A look at some unique and unusual Medieval Weapons

The Middle Ages was a time of much conflict and warfare. During this time many unusual weapons were created to solve battlefield problems. Many of these weapons are familiar to us such as the sword, axe, or lance. But there were many lesser known and unusual weapons that were created during this time in history.

Not all weapons were created specifically for battle or for hand to hand combat against an armored foe and a good example of this was the Man Catcher. This unusual weapon was a long pole arm with a semi-circular pronged shape catch at the end. There was a spring-loaded trap on it and it was used to reach up, capture, and pull down someone mounted on a horse. The primary use of this weapon was to capture enemy royalty for later ransom.

The Gun Shield

Gun shield

This was a shield believed to be used by the personal body guard of Henry VIII. It is of Italian design and it has, at its center, a breech loading match lock pistol. In use around 1544-1547. The small square above the barrel of the gun is an observation port.






Here is a picture of an actual gun shield that is on display in the Higgins Armory. I have more information about this armory here: The Higgins Armory

Gun Shield

My thanks go to a web visitor (Brad) who made a gun shield out of cardboard! Thanks Brad!

Want to make unusual weapons and armor out of paper mache and cardboard? I have a whole lot of projects on my other website here: Paper Mache and Cardboard Weapons and Armor


Medieval Spiked Flail

This ancient weapon was once used by foot soldiers as a deadly weapon. After the 16th Century, flails were used only as historical decoration. Each fine replica is hand crafted from top quality materials. The 1 lb spiked steel ball is supported by a studded chain attached to a 15 1/2" rivited hardwood handle. Also available in a double ball.




This is a brand new pair of medieval armor gauntlets. This will make a wonderful piece in your medieval artwork collection. This is strictly for decoration only! For your own protection, do not wear this or any other armor in any combat activity unless it is approved by SCA Officials prior to event. The manufacture and we are not responsible for inappropriate and unauthorized use of this product; always follow SCA rules and guidelines. This medieval armor gauntlets is made to look antique with 18 gauge steel metal hand polished finishing; therefore, please do not think this is a used or a piece of museum art. The pair set of Medieval Armor Gauntlets come in one complete box.





The Sword breaker was another unique weapon developed and used during the Middle Ages. This was a long and very sturdy dagger that had slots on one side much like the teeth of a comb. This was a standard off hand weapon that was used to capture an opponent’s sword blade. Once the blade was caught a quick twist of the sword breaker would snap the opponent’s sword blade.

Not all weapons were hand-held and the caltrop is a good example of the ingenuity of the art of combat and the dynamics of the battlefield. The caltrop was a fabrication of metal that had four points much like a childs Jack. The unique thing about the caltrop was that if you threw it on the ground, because of the four pointed structure, it would always fall with one point standing straight up and this was a serious danger and deterrent to cavalry or even foot soldiers. The Sword Breaker shown in the picture here is available at Amazon.com The Knights Swordbreaker Dagger

Some of the most unique and unsual designs in weapons were in the realm of the dagger and many different daggers came out of the Middle Ages including the Rondel which was a long conical shaped dagger. It was specifically a piercing weapon and it’s conical shape made it look much like a long and slender ice cream cone. The Poniard was another unusual dagger because it had either a square or triangular shape. This shape was effective for piercing armor.

The Middle Ages saw a trememdous development in many types of weapons. Some of these weapons are still in use today but some of the more unique ones, because of their very specific applications, are no longer seen. Yet they remain as a testament to the nature of the medieval battlefield.

The Spring loaded Triple Dagger

the triple dagger

The Triple Dagger was an unusual weapon used by fencers in the European Middle Ages. It was a weapon that had a bit of trickery about it. At first appearance it was a normal dagger. But when the wielder pressed a release the two spring loaded sides came out to form a "V". This was a rather effective weapon for parrying and capturing an opponents weapon, particularly if it was a longer weapon like a rapier.

The drawing here shows it in the closed and open positions.

The Strangest Medieval Weapon ever created: The Lantern Shield

After the Dark Ages the world was thrust into a two hundred year period of incredible creativity and growth called “The Renaissance”. This creative force of time brought about some wonderful masterpieces. It also brought us some really quirky and odd ideas. One of these ideas was the lantern shield.

The Lantern Shield originated in sixteenth century Italy. This was a time of the late Renaissance when creativity was at its maximum and a lot of things were being created. One of the basic tenets of creativity is that of fusion where things are added together to make a new thing. The Lantern shield is a good example of this fusion – taken too far. It attempts to create something that has defensive characteristics, offensive characteristics and even a bit of psychological warfare!

What is a Lantern Shield?

It is a small shield in the shape of a buckler and generally about a foot in diameter. And this basic shield was turned into a veritable swiss army knife of a weapon by the addition of a variety of other things such as a gauntlet with serrated blades. These serrations were theoretically used to break an opponent’s blade. There was also a long blade attached to the shield that ran parallel to the users shield arm. This could be used to thrust at an opponent. The shield also often had spikes protruding from it which could be used as piercing weapons. But the most unusual thing about this weapon, and the thing that gives it its name, is the lantern. It had a hook in the middle of the shield where a lantern could be attached and often times there was a leather flap covering this lantern. The theory was that if attacked the wielder could throw open the flap and the light from the lantern would dazzle and confuse the attacker. It was a bit of psychological warfare thrown in to the mix.

The use of the Lantern Shield

Generally, the lantern shield is believed to have been used not for combat but for walking around Italian cities at night. It was protection against ruffians and robbers more so than against combatants in battle.

How effective was it as a weapon?

The effectiveness of the Lantern Shield in real combat is questionable but in the context of walking around a dangerous city at night it does warrant some interesting conclusions. First off, it was probably very ominous looking and any would be robber was probably inclined to just move on to the next victim. And if a combative situation arose the whole contraption was probably reasonably effective at staving off injury much in the same way as a porcupine does! The addition of the lantern was also a strong deterrent against attack because any nighttime robber would just avoid the illumination and exposure. So as a real weapon it was probably not very good but as a deterrent it was probably reasonably effective. Any robber or ruffian seeing someone carrying this thing would probably just move on to the next victim.


The BrandiStock:

The BrandiStockIt was a pole weapon that had a retractable blade. the blade could be one or three pronged and they were held stored in a hollow cavity of the handle. If the polearm were thrust forward sharply the blades would slide out and lock into place. This type of weapon was also called a buttafuore or feather staff











Recognize this Strange Medieval Weapon?

I got an email from someone. Here is what he has to say about it:

I bought this spear about 26 yrs ago in Australia. The man told me it was from New Guinea . It is about 5.5 ft long, solid one piece hand carved, spme kind of real hsrd wood, possibly teak.
Any idea what this is and what would it be for? Have u seen anthing like this?
Why would anyone spend so much time to carve such one piece hardwood into this shape?

If you know what this is send me an email!

Note about this weapon above: I got an email from a web visitor who found this link. It is a New Guinea Spear: http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/309.1978/ It is a three pronged spear: Minj, Anglimp-South Waghi District, Jiwaka Province, Papua New Guinea - I have a picture of a Papau New Guinea native holding a spear exactly like this New development: one. Check it out here.


Want to Make your own Unusual Medieval Weapon?

On my other website I have a whole lot of projects on making weapons including this one:

A Khopesh SwordAncient Egyptian Sword: A Khopesh This is an easy project where you can make a cardboard sword called a Khopesh. It is half axe and half sword and a 3,000 year old design. Make a Khopesh Sword




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