Weapons of the Medieval Knight

The weapons used by knights and men-at-arms in war, jousts, and tournaments were quite diverse, and suited to a variety of functions. However, a fairly standardized set of weaponry is described in fighting manuals of the 14th and 15th century as acceptable for use in duels.

A “duel” is a one-on-one format for combat, that sometimes included mounted (horseback) encounters, but is more commonly depicted as combat on foot. Knightly duels were generally fought in armor, although the practice of duelling “blossfechten” (in “street clothing”) is also well documented. Duels were very formal and involved a great deal of legal proceedings. Some duels were fought to the death, but duelling could also be fought to “first blood” (that is, the duel was stopped when one of the participants was wounded in any way), or simply “to satisfaction” (meaning, when the prince or lord overseeing the combat felt the participants had proved their honor in the dispute).

The Spear

Duelling spears were six to seven feet in length, with a blade at one end, and a metal “foot” at the other. Some spear blades are constructed with “wings” or a “cross guard” that can be used to catch an opposing weapon.

The Sword

With the advent of full plate armor in the 14th century, use of a single-handed sword with a shield became less common, and the two-handed “long sword” became the dominant form of this knightly weapon. When used in armor, swords are generally depicted being used by “half swording,” or gripping the blade in one hand with the handle in the other - essentially turning the sword into a small spear. 

The Pollaxe

One of the most effective weapons in foot combat is the “pollaxe,” an effective all-purpose weapon that can be used for striking, piercing, hooking, and grappling. Pollaxes ranged in size from 4’ to 6’ long, and in weight from 3 lbs to 8 lbs.

The Dagger

In battle and war, knights generally carried a “rondel dagger” on their belt. This was a fighting knife designed specifically to pierce gaps in an opponent’s harness, with a long, triangular blade and a reinforced point. Although often thought of as a “backup” weapon, fighting with a dagger was a large part of the knightly dueling art, and a military dagger is perhaps the most effective weapon for defeating an armored opponent. 


A knight in armor did not need a weapon in order to be a dangerous and effective fighter. Training to wrestle and grapple in full armor was a crucial part of the knightly fighting arts, and a knight’s armor made him particularly dangerous in a hand-to-hand struggle against an unarmored, or lightly armored foe.