For 15-16 centuries, battle axes and berdysh remained in the arsenal of the European armies both in the infantry and in the cavalry, but the percentage of soldiers armed with axes was small. Gradually, the ax disappeared from the infantry arsenal almost completely, and in the cavalry over time it became a sign of the power of the military leader, similar to a mace and a slander.
European, eastern and battle axes of India, berdysh, African axes, tomahawks.
Berdysh (from the floor. Berdysz – ax) is usually called a battle ax with a long handle, with an elongated blade with a characteristic curved shape. Axes of this type were common in the 15-17 centuries in Northern and Eastern Europe. Berdysh existed with both short and long arms. Long berdys are usually referred to as pole arms, as an analogue of European halberds. There were reeds of both the generally accepted form and original designs..
the ax is already the ceremonial weapon and the distinguishing mark of an officer in both the Turkish and the Persian army, as well as in some adjacent regions falling under the influence of Turkey and Persia.
Ceremonial weapons were rarely used in battle, only in the event of an unexpected attack. It was intended to emphasize the high status of the owner. Therefore, as a rule, ceremonial weapons were decorated with silver, and sometimes gold ornaments, precious stones.
Battle axes of India, 18-19 centuries.
A distinctive feature of most samples of Indian edged weapons in general and axes in particular is a high level of blacksmithing and its artistic and decorative component. The battle and ceremonial axes of the Indian region of the 18-19th centuries are numerous and varied in design and artistic decoration. But, despite the great diversity of species, the combatants of India, as in other regions of the globe, began to more and more fulfill ceremonial functions.
Relatively labor-intensive production, compared with a baton, led to the fact that the battle ax among most African peoples was the weapon of military leaders and leaders, as well as a symbol of the social status of rulers.
As a rule, African axes do not have eyes and are mounted with the petiole method. Some examples of axes can be used as throwing weapons. The design of individual species allows you to apply both chopping and stabbing.
The word tomahawk is of Indian origin. In a number of tribes of North America – Delaware, Mohicans and others – a wooden club was originally called a similar term. The Europeans, having come to the territory of the American continent, brought with them iron products, including small hatchets, which could be used both for household purposes and in battle.
These axes were actively used by the settlers themselves and became a popular trade item with the local population. Soon they became widespread among the Indians. Gradually the term “tomahawk” passed to these axes.
There were several types of tomahawks, differing mainly in the shape of the blade. Tomahawks with both narrow and wide blades were widespread, and even a tomahawk with a tapering blade resembling a slag, which for some reason is called an espantone.
Battle axes in the 18-20 centuries.
By the beginning of the 18th century, an ax as a weapon disappeared from the arsenal of almost all European armies. As an exception, we can recall the hatchets of the English riflemen, adopted from the American settlers, used on the battlefields of the New World. Another exception was the sea axes that the sailors fought during boarding..
Sometimes in battle, axes intended for engineering and other chores were used. In particular, it was necessary to use the axes as weapons to the pioneer detachments, marching at the forefront and dismantling enemy barriers. In World War I, fire axes were often used for trench battles..
Nowadays, an ax in service with army units is extremely rare. Probably the only example is the US Special Forces hatchet used during the Vietnam War and re-adopted today.
Based on materials from the book “Small Encyclopedia of Cold Steel”.