Station: [12] Halberd Grid

On your left, the Halberd Grid stands between the entrance and the exit of the tour. Halberds – sometimes called "Halbards or Halberts" – are combined cutting and thrusting weapons. They were used by the infantry, that is, foot soldiers, mainly from the 14th to the 16th century. The fighters who carried these weapons were called halberdiers. 

The term may seem odd. It derives from two Middle High German words: "helm" or "halm" means "wooden pole". A "barte" is a hatchet or broad-axe that was used to cleave an enemy’s armour. The hook, or thorn, mounted on the back could be used to tug a rider off his horse, or to severely wound the horse on the legs, where it was most vulnerable. The blade mounted on top of the pole served as a thrusting weapon.

As you can see, the halberd was a multifunctional weapon, equally suited to slashing, stabbing and ripping in battle. Over the course of the 16th century, it was nevertheless superseded by the pike, a stabbing weapon. However, it retained some importance as a prestige weapon carried by the princely bodyguards. Our halberds date from the 16th and 17th centuries.

Incidentally, the halberd hasn’t completely gone out of fashion even now. The Swiss Guard in the Vatican still wields it. Not for use in combat, of course, but as a ceremonial weapon, so it’s more for decoration.

All depictions: © Schloss Braunfels