How to use an Italian Pole Hammer

In today's blog we examine some of the guards and strikes that were common to pole hammers and axes in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, especially those of Fiore de Liberi.  To make it fun, this includes smashing an armor plate and squashing a pumpkin. The weapon that Fiore refers to as an axe for fighting in armor is what we would commonly call a pole hammer today.  In fact, the Arms and Armor Italian Pole Hammer is very similar to the weapon depicted in his late fourteenth century treatise, The Flower of Battle.  

Italian pole hammer
Italian Pole Hammer
Fiore axe       Fiore pole axe high guard
In these two plates from the Flower of Battle we see a knight in armor wielding a pole hammer in, repectively, the guards of "Shortened Serpent" and "Queens Guard".  Both of these images are from the Wiktenauer page on Fiore.  The below image is a 15th century depiction of a knightly duel with pole hammers.


Pole hammer combat 15th century

How to use an Italian Pole Hammer
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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