Modern hammers can have broad similarities drawn to these ancestors, such as the sledgehammer to the maul, and pick hammers to the warhammer, but hammers were resigned from combat roles in the military centuries ago.
In the modern era, proper warhammers and mauls are relegated to display in museums or use in popular video games like Dark Souls.
But what made each of these monstrous weapons so intimidating? If you found yourself teleported back in time to Medieval Europe, before the onset of the gunpowder era, which would you be better served by?
Look no further my fellow time traveler, I’ve gone through the ages to bring you the information you need to keep your farm safe from roving bandits and bloodthirsty knights.
You’re going to need some serious upper body strength to wield it effectively against voracious rapscallions wielding daggers and wearing leather armor, because this heavy weapon will slow down your swings quite badly.
On the plus side, it gains massive destructive power from the weight of the hammer, and the construction is rather more simple than a warhammer.
So, you’ll have an easy time establishing peasant companies armed with mauls, when the time comes to overthrow your oppressors and bring freedom to all the people of the land.
It’s especially suitable for use by armored knights, to keep on hand to use against other knights – keep that in mind if you decide to join in the ranks of the nobility and the army of the king, you loyalist swine.
Defending Your Homestead
When it comes to protecting your home and family, the two threats you’re most likely to face in 10th century Europe are mercenary bands looking to get by between wars, the local, above-the-law nobility and knights, and foreign armies pillaging the lands to pay for the war they’re waging against your local noble.
If you’re facing a rabid, hungry band of mercenaries, you’d likely be better served by a warhammer. Its lighter construction and the sharpened point will let you tear up their leather armor, and missed swings won’t leave you too vulnerable.
Plus, being one-handed means you have a free hand to use the buckler that was left to you by your spouse’s father before he passed away at the ripe old age of 39.
When it comes to a foe with armor, you’re better served by the maul.
While your swings will be slower and heavier, it’d be hard for you to generate the force to really hurt a man in armor with the warhammer while you’re on foot – cavalry get that momentum and power from their horses, which you don’t have.
When it comes to facing an army, neither is really adequate. You’ll be badly outnumbered and pitted against a formidable enemy. You’re going to need to get the other farmers, practice fighting individually and drilling as a unit, and maybe establish a well regulated militia.
Use In The Royal Army
So you’ve sold out and finessed your way into the upper class by gracing His Pungency with modern sanitation techniques, and you’ve found yourself owning land, and in the possession of serfs and property of your own.
But that also means preparing to be called with the rest of the banners when your king declares war on Ulm.
You’ll probably be mounted on horseback, in which case the maul would be an interesting choice against infantry, for the simple reason of its incredible overkill.
If you’re on a horse galloping down the field, the weight and momentum of a heavy maul will demolish anything you hit. But it’ll be so unwieldy on horseback, owing to its great weight, as to make hitting anything rather difficult.
The warhammer, on the other hand, was designed for this. Not for fighting infantry, but for use as a secondary weapon among dueling cavalry.
The relative weight of the warhammer, and the sharpened point that focuses it all will let you aim its full destructive power at the joints and weaknesses of their armor.
You’re going to need a lance or something similar to do most of your fighting, but the warhammer is excellent at ensuring you come out on top against enemy knights.
The maul lacks utility and practical value for cavalry, but it’s quite impressive nonetheless. The real winner here is the warhammer, with the dexterity allowed by its lighter weight and its respectable armor penetrating qualities.
Raising An Army To Defeat The King
You’ve returned to the side of freedom and justice, and you’re rallying and organizing the peasantry and the disaffected nobles.
Your resources will be scant, so expensive, finely crafted warhammers won’t really be of much use to you.
All that forged steel is much better off going to pikes to arm the rank and file, although those nobles who defect to you will be able to make good use of the odd warhammer, you won’t be using many of them.
Mauls, on the other hand, will be plentiful among the poor and the downtrodden who rally to your cause.
They can be used as practice drill weapons to help you whip your array of civilians into an army, and they can let you pad your numbers if you can’t create all the professional weapons needed to arm your force.
Mauls will be a great tool for your archers, both to hammer anticavalry stakes into the ground and to use as an improvised weapon, such as the British will do against the French in a few hundred years.
Some maul-wielding men scattered throughout your army will give the armored men of the enemy something to fear, while the pikes keep them at the distance and the maulers deliver crushing blows that obliterate their armor.
When it comes to raising a pre-gunpowder army of freedom fighters, the maul certainly enjoys much more utility than the warhammer.
Overall, the maul and the warhammer can both be useful weapons in the dark, dreary world of Medieval Europe. They each succeed in certain circumstances, and the weapon you adopt, much like the tool you use in your modern life, depends on the task at hand.