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7-15-2009 @ 7:10PM
There are arguments both ways. The effectiveness of a blunt weapon on an armored foe is certainly true, however very few people actually wore heavy armor. Unless you had a title it would be unlikely that you would have metal armor. Plate armor had to be specifically built per person (so no to little interchangeability) and took significant skill to bend and shape the plates to fit the person without going back and altering them a lot. Reheating metal without otherwise treating it causes it to become brittle, easily shattering under heavy blows. A full suit of plate armor took about 1 to 3 years to construct, and could easily cost equivalently as much as 1 to 3 large single-family homes (i.e. as much as 10 to 15 times a working man's common yearly salary). Chain mail was much cheaper since it is all made of one element, metal rings. The rings could be cut from a single long metal rod/wire, bent, and then smithed into a suit. The Cutting and bending are simple tasks that someone with no smithing skill could do, and building a suit of mail requires significantly less smithing skill than constructing plate. You could also pre-construct most of the suit, making it an over-large one-size-fits-all affari. It was still time-intensive to make a chain suit, taking easily a few months, but you did not need skilled smiths, and you could have many people churn out rods and rings while many armorers could separately assemble sleeves and chain swatches and then join them up. Even so chain armor used a lot of metal and time, and a good suit of double chain could cost about half to a quarter of a plate suit.Swords were weapons of the nobility for the same reason. While their construction didn't take as much time or materials as a suit of armor, the amount of craftsmanship and smithing knowledge required was excruciating, making them rather expensive. While cheap ones could be bought for much less, they would easily bend or shatter. Besides being strictly regulated, making a good sword is a difficult task that requires special attention at every stage of the process. The point being... metal armor was not anywhere near as common as it is in WoW. It was expensive both time-wise and materials-wise... which made them the weapons and armor of lords, not of common monks or priors who spent their days in solemn study or quiet industry. The most common weapon you would find in an abbey would be mostly farm tools, the weapons of peasants. Polearms derived mainly from farming tools; for instance the Billhook or Bill-guisarme was a tool used to clear brush. Knives and wood axes would also be common.As the Christian Church gained more power and money through grants of money and especially land, the ecclesiastical leaders that controlled those lands started to resemble local lords much more than clergy. One striking example of this is in Song of Roland. Roland's close friend and ally, the bloodthirstly Archbishop Turpin rides to war with him, and puts his own longsword to plenty of 'heathen Saracens'. Archibishop Turpin was one of the very first 'paladins'. The 'paladins' in Song of Roland were a group of 12 soldiers (the 12 Peers), who were close confidants of Charlemagne, and lords in their own right. The word 'paladin' likely came from a Latin word for a Roman high official working closely with the Emperor. The 12 Peers were powerful lords working directly for Charlemagne, so the title fit. Through stories like Song of Roland, the word 'paladin' began to mean more a virtuous warrior than a high official.Our image of the 'Paladian', a plate armor-clad Medieval European holy warrior, likely comes from the Crusades, a series of religiously-charged military actions, in many cases sanctioned by the Christian Church at the time, between ~1100-1300 AD (or CE if you prefer). The Crusades were a series of bloody, and later on rather questionable, actions that were brought on by the same problem that has fueled a majority of war in the Middle East in the last thousand years, access to the Holy Land.After the first few Crusades, and the immense profit, orders of knights began to spring up that would escort others traveling to visit the Holy Land and protect people while they were there. Orders such as the Hospitallers, the Teutonic Knights, and, of course, the Knights Templar often made their members quite rich. There were easily a dozen other orders, but these were some of the main powers in the area, granted extraordinary powers by the Pope, making them largely their own nation, subject to no Earthly kings. These Knights were in many cases professional soldiers, not necessarily holding titles, who needed a way to support themselves. This mission was not only lucrative, but also sanctioned by the Christian Church, so soldiers could make an excellent living, and hope that they were helping the cause of their religion. It's likely these knights are our template for 'Paladins'.. virtuous warriors in heavy armor living exclusively to further the cause of their religion.The exclusion of bladed weapons isn't too clear. As warriors they would have used the best weapon for the job, whatever it was. It could be an attempt to reduce actual 'bloodshed', i.e. killing without drawing blood, however it is most likely an adopted restriction. Often the most powerful items in games are large swords designed for warriors, which would be much too powerful in the hands of a character that can heal itself, and often buff itself with offensive and defensive spells. Forcing Paladins to use blunt weapons at best, like the archtypal Cleric, limits their weapons' damage output, allowing the character itself to be more powerful.I'd encourage anyone interested in the genesis of the Paladin archtype to read the Song of Roland. It is a very accessible book and is generally available at most bookstores.
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