The seax is a nasty looking knife with an even nastier history. This weapon was used by a number of Germanic tribes for assassination as well as battle killing nobles and peasants alike.
This knife became especially feared during late antiquity (300 CE-650 CE) when Romano-British nobles paid a certain group of people to be mercenaries and fight the invading Picts from the north.
As a reward for fighting off the Picts, the nobles gave these mercenaries land to settle, centre around present Kent in England. These mercenaries were the Saxons- the Germanic tribe that got its name from this very weapon they helped make famous.
The Kukri is a Nepalese knife. This machete-like chopping knife has been used not just as weapon, but a tool by common people for hundreds of years.
What makes this knife special besides it’s unique curve and the deep wounds it causes is its history, particularly with the Gurkhas. Nepalese Gurkhas have been an important part of the British Army for generations. Each soldier carries one of these knives into battle and it has seen use all over the world.
During World War II, the reputation of this weapon grew. An interesting situation report from a North African unit armed with these stated “Enemy losses: ten killed, ours nil. Ammunition espenditure nil.”
Morningstars are maces with a key difference- they have spikes on the end you hit with.
This gives the weapon a lethal combination of blunt force and ability to puncture flesh and sometimes even armor.
Morningstars were mainly used by knights during the middle ages in battles throughout Europe on foot and horseback. They come in a variety of sizes like the one-handed version seen above and even two-handed monsters used to pierce and crush the bones of knights in shining armor.
7. Viking Battle Axe
Battle axes and Vikings go together like peanut butter and jelly. Axes have been used in battle for thousands of years, but none have been so synonymous with its use like the Vikings.
When not chopping wood on the farm, this weapon was used to chop off heads, in battle or execution. The large blade made it great for tripping up opponents on foot and even unseating those on horseback. Your wooden shields and walls stand no chance against this weapon.
6. Sickle Sword
Sickle swords were used in combat all over the ancient world, particularly in Egypt 2-3000 years ago. It gets its unique shape from the farming tool that inspired it- the sickle.
These swords were used by infantry to cut through opponents, using the curve to hook and disarm enemies carrying shields or getting around their shields entirely for deep cut. Larger blades were sometimes used by charioteers to cut the legs off of anyone standing too close.
Zweihanders (or two-handers) are enormous swords often used by German mercenaries in the 14th and 15th centuries. Like its name suggests, this weapon requires two hands to use as it’s so damn big.
Zweihanders come in a variety of different looks but all had the same purpose- cut down heavily armored infantry. The size and weight of this sword made it particularly useful when fighting pike wielding infantry and was often used like a pike itself. Warriors would not just swing this sword but put one hand on the handle and the other above the guard on the blade itself in order to stab at the enemy.
4. War Hammer
War hammers are kind of like the every-day hammer you have in your toolbox, but much deadlier. Whether you wanted to bash in your foe’s skull or pierce his hearth, these hammers gave you options and were effective against even the most heavily armored warrior.
During the middle ages, this weapon was very popular with Venetian mercenaries hired to protect trade ships. The versatility of this weapon made it effective at more than just smashing attackers. The spike on the back was very useful to hook and hack at boats in close ship-to-ship fighting on decks at sea.
Japan is famous for its iconic weaponry from the past. Ninja and Samurai are known the world over for good reason. No Japanese weapon however, is more iconic than this deadly slashing sword- the katana.
These swords were made to be used two-handed by Samurai- the warrior/noble class of Feudal Japan. Fights with this weapon were meant to be quick. Its curved shape allowed the samurai to unsheathe his sword and slash at his opponent in one swift motion, cutting through them.
Katanas took weeks to make, folding metal hundreds of times or more to make the blade hard and sharp enough. This sword was not only seen as a weapon, but almost as a living being. Swords often had names and stories behind them and were considered to have a soul, making them sacred to their wielder.
The sarissa is the pike Alexander the Great’s phalanx used to conquer the known world. That alone gives it enough reason to make this list.
What makes the sarissa special is its length. While the Greeks used 7-9 foot spears in their phalanx, Phillip II of Macedon equipped his soldiers with pikes 13-20 feet in length depending on need and usage. As such, when he went on to conquer the Greeks, Athenians and Spartans alike could do nothing in the face of this walking wall of spiked death. Their spears were too short to reach the Macedonians.
His son, Alexander, would go on to crush all in his path from Egypt to India, with his sarissa-armed phalanx as his army’s backbone. This simple pike was quite something for its time.
While the Roman gladius was originally from Iberia (modern day Spain), it’s influence and look are undeniable. Arguably one of the greatest, largest and longest lived empires in human history used this weapon and in doing so they changed the world..
Roman soldiers fought in tight formations like the Greeks (though not as tight as a phalanx), but instead of using spears and pikes they opted to use this sharp short sword to stab and slash the enemy. Hiding behind their large tower shields and heavy armor, Roman soldiers would advance forward in formation like a wall. After throwing their javelins and getting close to the enemy army, out would come this sword. A quick thrust or slash with the gladius was all it took to kill an opponent.
The Gladius was as simple as it was deadly. In the arena or on the battlefield, this sword has become almost legendary.