Francisca.

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
5,033
Australia
The best replicas I've seen (the ones copied from museum examples) weigh between 1 and 1.5 pounds. Extant examples are wedge-shaped rather than being thin like most battle axes.

Procopius wrote about the Frankish axe and supports the idea of them not being thin: "...each man carried a sword and shield and an axe. Now the iron head of this weapon was thick and exceedingly sharp on both sides while the wooden handle was very short. And they are accustomed always to throw these axes at one signal in the first charge and thus shatter the shields of the enemy and kill the men."

Not sure what "sharp on both sides" means since they were not double-bitted. I suspect it is a dodgy translation. Need to see the original passage.
 
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Aug 2019
137
Netherlands
Not sure I'm following your logic. Any axe can have that range of angles between edge and haft. And I'm not sure why you figure "less force can be applied", nor why one would want to apply less when throwing anything--it has to reach the target, yes? Also not sure why any sort of handle would make the axe *less* likely to fall off a shield.

But again, *my* overall goal in battle would be to stick that axe in a MAN. There's not a chance of me "shattering" his shield in the 2 seconds before he arrives in my face at high speed. But if I can make him cover up with his shield, cutting his vision as we meet, I've got a much better chance of going home this evening. If you are determined to stick your axe in a shield, stick it in one before you leave camp, pick up your SPEAR, and go fight...

Matthew
I assume that besides throwing you would like to hack too if the occasion occurs. This hook type throwing axe can be used in many occasions, I think.

The haft of an axe stuck in a shield will come closer to a shield when it pivots and shifts down by gravity. If the angle of the edge and haft is reduced, the haft would meet the shield earlier and prevent the edge more from further pivoting out.

A hook/bulge axe with less angle between blade and haft is in terms of power less effective than a similar 90 degree one. Most energy is not in full use anymore with less angle.
These are both mechanical forces.

I don't know what people's idea of fighting is during that period, but I see their battles more as close formation infantry battles instead of very loose formations where a couple guys singled out each other. Ranks of men of both parties get squeezed to each other, or at least tight spaces would occur and chaos. The key factor would be by breaking the line and find an opening somewhere with a couple of lowered shields, and this does not have to be done by the direct opponent, the guy next to him can do that for him.
 
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Aug 2019
137
Netherlands
What doesn't sound like logic is being stupid enough to deliberately hit an opponent's shield with your axe.
Really? Romans did the same with soft pointed spears. They would throw those spears to the opponents shields. Those spear points would bend and let the spears turn down to handicap the defender and break their ranks. Isn't it nice to find sone openings in ranks, find a bunch of vulnerable guys who need to fill that gap, but creating other gaps by doing so?
 
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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,779
Dispargum
Did anyone watch the video posted in #25? What does anyone think of the claim that the best effect of the ax was its tendency to bounce and ricochet?
 
Aug 2019
137
Netherlands
That is a good possibility too, as the story goes that they bounced it on the ground too.
 
Jan 2009
1,275
What doesn't sound like logic is being stupid enough to deliberately hit an opponent's shield with your axe.
It is the age old question: Do I want to impale the guy with my pilum, or cause him to discard his shield... choices, choices. :)

They would throw those spears to the opponents shields.
No, they threw their pila at the men holding the shields. If the men got hit, all the better. Potentially messing up with the shield if the pilum was blocked is a consolation prize, not the main prize.
 

PADDYBOY

Historum Emeritas
Jan 2007
6,518
Scotland
That is a good possibility too, as the story goes that they bounced it on the ground too.
I guess the tactic was, if it doesn't go through the shield, then go under it. I really wouldn't want to be on the recieving end of one of these axes. That's for sure.
 
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Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
5,590
Netherlands
Oh, absolutely! It's gotta be scary as anything. But it won't *stick* in anything unless it hits just right. So "encumbering" a shield will be pretty rare.
Yep, my guess is that it is best to not have it stuck in a shield, but have it bounce on something for maximum confusion.
Personally, I'd go with a javelin or throwing spear. It always goes business-end-first, but (like an axe) you can keep it as a hand weapon instead of throwing it, if you like.

Matthew
On the other hand an axe you just carry on your belt. Btw didn't they also use a short throwing spear?
 
Aug 2019
137
Netherlands
It is the age old question: Do I want to impale the guy with my pilum, or cause him to discard his shield... choices, choices. :)



No, they threw their pila at the men holding the shields. If the men got hit, all the better. Potentially messing up with the shield if the pilum was blocked is a consolation prize, not the main prize.
Indeed, but that was later on i thought, or was it an improvement. I need to look this up.
 
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Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
5,033
Australia
No, they threw their pila at the men holding the shields. If the men got hit, all the better. Potentially messing up with the shield if the pilum was blocked is a consolation prize, not the main prize.
Exactly. Nobody deliberately aimed at the shield.