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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Dec, 2017 11:28 am    Post subject: Top Spikes on Cavalry Maces         Reply with quote

I've noticed that while few 15th/16th-century European maces have any thrusting ability, a number of later Indian and Persian maces have significant top spikes.

Does anyone have any theories for why this is? Is a top spike of such marginal utility for a cavalry mace that European weapons designers didn't consider it worthwhile? I imagine it would be somewhat challenging to thrust with a such a top-heavy weapon.

I'm also interested in cavalry hammers and axes.

By contrast, almost all two-handed maces for infantry use have top spikes for thrusting.

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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Dec, 2017 6:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It isn't just a matter of lack of utility, but also disadvantages. A thrusting spike isn't always better than no spike.

First, a long spike can make it easy to block, parry, or trap the weapon.

Second, a long spike can make it harder to carry the weapon. If it's a secondary weapon, this matter. A lot of European cavalry maces (and warhammers, etc.) have hooks such they will be hung head-up. Whether hung from belt or saddle, this can put a spike in an undesirable place.

A two-handed infantry mace is likely to be the primary weapon, and will be carried rather than worn from the belt. So less problem there. A two-handed grip will greatly reduce problems with your weapon being trapped. It will also be easy to get the weapon in position for a thrust, so there is also more benefit from having one.

For Asian maces, it's a only a minority that have spikes. Looking at http://oriental-arms.com/ the most common type with a thrusting spike seems to be the ones with large spiked ball heads. These look inconvenient to wear or hang from the saddle, resembling as they do a sea urchin or porcupine on a stick. The inconvenience of these as sidearms, as backup weapons, etc. suggests that they were either (a) primary weapons (maybe for infantry?), or (b) parade weapons.

"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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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Dec, 2017 8:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I had thoughts about throwing, or even sticking in the ground....but can't find a solid reason for either. Question .....McM
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Dec, 2017 10:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just speculation about the combat usefulness of spikes on a mace in general and of a modest top spike like the one on the A&A made spiked mace.

http://arms-n-armor.com/view.html?pole004a.jpg

Now the main function of a mace is against armour and for blunt trauma, the spikes can help in focusing force on the small points and also help in making the mace more " Grabby " than " Bouncy "and deflected off rounded armour surfaces.

A mace is normally optimized for anti armour use, but against soft targets maces are mostly effective against the head and while a blow to limbs and torso may be extremely painful and can cause some serious bone breakage or internal injuries it takes a lot of velocity to achieve this effect with a blunt object like a mace or even a baseball bat !

Now add spikes and the effect on unprotected flesh would seem to me to be similar to the claws of a tiger or lion and even a glancing blow could do some serious damage.

With the example of the A&A spiked mace the top spike is only about 2" long so a thrust with it would do only shallow penetration, painful but not really a " Man Stopper " in my opinion, but if one considers instead having the 2" spike doing a very long tip cut 2" deep this would be very damaging and probably disabling: On the lower abdomen it might even make a disembowelling cut ..... one can't keep on fighting if one is tripping over one's intestines ..... Wink WTF?! Or if one's forearm has been shredded down to the bone by a long spike and a few of the other smaller spikes on the mace head.

So my theory, is that spike make a mace much more dangerous to unarmored or lightly armoured opponent than a smooth but heavy mace head.

I arrive at this just by imagining what my A&A spiked mace could do ....... For example, take a large cardboard box and graze/hit it with a heavy club versus a raking blow with the spiked mace, I would imagine that the spikes would tear the cardboard box while the club would just deform or collapse one side of the cardboard box.

I'm not making any statements about historical usage but just arriving at what I think are logical conclusions just at looking and handling the A&A mace.

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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Dec, 2017 10:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yep...A top spike, especially a blade-like sharpened one, would do intense damage to pretty much anything. Even a square or triangular profile would be horrific on an unarmored, or lightly armored opponent. Eek! Just thinking about such things gives me an uneasy feeling in my guts............McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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