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Gary Teuscher





Joined: 19 Nov 2008

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PostPosted: Sat 20 Dec, 2008 12:30 pm    Post subject: Crossbows         Reply with quote

Anyone know what period crossbows from say the 10th-13th centuries were like - Length, width, weight, draw weight, draw length?

Have seen numerous ones on line but don't know how accurate they are.
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Sat 20 Dec, 2008 10:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Leo Todeschini from Tod's Stuff makes some very good replica crossbows:

http://www.todsstuff.co.uk/crossbows.php

Though most of his stuff are from later periods (especially 15th century onwards), I'm sure he has information about earlier crossbows as well. It might also be worth your while to check Ralph Payne-Gallwey's or Josef (or was it Jozef?) Alm's books on the crossbow.
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Dustin Keith




Location: North Carolina
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PostPosted: Sat 20 Dec, 2008 10:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary, might not be what you are looking for but I saw some very cool funcional crossbows on www.medievalcollectibles.com a few days ago. I am not nearly as knowledgable as many on this site, but it seems that the crossbow came into wide use around the 13th century, and most that I have seen depicted were maybe 30 inches long, with a very thick wooden bow, perhaps yew, that was drawn back with a double handed wench. I would imagine that the bow would have been somewhere around 25 - 30 inches wide as well.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sat 20 Dec, 2008 11:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dustin Keith wrote:
Gary, might not be what you are looking for but I saw some very cool functional crossbows on www.medievalcollectibles.com a few days ago. I am not nearly as knowledgable as many on this site, but it seems that the crossbow came into wide use around the 13th century, and most that I have seen depicted were maybe 30 inches long, with a very thick wooden bow, perhaps yew, that was drawn back with a double handed wench. I would imagine that the bow would have been somewhere around 25 - 30 inches wide as well.


Those crossbows are mostly decorator items I'm almost 100% sure: There might be a couple marginally functional for shooting across a room at a safe improvised target.

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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Sun 21 Dec, 2008 1:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:

Gary Teuscher wrote
Anyone know what period crossbows from say the 10th-13th centuries were like - Length, width, weight, draw weight, draw length?

Have seen numerous ones on line but don't know how accurate they are.


This a massive length of time in the development of the bow and everything was changing through this period. My disclaimer before I start this is that I have got into bows in the last couple of years and there is so much yet to know, but anyway here is an approximate timeline.

The Romans may or may not have had crossbows at the end of the empire, the info is pretty sketchy and it also appears they were around in the UK in the 8th/9th C due to a very few finds of crossbow nuts, though personally I question some of these. It appears that the Anglo Saxons seem to have had the rising peg trigger system as well as the rotating nut, I guess because it is much easier and works fine with lower poundage bows. I actually made an elastic powered bow for a nephew a couple of days ago using the rising peg and it took half an hour, so dead simple.

The rising peg system is so simple it never really fell out of favour and was still in use in Africa and I think the Arctic until last century, so this covers 10th - 13th but only for relatively light bows and certainly not for war bows toward the end of this period.

The rotating nut was used for powerful bows and this only really started to see development in the Late 15th and 16thC so a simple rotating nut set up would be fine for this period.

The bows could certainly be of composite construction during the second half of this period due to influence from the middle east where it was the predominant bow technology but whether it was indiginous to western Europe at this time I don't know. Obviously it was in earlier times because of the Romans, and 14thC onwards for sure, but not sure for this time span.

Saying they could certainly be made as a composite is true, but they were very often of wood and this can be seen clearly in mny pictures of the 13thC where the prodds of the bows are very characteristically knotty and lumpen as if made from pretty low grade timber (which is odd), but a 13th C prodd pulled up from some English moat is exactly like this and was of quite a size, I think about 1.1m tip to tip or so from memory.

I would expect any combatant in the Crusades to have very quickly swapped his wooden prodd for a composite one as soon as he saw the difference in performance and was able to source local makers.

The prodds were invariably lashed to the stocks throughout this period.

Specifications will vary wildly depending on purpose, but heavier war bows will have a far shorter draw than a lighter birding bow and the long prodd I listed above was probably some sort of siege bow rather than a common or garden hand held field bow.

All rather vague I am afraid, partly because it is late on a Sunday and partly because and as far as I know there is very little information other than accounts and styalised pictorial sources but I would very strongly suspect that most of what you see on line would be well off the mark.

Look for rising peg on light bows, rotating nut on heavier bows, but with a bone, antler, horn or ivory nut, linen or hemp strings yew, elm or other suitable western wood for the prodd, definitely no steel, composite is OK, but just putting a leather cover over a GRP bow won't cut it, lashed bow. If it is spanned using a device, not more than a belt hook.

I hope that helps, but Randall Moffet is your man for hard core information for this one.

Regards


Tod

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Sam Gordon Campbell




Location: Australia.
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PostPosted: Sun 21 Dec, 2008 4:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, even though I want one, they're illegal here in Tasmnia Sad But here, try this link: http://www.manningimperial.com/item.php?item_...mp;c_id=48
Member of Australia's Stoccata School of Defence since 2008.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sun 21 Dec, 2008 11:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary,

Sorry have been only on for brief seconds the last week as I had to grade end of term papers for my class and until Friday I had not finished!!! Hurrah I am done!

Not really much to add onto what Leo or said. As far as I know we have almost 0 existent crossbows for this period or remains of prods (bows) or tillers (arm) in Western Europe. We get an idea from perhaps literature that it was spanned by sitting down and pushing with the legs on the prod and pulling the string with the arms until the belt hook was common maybe mid to late 12th and improved further in the 13th with the stirrup but this only gives us perhaps a draw weight and not real dimensions. Anything arm powered would likely top out 250-300 pounds I assume, perhaps even 400 but the limitation here is the person using the weapon and the ability to literally lift the draw weight.

During the 13th century some big changes are happening. Either via the crusades or a diffusion of technology from Eastern Europe the composite bow worked its way west. By the 13th this was a new mainstay in military crossbows though no matter when or how it got there. Nicolle thinks it eastern based and it is interesting that many nobles and kings employ seemingly Arab, and others in their countries making these bows. This made the simple wood prod on crossbows just one of two main choices and by and large the weaker of them.

Composite bows make a much more powerful bow that is still very compact. Likely in the late 12th or early 13th the stirrup was added to the crossbow which combined with the belt hook allowed a bit more draw weight as you could use the back and legs in a more efficient manner. These bows could get very high draw weights but the limitation is then on the man drawing it. By the late 13th you see the windlass show up. This allowed a massive increase in the power possible in these bows. A late 13th century noble, Ralph de Nesle had 3 wood crossbows, 3 composite, 2 small Genoese crossbows, 12 crossbows of horn drawn by foot (indicating that the others were drawn with a belt hook I assume) and 2 more drawn by windlass (likely very heavy poundage). So even late 13th and into the 14th the variety was huge. Simple wood prods remain common into the 14th and likely the 15th even after the composite had been around for hundreds of years and the steel bow came into being sometime mid to late 14th.

The draw length is usually about 1-2 feet. You see one foot and two foot crossbows each with their own respective bolts by the 13th. Before this you likely had the 1 foot ones as can be seen in earlier drawings/illustrations. Most of the crossbows of composite nature I have seen have 2-2 ˝ foot prods.

The great crossbow or springald comes into being a mainstay by the 13th but this is a massive devise. These get to two meter bows though and are easily two times the size of a largish 1 foot crossbow.

I got to see on of the crossbow nuts supposedly roman and it looked much like a late 13th or early 14th century one I have seen. I suppose as Leo said many simple peg versions existed for a long time. One 14th century siege crossbow still exists using such a firing devise and the trigger was simply extended for added leverage. My guess is though by the late 13th a better quality crossbow would usually have the lock nut but clearly it is not the only way to do it.

For a good idea look out for a copy of Payne-Galloway’s Crossbow book. It has some flaws but it is the best overall book on Crossbows that exists. It would be nice if someone would do some new research on the subject as it needs it but the time into something like that would be a massive undertaking. Jean Lebiel’s Springalds and Great Crossbows form the RA has some info on this as well but usually 13th-15th.

Any more questions please ask.

RPM
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Tue 23 Dec, 2008 9:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Another question. There's always the debate of wthere selfbows of heavy draw eights could penetrate mail. Seems like they could from time to time with ideal range, but were not very effective in doing so.

How about Crossbows - any knowledge of how effective these were vs mail and or plate?
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Sun 28 Dec, 2008 3:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are lots of old threads about the power of crossbows, and the ones I'm linking here are just the most obvious (and longest) examples:

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...t=crossbow

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...t=crossbow

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...t=crossbow
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Mon 29 Dec, 2008 10:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting liks. I guess that much debated test with the crossbows and longbows vs armour never took place. Too bad!
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