War isn't a modern day problem. In fact, historians have found evidence of war 14,000 years ago! One expert even claims that 14,500 wars have taken place between 3500 BC and the late 20th century, costing 3.5 billion lives. But while the concept of war hasn't changed, our methods have. Before gunpowder, our medieval ancestors had to be a lot more inventive, and savage, with weapons designed to cause maximum destruction and pain. The more brutal the weapon, the more popular it was. Here are 10 of the most violent medieval weapons we're quite frankly relieved aren't around today!
1. Morning Star
Also nicknamed the holy water sprinkler, the morning star, consists of a solid wooden or metal shaft with a large spiked metal ball on the top. Attackers usually swung the weapon at their victim’s face, head, or knees. It is often confused with a mace, which has studs rather than spikes. The morning star can also be a type of flail, with the spiked ball attached to a chain.
2. Hunga Munga
3. Boiling Oil
In order to defend their castles from armies or pillagers, boiling oil would be poured over the walls. Sometimes, if there was limited supply of oil, boiling water, or sand would be poured over. The blistering liquid would scold anyone trying to scale the walls or ram the gates.
The Trebuchet, essentially a giant catapult, is a siege machine which can fire rocks and stones up to half a mile. It is one of the biggest, and deadliest war machines of all time. It was mainly used in the seige of castles to throw stones over large moats and castle walls.
Warwick Castle have recreated their own trebuchet, which they demonstrate throwing a fireball at the end of each day.
This is a handcrafted wooden club used by Zulu warriors to bludgeon enemies to death.
6. Dead bodies!
No, not zombies! Armies in the Middle Ages used to use the bodies of the dead – catapulting the corpses over castle walls during seiges. They also used to dump diseased dead bodies (often plague-infected) into rivers supplying a towns water supply – an early form of biological warfare.
You won't look at these things the same way again…
You wouldn't want to cross these terrible villains
Phew! We're glad these once-common grisly diseases are extremely rare in the UK
7. Scythed Chariot
A terrifying war chariot, with great big spikes sticking out of the wheels. The scythed chariot was pulled by horses and would plough through infantry lines, slicing enemies in half or exposing gaps in the line to exploit. The Persians used them during their wars with the Greeks.
This medieval weapon is made up of two or more spikes, arranged so that one always points upwards. They were thrown out to slow down advancing troops – whether human, calvery, war elephants or even camals. They’re still useful today against wheeled vehicles.
A ninja throwing star! They are sharpened hand-held blades made from everyday items, for example nails, knives, needles or other flat metal items. The art of wielding a shuriken was taught during martial arts training and is part of a samurai’s weaponary. In medieval times they weren’t a killing weapon, they were used to injure or disable enemy. They may have been embedded in the ground for the enemy to step on, or thrown with a lit fuse to start a fire.
This oversized crossbow, first used in Europe in the 12th century, could shoot accurately over half a kilmoetre. It was the distance weapon of choice for medieval armies.