Over at Medieval Wall, there is a great post about the weapons of the Medieval time periods. Here is a taste.
“By the downfall of the Roman Empire, so vanished its disciplined military organization, which was replaced in Europe by immigrant armies. Their military campaigns were participated by entire nations, which included all the layers of society. After settling in their newly conquered lands, they gradually lose their belligerence, turning more to sedentary lifestyle, mainly agriculture. Warfare remains only among the narrow circle of nobility, future knights. Infantry loses its significance, and the primary focus is passed onto the knights horsemen. They were mostly armed with cold weapons (spear, sword, battle axe…), and were protected by armor. Infantry was used as backup and mainly armed with bows. Throughout the entire Middle Ages the cavalry was predominant, only during the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453) the infantry, armed with bows and arrows, becomes increasingly significant, and some time later the Swiss footmen equipped with close combat weapons (spears, halberds) will have become extremely efficient soldiers.
The territories of Europe didn’t use the same weaponry. The Slavs were in shortage of iron, so they preferred ranged weapons. That is why Charlemagne banned selling weapons to Slavs and Avars. Later, other bans are introduced on a social level as well. I.e. Frederick I Barbarossa (cca. 1122-1190) banned carrying or possession of weapons (spear or sword) to peasants. Travelling merchants were allowed to carry weapons, in order to defend themselves from robbers, but they weren’t allowed to carry them „in a knightly manner“, on their body, only attached to the saddle or inside the wagon. It was, in any way, harder for the lower classes to get a hold of weapons, since they were exceptionally expensive. For example, it is a known fact that in Charlemagne’s time a sword cost seven cows, and a spear two.“
Read the entire article here.