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PEASANT INFANTRYMAN

An extract from Armies of the Dark Ages 600-1066
by Ian Heath


123.      PEASANT INFANTRYMAN

Infantrymen armed with everyday tools or makeshift weapons probably appeared in most armies involving general levies, although Charlemagne at least forbade those armed only with staves to appear in his.

The Saxons recorded at Hastings as armed with stakes, 'iron forks', maces and stones tied on sticks, or shown in the Tapestry armed only with clubs as here, were probably such, as were the infantry recorded in various sagas and chronicles as armed with staves, clubs, pointed sticks and stones. Stakes and pointed sticks could apparently be of considerable length - Heimskringla records 'stakes' 5 ells (over 8 feet) long.

Undoubtedly others would have carried knives, slings, scythes, bills, flails, pitchforks, etc., as in later mediaeval times. Unfortunately contemporary artists do not appear to have considered such subjects worth recording.



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