What Is The Winged Spear?

Key Point: A winged spear, was a medieval polearm. It featured a spearhead with lateral projections or wings. Its overall length typically ranged from 180 to 240 centimeters.

This time we will take a look at the winged spear polearm. What was the winged spear, how was it used and was it even that effective?

So before we begin, I will give you the key takeaway of the article before going into detail. So … what was the winged spear?

The winged spear was a polearm that was used in Europe during the medieval and Renaissance periods. With a shaft length of 6 to 8 feet. Its design featured a spearhead with two large, flat wings or flanges. This prevented an opponent’s weapon from sliding down the shaft and striking the wielder’s hand.

That was the short takeaway. Now, let’s go into a little more detail. Starting with the origin behind the winged spear.

Origin Of The Winged Spear

The origin of the winged spear can be traced back to ancient China during the Han dynasty. From there it was later introduced to Europe during the medieval period, where it became a popular weapon among infantry soldiers.

The name “winged spear” comes from the shape of the blade, which features two small, wing-like protrusions near the base of the blade. These wings served to prevent an enemy from sliding their weapon down the shaft of the spear and attacking the user.

And now that we have detailed the origin of winged spears, it’s time to take a look at one famous where it was used. And the effect it had.

Battle Where Winged Spears Were Used

One notable battle where winged spears were used was the Battle of Tours in 732 CE. The Frankish forces, led by Charles Martel, faced off against the invading Muslim armies. The Frankish infantry was armed with long, winged spears that they used to devastating effect against the Muslim cavalry.

The wings on the spears made it difficult for the cavalry to close in and attack the infantry, allowing the Frankish soldiers to hold their ground and ultimately win. And the outcome of this battle did play a huge role in the course of human history.

Now that we have seen a famous battle where it was used, let’s take a look at its dimension.

Dimensions Of Winged Spears

Winged spears had an overall length of 6-9 feet. With the blade comprising 18 inches of that length. The wings on the blade were around 3-4 inches long and 1 inch wide and were designed to be sharp and pointed.

Let’s take a look at the materials used to make them.

Materials Used To Make Winged Spears

Winged spears were made using a combination of metal and wood.

The blade itself was made of high-quality steel. Which was sharpened to a razor edge and attached to the wooden shaft using a metal ferrule. The wings on the blade were also made of steel and were sharpened to a point to maximize their effectiveness in battle. The shaft on the other hand was made of sturdy wood. Namely as ash or oak.

The wood used was treated to prevent rotting and warping.

Now onward to the fun stuff … how it was used in battle?

How Winged Spears Were Used In Battle

Winged spears were primarily used by infantry soldiers in medieval battles.

The wings on the blade made it difficult for an enemy to slide their weapon down the shaft of the spear and attack the user. Which gave the infantry soldier a significant advantage in combat. The length of the spear also allowed the user to attack from a safe distance, reducing the risk of injury. In addition to being used for direct combat, winged spears were also used to create barriers against a charging enemy.

And now that we have seen how winged spears were used in battle, let’s see why on earth did an effective weapon like that disappear from battle.

Why Did It Disappear?

The downfall of the winged spear can be attributed to the development of new weaponry and changes in tactics. Here is what I mean by that.

The introduction of firearms and armor-piercing weapons made armor obsolete. So heavy armor was gradually phased out of use. This reduced the need for long and heavy spears, and lighter, more versatile weapons became more popular.

Also, the winged spear was particularly effective against cavalry charges, which were common in the early medieval period. But, as cavalry tactics evolved, they began to rely more on firearms and less on polearm weapons. Thus making the winged spear less effective in battle.

As with most polearms, effective firearms made them obsolete. well … except this polearm, which had a different fall from grace.

In Conclusion

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I hope you learned a thing or two. And if you want to hop to the land of the rising sun a.k.a Japan, you can explore their polearm called Naginata, right here.

Take care!


Medieval Weapons: An Illustrated History of Their Impact” by Kelly DeVries

Medieval Polearms by Paul Wagner