A nuclear bomb pretty much assures instant death—one second you’re here, the next kablooey. Quick and painless.
Unlike Washington bureaucrats, the average American doesn’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about weapons of mass destruction. I certainly don’t detect a high level of fear in anyone I know. Other than the garden variety conceal-n-carry discussions, weapons really aren’t on anyone’s mind.
I suppose if you lived in war torn Iraq or some drug-cartel, gang-infested country, you would be afraid. And rightly so.
Or if you lived during the Dark Ages.
Peasants didn’t get to wield halberds or maces. Oh, they might have a pitchfork handy to threaten some nasty puncture wounds. Likely they’d tote a knife which, granted, can inflict a mortal wound if handled properly. But the gnarliest weapons belonged to knights and nobles…instilling fear into the plebian sort.
Let’s say you’re a resourceful peasant who copped a sword off the black market for an amazingly low price. End of fear factor, right? Wrong. Some knights carried a Sword Breaker. This is a unique weapon developed and used during the Middle Ages. It’s pretty much a long, sturdy dagger but with one major difference—slots on one side, kind of like the teeth on a comb. A Sword Breaker was used to capture an opponent’s blade. Once caught, a quick twist would snap the enemy’s blade, effectively disarming him.
Speaking of daggers, ever hear of a Rondel? This puppy inflicted some serious damage. A Rondel is a long, conical-shaped dagger made specifically for piercing armor. And once through the armor and the flesh beneath, a gaping hole the size of Pittsburgh pretty much insured death.
But both of these aforementioned items would require your enemy to be on foot, not mounted up high. Problem: how to unseat a skilled horseman. Solution: a landmine.
Yes, a landmine. Oh, not the type in use today but efficient nonetheless. The Caltrop is an example of the ingenuity of the times. Much like a mongo version of a child’s jack, a Caltrop is a fabrication of metal with four sharp points. Thrown on the ground, it always landed with a point sticking up. Scatter a bunch of these babies on the ground and the oncoming cavalry would have some serious issues to deal with.
But even common items can do unspeakable damage. In my book, Gallimore, I allude to the death of Edward II. Consensus says he was murdered, but the story behind the murder might make you cringe.
You should know this about ol’ Ed…he wasn’t a favorite king. He didn’t endear himself to the people and especially not to his wife. Most queens are hardly amused when the king not only partakes in dalliances on the side, but ones wherein they can’t compete, well… You see, Edward had a bit of an attraction to the same gender. This special quality of his ticked off a lot of people, tolerance not being in vogue at the time.
They tried the usual imprisonment and starving. Even subjected him to filthy water in hopes he’d succumb to disease. Nope. Edward II was a hearty soul.
So, one wicked eve during his enforced visit to Berkeley Castle, several men gathered to perform a dastardly deed. As Edward lay asleep, they squished him down with a table, intending to squash the air from him and suffocate the little fella. Foiled again. He wriggled like a minnow out of water, flipping himself over on his tummy.
Who came up with the idea of a hearth poker we may never know, but someone did. They heated the rod up until it glowed red, then shoved it up his…well, let’s just say Edward became a kabob from the bottom up.
Technology will forever be developing newer, mind boggling weapons. However, just because they’re fancy does not make them any more frightening than the weapons of the past.
Hmm. Kind of makes one wonder…maybe it’s the people behind the weapons we should fear most.
"Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become." -C.S. Lewis