What were weapon laws like in ancient times? I know there were restrictions on blade size etc but say I am a British commoner in the 15th century, could I go out and just buy a halberd or arqebus if I had the means?
Well I know blacks weren't able to have guns except the Creole community of Alabama thanks to the Adams Onis treaty that the government actually accepted to respect. Allowed them to have their own schools too.
Yes, although there were laws about strangers possessing them in towns and going out at night. Men were required by law to possess certain weapons and armour for military service.
Check out the Coventry Leet Book online for some interesting bit's and pieces about the practicalities of daily 15th century life.
Do we know of people that collected weapons and armor even though they would have no use for it? Like a modern day collector or hobby historian. How expensive were weapons to the common man?
There are some inventory and will records showing lords possessing more armour than they can physically wear at once. Some is obviously for giving to other people, but there must have been a few who liked getting lots of shines new armour just for the sake of it or to keep up with fashion. From memory John Fastolf (possibly the basis for Shakespeare's Falstaff), has 20+ different helmets of various sorts in his possession at the time of his death.
Collecting cool old stuff has always been around, but what we'd recognise as a collector today only really comes about in the 16th century when people staRT putting together cabinets of curiosity. These are litterally just a cabinet with a bunch of STUFF thrown in. Roman coins next to feathers brought back from the Americas next to grandfather's old rosary, that kind of thing.
Weapon prices differ greatly. I'm sure there's price lists around on,ineffective somewhere. Again from memory and based on talks on the subject, a suit of good, imported Italian armour would cost £2-3. This is about a full years wage for a unskilled farm labourer. A suit of well made English armour would be £20+. I've seen records of swords of similar prices but these were absolute top end of the scale, compared to 'an old sword' listed in an inventory for 1d (1 penny), or about 1/3 of the farm labourers daily wage.
>but say I am a British commoner in the 15th century, could I go out and just buy a halberd or arqebus if I had the means?
IIRC British commoners didn't have the means.
You can murder a man just as efficiently with a billhook as a short sword.
In feudal Japan, provinces recently conquered or otherwise in unrest were subjected to what were called "sword hunts". The ruling lord's men would roam the countryside confiscating weapons from the peasantry en masse.
Eh, this wasn't really a thing until the Sengoku Jidai, though. At least not in large scale. Until the 1500's or so, citizens were allowed to own and carry swords wherever they wanted, within reason.
I know that in some areas during the middle ages you could have a knife but not a sword. A knife was defined as full tang and no other qualifications. That's where the Messer came from, literally knife in German, because it was full tang it could be carried by citizens
Emperor Maximilian drafted laws to restrict the possession of concealable firearms. In fact these laws predate any extant examples of pistols or firearms that could be practically concealed, meaning that pistols existed from the early-15th century rather than the mid-15th century as would be believed from the archaeological evidence.