Paid Advertisement
Historynet/feed historynet feedback facebook link Weider History Group RSS feed Weider Subscriptions Historynet Home page

Billhook: Enemy Knights Proving Costly? Send Them the Bill

By Jon Guttman 
Originally published by Military History magazine. Published Online: September 07, 2012 
Print Friendly
1 comment FONT +  FONT -

The billhook finally gave the foot soldier an edge—several sharp ones, in fact—over a mounted opponent. (Illustration by Gregory Proch)
The billhook finally gave the foot soldier an edge—several sharp ones, in fact—over a mounted opponent. (Illustration by Gregory Proch)

Pole-arms span a variety of shapes and purposes, most designed to give the foot soldier an advantage—or at least a fighting chance—against a mounted opponent. The billhook, mainly used in the British Isles, gave the infantryman several options. The broad blade was primarily an ax with which to slash a rider or his horse. Protruding from the opposite side was a pointed hook, or cleek. With it the foot soldier could punch a hole through the enemy's armor or, as the horseman rushed by, hook and pull him from the saddle, then hack him with the blade.

Subscribe Today

Subscribe to Military History magazine

Although shorter than most other pole-arms, at 5 to 9 feet, the English bill remained a weapon of choice among the men for whom it was named, even into the gunpowder era. At the 1513 Battle of Flodden, for example, bills and bows predominated among the English, who prevailed against Scottish pikes. The principle of hooking a mounted opponent was not unique to the bill, however. The guisarme, used on the Continent between 1000 and 1400, combined a broad spearhead with a hook off to one side. The bec de corbin ("crow's beak") had a sharp hook on one side of its spearhead and a hammer on the other, as much for balance as for battering an unhorsed opponent. A variation known as the Lucerne hammer bore a four-pronged head with which to punch in plate armor or further injure one's opponent. Lending a Far East touch was Japan's kamayari, with opposing hooks for snagging mounted samurai.


One Response to “Billhook: Enemy Knights Proving Costly? Send Them the Bill”


  1. 1
    Chris Green says:

    Ah Flodden! 499 years today. The battle that the Scots desperately want to forget.



Leave a Reply

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.


Related Articles


History Net Images Spacer
Paid Advertisement
Paid Advertisement
History Net Daily Activities
History net Spacer
History net Spacer
Historynet Spacer
HISTORYNET READERS' POLL

Which of these wars resulted in the most surprising underdog upset?

View Results | See previous polls

Loading ... Loading ...
History net Spacer
STAY CONNECTED WITH US
RSS Feed Daily Email Update
History net Spacer
Paid Advertisement History net Spacer
Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement
What is HistoryNet?

The HistoryNet.com is brought to you by Weider History, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines.

If you are interested in a specific history subject, try searching our archives, you are bound to find something to pique your interest.

From Our Magazines
Weider History

Weider History Network:  HistoryNet | Armchair General | Achtung Panzer! | StreamHistory.com
Today in History | Ask Mr. History | Picture of the Day | Daily History Quiz | Contact Us

Copyright © 2014 Weider History. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Advertise With Us | Subscription Help | Privacy Policy