War hammers, maces, and battle axes

Hungarian / Polish war hammer

Hungarian/Polish Nadziak (Horseman Pick) Late 16th Century.
Late 16th century early 17th Polish – Hungarian war pick or Nadziak, comprising a hand-forged and hand-finished large steelhead and a down-curved beak-shaped fluke of octagonal section. Opposite the fluke is an octagonal hammer on a stepped stem. Mounted on a rounded wooden haft ( 85cm) inset at the top with reinforcing plaques similar to the short ” wasy” langets on sabers.

Fitted with convex iron straps, slotted under the head fastened by iron nails, these langets reinforce the entire top half of the weapon.
The nadziak was probably the most common type of warhammer used in eastern Europe after the displacement of the German and Italian types in the middle of the 16th century in favor of the Ottoman/Persian-influenced local variations.

(Source: David Pollock)

Another Hungarian / Polish war hammer:

Let us view a few weapons like these as they were very popular in Hungary and in Europe. The first is a war hammer from Poland or Hungary, from the 17th century: it is displayed in the Wallace collection in England:

Here is a description of the Wallace Museum:

War Hammer (Czákany), with a square, stepped, hammer-head with a square face and moulded neck, balanced by a long, slightly drooping, fluted beak. Short, socket straps with shaped edges at the top and bottom. Octagonal wooden haft covered with leather and studded with groups of brass-headed nails (probably modern). The haft projects beyond the head at the top and is finished at the top and bottom with a steel cap with a small button in the center.

Polish or Hungarian, the first half of the 17th century.

This type of hammer is called Csákányfocos by J. Szendrei (1896, no. 6681).
J. Kalmár describes a similar hammer as Hungarian, using the name Czakany (Regi Magyar fegyverek, 1971, pp. 34-7, fig. 50). On the other hand, M. Pasziewicz describes A977 as Polish (J.A.A.S., VIII, no. 3, 1975, pp. 225-8, pI. LXXXIV B). A comparable hammer is in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (G. M. Wilson in A. MacGregor, 1983, pp. 204-6, no. 92, pI. LXVI). A comparable hammerhead said to have been found locally, is at Dyrham, Gloucestershire. There is a detached head of very similar form in the Henderson Collection, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.”

The dimensions are:

  • War hammer
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Poland or Hungary
Here is another similar Hungarian weapon, used by Hussars

Hungarian mace (buzogány) and a war ax (fokos), about 1550:

These items are in the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Hofjagd- und Rüstkammer, Austria.

These are described like this:
“The mace shown here comes from the armory of Archduke Ferdinand II of Tyrol. The mace with a bullet-shaped or pear-shaped head, which was called in Polish Buzdygan (Busican), was particularly popular in Eastern Europe. It served in addition to its use as a weapon, especially as the dignity of the equestrian officers or senior commanders. Originally from the Orient, this striking weapon was widespread among Polish, Turkish, and Hungarian troops.”
My note: the “fokos” and the “csákány” were ancient Hungarian weapons, kind of war hammers, and battle axes. The head of the “fokos” was easily removable from the shaft and one could carry it in his pocket. It was useful for the peasants in the Ottoman Occupied Lands where wearing arms for the locals was punished by death by the Turks.
A “fokos” and a “csákány”

Here is a typical weapon like this:

It is a drawing of a pick ax from the beginning of the 16th century and a Hungarian saber from the same period. The saber was drawn after the picture in the autobiography of Emperor Maximilian I, the so-called «Weiszkunig» where one of the Hungarian envoys was wearing this saber.

Many “fokos” dances have been preserved in Hungarian folklore, here is one of them – imagine that they are practicing (dancing) with battle axes or swords instead of sticks:



The name “csákány” became a term in East Europe…

A Hungarian mace (“buzogány”) from 1555

It is made of wood, leather, copper, and gilded silver so it must have been a ceremonial weapon. It was found in Hungary, and presently it is on display in Vienna, in the Kunsthistorisches Museum.
(Source: Hagyomány és Múltidéző)

Perhaps this mace can be compared to the one in the picture:

Three Hungarian horse soldiers can be seen, moving in profile to right, all wearing cloaks and feathered caps, one wearing fur, and carrying a mace, bow, and quivers. Pen and brown ink, with watercolor, over black chalk, drawn by Roelant Savery 1591-1639.
One of a group of studies of figures seen by Savery probably at the time of his employment by Rudolf II (d.1612) at Prague.
(It is on display in the British Museum)

A “fokos” of a Janissary, 17th century

A hammer of an Ottoman Janissary (Metropolitan Museum)

It can be clearly seen that these weapons were widespread in the Ottoman army, as you can see in the picture depicting two Ottoman soldiers from the early 17th century:

It is a detail from the picture of Buda castle

Here is another Turkish weapon:

Transylvanian war hammer (“armed hoe”), Museum of Dresden

It is from the end of the 16th century but we have a photo from 1923, taken in Dresden:

It is a pity, that many items were destroyed during WWII and we do not know the exact origin of these weapons. However, we can conclude that they were quite universal and used by all the soldiers…

A Hungarian war hammer from 1645, we have only its photo, too

An Ottoman or Hungarian mace, 17th century

It is difficult to distinguish the Ottoman works from the Hungarian ones because many masters in North Hungary or in Transylvania used very similar designs. This mace is on display in the Topkapi Museum of Istanbul:

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A Hungarian Hussar with a “csákány”