The crossbow was a handheld weapon consisting of a short bow made of either composite materials such as wood and horn, or iron, mounted on a stock, generally of wood.
The crossbow was a handheld weapon consisting of a short bow made of either composite materials such as wood and horn, or iron, mounted on a stock, generally of wood. The bowstring was usually drawn by a type of mechanical device and fired by a trigger mechanism. The crossbow’s missile, called a
Evidence points to the
Another refinement was the repeating
Crossbows spread from Asia to Europe at some unspecified date. The
Although there have been allusions to the crossbow’s use in fifth and sixth century England, the first Western written record of its use appears in a manuscript from 985
Among the most proficient soldiers using crossbows were the
Although the crossbow had been used in the
With the desire to increase range, even more radical spanning devices were needed. The
A crossbow shown with two quarrels, or bolts (a), which are fitted into the groove (b), with their butt ends against the nut (c) after the bowstring (d) has been drawn back and held by the nut. When ready to fire, the operator aims from the shoulder and presses the trigger to release the bolt.
Perhaps the most complicated version of crossbow mechanisms was the
As crossbows evolved, so too did quarrels. Wooden shafts fitted with iron heads remained the standard
In English and continental European armies, crossbowmen were generally placed in the front line of battle to pepper foes with their bolts. At the Battle of Taillebourg
Corps of crossbowmen were included in most European armies into the sixteenth century. At the Battle of Marignano
With the advent of gunpowder and handguns, the military use of the crossbow dwindled. By the seventeenth century, it had primarily become a tool for hunting and target practice. During World War I (1914-1918), medieval crossbows were stripped from armories and converted into grenade launchers for use in the trenches. More recently, some modern military special forces have adopted crossbow use for clandestine operations.
Bennett, Matthew, et al. Fighting Techniques of the Medieval World, A.D. 500 to A.D. 1500. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2005. Brodie, Bernard. From Crossbow to H-Bomb. New York: Dell, 1962 Diagram Group. The New Weapons of the World Encyclopedia: An International Encyclopedia from 5000 B.C. to the Twenty-first Century. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2007. Gardner, Charles W. “Weapon of Power: Slower than the Longbow, the Crossbow Offered Deadly, Accurate Simplicity.” Military History 6, no. 3 (1989): 18, 70-74. Heath, E. G. The Grey Goose Wing. Greenwich, Conn.: New York Graphic Society, 1971. Hurley, Vic. Arrows Against Steel: The History of the Bow. New York: Mason Charter, 1975. Nicolle, David. A Companion to Medieval Arms and Armour. Rochester, N.Y.: Boydell Press, 2002. Nosov, Konstantin S. Ancient and Medieval Siege Weapons: A Fully Illustrated Guide to Siege Weapons and Tactics. Illustrated by Vladimir Golubev. Guilford, Conn.: Lyons Press, 2005. Payne-Gallwey, Sir Ralph. The Crossbow: Its Military and Sporting History, Construction. and Use. 1903. Reprint. New York: Skyhorse, 2007. Crossbow. Television series. Cinecom, 1987. The Dark Ages. Documentary. History Channel, 2007. Henry V. Feature film. BBC/Curzon/Renaissance, 1989.
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