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Justin Pasternak




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Dec, 2006 7:50 pm    Post subject: Existence of poll-maces?         Reply with quote

I know that during battles and tournaments knights used poll-axes and poll-hammers while fighting on foot and on horseback. But, was there any form of poll-mace? where as a typical mace has a shaft of about 24"-30" inches, were there any mace-heads attached to a longer shaft, let's say 5'-7' feet in length?

And I also have another question about some other weapons that I would like to clarify. Is a holy water spinkler a shaft of wood studded with metal spikes and is a morning star a form of flail with a heavy iron/steel ball studded with spikes, that is connected to length of chain or cord to a short handle?
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Fri 29 Dec, 2006 1:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is a Flemish weapon called a goedendag that might be considered a "poll" mace. It is basically a long-handled mace with a spike on the end.
http://www.liebaart.org/goeden_e.htm

FWIW the word "poll" does not refer to the shaft of the weapon; "poll" means "head". A pollaxe is an axe with a hammer like attachment. It is unclear whether the word "poll" originally referred to the head of the weapon or the fact that they were good at smashing skulls.

There are two definitions of "morning star" one consists of a spiked ball fixed to a rigid shaft. The other is a spiked ball on the end of a chain (on the end of a shaft). Personally I like the latter. The former is just a spiked mace IMO.
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PostPosted: Fri 29 Dec, 2006 4:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As far as I know, the Morgenstern is a long hafted ball with spikes. The origin of the term is that this kind of weapon was carried by watchmen and city guards, who would, amoungst other things, use them to give sleeping drunks a Rude Awakening™.
"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."
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Lafayette C Curtis




PostPosted: Fri 29 Dec, 2006 9:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Honestly, I've never heard of the "holy water sprinkler" or "aspergillum" really used in a context outside of fantasy roleplaying games (and make no mistake, I'm a D&D player and sometime DM), so I doubt its historical authenticity. As with everything else, though, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, so I may be wrong.
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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Fri 29 Dec, 2006 10:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all!
Lafayette C Curtis wrote:

Honestly, I've never heard of the "holy water sprinkler" or "aspergillum" really used in a context outside of fantasy roleplaying games (and make no mistake, I'm a D&D player and sometime DM), so I doubt its historical authenticity.

Lafayette,
Actually, the term "holy water sprinkler" for a spiked mace-type pole arm predates role playing games by quite a bit. George Cameron Stone used the term in A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration, and Use of Arms and Armor in All Countries and in All Times, originally published in 1934. Here's his definition:
George Cameron Stone wrote:

HOLY WATER SPRINKLE, MORNING STAR. A shafted weapon with an enlarged head of wood or iron studded with spikes. (ffoulkes 107). It was a common peasant weapon for several hundred years in Europe. It was also used in the East, though never as common there.

Stone has a photo of several examples; including a 17th century German, 16th century German, 17th century Swiss, 15th century English, and a 17th century Polish Holy Water Sprinkler.

Going back a little further, Charles ffoulkes used the term in his work Armour & Weapons, first published in 1909.
Charles ffoulkes wrote:

The mace was usually carried slung by a loop to the saddle-bow, or on the right wrist, so that, when the sword or lance were lost, it could be used at once. A less ornamental weapon is the Holy-water Sprinkler. This is formed of a ball of iron studded with sharp projecting spikes, and fixed upon a long or short handle. The Morning Star is akin to the Military Flail, a weapon derived from the agricultural implement of that name. It is much the same as the Holy-water Sprinkler, except that the spiked ball is not socketed on the handle but hangs from a chain. The name of these two weapons are often transposed, but we propose to adhere to the nomenclature used in the Tower Armouries as being more likely to be correct.


Again, in another early 20th century work (or maybe late 19th), Charles Henry Ashdown uses the term in his work European Arms & Armor. Here are his definitions for the morning star and the Holy Water sprinkler:
Charles Henry Ashdown wrote:

The Morning Star.- This was a mace with a spiked head, in great use upon the Continent, especially among the German nations; both cavalry and infantry were armed with it, the long-shafted weapon being appropriated by the foot soldier. Doubtless one of its advantages was the facility with which it could be made, a skilled armourer not being necessary. The short weapons of the cavalry were generally made of iron.

The Military Flail, or Holy Water Sprinkler.- The Military Flail is akin to the Morning Star and the Morgenstern. It consists of a shaft to which is affixed a staple having a chain depending, and to the end of this a ball of iron usually covered wi6th spikes. At times a flail of iron or wood, garnished with spikes, is substituted for the chain and ball.


More recent works also use the term. Ewart Oakeshott defined Holy Water Sprinkler and Morning Star in his 1964 book A Knight and his Weapons:
Ewart Oakeshott wrote:

Holy water sprinkler - type of mace with a ball and chain on a shaft.

Morning Star - type of mace, an infantry weapon with spikes sticking from it.

Oakeshott implies in the same book that the terms were used in period. I'll dig up more on that subject later.

I hoped this clarified the concept of using the term "Holy Water Sprinkler". This is one instance when the creators of Dungeons & Dragons used an actual weapon term, to name an actual historical weapon.

Stay safe!

"I'm going to do what the warriors of old did! I'm going to recite poetry!"
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Fri 29 Dec, 2006 12:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard Fay wrote:
I hoped this clarified the concept of using the term "Holy Water Sprinkler". This is one instance when the creators of Dungeons & Dragons used an actual weapon term, to name an actual historical weapon.
!

It was definitely an historical weapon. The question is whether it is an historical term or whether the Victorians invented it. Can anyone track down the first time this term appears in a document?
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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Fri 29 Dec, 2006 2:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all!
Dan Howard wrote:

It was definitely an historical weapon. The question is whether it is an historical term or whether the Victorians invented it. Can anyone track down the first time this term appears in a document?

Dan,
I don't have any sources that have a period usage of the term "holy water sprinkler", but many arms & armour scholars seem to believe it was a contemporary term. Here's what's said about it in The Complete Encyclopedia of Arms & Weapons, edited by Leonid Tarrasuk & Claude Blair:
Tarrasuk & Blair wrote:

holy-water sprinkler An ironic name given in England, in the 16th and 17th centuries, to a weapon consisting of a stout staff, the end of which was bound by an iron sheath with spikes. This weapon is akin to the MORGENSTERN

Morgenstern (German, "morning star") A type of combat weapon akin to the HOLY WATER SPRINKLER and MACE. It was fitted with a round, oval, or cylindrical head studded with spikes; extending from the top of the head was a long point. Some had short handles for single-handed use; others had long, sturdy handles, requiring both hands to deliver the blow. The name was coined later than the period in which the weapon was actually used; it was probably derived from the appearance of the head, which resembled a star.
The Morgenstern was made either with a long staff for use on foot or with a short handle for mounted warriors. Because of its effectiveness and simplicity of production, it was a popular weapon from the Middle Ages to the 17th century, particularly among peasants and poor urban militiamen, who occasionally used it as late as the 19th century.

morning star The modern English term for MORGENSTERN.

According to this source, morgenstern was a later term, but holy water sprinkler was a contemporary term, at least in the 16th or 17th centuries.

Here's what Oakeshott said about these weapons in A Knight and His Weapons:
Ewart Oakeshott wrote:

One form of mace constantly seen in the illustrations to historical stories, as well as in drawings of knights, is a round ball with masses of great spikes sticking out of it. Though such mace-heads survive, they are crude things; like those ball-and-chain weapons - three spiked balls each on a length of chain fastened to the end of a pole - the spiked-ball mace was an infantry weapon. Beastly things they were, but given lovely names: the macelike thing was called a Morning Star, and the ball-and-chain affair was called a Holy Water Sprinkler. Out ancestors had a certain grim humor in naming some of their less gentlemanly weapons.

Oakeshott's conversational style makes it hard to comprehend whether by "ancestors" he meant warriors of the 16th and 17th centuries, or Victorian scholars. It could be interpreted as he was implying that the terms were used in the period that the weapons were used.

Here again, in a slightly earlier work than his collaboration with Leonid Tarrasuk, Claude Blair states that the term holy water sprinkler was used during the 16th and 17th centuries. This is from European & American Arms:
Claude Blair wrote:

Holywater sprinkler. A term found in English texts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, for a long spiked club. It presumably originated in a fancied resemblance between the club and the ecclesiastical asperge.

Morning star. Modern synonym for the holywater sprinkler. It is a translation of the old German word for this weapon.


Here's a more current source that lists several names for these weapons. It doesn't mention that these names were used in period, but it does use the term aspergillum. I would take this source with a grain of salt, but I'm including it to include mention of the aspergillum. This is from Medieval Armies and Weapons in Western Europe by Jean-Denis G. G. Lepage:
Jean-Denis G. G. Lepage wrote:

The mace - in the form of a thick piece of wood, a beetle, blub, or an animal's bone - was probably the most primitive item of weaponry ever used by mankind...
There were naturally different shapes and sizes with various names, such as morgenster (morning star), chandelier, plancon, and others. The morgenster could also be fixed on a long pole and was known as an infantry weapon under the highly ironic name of goedendag (good morning). The war flail was also a kind of mace. Named fleau d'armes, goupillon, aspergillum or - more often - holy water sprinkler (ironically because of its resemblance with the brush used by clergymen to sprinkle), it was composed of one heavy spiked ball attached to a chain fixed on a short handle. There was also a variation fixed on a long pole and a short version including three studded balls.

I know none of these quotes are actual period sources, but Blair certainly implied that there are period sources using the term "holy water sprinkler".

I hope this helped a bit!

"I'm going to do what the warriors of old did! I'm going to recite poetry!"
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Lafayette C Curtis




PostPosted: Sat 30 Dec, 2006 5:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard Fay wrote:
I hoped this clarified the concept of using the term "Holy Water Sprinkler". This is one instance when the creators of Dungeons & Dragons used an actual weapon term, to name an actual historical weapon.


Well, I'm convinced now that there was a historical weapon by that name. Your quotes, however, make it clear that the name "holy water sprinkler" was an ironic and whimsical name, not a descriptive one, whereas the D&D weapon (the "aspergillum") literally sprinkled holy water upon the enemy with every hit--so I guess, regardless of the historical weapon's existence, the D&D weapon is still only a fanciful and impractical rendition.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Sat 30 Dec, 2006 7:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Waldman's book covers such weapons a bit. They were popular in 16th-century England. They could be quite well-made and light. If I remember correctly, the ones Waldman listed weighed a little over five pounds and were about six feet long. I imagine they fought with them as you would fight with a pollaxe.
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Shane Allee




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PostPosted: Sat 30 Dec, 2006 8:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is a picture of a couple part of the way down this thread. Look to be on longer shafts anyway.

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...p;start=20



Shane
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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Sat 30 Dec, 2006 8:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all!
Lafayette C curtis wrote:

Your quotes, however, make it clear that the name "holy water sprinkler" was an ironic and whimsical name, not a descriptive one, whereas the D&D weapon (the "aspergillum") literally sprinkled holy water upon the enemy with every hit--so I guess, regardless of the historical weapon's existence, the D&D weapon is still only a fanciful and impractical rendition.

Lafayette,

True, a "holy water sprinkler" weapon that sprays Holy Water as it hits may be fanciful, but it also may be possible (although far from historical). There is a thread somewhere here about a pole arm that sprays lime or some other caustic compound into an opponent's face. There is a "combination" weapon in the Royal Armouries, "Henry VIII's walking staff", that is a holy water sprinkler combined with a matchlock gun. It's rather impractical, but it exists.

Have you ever watched a show about exorcism, or ever been to a Catholic house blessing? Priests actually use a device called an "aspergillum" (a brush or small perforated container with handle used for sprinkling Holy Water) in the ceremony called "asperges", the sprinkling of people and the altar with Holy Water. Since the weapon existed, and the sprinkling device also existed, it would be possible to make the weapon's head hollow with perforations like a clerical aspergillum. Of course, it wouldn't be the most practical weapon around; you would lose most of the Holy Water every time you swung the weapon, and you would have to refill it often.

Now, nothing like this existed historically; medieval and Renaissance warriors faced human opponents, not various forms of the "undead", so there would be no need to develop such a fantasy weapon. However, in a world where ghouls, vampires, and other types of walking dead are a threat, I could just see an intrepid weapon smith trying to create a "holy water sprinkler" that actually sprinkled Holy Water. Still, I doubt that it would be common.

I hope I didn't drift off too far into fantasy musings, but there were a weird assortment of combination weapons produced historically. Most were rather impractical, but they did exist.

I found the thread about the pole arm with a "blinding" powder. Here's the link:

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

Stay safe! (And watch out for the walking dead!)

"I'm going to do what the warriors of old did! I'm going to recite poetry!"
Prince Andrew of Armar


Last edited by Richard Fay on Sat 30 Dec, 2006 10:52 am; edited 1 time in total
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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Sat 30 Dec, 2006 10:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello again!

Here's an interesting bit of information regarding the holy-water sprinkler from Treasures from the Tower of London: an Exhibition of Arms and Armour, compiled by A. V. B. Norman and G. M. Wilson.
Norman & Wilson wrote:

The term "holy-water sprinkler" appears frequently in sixteenth- and seventeenth- century English inventories, and seems to refer to a long, spiked club...It was apparently a pecularly English weapon, for one Venetian ambassador, Nicolo di Savri, writing in 1513, notes that 12,000 of the English army were armed with "a weapon never seen until now, six feet in length, surmounted by a ball with six steel spikes". 493 plain "holy water sprinklers" are listed in the 1547 Inventory of the possessions of King Henry VIII...

I find it odd that this was claimed to be a uniquely English weapon, since similar weapons were certainly used in Central Europe, but this does support the claim that the name "holy water sprinkler" was used in the period of use of the weapon. I imagine that the name "holy water sprinkler" is probably a uniquely English term for this weapon. Maybe the Venetian ambassador hadn't seen Central European examples of this weapon.

Another interesting point is the fact that the one shown in the book, the one that was part of the exhibition, has a very mace-like look to it's head. It certainly could be called a "pole-mace". The spikes are along flanges, and the whole head is of iron. Here's the description from Tresures from the Tower of London:
Norman & Wilson wrote:

Large, heavy iron head, consisting of six flanges, each cusped twice to form three spikes, the spikes of alternate flanges having pyramidal tips. Above is a thick top-spike of diamond section and, below, a hexagonal neck ending in a large roped roundel. Wooden haft of squre section with chamfered corners reinforced for its entire length by four steel straps.

Dimensions: Length overall, 74.5 in (189.2 cm) Length of head, 15.5 in (47 cm)
Weight, 11 lb 9 oz (5.24 kg).

Perhaps someone with this book could scan in an image of this weapon to post it on this thread. It's number 54 on pg. 69 in Treasures from the Tower of London. There is black & white photo on that page, and also a colour picture on plate XII, page 13.

I hope this was of interest!

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Last edited by Richard Fay on Sat 30 Dec, 2006 2:59 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sat 30 Dec, 2006 10:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In the RA's storage they have tons of two handed maces. The hussites war clubs were likely 2 handed maces or flails as well.


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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Sat 30 Dec, 2006 2:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello again!

I found a couple examples of "holy water sprinklers" or "spiked maces/clubs" in the albums here on this site. Check out these images:

http://www.myArmoury.com/albums/photo/2016.html

http://www.myArmoury.com/albums/photo/1997.html

These could be called "pole maces". They certainly appear to have fairly long hafts, even though the photos don't show the whole haft.

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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Sat 30 Dec, 2006 3:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello again!

For anyone that's interested in some of the various two-handed bludgeoning weapons, there was a decent discussion about morgensterns and godendacs (with some nice pictures) on this thread:

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...orgenstern

I thought I would post the link here, in case anyone missed it! The godendac was mentioned earlier in this thread.

Stay safe!

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Sat 30 Dec, 2006 4:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As mentioned above, all maces could be called "polearms" since they all have a "head" (ie, pole, poll...)

I think the question is better phrased asking about a "two-handed mace", often referrered to as other names and overlapping other terms such as the Morgenstern. Some discussion of naming is better explored in previous posts.

Here is an example that might fit what the original topic author is seeking.



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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Sat 30 Dec, 2006 4:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is a photo of the holy water sprinkler discussed above. It's located in the Tower of London (or at Leeds now?), is said to have belonged to Henry VIII, has been called his "walking staff", and contains three matchlock guns. The hole shown at the base of the the head is the touch plate used to ignite one of the barrels.


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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Sat 30 Dec, 2006 4:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello again!

Thanks for the photos, Nathan.
Wild-looking stuff!

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Jean Thibodeau




PostPosted: Sat 30 Dec, 2006 6:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just an observation about the name " Holy water sprinkler " and why it may have been applied to spiky maces: After one of these made contact and drew blood just swinging it around would spray blood as the holy water. Eek!

So it may not be the resemblance to the liturgical object so much as the fact that it would spray droplets of blood all over the place like the liturgical oject would spray the holy water.

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PostPosted: Sat 30 Dec, 2006 6:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The weapons known as "holy water sprinklers" are named for their resemblance to the aspergillum: the tool used by priests to sprinkle holy water that consists of a perforated globe at the end of a handle.

Below is an example.

Aspergillum
1811, 19th century
Metal: silvered and gilded copper, nonferrous metal; Turned, assembled
4 cm
Purchase from Mr. H. Baron
M10979.2
Copyright McCord Museum of Canadian History



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