Glaive, a new item from Arms & Armor

Today we are happy to introduce a beautiful new product, our 15th Century French Glaive. We are very excited about this piece as it constitutes a significant upgrade in our offerings, one that we think you will really appreciate. Our glaive is a close replica of a historical artifact in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with some aesthetic additions drawn from illustrations in Jean Froissart's 14th century Chronicle of France. The blade is 1/4" thick 6150 carbon steel with an acute distal taper, and two cutting edges hardened and tempered to 50-52 Rockwell. We hand forge the socket from 1/8" mild steel and mount the head to an octagonal haft of ash wood that we hand select and shape to each individual weapon. Below the head we have a rondel guard and inset langets to protect the hands and the shaft, respectively. The butt end is furnished with a cap and a tapering spike over two inches long.

Arms & Armor Glaive with Rondel

15th Century Glaive by Arms & Armor Inc.

Historically, the design of the glaive was characterized by a single-edged blade attached to a pole, creating a versatile weapon that could be used for cutting, thrusting, and slicing. The glaive has roots in both agricultural tools and earlier polearm designs

Butt spike on Arms & Armor 15th C Glaive 

 Butt Spike

Origins and Evolution -

The glaives origins can be traced back to the early medieval period, though this elegant style of polearm's creation is difficult to identify as it is claimed by everyone from the Welsh in the west to the Hungarians in the east. Its earliest forms are seen in art from the mid 13th century and are seen alongside other early forms of hafted weapons, all of which probably count the spear and agricultural tools as their genesis.

Over time, the glaive evolved with various designs and regional variations. The typical glaive consisted of a long haft with a single or double edged blade affixed to one end. The blade was usually convex edged in shape and designed for hewing and thrusting.

Pair of Glaives

Glaive medieval

Historical glaives

Use in Warfare -

Glaives were widely used across medieval Europe, particularly during the 14th and 15th centuries. They were often seen among infantry being depicted in many battle and siege scenes in art of the period. Their effectiveness against opponents wearing armor, along with their extended reach made them a sound choice of many knights. The versatility of the armored man bearing a glaive probably contributed to the French nickname of Breach Knife for this valuable battlefield weapon.

As you can see below, these weapons were excellent for exploiting the weak points of period armors...

combat detail from Froissart's Chronicles.

We seem to have identified a distinct use of the glaive not often mentioned.

More details The Tard-Venus pillage Grammont in 1362, from Froissart's Chronicles.

The Tard-Venus pillage Grammont in 1362, from Froissart's Chronicles.

 Variations -

There are many variations of the glaive such as the fauchard and the glaive-guisarme. The fauchard had a blade with a pronounced curve, while the glaive-guisarme featured a hook or spike on the reverse side of the blade, adding utility in disarming or tripping opponents. .

Transition to Ceremonial Weapon -

As the Renaissance began to flourish and the nobility strived to display their wealth and stature, the use of traditional polearms like the glaive often resulted in highly decorative versions. So we see the glaive persisting as a ceremonial weapon and a symbol of authority even into the present. Guards and ceremonial troops in various European countries still carry ornate glaives.

Pop Culture -

The glaive's distinctive appearance and historical significance have made it a popular choice in fantasy literature, movies, and video games. Titles such as Final Fantasy and World of Warcraft have these iconic weapons as mainstays.

While the glaive's military use has largely faded, its legacy endures in historical records, museums, and as a symbol in popular culture. Today, enthusiasts and reenactors may recreate and use glaives as part of historical demonstrations and martial arts practices.

 As always, our swords are entirely made by us at our shop in Minneapolis, MN out of 6150 carbon steel, hardened and tempered to 50-52 Rockwell. Our swords and other weapons are made to look, feel, and function just like the historical originals on which they are based.

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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