Medieval Swords and Armor were NOT heavy!

That medieval swords and armor were ‘heavy’ is one of the strangest misconceptions of medieval life.  These people’s LIVES depended on their agility and ability to survive a fight.  Why would they be wielding 20 pound swords and wearing armor so heavy if they fell of their horse, they’d find themselves as helpless as upturned turtles? One reason for the confusion comes from the fact that ornamental swords and armor that remain to us often ARE heavier than ones used in battle, secondly, the sport of ‘fencing’ has greatly confused people as to what sword fighting really entailed (the purpose of fencing is to poke your opponent with the tip; the purpose of sword fighting is to get your opponent on the ground and shove your 2 lb. sword through his midsection to kill him), and thirdly, that in the Read more…

The Medieval Gait

Recently, a reader posted a link to a video positing that people in the Middle Ages walked differently than people do now. http://digg.com/video/walking-different-medieval-times They did this because of the idea that most medieval footwear didn’t include hard soles, so walking toe to heel instead of heel to toe allowed a person to negotiate hazards better. The author references medieval images of people with their toes pointed out, like a ballet dancer now, and particularly points to manuals about warfare. This idea has been shared all over the internet this month, and being interested in medieval things, I wanted to know if I’ve been thinking about medieval people all wrong. I also decided to write about it because my first instinct was to think this theory is absurd, but if I’m wrong, I want to know it. What  Roland Warzecha doesn’t delve into, Read more…

Medieval Siege Weapons

Within the world of medieval warfare, there were multiple kinds of siege weapons:  ballistas, battering rams, trebuchets, and catapults.  ‘Catapult’ can be used as a more general term for all throwing siege weapons:  “Catapults are siege engines using an arm to hurl a projectile a great distance. Any machine that hurls an object can be considered a catapult, but the term is generally understood to mean medieval siege weapons. The name is derived from the Greek ‘to hurl a missle’.  Originally, “catapult” referred to a stone-thrower, while “ballista” referred to a dart-thrower, but the two terms swapped meaning sometime in the fourth century AD. Catapults were usually assembled at the site of a siege, and an army carried few or no pieces of it with them because wood was easily available on site. Catapults can be classified according to the Read more…