Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Weapon Distinctions: Mace, Flail, and Morningstar
The mace was a club-like weapon popular through many centuries and in many countries. Shapes, sizes, and patterns varied a great deal, but mostly had a long handle with a flanged, knobbed, or spiked head. They were popular with churchmen or clerics of military bent, because they were crushing or bruising weapons, and thus circumvented the scriptural ban on the shedding of blood by the sword.
The flail, as a weapon, was based on the agricultural instrument for threshing corn, and thus favored by lower orders. This devastating weapon, consisting at its simplest as a weighted end suspended from a handle by a chain or leather strip, besides landing painful blows, could strike around shields or entangle the enemy's weapon. Sometimes called, in grim humor, a 'holy water sprinkler.' It could have several heads which made it more deadly but harder to handle.
The morningstar (or 'morgenstern') was a spiked ball that could be used as the end of a mace or as the weight on the end of a flail. So-called because of its resemblance to a star.