What is a partisan?

Today we take a look at an original early 16th century partisan, a type of elite pole-arm from the late medieval and Renaissance period. Dr. Nathan Clough explains what characteristics these weapons had, how they were used, and some of the wide variations in how they were designed and constructed. We also take a look at a custom partisan that we have recently completed and compare it to the original antique.

custom partisan

Another custom partisan we made

A partisan is an imposing weapon often associated with warriors of high rank.  Many historical examples are highly decorated, both with engraving and with fancy profiles, and the form of the weapon itself is difficult and expensive to make relative to many other infantry weapons.  

partisan  partisan
Two partisans in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum, NY.


In the below painting you can see three partisans being held by soldiers who are clearly gentlemen of some rank.  The painting is called "The Officers of the St. Adrian Militia Company in 1633"


Check out the whole video here:

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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