Warhammers were known from the 15th century in France and Italy but became more popular in the 16th century in Central Europe. Early examples had a vertical spike at the top and a short hammer head at right angles.The blunt face was usually square shaped with a sharp beak on the reverse (bec-de-faucon). This beak could be of considerable length resembling the long beak of a wading bird. The iron haft was often provided with a grip at the bottom and hook for hanging the weapon off a belt or saddle. Records from the 16th century show the Warhammer in the hands of Landsknecht commanders and the leaders of other mercenary troops as a symbol of authority. An infantry version was also produced during the 15th and early 16th centuries. This weapon normally had a strong vertical spike with a hammer face split into four spikes the beak was slightly bent. The Warhammer evolved to crush armour rather than penetrate it, they could be very effective as armour crushed into the victims body created serious wounds.
How to cite this article:
Dugdale-Pointon, T. (19 February 2001), Warhammer, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_warhammer.html