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> Sporting Crossbow
The time and money lavished on the ornamentation of high-class sporting
especially those of late sixteenth-century Continental manufacture, were
very considerable, the best workers in metal, ivory and mother of pearl,
being employed in their decoration.
The stock of the sporting crossbow was often
covered with artistic representations of animals, birds and hunting scenes,
surrounded by scroll-work, all finely chased and inlaid in silver, ivory
The polished metal fittings of the stock, and even the hardened surfaces
of the steel bow, were sometimes deeply inlaid with a delicate tracery
in gold of leaves and flowers, or heraldic designs.
Different workmen constructed the distinct parts of a good sporting
just as the separate pieces of a gun are treated in these days by various
artisans, before they are fitted together to produce the weapon in its
Fig. 8 - Crossbowman approaching game by means of a
One set of craftsmen made the stock, another the windlass or the cranequin,
and so it was with the lock and the string ; but the most important artificers
of all were the men who forged and shaped the steel bows. The bows from
Mondragon in Spain, which were of the same quality of steel as that of
the famous Toledo sword blades, and those from Pyrmont in Germany, were
celebrated for their excellence of strength and temper.
In confirmation of this we read in Sir J. Harington's translation of
Ariosto (Italian poet, 1474-1533) :
|But as a strong and justly tempered bow
Of Pyrmont steel, the more you do it bend,
Upon recoil doth give the bigger blow,
And doth with greater force the quarrel send.
The sporting crossbow of the sixteenth century,
or from about 1500 to 1630, was no doubt a very effective weapon in its
day for the purposes for which it was required, as the experience and skill
of several centuries had brought it to perfection, ere it was at length
superseded by the improved arquebus.
The hunter could not, however, bring down birds on the wing with his
; nor, indeed, could the man who used the arquebus of the same
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