Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Knightly Flail: A Myth? Reply to topic
Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next 
Author Message
James Head




Usergroups: None


Posts: 127
PostPosted: Wed 05 Aug, 2009 5:05 am    Post subject: Knightly Flail: A Myth?         Reply with quote

I just noticed on the Talk Page of Wikipedia's entry on the Flail, there seems to be someone who is insisting that the Knightly Flail was nothing more than a fancy notion invented during Victorian times and that there is no historical evidence to support its actual existence during the Medieval era.

Now I'm certainly in agreement that today's modern society has a completely incorrect understanding of this weapon. I strongly believe that it was a unique anti-infantry war tool that was meant to be used on horseback only. This is whay it is not a very common item. But to not have existed at all?

I don't care about 'fixing' the Wikipedia entry so much as getting to the bottom of this person's claim. I could have sworn that there are surviving examples of the Knightly Flail from the medieval era still around. Aren't some of the Flail reproduction models being sold today based on a real weapon that exists somewhere?
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
M. Eversberg II




Usergroups: None

Location: California, Maryland, USA
Reading list: 3 books
Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,374
PostPosted: Wed 05 Aug, 2009 5:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, it's seen in art works here and there, which would pretty much neuter his assumption.

M.

This space for rent or lease.
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address Yahoo Messenger MSN Messenger ICQ Number
Sean Flynt
myArmoury Team


myArmoury Team

PostPosted: Wed 05 Aug, 2009 7:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

IIRC, there are contemporary depictions of Maximilian I using a flail in single tournament combat. I don't have Anglo's book in front of me or I'd check that. Anybody?
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
C. Gadda




Usergroups: None


Posts: 135
PostPosted: Wed 05 Aug, 2009 8:23 am    Post subject: Re: Knightly Flail: A Myth?         Reply with quote

James Head wrote:
I just noticed on the Talk Page of Wikipedia's entry on the Flail, there seems to be someone who is insisting that the Knightly Flail was nothing more than a fancy notion invented during Victorian times and that there is no historical evidence to support its actual existence during the Medieval era.

Now I'm certainly in agreement that today's modern society has a completely incorrect understanding of this weapon. I strongly believe that it was a unique anti-infantry war tool that was meant to be used on horseback only. This is whay it is not a very common item. But to not have existed at all?

I don't care about 'fixing' the Wikipedia entry so much as getting to the bottom of this person's claim. I could have sworn that there are surviving examples of the Knightly Flail from the medieval era still around. Aren't some of the Flail reproduction models being sold today based on a real weapon that exists somewhere?


Actually, Muller's "Europaische Hieb- und Stich Waffen" has a clear photo of what can only be a "knightly" flail. I'll see if I can't get a scan of it up along with the accompanying text description tonight when I get home.
View user's profile
Sean Flynt
myArmoury Team


myArmoury Team

PostPosted: Wed 05 Aug, 2009 8:29 am    Post subject: Re: Knightly Flail: A Myth?         Reply with quote

C. Gadda wrote:


Actually, Muller's "Europaische Hieb- und Stich Waffen" has a clear photo of what can only be a "knightly" flail. I'll see if I can't get a scan of it up along with the accompanying text description tonight when I get home.


See if this thread contains that image:

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...ight=flail

I posted several flail images from that book.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Vincent Le Chevalier




Usergroups: None

Location: Paris, France
Reading list: 15 books
Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 782
PostPosted: Wed 05 Aug, 2009 10:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
IIRC, there are contemporary depictions of Maximilian I using a flail in single tournament combat. I don't have Anglo's book in front of me or I'd check that. Anybody?


Yes, it's in the colour plates at the end of the book. The plate is in the Freydal that currently resides in Vienna. Here are two other images that I've found from the same work:
http://steinbeisser.de/ebaybilder/1594A91.JPG
http://www.h-u-m-rueegg.li/images/turnier-1.jpg

Now, I'm not sure this qualifies as a knightly flail, but it's used by knights Wink Pretty similar to what can be found in Mair, it seems to me. Except that Mair shows them out of armor and with a bonus of spikes on the business end...

Is there any pictorial evidence of the "ball on a chain" flail, on the other hand? Like this one:
http://www.armor.com/pole144.html
Maybe these were even rarer...
EDIT: Though there is plenty of material evidence, as demonstrated in the thread Sean Flynt linked to.

--
Vincent
Ensis Sub Caelo
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
C. Gadda




Usergroups: None


Posts: 135
PostPosted: Wed 05 Aug, 2009 10:10 am    Post subject: Re: Knightly Flail: A Myth?         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
C. Gadda wrote:


Actually, Muller's "Europaische Hieb- und Stich Waffen" has a clear photo of what can only be a "knightly" flail. I'll see if I can't get a scan of it up along with the accompanying text description tonight when I get home.


See if this thread contains that image:

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...ight=flail

I posted several flail images from that book.


Interestingly, no, even though you seem to have posted everything else I saw the other night when I leafed through Muller looking for flails (I had seen the Wiki article and was skeptical of its claims).
View user's profile
Jeff A. Arbogast




Usergroups: None


Posts: 180
PostPosted: Wed 05 Aug, 2009 3:45 pm    Post subject: Re: Knightly Flail: A Myth?         Reply with quote

James Head wrote:
I just noticed on the Talk Page of Wikipedia's entry on the Flail, there seems to be someone who is insisting that the Knightly Flail was nothing more than a fancy notion invented during Victorian times and that there is no historical evidence to support its actual existence during the Medieval era.

Now I'm certainly in agreement that today's modern society has a completely incorrect understanding of this weapon. I strongly believe that it was a unique anti-infantry war tool that was meant to be used on horseback only. This is whay it is not a very common item. But to not have existed at all?

I don't care about 'fixing' the Wikipedia entry so much as getting to the bottom of this person's claim. I could have sworn that there are surviving examples of the Knightly Flail from the medieval era still around. Aren't some of the Flail reproduction models being sold today based on a real weapon that exists somewhere?


Arms & Armor makes one they claim is based on an original 15th century German example in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and I have no reason not to believe them. I have one in fact, and it seems real enough looking to me, and has details that a wealthy knight would appreciate, such as the right-angled figure-8 links, making for a smoother more sinuous flow, and the ridges along the outer edges of the links. Elegant and thoughtful details on such a brutal weapon.
I also tend to agree that it would be a useful anti-infantry weapon when used on horseback, especially when running down broken and fleeing footmen. Swung in a circular backhanded motion at speed, no armor or helm would avail, at least in my opinion.

A man's nose is his castle-and his finger is a mighty sword that he may wield UNHINDERED!
View user's profile Send private message
James Head




Usergroups: None


Posts: 127
PostPosted: Fri 07 Aug, 2009 7:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for all the great replies! I probably should have referred to the particular weapon in question as a "Single Handed Flail" instead of a "Knightly Flail" to avoid confusion.

Interesting. So far none of the various links posted in this thread have provided any visual proof of a surviving Single Handed Flail from the Medieval Era. I'm starting to get worried here. Can't anyone provide some concrete evidence that this weapon truly existed? WTF?!
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Chad Arnow
myArmoury Team


myArmoury Team

PostPosted: Fri 07 Aug, 2009 8:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you stick by strict definitions of "medieval," there may not be any/many. Looking through museum catalogues and books on arms and armour, pretty much all examples of flails are 15th century and later, making them technically a Renaissance weapon.

Compounding the issue of finding single-handed examples is that a number of hafts are broken, so we can't tell the original length. In other cases, the photographers for the book/catalogue thought the entirety of the haft was boring, so the full length is not shown.

The notion that the flail is Victorian is just false. It may not be "Medieval", but it did exist as a military weapon.



 Attachment: 39.5 KB, Viewed: 6154 times
flail1.jpg
Flail: undated, length unknown.

 Attachment: 41.12 KB, Viewed: 6145 times
flail2.jpg
Flail, total length unknown. 15th/16th century.

 Attachment: 70.82 KB, Viewed: 6135 times
flail3.jpg
Period art showing flail. 15th century. Full length unknown.

 Attachment: 142.33 KB, Viewed: 6140 times
flail4.jpg
15th century period art showing knight with a flail and morgenstern on his shoulder. Maybe slightly long for "single-handed", but shorter than many big 2-handed ones.

 Attachment: 31.52 KB, Viewed: 6109 times
flail5.jpg
Definitely single-handed, but 16th century.

 Attachment: 90.01 KB, Viewed: 6100 times
flail6.jpg
Definitely single-handed, but 18th/19th century and 16th/17th century.

Happy

ChadA

http://chadarnow.com/
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Chad Arnow
myArmoury Team


myArmoury Team

PostPosted: Fri 07 Aug, 2009 8:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here are some more.


 Attachment: 63.5 KB, Viewed: 6061 times
flail7.jpg


Happy

ChadA

http://chadarnow.com/
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
J.W. Salyards




Usergroups: None


Posts: 20
PostPosted: Tue 11 Aug, 2009 7:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here are a few more interesting images. The first is 12th or 13th c. The second is a painting by Piero della Francesca, dated around 1466 or thereabouts, "Battle Between Heraclius and Chosroes" (this of course is depicting a mythological event, but in the lower left quadrant of the painting, there is an unarmored man with a buckler wielding what appears to clearly be a three-headed flail with very small chains connecting the flail heads; I attached a closeup as well). Being unarmored, he would probably fail to qualify as "knightly", but it is a very nice image of a flail used single-handed.

http://forums.armourarchive.org/phpBB2/files/flail_209.jpg

http://oilpainting-frame.com/china/oil-painti...ncesca.htm

http://www.allpaintings.org/v/Renaissance/Pie...5.JPG.html
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Elling Polden




Usergroups: None

Location: Bergen, Norway
Likes: 1 page
Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,565
PostPosted: Tue 11 Aug, 2009 8:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tests with weapons such as the nuchako and three section staff show that these weapons transfer LESS energy than a rigid weapon of the same length.
While they generate more kinetic enegy, their non-rigid nature means that they have a very innefficient energy transfer, as the striking part bounces back on impact.

As such, the only advantage of a flail is striking around the enemies defence. However, against an armoured opponent, a single blow would not be likely to incapacitate, and the slow recovery time of the flail would make it less suited for pummeling someone into submition that a solid shafted mace.
Against a lightly armoured opponent, more or less any weapon swung with some force would have effect, of course.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website MSN Messenger
J.W. Salyards




Usergroups: None


Posts: 20
PostPosted: Tue 11 Aug, 2009 8:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:
Tests with weapons such as the nuchako and three section staff show that these weapons transfer LESS energy than a rigid weapon of the same length.
While they generate more kinetic enegy, their non-rigid nature means that they have a very innefficient energy transfer, as the striking part bounces back on impact.

As such, the only advantage of a flail is striking around the enemies defence. However, against an armoured opponent, a single blow would not be likely to incapacitate, and the slow recovery time of the flail would make it less suited for pummeling someone into submition that a solid shafted mace.
Against a lightly armoured opponent, more or less any weapon swung with some force would have effect, of course.


I'm hardly an expert, but I'm guessing mass plays a part in this, as the spiked head of a flail has a great deal more mass than the head of a nunchako or sectioned-staff. In my experience playing around with a flail replica, it creates a temendous amount of force and devestating damage, and this was only a single-handed variety.

The Hussites made good use of the longer, two-handed flail, and it allegedly was able to do some serious damage to armored foes, crushing limbs, denting or rending armor, etc.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
M. Eversberg II




Usergroups: None

Location: California, Maryland, USA
Reading list: 3 books
Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,374
PostPosted: Tue 11 Aug, 2009 10:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

At one point, I found myself wondering if flails weren't actually some kind of throwing weapon. It's a pity we haven't found much about them -- I've always wondered how well they're used.

M.

This space for rent or lease.
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address Yahoo Messenger MSN Messenger ICQ Number
Luka Borscak




Usergroups: None

Location: Croatia
Likes: 7 pages
Posts: 1,671
PostPosted: Tue 11 Aug, 2009 5:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting. There is a mace flying through the air on the Bayoux tapestry, but I haven't heard anything like that about flails. And I sure haven't seen one flying in my life. Wink
View user's profile Send private message
Elling Polden




Usergroups: None

Location: Bergen, Norway
Likes: 1 page
Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,565
PostPosted: Wed 12 Aug, 2009 4:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The byzantines used throwing hammers. Throwing axes and knifes are notoriusly dificult to make hit head first. With a hammer, what part hits doesnt matter that much.

@J.W. Salyards;
I'm not saying a flai, or nuchako for that matter, can not be dangerous. I'm just pointing out that the same head on a rigid shaft would transfer even more energy.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website MSN Messenger
J.W. Salyards




Usergroups: None


Posts: 20
PostPosted: Wed 12 Aug, 2009 7:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:

@J.W. Salyards;
I'm not saying a flai, or nuchako for that matter, can not be dangerous. I'm just pointing out that the same head on a rigid shaft would transfer even more energy.


I'm not trying to be contentious, but I'd be very interest in seeing the research that proves this, as it seems counter-intuitive to me. Physics was never my strong suit, but I would imagine that leverage would increase the force of the blow with the flail, as the momentum would be increased.

I believe that the flail also operates differently than the nunchuka or sectioned staff, as the parts are not balanced at all. So I'm not sure they can be adequatley compared in this regard.

Regardless, another bonus to the flail is that the impact of the blow doesn't travel like a shockwave up your arm.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Jean Thibodeau




PostPosted: Wed 12 Aug, 2009 7:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.W. Salyards wrote:
Elling Polden wrote:

@J.W. Salyards;
I'm not saying a flai, or nuchako for that matter, can not be dangerous. I'm just pointing out that the same head on a rigid shaft would transfer even more energy.


I'm not trying to be contentious, but I'd be very interest in seeing the research that proves this, as it seems counter-intuitive to me. Physics was never my strong suit, but I would imagine that leverage would increase the force of the blow with the flail, as the momentum would be increased.

I believe that the flail also operates differently than the nunchuka or sectioned staff, as the parts are not balanced at all. So I'm not sure they can be adequatley compared in this regard.

Regardless, another bonus to the flail is that the impact of the blow doesn't travel like a shockwave up your arm.


Well, I agree with the last about the shockwave and it does mean that one can really " flail away " ( pun intended ) without holding back as one might apprehending hand shock ?

As to the total amount of energy: The handle part of the flail as to be accelerated but probably contributes little or nothing to the transferred energy on impact, but even if this could be quantified with some complex math and physics I doubt it would make much of a difference in practice. Wink Big Grin But, one can always be curious about the idea in a theoretical way. Wink

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
View user's profile Send private message
J.W. Salyards




Usergroups: None


Posts: 20
PostPosted: Wed 12 Aug, 2009 7:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

We just need somebody who has an extra ballistics gel dummy. :-)
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Knightly Flail: A Myth?
Page 1 of 3 Reply to topic
Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum



All contents © Copyright 2003-2013 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum