Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > 16th Century Danish hatchets? Reply to topic
This is a standard topic  
Author Message
Henry O.





Joined: 18 Jun 2016

Posts: 158

PostPosted: Fri 21 Apr, 2017 5:45 pm    Post subject: 16th Century Danish hatchets?         Reply with quote

In Humphrey Barwick's "breef discourse"written in 1592, at one point he breifly compares the English love of the longbow to some to some other countries and weapons they are famous for:

"we haue the like estmation of the Long Bow, as the Irish haue of their Darts, the Dansk∣er of their Hatchets, and as the Scotch men haue had of their Speares."

"Darts" refers to the Irish javelins, and "Spears" most likely refers to "Northern Spears" which were Scottish light cavalry who still fought with spears at the end of the 16th century. Is the Danish "hatchet" specifically supposed to be the Daneaxe? Or is it referring to some other sort of axe or axes in general? Were the Danes still making use of the Daneaxe or some other sort of axe towards the end of the 16th century? I was under the impression that the Daneaxe fell out of use after the early middle ages. It would be sort of odd if he was referring to a weapon which hadn't been used by the Danes for hundreds of years.
View user's profile Send private message
Mark Moore




Location: East backwoods-assed Texas
Joined: 01 Oct 2003
Likes: 6 pages
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 2,256

PostPosted: Sat 22 Apr, 2017 6:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Couldn't really tell you yay or nay from a historic standpoint, but it wouldn't surprise me at all to see Danish warriors of that era still carrying large axes in combat.(Though I would hardly call a Dane Axe a 'hatchet!) Old habits die hard. Wink After all, I've *heard* that in Scotland there was use of two-handed claymores as late as the '45 Rebellion. So.....Possible? Sure. Probable? I would say yes, though I doubt it was a 'standard' weapon. Absolute fact?........ Question ..........McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
View user's profile Send private message
Niels Just Rasmussen




Location: Nykøbing Falster, Denmark
Joined: 03 Sep 2014

Spotlight topics: 15
Posts: 800

PostPosted: Sat 22 Apr, 2017 11:12 am    Post subject: Re: 16th Century Danish hatchets?         Reply with quote

Henry O. wrote:
In Humphrey Barwick's "breef discourse"written in 1592, at one point he breifly compares the English love of the longbow to some to some other countries and weapons they are famous for:

"we haue the like estmation of the Long Bow, as the Irish haue of their Darts, the Dansk∣er of their Hatchets, and as the Scotch men haue had of their Speares."

"Darts" refers to the Irish javelins, and "Spears" most likely refers to "Northern Spears" which were Scottish light cavalry who still fought with spears at the end of the 16th century. Is the Danish "hatchet" specifically supposed to be the Daneaxe? Or is it referring to some other sort of axe or axes in general? Were the Danes still making use of the Daneaxe or some other sort of axe towards the end of the 16th century? I was under the impression that the Daneaxe fell out of use after the early middle ages. It would be sort of odd if he was referring to a weapon which hadn't been used by the Danes for hundreds of years.


It is a good question whether he refers to naval or land troops?
Hatchet in english normally refers to 1-handed axes and not 2-handed dane axes.

A further development of the Dane Axe called the "Norwegian Peasant Axe" was actually used in Norway until 1800.
See: http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=32017&highlight=

In 1592 when Barwick writes, the Norwegian had a peasant army, which was still "leding"-called by the Dano-Norwegian King in case of an invasion into Norway (from Sweden). Furthermore in 1604 King Christian IV would dictate that all Norwegian men had to arm themselves with either axes or tessaks. So this evolution of the Dane axes was used until 1800 in Norway!

The Danish army was on the contrary comprised of knights (danish nobles and their retainers) and mercenaries (landsknecht) from primarily Germany.

The navy was a combined Dano-Norwegian professional force established during the reign King Hans in 1510.
It is very possible that both Danish and Norwegian sailers in the navy would have had a cultural preference for fighting with axes. Shorter axes (you might call hatchets?) would be more useful in battle in the narrow confines of warships of the time, than long 2-handed examples for land combat.

This example is for instance "only" 103 cm long and dated 1590-1630 (original wood).
See: https://digitaltmuseum.no/011022347367/oks?aq=text%3A%22bonde%C3%B8ks%22&i=61

So Humphrey Barwick's report is perhaps based on seeing the Dano-Norwegian fleet, rather than coming into contact with the Norwegian peasant militia.
NB: You did have scottish mercenary soldiers in Norway in 1612 which could have observed Norwegian weaponry, but that is 20 years after his report!
See: https://no.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skottetoget_1612

A sighting possibility is when King Christian IV's sister Anne (Anne of Denmark) was married to James VI (later also James I) in 1589 and probably arrive from Denmark with a naval escort? Or maybe it was just common knowledge.
That he refers to "Danskier" and not Norwegians, makes it probable it was from knowledge of the Dano-Norwegian navy,
If he only refer to the Norwegian militia using axes, he would perhaps more likely have written Norwegian?

The first navy-issued cutlasses are from 1680 according to Arma Dania, so it is very possible that axes was in prevalent use in 1592.
View user's profile Send private message
Henry O.





Joined: 18 Jun 2016

Posts: 158

PostPosted: Sat 22 Apr, 2017 6:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Niels! I didn't know about that.

Barwick had been a mercenary with quite a bit of experience in England, Scotland, and France, but his knowledge about Scandinavia was probably hearsay. I know the Irish still used bows and axes as well at that time and I think the scots did too to a lesser extent, but it's interesting that norwegian peasants would still have a preference for axes like the ones in that thread during the 17th century.

The goal of Barwick's discourse was that he was trying to convince his countrymen about the importance of using modern firearms, so he follows up that passage with "all which are more méeter for Sauadge people or poore Potentates, who are not able to maintain others of greater force, then for puissant Princes." So maybe he did mean to refer to the Norwegian peasant army.
View user's profile Send private message
Niels Just Rasmussen




Location: Nykøbing Falster, Denmark
Joined: 03 Sep 2014

Spotlight topics: 15
Posts: 800

PostPosted: Sun 23 Apr, 2017 11:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Henry O. wrote:
Thanks Niels! I didn't know about that.

Barwick had been a mercenary with quite a bit of experience in England, Scotland, and France, but his knowledge about Scandinavia was probably hearsay. I know the Irish still used bows and axes as well at that time and I think the scots did too to a lesser extent, but it's interesting that norwegian peasants would still have a preference for axes like the ones in that thread during the 17th century.

The goal of Barwick's discourse was that he was trying to convince his countrymen about the importance of using modern firearms, so he follows up that passage with "all which are more méeter for Sauadge people or poore Potentates, who are not able to maintain others of greater force, then for puissant Princes." So maybe he did mean to refer to the Norwegian peasant army.


Neither Denmark nor Norway had any standing army in 1592. In case of war you hired mercenaries in Denmark (mostly from Germany, Frisia, England and Scotland) and the nobles in Denmark and Norway called in the militia which they outfitted themselves (and for that they didn't pay tax).

The noblemen had simply made it illegal for the King have to a standing army in peacetime. They were afraid he would use a standing army against them (probably very true).
So you had a Norwegian and a Danish land-militia, which were only assembled in the case of war (basically only against Sweden). The Norwegian militia operated in Norway and the Danish in Denmark (unless when doing forays into Sweden).

Only the navy was a joint military professional standing force. It was the King's navy, actually not the navy of Denmark nor Norway (outside the control of the nobles)
So if Barwick discusses military matters (importance of modern firearms) he is probably talking about professional national/mercenary forces and not militia?

Norway and Denmark was each its own Kingdom (Norway was not annexed by Denmark), so when Barwick talks about Danes he must mean Danish people or a "Danish force". That's why a think the joint Dano-Norwegian fleet under Danish flag is more likely, than him talking about Norwegian land-militia.

Yet it is possible that he knew from mercenaries participating in the Northern Seven Years War (1563-1570) on how the Danish and/or Norwegian land militia fought?

But it should be common knowledge at that time, that dual monarchies existed (Denmark-Norway, Poland-Lithuania and from 1606 a triple Union of England, Scotland and Ireland). So if axes were exclusively Norwegian and not Danish, Barwick should probably have written Norwegian.

I actually have no idea have the Danish landmilitia was equipped in 1592. It is possible they also used axes, but the weapons just doesn't survive today as they do in Norway

Already in the Reformation wars (1534-1536) at Svenstrup (1534) a Danish peasant army boosted by hired landsknechts under Skipper Clement Andersen severely beat an army of Jutland noblemen comprised of both cavalry and infantry. The Danish peasant army had arquebuses, crossbows, long pikes and some with breast harnesses and iron helmets (but that could have been the elite landsknecht segment).
Source: http://reformation.au.dk/aktuelt/nyheder/nyhe...ober-1534/
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > 16th Century Danish hatchets?
Page 1 of 1 Reply to topic
All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2018 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum