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The Crossbow    >  Chapter 7   >   Handgun in Relation to the Crossbow   > p.39

Table of Contents List of Illustrations Index Appendix

Handgun in Relation to the Crossbow

The Seigneur de Montluc,1 who fought so gallantly for Francis I. in his wars with Charles V. of Spain, has left on record in his Commentaries, which so ably describe his fifty years of active service, ' that when he first commanded troops (1518-1520) under Francis I. only crossbowmen were in the French army, and not one soldier with a hand-gun.' It is, however, recorded that at the siege and capture of Turin in 1536, handguns had quite superseded crossbows, and that only one crossbowman was then present in the French army, though this man was so clever with his weapon that he killed therewith more of the enemy than were killed by the best hand-gunner present at the siege.2

The first hand-guns seen in England, were carried by the Burgundian troops under Warwick, at the second battle of St. Albans in 1461. In 1471, when Edward IV. landed at Ravenspur, a port then existing on the north shore of the Humber close to its entrance to the sea, he brought among his troops 300 Flemings armed with hand-guns.

It is difficult to understand the increasing popularity abroad of the miserably ineffective hand-gun, unless it was persistently encouraged as a rival to the English longbow.

Throughout the greater part of the sixteenth century, foot-soldiers with hand-guns, without the support of cavalry, would have been an easy prey in open field of battle to men armed with longbows, who were properly trained to use them.

In 1585, Montaigne3 wrote ' that the effect of the discharge of a handgun, apart from the shock caused by its report, was so insignificant that he hoped the use of these weapons in warfare would soon be discontinued.'

Another chronicler records that at the battle of Kissingen in 1636, the slowest soldiers fired only seven shots with their hand-guns during eight hours, and that at Wittenmergen in 1638, the soldiers of the Duke of Weimar fired off their pieces only seven times each man, and this, too, during an engagement which commenced at noon and lasted till nightfall !4

1 See Note 2, p. 38.

2 Discipline Militaire. - Doubtfully attributed to Guillaume de Bellay, French general and historian, born 1491, died 1543.

3 Michel de Montaigne - French moralist and author of Essais, born 1533, died 1592.

4 Even a century after Wittenmergen the musket was a very inferior arm, and the powder of its time so weak that an immense charge was used. In 'Art de la Guerre, by the Marquis de Puyse"gur, Marshal of France, printed 1748,' the author writes, 'We lose some men at 200 paces, more at 100, and still more at 50 paces.' In ' Tactical Training of the Prussian Army, 1745-1756, by Frederick the Great,' we read of his infantry musket, that its caIibre = 20'14 mm., bullet = 31'3 grammes, charge of powder = 19'53 grammes and that though fire was opened with it at 300 paces, it only became effective at 200 paces (i.e. 167 yds.). In a trial of the Prussian musket, about 1810, only 50 out of each 100 bullets that struck it, pierced a pine-wood target one inch thick, at 200 paces.

The Crossbow    >  Chapter 7   >  Handgun in Relation to the Crossbow   > p.39


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Inspired by the great war machines and siege catapults of Leonardo da Vinci , this all Red Oak hardwood trebuchet features an open counterweight cabinet for range and trajectory adjustment. 

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