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viking power



The Dane Axe is an early type of polearm, primarily used during the transition between the Europe

Europe is one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally divided from Asia to its east by the water divide of the Ural Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian Sea, the Caucasus region and the Black Sea to the southeast...

an Viking Age
Viking Age
Viking Age is the term for the period in European history, especially Northern European and Scandinavian history, spanning the late 8th to 11th centuries. Scandinavian Vikings explored Europe by its oceans and rivers through trade and warfare. The Vikings also reached Iceland, Greenland,...

 and early Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a period of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The period followed the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476, and preceded the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period in a three-period division of history: Classical, Medieval, and Modern...

. Other names for the weapon include English Long Axe, Danish Axe, and Hafted Axe.


Most axes, both in period illustrations and extant artifact, that fall under the description of Danish Axe, possess Type L or Type M heads according to the Petersen

Dr Jan Petersen was a Norwegian historian notable for writing De Norske Vikingsverd in 1919. This book was the "standard and authoritative work" on Norse sword typology and "remains an invaluable guide today." The Oakeshott typology is based on Petersen's work.An online English translation of De...

 axe typology. Both types consist of a wide, thin blade, with pronounced "horns" at both the toe and heel of the bit. Cutting surface varies, but is generally between 20 cm and 30 cm (8 and 12 inches). Type L blades tend to be smaller, with the toe of the bit swept forward for superior shearing capability. Later Type M blades are typically larger overall, with a more symmetrical toe and heel.

The blade itself was reasonably light and forged very thin, making it superb for cutting. The thickness of the body above the edge is as thin as 2mm. Many of these axes were constructed with a reinforced bit, typically of a higher carbon steel to facilitate a harder, sharper edge. Average weight of an axe this size is between 1 kg and 2 kg (2 and 4 pounds). Proportionally, the long axe has more in common with a modern meat cleaver than a wood axe. This complex construction results in a lively and quick weapon with devastating cutting ability.

Based on period depictions, the haft of a Longaxe for combat was usually between approx. 0.9 m and 1.2 m (3 and 4 feet) long, although Dane axes used as status symbols might be as long as 1.5 to 1.7 m (5 to 5½ ft). Such axes might also feature inlaid silver and frequently may not have the flared steel edge of a weapon designed for war. Some surviving examples also feature a brass haft cap, often richly decorated, which presumably served to keep the head of the weapon secure on the haft, as well as protecting the end of the haft from the rigors of battle. Ash and oak are the most likely materials for the haft, as they have always been the primary materials used for polearms in Europe.



In the course of the 10-11th. Centuries, the Danish Axe gained popularity in areas outside Scandinavia where Viking influence was strong, such as England, Ireland and Normandy. Historical accounts depict the Danish Axe as the weapon of the warrior elite in this period, such as the Huscarls of Anglo-Saxon England. In the Bayeux tapestry

Bayeux Tapestry
The Bayeux Tapestry is a long embroidered cloth — not an actual tapestry — which depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England as well as the events of the invasion itself. The tapestry is annotated in Latin...

, a visual record of the ascent of William the Conqueror to the throne of England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west and the North Sea to the east, with the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, the axe is almost exclusively wielded by well armored huscarls. These huscarls formed the core bodyguard of King Harold at the Battle of Hastings
The Battle of Hastings took place on 14 October 1066. It was the decisive Norman victory in the Norman Conquest of England, fought between the Norman army of Duke William II of Normandy and the English army of King Harold II...

. The Bayeux Tapestry also depicts a huscarl cleaving a Norman
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of mostly Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock. Their identity emerged initially in the first half of the tenth century, and...

 knight's horse's head with one blow http://cache-media.britannica.com/eb-media/77/13177-004-C6966659.jpg. The Dane-Axe is also known to have been used by the Varangian Guard, also known as pelekyphoros phroura (πελεκυφόρος φρουρά), the "axe-bearing guard". One surviving ivory plaque from the 10th century Constantinople
Constantinople was the imperial capital of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine/Eastern Roman Empire, the Latin Empire and the Ottoman Empire...

 depicts a Varangian holding an axe that is at least as tall as its wielder.

Although the name retains its Scandinavian heritage, the Danish Axe became widely used throughout Europe from 12th.-13th century, as axes gained acceptance as a knightly weapon, albeit not achieving the status of the sword. They also began to be used widely as an infantry polearm, with the haft lengthening to about 6 ft. (2m.). The 13th. and 14th. century also see form changes, with the blade also lengthening, the rear horn extending to touch or attach to the haft. The lengthened weapon, especially if combined with the lengthened blade, was called a sparth in England. Some believe this weapon is the ancestor of the halberd
A halberd is a two-handed pole weapon that came to prominent use during the 14th and 15th centuries. Possibly the word halberd comes from the German words Halm , and Barte - in modern-day German, the weapon is called Hellebarde. The halberd consists of an axe blade topped with a spike mounted on...


While the Danish Axe continues in use in the 14th. century, axes with an armour piercing back-spike and spear-like spike on the fore-end of the haft become more common, eventually evolving into the Pollaxe in the 15th. century. The simple Danish axe continues to be used in the West of Scotland and in Ireland into the 16th. century. In Ireland, it is particularly associated with Galloglas
The gallowglass were an elite class of mercenary warrior who came from Gaelic-Norse clans in the Hebrides and Highlands of Scotland between the mid 13th century and late 16th century...


Famous historical figures associated with the axe


After the Battle of Stiklestad

The Battle of Stiklestad in 1030 is one of the most famous battles in the history of Norway. In this battle, King Olaf II of Norway was killed...

, the axe also became the symbol of St. Olaf
Olaf II of Norway
Olaf II Haraldsson was king of Norway from 1015 to 1028, . His mother was Åsta Gudbrandsdatter, and his father was Harald Grenske, great-great-grandchild of Harald Fairhair...

 and can still be seen on the Coat of Arms of Norway
The Coat of Arms of Norway is a crowned, golden lion rampant holding an axe with an argent blade, on a crowned, triangular and red escutcheon. Its elements originate from personal insignias for the royal house in the High Middle Ages, thus being among the oldest in Europe...

. However, this is because the axe is the implement of his martyrdom, rather than signifying use.

King Stephen of England famously used a Danish axe at the Battle of Lincoln
Battle of Lincoln (1141)
The Battle of Lincoln or First Battle of Lincoln occurred on 2 February 1141. In it Stephen of England was captured, imprisoned and effectively deposed while Empress Matilda ruled for a short time.-Account:...

 1141 after his sword broke.

Richard the Lionheart was often recorded wielding a large war axe in Victorian times, though references are sometimes wildly exaggerated as befitted a national hero: "Long and long after he was quiet in his grave, his terrible battle-axe, with twenty English pounds of English steel in its mighty head..." - A Child's History of England
A Child's History of England is a book by Charles Dickens. It first appeared in serial form in Household Words, running from January 25, 1851 to December 10, 1853. Each volume was published separately in book form: the first volume on December 20, 1851; the second, December 25, 1852; and the third,...

by Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Charles John Huffam Dickens was the most popular British novelist of the Victorian era, and he remains popular, responsible for some of English literature's most iconic characters....

. Richard is, however, recorded as using a Danish Axe at the relief of Jaffa
Battle of Jaffa
The Battle of Jaffa took place during the Crusades, as one of a series of campaigns between Saladin's army and the forces of King Richard the Lionheart. It was the final battle of the Third Crusade, after which Saladin and King Richard were able to negotiate a truce...

. Geoffrey de Lusignan is another famous crusader associated with the axe

In the 14th. century, the use of axes is increasingly noted by Froissart in his Chronicle, with King Jean II using one at the Battle of Poitiers
The Battle of Poitiers was fought between the Kingdoms of England and France on 19 September 1356 near Poitiers, resulting in the second of the three great English victories of the Hundred Years' War: Crécy, Poitiers, and Agincourt.-Background:...

 in 1356 and Sir James Douglas at the Battle of Otterburn
Battle of Otterburn
The Battle of Otterburn took place on the 5 August 1388, as part of the continuing border skirmishes between the Scottish and English.The best remaining record of the battle is from Jean Froissart's Chronicles in which he claims to have interviewed veterans from both sides of the battle...

in 1388. Bretons were apparently noted axe users, with Bertrand du Guesclin and Olivier de Clisson both wielding axes in battle In these cases, we cannot tell whether the weapon was a Danish axe, or the proto-pollaxe.

Publié dans Vikings

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