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The  Crossbow
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TrebuchetStore.com - Catapults and Trebuchets - Assembled Models , Kits , Plans and More

The Crossbow   >  Chapter 11   >  13th and 14th Century Crossbow with Composite Bow   > p.62

Table of Contents List of Illustrations Index Appendix

The Crossbow

Chapter XI

The Thirteenth and Fourteenth Century Crossbow, with a Composite Bow (of Yew, Horn and Tendon) which was Bent by Hand, or by a Thong and Pulley. or by a Metal Claw Attached to the Crossbowman's Belt

ARBALESTE DE COR ET D'lF

When the bow of a crossbow was shaped out of a single piece of wood, as in the earliest weapons of the kind (figs. 24, 25), it must always have been liable to break or warp, or take a 'set,' after being for some time in use. For this reason, the crossbow with a beautifully constructed composite bow, composed of horn or whalebone, yew and tendon, superseded the weapon with a solid wooden bow.

The crossbow with a composite bow is said to have been brought to Europe from the East by the Saracens, during the Crusades of the twelfth century, and through them popularised on the Continent. At the time of the Crusades, and for many years after, the Saracens were famed for their construction of crossbows. In a list of crossbow makers compiled by Baron de Cosson, the name of ' Peter the Saracen' is the earliest he can find mentioned, this man being maker of crossbows to King John of England in 12051

It is likely that the weapon used by the Normans in the conquest of England, had a stout bow of solid wood. In the time of Richard I., however, 1189-1199, this king probably hired crossbowmen with composite bows formed of horn, wood and tendon ; crossbows with steel bows being of later date.

In support of the latter contention, I may quote Justiniani,2 who writes that in 1246 (or 47 years later than Richard I.) ' 500 Genoese crossbowmen whose crossbows had bows of horn,3 were sent against the Milanese, and that

1 Close Rolls of King John. Bentley. ' Excerpta Historica 395.'

2 Bernardo Justiniani - Italian historian, born 1408, died 1489.

3 Composite ones of horn, wood and tendon.


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