Is the ball-and-chain morningstar a myth?

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Is the ball-and-chain morningstar a myth?

Postby Ariella Elema » 18 Jun 2012 23:41

I don't think I've ever seen a pre-nineteenth-century image of anyone carrying one of those morgenstern/flails that involve a spiky ball attached to a haft by a chain. Are they a Victorian invention? If so, where did they first show up?
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Re: Is the ball-and-chain morningstar a myth?

Postby Dan Howard » 19 Jun 2012 00:47

http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=17245

Apparently the Russian word Kiścień was first used in the 10th century.
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Re: Is the ball-and-chain morningstar a myth?

Postby admin » 19 Jun 2012 10:21

Ariella, they do actually appear in a number of 14th-16thC works of art from Western Europe, but they are not at all common. I don't have any of the images to hand right now, but one example is a late-15thC Burgundian tapestry in Dijon.
I too thought that they may have been a Victorian myth, then I started noticing them turn up in medieval art occasionally.
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Re: Is the ball-and-chain morningstar a myth?

Postby bigdummy » 19 Jun 2012 20:41

By far the most common type are the 'articulated club' type of flails like what the hussites used, which you can also see in that Myarmoury thread, an infantry weapon which usually only had a couple of links and were typically made of a long wooden handle (four feet or more) with a fairly long club-like striking surface (also wooden but with iron bands, spikes, and / or knobs). This as far as i know is the only type which saw widespread military use, notably by the Hussites but throughout Central Europe. I have records of town armories buying them en-mass.

But the ball and chain type did also exist, sometimes with very long chains (sometimes called a 'meteor hammer') you see them in auction sites and so on.

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Re: Is the ball-and-chain morningstar a myth?

Postby Ariella Elema » 20 Jun 2012 00:11

Thanks guys!

I would have imagined that a morningstar with a chain longer than the haft was a very impractical weapon, yet here's a fifteenth-century Italian fresco depicting one next to other contemporary arms and armour, albeit in a painting about a seventh-century Byzantine battle.

http://www.allpaintings.org/v/Renaissance/Piero+della+Francesca/Piero+della+Francesca+-+Battle+between+Heraclius+and+Chosroes+_detail_+5.JPG.html

The article in Polish linked from the myarmoury thread mentioned above is also interesting. However, I do wonder if some of those bronze flail heads without chains couldn't also be weights for steelyard scales.
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Re: Is the ball-and-chain morningstar a myth?

Postby bigdummy » 20 Jun 2012 04:13

They probably were. A lot of flails were impromptu weapons. I think they were field-expedient anti-armor weapons principally; the Hussite ones were originally at any rate, there also seemed to be some associated with the German peasant uprising in the 16th Century. But they appear to have fairly quickly settled on a particular standardized style for making them. The Krakow town council bought some after tangling with a Hussite war-band in the 1430s (along with some guns) and I don't remember the exact figure they paid off the top of my head but I remember raising an eyebrow at how expensive they were.

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Re: Is the ball-and-chain morningstar a myth?

Postby admin » 20 Jun 2012 10:00

The example in the Burgundian tapestry looks like an example straight out of fantasy art - long chain, short handle, very spikey iron ball. I have seen a couple of other examples like that in period art, but didn't think to save them...
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Re: Is the ball-and-chain morningstar a myth?

Postby Dan Howard » 20 Jun 2012 10:03

Ariella Elema wrote:Thanks guys!

I would have imagined that a morningstar with a chain longer than the haft was a very impractical weapon, yet here's a fifteenth-century Italian fresco depicting one next to other contemporary arms and armour, albeit in a painting about a seventh-century Byzantine battle.

The worst is a chain that is slightly shorter than the handle. The ball hangs just low enough to crush the fingers.
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Re: Is the ball-and-chain morningstar a myth?

Postby admin » 11 Sep 2012 10:35

Nice example:
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Re: Is the ball-and-chain morningstar a myth?

Postby schalacer » 16 Sep 2012 04:54

I have seen a couple of other examples of the ball and chain morning star in ancient weapons they used it as a weapon
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