Halberd

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 halberds from
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Swedish halberds from 16th century

A halberd is a two-handed pole weapon that came to prominent use during the 14th and 15th centuries. Possibly the word "halberd" comes from the German words halm (staff), and barte (axe). The halberd consists of an axe blade topped with a spike mounted on a long shaft. It often has a hook or thorn on the back side of the axe blade for grappling mounted combatants.

The halberd was cheap to produce and very versatile in battle. Originally, the halberd was best known for the sheer weight and cutting power of its axe head, able to carve through the armor commonly used by knights upon its introduction into the battlefield. As the halberd was eventually refined, its point was more fully developed to allow it to better deal with spears and pikes, as was the hook opposite the axe head, which could be used to draw horsemen to the ground.

Also the halberds were reinforced with metal rims over the shaft, thus making it an effective weapon for blocking other weapons like swords. This increased its effectiveness in battle and expert halberdians were as deadly as any other weaponmasters.

Halberds were the primary weapons of the early Swiss armies in the 14th century. Later on, the Swiss added pikes to better repel knight attacks, with halberds used for medium distances and short swords ("Katzbalgers") for close up.

The halberd is still the ceremonial weapon of the Swiss Guard in the Vatican. Some of the different types of halberds include:

  • Godendag
  • Hippe
  • Scorpion

Other weapons that are sometimes listed as halberds:

fi:Hilpari gl:Alabarda ja:ハルバート la:Halebarda nl:Hellebaard no:Hellebard pl:Halabarda sl:Helebarda sv:Hillebard

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