Reviving the Italian Renaissance Pollaxe?

Given all of the supply chain holdups and materials shortages of the past year, we've been going through some of our old products to see if there are any that we might like to revive.  One of the perks of having reproduced historical pieces for decades is our extensive collection of designs.  The topic of today's blog is one such axe that we last produced around 1998.  Once in a while we produce an item that just doesn't quite nail the zeitgeist of the time, and for some reason not many folks were interested in this product back then.  It remains a favorite of ours, however,  and given the massively increased interest in armored combat since then we've decided to give it another shot.  

Italian pole axe


The original that our piece replicates resides in the Stibbert Museum in Florence, Italy and dates to around the year 1600. This places it firmly in the Renaissance when high prestige arms and armor in the Italian peninsula were highly ornate.

Italian Pole Axe

Pic of the original axe  

The decorative scrolling on the back of the axe, the graceful lines of the beak, and the chisel or file work on the langets all contribute to the elegance of form that was so highly desired at the time.  


Stibbert museum catalogue

The 1975 edition of Il Museo Stibbert a Firenze catalogue we have in our library.

Like our Italian Pole Hammer, pictured below, it features a strong pointed beak designed to batter, break, and possibly pierce armor.  In the case of the axe, the beak is 4.5 inches long.  The spike is counterposed to a large axe head with a cutting edge of approximately 10 inches.  The entire weapon weighs about 3.75 pounds and is mounted on a hand selected haft of ash wood.  It it both powerful and nimble, and well suited to the fighting arts of the Italian fencing masters in the tradition of Fiore de'i Liberi, such as Achille Marozzo.  

Italian Pole hammer

Arms and Armor Italian Pole Hammer ~1580 AD

Check out this video of Nathan introducing it.

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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