Crossbow > Chapter 7 > Handgun
in Relation to the Crossbow > p.38
The Hand-Gun in Relation to the Crossbow
The reliance placed by English commanders on longbows, and by Continental
captains on crossbows, made the introduction
of hand-guns a very slow process. The French and Spaniards were the last
nations to discard the crossbow for the hand-gun, the French being particularly
averse to the latter weapon, though they seem to have employed fire-arms
(cannon) for many years previously to arming their soldiery with hand-guns.
Handguns must not be confused with firearms, as cannon were invented
long before hand-guns, and are even said to have been used as early as
1346, at Crecy. Though Gibbon, the historian, doubts the presence of cannon
at Crecy, and Froissart does not mention them, yet Villani,1
who died probably within two or three years after the battle, and later
De Montluc2 positively assert that the cannon brought to Crecy
by Edward III. materially assisted in the victory of the English.
The hand-gun became more or less popular, ineffective as it was, with
various Continental nations and States many years before it was used in
France. For instance, hand-guns were employed by the Hussites in their
revolutionary wars in Bohemia (1419-1436), as well as by the Florentines
at the siege of Lucca in 1431.
According to Sismondi,3 the Milanese armed their militia
in 1449 with these new weapons, and at the battle of Morat in 1476, when
the Duke of Burgundy was so signally defeated by the Swiss, the victors
had among their troops 6,000 men who carried hand-guns.
At all events, the hand-gun took the place of the crossbow on the Continent
at a much earlier date than it superseded the longbow
1 G. Villani—Florentine historian, wrote Storie
Florentine, born about 1280, died about 1348. The Storie were continued
to 1363 by his brother Matteo, and then to 1364 by Matteo's son Filippo.
2 De Montluc. Blaise de Lasseran Massencome,
Seigneur de Montluc, born 1503, died 1577, Marshal of France. Wrote the
memoirs of his career as a soldier, which were termed by Henry IV. of France
the Soldier's Breviary. Was made a captain under Francis I. in 1523.
His life is given in Petitot's History of France. "
3 S. de Sismondi—Swiss historian, born 1773,
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