Doubtless on the coasts of Scandinavia and North Germany, the chief
home of these composite crossbows after the time of the Crusades, whalebone
was easily obtainable, whilst in other parts of the Continent, the pieces which
formed the heart of the bow, were made from the straightened horn of an
This ancient form of crossbow with a composite bow, survived in an
improved form in Scandinavia and in the north of Europe, as a weapon
of sport and war, till about 1460, or for nearly a hundred years after the
far superior crossbow with a thick steel bow and a windlass had been in use in
France, Spain and Italy. Some of these later weapons were made so strong
in the fifteenth century, that after the invention of the powerful cranequin
for bending steel bows, this apparatus was also employed for bending the
From MS. Gaston Phosbus. Fourteenth century407 visits
A troop of mounted crossbowmen, of special skill and courage, usually formed the bodyguard of the king, and attended him in battle. Mounted crossbowmen
were largely employed on the Continent in the fourteenth, and first half of the
fifteenth century, and these men were usually allowed one and sometimes even
two horses apiece, besides being supplied, when on the march, with carts to
carry their crossbows and quarrels
Their dogs are retrieving the arrows, and were trained to do this without injuring the feathers of the missiles.
From a translation into Italian of 'A History of the Peoples of the North,' by
Olaus Magnus, Archbishop of Upsala. Printed at Venice, 1565.167 visits
The kneeling figure is fitting his belt-claw to the string of his crossbow, preparatory to bending its bow.
From Manuscript No. 2813 in the National Library, Paris, reproduced by J. Quicherat in his ' History of Costume in France,' 1875.
Joannes Stradanus, born at Bruges 1536, died at Florence 1605, a Flemish historical painter who delighted in portraying all kinds of sport, such as shooting, hunting, fishing and coursing, which he did with wonderful skill and in most realistic fashion. This picture is reduced from ' Venationes Ferarum,' a work consisting of 105 large plates of sporting scenes, dated 1578. The hunters carry stonebows, and the rabbits are being driven from their burrows by smoke and fire. Purse nets and stop nets may also be seen in use.
The centre figure may be seen bending his crossbow with a windlass, with his foot in the stirrup of the weapon.
From Manuscript, Froissart's ' Chronicles.
I, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, military bolts ;
6, bolt with tow soaked in oil for firing ships and houses ;
7, bolt for a slur bow ;
8, bolt for killing deer ;
9, 10, bolts for killing large birds ;
11, 12, bolts for killing game birds. The latter had not metal heads, and were blunt, so as not to damage the game.
The crossbowman is aiming at a target to the left of the picture.
From a catalogue of the Arsenal of the Emperor Maximilian I. (6. 1459, d. 1519).
Crossbowman approaching game by means of a stalkig horse
Of this plate Valturius quaintly writes: ' When everything is cleared for navigation
before the charge is made upon the enemy, it is well that those who are about to engage the foe should first practise in port, and grow accustomed to turn the tiller in calm water, to get ready the iron grapples and hooked poles, and sharpen the axes and scythes at their ends. The soldiers should learn to stand firm upon the decks and keep their footing, so that what they learn in sham fight they may not shrink from in real action.
Hunters with crossbows
Staff slings, Longbows, Crossbows and Flail