'These are anointed with a poison called "The Crossbowman's herb." This
kind of arrow is smeared with the juice of this plant from the neck of
its iron point for five or six finger-breadths down. Then the arrow is
covered with a little strip of very thin linen, which wraps the shaft round
and round and adheres to it over the poison without the need of any tying.
The head of this arrow is of steel, square and pointed, and the neck very
' There are also arrows called " Sostrones " for night use. These are
large and heavy, so that they cannot be shot far from the crossbow and
are therefore easy to find when they are discharged at rabbits and hares
by moonlight. They are also used with a dark lantern to kill pigeons on
their roosts in the trees at night.
' Then there are other arrows for killing partridges, which are a hand's
breadth longer and have an iron knob at the head.1
' Other shafts are called " Pasadores," and are thicker than the ordinary
arrows. Some shafts are known as " Rallones," the points of which are like
a chisel. There are also some termed " Saetones," used for shooting at
leverets or young rabbits ; they are longer than the ordinary arrow and
very sharp, and in the middle of the shaft is a small bar, so that when
a rabbit is struck it cannot go down its burrow.
The best masters who have made arrows for crossbows in Spain are :
Christoval de Escobar, who served the Lord Kings Philip II. and III.
Juan de Escobar, his son, who also served the Lord King Philip III.
Juan Martinez, Juliers Perez, the two Renedos and Acacio."
How to Make the Poison for the Arrow of the Crossbow
'This decoction is made of the roots of the white Hellebore, which should
be gathered towards, the end of August as it is then at its best season
and strength. The smallest roots and those which are darkest in colour
and turning yellow are the best from which to make the poison, the whiter
roots not being so strong. These roots may be gathered in the mountains
of Guadarrama and in those of Bejar. They are like small turnips and the
thinnest and most hairy are the best.
' The way to treat them is to take off all earth and any kind of viscous
matter which may adhere to them and then to wash them well. After this
they should be pounded and placed under a press to extract all their juice,
1 The round blunt head was used to prevent
the birds being damaged, as would be the case if they were perforated by
a sharp arrow.