Today we are looking at an early 16th century style pole arm we have newly finished that was a custom commission. It is a great combination of thrusting points and sharp edges with some hooks and lugs thrown into the mix. Now what to call this lethal pole arm. It is referred to as a "Scorpion" in some sources. This is probably due to some of the surviving examples having a large scorpion mark in the head.


I could not find a period reference for this nomenclature. It may well be a modern association but it is a style that seems to have a difficult place in the literature on were it falls in relation to other arms of its period. While it definitely seems to be a style of Bill and looks somewhat Halberd like, it is also listed as a Ranseur, Guisarme and Roncone in published sources on pole weapons. So it does not seem to have an agreed upon family of arms that it falls with in.

If you are looking to dig deeper on pole arm development we make some suggestions for research here.

The pole arms of the first half of the 16th century in italy begin to take on a semi consistent form often referred to as the Italian Bill or Roncone, our version pictured below. this had many variations in size and exact layout but they can all be seen as similar in form.


Italian Bill

This "scorpion" style piece while having some similarities seems to have been an early form of the style and would later seem to become less popular. The distinct elements of this style include an almost blade like top spike and the forward beak thrusting upperward at an angle creating a long cutting edge down to a small lug. This version has a large back hook with sharpened edge along the inside of the curve. 

I do a quick overview of this piece in the vid below.

Check out what we make at our swords and weapons are made by us in Minneapolis, MN. Sword blades from 6150 steel, hardened to 50-52 Ric. They are all crafted to look, feel, and function just like the historical originals on which they are based.

This piece was commissioned by Jon Courtney

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.

Older Post
Newer Post
Close (esc)

Help us improve your online experience

You've landed on the new (soon to be released) website for Arms & Armor. After looking around, we'd appreciate 2 minutes of your time to answer 3 short questions about your experience.

Thank You!

~ The Arms & Armor Team

Take the Survey (takes 2 minutes or less)

Age verification

By clicking enter you are verifying that you are old enough to consume alcohol.


Shopping Cart

Your cart is currently empty.
Shop now