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William P




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PostPosted: Sun 11 Oct, 2015 7:58 pm    Post subject: question? medieval; western knights, mace adoption?         Reply with quote

I have a question about the evolution of the usage of precussive weapons in western and northern Europe in the medieval period as well as ‘antiarmour’ weapons like narrow bladed axes with hammers and backspikes on the reverse end


it seems that in the early medieval period, notably the 10th and 11th centuries as being almost completely devoid of the use of the mace in western Europe, with only a few references (the flying mace in the Bayeux tapestry and some small scepter-like maces found in Scandinavia plus a few other references here and there)

by comparison that in the early medieval period, in eastern Europe and the middle east, maces, as well as axes with small, narrow heads almost like war picks, with varying kinds of hammer or piercing spike on the reverse end. were a more common weapon, especially among cavalry, heavy cavalry especially, and we have dozens of finds in Russia, Ukraine and crimea around that time, (source, kirpitchnikov, along with multiple artistic and written mentions of maces, especially in byzantine works )

(we even see some use of cavalry flails in the territories of the rus and other cavalry nomads dating back to around the 9th century AD and continuing to evolve from there)

I know that by the 14th century such weapons were FAR more common in western knightly armies and quickly becoming a staple of the knightly arsenal, reaching their peak as a knightly weapon in the 15th and 16th century, along with the widespread use of the warhammer and pollaxes and some less common use of flails by some cavalrymen, although these wernt particularly common.

where my uncertainty lies is the period in between the early and late medieval periods, the ‘high’ medieval period of the 12th 13th and 14th centuries, aka charting how, where and when the mace began to increase in popularity

learning the ‘why’ would be useful but I know that question is hard to pin down since its kinda complex
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Shahril Dzulkifli




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Oct, 2015 5:48 am    Post subject: Question? Medieval; Western knights, mace adoption?         Reply with quote

It is very hard to guess when was the first recorded use of mace by knights in medieval times.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Oct, 2015 6:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Better to use textual sources rather than illustrations for this kind of question. Here are a couple of earlier references.

In the Song of Roland (11th C), Turin (Turpin), the archbishop of Rheims, is described wielding a mace.
Philippe de Dreux, Bishop of Beauvais, wielded a mace in the Battle of Bouvines (1214).

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William P




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Oct, 2015 8:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Better to use textual sources rather than illustrations for this kind of question. Here are a couple of earlier references.

In the Song of Roland (11th C), Turin (Turpin), the archbishop of Rheims, is described wielding a mace.
Philippe de Dreux, Bishop of Beauvais, wielded a mace in the Battle of Bouvines (1214).


i know the mace was sometimes used in the early medieval period, but compared to the east, it was quite rare

my question is looking at the evolution of its adoption as a fairly widespread implement of war, not jst being used by that guy that one time, im looking at the broader picture of its adoption into the panoplies of men at arms between the 12th and 14th centuries
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Oct, 2015 3:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In the early (c. 11th century) art and literature, it's the big shots who carry maces. Bishops, archbishops, dukes, kings. In Central Asia, it was a poor warrior's weapon, used by those who couldn't afford swords. Also a good relatively indestructable backup to a sword. IIRC, wooden clubs were used as weapons in Western Europe by those who couldn't afford swords (or sometimes even spears).

In Western Europe, with the sword as the sign of the elite warrior, and the mace as the sign of the leaders, I'm not surprised to see fewer maces in use by the bulk of the elite warriors, compared to Eastern Europe (and further east).

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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William P




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Oct, 2015 5:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:
In the early (c. 11th century) art and literature, it's the big shots who carry maces. Bishops, archbishops, dukes, kings. In Central Asia, it was a poor warrior's weapon, used by those who couldn't afford swords. Also a good relatively indestructable backup to a sword. IIRC, wooden clubs were used as weapons in Western Europe by those who couldn't afford swords (or sometimes even spears).

In Western Europe, with the sword as the sign of the elite warrior, and the mace as the sign of the leaders, I'm not surprised to see fewer maces in use by the bulk of the elite warriors, compared to Eastern Europe (and further east).


i reckon its also due in part to the fact that solid armours were a lot more common in the eastern regions, scale and lamellar especially , armour that is a bit harder to crush or pierce through hence its probably why we see so many axes with tiny, narrow blades with spikes being used by those same heavy armoured cavalry
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Jonathan Blair




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Oct, 2015 6:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bishop Odo is shown brandishing a mace on the Bayeux Tapestry in panel 54.


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"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." - The Lord Jesus Christ, from The Gospel According to Saint Matthew, chapter x, verse 34, Authorized Version of 1611
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Mon 12 Oct, 2015 6:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think the transition begins to take place during the 13th century. The nadir of mace usage in Western Europe is probably during the 12th century when the lance, spear and sword, supplemented by crossbows and bows, were the predominant weapons. However, we have to keep in mind that even this generalization is problematic. There is evidence for clubs remaining in use Spain in period art, and I believe we have extant maces from the 12th century from the Holy Roman Empire. There is even some artistic evidence for clubs being used with round shields, perhaps as practice or perhaps in a dueling context, in France. Yet overall, my impression is that maces were least used at this time although why this is so is not totally clear. Perhaps it’s because a spear/lance head is as easy or easier to make than a mace head, and can be a highly effectively weapon with good range both in the hands of a cavalryman or a infantryman, but this is just personal conjecture.

Manuscript art from the 13th century suggests that maces first begin to become more popular at this time. A good example of this is the Maciejowski Bible, where we can see mounted knights on horseback occasionally wielding a mace. Yet we still should not overestimate the popularity of maces even at this later time. If maces had become popular weapons among knights such that they were commonly carried in the later Middle Ages, it is reasonable to assume that we'd find this trend attested in the artwork of the time. Yet searching the website “Manuscript Miniatures” for images tagged with “mace” only brings up 63 images in total. Doubtless, there are other images featuring maces that have not been tagged. However, if we search the database for all the images from the year 1000-1451 (the last year included in the database), we find that there's a whopping 11,895 images. Expressed as a percentage, about 0.5% of the images have a mace of some sort. Even if we generously assumed that the total number of images with maces that are untagged are double the amount that are actually tagged, we'd only end up with 189 images, or 1.5%.

Can we suggest that about 0.5% of knights and infantrymen used maces during the later Middle Ages? Absolutely not, and I would imagine that the mace is significantly more common among foot soldiers than the manuscript art suggests. Do they seem to be common among knights? The tentative answer, based upon art, seems to be “Not particularly”. But you might want to cross-reference with other forms of evidence, such as archaeological finds, or inventory lists from the late Middle Ages.
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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Oct, 2015 7:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm largely in agreement with Timo. The baculum or wooden staff/club seems quite common among the lower classes, and the "ragged staff" is important enough to find its way into heraldry. The mace itself, as seen in it's evolution to the sceptre, is given as a sign of authority. I think the Paudan Picture Bible from c. 1395 shows only the leaders carrying maces. Of course there are a number of steps in between, with wooden clubs reinforced with spikes, iron bands, and metal sheathing. One of the Templar regulations mentions the "Turkish" mace, which seems to be the flanged variety. Knobby or studded maces seem to be the norm until coats of plate become popular.

In fact, a quick perusal of the Norwich Militia rolls shows that a large number, if not the majority, of men had only baculum and cutellus -- staff or club and knife.
https://books.google.com/books?id=3Rc5AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA390&dq=Rev.+William+Hudson+Norwich+Militia+in+the+14th+century&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CB0Q6AEwAGoVChMI-oeLs7K-yAIVh48-Ch1yigny#v=onepage&q=Rev.%20William%20Hudson%20Norwich%20Militia%20in%20the%2014th%20century&f=false

Someone else has noted the war hammer is almost always shown with the spiked beak forward, so the poll or hammer "head" is really the secondary end of the weapon.

An example of the knotty wooden club from the Holkham Bible.



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Ronald M




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Oct, 2015 12:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

just a guess but wherever plate armor was made a bit more common among the rich the mace probably followed as a counter measure
smiley face 123? no? lol yeah well im here cause i like...swords and weapons and stuff obv
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Oct, 2015 5:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mart,

Just over 50% have Baculum but that said the majority of the fully armed men and half armed men have no weapons listed so I assume from national standards for their type of soldiers of the time they all have swords and lances. As the captains do as well this would bump up the swords to near the same number as well.

I like the other image from the Holkham you have Mart. I am right now looking for English art of both types. So far not much. Strange I am finding pretty much no images of a staff used in war....

I am going to make a reproduction of the one Holkham Bible club/mace soon. I am making the spike at the top already. Need to work on a top cap now.

RPM
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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Oct, 2015 8:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A "ragged staff", BL Egerton 3028, fo.34r, 1325-1350


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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Oct, 2015 1:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

These illustrations aren't photos; they are meant to draw attention and convey a message. We can't assume that these clubs and "ragged staffs" were actually used in battle. More likely they are conveying a symbolic message. Best not to use illustrations at all for the subject of this thread and rely on the textual and archaeological sources instead.
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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Oct, 2015 4:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Norwich Rolls provide plenty of textual source for some sort of stick being used for battle. We have to examine visual sources to determine the various forms of these wooden cudgels, staffs, goedendags, etc.

Likewise, it's possible to dimiss written sources, Like Chretien de Troye's Yvain as being fantasy tales, though we might miss critical information when we do so.
Then I must fight them in spite of myself. But I assure you that I should very gladly give it up. In spite of my reluctance, however, I shall accept the battle, since it is inevitable." Thereupon, the two hideous, black sons of the devil come in, both armed with a crooked club of a cornelian cherry- tree, which they had covered with copper and wound with brass.

The cornelian cherry or dogwood is one wood which has a mass heavier than water, it will not float. Visual sources show iron wound around the haft, a feature also mentioned as being used on the Green Knight's ax in Gawain.

The synthesis of information from archaeology, legal documents (such as inventories, musters, and wills), coupled with literary descriptions, and visual sources gives us a much better understanding than relying upon textual and archaeological sources alone.

The 1302 inventory of goods of Raoul de Nesle, Constable of France killed at Courtrai mentions swords (espées), knives (coutiaus, coutel) and 3 maces valued at 40 sols. Given his office, these may have served as symbols of rank, or weapons of war, or both.

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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Tue 13 Oct, 2015 5:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Besides the Norwich Rolls, are there any documents that specify a payment for a certain number of mace heads, along with payments for other kinds of weapons?
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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Oct, 2015 8:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Storey's thesis mentions a ship from Flanders having been a victim of piracy and bearing a certain value of maces. Unfortunately, after checking the actual account, the ship also bore sugar, cloves, and gallingale, so I feel confident this is a reference to the spice mace (nutmeg husks) rather than the weapon.


Apparently the mace was common enough at the beginning of the 14th century to be routinely addressed in weapon-control laws.
http://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/me...fe/pp63-67
Quote:
Proclamation made before the Coronation of King Edward the Second.
1 Edward II. A.D. Letter-Book 1308 C. fol. xciii. (Norman French.)

In the first place,— That no one shall be so daring, on the day of the Coronation, as to carry sword, or knife with point, or misericorde, mace, or club, or any other arm, on pain of imprisonment for a year and a day.


There are a number of references on http://www.british-history.ac.uk/ showing the importance of the mace as a symbol of various sergeants. Even the baculum appears in the Bayeax Tapestry to have been restricted to leaders as a sign of authority.
http://www.british-history.ac.uk/london-letter-books/volg/pp13-25
Quote:
Writ to the Sheriffs to proclaim a truce made with France until the 1st April next.
Witness the King at Westminster, 16 May, 28 Edward III. [A.D. 1354].

Writ to the Mayor and Sheriffs to the effect that whereas, for certain reasons, it had been ordained by the King and his Council in the present Parliament that no serjeants carrying maces in cities, boroughs, or other towns within the realm should thenceforth carry any maces of silver or gilt, on pain of forfeiture of the same and their offices, and imprisonment of their bodies at the King's will, excepting four serjeants, viz., two for the City of London and two for the City of York, and that all others should carry, by virtue of their office, maces of iron, brass, or tin, or staves tipped with latten, having the signs of their respective cities, boroughs, &c., sculptured on the top, and not the arms of the King, whilst the four exceptional serjeants shall also carry signs, viz., two of the City of London, and the other two of the City of York, and not the royal arms, and further that neither these four nor the rest of the serjeants should carry their maces anywhere outside the liberties of their respective places—the said Mayor and Sheriffs are hereby commanded to make proclamation that the aforesaid ordinances be duly observed. Witness the King at Westminster, 18 May, 28 Edward III. [A.D. 1354].


Quote:
They further pray that the King's Serjeants ([i]vos seriantz) may carry their maces as of old accustomed, inasmuch as in the City there were men of all nations, and the more honourably the Serjeants and others of the City (les seriants et autres de vostre dite citee) are apparelled the greater honour they represent.

The above petition sent to the King and Council on Monday after the Feast of St. Dunstan [19 May], 28 Edw. III. [A.D. 1354].

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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Oct, 2015 5:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan,

But we are finding text with something that sounds a great deal like a club or super club or staff and 0 evidence in art of staves but we do see clubs. So perhaps they are stylized but I think it would be dangerous to discount the likelihood of their use both as symbols or by lesser armed troops.

RPM
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Vasilly T





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PostPosted: Mon 19 Oct, 2015 12:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I see you guys are struggling to find any evidence that maces were as widespread as many books claim they were. I had the similar problem but with poleaxes, can you probably tell me from where do historians draw conclusion that poleaxes were widespread amongst knights as anti-armour weapon? I know it's kind of offtopic, but I don't want to create another thread for it.
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