFlanged Mace, Indian Shishpar), in metals used (wood, copper, bronze, iron), and in length (cavalry usually had longer maces) all of which would determine the final mace weight.

Most of its weight is concentrated at the end, which made this Medieval Weapon rather unbalanced and hard to master. But it was still popular weapon as it was cheap and easy to produce.

They were mainly used by the cavalry and knights as it was very effective against armored opponents (much more effective than bladed weapons like sword or dagger, as these could not make much harm on the Medieval Armor). A strong blow from a mace could penetrate even thick armor.

Various maces weighted differently, but usually they were around 1kg – 1.5kg. A two-handed sword like longsword could weigh even more than that, so Medieval Mace did not weigh that much when you think about it. During battle, they were used in one hand, but bigger and heavier two-handed maces were also available in the Medieval Times.

 

How did Europe emerge from Dark Ages?

life-in-the-dark-ages
The Middle Ages were one of the darkest periods in world history – rife with disease, poverty and human cruelty. The previously enlightened civilizations of Rome and Constantinople – and their legendary armies of soldiers in Roman armor – had fallen victim to the bubonic plague, rampaging barbarian hordes and dangerous superstition.

Few people could be said to enjoy life during this era: kings and land barons had it pretty good, but what about all the illiterate peasants forced to grind out a subsistence lifestyle?

Monks and other members of the clergy were often the only ones afforded a chance to learn. Of all the people alive in Europe between 700 and 1100 AD, most were unable to read and write. Monks and some enlightened kings were the rare exception, and they kept the light of logic and reason burning for future generations.

Medieval Coins

medieval-coins

During the Medieval Times, paper currency was not yet minted, so all existing money was made of different metals (copper, silver and gold). So basically, all money and currency in the Medieval Ages was different coins.  

Coins value depend on what kind of metal it was made of, its size and weight. The most valuable coins were made of gold, more common and not as valuable were silver and the lowest value coins were made of copper.

There were many different coins, each of which had different designs, weights, inscriptions, and the purity of the metals varied greatly also. Every coin had two sides –  obverse and reverse.  Obverse means the front face of the object and this is the side on with the rulers face or name. Whereas reverse means the back face and  was usually marked with the mint signature.

medieval-coin-1

 

Obverse

1. Kings face profile or portrait
2. King’s name and title

medieval-coin-2

 

 

 

Reverse

1. Mint data
2. Kingdom coat of arms
3. King family coat of arms
4. Denomination

 

            Photos © coinsfolder.com

Medieval Christmas Traditions

Medieval-Christmas
Many pagan cultures played a very important role in Christmas celebrations from Medieval Europe until December 25, 2008.  Their rituals may have been reworked and glossed to fit our present day interpretation of the holiday, but the fact remains that the Vikings, Romans, Anglo-Saxons and other ancient cultures played a very significant role in the Christian celebration.

The Romans which are so influential in anything of any consequence in the Medieval and post Roman occupation of the European world also put their stamp on the Christian holiday.  In Rome pagans celebrated three important Roman festivals, Saturnalia (December 17-23), the Kalends (January 1-5), and Dues Sol Invictus, which we celebrate as the twelve nights of Christmas.  This celebration to the sun was December 25.  The citizens would light bonfires, decorate buildings with evergreens as  encouragement for the sun to return.

If the Vikings had seen pictures of Santa Claus cruising the skies in a sleigh pulled by reindeer, they probably would have assumed he was catching a ride with Thor, the Norse god of thunder.  According to Viking traditions, Thor’s personal transport was a flying wagon pulled by a team of horned goats.  The ancient Viking god, Odin, also brought gifts to good little Viking boys and girls.

The Roman Church designated December 25 as the  date of the birth of Christ in the fourth century.  Some early Christians did not celebrate Christmas, because they felt that the celebration had too many pagan practices.  In Roman occupied England the Catholic church banned mumming (masquerades) and wassailing (Anglo-Saxon for good health) as pagan practices, but the common people still celebrated with enthusiasm.  When the Vikings invaded, they would reinvigorate pagan practices.  In the rural areas pagan traditions remained very strong.  When the Roman troops were recalled in the fifth century, it was very common that Thor and Christ were worshipped side by side.

Chainmail

medieval-chainmail
The early medieval army was composed of about one-third mounted knights, a few professional soldiers, and the rest were peasants who were conscripted for the battle.  The soldiers wore whatever they had available; most were clothed in a leather jerkin with iron rings.  They carried a battle shield for better protection.

At the beginning of the Thirteenth Century, armor became more advanced.  Knights could not armor themselves, because the armor was so cumberson.  The squires and pages lifted and placed the various pieces of mail on their master.

The typical knight wore steel-mail hose on his legs.  On his upper body the first layer of clothing to protect from the steel hauberk was made from felted hair or quilted cotton.  That particular garment is now referred to as a gambeson.  The next upper body mail article was the riveted steel hauberk, and it often extended to mid-thigh or below his knees.  This armor could weigh between 19 to 60 pounds, dependent upon the amount of money the knight could give the craftsman.  The lighter pieces naturally were more expensive.

The hauberk was subject to rust, so a game was devised to rid the corrosion from the article.  Sand and vinegar were placed in a bag with the chainmail and it was tossed back and forth between the soldiers. This protection was insufficient to protect from the sword, lance, flail, mace and axe.  Later in the century a chainmail coif was developed to protect the head.

Ancient Rome Overview

ancient-rome
One of the most storied and legendary civilizations in recorded history is that of ancient Rome. Although it was started as a monarchy, the political structure shifted to an oligarchic republic during its span. During a time when empires rarely lasted for than a few generations, the Roman Empire thrived for over a thousand years in various incarnations.

Although there are a myriad of facets that make up the complexion of the society, the military is one of the most important. While Ancient Roman swords and armor would obviously be rudimentary by today’s standards, they were inline with their contemporaries. Along with Ancient Greece—who had a considerable influence on Rome—the two makeup what is now referred to as the “classical period.”

Falchion

Medieval-FalchionA Falchion is a sword of European origin, handled by one hand, whose design is somewhat similar to the Persian Scimitar or the Chinese Dao.

The weapon combined the weight and power of an Axe with the versatility of a simple sword. Falchions are found in different forms throughout the 11th-16th centuries. In some versions the Falchion looks more like the Seax or the Sabre, and in other versions the shape is irregular and looks more like a Machete.

While some suggest that the meeting with the Islamic Shamshir inspired its creation, these “scimitars” of Persia were only developed many years after the Falchion. Falchion almost always had a single edge with a slight curve on the blade towards the point on the end. As the tip of the falchion had more weight near the end, it was more effective in sharp attacks as an Axe or Hatchet, but also made it slower to be wielded as a sword.

Armor

Medieval-Armor

 

Chainmail armor was used by the last of the Romans, and by some of the invading Germanic tribes, including the Goths. Chainmail armor kept its popularity among the nobility of medieval Europe until, in the 13th century, plate armor began to be used instead, providing greater protection. This change was due to the fact, that the sharp tip of a sword or an arrow could pass through the chainmail.

Helmets also evolved from simple designs to large metal buckets, after which became large sculptured pieces to deflect arrows. Subsequently, helmets were assembled to the rest of the armor.

Full Armor, which could weigh up to 30 kilo, appeared in the 14th century. The armor plates were well designed, and the Knights could still keep a surprising agility. If a Knight with armour fell from the horse, he could easily get up without help. There are anecdotes and descriptions of warriors that wearing a suit of armor made the pine and other exercises in moments of calm.

Armatures put greater emphasis on deflecting projectiles and strengthening the areas most exposed to blows. Later appeared more elaborate models of armor plates with engravings, which were more ceremonial and prestigious than practical.

The armor represented a high cost to the Knight, because he would have to pay for their own equipment and his Squire.

Armor manufacture was a profitable business, and even second-hand armor would take a large part in the Medieval market. During battles, the troops of the victorious side could seize large sums of money stripping and taking armor of the dead Knights.

The Crossbows

Medieval-Crossbow

Crossbows were already known in ancient China but, apparently, were invented again in Europe around the 5th century BC. They had good range and were more powerful that most of the bows, although it took much longer for them to load. A crossbowman could shoot an average of two arrows per minute.

Crossbow bow is held horizontally and fired by a trigger that released the taut rope. To load it, a soldier would hold the front of the weapon to the ground, holding it with your foot. He then could pull the rope up and back with both hands or with the help of a crank. Crossbows fired bolts or linear arrows, which were much shorter than the typical arrows. The arrows had feathers to provide stability in flight and a sharp metal tip.

The archers used to carry a few large shields to protect themselves while they crouched to reload their weapons. Thus they formed a wall that protected them. When they were shooting, were only visible their crossbows and their heads with helmets. If they had to fight a similar force of long-range archers, usually they were forced to retreat.

The crossbow was a deadly and very popular weapon for the simple reason that almost no training needed to handle it. Soldiers with little experience could learn its management very quickly, and a well-aimed shot could kill a gentleman who had spent entire life training in the arts of war. Crossbows were considered unfair in some circles (in the Knights, mainly) because a little skill required. Richard I of England, Lionheart, was wounded twice by crossbow, the second with fatal consequences. The idea that a man of his greatness was mortally wounded as easily by a common soldier, was unbearable for the nobility. In the 12th century, a Pope tried to prohibit the use of crossbows as inhumane.

Flanged Mace

German-Flanged-Mace

The use of maces in battle was quite common during the Middle Ages, as the weapon was quite inexpensive to produce. Many of the maces on display in museums today are highly decorated for this reason. Though a mace is just a type of club, the image of the spiked mace is what comes to mind for most people.

A deadly effective spiked mace is the flanged mace. The metal flanges, protruding edges of metal, allowed the wielder to pierce through even the thickest metal armor. In 12th century Kievan Russia the Pernach was developed. It featured six flanges and became popular across Europe for its ability to pierce plate armor and chainmail.