The sword was a standard fighting weapon long before the evolution of the medieval knight. Nevertheless, the medieval knight found the sword to be an effective weapon. Medieval swords usually were made from a mild steel (low carbon steel). Most swords were double-edged, and featured a crossguard, hilt, and pommel. Many surviving examples of medieval swords feature some form of engraving, such as a prayer, or the sword owner’s name. How elaborate the sword was decorated depended upon its owner’s wealth, with some of the more intricate ones encrusted with jewels and fine engravings.
Apart from the sword another standard weapon of a knight was the lance. Lances were usually made of wood, with metal tips. In the early Norman period lances appear to have been little more than spears. As the Middle Ages progressed, lances developed a stouter appearance, including the addition of handguards and specialized metal tips. As a weapon, the lance enabled the knight to take advantage of his superior position on horseback as it provided the length necessary to engage opponents while still mounted. After the lance became broken or dropped the knight could rely on his sword, dismounting if necessary.
Other weapons finding use in the hands of the medieval knight were the axe, mace (metal club), and war hammer. It was, however, the sword and lance that the knight more often than not depended upon as his chosen weapons.
For the knight’s opponents on the ground who had to answer his advantageous longer reach, they developed assorted long-handled bladed weapons that went by many different names (pike, halberd, etc.). Archers were always a concern for the knight as they could hit targets from a distance. Many knights believed archer’s methods to be cowardly, as they did not engage in hand-to-hand combat, but struck from afar. Nevertheless, archers became an integral part of medieval warfare, and were decisive factors in famous medieval battles, such as Crécy (1346) and Agincourt (1415).
The weapons of a knight still hold fascination for many people today. Weapons catalogs, Medieval and Renaissance Faires, and museums continue to draw attention to the brutal and deadly weapons of the medieval knight.