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Anglo-Saxon Weapons and Warfare

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FC: Anglo-Saxon Weapons and Warfare

1: Anglo-Saxon Weapon and Warfare By Jimmy Sukhdeo

2: Warfare was not a part of everyday life for many Anglo-Saxons and Vikings. Despite all the heroic deeds in tales and sagas, a grown man would have seen a major conflict about once every twenty years. And even then he would had to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time to become involved.

3: The first was the light throwing spear or javelin. Manuscripts of the period often show warriors holding a number of spears in the shield hand (three seems to be the most practical whilst still gripping the shield, and another in the weapon hand. Presumably most of these were for throwing as the opposing sides closed, whilst the last was retained for hand to hand combat.

4: The Anglo-Saxon period was a violent one. Warfare dominated its history and shaped the nature of its governance. Indeed, war was the natural state in the Germanic homelands and the patchwork of tribal kingdoms that composed pre-Viking England. Chieftains engaged in a seemingly endless struggle against foreign enemies and rival kinsmen for authority, power and tribute.

5: Anglo-Saxon society revolved around warfare. Freemen were automatically warriors and were expected to fight from early adolescence. Teenage boys were often taken into a chieftain's household to be trained as warriors.

6: Although a javelin weighs a pound or two (one kilogram), it develops enough inertia when thrown to go straight through a lime wood shield, whether it is clad in leather or not, and possibly into the owner of the shield at the same time.

7: Although bows were widely used by the continental Saxons, the Anglo-Saxons seem to have used the bow mainly for hunting, displaying a certain disdain for it's use in battle. The bow was more widespread as a weapon amongst the Vikings, but even then was not terribly common.

8: The most prized and lauded weapon, but not the most common one, was the sword. These were very valuable and were often handed down from generation to generation, or were received or given as gifts by great warriors and kings

9: The main type of body armour in Anglo-Saxon times was mail. The term 'chainmail' not being coined until the 1700's. This was made by cutting thin strips of iron from a piece of sheet, or drawing iron and link together.

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  • By: Jimmy S.
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