The Anglo Saxon Period: Weapons And Warriors

1279 words - 6 pages

Many people may have heard of the story of Beowulf, but not know who the Anglo-Saxons were. According to an article on BBC History, the term Anglo-Saxon refers to settlers from the German regions of Angeln and Saxony. The Anglo-Saxons made their way over to Britain after the fall of the Roman Empire around AD 410 and the period lasted for 600 years. During this period there where many rises and falls of bishops and kings, as well as many important battles. The Anglo-Saxon warriors had a variety of weapons and armor to defend them. This includes spears, scramaseaxes, swords, shields, helmets, and body armor.
The Anglo-Saxon armies were usually rather small. The number of warriors in an army could be anywhere from fifty men to about two hundred and fifty men, but during those times that was all that was needed to defeat entire kingdoms. A type of warrior was known as a Thane. The term thane refers to a lord who holds land granted from the king in return for military service. Thanes could earn their titles and lands or inherit them. The thane ranked below all other Anglo-Saxon nobility; however, there were two subclasses for thanes. There were "king's thanes," who held certain privileges and answered only to the king, and inferior thanes that served other thanes or bishops (Snell). The Anglo-Saxon warriors had what some would consider a code, called a wergild. A wergild is price that is paid to the family of a person who was murdered by the murderer’s family to free the murderer from further punishment and to prevent a feud (Wergild).
A common and primary weapon used by warriors of the Anglo-Saxon time period was the spear. Spearheads came in many styles, but were usually leaf or kite shaped and had a socket for attachment to the shaft. Spears were used for hand to hand combat and as javelins. The Angon was a special type of spear that was used for close combat as well as for throwing. They normally had a small, barbed head connected to the socket by a long metal shaft. When used in close combat, this long metal shaft prevented the head from being chopped off (Levick).
Another weapon used during this time was the scramaseax, which was basically a single edge knife. Eight to fourteen inches was the typical length of a scramaseax. The guard is generally unimportant, or sometimes non-existent, but many of the early scramaseaxes had ornamental pommels, often boat-shaped or lobed. During the ninth century scramaseaxes started to become longer. These were more like a single edged sword than a knife. The blades of these scramaseaxes are between twenty two to thirty two inches long and were very heavy, capable of delivering a ghastly blow. The handles were usually made of horn or wood. Warriors carried them in a leather sheath at their thigh and the sheath was suspended from the belt. Some scramaseax scabbards appear to have been made of leather covered wooden laths, in a manner similar to sword scabbards (Levick).
The sword is another weapon that...

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