Francisca.

Aug 2019
137
Netherlands
Exactly. Nobody deliberately aimed at the shield.
It may not be the absolute goal on itself, but in practical, the focus is on the shield as it is encountered before anything else, so it part of a tactic.
The soft tip/shaft concept is in this context still an important concept and was introduced with a good reason.

Romans deliberately threw at shields to penetrate them, according this roman text.

"As to the missile weapons of the infantry, they were javelins headed with a triangular sharp iron, eleven inches [279 mm] or a foot long, and were called piles. When once fixed in the shield it was impossible to draw them out, and when thrown with force and skill, they penetrated the cuirass without difficulty".

"They had likewise two other javelins, the largest of which was composed of a staff five feet and a half long and a triangular head of iron nine inches [230 mm] long. This was formerly called the pilum, but now it is known by the name of spiculum. The soldiers were particularly exercised in the use of this weapon, because when thrown with force and skill it often penetrated the shields of the foot and the cuirasses of the horse".
 
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Aug 2019
137
Netherlands
So when it comes to the francisca and we saw illustrations, who were disqualified here. Why there aren't any accurate pictures shown here? Are there any?
 
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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,779
Dispargum
The drawings in post # 22 match drawings and photos I've seen elsewhere. I'm not sure what you mean by disqualified.
 
Aug 2019
137
Netherlands
The drawings in post # 22 match drawings and photos I've seen elsewhere. I'm not sure what you mean by disqualified.
Apparantly the photo didn't match the drawings. There also seem to be variations in the angle of the heads.
I see also on google axes with more arced handles. Still wondering how they would shatter shields as described at wiki.
 
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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,779
Dispargum
Apparantly he photo didn't match the drawings. There also seem to be variations.
He said the modern reproduction ax didn't match the drawings, but I think it's the reproduction ax that's wrong, not the drawings. The drawings are good. Considering that the Franciscas were made by hand before assembly line techniques were developed, it doesn't surprise me that there are variations from one ax to another.
 

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
5,033
Australia
Why are you bothering with drawings? There are plenty of extant examples.









This might help too
 
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Matthew Amt

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,011
MD, USA
It may not be the absolute goal on itself, but in practical, the focus is on the shield as it is encountered before anything else, so it part of a tactic.
The soft tip/shaft concept is in this context still an important concept and was introduced with a good reason.

Romans deliberately threw at shields to penetrate them, according this roman text.

"As to the missile weapons of the infantry, they were javelins headed with a triangular sharp iron, eleven inches [279 mm] or a foot long, and were called piles. When once fixed in the shield it was impossible to draw them out, and when thrown with force and skill, they penetrated the cuirass without difficulty".

"They had likewise two other javelins, the largest of which was composed of a staff five feet and a half long and a triangular head of iron nine inches [230 mm] long. This was formerly called the pilum, but now it is known by the name of spiculum. The soldiers were particularly exercised in the use of this weapon, because when thrown with force and skill it often penetrated the shields of the foot and the cuirasses of the horse".
The Romans threw javelins at MEN holding shields, and the long shank was designed to wound the man behind the shield. The MAN was the target, the javelin was simply designed to penetrate the defences. Those quotes do not say otherwise.

You definitely need to be aware of your opponent's shield. But if you focus on it rather than on him, let's just say I'm not putting my money on you, today...

Matthew
 

PADDYBOY

Historum Emeritas
Jan 2007
6,519
Scotland
Interesting sidenote, but I wonder how these guys went about reclaiming there axes after the battle was won? I can imagine a few internal disputes going on between them. "This is my axe, yours is the won that missed by miles" ??
I would guess they had their own markings and designs. Just trying to make sense of the variations between them.
 
Aug 2019
137
Netherlands
The Romans threw javelins at MEN holding shields, and the long shank was designed to wound the man behind the shield. The MAN was the target, the javelin was simply designed to penetrate the defences. Those quotes do not say otherwise.

You definitely need to be aware of your opponent's shield. But if you focus on it rather than on him, let's just say I'm not putting my money on you, today...

Matthew
I wasn't saying that destroying shields is a goal on itself, but that it is a very important obstacle to overcome. Most of europe learned that the hard way when gauls, britons and germanics dealt with closed roman formations. Formations of army's were completely closed by now and the only thing to see was a wall of shields with ranks 3, 4 to 5 deep.

I see these axes as a tool just as much as a secondary weapon in a variety of tactics. This reflects very much in the variety of sizes, weights and shapes, which properties overlap in multiple ways. We are actually talking about axe cultures since the stone age. Not much chance of thoughtless designs, i think.

Whether it's throwing or hacking, the hook shaped blade design for example is pretty extreme in terms of mechanical force and there is clearly a thought behind it. That blade part transfers a huge amount of force. If we add the widge form and some considerable weight, it would actually be most suited for shredding things, like shields. Not to mention the important ability to pull shields down as the user has so much more leverage than the shield bearer. And of course the variety of angles between blades and hafts. Less angled ones would stick better to a shield than 90 degrees and more angled ones. These are all mechanical signatures and can't be ignored.

We see also more chisle shaped blades for directing a more bundled energy transfer, good for piercing things with a direct hit.

But those shapes are a bit less important when axes deflect and ricochet with the purpose of just hurting people and creating chaos and movement in the opponent's ranks because people dodging those axes and the psychological effect.
 
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