Glaive Guisarme: From Farm Tool To Medieval Soldier's Weapon

The Glaive Guisarme was a long, sharp, heavy weapon of European origin, thought to be invented between 1000 and 1400. It's believed the weapon was originally developed by farmers, who combined everyday tools and their knowledge of creating them, with the need and market for weapons.  In this case -- affixing a pruning hook onto a long spear shaft. 

Rather than using a sword-like 'tang' to affix the blade to the handle, Guisarme blades are normally connected to the handle via a socket-shaft, similar to the way axes are made. 

Guisarme illusrations.
Image Credit: Sir Guy Francis Laking, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons 

The guisarme's distinctive feature is a 'hook' on the back of the blade. Initial versions didn't have this hook, but over time, various options were tested and the hook was added for additional utility. These menacing hooks were mainly used to catch riders and throw them off the back of their horses, without needing to slash or stab with the main side of the blade.

It's a menacing, intriguing piece of weaponry, so much so that it was even featured on the History Channel's TV show "Forged in Fire":

With a blade of around 18 inches in length, and a 7ft pole, the Glaive Guisarme was most commonly wielded with both hands when used in battle. It became extremely effective, becoming, according to some sources, the second-most important weapon of medieval army soldiers (training behind only the simple traditional spear).


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