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The flail was one of the most deadly medieval age weapons used in military warfare. Made from a stout wooden handle and featuring at least one heavy weight attached to the end of the handle with a stout chain, the flail was a military weapon that was fashioned after tools used to thresh grain in the field. The farming tool has a much shorter chain – usually just one link – and the secondary piece attached to the chain was usually a long, wooden stick, not a deadly metal weight.
While a flail was sometimes used interchangeably with a cat o’nine tails as a whiplike tool to administer punishment for crimes against the state and church, the flail was more commonly used in combat. It was especially effective when in the hands of skilled cavalry. The flail provided a great advantage to a horseman, because the speed of a charging horse added even more momentum to the swing of the weapon, adding even greater levels of impact to the ball at the end. With many flails featuring weights bristlilng with cruel, razor-sharp spikes, this added momentum would often prove strong enough to pierce even the strongest armor.
Whether on foot or mounted, it was often quite difficult to defend against a flail attack. The weighted chain of the flail could easily bend around or over shields or entangle armored limbs, and one swift jerk from the wielder could send an opponent off-balance and reeling even if they weren’t injured. Even the very sight of a fully-armored knight whirling a flail above their head as they advanced upon you on the battlefield was enough to turn even the most stalwart foe’s knees to jelly. And then, of course, they would be literally turned to jelly by a well-aimed swing of that same flail.
However, for as devastating a weapon as it was, the flail was an incredibly difficult one to master. Because of the unpredictable nature of the way the chain of the flail moved while swung, it was all too easy to hit yourself instead of your enemy. The danger of accidentally injuring yourself was often considered unreasonably high, a disadvantage shared amongst just about every similar weapon that makes use of a chain or length of rope. The whip and nunchaku, both of which rely on similar movements, are notorious for needing careful training to avoid being injured while wielding them, or hitting allies on the field of battle. The flail was no different, and many historians feel that the weapon was so hard to control in practical situations that it was an extremely rare sight on the battlefield indeed!
Here at Medieval Collectibles, we carry a full line of these imposing and deadly weapons. Our flail designs include those with stylized skull heads, with spikes, with multiple spiked balls, and traditional designs as well. Whether you’re looking for a full-size museum-quality replica flail, a medieval fantasy flail, or any other type of flail you can think of, we have the best selection anywhere.