Paul Dolnstein's sketch of a Swedish militiaman (left) using a swordstaff in combat with a landsknecht (right).

A swordstaff (Svärdstav) is a Scandinavian polearm, used in the medieval ages. It is made by placing a blade at the end of a staff.[citation needed]

Evidence of the weapon in use at the Battle of Elfsborg (Alvesborg) 1502 is provided by Paul Dolnstein,[1] a landsknecht mercenary who fought in the battle, who refers to the Swedes carrying "good pikes made from swords". He also provides sketches of the weapon.[2]

Although Dolstein believed the weapon was made from swords, there is no independent confirmation of this.[citation needed]


The weapon has visual similarities to the partisan and Langue de boeuf and may share common origins. However, Scandinavian Sagas make references to a number of pole weapons, usually translated as halberd or bill.[3] These weapons are used to cut and to stab but their names suggest they were derived from the spear rather than a cutting weapon e.g. the Hewing Spear (höggspjót) and the atgeir.[4] While clearly identifiable artistic or archaeological evidence of the form of these weapons is lacking, it is possible that the swordstaff may be a late derivative of this family of weapons.

Chinese swordstaff

Chinese polearms that resembled swordstaves were also commonly used in ancient China from the late Warring States/Qin Dynasty to the Han Dynasty era. These were known as the pi (鈹), translated into English as either sword-staff or long lance, and a ranseur-like swordstaff weapon called the sha (鎩) with a blade that was around 62cm long and a hilt that was ~19cm long.[citation needed]


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