Long before drones, guns, snipers, stabbings and drive by shootings, the human race used some pretty insane and brutal weapons. It’s like they were sadists because they created weapons specifically designed to cause considerable pain to their enemies.
Medieval weapons inflicted wounds that would never heal and made the enemy suffer considerably before they died. Looking back, you’ll realize that some of the modern weapons we have nowadays are just a modification of these medieval ones, albeit much less barbaric.
Take the caltrop for instance. It’s simply a weapon with sharp nails. Back then, it was used to slow down the advance of human troops or war animals like horses. In the 1990s when Caterpillar strikes were popular, they were used to destroy the tires of replacement workers and management.
When you read the full list of weapons we've described here, you might just be thankful that guns were invented because they cause much quicker and far less painful deaths than these bad-ass weapons.
11 Flame Throwers
The Greek were some bad-ass people at sea. They used to hang out in their warships during their battles from around 670AD while throwing fire at their enemies from a safe distance.
The flamethrowers used a special kind of fire that only the Greek knew how to make. Oh yeah…it wasn’t the regular fire you cook with. Of course, a few scientists have tried to guess what the mysterious Greek fire ingredients were, and they concluded that it consisted of salt, pepper or phosphorous, sulfur, quick lime, niter and petroleum jelly.
The Chinese were even smarter than the Greeks because they developed something better and more effective with their own Meng Huo You, or if you like, “flammable liquid.”
There was a time when warlords thought using plagued bodies to kill people slowly was a great idea. Yeah, and you thought biological warfare started just the other day.
Theory has it that they would send someone carrying a dead, decaying, plagued body to deliver it discreetly to the villages they wanted to destroy. They would then patiently wait for the disease to wipe out the entire village.
But what if they couldn't infiltrate the target town or castle? No problem. Just catapult the dead body over enemy lines. It’s faster and far more effective. So they invented the catapult.
A common strategy was to catapult a rotting animal full of diseases into enemy territory. They preferred to fling dead horses over (with a few beehives for added effect).
Catapults were so effective they could fling three hundred pound (140kgs) projectiles at super high speed. They became obsolete when gunpowder was invented.
If you want to cut off a limb with one strike, then the halberd is your best weapon. The halberd is an axe with a spike on top of a pole, and back then it was commonly used against horsemen.
Since it wasn’t that great of a weapon in hand-to-hand combat, soldiers came prepared with a dagger to use against unhorsed enemies. The halberd still exists today as a ceremonial weapon of the Swiss guard in the Vatican.
This is simply a modification of the traditional club, but the designs vary. The mace has a wooden handle and an iron head. Not only was it cheap but it was pretty easy to create. However, don’t underestimate the power of this weapon.
Soldiers used it to tear through armor without using much force. In fact, it was the preferred weapon for hand-to-hand combat because it could penetrate armor much more effectively than the sword.
Horsemen used longer maces while footmen used shorter ones. As you can imagine, they didn’t just use this weapon to rip through armor, they also used to kill enemies with it by smashing it over their heads.
The weapon is today used at the British House of Commons and universities for ceremonial purposes.
7 The Holy Water Sprinkler
This ironically named weapon kind of looks like the mace, but with a big spike poking out the top and a bunch of smaller ones around the sides.
The holy water sprinkler was considered a peasant weapon, but the rich guys had their own high-quality ones. Like the mace, it was used to hit enemies on the head and was particularly popular with the English army in the 16th Century.
If you’re wondering where you’ve seen the holy water sprinkler before, you've probably seen Havik use it in the game Mortal Kombat Deception. It’s also used as a Holy weapon in Dungeons and Dragons.
6 The Hunga Munga
This is an iron-fighting tool popular among the African tribes south of Lake Chad. It’s a weapon with a pointed blade, a curved back section and a separate spike near the handle.
The weapon was used in one of two ways during battle. Either it was used in hand-to-hand combat or it was thrown like a boomerang. Whatever way it was used, it left the enemies with deep stab wounds.
The hunga munga still used in some parts of Africa like in Gabon and the upper Nile. Buffy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer occasionally used the hunga munga to fight demons.
5 The Lance
The lance is a long spear or pole made of wood with a very sharp tip. Soldiers on horseback used it to impale their enemies, although soldiers on foot sometimes also used it.
As you can imagine, the lance was too long and too heavy to use on the ground regularly, so horsemen also armed themselves with swords, knives or maces.
The lance was eventually modified to have a hollow center and a blunt tip crafted specifically for jousting. This modification was meant to protect the jousters since the lance would break on impact once someone was hit.
Sometimes practical, every-day tools can become deadly devices. The billhook was invented for clearing undergrowth in farms but people decided it was better used as a weapon.
The billhook came in a variety of designs. The Italians preferred one with a long hook while the English preferred one with a short hook.
It had an advantage over other weapons like the spear because of its curved blade which hooked into the chinks in an enemy’s armor, making it easy to grapple them.
3 War Hammer
The weapon looks like a construction hammer but with a long pointy end. People became more creative when making their armor and as a result, it became stronger and harder to penetrate with weapons. So swords did very little to cut through the armor and other weapons would just ricochet.
The war hammer on the other hand was a bludgeoning weapon. A soldier would swing it at their enemy and even if didn’t penetrate at first, it would certainly leave a huge dent.
The arbalest looks like a large crossbow. It had greater force than earlier crossbows and could accurately hit a target that was 500 meters away. The person operating the arbalest was known as an arbalester and they could shoot up to two bolts a minute.
Crossbows were preferred over long bows because they were more accurate, had greater range and a faster shooting rate. Moreover, it took only a week for someone to learn how to use a crossbow while it took several years for someone to learn how to use a longbow effectively.
1 Boiling Oil
Back in the day, in order to attack a city, you had to climb the walls and the gates. The people protecting the city figured they could just pour boiling oil on the people climbing their walls.
Women had no problem donating their cooking oils…anything to keep the raping and pillaging villains out of their city. When they ran out of oil, they used boiling water or sand.
Boiling oil was such a popular weapon that they began to build castles with special holes that made it easier to pour the scalding liquid on enemies. The holes were also used for firing arrows and dropping stones on unsuspecting climbers.