Crossbow > Chapter 1 > Military
Crossbow > p.4
English soldiers, the longbow began to supersede the crossbow
and the shortbow, during the reign of Edward I in the last few years of
the thirteenth century, crossbow continued to
be held in some favour in our armies. In the list of troops mustered by
Edward II, in 1319, for the siege of Berwick, crossbowmen are enumerated
as part of the forces. In Scotland and Ireland, the crossbowmen were almost
unknown, and even the bow was sparingly used, though in Wales, as in England,
the latter was the common arm of the people in the fourteenth and fifteenth
For about two centuries and a half (1200-1460) the crossbow
was the favourite weapon on the Continent. It was almost equally popular
with English commanders and soldiers till about 1290, and several estates
in this country were by the service of delivering a crossbow
when the king passed through them.
Fig 2. - Crossbowmen
The Soldiers carry windlass crossbows. One man is winding
up his weapon ; the other is shooting, with his windlass laid on
the ground at his feet.
The Genoese were always famed for their skill in the construction and
management of crossbows, and were hired for service
by sea, land and all the nations on the Continent. They are said to have
used these weapons with success, even as early as 1099 at the siege of
Jerusalem. In the naval engagement near Sluys, in Holland, where Edward
III defeated the French in 1340, the latter had as many 20,000 Genoese
crossbowmen on their ships, and the largest number of crossbowmen ever
seen in order of battle on land, were probably the 15,000 Genoese who,
according to Froissart1, formed the front rank of the French
army at Crecy in 1346. It is asserted by numerous historians, all of whom
derive their information on the subject who derive their information on
the subject from a cursory statement by the second continuator of William
of Nangis2, that the crossbowmen at Crecy were unable to shoot
with effect, because the strings of their weapons were slack owing to the
great storm of rain that set in just before the battle. Muratori3,
the Italian antiquary, declares that the
1 Sir John Froissart - French chronicler, born
about 1337, died about 1410.
2 William of Nangis - French historian, a
Benedictine monk of the Abbey of St. Denis, flourished in the thirteenth
century, wrote a history of the kings of France, died 1300.
3 Muratori -Italian priest and historian,
born 1672, died 1750.
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Crossbow > p.4
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