The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Poll-axe
  • Poll-axe
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • France or Germany
  • c. 1430
  • Iron and wood
  • Length: 15.3 cm, axe-blade
    Length: 104.4 cm, top spike and straps
    Length: 22.7 cm, top spike only
    Length: 67.3 cm, reinforcing straps
    Weight: 2.95 kg
    Length: 188 cm, total length
  • A925
  • European Armoury I
Commentary
History
Further Reading
  • Poll-axe, having a blade with curved cutting-edge balanced at the back by a heavy coronel comprised of four strong, pyramidal projections. The top spike is of strong diamond section together with langets on the side straps extending down the staff. Other iron straps have been added on the remaining sides, so that the upper part of the staff is completely encased in metal.

    Probably German, about 1430.

    The blade has never been sharpened, and has little in the way of a distal taper. Similarly, the top spike is also quite dull, and seems always to have been. These features, combined with the provision of a coronel in place of a curved rear fluke, spike or hammerhead, give the impression that this weapon was made specifically as a ‘weapon of courtesy’, i.e., a rebated weapon for peaceful sporting combats or tournaments on foot.

    Laking European Armour III, fig. 886.

    Provenance: probably E. Juste, 'Hache a marteau avec pointe, du 15e siecle 40 fr.', receipted bill of 14 November 1868; Nieuwerkerke. A comparable axe is illustrated in a painting of The Crucifixion, dated 1429, from the Franciscan Church, Bamberg (Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Munich, inv. no. MA2625).