When the First Men migrated to Westeros twelve thousand years ago, they introduced weapons made of bronze (copper/tin alloy) to the continent. The copper mines of Slaver's Bay were used to produce bronze weapons for the legions of the ancient Ghiscari Empire in Essos. The superior iron weapons of the Andals were a decisive factor in the success of the Andal invasion of Westeros six thousand years ago, sweeping aside the First Men who were equipped with weapons and armor made of weaker bronze. The old Valyrian Freehold used iron weapons during its conquest of the Ghiscari Empire five thousand years ago. Thus the "Iron Age" of the known world began at least six thousand years ago. In time, the First Men in the North of Westeros who had managed to repulse the Andals from their lands adopted many of their customs, such as their language, writing system, and knowledge of forging iron weapons.
In the present day, bronze weapons and armor are a relic, not seen on the battlefield, though some of the more sophisticated wildlings living Beyond the Wall in Westeros forge their own bronze weapons, much as their First Men ancestors did. While the wildlings lack the ability to forge iron weapons on their own, they frequently trade with smugglers for iron weapons (in exchange for furs, etc.), so iron weapons can be encountered in the possession of the Free Folk.
Other materials used for making more exotic weapons include:
- Valyrian steel - an extremely high-quality steel forged in the old Valyrian Freehold, rumored to be forged with the aid of magical spells. After the fall of Valyria, knowledge of how to forge new Valyrian steel was lost. Current Valyrian steel weapons are priceless, and new Valyrian steel weapons can only be made by melting down preexisting ones. Even the knowledge of how to reforge preexisting Valyrian steel is extremely limited: the famously skilled blacksmiths of Qohor are capable of reforging Valyrian steel, albeit with extreme difficulty.
- Dragonglass - a sharp black volcanic rock, also known as "obsidian". Far too brittle to make swords with, but incredibly sharp, the Children of the Forest once wielded dragonglass daggers and bows with quite effective arrowheads made out of dragonglass. Their most prominent trait is that White Walkers can be killed using dragonglass blades.
The most common form of swords are ‘'longswords’’, blades meant to be wield with one hand while the other hand holds a shield. Longswords are often what is meant when referring simply to “swords”. ‘'Greatswords’’ (also known as broadswords) are much larger than longswords, so large that they can only be wielded using both hands, preventing usage of a shield. ‘'Bastard swords’’ (also known as a "Hand-and-a-half sword") are of an intermediate size, larger than longswords but short enough that they can still be wielded with one hand, though it is preferable to use two hands (they are called “bastard” swords because they don’t quite fit into the other categories of longsword or greatsword).
There are also various kinds of bladed weapons which are smaller than a longsword, such as shortswords and the even smaller daggers. There is no specific definition for when a large dagger becomes a small sword; in general, a dagger is a sidearm and not intended as a primary weapon.
Other bladed weaponsEdit
Other kinds of bladed weapon, differing from classic Westerosi knights' swords include:
- Braavosi rapier - Arya Stark's custom-forged sword Needle was made in the style of a Braavosi rapier, a popular weapon design from the Free Cities. The blade is thin and light, meant for quick thrusting attacks.
- Arakh - the curved half-sword, half-scythe of the Dothraki mounted hordes.
- White Walker ice blade - the enigmatic White Walkers appear to wield swords and spears made of ice.
Various kinds of warhammers and axes may also be encountered on the battlefield. Robert Baratheon favored wielding a warhammer, and during the Battle of the Trident killed Prince Rhaegar Targaryen with a mighty swing from his hammer which crushed in Rhaegar’s chest. Axes appear to be the preferred weapon of ironborn raiders.
Ranged weapons: bows and crossbowsEdit
Various bows and crossbows are employed in various armies.
Soldiers have their own recognizable armor which is used to signify their forces. Northern armies often wear chainmail and leather suits of armor with some steel or iron work, as compared with the expensive plate armor of the well-equipped Southern troops. The culturally distinct ironborn, known for their lack of fear of drowning, tend to wear heavier armor than sailors from the mainland.
Armies in WesterosEdit
- The North
- The Westerlands
- The Reach
- The Iron Islands
- The Riverlands
- The Stormlands
- The Vale
- The Crownlands
- The Free Folk
Armies in EssosEdit
- The Free Cities
- Slaver’s Bay
- The Dothraki
- Royal Fleet of the King of the Andals and the First Men
- Redwyne Fleet of House Redwyne at the Arbor
- Iron Fleet of the Iron Islands