Authenticity:Two Handed Spears

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Authenticity Guide

For other type of spears also see:
Javelins
Single Handed Spears


2-handed spear-head blades must be over 8” on spears longer than 7’
For the first time a minimum blade length is being introduced for two-handed spear heads. Two-handed spear heads must now have a minimum blade length of 20cm (8”) if used on a spear over 213cm (7’) long.
The intention is to make the use of javelin sized heads unacceptable on spears over 7’ in length. This will result in the use of javelin heads on our single-handed spears and larger standard spear heads on our two-handed spears, in Regia combat.


More use of single-handed spear and shield
Every warrior should ideally take the field of battle with a shield and a single-handed spear as their starting weapon. I would encourage all new combatants in Regia to start with the single-handed spear as their first weapon.
Fewer two-handed spears being used by POOR warriors
Ideally it would be nice to see only high status warriors using two-handed spears as their large spearheads would have been expensive weapons (see the new rule regarding two-handed spear head minimum length of 20cm (8”)). The use of two-handed spear and shield in combat is only depicted 3 times in Regia’s period of interest (see below) and is always shown being used against non-infantry.


The evidence for two-handed spears and shield

Since its inception, Regia has been synonymous with the use of the two-handed spear and shield. Were we to be starting as a new society today I think things would be different.

To start with let’s look at the evidence. To the best of my knowledge we have no written sources that describe this form of warfare. This is not surprising, however, as most of the writings that we have are either short, factual chronicles or allegorical poems. From archaeology we have hundreds of large spearheads. On the whole these still have thin sockets, usually less than 25mm (1”) in diameter, and so would be unsuitable for the stout spear shafts that you would expect to see associated with a two-handed weapon. Another argument against their use in this manner are the manuscript images clearly showing these large spear heads being used single-handed.

We do however have numerous images of warriors using spears two-handed. Just not in association with a shield. This is what you’d expect as anyone armed with just a spear would automatically use it with both hands.

This leaves us with the 3 images shown on these pages. The earliest is from a Pictish picture stone depicting a battle and dating to somewhere between 700AD to 850AD. The second is from a European manuscript made in Switzerland dating to 1125-1150AD. The third is from a stained glass window in Canterbury Cathedral and dating to 1190AD. All of these images depict warriors fighting against non-infantry.

Byzantine and Carolingian armies were known to use two-handed spears, or pikes, for use against mounted warriors. But for England we have scarce evidence for the use of mounted warriors prior to the Norman Conquest. If two-handed spears were in common use in 1066AD we would expect to see them depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry and being used against the Norman cavalry. Instead we see Dane-axe wielding warriors fulfilling this role. It appears that England and Scandinavia chose a different way to deal with cavalry than adopting the two-handed spear. It seems then that the main use for stout two-handed spears in England was probably for use in hunting, the pursuit of the rich. This is not to say that they could not have been used on the battlefield as they would have made very effective weapons.

In summary two-handed spears will never be banned in Regia as we have more than sufficient evidence for their use. However I would like to see them becoming a specialist weapon with only a few in use by warriors in RICH attire.