The staff slingIt is time to talk about weapons of medieval pirate. First up is one that most have not of heard of, the sling staff. The sling staff (or staff sling) was an early projectile weapon launcher. It was mainly used in naval battles in the Middle Ages. Otherwise, they are rare and hard to find anything on them.
The first use of the staff sling was by the Thracians. It was used as a weapon of the Peltasts (Slingers). The slingers were lightly armed and used the staff sling for "shock and awe" type battles. They would run in, fire a dart, javelin or rock, and then run away.
The sling fell out of use after the classical era, but the staff sling was still used. Geoffrey Chaucer mentioned a sling in the Canterbury Tales. In the Tale of Sir Topaz, he states
Sir Topaz quickly retired;
the Giant took a sling and fired
Fired stones, but greatly daring
Sir Topaz swiftly left the place
And got away by God's good grace
And by his noble bearing.
Seeing that the sling was a weapon associated with King David, an evil Giant could not have used it. A staff sling was more likely was used. Staff slings also lunched their projectiles a lot slower than the traditional sling a not as accurate, making it easier for Sir Topaz to get away.
An image of a staff sling can be seen in a depiction of the last sea battle of Eustace the Black Monk. The picture shows a staff sling being used to fling a bottle. The bottle could contain quicklime. Quicklime was used to blind opponents in battle.
Staff slings were used because they are easy to train a fighter to use in comparison to a normal sling or a bow. Also, unlike a bow, the wet concisions of a ship had little effect on this weapon.