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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Wed 22 Oct, 2014 1:02 pm    Post subject: Rising peg crossbows???         Reply with quote

Hi Guys,

I have had an enquiry to make a crossbow suited to 1066-1300 and I am not sure what to make. Obviously the period is too long to be covered by a single bow, but what I am pondering about are rising peg trigger systems.

Rising peg systems are beloved by anyone reenacting Norman conquest period and shortly after, but I have not actually seen any evidence for them or why people think this is the system used at the time. I am not saying it was not used, but does anyone have any references showing or talking about them?

Conversely, there is a crossbow nut found in Scotland I believe dated around 450-500 if I remember correctly, so the rotating nut system does appear to have been in use.

On other matters, my customer asked what was revolutionary about the Genoese bows at Crecy. I had not heard that the bows were notably new at Crecy - any thoughts?

Any leads would be welcome.

Tod

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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 22 Oct, 2014 3:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Some of our Appalachian bows might use that system, but I don't recall and don't have the book in front of me. They're pretty simple bows, preserved in our remote mountains along with 16th c. Anglo-Scots language, music, etc.

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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Wed 22 Oct, 2014 9:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The first I had seen of them was in Osprey's MAA 231 French Medieval Armies 1100-1300. On p.11 Dr. Nicolle includes a line drawing with the description,

Quote:
(A) Reconstruction of a
small 11th century hunting
crossbow found at
Colletière in the Dauphiné.
The stock and bow are
both about 50cm long. The
trigger is on the top and
the string is released by the
upwards motion of a small
peg.


http://www.isere-patrimoine.fr/2924-les-fouil...avines.htm
The stock and other small pieces of the crossbow from Colletière à Charavines are seen at the top of this small photograph.


The site is believed to have been abandoned around 1040. I'm not altogether sure this is a weapon of war rather than for hunting. The reconstruction of a "scale armor" from the site left me dubious of their interpretation. This drawing makes it look more like the trigger itself pushes the string directly, rather than with a peg.
http://www.villaggiomedievale.com/forum/topic...PIC_ID=382

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Robert MacPherson
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PostPosted: Thu 23 Oct, 2014 6:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tod,


The history of the development and continued use of different crossbow locks is a muddy one. There is a tendency to think of the rising pin lock as primordial, and its continued use into modern times as atavistic. I am not sure that I hold with that. I suspect that the rising pin and its variations is a thing that just keeps getting reinvented by folks as a low tech lock that works and is easy to make.

There is a chapter in Joesf Alm's book( European Crossbows: a Survey by Josef Alm, Royal Armouries, Monograph 3, H. Bartlet Wells trans., G.M. Wilson ed , 1994). that deals with what he considers "primitive" crossbows.

If you don't have a copy, I'll scan the relevant pages for you.

As far a Crecy is concerned..... I don't think that there was anything new or strange about the crossbows there. The oft repeated idea that they were hampered by their bow strings getting wet is a bit dodgy. I suspect that the problem was with their composite bows going limp because of the hygroscopic nature of the glue. That is to say the "cords of their bows" refers to the sinews in the composite bows, and not the strings. In my experience, sinew backed bows are very sensitive to humidity changes, and perform badly when damp.

Mac

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Robert MacPherson
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PostPosted: Thu 23 Oct, 2014 6:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mart,

That's an interesting find!

It shines a light on some of the earlier illustrations of crossbows, If you took the entire lock mechanism and rotated it 180 degrees, so that the trigger stuck more or less straight down out of the bottom of the tiller, you would end up with something like this image.



Mac

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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Thu 23 Oct, 2014 11:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks.

I think you are right in that rising peg or similar systems are simply reinvented or used by people who have a low budget or low technology level. They are indeed seen from Africa to the Appalacians in a pretty similar format. I just feel it is wrong to say that the only bows around circa 1066 were these, especially as I have not seen evidence to show that.

The Colletière à Charavines bow was one I have not seen, so thanks for that Mart, but my gut feeling is that this is not a war bow and is as described a hunting bow and personally I would put that with the low budget/low technology class of bows and it could be anywhere up to 1800 if the back woods were remote enough.

On the wet string front, I agree with you Robert. In my experience of natural fibres, they tend to contact when wet and so rather than going limp (unlikely with very heavily waxed bow strings) they would in fact tighten were this to happen, so the likely guilty partly is the rather sensitive composite bows.

The last image you showed is also interesting in that there appear to be a rotating nut bow and bow with another system - perhaps a rising peg?

Tod

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Robert MacPherson
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PostPosted: Fri 24 Oct, 2014 7:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tod,

I am not at all sure what to make of the locks in that pic.

The one on the left may be a roller nut. If so, then the trigger must be bent 90degrees (forward) inside the tiller to engage it. This is unprecedented as far as I know, but it should work just fine.

Another possibility is that such a bent trigger terminates in a pair of fingers which retain the string. Pulling back on the trigger causes the fingers to recede into the tiller and release the string. This is a "wild assed guess" but I think it would work. The friction would be high, but no worse than the friction on a rising pin.

The lock on the right hand bow may well be a rising pin. I imagine a trigger with a 90 degree bend (toward the back) that presses on the bottom of a (captured) pin.

As to what is depicted between the two crossbows... I hope your guess is better than mine. Eek!

Mac

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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Fri 24 Oct, 2014 8:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Usually the attention is focused on the "cannon" on the sides, thought to be for Greek Fire!


BNF Latin 12302, fo. 1r, Haimon's commentary on Ezekiel,
http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b10506542j/f5.item
(BNF dating is 1001-1100 per Gallica -- Mandragore gives the date for the early illuminated pages as 989-1010.)

I suspect this is the supposed to be the "iron pan" mentioned in the model siege of Jerusalem in Ezekiel 4:3
Quote:
1 “Now, son of man, take a block of clay, put it in front of you and draw the city of Jerusalem on it.
2 Then lay siege to it: Erect siege works against it, build a ramp up to it, set up camps against it and put battering rams around it.
3 Then take an iron pan, place it as an iron wall between you and the city and turn your face toward it. It will be under siege, and you shall besiege it. This will be a sign to the people of Israel.



 Attachment: 64.73 KB
Ezekiel Commentaries.jpg


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Robert MacPherson
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PostPosted: Fri 24 Oct, 2014 9:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

An iron pan! Oh thank goodness....

It's good to see this pic, Mart. I was not able to find one online in the time I was willing to spend on the search. The one I posted is clearly a copy, and as such, can now be ignored.

Viewing the bows in the original, it appears that the artist intended no difference between the two locks. He has given us a clue, though. In the crossbow on the right, he used the same blue color for the trigger and the lengthwise line on the tiller behind the string.

I don't have a theory yet about what that means, but I will think on it now that I can stop worrying about the sexy frying pan!

Mac

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Mark Griffin




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PostPosted: Fri 24 Oct, 2014 1:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm being dim right...?


You can't shoot the bows in the Ezekiel ms without loosing your fingers...or at least loosing that lucrative Revlon nail varnish modelling contract....

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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Fri 24 Oct, 2014 2:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is a short-stocked crossbow in the contemporary (Gallica, 901-1100; Mandragore 1051-1075) Roda Bible, BNF Latin 6 (3), fo.144v as well.
http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b90658394/f291.highres



 Attachment: 42.23 KB
BNF Latin 6 (3) fo144v-xbow.jpg


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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Fri 24 Oct, 2014 3:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mart, Thanks for posting that picture. I am a rolling nut believer, that does look like that system to me, on the basis that Roberts finger system is (I think) unprecedented historically.

However Robert wrote
Quote:
The one on the left may be a roller nut. If so, then the trigger must be bent 90degrees (forward) inside the tiller to engage it. This is unprecedented as far as I know, but it should work just fine.

Another possibility is that such a bent trigger terminates in a pair of fingers which retain the string. Pulling back on the trigger causes the fingers to recede into the tiller and release the string. This is a "wild assed guess" but I think it would work. The friction would be high, but no worse than the friction on a rising pin.


I think any odd trigger position/angle is most likely to be artistic licence, perhaps as is the finger position noted by Mark Griffin.

The first crossbow I ever made had the 'dropping fingers' type trigger suggested by Robert and even with a 160lb bow I found the trigger to be almost unusably heavy, so I don't think it is really a viable system for war bows. Especially so in this case as the user is quite specifically shown with a thumb on the stock and his fingers on the trigger, which would not allow the amount of leverage required to pull the heavy trigger. On the other hand, that stock shape looks to me more like it is to be squeezed in a hand grip and shot from the hip......None the wiser...

Mark Griffin wrote
Quote:
PostPosted: Fri 24 Oct, 2014 9:05 pm Post subject:
I'm being dim right...?


Well I wouldn't call you dim to your face....but in this case the picture could be artistic licence and the fingers shown to make it clear the bows were gripped here, but also if the brace height were high enough then the fingers would be clear of being struck on shooting. So it could be OK, but most likely just an artistic detail.

Tod

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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Fri 24 Oct, 2014 3:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Looking back at the bow pictures in all three bows shown, the trigger pivot is behind the string retaining position, rather than in front of it and that precludes a rising peg system.

Tod

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