Basically a club with a decorated head, a mace served as a cheap weapon that was simple to make. Maces date back to ancient times when the heads were made of stone, which easily broke. In the Middle Ages, maces were comprised of copper or bronze heads atop wooden shafts. The shape of the head could be starred or flanged, the point, literally, being to concentrate the blow into a small area. With the short points and wide base, the heads withstood the blows without breaking.

Metal mace with flanged head, 1500-1550
Metal mace with flanged head, 1500-1550

Used as early as the 11th century, maces rose in popularity as more plate armor was worn, but they proved effective against all types of armor. The crushing blows inflicted by a mace could break bones even through chain mail. Against plate armor it was less effective, serving to dent, damage, and deform or better yet, to penetrate the joints, all in hope of immobilizing the enemy.

Often used by clergy in the desire to avoid the shedding of blood, the mace evolved into an all-metal weapon. Perhaps due to the position of the clergy who wielded them, maces became a symbol of authority. Favored by kings, maces were constructed less as weapons and more as showpieces for royal ceremonies.

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