Middle Age Weapons

Before we look at Middle Age weapons we should consider...

Weapons were, and still are, looked upon as destructive or helpful. Tools of justice or instruments of evil.

And, as you can imagine, the medieval weapons are no different.

Whether you detest these medieval weapons or admire the brilliantly simple engineering, you are about to learn more about them.

Middle Age weapons come in a variety of forms and were used for different purposes.

We will focus primarily on the medieval siege weapons on this page.

Let's start with the Romans.

The Romans were great engineers so we should not be surprised to discover they were excellent weapon builders.

The main weapons introduction period seems to be around 50 B.C. Most of these weapons were used in wars.

Generally, in a medieval siege, one group of attackers would use a battering ram to break into an enemy fortress. Once they had broken through, soldiers armed with swords, axes, spears, shields, and bows & arrows would rush inside.

Like I said, that is generally how it was done... before the Romans became involved.

When the Romans set out to create powerful siege weapons they approached it from a different perspective.

What if one could conquer a fortress without even stepping through the door?

The ballista was a creation a lot like a crossbow built solely out of wood save the ratchet device on the outside made of steel.

The ballista was the largest machine ever made in the Roman period. Because it contained a more powerful spring frame that was very old its cost was high. The cost made these weapons quite few in number. Generally, there were no more than 3-4 of these used in any battle.

The ballista could throw a 50-pound object about 1200 feet. The Romans usually loaded “bolts” (arrows) and stone into the ballista.

The onager was another weapon first produced by the Romans. Though some people used the onager as an anti-personnel weapon, it was mainly used as a siege weapon.

The onager has a very interesting history.

It was named after a wild donkey that was known for kicking up stones when being hunted (sometimes this was to kill his hunters) and when he was in pain.

The original onager stands 6 feet in height and hurls objects several hundred feet, very much like a catapult.

Because it was not as expensive as the ballista, the Romans used the onager in every war they began.

Medieval siege weapons were only one group of Middle Age weapons.

There were also melee weapons and range weapons. Melee weapons included swords, axes, polearms and halbards. Range weapons included short bows, long bows, crossbows, and spears.

The list of middle age weapons is quite extensive and very interesting. Hopefully, if this page has done nothing else it has sparked your curiosity to find out more about these weapons.

More information related to the subject middle age weapons:

Go to the main Medieval Siege Weapons page.

Return to Medieval Castles | Medieval Siege Weapons home page.