Today, the whole point of warfare is to kill the enemy as quickly as possible using methods and weapons that inflict as little pain as possible. In the Middle Ages, however, the goal in warfare was to terrify the enemy into submission and retreat. Weapons were built and used in order to create as much agony as necessary to demonstrate power and prowess. While medieval warriors used many different weapons to kill, some were far more nasty and deadly than others. Below are the eight deadliest weapons that were used in medieval times.
Sometimes called Morning Star or Holy Water Sprinkler – there was absolutely nothing holy about this weapon – the flail was used mostly by peasants to drive assailants off their land. No doubt, it was also used on the battlefield. The goal was to strike the enemy on his head or anywhere where it hurt the most.
2. Greek Fire
This incendiary weapon was developed by the Byzantines around 672 AD. They were so secretive that the ingredients are still unknown to this day.
The Byzantines used Greek fire primarily in naval battles to ensure a quick victory over their enemies and to obtain and maintain dominance in the Eastern Mediterranean. Whatever ingredients were used, Greek fire was so strong, water could not put it out.
The trebuchet is a large, counter-weight catapult that was invented in France in the 12th century, but first used in the Siege of Tyre in 1124. This mighty war machine could fling projectiles – rocks and dead animals – that weighed up to 350 pounds. The trebuchet was so powerfully built, it was able to fling objects, even the heavier ones, for over half a mile away from enemy fortifications. The besieged must have trembled in their boots!
4. Boiling Oil
Boiling oil was commonly used in siege warfare. From the battlements, defenders poured boiling oil onto the heads of offenders in attempt to keep them from scaling the walls. However, strategy employed determined an army’s success more so than the weapons they used. Although brutal and excruciatingly painful, boiling oil often did not save the defenders from defeat.
5. Flaming Arrows
No warrior ever went wrong with the flaming arrow. It struck terror into the hearts of the enemy, inflicted severe injury and pain, and most important, was easy to use. All a man had to do was light the arrowhead on fire, nock the arrow, pull the bowstring (upwards), determine its target, and fire!
Commonly known as a lance, the pike was used by the soldiers at the vanguard of a charging army to pierce through enemy cavalry and infantry which they did successfully many times over.
7. Batter Ram
The batter ram was made up of large logs that required a significant amount of manpower to knock down a door. It took several tries, but since batter rams were so heavy and sturdy, attacking armies often – if not always – successfully penetrated fortifications.
8. Broad Sword
Used by knights and cavalry, the broad sword was long, lean, and mean. It could slice off an enemy’s arm, leg, or even head effortlessly if used properly and strategically.
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