LutelBattle Ready
Early 16th Century Italian Bill Halberd Head - LT20020
Early 16th Century Italian Bill Halberd Head
 

Overall Length: 29 1/8''
Blade: 9 3/4''
Length of top Spike: 12 1/2''
Socket Diameter: 1 3/8''
Length of Langets: 13''
$359.95

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2 lb 11.3 oz

Popular in England and Italy, the Bill was a particularly fearsome polearm that had its origins in a humble agricultural brush-clearing tool. English versions of the bill are typically shorter, wider and often do not have the pronouced spear point. Continental versions, such as this Italian bill (called the Roncone) shown here, had an array of additional spikes and a long, tapered spear point. These continental style bills were not unknown in England and some in this style are documented as having been English, so there is an overlap in styles.

Particularly suited to unhorsing cavalrymen, the bill could not only stab at them from a distance, but its hook could snag onto armor, or be wedged between armored plates and then used to drag a man off his horse, where he could be held down with ease while a fellow billman finished the hapless man. The space between the spike and hook could also be used to push a man off his mount. The sharpened inside edge of the hook could also cruelly be used to hamstring a horse. Clearly only a suicidal cavalryman would stray near a group of billmen.

While optimized for defeating cavalry, the bill could also lay low enemy infantrymen when wielded skillfully. The stabbing spike can easily find the face in the typically open-faced helm of the infantryman. The hook could be used snag a foe in the armpit from the side, where he would have had little to no armor, likely severing a critical artery there.The back-spike could strike with armor-puncturing force in a downwards blow, pucturing or shattering a helm driving or through shoulder armor like a railway spike. The hook could also be used to trip a man, snagging or sweeping his ankle from behind. Even well-armored foes were vulnerable, for the hook could snag their armor and drag them away from their formations, leaving them vulnerable and flailing to defend themselves from the stabbing spikes of fellow billmen.

The usefulness of the bill against infantry was demonstrated in the 1513 Battle of Flodden Field, where the Scots found their long pikes useless against the English billmen. The pike at this time was a signature weapon of the great mercenary and professional armies of the continent and the Scottish King sought to modernize his army with the long pike. At 18 feet long, the unwieldy long pike requires intense drill for a unit to fight effectively and cohesively. With little training the Scots attempted a downhill charge with their pikes against waiting English billmen. The pikes became entangled and the Scottish formations fell apart. Exploiting the disorder, the English with their 8 foot long bills could easily sweep aside the pikes of the disorganized clusters of Scots, and then literally butcher them with their bills. Scottish losses were grievous, well exceeding 10,000 men.

This Italian style bill by Lutel is modeled after a bill dating from around the year 1500. It is made of high carbon steel and all but the sharpened edges are left darkened and polished to a lesser degree so as to leave the bill with a rough, forged appearance. The primary blade has been moderately sharpened and the top and back spikes and the hook are unsharpened. It comes with separate, matching langets and a set of matching screws for mounting into a wooden shaft, which is not included.





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