Lutel 17001 15th Century Horseman's flail (modified)
A hands-on review by Björn Hellqvist
My goal is to have a collection with reproductions of all major types of medieval weapons, so it was natural for me to turn to Lutel for a flail. Lutel, based in Opava in the Czech Republic, is a small company run by former reenactment/stage combat fighters, and one of the foremost European makers of stout, affordable weapons.
As the flail is a weapon typical for the warfare in Central Europe in the late Middle Ages, who better to make a flail than a company from the very region? I had ordered from Lutel before, and knew that their service is reliable. The delivery time was little more than three months from the day the order was placed and the payment made. Everything went smooth, and the flail arrived packed in a stout cardboard box and cutout Styrofoam. The flail was ordered with a slight modification: the fastening loop was exchanged for that of the Lutel 17002, as I thought it looked better.
The flail can be traced back to the 12th century, but its heyday as a weapon was in the 14th and 15th centuries, when uprisings and wars racked Central Europe. It wasn't a knightly weapon, but it was pretty common among the lower classes, along with morning stars, pole weapons and other "lowly" weapons. The idea behind the use of a mass weapon with a chain was probably to have the option to entangle the limbs and/or weapons of the enemy, and possibly to have the added bonus of being able to reach behind a shield. Another bonus is that the flexible construction makes the business end build up quite a lot of momentum, belying the rather short total length.
Measurements and Specifications:
Replica created by Lutel of the Czech Republic.
The spiked, blackened iron ball is solid, with nine nasty iron spikes forge-welded (?) to it. The chain shows signs of age (but not wear), while the fastening loop is secured with two rivets going through the handle. The handle itself is slightly tapering, getting somewhat thicker towards the non-business end. It is stained dark brown, and appears to be some hardwood, most likely oak.
Being an impact weapon, there's not much to say about how it handles. It is very tricky to use a flail, and I think that would I to order another flail, I would opt for the Lutel 17002 with the smaller ball (bigger balls isn't always a good thing, whatever on-line miracle pill email spammers try to tell you). Swinging the flail, the weight of the ball makes it slow to recover, and one hopes that this is one of those "one blowone kill" weapons. A smaller ball, like that of the Lutel 17002, would probably allow for a more dynamic style. I've heard that authentic flails could have balls made of wood studded with iron spikes, which would make the weapon just as nasty but a lot easier to wield. I don't know if there's any substance to the wooden balls rumor, but it sounds plausible.
Fit and Finish
The fit and finish is good with no rattling (except for the chain, but that's to be expected) or gaps, or any noticeable flaws. The whole assembly feels very reliable and stout, which is essential when dealing with a weapon that involves a lot of swinging. Airborne, spiked iron balls aren't a lot of fun an unfortunate target. The whole weapon feels authenticmy partner thinks it is too authenticand is quite intimidating, which is what it's all about after all.
Lutel has proved to be a reliable supplier of medieval-style weaponry. Their products are well made and reliable, as is their service. I will order from them again. This flail, while heavy, is a good addition to my collection, and sure to make people react.
About the Author
Björn Hellqvist is a Swedish optometrist with an interest in historical European swords.
Photographer: Björn Hellqvist