Why not a Sword or an Axe…
So, yesterday we (ever so briefly) covered armor for the knight. It only makes sense then that we turn our attention to the offensive end of the knight and especially the pointy bits that they carried into battle. We will break down the weapons of the knight into a couple of categories.
This was the main place that the knight fought. From atop the horse, the knight was the master of the battlefield. Obviously the knight chose his weapons when mounted with the fact that he was mounted in mind. The weapons had to reach those opponents that he would find on the ground as well as those that he would face on horseback. Of course, the mounted knight was the battlefield icon during the Middle Ages. They were the ones that one the fights. They were also what ever infantry soldier feared. When the heavy calvary were sent into battle they thundered across the field with lance in hand and shields strapped to their arms. The infantry that faced them would then chose whether they were run down or whether they ran instead. The lance for battle was different then the lance that was used ina tournament. The lance for battle was tipped with a point for piercing basic armor and decimating the infantry they rode against. Many infantry broke ranks and ran for the hills when they saw knights headed across the battlefield toward them.
Of course, when one knight met another, they would probably meet with lances first but then they would close and they would fight from horseback or dismount for a more civilized form of combat. If they styled on horseback, after initial lance strikes occurred, they would pick up either a sword or a mace of some type and begin to defend and attack with these hand-held weapons. And woe be to the ground based unit that the knight engaged. The extra height provided by being on horseback made the attack of the knight on a ground-based unit all the more powerful.
When the knight took to the ground to engage another knight, two of the most used weapons were the sword and the battle axe. The trained knight was a master with the weapon that they chose to take into combat. The sword would be at least a longsword if not something a little longer like a two-hander or a bastard sword. The battle axe would be either single bitted or double bitted and the extra weight would cleave into the armor of the opposing knight or the limbs of the less well armored infantry. When fighting another knight clad in full plate mail, a style of fighting with a hand on the hilt and a hand on the blade was employed. The hand on the blade allowed for a more precise thrusting strike, while the hand on the hilt would be shifted to allow the blade to be shoved home for best effect.
Whether mounted or on foot, the armor that the knights wore made cutting weapons almost obsolete. Thrusting with a pointed weapon required precision to get them to the weaker points on the armor , but a blunt weapon… that is something altogether different. A mace or a flail would cause damage to the softer parts under the armor where as the sharp weapon might not. Knight soon determined that they could use a mace or a maul as effectively against a knight as they could against an infantryman. The maul being swung by horseback at full gallop would not only shake the nerve of the knight that was struck by it but, it would rattle their teeth as well. At times, denting the armor would not only restrict the movement of the knight in the can but it might also cause more injury while they tried to get away from the attacking knight.