Armament

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A knight in the midst of battle lands a heavy blow with his morningstar while also wielding a bloodied sword - by Tomasz Jedruszek © Fantasy Flight Games

A variety of armament is used throughout the known world.

Weapons

The weapons carried generally reflect those of the prototype armies and by far the most common is the sword. This is to a very real extent the mark of a soldier and so carried by all, although it may not necessarily be the soldier's primary weapon.

Castle-forged weapons are of high quality, generally better than those produced by smiths in the cities. However, usually only knights and nobles can afford them. The rarest and most desired swords are those forged in Old Valyria, of Valyrian steel. These swords are stronger, lighter, and sharper than all others (except perhaps for Dawn), and the steel is typically dark, almost black. The secrets of forging them have been lost and there are perhaps only a couple of hundred of them left in Westeros, mostly as prized heirlooms by noble houses.[1]

Other weapons are also common. Almost everyone carries a knife or dagger, as they are useful and practical in many circumstances. Effective spears and mauls are relatively cheap to make and are, thus, popular weapons for men-at-arms. A cheap spear can still be a good weapon; the same cannot be said of a cheap sword.[2]

Lances
House Stark cavalry, by graikfaik ©
  • A war lance is a weapon of heavy cavalry, such as knights and northern cavalry. They are often eight feet long, made of turned ash, and banded to prevent splitting. The lance is tipped with a steel point sharpened to drive through plate,[3] and is normally used for a single charge before becoming too unwieldy in close combat.
  • Tourney lances are longer and more fragile than their battlefield cousins. Their tips are blunted to better unhorse an opponent without causing serious harm, and they are unbanded, meaning that they will often break upon impact. A tourney lance is normally twelve feet long.[3]
Polearms
  • The halberd has a heavy, cleaver-like blade at the top of a long shaft. It usually has a spike at the top of the shaft and a thorn or a hook opposite to the blade.
  • The poleaxe has an axehead opposite to a hammer or a spike, mounted on a shaft.[4] The shaft usually has a spike on both ends.
Axes
  • The battle-axe is a broad-headed axe used to cleave through armor and shields. It can be wielded in one hand, and some battle-axes are double-bladed.[5]
  • The hand axe is a warrior’s version of a hatchet, smaller than a battle-axe and balanced to be thrown. These short-hafted axes are used by the ironmen to dance the finger dance.[6]
  • The longaxe is a long-hafted version of the battle-axe. The longaxe is light enough to be wielded by one hand.[7] A longaxe may have a double-bladed axe head or it may have a spike on one side.[8] It is likely that some longaxes are large enough to require two hands, such as the one wielded by Areo Hotah.[9]
  • The woodsman's axe, a tool for chopping and splitting wood, can turn into a deadly weapon. Normally used by smallfolk and brigands, it is single-bladed and smaller than its martial cousin, the battle-axe.
  • Stone axes are proudly used by the free folk.[10]
  • The Ibbenese are fond of axes.[11][12]
Swords
Tully and Lannister bannermen sketches by Tribemun ©
  • The longsword is a common weapon of knights throughout Westeros; these one-handed blades are also known as broadswords or simply "swords". The blades are about three feet in length, double-edged, and mounted on a hilt with a heavy pommel and a sizable crossguard.
  • A greatsword requires two hands to use. It is the largest type of sword.
  • A bastard sword is longer than a longsword but shorter than a greatsword. It is more of a hand-and-a-half weapon than a two-handed sword.[13]
  • The shortsword is shorter than a longsword but longer and heavier than a dagger. The shortsword is a one-handed blade generally meant for thrusting.
  • The falchion is a short, cleaver-like sword used for hacking.
  • Bravos favor slender swords, edged and balanced for the thrust.[14] The water dancers of Braavos have made these narrow swords famous, though they can be found throughout the Free Cities.[15]
  • The arakh is a long curved sword favored by Dothraki.[16]
Knives
  • A dagger is a knife used to stab and pierce, often carried as a tool as much as a weapon.
  • A dirk is a dagger designed for combat with a straight, narrow blade, often used in the off-hand to complement a primary weapon.[17]
  • A stiletto is a long, slender dagger used for stabbing. Myr is known for stilettos.[18][19]
Clubs
  • Clubs and cudgels are short weapons fashioned of hard wood or sometimes metal. The City Watch of King's Landing is armed with iron cudgels.[20]
  • The mace, a blunt crushing weapon designed to smash armor, consists of a heavy head of stone or metal set upon a wooden or metal shaft. Many warriors wield spiked maces,[21][22][3] and blunted maces can be used in tourneys.[23]
Flails
  • A flail is a military cousin to the farmer's tool. A warrior's flail is a length of chain attached to a rod. At the end of the chain is a heavy metal head.
  • A morningstar is a spiked ball swung on a chain.[24][25][26][3] In real life, a morning star is a weapon with a spiked ball atop a shaft, without the chain.
Projectiles
Island defenders, by Tomasz Jedruszek © Fantasy Flight Games
  • Bows in the Seven Kingdoms are made from wood, though bows from other lands may be made from laminated horn or bone.[27] Bows are difficult to use while mounted and cannot normally be used with any accuracy if the mount is moving.
  • The longbow is a tall[28] bow from seasoned wood.[29] Longbows are used by most armies, and they can be fired more frequently than crossbows.[30] Great bows of goldenheart are especially favored.[31][32] The Night's Watch use great yew longbows.[33]
  • The free folk use short bows of horn and wood, including weirwood,[34] but they are outdistanced by longbows.[33]
  • A recurve bow or double-curved bow is usually smaller than a longbow, although double-curved bows of dragonbone can be tall.[16] Dornishmen are skilled with using double-curved bows on horseback.[35] Bows of bone and sinew are popular in Essos[32] and by slavers.[36]
  • The Dothraki wield great bows.[37][38] Even on horseback their bows can outrange those of Westeros.[39]
  • The goldenheart great bows used by Summer Islanders can penetrate plate.[36]
  • Crossbows are shorter bows that shoot bolts or quarrels. There is a stock attached to the bow with a mechanical assist to draw the bowstring. Due to its shorter draw, the crossbow requires a higher draw weight to give the same amount of energy as a conventional bow. The drawing mechanism can be a stirrup with a winch or a crank. The Myrish produce ungainly crossbows capable of firing three quarrels at a time.[40] Since crossbows require less training than bows,[26][41] some consider it to be a coward's weapon.[42]
  • Arrowheads are normally available both as broadheads with a sharp cutting edge and barbs at the rear for less protected targets[43] and bodkins which will penetrate plate.[44]
  • Dornishmen utilize throwing spears.[35]
  • Slings are used to throw projectiles at enemies. Northern mountain clansmen sling stones,[45] while the Tolosi are deadly with soft lead balls.[46]
Spears
Dornish spear phalanx, by Diego Gisbert © Fantasy Flight Games
  • The spear is a simple weapon used for hunting and combat, comprising a wooden shaft up to ten feet long tipped with a relatively small head of iron or steel.
  • A pike is a longer spear, normally ten to fifteen feet long. This weapon is used by large bodies of infantry operating together either to push through or over opposing infantry or hold off cavalry.[47]
  • A boar spear is a spear used in the hunting of boar. While real life boar spears are shorter than standard spears, King Robert I Baratheon uses a great spear when he hunts.[48]
  • A trident is a three-pronged spear. They are popular in the White Harbor area.[49][19]
  • A frog spear is a trident used by crannogmen. These slender spears are primarily used for hunting small prey like frogs and fish in the Neck,[50][51][52] but crannogmen also use them in combination with a woven net for combat.[53]
Other Weapons
  • The warhammer is usually about the same length as a mace, though they can be much longer. The head is made of hardened steel that has a long spike to one side and a small mace-like counterweight on the other. Warhammers are good for piercing armor, or hooking the enemies' reins or shields.
  • Whips are used as weapons by some Dothraki[54] and Dornishmen.[55]
  • Caltrops are sharp items which are placed on the ground to slow an enemy's infantry or cavalry.[56][57] The Night's Watch uses spiked steel caltrops.[33]
Special Items
  • Dragonglass is a volcanic material that can be fractured to create sharp knife blades or arrowheads. The children of the forest used knives, leaf-shaped spear heads, and arrows made of obsidian.[58][56][31]
  • Dragonbone bows are highly sought after as they can fire arrows over a much farther range than normal wooden bows They are especially prized by the Dothraki.[59]
  • Weirwood is valued because it does not rot,[60] and goldenheart is a prized wood from the Summer Isles.[31]
  • Things made of Valyrian steel are light[61] and nigh indestructible.[62] Blades of Valyrian steel are deadly sharp,[63] but the spell-forged[62] steel has become rare after the Doom of Valyria.[64] Some claim to still know the spells that must be used to rework Valyrian steel, and some master armorers have revealed their ability to properly reforge it. [65][1] [66]
  • Wildfire is a volatile and flammable liquid.[67]
Siege Weapons
A battering ram, by Ben Zweifel © Fantasy Flight Games

Armor

Armor in Seven Kingdoms is commonly forged from iron and steel. The style of armor is most reminiscent of the Hundred Years' War, but George R. R. Martin also looked back to the Crusades.[81] Occasionally one may find an ancient piece of armor forged from bronze, but that is a great rarity today. Advanced full plate and scale armor, made of relatively light weight steel, is also available to those with the proper funds.

Additional ornamentation can be quite elaborate. Common methods involve paints, enamels, or bluing the steel. A truly skilled blacksmith, however, can work color into the metal itself to ensure that it does not chip or flake off. Such work is expensive and can be afforded only by the nobility.

The most effective, and expensive, armor is plate armor, which consists of a number of shaped plates of steel fitted to the body. Plate is normally worn over chainmail and an undercoat padded leather. Those who cannot afford plate may wear chainmail and leather, and this coverage still provides good protection. It is also common to wear only partial plate; a plate helm, for example, is common, as are breastplates and gorgets. Scale armor is also known but considerably less common. Armor made of boiled leather is sometimes worn by itself, particularly by scouts and levied men-at-arms. While better than nothing, it cannot stop an on-target sword blow, whereas plate armor can.

Plate armor is more common in southern regions like the Reach, while mail is more the rule in the north. The free folk who live beyond the Wall are more primitively armored.[81] Dornishmen use a lot of copper armor for ornamental purposes, as it shines in the sun.[82] A new hauberk of mail, gorget, greaves, and greathelm made by a good smith can cost eight hundred silver stags.[3] Sailors clad themselves lightly in armor to avoid drowning.[83]

Plate armor schematic
Armors
  • Padded armor is made of leather or canvas which has been stuffed with cloth. This can be worn by itself, often called a gambeson, but is essential when wearing mail in order to absorb blows more readily.[84]
  • Boiled leather is a thick leather, boiled in water, and usually worn under mail. Such leather is dressed with oil to retain its flexibility. Boiled leather set very hard and can be moulded into rounded pieces to protect shoulders, elbows and knees.[70] Most freeriders use boiled leather.[70]
  • A brigandine or jack is a cloth garment, generally canvas or leather, lined with small oblong steel plates riveted to the fabric.
  • A hauberk is a chainmail shirt which includes sleeves and can extend as low as the knees. The hauberk is typically constructed of interlocking whoops of metal sewn into a shirt or a tunic. The sleeves of a hauberk often reach the elbow, though the sleeve length varies. The hauberk tends to be made of iron rings, and is generally worn over a padded undercoat, or boiled leather.[85]
  • A byrnie is also made of chainmail. Byrnies are generally distinguished from hauberks by their sleeve length, as a byrnie has only short sleeves. There are doubts about the exact definition (and length) of a historical byrnie, but both in Westeros and in history byrnies are some variety of armor jacket or a shirt. While the First Men of antiquity wore byrnies of bronze scales,[86] modern Westerosi wear mail byrnies.[87][88]
  • Scale armor is a garment with hundreds of small plates stitched and riveted onto it.[85]
  • Plate armor is worn over mail and a padded surcoat. Large rondels protect the juncture of arm and breast.[89] The vulnerable points are at the less protected joints, places at elbows, knees, and beneath the arms.[87]
Headwear
  • A greathelm is a cylindrical helm which protects the warrior's head. It has small slits for eyes and breathing and ventilation,[24], but they can impede sight and breathing. Greathelms can have flat tops[90] or be rounded to better deflect blows.[3] Some nobles decorate the crests of their greathelms.[25][91]
  • A halfhelm is a round helm covering the top of the head, often incorporating a nasal guard.[89]
  • A kettle helm[92] or pothelm[93] is made of metal in the shape of a brimmed hat, resembling a cooking pot.
  • A bascinet is an open-faced helm.[94]
  • Steel caps are often worn by guardsmen.[65][95][96] Some men-at-arms wear conical steel caps.[24] The Unsullied wear spiked caps.[97]
  • Mail coif is a hood of chainmail.[89]
  • Dornishmen wind scarfs around their helmets to prevent sunstroke.[35]
Other Components
Northmen readying for battle, from Game of Thrones Blu-ray
  • The breastplate protects the torso from injury. Nobles sometimes decorate their breastplates.[98][99][100]
  • A gorget is a steel collar that protects the neck.[89]
  • Rondels are circular pieces of metal used for the protection of vulnerable points. They typically cover the junctures of arm and breast.[89]
  • Gloves are protective coverings for hands.[101] They are often made of leather or mail to offer additional protection,[102] and iron discs can be sewn into the fingers.[89]
  • Gauntlets are large metal gloves that cover the hand from fingers to forearm. They are generally made of steel plate.
  • Metal skirts are designed to protect the upper legs and lower torso. They generally cover the body from waist to mid thigh.[89]
  • Greaves cover the lower legs.[101]
  • Boots are generally made of leather, but the ones worn by knights are made of metal to provide protection.[25] Some leather boots can have steel shinguards.[89] Spurs are worn on the heel of boots to direct a horse.
  • Spaulders and pauldrons protect the wearer's shoulders.[87][103]
  • Vambraces are tubular protection for the forearm.[104]
  • Couters and poleyns are worn over elbows[94] and knees,[35] respectively.
  • The codpiece protects the wearer's groin.[95][87][3]
  • A doublet is a close-fitting man's jacket often worn under other attire, such as hauberks or jerkins. Padded doublets can provide some protection.[84] Nobles often have their arms embroidered on their doublets.[105][106][107]
  • Jerkins are another type of jacket which can be worn over doublets. Leather jerkins are often worn by archers.[25][108] Jerkins can be studded with iron,[70][109] silver,[110] bronze,[111] or have overlapping iron discs.[74] Crannogmen might wear jerkins with bronze scales.[112] Less protective jerkins might be made from doeskin[29][1] or sheepskin.[28] Jerkins can be sleeveless.[113][114]
  • A surcoat is a coat worn over armor or other clothes. Nobles also often have their arms depicted on their surcoats.[105][84][115][116]
Shields
Stark and Greyjoy bannermen sketches by Tribemun ©

Since round shields are specifically observed by some POV characters, the typical Westerosi shield would appear to be a heater shield. Although in real life knights rarely used shields alongside full plate armor, Martin has Westerosi knights utilize shields for aesthetic purposes.[81]

Animals

Horses
  • The destrier is the most valuable type of horse, being well bred and highly trained.
  • A courser is a warhorse lighter than a destrier and built for speed.[85][124][125]
  • Garrons are the only reasonable choice of horse beyond the Wall. Both the Night's Watch and the free folk use them in considerable numbers, both for riding and carrying cargo. Among horses, garrons are notable for their capability to deal with irregular terrain and cold temperatures.
  • The rounsey is a steed of no particular breeding. Although rounseys are perfectly capable war horses, they are relegated to hedge knights, squires, and non-knightly men-at-arms. Rounsey are common riding horses and may also be used as pack animals.
  • The sand steeds of Dorne are smaller than normal warhorses and cannot bear the weight of the armor a warhorse usually wears. They are able to run for a day and a half before tiring.
Other Steeds
Other Animals
  • A mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. Used for light transport, they can have a capability for dealing with irregular terrain, such as the Giant's Lance[134] or the Wall.[135]
  • Oxen are hardy pack animals used for heavy transport.
  • Maesters use ravens for transportation in the field, although most of the birds can only fly to one destination.[136]

Quotes

Free folk by Mike S Miller ©

He had emptied the armory to put good steel in their hands; big double-bladed axes, razor-sharp daggers, longswords, maces, spiked morningstars. Clad in studded leather jerkins and mail hauberks, with greaves for their legs and gorgets to keep their heads on their shoulders, a few of them even looked like soldiers.[30]

—thoughts of Jon Snow

She found a room full of weapons and armor: ornate helms and curious old breastplates, longswords, daggers, and dirks, crossbows and tall spears with leaf-shaped heads.[137]

—thoughts of Arya Stark

See Also

References

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  136. The Winds of Winter, Theon I
  137. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 22, Arya II.