certain which axe you’re thinking of, but axes have been used
extensively in warfare, including specialized designs intended specifically for
combat. These range from simple hatchets that function in roughly the same
capacity as a dagger up through the Danish axe. It’s also worth remembering
there are entire families of polearms that are, basically, very long axes.
mentioned axes a couple times when discussing historical sidearms. They were,
frequently, used as backup weapons in medieval infantry. In part, because battleaxes
were, generally, cheaper to produce than swords, and (in theory) easier to
train on, so it was easier to arm infantry with battleaxes than swords.
combat tactics with the axe involve generating inertia, and then once the
weapon is up to speed you connect. The examples I’ve seen were figure eight
patterns, though I assume there are others.
cultures also developed axe variants for use as thrown weapons. We’re usually
pretty critical of throwing knives as a combat skill, but historically, some warriors
did carry extra axes to throw at foes.
As for strength,
the axe is like nearly every other melee weapon. It’s useful, but anyone of
roughly average strength should be able to use these things. Historical
battleaxes weighed somewhere between one to six pounds, so we’re not talking
about some massive Berserk style
chunk of steel. And, yes, this includes two handed designs. Compared to swords,
axes were lighter, (probably because there was less metal involved.) As with
any weapon, training and experience is far more important than strength. Put
another way, a battleaxe weighs less than your average housecat. Remember, axes
were light enough to bring extras for sharing with the crowd.
harp on this a bit for a second, but it is
worth remembering that most weapons are pretty light. There are outliers, but
if you’re bringing a weapon to a battle, then you can expect to be swinging it
all day. A heavy weapon would wear you out, and leave you vulnerable.
weight is important for an axe, but the
distribution is what matters. The weight behind the blade will do the work for
you, when striking, you just need to get that weight moving, and then direct it
into the target. To make this work, you don’t need a lot of weight, and the
more you add, the harder it becomes to get the weapon moving and control it, so
you’re looking for a sweet spot of mass and control. Historically that appears
to have been somewhere around two or three pounds.
if you’re looking for a weapon that actually
required a lot of strength to use, that’s the longbow. Drawing one could
require the archer to pull anywhere from forty to sixty pounds, (or more in
some rare cases.) Or, in other words, your mental image of how medieval
combatants looked is on its head, the front line infantry were (in some cases)
scrawny little guys, and the archers were stacked.