Spear Usage and History
This was the most common weapon during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. This versatile weapon was favored by the Vikings and has been found in virtually every culture on Earth. It is a weapon that most Medieval people would have been familiar with, as they would have used it for hunting and self defense.
The use of spear throughout Medieval Europe was primarily in military engagements. As a weapon of war, it was ideal because little training is required to use it effectively in formations. In its longer form, the pike, it allowed infantry to oppose cavalry and when shorter and lighter (called a javelin), it could be thrown to soften an enemy line before engaging in melee combat.
In single combat, the spear remains a formidable weapon. With lightning fast thrusts and greater range than most swords, it is very difficult to close on a spear man. It also allows (When space is available) the delivery of crushing blows. Even at close range, the shaft can be used to block and deflect like a staff (with which it has much in common) and thrusts with both ends of the weapon.
Spear Components and Construction
A spear is made of three parts, the shaft, head and butt. The shaft is normally made from wood, sometimes with a hand grip and can vary in length depending on the use (a shorter shaft for javelins and a longer one for pikes). The head is made from steel, either hammered on or riveted to the shaft, but could also be merely sharpened and fire hardened wood. Steel heads can be designed purely for thrusting or they can have a large leaf blade that allows for limited cutting. Sometimes the heads will even have multiple points and blades. The butt of a spear was often left as unadorned wood, but it could also be fitted with steel cap or a spike, much like the queue of a poleaxe or halberd.
Sword Academy uses in our Western Martial Arts (WMA) / Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) curriculum wooden spears with a steel or rubber tip.
In our curriculum Sword Academy studies both medieval and renaissance techniques of spear combat inspired by German, Italian and other sources.