A halberd is a two-handed pole weapon that came to prominent use during the 14th and 15th centuries. Possibly the word "halberd" comes from the German words halm (staff), and barte (axe). It's also possible that the word derives from "hellebaard", meaning hell's beard in Dutch language. The halberd consists of an axe blade topped with a spike mounted on a long shaft. It often has a hook or thorn on the back side of the axe blade for grappling mounted combatants.
The halberd was cheap to produce and very versatile in battle. Its length allowed it to deflect spears and pikes, its point allowed to keep sword-wielding opponents at distance, and the hook would be used to draw armored opponents to the ground. The axe blade was for cutting into unarmed opponents and horses.
Halberds were the primary weapons of the early Swiss armies in the 14th century. Later on, the Swiss added pikes to better repel knight attacks, with halberds used for medium distances and short swords ("Katzbalgers" for close up).
The halberd is still the ceremonial weapon of the Swiss Guard in the Vatican. Some of the different types of halberds include:
Other weapons that are sometimes listed as halberds:
As the halberd was eventually refined, its point was more fully developed to allow it to better deal with spears and pikes (also able to push back approaching horsemen), as was the hook opposite the axe head, which could be used to pull horsemen to the ground.
The Ji (jǐ 戟), the Chinese halberd, was used as a military weapon in one form or another from at least as early as the Shang dynasty until the end of the Qing dynasty.
It was a relatively common infantry weapon, especially in its common bronze age variant known as the dagger-axe, although it was used by cavalry and charioteers as well.
The wielder could strike with the shaft, with the option of then pulling the halberd back to hook with a side blade; or slap his opponent with the flat side of the halberd blade to knock him off his horse.
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