Viking Halberd Longaxe
Polearms: Pole instruments have been around almost as long as the dagger. Here, I will prove it: think of a caveman. Now, what is he holding in his hand?
For 75 percent of you the answer is probably a spear. Another 22 percent of you probably said a rock.
Three percent probably are saying the hair of some voluptuous, Cinemax-late-night-style cavegirl in fur bikini. My point here, though, is that most
of you probably picture a caveman holding a spear, and that a spear is, essentially, a pole instrument. My point has been pretty much lost in all of this
silliness though, so let's just move on.
Polearms have been a constant in just about every civilization throughout history. Almost every culture has had spears at one point or another (pun absolutely not intended nor wanted). But beyond spears, many civilizations have had the brilliant idea of taking an axe or sword and putting it on a long stick so as to be able to poke or hack at your opponent from far away. This was particularly useful when your opponent was on a horse, bearing down on you, preparing to swing a very heavy bludgeoning or hacking implant into your head or torso. Polearms set at an angle, with their butts braced against the ground, were devastating to charging horsemen, as you might imagine.
Polearms were usually inexpensive, which meant that most soldiers could have one. In fact, many styles of polearms developed from the peasant scythe, which was just a long reaping blade attached to a staff (you�ll recall that death is usually pictured brandishing one of these things. Grim Reaper in indeed). The poleaxe, or bardiche, was perhaps a direct descendant of the Scythe. Poleaxes were basically very large axe heads fastened (usually in two places) to a stout wooden shaft.
Halberds are some of the best known styles of polearms. These long polearms had small axe heads on the top and were used by disciplined military units, particularly the Swiss, who were renowned in the 15th and 16th century for their prowess with polearms (and are still, to this day, hired by the pope as the Vatican as personal guard. The Spanish Tercios and the German Landsknechts were both also elite units who used polearms, both having been regarded as the best in the world during their peak.
In Asia, the best known polearm is probably the naginata, a Japanese pole instrument that was not much more than a sword blade mounted on a staff. This instrument was a bit unique among polearms; the staff usually was a little bit flexible, allowing the wielder to bonk people around corners. It also allowed for much fancier finger work, resulting in more delicate combat more akin to fencing than army hacking.
Other styles of Polearms included the voulge and glaive (staffs with small, rounded blades attached), the Scottish Lochaber axe (a very long axe blade mounted onto a staff, with a small hook on the opposite side) and the Viking halberd (reputedly looks like a slim bardiche).
See Strongblade's Viking Halberd Longaxe