Medieval Weapons

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  • Topic: Archery, Infantry, Middle Ages
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  • Published : April 6, 2003
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Medieval Weapons

Medieval society, in spite of its stereotypes, was not inherently more violent than modern society. "Although there was no state in the modern sense, and therefore no set of laws that inherently took away the power of the average man or woman to exercise violence, the violence of the day was considered differently, and with out the inherent sense of criminality that accompanies it today. Our understanding of the weapons of the medieval world is skewed by the vast disarming of the "the civilian" that is taken for granted today, yet is a vastly different situation compared to what existed in many parts of " the West" as little as seven years ago.

Medieval weapons and armor are, for better or for worse, generally considered in light of the knight and the nobility. The nobility, fighting as heavy cavalry, had exerted a tremendous influence on the battlefield. In spite of the pressures brought to bear on the knight by the increased use of the longbow, crossbow, handgun, and pike, heavy cavalry continued to play an absolutely essential role on the battlefield.

The 14th-16th century saw great chanteys in weapons and armor, not because they "evolved" per se, but because they changed to maintain their effectiveness under deferent conditions, as John Clements puts in his book Medieval Swordsmanship "after all, swards did not get sharper, stronger, or especially more effective after the middle Ages. They did not evolve as guns did to become more accurate, of longer range, and with father rates of fire with each successive generation. Instead, as threats to knight increased in capability, and as the knight himself and the masculine pronoun is appropriate here became more and more specialized at breaking formations, and also better at doing so, the cycle of adaptation resulted in a wide variety of new forms of weapons and armor.

By the fourteenth century, improvements in the range and power of the crossbow had made it an indispensable tool...
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