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Warhammer
Time Period: 14th-15th century
Location: Europe

Warhammer is a general term that refers primarily to one handed weapons designed to counter the use of heavy plate armor of the 14th and 15th century. There are two different designs for the warhammer with slightly different uses. First is the flat hammer head similar to a modern hammer. The flat head concentrates a great deal of energy onto a very small area, allowing it to transfer concussive force through heavy armor and break the bones of the person behind the armor even if the strike doesn't penetrate.

The second is a pronged hammer head, which is used more like a can opener. The initial strike is intended to break or rip open the armor so that further blows can injure the person inside. Some warhammers had a pick on the opposite end to increase their versatility much like a crowbill.

The warhammer is a far less glamorous weapon than the sword, and as such there is less information about it, such as when and where the weapon originated, common construction, or its status on the battlefield as a standard issue weapon or a specialist tool. As the heaviest armors fell out of favor in the 16th century, so did the weapons designed to penetrate them. In countries such as India and Persia the crowbill remained a valuable weapon that could pierce chain mail and still had a hammer on the opposite end to apply concussive force when necessary.

The two most common construction techniques are:
1) A wooden handle attached to the head by two metal strips riveted to it. The grip is usually bound with leather. This was more common before metallurgical advances allowed the production of higher qualities of steel.

2) An all metal design that is typically much slimmer and smaller than its wooden counterpart, with a small hand guard right above the grip. This design persisted as long as warhammers were used in combat.

CE 14th Century, CE 15th Century, General Term, History, Mace, Medieval Europe, Weapon


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