Bec de Corbin at a Glance
What makes the Bec de Corbin different from other polearms?
The Bec de Corbin has a unique design, with a beak-like spike mounted on a rod of varying heights, a long pickaxe tip, and a hammer head. This design allows it to be used as a stabbing weapon, a striking weapon, and a polearm with a long reach. The beak of the hammer head sets this weapon apart from other similar weapons.
How was the Bec de Corbin used in combat?
The Bec de Corbin was primarily used to strike with its pickaxe tip, while the hammer head was used to provide balance to the blow and to increase the force of the impact. Its vertical spike was often shorter than the Lucerne hammer’s. It was used by the French palace guards at the King of France’s “Maison du Roi” and was commonly used by European nobility in court fighting and duels.
How did the Bec de Corbin differ from the horseman’s pick?
Although they shared a similar design, the horseman’s pick was distinct from the Bec de Corbin in the length and shape of the vertical spike. The horseman’s pick often did not feature a spike-like vertical blade for thrusting. Additionally, the Bec de Corbin was primarily used to strike with its pickaxe tip, while the hammer head was used to provide balance to the blow and to increase the force of the impact.
What is the difference between the Bec de Corbin and the Lucerne hammer?
The Bec de Corbin distinguishes itself from the Lucerne hammer in three distinct ways: firstly, it features a shorter and sturdier beaked spike, which serves as its primary fighting element. Secondly, the vertical spike of this weapon is also shorter compared to that of the Lucerne hammer. Lastly, the hammer end of the Bec de Corbin is typically blunt, unlike the Lucerne hammer’s pointed end. Despite the similarities in design, the two weapons had different primary uses and were associated with different classes of nobility.
The “beak” of the Bec de Corbin’s hammer head sets this weapon apart from other polearms and similar one-handed weapons like the horseman’s pick. This includes the fact that Bec de Corbin was used with two hands instead of one. The French palace guards at the King of France’s “Maison du Roi” frequently used bec de Corbin, which is Old French for “raven’s beak.” It is one of the most unique and underappreciated weapons in history. As a combined arm, it combines the features of a stabbing weapon, a striking weapon, and a polearm with a long reach.
|Bec de Corbin|
|Type of weapon:||Polearm|
|Other names:||Raven’s beak, crow’s beak|
|Region of origin:||France, Knighthood, Heraldry|
|Overall length:||Round 6-7 ft (180-210 cm)|
|Material:||Wood, leather, metal|
What Distinguished the Bec de Corbin?
The Bec de Corbin bears a striking resemblance to the poleaxe. It consists of a hammer head and a long pickaxe tip, along with a vertical spike mounted on a rod of varying heights.
Unlike the war hammers and the Swiss Lucerne hammer used in combat, the Bec de Corbin was primarily used to strike with its pickaxe tip, while the hammer head was used to provide balance to the blow and to increase the force of the impact. This vertical spike was often shorter than the Lucerne hammer’s.
Origin and History of Bec de Corbin
Although they shared a similar design, the horseman’s pick was distinct from the Bec de Corbin in the length and shape of the vertical spike. The horseman’s pick often did not feature a spike-like vertical blade for thrusting.
The Bec de Corbin was also a generic medieval term used to identify any medieval edged weapon with a hammer and a vertical spike modeled on the beak of a raven.
This popularcold weapon was made up of a shaft that was at least 20 inches (50 cm) long and had a hammer head along with a beak-like spike on the opposite end that was curved downward.
Because of their similarity, Bec de Corbin was frequently misidentified as a Lucerne hammer or halberd. So much so that the French name “Bec de Corbin” is actually used directly in other languages without a translation since it best describes this infantry and cavalry weapon.
The European nobility of the period utilized this weapon, together with the poleaxe and the spadone (a longsword), in court fighting and duels. The name “bec de corbin” may also refer to a variety of different sorts of war hammers, including mauls and horseman’s picks.
For instance, the poleaxe, and more especially its hook on the back, also goes by a similar term, “bec de faucon” (literally “falcon’s beak” in Old French). Ordinary gentlemen of the King’s House
The Bec de Corbin was first employed as a weapon by royal guards in the 16th century. Furthermore, these hammers are typically found in museums due to the availability of exceptionally well-crafted reproductions.
Officers of the “Maison du Roi,” the guard in charge of overseeing the French monarchy, were their main users. The figure of this weapon was often used in blazons and heraldry. The common gentlemen of the Maison du Roi (“King’s House”) were known as “Gentlemen with a Raven’s Beak” as a result of this weapon.
Consequently, the main factor that distinguished a Bec de Corbin was its association with the nobility, unlike the horseman’s peak war hammer from the late Middle Ages. Although the horseman’s peak was also intended for piercing through metal armor, it did not possess the same level of prestigious “status.”
Lucerne Hammer vs. Bec de Corbin
The Bec de Corbin distinguishes itself from the Lucerne hammer in three distinct ways:
- Firstly, it features a shorter and sturdier beaked spike, which serves as its primary fighting element.
- Secondly, the vertical spike of the Bec de Corbin is shorter compared to that of the Lucerne hammer.
- Lastly, the hammer end of the Bec de Corbin is typically blunt, while the Lucerne hammer’s hammer head is often designed with additional protrusions.
Bec de Corbin’s Design
This weapon derived its name from the raven due to the weapon’s head resembling the bird. The designers of the weapon intentionally manipulated its form by incorporating a front beak, a vertical spike for thrusting—which emulated the feathers on the back of a raven’s head—and a blunt back piece with numerous ridges. The overall shape resembled the bird after which it was named.
Like the battle axe, the Bec de Corbin took inspiration from a blacksmithing and mining tool and was so powerful that it was typically held with both hands. Despite its noble status, the weapon was actually considered unchivalrous since its spike could be used to burst through the enemy’s armor, resulting in serious injury.
The pole on most models was between six and seven feet in length. The hammer head was about four or five inches in diameter, and the spike at the tip was around six inches in length. The total length of the weapon was therefore estimated to be between 6 and 7 feet.
With a length of around 6’6.7″ (2 m), the Bec de Corbin was similar in overall design to its cousin, the Lucerne hammer, with its vertical spike at the top. But this spike was much shorter than the piece on the Lucerne hammer.
Bec de Corbin in Popular Culture
This polearm weapon is often featured in many medieval-themed films, documentaries, and TV shows. Along with that, the weapon is also featured in video games. Among them are Diablo II (2000), Assassin’s Creed: Unity (2014), Mordhau (2019), and The Elden Ring (2022).
- A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor: in All Countries and in All Times – George Cameron Stone, July 2 1999.
- Halberd | Italian | The Metropolitan Museum of Art – Metmuseum.org.
Bec de corbin (Modern French: Bec de corbeau [bɛk də kɔʁ.bo]) is a type of polearm and war hammer that was popular in medieval Europe.How heavy was a bec de corbin? ›
Cost 15 gp Weight 12 lbs.How many sockets does a BEC de Corbin have? ›
How to add sockets to a Bec-de-Corbin.
|6||6 socket (max)||1 in 6 (16.67%)|
|Overall Length||56 1/2''|
|Manufacturer||Arms & Armor|
|Country of Origin||USA|
A guisarme (sometimes gisarme, giserne or bisarme) was a polearm used in Europe primarily between 1000 and 1400. It was used primarily to dismount knights and horsemen. Like most polearms it was developed by peasants by combining hand tools with long poles, in this case by putting a pruning hook onto a spear shaft.What kind of weapon is a polearm? ›
A pole weapon or pole arm is a close combat weapon in which the main fighting part of the weapon is fitted to the end of a long shaft, typically of wood, thereby extending the user's effective range and striking power.