The Medieval Age and the Crossbow

medievalforest bestcrossbowIf you are really interested in a hobby like archery, you would want to know more about it to feel more connected with your favorite activity, know its history and also gain a better understanding of its origins and ultimately have a better appreciation of the sport. In this topic you will understand more about the crossbow and its medieval roots.

The crossbow has been around for a very long time. It was first used in ancient China. Around 600 BC. Also, ancient Romans and Greeks were also known to have used this weapon. The weapon has been reintroduced to England by William the Conqueror in 1066 and in fact, the right word to use for this weapon is Arbalest. It has a range of 350 to 450 yards but the downside, it can only be shot at a rate of 2 to 3 bolts a minute. Good thing is that the weapon is very easy to operate and requires little to no training and required minimal energy to operate. It was said that during medieval times that a Knight was the most effective and most powerful warrior and said to be worth at least 10 regular foot soldiers, who are dubbed with the lowest esteem and even considered expendable. So, when the crossbow was introduced and placed in the hands of even an untrained soldier, it can be used to injure or even kill a knight in plate armor no matter how good he was, there is no way the knight can stop a speeding bolt heading towards his chest released from a crossbow. Therefore, the crossbow itself, was viewed as an inhuman weapon which required no skill nor training so it has no honor. It became so bad that even the pope intervened and banned the weapon.

Again, the crossbow was a very useful weapon and it could be used by the young, old or even the infirm. The crossbow was effectively utilized through the Middle Ages. Even Richard the Lionheart’s army was effectively equipped with both longbows and crossbows. Ironically, King Richard died of gangrene after he took a crossbow bolt hit at Chalus-Charborl in France on March 26, 1199. Then there was the threat of freelance mercenaries flooding into medieval Europe who are all willing to fight for the person that can pay the most money. So this was one of the main reason behind the Magna Carta of 1215 that sought out to banish all foreign crossbowmen to avoid further violence and conflict in Europe.

The medieval crossbow is basically built with a wooden stock normally made from yew, ash, hazel or elm and after sanding, its coated with glue or varnish. The “bow” itself is made of wood, iron or steel. It has a span of two to three feet depending on the builder or user specifications. Meanwhile, the string is made from hemp because it was the strongest and the one that has the least elastic properly of any material during that time, it also dipped in glue for more protection from wear and tear especially moisture that can damage the string and weaken its structure. The string is pulled using a lever or a crank on a ratchet. Using this mechanical way of drawing the string, the archer can add more tension to the string compared to normal drawing or by muscle strength alone. Therefore, it is ideal for young boys to use or even the elderly and even weakened soldiers. The bolt is placed on a groove on the bow on top of the stock and then just simply pull the trigger when ready.

In our modern days, crossbow shooting is a popular hobby and sport. There are well-known brands when it comes to crossbows, like the Barnett. However, if you want to know other brands, you can read on crossbow reviews.