5 Medieval Weapons That Would Make a 21st Century Softboi Shriek
It’s by the grace of god that I was born into an era where “internet comedy writer” was a more likely occupation than “foot soldier.” If I’d popped up, severe myopia and mild dust allergies included, in a time and place that had required any sort of physical, violent defense of myself, I’d most likely be a skeleton pieced together from scattered points on an ancient battlefield. I’d have been impotently swinging a pitchfork or a polearm toward the large visual smears that looked the most like the enemy’s banners until I was unceremoniously cleft, quartered or trampled underfoot.
Still, even in this hypothetical, horrible death at the hands of ancient warfare, there are a couple ways that I think would make for a particularly unpleasant exit. Those weapons weren’t exactly made for the tidiness of their blows, and I bet there’s a lot of medieval ghosts who would be plenty jealous of a clean headshot goodnight. So, in the interest of a little mental Mortal Kombat-style thought exercise, I’ve put some thought into the weapons I’d personally add to my “anything but” reverse bucket list.
Of all the types of trauma, “blunt force” has to be right near the bottom. It’s a small consolation to hope that the armament that sends you rocketing up to the heavens at least had the technology of a sharpened point. I mean, even when it comes to chickens headed for supermarket freezers, most people would consider it cruel to tenderize them before death. If you were unlucky enough to get pulped by a war hammer, though, you didn’t get that concession.
Any weapon that makes your imagination think about how much your head is like a pumpkin is some pretty dark shit. Not to mention that if you’re getting your bell rung into jelly by a warhammer, you’re probably also getting mashed up by one of the biggest, scariest guys on the battlefield. Not that getting chopped up is particularly fun either, but I’d rather have my corpse look like a Picasso than a Jackson Pollock.
If you’ve ever wondered what the difference between a rapier and estoc is, I’ll give you one of the key bits: Rapiers still have a cutting edge, while an estoc is specifically only able to turn your torso into the top of a salt shaker. It’s this singular precision of strike that makes getting killed by an estoc go on for a lot longer than anyone would prefer, like if Batman v Superman involved getting your lung punctured.
Unless you’re up against some sort of close-quarters Chris Kyle, chances are they’re not taking you out in a single, swift stab. Instead, you’re getting the full pincushion treatment until you finally leak to death like a sad, bagged carnival goldfish. Death by estoc, at least in my imagination, makes a guillotine look like a kind Kevorkian cranking your morphine drip to 11.
The sort of thing Pinhead would design when he couldn’t decide whether he wanted to get spanked or stabbed, that just so happened to look like his famous melon. This horrible “why not both” meme for being stabbed or bludgeoned looks like a thoroughly unpleasant vehicle to the afterlife. I honestly can’t imagine what it would feel like to be on the receiving end of a solid morning star whack. It’s the world’s worst sensory overload, like eating a whole black truffle that turns your kidneys into goo.
Its stated purpose is for piercing plate armor with pure force, but it’s still the creation of a psychotic blacksmith who would be tried in the Hague nowadays. I can’t imagine the first morning star’s unveiling was met with anything but the medieval equivalent of, “Yeesh, are we really doing this?” It has all the brutality of a baseball bat with nails driven through it without the excuse of, “Hey, I was improvising.”
Getting hit with a siege weapon, by nature, has a very low survival rate — even less when it’s likely to drive you into a muddy ground filled with all sorts of old horse diseases and I assume some level of plague. The ballista, a sort of giant crossbow, takes the crown here because it seems like the one most likely to keep you conscious the longest. Getting Wile E. Coyote’d by a trebuchet payload is a shadow, a gulp and a goodbye. Getting shishkebabed by a big ass arrow seems like it would give you some time to think over the unfortunate situation.
If I have to get eviscerated on the field of battle, I’d at least like to have the dignity not to die staked into the ground like a fucking beanstalk.
Depending on your location and general treatment of wild animals, this is the fate you might be most likely to stumble into today, but at least then you’d be asking for it. I can’t even imagine the mental process of some poor soldier who realizes the enemy they’ve drawn for the day’s skirmish is a war elephant. You either run and get executed for cowardice, or you try to kill a mountain with a stick of dry spaghetti.
It’s not like the elephant is going to have the awareness to give you an honorable death, either. The thing’s probably covered in armor and losing its shit, unaware that it’s stomping you so far into the muddy earth that you’ll drop right through hell’s ceiling. I mean, who knows if you’d ever seen one of these animals in real life before it plants you like a lawn sprinkler. I’ll take a quick, dramatic beheading any day.