• Gabe B

Perfect polearm part 1

Over the course of history, there have been many polearm styles, especially in Medieval Europe. Soldiers would use anything from simple spears to bizarre polearms with hyphens in their names. Spears are, and have been, universal, so they have had the least differences. Cut-and-thrust polearms are the most diverse in design. Even knights have a variety (though see part 2 for them). Which of these is best for the common soldier?

The contexts for the use of cut-and-thrust polearms is twofold. Firstly, they were used in formations in battles. Secondly, they were used by guardsmen.

Stance applies to both contexts of use. The most common stance is the low guard. This guard is one in which the point is threatening the opponent. It is most useful in tight formations. From this stance, one can thrust, hook, lightly cut, and rebate. In formations, the thrust is key. If a thrust misses, one would make a raking motion to hook (and possibly cut) the opponent. In a formation, the hook would allow for one's allies to deliver the final hit. As a guard, one may use this stance with a tiny bit more cutting, though mostly with the intent to subdue, often by hooking.

Low guard- Swetnam, 1617

As a guard, one may use a wrath-like stance (akin to a baseball stance). This stance is one which the butt is used to prod at the opponent and swing in an opportune moment to kill or trip. This stance wouldn't work in a formation, though it is reasonable for defence against blows.

Miller, 1735

There are many other stances, but these are the two most common that are completly different from each other.

According to George Silver, the Welsh hook (aka guisarme) and the bill are the best weapons. For the most part, he is right, though the halberd comes close, especially because it out lasted them (though not the simple square halberd). They all have a central point (though the Welsh hook may not). They all have excellent hooking capacity on both sides of their heads. Also, they all have a fairly substantial cutting edge (again Welsh hook may be an outlier).

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