Watch Out, Or I’ll Spetum in Your Eye!

By: The Scribe on Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Technically, to spetum in someone’s eye is possible… with the small exception that “to spetum” is not a verb. But when has grammar ever stopped someone from stabbing another person during battle?

Indeed, a spetum was a pole weapon used in 13th-century Europe. It had a long pole, between 6-8 feet long, with a long spear head mounted on the end—and two pointy projections along its base. Over time, the spetum saw a number of variations, and you may have heard of it by a different name, such as chauve souris, corseca, or runka.

This particular weapon is distinguished from other, similar weapons by its blades, or “prongs”, which were single-edged and primarily used for slashing the enemy rather than stabbing. The main blade was long enough to be rather formidable at its task, set between 12-14 inches long, with the side-blade projections about half that length and set at an angle (usually around 45 degrees).

The form of the weapon was good for stabbing when necessary, but the projections made it easy to pull shields out of enemy hands—and to fight off sword hits with a quick counterattack. But, like any European pole weapon, it saw a number of iterations over the centuries. A corseque (yet another name for a similar weapon), was listed as being in Henry VIII’s armory in 1547, though this variety was likely more ornate and a bit more sophisticated than the 13th-century version.


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