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Forum LockedThe Axe vs. The Sword

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Eondt View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Eondt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Oct-2006 at 02:45
The axe never dissapeared from the battlefield in the late medieval period. The one-handed axe was still a favourite of mounted knights. The two-handed axe just changed into more specialised weapons like the halberd and pole-axe.
 
Both the sword and axe was popular. Both were used and both were effective, just under different circumstances.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Desperado Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Oct-2006 at 05:28
Well, it's difficult to say whether the halberd is a result of axe or spear evolution. For me, it's hard to point out a situation where the axe is more effective than the sword.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Eondt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Oct-2006 at 09:21
I agree, the halberd is a combination of spear/axe and thats the reason polearms (halberd, poleaxe) is so often grouped together as their design were often very similar (thrust and cleave) and the length of the weapons meant that the technical use of the weapons were very similar.
 
Situations where sword is favourable to the axe: Duels, unarmoured opponents, dressing up for court.
 
Situations where axe is favourable to the sword: Any situation where a mass-weapon would have been preferred i.e. armoured opponents.
 
A much more interesting question I think would be to ask which mass-weapon was more effective: The mace, war-hammer or axe?
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Desperado Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Oct-2006 at 09:51
The mace and warhammer were sometimes preffered in knight vs knight battle because:
1) Religious reasons: the aristocracy and the Medieval fighting elites( especially templars, hospitaliers etc.) used it due to religious doctrine that it's a sin to shed a fellow christian's blood, then using such weapons you can disable your foe without doing so.
2) The captured alive enemy was a source of rich ransom, so it's of great importance to keep his live though defeating him.

One of the french kings (I've read this in one of the Osprey's books French Medieval Knight 1000-1300 or French Armies of the Hundred Years War) was struck in the helmet by a mace armed monk with such a force that he could barely remain in the saddle.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vivek Sharma Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Oct-2006 at 05:36
An axe is the best weapon for an infantryman. If you have a two sided axe with stteel or iron handle which is longer (long axe), pointe at the top (for piercing), used two handed, nobody can beat the axeman, cavalry included. What is the important is the way the axe shold be used. Not like the Western warriors, more like the eastern marital arts the chinese use of the long sword, Indian Lathi or Indian kalaripayatt.

What works to the advantage of the axeman in such cases is that the centrifugal force does his work packing in many times the force than a sword can possibly have.

Any of the members who are proficient in martial arts can for an experiment try this & belive me after the first practice itself you will feel that the axe is superior. Only reason it maynot have become popular is that it would need practice & concentration.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Eondt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Oct-2006 at 08:55
Eh..heh and how exactly would the axe be used differently in EMA as opposed to WMA?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Penelope Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Oct-2006 at 02:13

The 2-sided axe would definately appear intimadating, but if the person wielding the axe isnt properly trained to use the axe, it is useless in battle.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vikingrage Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Oct-2006 at 20:36
Axes were also used to throw at enemies, to stick into their shields if blocked and causing an off balance of the shield and dead weight giving the thrower an advantage in the melee confrontation.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Penelope Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Oct-2006 at 01:26
Yes, a sheild can definetely be broken by certain axes. Also, i would like to mention that many axes were actually made to be longer than the length of a human body.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hellios Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Oct-2006 at 03:00
Long sword (no shield) vs long axe (no shield), hard to say.  A long axe might be able to block a long sword strike, but can a long sword block a long axe strike?
 
Long sword (no shield) vs short axe (with shield), hard to say.
 
Short or broad sword (with shield) vs long axe (no shield), the swordsman usually won because the shield would take 1 or 2 hits (before becoming useless) while he struck the axeman's exposed areas.
 
Short or broad sword (with shield) vs short axe (with shield), not sure, but I think the swordsman.
 
Vs cavalrymen & archers, the axe.
 


Edited by Hellios - 14-Oct-2006 at 22:28
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RedBaron Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Oct-2006 at 09:12
In a charge, the axe can be very effectice, with it crashing down with the weight of the soldier and all his friends behind it. However, when in close combat, it is hard to make short sharp strikes with an axe, unless you are a blood crazed nord barbarian. :D So, unless the axe is for throwing id say the sword.
"the most dangerous moment comes with victory"
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Travis Congleton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Oct-2006 at 09:37
"Short or broad sword (with shield) vs long axe (no shield), the swordsman usually won because the shield would take 1 or 2 hits (before becoming useless) while he struck the axeman's exposed areas."
========================================
In theory, that is what we would assume.  However, even the bend force of the axe hitting the shield has a tremendous impact on the defender.  It will, without a doubt, shuffle the defender off balance. 

Determining a victor by the weapon used is too difficult to do.  To many other variables are not accounted.  Terrain, weather conditions (if it is raining and windy, blowing rain into your eyes as the opponent charges),  health, quality of weapon, etc...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hellios Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Oct-2006 at 22:32
Originally posted by Travis Congleton Travis Congleton wrote:

"Short or broad sword (with shield) vs long axe (no shield), the swordsman usually won because the shield would take 1 or 2 hits (before becoming useless) while he struck the axeman's exposed areas."
========================================
In theory, that is what we would assume.  However, even the bend force of the axe hitting the shield has a tremendous impact on the defender.  It will, without a doubt, shuffle the defender off balance. 

Determining a victor by the weapon used is too difficult to do.  To many other variables are not accounted.  Terrain, weather conditions (if it is raining and windy, blowing rain into your eyes as the opponent charges),  health, quality of weapon, etc...
 
Agreed.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vivek Sharma Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Oct-2006 at 01:30
In battles, the soldiers would definitely be armoured. The sword would hardly serve any purpose with heavy armour. It's good for duels, but duels against an armoured person ? Simply not. Another thing one needs to remember is that while fighting you don't have time to think. Niether the time to keep striking. So you need to do the job in one or two powerfull blows, for which axe is the best. Sword would be simply out of place against a well trained axeman.

Duels look good in practice sessions & gaming, but they don't last that long in actual fights. Anybody who has been trained well in martial arts or street fights would appreciate that. In actual fights the important thing is whomakes the first lethal blow, which catches the opponent offgurad. The Axe is best for that.

I mean the long axe, two handed, prefereble two faced, with a piercing tip.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ozzy2k6 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Oct-2006 at 13:25
I donít really think that there is really that much difference between the conventional axe and sword apart from its status in society.
Its my personal opinion is that the poleaxe is the most effective weapon of the middle ages (I am counting the gun) the reason is that its main purpose was to breech plate armour which it did with great affective ness due to the flat hammer like end, the poleaxe was commonly used the sharp point on the end as a spear to ward enemy cavalry away and infantry away however it also had the offensive capabilities as the axe or sword.

picture of a poleaxe below

   
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Exarchus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Oct-2006 at 14:07
I had both in hands and I call tell the sword was heavier. Of course it depends of the sword and the axe, but you have more metal on the sword and the guard is better.


This is a reproduction of a Norman sword.



And this is a reproduction of a Danish axe



Edited by Exarchus - 16-Oct-2006 at 14:10
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hellios Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Oct-2006 at 14:23
Originally posted by ozzy2k6 ozzy2k6 wrote:

I donít really think that there is really that much difference between the conventional axe and sword apart from its status in society.
Its my personal opinion is that the poleaxe is the most effective weapon of the middle ages (I am counting the gun) the reason is that its main purpose was to breech plate armour which it did with great affective ness due to the flat hammer like end, the poleaxe was commonly used the sharp point on the end as a spear to ward enemy cavalry away and infantry away however it also had the offensive capabilities as the axe or sword.

picture of a poleaxe below

   
 
That looks like an extremely versatile weapon: extra long axe with a pike & hammer.  Good range (less than a firearm but longer than any sword).
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jiangweibaoye Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Oct-2006 at 15:01
Diffucult to say which is better.
 
With a Axe, regardless whether it is a hand axe or a poleaxe, you are pretty committed to your first strike.  Meaning once you initiate the strike, there is a moment where you are vulernable, so your initial strike better be on the mark.  You also have the weight, which is a plus when applied to the first strike.
 
Sabers and Single Sided Swords also suffer the same drawback as with Axes.
 
With a Sword ( not sabers or single sided swords ), you generally have the option to strike & defend.  However, even defending, you need room to manouver.  Cannot use a sword to repell a Axe slamming toward your head.  
 
This gets to the part about where you are fighting.  In the dense German Forest, or the Mongolian Plains?  Your enviornment dictates your choice or arms and armor.   A lot of times in war, mobility & quick reaction is life.
 
I am not a expert.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ozzy2k6 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Oct-2006 at 16:01
Originally posted by jiangweibaoye jiangweibaoye wrote:

With a Axe, regardless whether it is a hand axe or a poleaxe, you are pretty committed to your first strike.† Meaning once you initiate the strike, there is a moment where you are vulernable, so your initial strike better be on the mark.† You also have the weight, which is a plus when applied to the first strike.

    
Not really the case with the pole axe because it would be used more like a spear with quick jabs to the face and legs of the enemy the axe and hammer parts of the weapon would be use to either finish the enemy off or to unsettle the enemy.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hellios Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Oct-2006 at 19:01
Which can be better used as a throwing weapon?
 
I've heard of swords being thrown.
 
Small axes were deadly throwing weapons.
 
 
The sword's baby (dagger/knife) could also be thrown, but with less piercing power than a throwing axe?
 
Mohawk warriors were deadly with throwing axe (called Tomahawks) + they carried throwing knives.
 
Europeans used some heavier throwing axes.
 
 


Edited by Hellios - 17-Oct-2006 at 01:06
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