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Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > lucerne hammer? Reply to topic
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Benjamin H. Abbott




Location: New Mexico
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PostPosted: Sat 03 Mar, 2007 8:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
I've been trying to understand Meyer's halberd plays ever since Jeff Forgeng's book came out and I just find them so alien compared with pollaxe--like it's an entirely different mindset.


Coming from a background in Silver and Swetnam, I have about the same reaction to 15th-century pollaxe sources. Meyer's halberd section seems rather compatible with Silver, and some of the feints remind me of Swetnam's, though he'd certainly reject Meyer's many cuts.

I suspect the difference is mainly due to the levels of armor involved, but some of it could just be matter of style. Different masters liked different ways of holding the weapon. The Christian Egenolph manual, for example, uses the half-staff grip a good amount. Di Grassi also used something like a half-staff grip.

Speaking of di Grassi, he wrote that the hooks on bills could very easily tear armor.

Quote:
The maul was quite different from a pollaxe;


Depends on the maul. We don't know what type of mauls or hammers the English used at Agincourt, but Henry Barrett, writing in the 16th century, describes the archers carrying "a maule of leade with a pyke of five inches longe, well stieled, sett in a staff of fyve foote of lengthe." Sounds pretty close to a pollaxe to me.
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Hugh Knight




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PostPosted: Sat 03 Mar, 2007 11:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Coming from a background in Silver and Swetnam, I have about the same reaction to 15th-century pollaxe sources. Meyer's halberd section seems rather compatible with Silver, and some of the feints remind me of Swetnam's, though he'd certainly reject Meyer's many cuts.


Interesting. Do you have any late-period pole weapon interpretations posted anywhere I could see?

Quote:
I suspect the difference is mainly due to the levels of armor involved, but some of it could just be matter of style. Different masters liked different ways of holding the weapon. The Christian Egenolph manual, for example, uses the half-staff grip a good amount. Di Grassi also used something like a half-staff grip.


I think it *was* the armor, no question in my mind. No one talks about any comparisons, of course, but what I said about pollaxe being a very close range weapon really is true. My new students are always shocked to discover they simply can't *do* the techniques we use when they're out of arm's reach msot of the time; it really is more like dagger play than swordplay and that's surprisign to people when they see how long our axes are. Halberds were primarily used by realtively lightly-armed soldiers, so reach was part of staying safe. Pollaxes were used almost exclusively by heavily-armed men at arms and so their armor allowed them to close in to use them correctly. Halberds and pollaxes have some superficial resemblances, so people think them interchangeable, but they just aren't. They're used completely differently.

Quote:
Speaking of di Grassi, he wrote that the hooks on bills could very easily tear armor.


I haven't read that (I've only looked at his sword and buckler and shield plays) but I guarantee he's talking about yanking the armor apart (e.g., ripping arming points or pulling plates off of rivets, etc.), not tearing plate itself--and for *that* the Bec on a pollaxe is wonderful, just as I posted above.

Regards,
Hugh
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sat 03 Mar, 2007 11:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hugh,

I might misunderstand your last post as it does not flow with what I thought you wrote earlier but just to clarify. I have come across a number of indications in my readings that halbards and pole axe's were used to pierce armour.... not find gaps but go through in the medieval period. I think later from what sources I have come across this changes as the armour gets thicker (from 2mm ave. to perhaps 3 or 4mm on breastplates) making penetration less likely. I am sure on many helmets (not all some are really heavy) and backplates and other bits of armour if properly done could still could do it but not a solid breastplate. What have you read that indicates this? I think the time frame you find most the insruction from is fairly important to technique used as well.

A few years back someone did a site report on one of the swiss battles where they fought a force of germans. The number of subtancial head wounds would indicate otherwise as it is highly unlikely most went to was without helmets. I will dig about my notes for it I want to say the man was a U.S. Doctor that became obsessed with halbards and spent his retirement studying them and used this site to show how devestating they weapon was (not sure that supports they had to be halbards but it shows that very likely men with helmets could still have their skull shattered or poked).

RPM
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Hugh Knight




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PostPosted: Sun 04 Mar, 2007 12:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Moffett wrote:
I have come across a number of indications in my readings that halbards and pole axe's were used to pierce armour.... not find gaps but go through in the medieval period. I think later from what sources I have come across this changes as the armour gets thicker (from 2mm ave. to perhaps 3 or 4mm on breastplates) making penetration less likely. I am sure on many helmets (not all some are really heavy) and backplates and other bits of armour if properly done could still could do it but not a solid breastplate. What have you read that indicates this? I think the time frame you find most the insruction from is fairly important to technique used as well.


The source material I use for pollaxe is all from the middle of the 15th century. I use Le Jeu de La Hache, Talhoffer's 1459 Alte Armature und Ringkunst, Talhoffer's 1467 Fechtbuch and Paulus Kal's Fechtbuch, fleshed out tactically by various Liechtenauer-school writers (e.g., Ringeck and von Danzig).

Helmets, according to every study I've read, were as thick as breastplates. Alan Williams did a study of armor, and while I don't have it all here, I do have some of his figures from another analysis I'm working on: Of four bascinets from 1370-1380 we find that the top front averaged 2.44-4.57 mm and sthe ide or visor snouts averaged 1.27-2.54 mm.

Then we have a breastplate from about 1400 (at Churburg) which Williams estimates was probably equivalent to an average thickness of about 1.5 mm. Another breastplate c. 1470 was 2.03-2.79 mm, and five Breastplates from 1470-1510 were 1.5-2.5 mm thick, or about 2.1 mm median (this refers to the center line--breastplates were thinnner on the sides than in the front).

On top of that, according to Williams a fair quantity of armor (meant for men at arms--we're not talking about stuff for lower-class troops) from the 15th century was hardened steel. Not all of it, of course, and the quality of the hardened plate wasn't as good as we can do today, but it was better than modern mild steel (see William's The Knight and the Blast Furnace).

I own a very nice reproduction pollaxe with a very sharp Dague (the top spike). I braced a 16-gauge (less than 2mm) mild-steel breastplate in a rigid vice (which isn't realistic because a body, when hit hard, moves back, absorbing some of the force). I then brought in some of the strongest, most skilled men I could find and let them *slam* the breastplate with thrusts of the Dague as hard as they could with both pool-queue and two-handed thrusts and not a single thrust--not one- penetrated the plate. They left small dimples in it, and I've no doubt anyone wearing the breastplate would've been extremely uncomfortable, but there was *zero* penetration from any attack. None. And this in spite of the fact that the breastplate was thinner than most medieval breastplates and softer than many.

Moreover, I've read account after account of fight after fight written by men who were there--who actually saw the fighting--and very few of them report that weapons pierce plate. And of those that do, there's often something to make the facts come into doubt. For example, we've all read Froissart's account of the deed of Arms at Vannes in 1380 in which there was a fight with spears between the lord de Pousanges and the lord de Vertain. In this bout, Vertain thrust his spear so hard into his opponent's breastplate "...that it pierced through the mail and steel breastplate, and everything underneath, so that the blood gushed out..." What's interesting about this, however, is that Froissarts says "They finished their three courses and the other deeds of arms without further mischief, when they retired to repose themselves, and to be spectators of the actions of the others." Right. He was hit so hard that the spear penetrated his breastplate "so the blood gushed out" and yet he still finished this fight and three more like it? Well, it turns out that another person--who, unlike Froissart was actually there--reported it differently and suggested that the spear point actually slipped up under the lames of de Pousanges' fauld and that it didn't pierce metal at all. I don't have this reference, I was only recently informed of this, but if you don't believe me I'll get it for you since I have to put it into my database anyway.

See, too, the account of the Bastard of Burgandy and Lord Scales from Smithfield in 1461 to which I referred in an earlier post (incidentally, it comes from an article by Sydney Anglo): If you read the account without a critical eye you're likely to take it to mean that they ripped up each others' armor, when, in fact, it's far more likely they tore straps, ripped arming points, broke rivets, etc.

Quote:
A few years back someone did a site report on one of the swiss battles where they fought a force of germans. The number of subtancial head wounds would indicate otherwise as it is highly unlikely most went to was without helmets. I will dig about my notes for it I want to say the man was a U.S. Doctor that became obsessed with halbards and spent his retirement studying them and used this site to show how devestating they weapon was (not sure that supports they had to be halbards but it shows that very likely men with helmets could still have their skull shattered or poked).


Not having read the article I can't speak to it specifically, but several factors come to mind here: First, medieval chroniclers liked to spice up their tales. Does it read better to say that you hit someone so hard it killed them, or to say you sheared through his helmet and down into his body cavity? Well, the experimental evidence I've seen lets me believe in the former and smile at the latter. Moreover, fleeing troops--the ones who got hit the most in medieval battles--often ditched their helmets and a variety of other gear when they run. Read Boardman's The Medieval Soldier in the Wars of the Rosesfor a fascinating study on why routing troops were so often hit as if they didn't have helmets on for more on this. When you talk about shattered skulls, however, now you're onto something. If you hold at heavy halberd at the end and swing a huge, powerful blow at someone's helmet I think it's quite possible to hit them hard enough to shatter their skull inside the helmet without breaking the helmet at all (denting yes, cutting through, no). As I said in an earlier post, medieval helmets were lined with very thin pads that feel just about like modern potholders and were usually lined with something like horse or cow hair or even dried grass (seriously--read the Churburg catalogue!).

Regards,
Hugh
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sun 04 Mar, 2007 6:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hugh,

Thanks for the quick reply. I have read most of Alan Williams works and corresponded with him on various occasions. A few things perhaps of things you have listed. One is that breastplates and helmets were the same thickness. The quality of armour is hard to say who it was intended but there are a few 15th century breastplates and many are thinner than 1.5mm. Most armour pre last quarter of 15th from both germany and italy was not treated. In Dr. Williams major works you have a good example of this. Most armour varies alot. The ave. on the Avant suit is around 2mm. Many ave. closer to 1.5mm. Helmets do the same. This means on ave. you get a low arounf 1mm and high around 2mm. Using definites in these cases just would not work. In the end such little has been done on thickness (Williams has done a few but would agree more need be done) to gain any sort of real understanding on the thickness issue. in the 16th and 17th helmets in many cases become much thinner than breastplates closer to 1.2mm. I have some armour I worked with and got info off of regarding this, much thinner than the breastplates common at the time. It all varies though.

I study full time period sources. I basically eat drink and live them and agree you cannot take them at face value but here are many, many accounts of men being pierced by pole weapons. Someday when I have some time I will sit down and compile it. One that comes to mind is Talbot at Castillon. The accounts all indicate a halbard (or axe) penetrated his helmet and skull. I doubt penetration happened everytime, perhaps it was uncommon but the idea of armour being invulnerable is in my opinion lacking. I might dredge some up later.

I have hard time with the idea of dropping helmets and armour while fleeing in most cases. I think their reasons rarely are backed up by contemporary text and it is just as possible they died wearing them and were looted later as occasionally appears in contemporary texts. Many helmets that have been given thicknesses have side close to 1mm. I did some of my own trials with a hand made pole axe and had great results to 1.5mm with the back spike. I will test some 14 gauge someday perhaps when I have more time. I have a friend in arma who did some mean damage to a 16 gauge breastplate with a commercial pole axe.... I am sure at times people dropped stuff as fleeing but I think it will take more convincing arguements that to date I have seen.

The article actually was a grave site report commentary. It mostly dealt with the wounds inflicted on the remains. THe soft tissue is impossible to gauge but from what was there in the bone remains it would have been devastating.

I just don't buy the armour invincibility thing. I think it vastly increases your likelyhood of survival but these men knew the possible outcome of death and dealt with it the best they could knowing still their number could be up anytime.

RPM
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Sun 04 Mar, 2007 8:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Halberds were primarily used by realtively lightly-armed soldiers, so reach was part of staying safe.


Well, depending on the period, the ideal seems to have been rather heavily armored halberdiers. They could wear up to a three-quarters harness. Fourquevaux noted halberdiers often fought without armor, but strongly condemned this practice. Fourquevaux also considered halberds more effective than partisans, which he wrote could do little good against armored men. Smythe complained about pikemen leaving their pauldrons, vambraces, gauntlets, and tassets behind. He likely would have wanted halberdiers to wear all of these. Sir Roger Williams gave halberdiers a corslet and light headpiece, which shows the shift toward less armor, though it's not entirely clear what the corslet includes.

Also, remember that reach is dubious to rely on in the middle of melee. Smythe and Fourquevaux stress how tight things got when two groups of pikemen came together. I'm sure halberdiers had to come up with techniques to deal with armor in the press, though they might have been as simple as Smythe's blow at the head and thrust at the face.
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Hugh Knight




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PostPosted: Sun 04 Mar, 2007 9:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Well, depending on the period, the ideal seems to have been rather heavily armored halberdiers. They could wear up to a three-quarters harness. Fourquevaux noted halberdiers often fought without armor, but strongly condemned this practice. Fourquevaux also considered halberds more effective than partisans, which he wrote could do little good against armored men. Smythe complained about pikemen leaving their pauldrons, vambraces, gauntlets, and tassets behind. He likely would have wanted halberdiers to wear all of these. Sir Roger Williams gave halberdiers a corslet and light headpiece, which shows the shift toward less armor, though it's not entirely clear what the corslet includes.

Also, remember that reach is dubious to rely on in the middle of melee. Smythe and Fourquevaux stress how tight things got when two groups of pikemen came together. I'm sure halberdiers had to come up with techniques to deal with armor in the press, though they might have been as simple as Smythe's blow at the head and thrust at the face.


Three quarters harness *is* lightly armed when compared with someone cap a pie. That was my point.

Regards,
Hugh
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Hugh Knight




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PostPosted: Sun 04 Mar, 2007 9:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Also, remember that reach is dubious to rely on in the middle of melee. Smythe and Fourquevaux stress how tight things got when two groups of pikemen came together. I'm sure halberdiers had to come up with techniques to deal with armor in the press, though they might have been as simple as Smythe's blow at the head and thrust at the face.


When I talked about using distance for safety I was talking about single combat as is shown in Meyer, not melee. I was comparing it to single combat with the pollaxe. We had been discussing the differences between pollaxe in single combat and the halberd, and I pointed out that pollaxe combat (single combat) is very, very close range--dagger fighting range. Then I suggested (since I don't study the very different art of halberd) that halberdiers may have relied upon distance for protection in single combat since they don't have the complete armor of a man at arms with a pollaxe.

Melee is quite different. In melee distance does give some protection but it can't be relied upon. In melee you rely on lots of things: Partial armor, for example, gives better protection than it does in a single combat fight because you are also protected by your comrades around you and by the forest of shafts of their weapons.

As for techniques in melee, I think you have the right of it: The overhand blow and the thrust with the top spike, over and over, while holding the weapon long. I would argue (and did, above) that this is precisely how the pollaxe was used in melee, too. There's just no room for much else.

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Hugh
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Sun 04 Mar, 2007 11:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Halberds and pollaxes have some superficial resemblances, so people think them interchangeable, but they just aren't. They're used completely differently.


Have you read Gregory Mele's opinion on the subject? You can see it on this thread: http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?t=75840.

Quote:
Three quarters harness *is* lightly armed when compared with someone cap a pie. That was my point.


Do you really think armor on the lower leg makes a dramatic difference? Would you use completely different techniques in a three-quarters harness?
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Hugh Knight




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PostPosted: Sun 04 Mar, 2007 2:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Have you read Gregory Mele's opinion on the subject? You can see it on this thread: http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?t=75840.


No, I'll give it a look. I wasn't aware Greg practiced pollaxe, he seemed like a pure Italian sort of guy, and Fiore and Vadi don't have nearly enough pollaxe in their books to constitute a pollaxe system (contrary to what anyone says--and no, the "other stuff" isn't mysteriously hidden anywhere in their other teachings).

Quote:
Do you really think armor on the lower leg makes a dramatic difference? Would you use completely different techniques in a three-quarters harness?


First, those 3/4-armor halberdiers were the exception, not the norm. From what I've read most after the first or second rank wore a lot less, which means most halberdiers had very little armor. But yes, I think a 3/4 harness makes a *huge* difference; every gap in the harness makes a dramatic difference.

See, when you're using a pollaxe in full armor you can ignore most attacks that aren't "big"--by which I mean "cocked"; obvious, if you will. Even if you *can* break armor it still takes a relatively big action to do so, and big actions are easier to see coming and easier to defend against. Every open spot, however, is vulnerable to a fairly "light" attack requiring much less windup, much less obvious telegraphing. That means when you have more open spots you have to be much more defensive and careful; actually, the open parts aren't always even the primary target: Because you don't need much force to do damage to the open spot you can make feints to those areas which require less "committment" to be real, if you understand the sense in which I mean that. That will cause your opponent to make big defensive actions that will actually expose other targets--more lethal ones (e.g., the face and armpit).

Le Jeu tells us to constantly make attacks at the hands and feet--light jabs with the Queue that disrupt your opponent's static defense. When you expose more areas to such light attacks this works even better.

Again, all of the above refers to single combat.

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Hugh
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Felix Wang




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PostPosted: Sun 04 Mar, 2007 8:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Two comments:

A maul with a spike at the top is still not a poleaxe. Its head is of lead, so when the weapon is swung, it cannot rely on penetration but must rely on impact - too soft. This suggests that it is going to be heavier than a typical pollaxe head - or why make it of lead at all? There is also no mention of a dague at all - which plays a big part in pollaxe use, according to the manuals.

The doctor of the halberd monograph was George Snook. He cites skulls found at the Zeughaus at Solothurn, found at the site of a Dornach (battle fought 1499) which show massive, lethal skull wounds, which he thought "probably from eith halberds or two handed swords because of the deep wounds inflicted."

He also cites a fellow named Schneider, who in 1928 took a period halberd and a period armour, and proceeded to show that "turning the halberd so as to use the beak, however, he succeeded in piercing the skull of the helmet easily..."
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sun 04 Mar, 2007 10:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Felix,

Thanks for that I have been somewhat busy with a big lecture and had not time yet to go dig that up.
Thanks again,

RPM
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Mon 05 Mar, 2007 10:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
This suggests that it is going to be heavier than a typical pollaxe head - or why make it of lead at all?


Perhaps lead was cheaper. Assuming these mauls were especially heavy is pure speculation.

Quote:
There is also no mention of a dague at all - which plays a big part in pollaxe use, according to the manuals.


I thought the dague was the top spike.

Quote:
He also cites a fellow named Schneider, who in 1928 took a period halberd and a period armour, and proceeded to show that "turning the halberd so as to use the beak, however, he succeeded in piercing the skull of the helmet easily..."


Yes. The same test also managed penetration of the breastplate with the halberd's top spike.
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Hugh Knight




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PostPosted: Mon 05 Mar, 2007 11:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

[quote="Benjamin H. Abbott"]
Quote:
I thought the dague was the top spike.


That's correct.

Quote:
Yes. The same test also managed penetration of the breastplate with the halberd's top spike.


Not to sound confrontational, but these results seem strange to me, both because of what the masters tell us about fighting a man in armor and because of the experiments I've done and seen. If I understand correctly, the author of this study took an extant halberd and used it to strike an extant helmet and an extant breastplate, is that correct?

If so, is it possible that the condition of the pieces is what caused the armor to fail? I had a conversation with Bob Carrol, former armorer at the Met in NY, and he informed me that much modern armor is significantly thinner today than it was in period because of constant cleaning and polishing over the years. If that's the case then it would explain why these pieces failed.

Now don't get me wrong, I agree that in extreme circumstances it's possible to break armor, so I don't want to come across as blindly dogmatic that this never happened, it's just I'm not reading anything that sounds conclusive.

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Hugh
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Guilherme Dias Ferreira S




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PostPosted: Mon 05 Mar, 2007 11:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sorry to bother you with this simple question, but I want to know what you guys think about the most indicate weapon against plate armour, the lucerne hammer or this poleaxe: http://www.tritonworks.com/reviews?content=re...tlypoleaxe

Well, inspired by what I could learn in this topic, I think that the axe head in the knightly poleaxe (as in the halberd) is almost useless against the plate armour, and the beak in the lucern hammer could at least hook the gaps in the harness.
Also the lucerne h. hammer head has a shape that allowed to concentrate more energy to smash the plate.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Mon 05 Mar, 2007 12:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hugh,

Not to sound better than you or anything silly like that but some things to look over that I do on a fairly normal basis when I coem to this situation. When the results of a number of tests differ from my own testing I do two things. Look at my research and testing to see if and how it is flawed or look into the others research and see how they came to the results they did. I think the Royal Military Colelge in Sandhurst (I think) and the R.A. had tests on this as well that showed the backspike was able to penetrate but could not track down the refernce just yet, I will contact one of my friends at the R.A. and ask. I think Alan Williams also figured out the rough force on it and has a model of the factors of when and how it could penetrate, though I do not know how he went about doing this. After going over successful tests you may indeed find why their worked and faults with it or ways to focus yours.

As far as Bob Carrol. A great person I am sure but I do not think it really completely true. I think for sure there are examples of armour being degenerated to great lengths from corrosion or perhaps a few from over zealous care but there is alot of armour that I have handled both where I worked and at the R.A as well as other large collections that were either a, excavated or b, found in a castle/parish store that had rarely if ever been cleaned up and were rarely much different in thickness to others in the collections. I think over cleaning alittle on the lower cases list of armour destruction. Now talk about how people butchered pieces for trophies to hang over their tomb and I will go with it or decided to turn the backplate into a breastplate, yep have seen those but over polishing, I have noted very little difference between the cleaned helmets in our collection and those which are not. That said out collection only has about a hundred and fifty or so helmets so it is a small sample in the long run but I think it gives a fair idea.
That being said I am sure from the armour I have seen thickness varied all over the place depending on the market and use. Who knows how a helmet of similar style if it was even remotely the same thickness. Even adding on thickness for degeneration your talking in the .0'smm or .00'smm not full on mm's unless Attila the curator was on duty at that time.
When I am back in the states I will let you know and perhaps we can set up a trial or something. My forge just sits dormant most of the year and I still have some medium carbon steel lying about. My parents live just a hop, skip and a jump away. My work keeps me pretty busy and I might not get a vacation back to the U.S. this year but I think the main issue of testing would be to show what allows the weapon to penetrate or not, heat treated, thickness, what part of the poleaxe is in use etc. I think the backspike seems most suited to over the dague but some of the halbards in our colelction have shapes similar to chisels.

Guilherme,

I do not think either is useless against plate. The hammer head to me seems more useful but I am sure the axehead could leave you thinking it was just as effective. Even a sword can ding you up inside armour. It will never cut through the plate armour but could still do you damage. I agree that the hammer seems like it would do you worse though.

RPM
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Mon 05 Mar, 2007 12:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
If I understand correctly, the author of this study took an extant halberd and used it to strike an extant helmet and an extant breastplate, is that correct?


Yes. It was a munitions-grade harness, not something made for a noble. I don't know if the test included any padding. The halberd was from about 1600, and probably not as effective against armor as an earlier one would have been. In recounting the test, Waldman actually seems most bothered by the fact that blade didn't do anything against the armor, and tries to explain this away.

As far as piercing frontal plate defenses goes, I would think the fauld would be a better target than the breastplate. Fiore at least talks about piercing something with the dague. And you see penetration in some period artwork. For example:
http://base.kb.dk/pls/hsk_web/hsk_vis.side?p_...p_lang=eng

http://base.kb.dk/pls/hsk_web/hsk_vis.side?p_...p_lang=eng
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Hugh Knight




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PostPosted: Mon 05 Mar, 2007 12:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Guilherme Dias Ferreira S wrote:
Sorry to bother you with this simple question, but I want to know what you guys think about the most indicate weapon against plate armour, the lucerne hammer or this poleaxe: http://www.tritonworks.com/reviews?content=re...tlypoleaxe

Well, inspired by what I could learn in this topic, I think that the axe head in the knightly poleaxe (as in the halberd) is almost useless against the plate armour, and the beak in the lucern hammer could at least hook the gaps in the harness.
Also the lucerne h. hammer head has a shape that allowed to concentrate more energy to smash the plate.


They are really just about the same, honestly. The beak on the thing you are calling a "Lucerne Hammer" was used to hook things, you're right, but I think that's what the axe blade on the other kind of pollaxe was for, too. Here's a picture of the one Arms and Armor copied to make the axe in the picture you sent:
http://www.myArmoury.com/view.html?features/p...eaxe03.jpg
Do you see the sharp tip at the bottom of the axe blade? Well, that tip makes a *very* powerful hook. When you do the knee hook technique in Le Jeu de La Hache (#22) if you use this style of axe to do it (which is not the kind of axe Le Jeu talks about, by the way) the sharp tip of the axe blade actually hooks into the flesh in the back of the target's knee in an extremely painful way. And it works even better than the other style for hooking inside pauldron plates and other spots where you want to pull armor apart so you can stab the soft bits underneath.

As for smashing, that's what the hammer head on the other style of pollaxe is for. If you look closely you'll see that the flat surface of the hammer head is covered with sharp little teeth. These work to grab the surface of the metal you're striking in just the same way as the longer teeth on the pollaxe you call a "Lucerne Hammer". They really work, too: When we use my axe to strike plate those little teeth actually leave small "bites" (dimples, really) in the steel that prevent it from sliding.

And when you speak of being "useless against plate armor" I wonder if perhaps you misunderstand how a pollaxe was actually used. For all the folks on here that talk about how armor can be broken with halberds, when you read the actual master's books you find that no one expected you to be able to do so. A pollaxe was really primarily a spear in single combat. You used the spikes on the top and bottom to stab at the gaps between plates or at poorly-protected targets (e.g., the feet if your opponent wasn't wearing sabatons) for most things; you could also use the hammer head to strike to the head or hands, but those are about the only targets designated for swinging blows, and both of those targets can be very adequately damaged without breaking the plate armor at all. I believe (although no source actively talks about using a pollaxe in melee) that when you use the axe "long" in battles you did do a lot more swinging blows, but I am also completely certain that, again, your targets were heads and hands when fighting fully-armored opponents.

As for names, I don't know who came up with the name "Lucerne Hammer", but in period both types of axe you mention (and the third type with an axe blade and spike) were all called simply "pollaxes" ("poll" comes from the word for head, just like a "poll tax"; the word "pole axe" is a misnomer), or even just "axes". The primary source we have for pollaxe combat is a Burgundian book called "Le Jeu de La Hache" or "The Play of the Axe"; the author is *very* specific about the axe he describes, and it has a hammer head on one side and a spike on the back. Talhoffer's Fechtbücher refer to "Streitaxt"; again, "axe" being the important word, even though he specifically shows weapons with a hammer on one side and a spike on the other. Fiore talks about "L'azza" or "the axe". Frankly, I suspect that most of the time when we read an English translation of a medieval text from later than the third quarter of the 14th century that mentions an "axe" or "battle axe" what they *really* meant in the original text is a pollaxe--often with no axe blade on it at all. The term "Lucerne Hammer" may be useful to distinguish a specific construction type, but I believe it's misleading in that it makes people misunderstand what's meant by pollaxe.

Regards,
Hugh
www.schlachtschule.org
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Hugh Knight




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PostPosted: Mon 05 Mar, 2007 12:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

[quote="Benjamin H. Abbott"]
Quote:
Yes. It was a munitions-grade harness, not something made for a noble. I don't know if the test included any padding. The halberd was from about 1600, and probably not as effective against armor as an earlier one would have been. In recounting the test, Waldman actually seems most bothered by the fact that blade didn't do anything against the armor, and tries to explain this away.


Ah, then there we may have part of the issue. Munitions-grade armor was dead soft and a noble--someone who'd be fighting pollaxe to pollaxe could probably have afforded better.

Quote:
As far as piercing frontal plate defenses goes, I would think the fauld would be a better target than the breastplate. Fiore at least talks about piercing something with the dague.


Actually, I think you have two things that go well together here: Remember what I said about the new source on the Vannes deed of arms? The implication was that the spear point slipped between the lames of the fauld to stab. If you've ever worn armor you know that when you walk or lean or bend forward the lames of the fauld gap--sometimes alarmingly, and I believe stabbing between these lames is an excellant technique. It is this, in my oponion, that Fiore is talking abut when he says to stab through the breastplate. You can't take all such comments at completely face value; in the last halfsword technique Fiore shows a stab to the face of someone wearing an open-faced helmet but the text says "The sword goes through the harness." which, if taken out of context, might make someone believe you could stab a sword through armor.

Quote:
And you see penetration in some period artwork. For example:
http://base.kb.dk/pls/hsk_web/hsk_vis.side?p_...p_lang=eng

http://base.kb.dk/pls/hsk_web/hsk_vis.side?p_...p_lang=eng


Both of those plates are from Talhoffer's Alte Armatur und Ringkunst; this book is one of the primary sources for my Schule. If you look at them closely you'll see that the armor completely and almost hermetically covers the wearer everywhere but the face (these are serious life-or-death combats, so it's very common to leave visors up or off)--in fact, it's not physically possible for armor to cover so thoroughly, this is merely artistic misrepresentation. Just look how far the breastplate comes up in the standing figure on the left in the first picture.

What Talhoffer is really showing here is a thrust to the armpit in the one case and to the gap between the pauldron and bevor and breasplate in the other.

Regards,
Hugh
www.schlachtschule.org
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Mon 05 Mar, 2007 1:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
the gap between the pauldron and bevor and breasplate in the other.


Interesting. How much of a gap is there in this case? It doesn't look like much of one, but I've never worn a harness. Is it easy to push a point through, or does it require some force behind the blow?
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