Perhaps the oldest purpose-designed weapon in human history, the Spear is a simple but devastatingly effective tool in the hands of the medieval man-at-arms.
Typically measuring between six and eight feet in length, the form of the spearhead was highly variable, being long or short, wide or finely tapered, with sharpened edges or a simple puncturing spike.
Surviving medieval combat manuscripts show two distinct types of spear in common use, each with its own distinct methodology.
The long spear is same as the cavalry lance, although wielded on foot. Fiore Furlan dei Liberi, writing in 1409, even calls this the ‘lanza’ - literally the lance.
The shorter spear is well-adapted for close combat, being more dexterous and also able to strike as well as thrust. This allows its wielder to perform strong beats to an opponent’s weapon aside for a thrust.
Some spears were fitted with small wings just beneath the head, to prevent over-penetration into the target.
Sometimes a smaller butt-spike would be fitted to the bottom of the shaft, allowing the Spear to be used in reverse when turning.
Our primary sources for Spear are:
MS Ludwig XV 13: Fior di Battaglia (The Flower of Battle) written by Fiore Furlan dei Liberi c.1409, but with cross-reference to three other surviving versions each containing variations in text, layout and content.
Supplementary techniques by Hans Talhoffer dating from 1443 to 1467