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Halberd (also known as the Halbard, Halbert, Swiss Voulge)
Time Period: 13th century to present
Location: Europe
Common Construction: Steel with a wooden shaft

The halberd is probably the most recognizable polearm, and is generally considered the most advanced. It consists of an axe blade, a pike, and a hook all mounted to a long wooden shaft. It was capable of thrusting, chopping, slashing, and dismounting horsemen by catching their armor with the hook.

The halberd was first adopted by Swiss armies in the 14th century, but its use spread to all of Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries. It was equally suitable against infantry and cavalry, but the halberd's effectiveness was directly tied to its use in a formation. A lone halberdier was no more dangerous than a swordsman, but twenty halberdiers against twenty swordsmen was an altogether different battle.

As combat tactics shifted away from pikemen vs. pikemen, the halberd became more of a defensive weapon used to protect arquebusiers and crossbowmen from cavalry. Its use as a combat weapon eventually diminished towards the end of the 16th century, but it remains a ceremonial weapon to the present day.

CE 13th Century, CE 14th Century, CE 15th Century, CE 16th Century, History, Medieval Europe, Polearm, Present, Weapon


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