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Historical Development of the Mace

With the introduction of armour among fighting men, the wooden club came to be bound with iron and then made of iron and steel alone, and by the 11th and 12th Centuries had developed into a stylised weapon of a formidable nature.

The war mace was about two feet long, at the hitting end was a bole fitted with four or more spikes or flanges with sharp points, and capable when used with force, of penetrating or cracking helmet or armour. At the other end was some kind of hand-grip, with a knob to prevent it slipping out of the hand.

This was adopted as the special weapon of the Serjeants-at-Arms appointed first by Philip II of France to guard his person from suspected assassins. Richard I of England, Coeur-de-Lion, instituted a similar bodyguard.

It soon became the custom for the King’s Serjeant-at-Arms to have the Royal Arms inscribed on the knob at the handle end of the mace. Also it came to be decorated with gold and silver inlay, etc. Gradually the mace with the Royal Arms became the visible sign of the Royal Authority.

In the course of time, therefore, it is easy to see how the hitting end of the mace fell out of use and the handle end increased in importance. Now we see the mace solely as a symbol of authority.

The most curious and interesting point to note about the evolution of the mace is that it was also a revolution: the hitting end has become the innocuous base and the handle knob has become the head. So the Ceremonial Mace is carried, so to speak, upside down.

The Mace should precede the Mayor when entering and leaving the Council Chamber, and should always repose in front of the Mayor when the Council is sitting. When the Mayor is seated the Mace rests horizontally before him with the crown to his right hand. In church, the crown should point towards the Altar.