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Close-Ranged Weapons' Impact On Society: Fighting in the Dark Ages

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Close-ranged weapons have, undoubtedly, been the most influential tools for the majority of Ancient and Medieval history. This form of weaponry has allowed for many changes/adaptations in society and warfare to occur. And, as these alterations in society (as a whole) occurred, a definite lens/perspective on this weaponry formed simultaneously. Close-ranged weaponry helped form people’s perspectives, beliefs, and the way they go about war. In addition, methods of attack were established as more nations became aware of the impacts of close-ranged weaponry. However, as history evolved, close-ranged weapons’ use began to die down due to advancements in other fields, such as firearms. But, as the use of this weaponry began to fade, its impacts, establishments, and concepts remained true to the nature of warfare and weapons forever. Close-ranged weaponry has had a significantly positive impact on societies throughout history by sparking trade between nations, establishing heavy belief systems, and inaugurating new methods of attack as seen in Ancient Egypt, Medieval England, and Modern France.

Ancient Egypt was an extremely rural region. Using only the resources available to them, such as bone, copper, and iron, they crafted many tools that were useful to their goals as an isolated, rural area. However, as time went on, and societies in the surrounding nations evolved and adapted to changes in warfare, superior materials were crucial for Egypt and its survival as a nation at war. Weapons in Ancient Egypt varied drastically. From javelins to swords, to battle-axes, Egypt had a vast arsenal of weapons for its soldiers to choose from and changes were often made after to the results of battles. The advancements made in the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age all made this possible. For example, And, due to this effective military strategy, Egypt’s army remained uncontested for about 700 years. However, Egypt’s reign came to end when a foreign army invaded and triumphed. This was all due to the influential tool of the chariot, which was a useful weapon that Egypt had never heard of and could not strategize against (Brier and Hobbs).

Ancient Egypt had been heavily impacted by close-ranged weapons in an extremely positive way. But, because of this, rather extreme, introduction to such a significant tool, Egypt was staggered and astonished to the existence of, not only the chariot but, the horse, which is something they had never seen or heard of. Ancient Egypt, at the time, having such a vast arsenal of weapons, wished to have this powerful tool available to their soldiers. Unfortunately, Egypt did not have the necessary materials to construct this useful weapon; their timber, primarily acacia, was not strong enough to support more than one soldier at a time. In addition, the need to evolve from just close-ranged weaponry to mobile close-ranged weaponry created a need for trade. For example, Egypt needed to spark a trade network between their nation, eastern Africa, and Lebanon. These nations exported strong woods like ebony to Egypt for them to be able to build the chariot. In addition, Egypt stole horses from the Israelites for this task to be achieved. The establishment of trade only impacted Egypt positively moving forward. This not only benefited their military and war strategies by allowing their soldiers to access the chariot, but it boosted their economy by creating jobs and sparking trade. The simple exposure to a mobile close-ranged weapon such as the chariot was so powerful and influential that it benefited Egypt in every possible way for a society (Brier and Hobbs).

After the establishment of importation of wood into Egypt and the source of horses from the Israelites, mini-jobs were created to maintain the resources received. For example, the horses that were obtained from the Israelites had to be maintained by horse trainers who had received special training. In addition, the horses in Egypt were specifically bred for war and nothing else, and this had to be done by specialized animal breeders. Another job that was developed with the introduction of the chariot was a horse rider/’driver.’ Because of the chariot’s mobility with the horse, horse riders were necessities to make the chariot successful on the battlefield as they could guide soldiers up close to get a fine blow in. Additionally, the chariot itself was actually considered to be a close-ranged weapon; the drivers of the chariot often used the bulky, wooden body to ram into enemies. This was an extremely effective strategy as the chariot was difficult to halt (Brier and Hobbs).

Lastly, the imported material was very beneficial to Egypt’s economy but was still lacking compared to the horses. For instance, the wood that was acquired was transferred to specialists in wood crafting so that the material could be fabricated into the physical chariot body and wheels. Close-ranged weaponry (specifically the chariot), also had a positive impact in Ancient Egypt’s war strategy & skill. The chariot allowed for soldiers to be mobile while simultaneously being defensive and offensive. This moving platform was the staple for spear-wielders and javelin throwers as they could get up close quickly to strike fast and hard with the aid of the horses. This is immensely significant because it proves how close-ranged weapons have positively impacted Egypt’s economy and war strategy/evolution. The need for the newest/best close-ranged weapons sparked a whole network of trade between multiple nations and allowed for a stable and advanced economy in Egypt by opening doors to new jobs for the civilians. The simple exposure to current weaponry can cause drastic changes in a society (Brier and Hobbs). As evidence proves, close-ranged weaponry has had many positive changes in more than just war strategy in history.

The Medieval period of history in England had very many names, one of which was the Dark Ages. During this time, the remains of the Roman Empire were struggling and in anarchy, frantically searching for stability and protection. Because of these needs, the notorious hierarchical structure known as the Feudal System was established. This hierarchy was the saving grace for the remains of the Roman Empire and allowed protection and stability to happen naturally. In addition, the role that knights played in this period of history was very significant and impactful to others. In this time of despair, however, there lacked a system of belief for most religions which gave the knights no reason to fight besides their honor. For most, this was not enough (‘World History The Medieval Era,’ 00:04:39 – 00:10:40). Thus, the relationship between priests and close-ranged weapons in Medieval England allowed for heavy belief systems to be established and used profusely in a time of need (Cartwright).

Medieval England, during the Dark Ages, has been impacted the most by close-ranged weapons and their traditions. During Medieval England, the most commonly used weapon was the sword. These sorts of weapons were crafted just for the hands of a knight. So much so that there existed multiple variations of the sword (long sword, short sword, double-edged, ‘great sword,’ etc). Each had a wide range of effectiveness available to the knights. However, the role that these weapons played during this time period was not just to severe limbs or deliver blows. These tools were also an application to the noble fighters as a crucifix on and off the battlefield. Swords were often associated with religious beliefs for the knights and were used to pray and receive blessings from the Lord. As a result of this, priests blessed and glorified each and every word before it was granted to the hands of a knight. This was done to give the knights some reason to fight; in the name of the Lord. The fighters were sanctified and protected on the battlefield because of the religious beliefs instilled in these weapons. Fighting in the name of the Lord thrived in the Dark Ages because of the existence of close-ranged weapons as they were an abundantly used instrument that could easily be converted to a religious sacrament (Cartwright).

The establishment of religious belief systems were extremely symbolic to Christianity at the time, as it introduced new followers to the religion by giving knights something/someone to fight for, and allowed for prayer to be strengthened. This is very significant because in a time like the Dark Ages where stability and belief lacked; strong systems of belief for Christianity abled fighters and encouraged them to fight in the name of their Lord (Sizgorich). The Crusades played a very important role in pronouncing and aiding belief for religious knights by enlarging the use of the sword on and off the battlefield. Additionally, the Crusades also helped the spread of these religious beliefs in Christianity throughout medieval England and even most of western Europe. This was accomplished because of the increased use of crucifixes (swords) during those battles and the amount of interaction between parties. Although the actual beliefs of Christianity in specific weren’t spread, the concept of fighting in the name of God/Yahweh/Allah with a crucifix, such as the sword, was translated easily (‘World History The Medieval Era,’ 00:14:45 – 00:16:07, Dickson, Madden, & Baldwin). This is significant because it proves that close-ranged weapons were effective in more than combat; they were the staple of religious beliefs for all Christian knights in Medieval England. They also provided holiness, blessings, and protection for the fighters as well. The establishment of heavy belief systems in the Dark Ages was all due to close-ranged weapons (Cartwright).

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Additionally, close-ranged weapons benefited society in Medieval England by being so manipulative; the design could be easily changed on command to more effortlessly represent beliefs or motifs the people desire. The religious beliefs established by close-ranged weapons helped the physical crafting of the sword and other various short-ranged tools, ‘…and the shape of the blade and handle were used as a crucifix for prayer,’ (Cartwright, par. 4). Some variations of the sword were iron, others steel. The blade could be long, heavy, and sharp so that a limb could be severed in one strike. On the other hand, however, the blade of the sword could be short and light to deliver multiple blows in a shorter period of time (design was most commonly used until 10th century CE). There were many dissimultitudes within each model of the sword, this was done to have many available sacraments to the knights (Cartwright).

Furthermore, with the effective aid from other close-ranged weapons, such as lances, a new social code was developed; chivalry. With this new social code, new practices sprang up as well. And these new practices heavily encouraged the knights to fight in the name of their Lord. For example, chivalry caused knights across England to act in a manner that was extremely honored that tournaments were held. These tourneys weren’t just a show to be put on for an audience. They were practices done to honor the Lord off the battlefield. They gave the knights such honor and faith that statutes concerning bearing Arms for the Lord were developed as well. There were statutes that were created to aid the knights in tourney, but one, in particular, that really established a layer of faith in fighting is the Statuta Armorum (Arkenberg, p. 230, 231) or The Statutes of Arms in English. These statutes help fortify the Lord’s name in practices like tourneys, ‘And if any man shall cast a knight to the ground, except they who are armed for their Lord’s service, the knight shall have his horse, and the offender shall be punished as the Esquires aforesaid’ (Arkenberg, p. 230, 231).

As evidence proves, close-ranged weaponry during the Dark Ages provided benefits in areas other than combat. They provided/established effective belief systems that knights used to fight and pray. Short-ranged tools also allowed for many blessings and religious beliefs to exist. In a way, these close-ranged appliances ‘solved’ the coexistence of faith and reason by allowing religion to be associated with scholars, but simultaneously avoiding contradiction and conflict of thinkers during this period (Cartwright). Overall, close-ranged weapons only had a positive output on society during medieval England and aided in more than combat rituals by establishing heavy beliefs systems. The spiritual, societal, and militarical well-being of Medieval England were all positively affected by the existence and easy manipulation of close-ranged weapons (Cartwright). As evidence proves, close-ranged weapons can positively impact more than just combat needs in a society.

Modern era (16th – 18th century) France has been and is the base for some of the most significant military tools; the grenade and the handgun. France has had a very large impact on warfare in Europe, and in the world in general, while simultaneously improving and benefiting their own army. These war inaugurations were the pinnacle for France’s military. However, these newly established weapons did not exist in France forever; with a new era comes new developments and new methods of attack. As the Modern era approached, the broad spectrum of close-ranged weapons (swords, spears, axes, etc) seemed to disappear (Ojo, Britannica).

France in the early Modern era established new waves of weapons. Thanks to the customary close-ranged weapons, these new weapons co-existed with each other and only benefited the world of war around them. It was believed that these new developments were lackluster in the traditional methods and designs of past close-ranged tools. However, as a completely new arsenal of weapons sprang up, the traditional methods of past short-ranged weapons have gone extinct during this time period. But, the concepts and ideas of their functions have not. Whist the new military tools such as the handgun and grenade are considered to have a fairly-lengthed area of effect, the function of these weapons are meant to be close-ranged. For example, in this modern (16th-18th CE) era, there exists various other weapons that are fully capable of reaching long distances, including firearms such as rifles, missile launchers, and even tanks. Even with the existence of these much more capable tools, the handgun and grenade are still able to thrive because of the concepts of traditional short-ranged weapons in past history. In other words, the customary weapons of bygone eras has had an everlasting effect on the future of weapons throughout history (Ojo, Britannica).

This evidence proves the perpetual impact of traditional close-ranged weapons because they allow for the new development of longer-ranged weapons, while concurrently keeping the concepts and traditions of past military tools. For instance, long-range weapons such as the AK-47 exist today and are used abundantly in war. However, with the impact that customary weapons made, there allowed the existence of other close-ranged weapons to be used on the battlefield without them being forced out of use (Ojo, Britannica).

Additionally, it is also possible to see this coexistence between long-range and close-range weapons in other eras. However, it is in the Modern era that this impact of close-ranged weapons is most prominent. For example, in Ancient and Medieval time periods, the actuality of long-ranged weapons, such as the bow-and-arrow, remained true but was not as eminent as other weapons used at the time. This was only possible because of the creation of close-ranged weapons, such as the sword, as both categories of arms aided and benefited each other by being able to complete tasks at varying distances that the other could not. In a way, the tables have turned when it comes to weapons existing simultaneously; close-ranged weapons being less prominent during more recent history, more prominent during past history. And vice versa with the situation of long-ranged weapons (Ojo, Britannica & Harding, pp. 12-72)

Equipment such as the pistol and grenade are perfect examples of modern close-ranged weapons, as they cannot produce the same results in far distances as rifles and launchers can, but succeed in their own combat situations. For example, soldiers always carry knives/daggers on their person because of the possibility of hand-to-hand combat. This is done because long-ranged tools such as the rifle could never accomplish the same tasks in that combat situation, as well as customary close-ranged weapons, could (Oliveto). These traditional weapons are so timeless and ‘classic’ that they could never be 100% replaced in the way that hand-to-hand to close-range combat doesn’t occur. There has always been and always will be a need for close-ranged weapons, ranging from daggers to pistols (Ojo, Britannica). As evidence proves, close-ranged weapons can benefit and positively impact more areas than just combat.

Throughout history, close-ranged weaponry has had the most influential impact on societies and warfare by being the cause of imports and exports between ancient Egypt and other nations, establishing heavy systems of belief for Christianity in medieval England, and inaugurating new methods of attack in modern era France while preserving the traditions of customary close-ranged weapons.. They have not only benefited military strategy but economic systems and religious beliefs as well. Close-ranged weapons have had an everlasting impact on all of history and will remain on the throne for having the most military, societal, economical, and spiritual effect. Close-ranged weaponry has had a definite positive impact on all of mankind (every society alike) throughout history and will remain the most influential artifacts.

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Close-Ranged Weapons’ Impact On Society: Fighting in the Dark Ages. (2022, August 12). Edubirdie. Retrieved October 2, 2023, from
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