While the bill was used by foot soldiers throughout Europe, it was most commonly found in
Italy and England. The English bills differed from those of all other parts of Europe, with a
very unique open socket for mounting on the wood haft. This example shows the crude
hand-forging typical of English bills, with broad 8 1/4″ head featuring a sharp cutting edge
and forward-facing sharpened hook; the rear with a separately forge-welded thick, flat,
upturned hook. Integral forged open ferrule with lapped seam, mounted on later round-
section oak haft. Metal cleaned, showing hammer marks and lamination. Length of metal
12″, overall length 77″. According to Laking, the bill was the most common staff weapon in
medieval England, citing the Royal Armouries’ inventory as recording 6,700 bills in the mid-
sixteenth Century. It seems unlikely that the bill would have been effective against an
armoured opponent, but it’s hooks and sharp-edged blade would have made it a good
weapon for unhorsing a rider by grabbing or cutting the reins or cutting the horse’s legs.
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