The Medieval Flail

The Medieval Flail

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

The flail was two pieces of wood joined together. The handle was attached to a smaller piece called the striker. The flail was used to separate the grain from the harvested sheaves. A winnowing basket was then used to separate the corn kernels from the outer husks or chaff.

Flail (weapon)

The term flail refers to two different weapons: one a two-handed infantry weapon derived from an agricultural tool, and the other a one-handed weapon. The defining characteristic of both is that they involve a separate striking head attached to a handle by a flexible rope, strap, or chain. The two-handed variant saw use in a limited number of conflicts during the European Middle Ages.

The two-handed flail is a hand weapon derived from the agricultural tool of the same name, commonly used in threshing. Only a limited amount of historical evidence exists for their employment in Europe during this era. These were deployed in Germany and Central Europe in the later Middle Ages. This weapon consists of a hinged bar connected to a longer shaft.

In Korea the flail as an agricultural tool is called "dorikke" but as a weapon, it is called "pyeongon". Ώ] ΐ] Α] The Japanese term for their equivalent of the ball-on-a-chain bludgeon is "rentsuru", while the Chinese version's name translates vividly into English as meteor hammer. [ citation needed ]

History of Medieval Mace Weapon and Mace Training

Medieval maces, according to historic records were predominantly used during the 10 th century by the Normans and during the 13 th century by Nomads and Turks in combat battles. Most medieval maces had engraved animal head designs.

Mace training was essential for the Knights and foot soldiers as they fought numerous battles with such weapons. The training session involved hours of practice using the mace to gain accuracy in hitting the precise target and the strength to bludgeon the opponent with brutal force. A training hit could be scored by making good contact with a specific target or when aiming the mace with speed at a defined target.

There were many kinds of maces made available for the men-at-arms and soldiers. There were Flanged Maces that were used to strike forceful blows at the enemy and flanges that could cut through their shields. Such dual-purpose maces were very popular and effective during the wars.

Talk:Flail (weapon)

It's always neat to see other people expand on an article that you've written. Cute picture!

The terms "morning star" and "mace" are incorrect when used to describe flails, and are themselves distinct from each other. The defining characteristic of flails (which you touched on) are that they are a mass of metal attached to a haft by means of a chain. Morning stars and maces have no interconnecting chain. -CW

From what I understand the termnology in morning star is actually useable to any of the weapons if it had spikes attached. And that a flail only has one chain link, much like the agricultral flails only with metal studs attached. So what is shown in the article is a mornigstar ball on chain, not a flail. -Dob

The EB 1911 article Flail says:

A flail and a meteor hammer are two distinct weapons. The hammer has no handle, and a much, much longer chain. Their origins are also completely distinct.--Vince Skrapits 02:48, 30 April 2006 (UTC)

NO MERGE, as per above Calicore 04:05, 3 May 2006 (UTC) I agree. --James Hales 07:28, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

Please DO NOT merge these articles. I am currently trying to create a more comprehensive article about the meteor hammer. The two are very different, not only in use but also in shape! --Xanthine 08:16, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

As my major rewrite will now show, the meteor hammer article is not suitable for merging. Though I must thank you, it is a noteworthy point (and one I have mentioned) that chain weapons are often confused with each other. --Xanthine 13:06, 18 May 2006 (UTC)

This weapon looks suspiciously similar to the 'Holy Water Sprinkler', see 'Tracht Wehr Und Waffen'.

Please, please, don't use Wikipedia to document your beliefs or original research. Look, just below the edit box: content must be verifiable. Any additions to this page really need to be supported by external sources. -- Rogerborg 23:26, 3 January 2007 (UTC)

I agree, please add 'some sources to this article. There's not a single source. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:03, 13 June 2008 (UTC)

Don't you think that the referencese to single battles where the weapon was used in Legend of Zelda games are a bit too marginal? I think "Use in popular culture" should include something more general, like analytic view of what kind of contexts the weapon is often used, or something like that. LotR reference is a bit marginal too, but probably much more informative to most of the readers. RandomMonitor 09:31, 13 March 2007 (UTC)

I removed the following from the article: The Middle Ages was an extremely violent era in history featuring battles in both Europe and the Holy Land when the crusades, and the crusaders who fought them, were numerous. Feudal lords and knights used such weapons as the flail in different types of warfare. The quest for power led to invasions of lands and territories which had to be fought for. Siege warfare, waged to win a castle or a walled town or city, was a frequent occurrence during the Middle Ages. Warfare during the Middle Ages, or Medieval era, called for a variety of weapon expertise. Knights and men-at-arms (foot soldiers, or archers) used different types of weapons. The flail was predominantly used by knights and foot soldiers. The weapons used were dictated according to status and position. The weapons, armor and horse of the knight were extremely expensive. I don't know how this paragraph adds to the article, but it reads like a copy and paste from a school assignment about weapons and warfare generally. -Phoenixrod 21:29, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

I think the haft and chain arrangement allowed the wielder to swing the head with much more force than with typical maces, for example. I'm not sure if the chain merely adds length to the moment arm, or if the physics is more elaborate, but I believe this weapon hit really, really hard compared to other weapons of similar weight. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by AThousandYoung (talk • contribs) 23:27, 14 May 2007 (UTC).

I say we merge this page with Mace and chain, as both are nor particularly long, the shorter one is a stub, adn it woudl benefit this article. Comments? --Patar knight 19:35, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

I removed the following passage from Variations since I fail to see how it differs from the regular flail.

A variation of the flail is called a chain mace. It is composed of a long chain usually wrapped in leather or another protective material, and has a steel ball at the end of the chain [ citation needed ]

I altered the subsequent sentence so it would fit without the above sentence but I still find it inadequate.

"A variation of the flail is a handle with several chains attached to it rather than one, none of which have a spiked metal ball at their ends"

i think that merely refers to the flagellant style whip which is sometimes also named a flail, which is allready mentioned in the first paragraph· Lygophile has spoken 00:52, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

I have recently come across an academic study that among others claimed that flails (as a morning star head attached to a handle by means of a chain) were a figment of romantic imagination not unlike the Iron Maiden. I don't recall where I read that but it has sparked some doubt in me. Therefore, I would like to encourage everybody contributing to medieval weaponry on Wikipedia to try and find the following:

  • medieval renditions of flails in pictorial sources
  • actual medieval examples of flails in museums
  • written sources from the medieval era describing a flail

Prove me wrong, please. I'd like that. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Trigaranus (talk • contribs) 21:05, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

Thought I had signed that, sorry. BTW: the Hussite examples I've seen so far were just a straightforward peasants' threshing flail with an iron-clad front part, and nothing like the weapon depicted on Wikipedia. Trigaranus 21:20, 30 October 2007 (UTC) I believe you are correct, ive looked in some books and none of them mentioned morningstar flails, and one book specificly said they were not commonly used, maybe not ever used. The flails used by wheat farmers were used as improvised weapons though. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk • contribs) 7 November 2007 I mentioned these concerns in the german Wikipedia article Flegel (Waffe), stating that there are no academic sources for flails as customary weapons from late antiquity to modern times (barring agricultural tools used as improvised weapons). The whole idea of flail-wielding knights or Landsknechte is a ridiculous figment of romanticism and contemporary fantasy-culture (ie Dungeons & Dragons). On the german article's discussion page I suggested the deletion of the whole article, except for a short account of the misconception itself, which (since they actually have been used as improvised weapons) could be placed in the article on the agricultural tool Dreschflegel. The same should be done here.

By the way: The picture is a joke. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:15, 11 January 2009 (UTC)

Is there a variation of the flail where the handle is just a longer chain? I have seen this type of weapon used in fiction but I dont know if it exists in real life. Diabl0658 04:19, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

As mentioned above, I have been looking for contemporary evidence for the use of flail-like (or ball-and-chain-like) weapons during the Middle Ages, or in fact, any time. So far, no results. Any kind of multipartite form (i.e. a massive head flexibly attached to some kind of handling device) -- except the modified threshing flail! -- should best be considered fictional until proven otherwise. Trigaranus 17:05, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

I've seen that recently two contributors from the US have changed the date (13th-15th centuries to 11th-15th c.). But as so far, nobody has produced any evidence whatsoever of a flail of this kind being used ever, I suggest you only change this dating once you have some reliable information to back it up. If you can prove that such a mace-and-chain flail was actually used, please let us know. Trigaranus (talk) 07:32, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

See for examples these threads:, As I understand it the short-handled flails weren't especially common, and most seem to be 15th century or later, but they certainly existed, in a variety of forms. (talk) 05:59, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

I have made a major revision to this page in order to reflect the fact that there is no evidence to support the 'iconic' form of the military flail, meaning a short stick with a ball and chain attached, of the military flail ever having existed outside the imagination of Victorian writers and contemporary fantasists. I have retained the use of the flail as an improvised weapon used on the battlefield by peasant armies, and a reference to the Hussites. If clear evidence is presented to refute me, I will certainly relent, but it is very important that we are presenting information verifiable with real evidence rather than merely reinforcing popular-cultural myths, no matter how cool those myths may be.

That may be, but the real problem with the article is that it has no sources, either before or after the revision. -Phoenixrod (talk) 23:10, 30 April 2009 (UTC) Very true. I'll try to drum some up.

I find your revision very well done, as it reflects what is actually known about flails as (improvised) weapons as well as what people believe about them (fantasy genre, roleplaying games asf). As a german user I have to admit, that a major revision like yours is still blocked on 'our' wikipedia. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:42, 18 May 2009 (UTC)

I've tried to add a bit of substance to the historical description, with some contemporary illustrations. I've also added a couple of references to start us off, but more are needed. In particular, some good references to the use of flails by peasant levies. While I like the corrective nature of the major revision, I think it would benefit from distinguishing between the probably mythical short handled chain mace (this is what I grew up knowing it as)and the long-handled derivative, which did exist. This area to could do with some references for verification of the argument Monstrelet (talk) 12:54, 21 June 2009 (UTC)

Nice one. Trigaranus (talk) 08:44, 22 June 2009 (UTC)

The following text was removed from the History section of the article

As of August 15th, 2009, the flail is no longer a mace. [ citation needed ]

It may be intended to announce a de-linking but, as such, it should be here, not in the article itself. Author has been notified to allow comments

The article contains a detailed description of a woodcut from this book but no citation to the edition. Although Le Chevalier Delibere is rare in that the author provided detailed notes for illustrators to follow, not all editions were the same. The illustration mentioned doesn't appear in the editions available online. Given its prominence in the article, a reference to the edition in which this particular illustration occurs would be valuable Monstrelet (talk) 10:49, 8 November 2009 (UTC)

Seems the citation request is causing confusion (perhaps in the wrong place?). The source needed is the edition of Le Chevalier Delibere which shows the flail. Either a link or a straightforward citation. It is important because it is the only medieval evidence anyone has referred to of a short-handled flail.Monstrelet (talk) 19:08, 21 December 2009 (UTC)

As the description of allegedly medieval flails in the possession of the Metropolitan Museum in New York takes up quite some space in this article, I though it might be important to know that the information is likely outdated. Nikolas Lloyd who does a YouTube series on medieval weaponry recently did one about the flail ( and talked about how he contacted the Metropolitan Museum for information that he got from this very article. According to him it turned out that they took the opportunity to review the items in question and it turned out (1) they have got only three and (2) their authenticity is now very much doubted by the museum itself. It would be interesting to see if they will be updating information about their collection this article should also reflect any updates the museum decides to make. -- (talk) 20:11, 2 December 2014 (UTC)

I would argue that this topic should be enhanched with actual refrences from scholars who specialize in medieval weaponry and/or victorian reproductions. The current version of this paragraph relies solely on the (unreferenced) viewpoints of this youtubevideo, which is rather weak and speculative (note by I.Sonnemans). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:22, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

Five minutes of googling was enough to turn up four or five illustrations of knights with the cavalry flail, properly dated, on museum websites. I wish wikipedians wouldn't keep mistaking "I can't research" with "there is no evidence". Also "I read once" does not constitute "considerable debate" <eye roll> — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:06, 18 January 2016 (UTC)

Ok first off, you will not get far with such a mocking tone and including "eye rolls" in your talk posts. What are you, 14? The rule is prove it or go home. We deal in sourcing here and no, I was not able to find any properly dated illustrations from the medieval period by simply googling "cavalry flail." I just got lots of photos of modern "reproductions" and fakes. That said, my concern at least personally is the truth rather than "being right," so here's some works I did find by consulting some people who are actual experts on medieval weapons.

You forgot to copy/paste the last two links from the forum that you otherwise copied verbatim. (talk) 07:14, 19 January 2016 (UTC)

"Bellfortis" 1405 approx - Knight waving a flail while pulling some sort of siege engine

"Wonders of the world" - Knight with a short handled flail at his belt

Fixed that for you -) Anyway, that whole forum discussion was started by people surprised that wikipedia would deny the existance of something for which there is a reasonable amount of evidence - Prove it applys just as much to claims that things do not exist, hence why the Cite tags. If some scholar has written a book, or even a consensus of scholars all agree that the one-handed-flail was a victorian myth - quotes, page numbers, title, and author thank you! (talk) 07:14, 19 January 2016 (UTC) Cool, guys! You are my heroes! :-) Trigaranus (talk) 10:01, 19 January 2016 (UTC) Hey, a source is a source, no matter where I found it. I still deserve credit for actually finding the correct attribution for some of them. The forum did not, and I had to hunt them down myself (such as the Herrera woodcut). I left out Bellfortis because it's not a strong source, because it was drawn very strangely by someone who doesn't appear to know what they're doing. This is common in very old period paintings of military actions because the painters were usually not fighting men and made many mistakes, such as the way they depict archers. Alright so here's the plan. I'm going to try and upload these into the system once I write out all the attribution information, as well as rewrite the section itself. Please, if you know of a good text source, post it. I do still stand firmly by the assertion that the many of flails found in museums are fakes and that many of the books written about these weapons have very poor sourcing, if any at all.NicoloSt (talk) 13:41, 19 January 2016 (UTC) Before I forget, I think the Talhoffer works might contain some depictions and even strategy, but I need to look those up again.NicoloSt (talk) 13:46, 19 January 2016 (UTC) I don't recall Talhoffer showing the single handed flail (or any other fechtbuch for that matter). I agree with NicoloSt though that we need to be careful of many museum specimens because of their lack of provenance. So a clear image of a single handed flail from a period source is what we need (we have no issues with two-handed flails from sources). The Bellifortis, suitably cropped to get rid of distractions, works quite well. Contrary to above opinion, I'd say it shows a weapon similar in design to a 15th century mace (iron handle, guard over handgrip) and is more plausible than some. It would be helpful if someone can turn up a text source to go with it but previous attempts have proved fruitless.Monstrelet (talk) 15:39, 19 January 2016 (UTC) I was thinking of this image [1] I wrote that, but of course now that I look at it, it's obviously not a flail. Mair's fechtbuch on the other hand does have entries on the long peasant flail, complete with martial spikes. [2] The Mair image is good - lively, colourful, illustrates the nature of the weapon precisiely. Maybe one for the lead, to replace the accurate but rather dull image there at the moment, which could be recycled to gallery? Monstrelet (talk) 21:55, 19 January 2016 (UTC) Good idea. The current one is not only dull, but the info says it was drawn in 1907.NicoloSt (talk) 01:03, 20 January 2016 (UTC) On the subject of cropping, I was trying to compose a decent gallery of attributed historical images, but I can't get it to work with cropped images. I'm not skilled enough with this type of editing. Can you help? Here's one I cropped from an image that was already in wikipedia.

There's a reference mentioned in one of Nicolas Lindy's videos of a French source penned by a Capitaine de Bast in 1836. I need additional verification on this work, but I did find the text online on a possibly unreliable site (can't tell, I don't speak French):

With a bit of google translate, "Le fléau" variously translates as "flail" or "scourge." Best first refers to "Le fléau ou martinet," or "the flail/scourge or whip" and the description sounds like he's actually talking about a cat-o-nine-tails that has been modified to be a lethal weapon. The handle is very short, it has up to nine strings (not chain), which are tipped with lead balls. Best describes it as a purely attack oriented weapon that has the potential to kill its wielder if he doesn't know what he's doing. The second weapon Best describes is "le fléau à battre le grain" which is roughly "the flail to beat the grain," a fairly obvious reference to the long peasant's flail. It sounds as though Best describes its use as an extension of stick-fighting, which is consistent with Mair's early work. The last one is "Le fléau brisé" which I think literally means "broken flail," and describes it has having an iron ball with points. This sounds like a reference to the spiked-ball-style flail, but I can't really make sense of the French. Anyhow, an interesting source that may be of use, even if it's several centuries later.NicoloSt (talk) 14:46, 21 January 2016 (UTC)

The fleau brise does seem to be a spiked-ball flail, with the novelty that it is held together by eel skin Monstrelet (talk) 19:07, 21 January 2016 (UTC) Eel skin? Very strange. I have no idea where Best would have seen such a thing.NicoloSt (talk) 19:20, 21 January 2016 (UTC)

Some more pictures I found on Wiktenauer, a HEMA wiki, of peasant flails in Renaissance documents.

Jakob Sutor von Baden (1612)

I have just modified one external link on Flail (weapon). Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, you may follow the instructions on the template below to fix any issues with the URLs.

As of February 2018, "External links modified" talk page sections are no longer generated or monitored by InternetArchiveBot . No special action is required regarding these talk page notices, other than regular verification using the archive tool instructions below. Editors have permission to delete these "External links modified" talk page sections if they want to de-clutter talk pages, but see the RfC before doing mass systematic removals. This message is updated dynamically through the template <> (last update: 15 July 2018).

  • If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
  • If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.

I feel that the section is lacking and statements (regarding danger and usability) refer to those two combined but are in my opinion different.

One version has a short(er) handle (to accommodate one hand) and a long chain - the chain (without the ball) is longer than is the length of the handle. I believe that is sometimes called "chain mace" or "ball and chain. It is closer to a chain weapon than a regular flail and should be considered as such, with inherent dangers of wielding a chain weapon. Chain weapons are notoriously difficult to master, so it's not a peasant's weapon even though it is depicted like that.

The other version which has the length of the chain shorter than it's the length of the handle is actually dangerous, questionably effective and honestly a miss. A failed version of two section staff. It can be a peasant's weapon. There is nothing special about it. But it's dangerous as in the heat of the battle you can forget and grip with both hands (and that can result in crushing one) or the handle can slip. Attention is divided between not crushing your hand and not hitting the body (while with the first version it's only not hitting the body which is a risk with chain weapons). It's very unpractical as it requires attention of chain weapons but does not offer the benefits. It also damages the handle.

To me those two are quite different weapons. They can't be treated the same. Setenzatsu (talk) 16:42, 4 June 2019 (UTC)

Any records of usage of flails with multiple balls. That seems like something from games and movies. It doesn't seem to have an effective value. The article could touch on that. Setenzatsu (talk) 16:42, 4 June 2019 (UTC)

The Francesca painting from the 1400s seen in the article and a few others artistic renderings do show multiple striking heads. However, there are no surviving objects I can find that didn't turn out to be Victorian-era forgeries. It is more than likely these depictions are intended to be fanciful artistic license by individuals with limited or no combat experience. Like the Sturtevant article in the references states to, flails mostly appear in art of "the exotic or fantastical." Plenty of tests show how impractical having multiple heads would be, but the problem is proving a negative.NicoloSt (talk) 17:25, 5 June 2019 (UTC) There is a genuine two-ball flail in the Royal Armouries. Note that it is from the 19th century and probably represents a ceremonial rather than practical weapon. . Medieval illustrations of multi-ball flails exist but usually in "exotic" contexts, so may not represent real weapons.Monstrelet (talk) 12:09, 6 June 2019 (UTC)

According to this there are numerous variations:

  • STICK FLAIL | CHIN KUA CH'U LIEN | JINGUACHUILIAN, commonly known as a "Tip Stick" also known as Shao Zi Gun (梢子棍) and Pan Long Gun (盤龍棍, lit. 'Coiling dragon staff')
  • LONG STICK FLAIL | PA LENG LIEN | BA LENG LIAN | Lian Ting (連梃, lit. 'Linked staff') | Lian Jia Bang (連耞棒) also known as a Two Section Staff 长小棒 is a long two-handed "Tip Stick"
  • Three section flail, Lian Zhu Shuang Tie Bian (連珠雙鐵鞭, lit. 'Linked bead double iron whip') is a variant of Tie Lian Jia Bang (鐵鏈夾棒, lit. 'Iron chain with clubs') flail that has two connected striking ends. It could be an early predecessor of the three-section staff.
  • DOUBLE HEADED FLAIL | 連珠棍 | LANG YA LIEN | LANGYALIAN - long center staff and a shorter flail head on each end (it's not three section staff) (talk) 23:11, 14 November 2020 (UTC)

This article is about a Korean flail. Examples on the flail page include several of these type of flail, and illustrations of non-Korean ones that are exactly as this article is describing. This is not really enough substance to be considered for a page on it's own, and the flail article already has a section for "Variations outside Europe", in which a Korean sub-section can be used to put this info in to, as it is roughly one paragraph long. Chaosdruid (talk) 05:05, 26 November 2020 (UTC)

Medieval Flails

The flail was one of the most deadly medieval age weapons used in military warfare. Made from a stout wooden handle and featuring at least one heavy weight attached to the end of the handle with a stout chain, the flail was a military weapon that was fashioned after tools used to thresh grain in the field. The farming tool has a much shorter chain – usually just one link – and the secondary piece attached to the chain was usually a long, wooden stick, not a deadly metal weight.

While a flail was sometimes used interchangeably with a cat o’nine tails as a whiplike tool to administer punishment for crimes against the state and church, the flail was more commonly used in combat. It was especially effective when in the hands of skilled cavalry. The flail provided a great advantage to a horseman, because the speed of a charging horse added even more momentum to the swing of the weapon, adding even greater levels of impact to the ball at the end. With many flails featuring weights bristlilng with cruel, razor-sharp spikes, this added momentum would often prove strong enough to pierce even the strongest armor.

Whether on foot or mounted, it was often quite difficult to defend against a flail attack. The weighted chain of the flail could easily bend around or over shields or entangle armored limbs, and one swift jerk from the wielder could send an opponent off-balance and reeling even if they weren’t injured. Even the very sight of a fully-armored knight whirling a flail above their head as they advanced upon you on the battlefield was enough to turn even the most stalwart foe’s knees to jelly. And then, of course, they would be literally turned to jelly by a well-aimed swing of that same flail.

However, for as devastating a weapon as it was, the flail was an incredibly difficult one to master. Because of the unpredictable nature of the way the chain of the flail moved while swung, it was all too easy to hit yourself instead of your enemy. The danger of accidentally injuring yourself was often considered unreasonably high, a disadvantage shared amongst just about every similar weapon that makes use of a chain or length of rope. The whip and nunchaku, both of which rely on similar movements, are notorious for needing careful training to avoid being injured while wielding them, or hitting allies on the field of battle. The flail was no different, and many historians feel that the weapon was so hard to control in practical situations that it was an extremely rare sight on the battlefield indeed!

Here at Medieval Collectibles, we carry a full line of these imposing and deadly weapons. Our flail designs include those with stylized skull heads, with spikes, with multiple spiked balls, and traditional designs as well. Whether you’re looking for a full-size museum-quality replica flail, a medieval fantasy flail, or any other type of flail you can think of, we have the best selection anywhere.

Sturtevant’s Case Against the Medieval Ball and Chain

In his article, Sturtevant makes 4 damning points against the medieval ball and chain:

  1. As a weapon, it is just too impractical to use.
  2. The most damning evidence is that it never appears in medieval descriptions of weapons nor does it appear in any armory catalogues, both of which we have plenty.
  3. While there are some in museums, those that do exist in places such as the Met are post-medieval “copies” (likely fakes), which never saw combat.
  4. That is not to say that the ball and chain does not appear in medieval art. Citing examples from the 15th-century, Sturtevant makes the astute observation that the appearance of the ball and chain is mixed in with the fantastical, and downright mythical.

Medieval Battle with Flails

Flail was a favourite Hussite weapon during Hussite wars in Bohemia (15th century). Hussites annihilated several armies of crusaders.

Knights fighting with flails

Hussite strategy against knight armies

Lets imagine Hussites on their war wagons. They are shooting with artillery, guns, crosbows and slings. Crusaders running their cavalry attack. Knights use lances. Lance can be used once, knight must draw his sword after lance attack. Both weapons – lance and sword are useless against Hussites protected on war wagons. Hussite warriors has no horses but they are still on a higher position than knights on their horses. Hussites using flails, pikes, partisans, swords, maces, and other weapons to beat group of knights driven into chaos after totally useless attack. Hussite cavalry attacking demoralized crusaders thrown out of horses and finishing battle with only a few loses.

Notice on video – flail can be a very fast weapon comparing to lance that can be used only once.

History facts

Crusaders from mostly German lands but also from other European countries (Italy, France, Flanders, Spain..) lost more than 20 battles against Hussites in Bohemia. Hussites were more flexible and they used advantage of properly selected terrain against slow medieval knights with the only one strategy – direct charge with lance and the following fight with sword.

The Medieval Flail - History

What types of weapons were used in the medieval times?

In the medieval times, wars were broken out between kingdoms and during these wars many different types of weapons were used.

Swords were a primary offensive weapon for knights. They were a common melee weapon normally fitted in one-on-one situations. The sword is a dual edged weapon allowing the use of a normal slicing action or a backswing. The sword comes in 4 main parts: The grip, the guard, the pommel and the edge. The grip is self-explanatory it is the part where the user holds the weapon. The pommel acts as a counter weight at the end of the sword. This part allows the user to conduct continuous swings. The guard is the part of the sword where the blade meets the grip, between them is the guard which protects the hands of the user from the blade and the blade is the sharp part of the sword. This is often made of steel and very resilient. This can leave a very severe piercing or slice into the body.

Crossbows were the prime long-ranged weapon for any type of archer. Any normal bow was made out of oak wood and the string was made of hemp but the crossbow is much more efficient. The crossbow comprises of a short bow into a wooden plank with a trigger to fire. Their ammo was like a smaller version of arrows known as bolts. These types of weapons were used by archers and people who had no experience in fighting. This was because it was so easy to use and very deadly in battle. Just insert the bolt, pull back and lock it in place, aim and fire. These weapons were so deadly and can be used by anyone easily that it was banned by the Pope as a weapon without any required skill.

Daggers are short double edged weapons, most commonly used in a melee fight or as a weapon of assassination. These weapons were made of 4 parts, like a sword it had a grip, a pommel, a hand guard and a blade. The only main difference is that the blade is shorter than a normal sword. Daggers were shorter than swords allowing it to be hidden for an assassination. This also allowed to it become a long-ranged weapon as it was small and light enough to throw. It also had a sharp point. This allowed for a deadly and lethal stab to any part of the body with either a backhand slice or a stabbing manoeuvre.

The flail is a very basic weapon and requires a lot of strength when using it but when used right, it could lead to a massive blow. A flail is a simple weapon that comprised of three parts: a heavy steel ball, a wooden rod as a grip and a chain that connects the two parts together. When swung around, the momentum caused by the swinging motion can deliver a powerful force into whatever it may hit. There are many ways that the flail can be changed, such as spikes, extra balls and even the size of the ball can be bigger. The chain also allows the ball to reach over things such as shields. Unfortunately this was an uncommon weapon in those times as the sword was the main and the weapon of choice.

Battle Axes were a very common weapon in the medieval times. When a kingdom is sent into battle, not only were the knights supposed to fight for the kingdom but the peasants were expected to fight too. Because the peasants weren’t trained to use sword, they used axes. This became an effective weapon and thus the battle axe was forged. The battle axe, depending on the weight and length, can be a one handed or two handed weapon. It has two main parts, the rod and the blades. The rod is normally between 1-5 ft and is made of wood. The blade is two crescent shaped blades, one on each side of the top of the rod. The blade is normally made of iron, steel or occasionally bronze. When used correctly, the force will be transferred to the side of the blade and deliver a powerful blow with just a few swings.

Maces were one of the earliest weapons used in the medieval times because they required very minimal building skill. This is a weapon purposely made to fight people with armour. The weapon is made of two parts, the shaft and the deadly head. The shaft of the mace could be made out of wood or metal and can be up to 5ft long. The head of the mace is made of either stone, iron, bronze or steel. The head will also have knobbed implements to add an extra punch. The mace has one point of impact and when used properly, not only will the armour be severely damaged but the user within the armour will probably have a few broken bones at the point of impact. This is because all the energy is focused onto that one point of impact. A knight could use this in one on one combat or to knock someone off their horse.

More knight weapons

Some Other Weapons of the Medieval Knight

  • The Dagger, although this was not a popular weapon because it was considered to be sneaky and for assassins. In later centuries the dagger regained some of its esteem as a ceremonial and dress weapon for show and display
  • Axe - This was an effective weapon in that it had a blade on one side and a hammer or pick on the other for a variety of striking options. It also often had a piercing point at the bottom of the handle for close in fighting. .
  • Halberd - This was a polearm weapon that was often six feet long or more. It was an effective weapon in that it often had a slicing blade like an axe, a pointed end for stabbing and a hook for pulling at the opponent.
  • Poleaxe - Very much like the regular axe but mounted on a long pole.

A Medieval Knight had many weapons to choose from and to master and this mastery of weapons was the most important training that a knight undertook. It was something that he worked on for his entire life. And although the sword was his primary weapon he was almost always proficient at many of the other weapons too.

What is the medieval flail?

the medieval flail was a torture implement made of cow hide with bits of metal sewn into the tips to inflict more pain.

Flails were used as tools as well.

Flails were also a weapon of war during the Medieval times

as a tool they were 1 thing and as a weapon they (i thought) were metal balls with spiked chained to a stick and swung over a knight's head and slammed into the opponent to knock them off their horse forced to fight people on the ground

Answer The medieval flail is descended from the grain thresher - a long pole (4-6 feet in length), with a eyebolt set in the end, to which either short lengths (1 foot or so) of rope or chain connected the main pole to shorter length (2' or so) poles. The grain thresh was used to beat collections of harvested wheat, to shake out the grain seeds from the straw.

After some time, peasants noticed that the long reach of the pole, combined with the swinging head sections, made for a reasonably weapon - a considerable amount of force could be built up by swinging the main pole around, and slamming the attached rod sections into people. It was particularly effective against chainmail, as the flail caused significant blunt force trauma (broke ribs, bashed in heads, etc.) all without having to penetrate the actual steel armor.

Weapons designers improved on this concept in two steps: Firstly, they reduced the number of short rods to one or two at the most, covered the rods in iron (to prevent then from shattering when hitting an armored opponent), and used only chain link to connect the main shaft with the attacking rods. Later on, the rods themselves were replaced with metal balls the balls tended to be small (4-6 inches in diameter), and had studs, spikes, or flanges cast into them.

Medieval flails were of two sizes: originally, they were for foot-use only, so the overall length was typical for a short polearm, about 5-6 feet total. These were very effective against mounted opponents, enabling the foot soldier to negate the height and reach advantage of a mounted opponent, and also providing a strong enough blow that unseating the mounted rider was a distinct possibility. After the creation of the ball flail, the main shaft was reduced significantly, to no more than 2 feet, making the flail a very effective weapon for close-in combat (the longer flail was only really usable against someone no closer than 3 feet away). The swinging arc required to use the short flail meant that it was more usable by the mounted warrior than the foot soldier, so the short flail became a mounted warrior's weapon, and was much less commonly used by foot soldiers.

The foot flail was generally replaced with more specialized ax and spear-derived weapons around the time that platemail became the common knightly armor (c. 1200-1300 AD), with the short flail lasting a bit longer, but generally disappearing about when firearms started making their debut (c. 1400 AD).


  1. Joss

    the response)))

  2. Florentino

    Indeed, and how I had not guessed before

  3. Nachman

    I can't take part in the discussion right now - there is no free time. I will be free - I will definitely write what I think.

  4. Godwine

    can anyone have a link to good quality?

  5. Osaze

    You commit an error. I can prove it.

  6. Phemius

    I think you will allow the mistake. I can defend my position. Write to me in PM, we will handle it.

  7. Aethelbeorht

    Also that we would do without your very good phrase

Write a message