Universal weapon: spear and mace

On April 5, 1242, the famous battle between the Livonian Order and the units of the north-eastern Russian principalities led by Alexander Nevsky took place on Lake Peipsi. The Battle on the Ice still raises debates among historians about its scale, significance, composition and exact location of the battle. The familiar image of the battle was formed after 1938 mainly due to the film “Alexander Nevsky” by Sergei Eisenstein, in which the formidable German knights in terrible heavy armor meet with Russian “heroes” and beat each other with swords and not only. Yuri Kukin tried to find out what else he fought besides the sword on Lake Peipsi: the history of spears and maces in the material diletant.media.

"Battle on the Ice". Miniature of the Facial Chronicle of the mid-16th century

The weapons of Europeans and Russian warriors in the XIII century were in many ways similar, which is not surprising, given the common roots, for example, of the Viking legacy. So, battle axes were used by warriors on both sides. In addition, both Russians and Europeans had a similar manner of fighting: the emphasis was on cavalry, consisting of more affluent and, accordingly, better armed people, while the rest fought on foot, using simpler weapons.

A spear

Types of copies

And spears cracked, and the sound of swords rang out, and there was a slashing so angry that the ice on the lake began to move: there was no ice, it was covered all over.twist

From “The Life of Alexander Nevsky”

Spear was, in fact, one of the most common weapons for a long time for several reasons. First, the spear was not such an expensive and prestigious weapon as the same sword. The spear was still used by primitive people: it was a stick sharpened at one end. Even in the Middle Ages, such a spear was still popular among poor peasants who could not afford more advanced weapons.

The shaft of the foot warrior's spears reached five meters

Secondly, the spear is a universal weapon. It was used by both riders and foot soldiers, so this weapon was present on Lake Peipsi in the arsenal of both sides. The shaft of the spear of the Russian foot warrior (spear) reached two meters, cavalry - three. The tip of the spear was called "feather." Its size was inversely proportional to the size of the shaft with a length of 25–40 cm: the shorter the spear, the more powerful and larger the feather, and vice versa.

The tip of the spear - the spear of the Russian foot warrior

And, thirdly, the spear could be used, including, as a throwing weapon - a dart, for the Russians - a sulitz. Such weapons are lighter and smaller than other varieties. The Elder Livonian rhymed chronicle states that the Russian wars "had countless bows," but it is believed that the bow could not completely replace the sulitsu: this spear was used when approaching the enemy either to defeat the enemy, or threw into a shield to make it heavy uncomfortable to protect.

Tip of Sulitsa


A mace, a type of club, can also be considered a universal weapon in the sense that any warrior could have it. The mace was a wooden or metal rod, the shock of which was crowned with a heavy spherical head (first stone, and then metal). Reaching a length of 50–80 cm, the mace was a more modern and more sophisticated mace — a baton with a thickened hammer.

Mace was the favorite weapon of the European clergy

Types of clubs

It was believed that the mace, as well as the club, was the favorite weapon of the European militant clergy, who went on crusades, because it could cause serious damage without shedding blood, that is, without leaving open wounds. However, with the development of cavalry, it came to be understood that this shock-shattering weapon can be effectively used to strike both the rider in order to knock him off the horse, and on the enemy on foot.

Having ceased to be a weapon, the mace became a symbol of the “commander”.

It is the mace and its varieties (for example, a six-feather-mace with six metal feathers) will be considered the symbol of a “warlord”. However, with the development of armor as a weapon, it will fade into the background, being not so effective in battle.

Watch the video: Spears are better than swords: scientific proof (February 2020).


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