Also known as the horseman’s hammer since it was often wielded by a knight on horseback, the war hammer was first documented in the late 14th century as a response to the ever-increasing use of plate armor.
Roughly 2 feet (61 cm) in length, the typical war hammer resembles a carpenter’s hammer with a blunt head at one end, and a solid spike instead of a claw on the other. Models from the 1400s began to feature another spike added to the top, creating a tri-pronged weapon. The haft, constructed of wood and iron, or full iron or steel, provided the strength necessary to inflict serious damage. Similar to a mace, the blunt end could stun an opponent, dent plate (or shatter poorly-forged plate) or fracture bones beneath any type of armor. The added benefit? The broad-based spikes delivered blows that penetrated and pierced armor. The top spike provided the coup de grace, allowing for a quick, two-fisted end.