Halberd


Halberd

A halberd (also called halbert or Swiss voulge) is a two-handed pole weapon that came to prominent use during the 14th and 15th centuries. Possibly the word "halberd" comes from the German words "Halm" (staff), and "Barte" (axe). The halberd consists of an axe blade topped with a spike mounted on a long shaft. It always has a hook or thorn on the back side of the axe blade for grappling mounted combatants. [ [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-57610/military-technology military technology - Britannica Online Encyclopedia ] ] It is very similar to certain forms of the voulge in design and usage. The halberd was 1.5 to 1.8 meters (4 to 6 feet) long. [ [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9038851/halberd halberd - Britannica Online Encyclopedia ] ]

The halberd was cheap to produce and very versatile in battle. As the halberd was eventually refined, its point was more fully developed to allow it to better deal with spears and pikes (also able to push back approaching horsemen), as was the hook opposite the axe head, which could be used to pull horsemen to the ground. [http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?ParagraphID=gle History of WARFARE - LAND ] ]

Additionally, halberds were reinforced with metal rims over the shaft, thus making effective weapons for blocking other weapons like swords. This capability increased its effectiveness in battle, and expert halberdiers were as deadly as any other weapon masters were. It is said that a halberd in the hands of a Swiss peasant was the weapon that killed the Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold, decisively ending the Burgundian Wars, literally in a single stroke.

The halberd was the primary weapon of the early Swiss armies in the 14th and early 15th centuries. Later on, the Swiss added the pike to better repel knightly attacks and roll over enemy infantry formations, with the halberd, hand-and-a-half sword, or the dagger known as the "Schweizerdolch" being used for closer combat. The German "Landsknechte", who imitated Swiss warfare methods, also used the halberd, supplemented by the pike, but their side arm of choice was the short sword known as the "Katzbalger".

As long as pikemen fought other pikemen, the halberd remained a useful supplemental weapon for "push of pike," but when their position became more defensive, to protect the slow-loading arquebusiers and matchlock musketeers from sudden attacks by cavalry, the percentage of halberdiers in the pike units steadily decreased, until the halberd all but disappeared from these formations as a rank-and-file weapon by the middle of the sixteenth century. [http://members.aol.com/dargolyt/TheForge/halberb.htm Halberd ] ]

The halberd has been used as a court bodyguard weapon for centuries, and is still the ceremonial weapon of the Swiss Guard in the Vatican. [ [http://www.slate.com/id/2167830/nav/tap3/%3Cbr%20/%3E What does the Swiss Guard actually do? - By Christopher Beam - Slate Magazine ] ] The halberd was one of the polearms sometimes carried by lower-ranking officers in European infantry units in the 16th through 18th centuries.

Different types of halberds

*Hippe
*Scorpion
*Ji (戟)

Weapons often mistaken for halberds

*Guan Dao
*Bisento
*Lochaber axe (Jeddart axe)
*Naginata
*Poleaxe
*Bill (weapon)
*Dagger-axe
*Spears

Gallery

References


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Halberd — Hal berd (h[o^]l b[ e]rd; 277), n. [F. hallebarde; of German origin; cf. MHG. helmbarte, G. hellebarte; prob. orig., an ax to split a helmet, fr. G. barte a broad ax (orig. from the same source as E. beard; cf. Icel. bar[eth]a, a kind of ax,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • halberd — late 15c., from M.Fr. hallebarde (earlier alabarde, 15c.), from M.H.G. halmbarte broad axe with handle, from halm handle (see HELM (Cf. helm)) + barte hatchet, possibly from P.Gmc. *bardoz beard, also hatchet, broadax. Alternative etymology… …   Etymology dictionary

  • halberd — (also halbert) ► NOUN historical ▪ a combined spear and battleaxe. ORIGIN High German helmbarde, from helm handle + barde hatchet …   English terms dictionary

  • halberd — [hal′bərthal′bərd] n. [LME haubert < OFr hallebarde & MDu hellebaerde, both < MHG helmbarte < helm, handle, staff (see HELM2) + barte, an ax, var. of bart, BEARD] a combination spear and battle ax used in the 15th and 16th cent.: also… …   English World dictionary

  • halberd — /hal beuhrd, hawl , hol /; formerly /haw beuhrd/, n. a shafted weapon with an axlike cutting blade, beak, and apical spike, used esp. in the 15th and 16th centuries. Also, halbert /hal beuhrt, hawl , hol /; formerly /haw beuhrt/. [1485 95;… …   Universalium

  • halberd — UK [ˈhælbɜː(r)d] / US [ˈhælbɜrd] noun [countable] Word forms halberd : singular halberd plural halberds a weapon used in the past that was a spear with the head of an axe added to it …   English dictionary

  • halberd — noun A hand weapon consisting of a long pole fitted with a metal head; the head consists of a blade similar to an axe and usually a spike or hook.<! It seems that this article would benefit of attention of somebody who really knows what hes… …   Wiktionary

  • Halberd — A polearm weapon with an axe blade ( for slicing ) one one side balanced by a hook (for hooking and pulling the enemy) on the other side. It also had a point (for thrusting) at the very top. A weapon that emerged along with the glaive and… …   Medieval glossary

  • halberd — also halbert noun Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French hallebarde, from Middle High German helmbarte, from helm handle + barte ax Date: 15th century a weapon especially of the 15th and 16th centuries consisting typically of a battle ax… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Halberd — A long handled weapon with an axe and spike on the end. Cf. Gisarme; Poleaxe …   Dictionary of Medieval Terms and Phrases


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