Boarding Axes From the Age of Sail  Hache d’abordage, Enterbijl, Entrebil, Änterbila,  Entrebile, Hachas de Abordaje
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Hachas de abordaje

Updated June 2015

In the Album’s section devoted to weapons two axes are shown. The one on the left is marked as a marine infantry weapon and the other a boarding axe. The drawings are not well defined but the boarding axe exhibits the characteristics expected and does show a clear similarity with axes recovered from Spanish shipwreck sites datable to the same period, such as the ones shown below - taken from an article by Noel Wells.

A large and powerful navy was essential for Spain to maintain its colonial empire but despite this it was perhaps the last of the European powers to separate the navy from the influence of the army. The fleet was still largely commanded by soldiers and its armaments were mostly army issue well into the 19th century.

So far the only image located for an early Spanish boarding axe is contained in the Album of the Marqués de la Victoria but at least this gives a basic pattern. The Spanish Navy may well have used whatever other axes were available from port suppliers to outfit their ships and Gilkerson indicates that French models were copied by Spain. This is borne out by the close resemblance and French characteristics of the post 1840 Spanish models.

Model 1840

Total  Length: 18.25” (46.5 cm)

Blade - point: 11” (28 cm)

This elegant axe closely resembles French models from the early 1700s including the crescent shaped blade, and long diamond shaped down curving spike and short lobed langets.

The groove between blade and head is distinctive and these axes are often marked with a rack number.

The one on the right is marked 47 and the one below 15.

Wm Dykes Collection, Wiscasset

Model 1859

Total  Length: 17.75” (45cm)

Blade - point: 12.25” (31cm)

The 1859 model continues the french theme this time with a flared blade and slightly longer but less curved diamond section spike.

This one is marked  “Fª D TOLED0 / AÑO D 1859” on the central part of the head but there are unmarked examples known.

Model 1865

Total  Length: 19” (48.5cm)

Blade - point: 11” (28cm)

The final model could almost be mistaken for a French 1833 of finer lines.

It has a flared blade which is less curved then the previous model and the spike is now straight,(similar to the axe shown in the Album.) The langets have lost their lobe shape and are also straight.

Examples are often unmarked but the one below has a single “O” and has been re-shafted at some time with a longer handle.

Liongate Arms and Armour

 The pictures below are taken from the The Album of the Marqués de la Victoria. This monumental work that took some 20 years to complete (1730-1750) was designed to show the construction of a large man of war and list all the equipment it carried. Its scope also extended to smaller vessels and even some port facilities.