The banner photo above is part of a painting depicting the 1432 Battle of San Romano and is an excellent depiction of the mace as a weapon of war. On the right side of the picture we have highlighted a mace being used by an armored and mounted knight. Maces belong to one of the oldest categories of weapons, the club. Along with the spear, knife, and axe, they made up the arsenal of prehistorical combat and remain in use today.
The late Medieval mace in particular is a special type of club due to its intended use against heavily armored foes. Our High Gothic Mace is from the period many consider to be the the apogee of European armor, the late 15th century.
Arms and Armor High Gothic Mace
Many people think of the mace as a heavy and cumbersome weapon, but this example is highly refined and perfectly balanced in the hand. It is equally suited to a pinpoint thrust as a crushing blow. Not all maces were this graceful, indeed many were simple clubs with an iron ferule or ball on one end. This, however, was a high prestige knightly weapon intended to be used by a master of hand-to-hand armored combat. The armor below from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York illustrates the type of armor this mace would have been used against. Impact weapons like the mace really shine when the enemy's entire body is encased in steel and iron.
The original weapon
Our High Gothic Mace is a close replica of a weapon in the Wallace Collection, catalogue number A978. Back in the late 1990's when Arms and Armor founder Christopher Poor was exploring British museum collections with his friend Ewart Oakeshott, he made a latex mold of the head of the original piece. This mold is the basis of our reproduction. We use a lost wax casting in steel to reproduce the head of the mace, and hand fabricate the haft, handle, and decorative details to match the aesthetic and handling characteristics of the original.
The original mace at the Wallace Collection in London.
In order to make the production piece a bit less costly we have opted to leave out some of the decorative details of the original, including the inlay of latten, a copper alloy on the shaft and the head. Our replica is a gorgeous weapon, preserving all the brutal functionality and elegance of the original.
Combat with the mace
Combat with the mace was practiced mounted and on foot, armored or unarmored, in war or as a dueling weapon. Several fifteenth century manuscripts including those below include the mace as part of the suite of weapons used in a knightly context. These primarily focus on the use of the mace in both armored and unarmored duels with the spiked and bladed long shield.
Fighting with mace and long shield in Peter Falkner, 1495
Dueling maces in Hans Talhoffer's Fechtbuch, circa 1459
The mace was also a weapon of war, as can be seen in the Bayeux Tapestry and mid-fifteenth century paintings of the Battle of San Romano, pictured in the banner above this blog.
Bayeux Tapestry, 11th century
The mace eventually evolved into a symbol of authority as a kind of scepter. Many universities and other institutions have a ceremonial mace that is carried by prominent officiants during official ceremonies such as graduations. Below is a picture of the president of the University of Minnesota wielding a ceremonial mace upon her inauguration.
A custom mace made for a University a couple of years ago.
Finally, check out this brutal video of the High Gothic Mace being used against historical martial artist Bill Frisbee at Longpoint 2019.