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Rua Conde Dom Henrique

4800-412 Guimarães

PD1056

Mace
Author: Unknown
Origin: Unknown
Dating: 15th century
Material: Wood & Bronze
Dimensions (cm): 65 x Ø 8,4
Weight: 580 g
Inv. no.: PD1056

A blunt weapon composed of two main parts – the head (which is 8.2 cm long and has a diameter of 6.5 cm) and the handle (which is 56 cm long and has a diameter of 3.5 cm). The head, rather large, is made of bronze and equipped with a set of eight thick triangularly shaped ‘knives’, radially arranged. The wooden handle is cylindrical in shape and it is covered by a single strip of waxed skin. The handle hole is made with a strong iron nail with a large round head. At the opposite end, the shape of the mace presents a thin iron sheet, decorated in a rosette design. The handle varies in thickness at two points in its structure, thereby defining the area for the hilt with a length of about 13.5 cm. At the bottom of the hilt there are two holes at opposite ends where a narrow strip of leather is attached.

Maces appeared in the 12th century with the configuration of a round handle, to which a cylindrically shaped head of iron was connected. This ‘short stick’ had a great offensive capacity and was able to face all weapons except the spear. During the 13th to the 14th centuries, the head of the mace tended to expand in size and, sometimes, they were equipped with a number of thick ‘spikes’ or ‘knives,’ usually of triangular shape, radially arranged. Although they didn’t stand the ability of swords to cut through the opponents’ defences (at this time rapiers were primarily used in battle), the blow from a mace was fearsome. The introduction of the mace stimulated the transition of protective armour from chain-mail to armour plate. In the mid-14th century Portugal, there were a huge number of hatchets and maces stored in the Lisbon Arsenal. At the same time, maces ended up taking on an important symbolic significance, being represented iconographically in association with those people closely linked to Power and Justice.

João Gouveia Monteiro

Objeto museológico (PDB)