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Pedro Paulo Gaião




Location: Sioux City, IA
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PostPosted: Thu 21 Dec, 2017 5:22 pm    Post subject: Medieval Canon's Nomenclature         Reply with quote

Since I downloaded a famous manuscript about Kaiser Maximilian I's artillery train I became interested in the subject of how cannon-types were differentiated from each other, but I'm having some problems with some cannons called Serpentines, Basilisks, and Culverins.

Basilisks were known for having large barrels being breech-loaded. But can we consider shorter canons like this as basilisks?


A short reasearch on google doesn't clarify either, since the culverins are basically identical to the basilisks:



Other images: https://www.google.com.br/search?rlz=1C1AVNE_enBR678BR678&biw=1440&bih=794&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=V108Wr2pJcmowATE9obgAw&q=Serpentine+canon&oq=Serpentine+canon&gs_l=psy-ab.3...2231.3615.0.3924.5.5.0.0.0.0.193.735.0j5.5.0....0...1c.1.64.psy-ab..0.3.489...0i19k1.0.hdjQQOIsJvg#imgrc=6bRlVcex1yeddM:

My other questions is related to naval use of gunpowder between 14th to early 16th centuries: according to Ian Heath, quoting a series of franco-castillian raids in english coast, the Castillians were the first people to make use of gunpowder to throw rocks and iron balls at their ships. The Portuguese improved iberian and european tecnology to make the best offensive navy in the Great Discoveries, often using naval artillery to support the army fighting on land. However, some relevant updatings made at the School of Sagres were done by adopting other european tecnologies, like the flemmish invention of those rectangular "windows" in the lower levels of the ships (made somewhere by mid-15th century), which allowed the cannons to fire from bellow, thus stabilizing the ship's balance, which otherwise couldn't had to much artillery on the deck for that sake. This and a mention of the use of canonry in an early 16th Venetian-ottoman naval battle makes me wonder how popular was artillery in naval warfare. Do you know anything of these?

“Burn old wood, read old books, drink old wines, have old friends.”
Alfonso X, King of Castile (1221-84)
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Iagoba Ferreira





Joined: 15 Sep 2008

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PostPosted: Thu 21 Dec, 2017 10:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The terminology in period Spanish is rich and very confusing.

For ship artillery, check naval requirements, there are several from the XVth-XVIth centuries, I'll try to share them.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sat 03 Mar, 2018 10:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Try buying a copy of John Guilmartin's "Gunpowder and Galleys." He's rather weak on land warfare but his work on Renaissance naval warfare pretty much sets the standard in the field.
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Pedro Paulo Gaião




Location: Sioux City, IA
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PostPosted: Wed 19 Dec, 2018 4:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Try buying a copy of John Guilmartin's "Gunpowder and Galleys." He's rather weak on land warfare but his work on Renaissance naval warfare pretty much sets the standard in the field.


Is it an illustrated work? I believe it would be harder to understand the models without pictures (believe me, I bought a book about portuguese swords and arms without a single picture).

-------------
By the way, I found the Inventories of Henry VIII and discovered plenty of different cannons listed Link, for example:

culverins and demi-culverins, sakers; falcons; port pieces; fowlers; bases; small bases; single bases; batard-saker; falconets; iron/brass slings ; hagbuts a croke; 40 hagbuts (I belive this were arquebuses) etc

There is an online page or book that treats about these canons or perhaps a book explaining the items of Henry's inventory?

“Burn old wood, read old books, drink old wines, have old friends.”
Alfonso X, King of Castile (1221-84)
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Michael Zimmermann





Joined: 19 Dec 2018

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PostPosted: Wed 19 Dec, 2018 7:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I recently read 'The Artillery of the Dukes of Burgundy 1363-1477' by Smith & DeVries. which contains both an analysis of documentary sources on gunpowder weapons, as well as an illustrated catalogue of surviving guns from that period & region.

As far as I recall, the authors attempt to make sense of the somewhat fluid, imprecise terminology used in the sources as well as comment on some ancillary issues (naval usage, transport & infrastructure improvements to facilitate artillery movement among them).

Hope this is of use.

- Michael
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Henry O.





Joined: 18 Jun 2016

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PostPosted: Wed 19 Dec, 2018 4:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I know of some late 16th-17th century english lists of cannon types. but going back even earlier I don't think the terminology was ever completely consistant and it could vary from period to period and place to place.

Here's the one William Bourne gives: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/eebo/A16508.0001.001/1:5.20?rgn=div2;view=fulltext;q1=Artillery+--++Early+works+to+1800

As a brief note, the elizabethan term for "breach-loader" was usually "chambered piece" and I think it's a description independent of the gun's actual classification. So for example a falconet might be a chambered piece or it might not be. From the same author: "Now, as concerning chambred peeces, for the dispar∣ting of them, there can be no perfecte writing, for it must be considered and handled, according vnto the forme of the Chamber, and fashion of the hall of the peece, whe∣ther it be Sling, Foller, Portepeece, or Baces: but any reasonable man, (when hee doth see the peece and the Chamber) may easily know what he must doe, as touching those matters."

Here's a section originally written by Niccolao Tartaglia in the 1530s or 40s, but translated into english by Cyprian Lucar in 1588: https://imgur.com/a/Gd64UQt

From Lucar's Appendix which added to the same book, chapter 37 lists different names for artillery and complains about careless gunfounders not keeping things consistent:


Lastly this one I find interesting. It's from John Cruso's 1639 translation of Du Praissac's "The art of war" which goes into detail about each sort of gun and even mentions the estimated "point blank" of each piece, which shows how some of the heavier guns are outperformed in a straight line by smaller caliber, higher velocity guns: https://imgur.com/a/KTwIekW
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Henry O.





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PostPosted: Wed 19 Dec, 2018 6:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://www.staugustinelighthouse.org/LAMP/Con...Bronze.pdf

This article breaks different types of artillery into 4 basic types based on caliber, or ratio of length to diameter which seems to make sense.

Culverin: ~32 caliber

Cannon: ~18 caliber

Perrier: ~8 caliber

Mortar: ~2.5 caliber


The author puts port-pieces, slings, and fowlers in the perrier category, relatively short-barreled weapons meant to fire at short range, likely with either stone or hailshot. (It's probably worth noting that since stone balls are lighter, they could typically be accelerated to a higher velocity and achieve a greater point-blank range than iron shot fired out of the same cannon)

This seems to make a lot of sense when looking the ammunition listed for ships the antony rolls, with the exception that the slings or demi slings are listed as using iron shot instead of stone like the perriers:

https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Anthony_Roll

Shotte of yron
For cannons - c
For demy cannons - lx
For culveryns - cxx
For demy culveryns - lxx
For sakers - cxx
For fawcons - c
For slynges - c
For demy slynges - l
Crosse barre shotte - c
Dyce of yron for hayle shotte - iiij^ml

Shotte of stoen and leade
For cannon perer - lx
For porte pecys - ccc
For fowlers - c
For toppe peces - xl
For baessys, shotte of leade - ij^ml
For handgonnes, shotte of leade - ij^ml


The "baessys" are listed having lead shot like the handguns, so it might refer to something like a heavy arquebus mounted on a swivel.
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Michael Zimmermann





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PostPosted: Thu 20 Dec, 2018 2:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Also, and apologies for forgetting about this work, since it is also very close to the time period & geographic area you're interested in, there is Depreter: De Gavre à Nancy (1453-1477): L’artillerie bourguignonne sur la voie de la « modernité ».

Haven't read it yet, but should be useful, especially the part about the provenance of the ducal artillery park.

It's published by Brepols, so pretty pricey, but there's a table of contents available here:

https://www.brepolsonline.net/doi/pdf/10.5555/M.BURG-EB.4.00041

- Michael
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Pedro Paulo Gaião




Location: Sioux City, IA
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PostPosted: Mon 22 Jul, 2019 11:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for all the recommended materials. I have another doubt: I was reading Henry VIII's invetories and noticed a very methodic recording of cannons like slingers, culverines and demi-culverines, demi-cannons and so on. There is anyone who can explain the differences between them or that knows a book, link or material that explains such differences?
“Burn old wood, read old books, drink old wines, have old friends.”
Alfonso X, King of Castile (1221-84)
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Tue 23 Jul, 2019 8:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nomenclature can be confusing, and changed enormously in the 16th Century, becoming more standardized particularly for the naval context.

For the period roughly 1420-1520, I break it down as follows:

Early Firearms

* Hand gonne (also hand culverin, basically a gun on a stick, short barrel 12-16", touch hole)
* Pistala (shortened hand gonne but often a larger barrel, 16-22", and a serpentine / primitive match lock, invented by the Czech Hussites)

There is also a smaller firearm which looks like a sawwed off shotgun, seemingly pioneered by the Czechs, with a 12"-20" barrel mounted on a short grip like a crossbow tiller. I don't know what these were called.

* Hook gun (Hacken busche -large hand-gonne, up to a 30" barrel with a serpentine / primitive match-lock, had a hook to mount over the edge of a wall, 12-20mm caliber. Your second image is a crude depiction of a hook gun)

Early Cannon

* Wall gun (also arquebus a croc, / dopplehacken etc. - these were oversized handguns or hand gonnes, 15-25mm caliber, sometimes with very long barrels. You see a lot of these for example in Maximilians book of armaments)
* Trestle gun (light cannon mounted on a trestle, 15-20mm caliber)
* Houfnice (small howitzer on a wheeled carriage, invented by the Czech Hussites, 30-80mm caliber, often breach loading. Used in the open field from the 1420s. Your first image shows a very early precursor of this, from the 14th Century)
Larger breachloaders mounted on wheeled carriages appeared later in the 15th Century, sort of the big brother to the Houfnice but I don't know what they were called.
* Swivel gun (small cannon, in this period often a breach loader*, 30-80mm, mounted on a swivel mount. Common on ships boats and rafts, and war-wagons, also frequently seen on castle walls)
* Volley gun (also ribauldequin, organ gun etc. Small caliber guns with multi barrels, often mounted on a wheeled carriage. Large caliber ones had 3-7 barrels - always an odd number- lighter caliber ones could have up to 21-51 barrels or more. Commonly mounted on carts and rafts)
* Light Serpentine (also falconet, feldschlange - literally 'field serpent'- and basilisk many other lizard or snake like names. High velocity gun made for accuracy, with a long strongly made barrel, but relatively small caliber 20-50 mm. Your third image is a hoop and stave style, forge welded feldschlange which I would classify as a light serpentine. These were very common from the mid 15th Century through the second quarter of the 16th)
* Heavy Serpentine or culverin (similar to the above but larger caliber, 80-120 mm)
* Bombard (larger heavier guns usually floated on rafts or carried on wagons, 150-300 mm, made for breaking down walls in sieges)
* Supergun (very large bombards, almost always with their own special names like "Grosse Bosche" or "Faule Metze" etc. made for breaking down walls in sieges. These were huge caliber 200-500 mm, mostly made in a short period between 1380-1420. Some were mortars like the one used at the 15th C. siege of Rhodes by the Hospitalers)




Early cannon were often forged iron of hoop and stave construction. Later cast bronze and cast iron became more common though there was a long overlap.

* early swivel guns were almost always breach loaders made for faster reloading. By the 17th Century though few were any more.

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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Tue 23 Jul, 2019 10:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The classifications you get in Tudor times were based on the weight of the ammunition in pounds, which also corresponded to barrel length and caliber. For example a "demi culverin" had an 8 pound cannon ball.

They were heavier guns generally with longer barrels than in the previous era, almost all muzzle loaders, and mostly cast. Bronze were better, cast iron were cheaper.

Smaller (but still pretty big) ones could be mounted on wheels. My understanding is in the British navy they had wheeled carriages while in the Spanish navy they usually did not.

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic
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Anthony Clipsom




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PostPosted: Wed 24 Jul, 2019 6:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alexzandra Hildred (ed) Weapons of Warre: the armaments of the Mary Rose Vol 1 (Vol 3 of Archeology of the Mary Rose) has a discussion of Tudor artillery terminology in the context of the armament of the ship, which might be useful if you can get hold of a copy.
Anthony Clipsom
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