12th Century Spear Spotlight

The early Medieval period was a time when most armies and soldiers carried spears. They were excellent weapons for combat and ones that often today are over looked with the modern focus on swords. The armies of the Carolingians, Lombards, Rus and Norse all had traditions of warriors having their sear to hand at all times and our 12th Century spear is a good example of this type.

12th Century Spear #146 by Arms & Armor Inc.

Arms & Armor 12th Century Spear

The sturdy steel head is mounted on an ash haft. The spearhead has three decorative rings on the socket just above the side lugs. The lugs allow the spear to parry and control an opposing weapon much as a sword guard would. Spear combat would be a fast and agile interaction between opponents consisting of thrusts, binds and strikes. It was as a deadly as a sword fight and a challenge to even a seasoned warrior.

12th C Spear side view

Side view of Spear Head

Italo-Norman Spearmen
10th C Lombard Infantry with lugged spears and round shields.
The use of lugged spears by large groups of infantry of this period would have proven to be a formidable force. They are often seen in use with round shields and mail armor. The use of spears in such great numbers would have allowed the powers at be to field larger armies and made it possible for the average person to have a weapon for their protection. A more expensive and high status arm, like a sword, would be far out of reach for such people. 
Spearman with shield
Spear man from the Santo Domingo de Silos, Spain Beatus of Liebana (Silos Apocalypse) British Library (plus having a spear allows one to grow a kick ass stash and beard like this fellow)
Today's historical martial artists sometimes overlook the spear and especially the lugged spear as a weapon of serious consideration and economic efficiency. The records of the past show us that it was a weapon of choice for many centuries. It is interesting, that spears and polearms continue to reappear in many guises over the centuries as an effective hand to hand weapon, often times being counter to the fashion of the day for sword or rapier. The early medieval period lugged spear is an exceptional weapon and one that should not be overlooked in study, practice and part of your armoury.

divider swords

Nathan Clough, Ph.D. is Vice President of Arms and Armor and a member of the governing board of The Oakeshott Institute. He is a historical martial artist and a former university professor of cultural geography.  He has given presentations on historical arms at events including Longpoint and Combatcon, and presented scholarly papers at, among others, The International Congress on Medieval Studies.

Craig Johnson is the Production Manager of Arms and Armor and Secretary of The Oakeshott Institute. He has taught and published on the history of arms, armor and western martial arts for over 30 years. He has lectured at several schools and Universities, WMAW, HEMAC, 4W, and ICMS at Kalamazoo. His experiences include iron smelting, jousting, theatrical combat instruction and choreography, historical research, European martial arts and crafting weapons and armor since 1985

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