Battle Axe, an ancient military weapon of offence, unused by the Greeks or Romans, and apparently of oriental or northeastern European origin. The Amazons are always described as armed with the double-headed battle axe, Mpennis, and in the enumeration of the Persian host at Marathon Herodotus mentions the Sacne as fighting with brazen shields and battle axes. Horace speaks of the Rhseti and Vindelici, barbarians of the Alps, as armed from the remotest times with Amazonian axes. The axe does not, however, appear to have become a general instrument of war until the descent of the Teutonic nations, all of whom used some modification of this weapon, which alone was capable of crushing in or cleaving asunder the linked steel mail. The axe of the Saxons, who were a nation of foot soldiers, soon assumed the form of the bill, glaive, or gisarme, which with the bow became the national weapon of the English infantry. The Normans, who were especially cavaliers, retained the old form of the battle axe, with a heavy axe blade forward of the shaft and a sharp spike behind it, besides a point perpendicular to the handle, which could be used for thrusting at an enemy.
The battle axe was carried slung on one side of the pommel of the man-at-arms' saddle, as was the mace at the other; it was of great weight, often 10 pounds or over.