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As far as European polearms go, they reached a peak in popularity before the introduction of guns. Up until the 15th century or so infantry that stayed in a coherent formation and had lengthy weapons stood a good chance, often a very good one, against even heavy cavalry. If the momentum of the charge could be reduced by multiple spears pointed at the horses the foot soldiers could counterattack. The polearms could be used to slash at the horse’s or rider’s legs. Once a knight was dismounted polearms and axes could hammer him to the ground. There were really no standards for polearms so shafted weapons with functionally similar heads went by different names in different countries over time. The ox’s tongue (left – courtesy the St. Louis Art Museum) – known in French as langue de bouef – has been described as a simple blade (well, 12″ long and 4″ wide) on a 6′ to 8′ shaft. A wooden or metal crosspiece might be attached using the two holes. This was a device favored in northern Italy, Switzerland and France. The partisan (right) was from the same regions but had an integrated crosspiece. It has not been established what the partisan was designed to do or how the four holes would help.

OxTongueSpear Partisan1

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