Military Factory

Francisca Cutting / Throwing Axe

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 4/8/2013

The Francisca was a weapon very much designed to inflict damage to both body and psyche.

The francisca was a light-weight throwing axe more consistently associated with the Franks though its use expanded to that of the Germanic Tribes and beyond. In essence, the little axe was used as both a psychological weapon as much as a physical one that, when thrown, the axe had a tendency to ricochet off of the ground in any random direction. The axe served many purposes as well as it could be used to chop at enemy appendages, shatter a wooden shield or cut wood for fires when needed. For the Franks, their francisca became a national symbol and is still most closely related to their use than any other group. The weapon garnered the name francisca (or "francesca") by how the Spanish called it in reference to the Franks using the axe weapon.

The francisca is most identified by the curved axe head made of iron, pointed at top and bottom and broader at the blade than the weighted back end. From a top-down view, the bladed portion was of the tear-drop shape similar in most respects to the construction practices as utilized by the Viking groups. Overall, the axe was designed to be thick and mounted on the to-most end of the handle and sharp in ever regard and featured a short wooden handle.

In combat, the Frankish lines would be signaled to throw their franciscas at enemy formations in the hope of shattering their shields or decimating the ranks of men. The act of throwing was frequently done before an all-out infantry charge on the part of the Franks - similar to how the Roman Legionnaires operated with their pilum throwing spears. The franciscas had a wicked tendency to accomplish many things once thrown, including random trajectories that would make them most feared in the Early Middle Ages. The effective range of the weighted axe was limited to about 40 feet - a detriment to the thrower in some regards considering the close proximity to the target enemy, but on the other hand lessening the distance the Frankish infantry had to cover in meeting their enemy during the follow-up charge.

Text ©2003-2016 All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction Permitted. Email corrections/comments to MilitaryFactory at Gmail dot com. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance or general operation. Please consult original manufacturers for such information.
Picture of Francisca

Specifications for the
Cutting / Throwing Axe

Introduction: 500 AD
Suggested Weight: Various; depends on design
Required Crew: 1
Known Operators: Franks