War hammer

A reproduction of a spiked war hammer
A reproduction of a spiked war hammer

A war hammer is an archaic weapon of war intended for close combat, the design of which resembles the hammer. The war hammer, like the tool it resembles, consists of a handle and a head. The handle may be of different lengths, the longest being roughly equivalent to the halberd, and the shortest about the same as a mace. Long war hammers were pole weapons (polearms) meant for use against riders, whereas short ones were used in closer quarters and from horseback. Later war hammers often had a spike on one side of the head, thus making it a more versatile weapon. War hammers were developed as a consequence of the ever more prevalent metal armours of the medieval battlefields during the 14th and 15th centuries. Swords were of little use against these armours. The war hammer could deal blows of tremendous force to the target, especially when mounted on a pole, and by impact alone do damage without penetrating the armour. The spike end could be used for grappling the target's armour, reins, or shield, or could be turned in the direction of the blow to pierce even heavy armour. Against mounted opponents, the weapon could also be directed at the legs of the horse, toppling the armored foe to the ground where he could be more easily attacked.

The most famous instance of a hammer as a weapon is Mjolnir, the weapon of the Norse god, Thor.

Other weapons that are types of war hammers include:

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