Mid-16th century. 25 1/2" length. Weight 2:9.1. The form of the haft and its brazed construction are clear indications that it is the product of a workshop which produced iron maces. Most war hammers of the period have heads of similar form, mounted on hardwood hafts sheathed in iron. Few battle axes of the period survive and most axes and hammers had a pointed back fluke. The combination here is quite rare and specific to a practiced fighting technique. When men in armor engaged in combat, the choice of weapon often determined life and death. Every aggressive stroke needed the opportunity, if not the ability to damage and wound, while providing a defensive recovery. Of course, both adversaries fought from the same disposition and victory came only from superior skill or strength, capricious opportunity, or choice of weapon more suited to the situation. This battle axe with hammer back is the weapon of a warrior, highly skilled in its use. He could face the mace which allowed proximity, or arming sword, which required that its reach be compromised. It was made to hack through armor and flesh, the hammer dislocating the plate and the axe attacking the breach. A rare and handsome weapon carrying on the tradition of its Gothic predecessors.