Swordstaff

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A Swordstaff (Svärdstav) is a Scandinavian polearm, used in the medieval ages. It is made by placing a blade at the end of a staff, thus giving the same benefits of a sword with the range of a spear or polearm. This helps the soldier fighting enemies both on foot and mounted.

The length of the weapon makes it easier to fight mounted opponents, while the blade is still handy enough to use in close combat, as opposed to using a spear which is ineffective at close range because only the tip can be used to attack with, or a sword which makes hurting mounted enemies significantly harder. The greater length of the weapon would also help when fighting more heavily armed opponents, since an attack can be executed with considerably more force due to the length of the weapon.

Evidence of the weapon in use at the Battle of Elfsborg (Alvesborg) 1502 is provided by Paul Dolstein, a landsknecht mercenary who fought in the battle, who refers to the Swedes carrying "good pikes made from swords". He also provides sketches of the weapon.[1]

Paul Dolstein's sketch of a Swedish militiaman with swordstaff in combat with a landsknecht

Although Dolstein believed the weapon was made from swords, there is no independent confirmation of this.

Origins[edit]

The weapon has visual similarities to the partisan and Langue de boeuf and may share common origins. However, Scandinavian Sagas make references to a number of pole weapons, usually translated as halberd or bill.[2] These weapons are used to cut and to stab but their names suggest they were derived from the spear rather than a cutting weapon e.g. the Hewing Spear (höggspjót) and the atgeir[1]. While clearly identifiable artistic or archaeological evidence of the form of these weapons is lacking, it is possible that the swordstaff may be a late derivative of this family of weapons.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ John Richards : Landsknecht Soldier 1486-1560, Osprey Warrior 49, 2002 pp51-52. media:dolstein 2.gif
  2. ^ For list of saga references to these weapons, see

External links[edit]

For discussion, contemporary illustrations and reconstruction see [2]