By Rob Morgan
The appearance of the top 10 medieval weapons in The Basiliscoe Mercury e-newsletter begged this second list to be written or attempted, obviously. Now it’s turned up courtesy of the medievalists.net. Lots of argument possible over this: Is the gentleman at number 10 really a medievalist? A Renaissance man surely, and numbers 7 and 8 do rather overlap. And for that matter was number 4 seen in action beyond the extremely early Byzantine period?
Anyway, worth a moment’s consideration. Here they are.
- Flying Crow with fire
- Man catcher
- Plumb dart
- Repeating crossbow
- Greek Fire
- Conrad Keyser’s war cart
- Hussite war wagon
- Spring Bow
- Leonardo’s military drawings
Not as easy to assemble a “strangest” list for the medieval era, since strange weapons abounded.
Greek Fire and the Hussite wagons would find a place in any decent list, of course, but careful examination of Conrad’s cart leaves me wondering just how I’d make a 15mm model of one! Quicklime’s a good choice too, as it was quite extensively used in naval warfare; there are rules around for its use. It has its limitations though and can be double-edged, of course. As for the “flying crow” one of the two Chinese weapons in the list, well, pigs, cows, dogs and sundry other poor creatures found a place in Chinese and Mongol armouries on occasion, but making a crow fly in a straight line toward your opponent might be a little difficult! The man catcher’s intriguing. There’s one on the castle wall in Ghent, and it does look useful. If I recall one of the Fosten medieval books has an illustration of a man catcher in use. This one looks as though it could only be used on a well-armoured knight.
I’d heard of the “spring bow,” but only as an assassin’s weapon. A booby trap. It’s said that the English King Edmund Ironside was killed by one. Hm?