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p-handgonnes-lnks – 12/10/04


A set of web links to information on medieval handgonnes, and related weapons by Dame Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon.


NOTE: See also the files: blackpowder-msg, firearms-msg, pottery-wepns-msg, siege-engines-msg, crossbow-FAQ, crossbows-msg, crossbows-lnks.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I  have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I  have done  a limited amount  of  editing. Messages having to do  with separate topics  were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the  message IDs  were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make  no claims  as  to the accuracy  of  the information  given by the individual authors.


Please  respect the time  and  efforts of  those who have written  these messages. The  copyright status  of these messages  is  unclear at this time. If  information  is  published  from  these  messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



From: aoife at scatoday.net

Subject: [Aoife-Links] Links: Medieval Handgonnes and related weapons

Date:  November 17, 2004 1:57:09 PM CST

To: aoife-links at scatoday.net


Greetings my faithful readers!


This week's Links List in on the subject of Medieval Handgonnes, Cannon,

Arquebus and Matchlokkes. There is much to learn about such weapons, but I

will beg you all to be extremely careful when doing so. History is littered

with examples of folk who thought they knew what they were doing with guns,

but didn't live to tell the tale. For example, please visit the link

provided in the list that is from the Darwin Awards website (and what I

believe to be their earliest story) to read about a man who thought he knew

how to build a cannon...in the Late Medieval era. Yes, guns and gun history

are fascinating. They are also dangerous weapons and should not be used by

those who are not trained to do so.


Remember folks, don't try this at home.






Handgonnes and Matchlocks: A preliminary Essay in the History of Firearms to



(Site Excerpt) In 1132, fire lances are mentioned in historical records, in

1221, cast iron bombs, and in 1259, bamboo tubes containing powder and clay

pellets. True gunpowder only appeared in China in the Mongol period

(1260-1368) - this was confirmed by Blackmore's (1995) identification of a

cannon dated 1332 - so we are left at an impasse.


The Musket Drill copyright Mark Gist


(Site Excerpt) The most common firearm during the first half of the 17th

century was the matchlock musket. Rather than striking a spark to light the

gunpowder, the musketeer carried a slow-burning piece of rope known as a

slow-match. This was held in the "serpentine". When the trigger was pulled,

the serpentine would move down, touching the burning end of the match to the

priming powder.


History, Safety, Care, and Feeding Of Period Guns by Dexter Gupthill Based

on a class by George Paczolt, medievally known as Justinian Syke


(Site Excerpt) 14th Century: Earliest cannon, in 1326. An inventory in 1340

is the earliest reference to a portable firearm. By 1364, references to

handheld firearms become common. These were miniature cannon barrels, some

mounted on poles or handles, some simply built with a hook to fit over a

fortification's wall and soak up the recoil. First reference to these as

"handguns", 1386. Late fourteenth Century, slow-match - woven cord

impregnated with nitrates by boiling with gunpowder.




(Site Excerpt) "The strong tall and best persons to be pikes, the squarest

and broadest will be fit to carry muskets and the least and nimblest may be

turned over to the Harquebush". (Gervase Markham 1625) I usually collect

flint locks but recently I found a bargain match lock mechanism on eBay, and

then a restocked English Civil War barrel from Peter Dyson and these things

are addictive.


Arquebus and Matchlock Musket Page


Information and resources for these weapons


Range weapons in the Armory of the Dukes of Burgundy



Gunpowder Weapons of the Late Fifteenth Century


(Site Excerpt) Gunpowder weapons were the 'leading edge' of technology in

the late medieval era. Gunpowder weapons took two forms: artillery, and

hand-held guns. The two systems were employed tactically in sieges and

battles, and in offense and defense operations. All forms of gunpowder

weapons relied on chemical and metal-working advancements of the time, and

their effective exploitation in warfare relied upon new thinking of the

military commanders.


Cannons--That Diabolic Instrument of War

Written by David Lazenby - Middelaldercentret ©1999


(Site Excerpt) Following the previous two reconstruction projects, Leonardo

da Vinciís Ornithopter and an early 15th century underwater diving suit, the

next proposal investigates warfare,  - "the mother of invention". Born in

the middle-ages and destined to change the face of tactics forever, the

invention of the firearm was to create a revolutionary impact on medieval

armies and the race for military superiority.


News in Science: Medieval Weapons of Mass Destruction

Abbie Thomas in Manchester


(Site Excerpt) The medieval gunpowder was packed into a replica Loshult gun,

a small canon-like gun from Sweden which dates from the 14th Century. The

newly made medieval gunpowder was able to fire a lead ball as far as 945

metres (and reaching speeds up to 200 m per second), compared to a distance

of 1100 metres for the commercial gun powder. The old recipes called for

mixed powder to be 'stamped' - put under pressure - for at least 20 hours,

but preferably 30. But even with very little preparation time the team

achieved surprising results.


The Effects of Gunpowder on Medieval Society

© Jennie Seay 1995

Use without permission will result in a painful altercation with a catapult


(Site Excerpt) With the shot of the first cannon in the fourteenth century,

gunpowder became the instrument of chaotic change, tearing down the

calculated defenses of princes and kings and slaughtering the noble knight

in his shining armor. Warfare was the core of political and social

revolution in the Middle Ages.  The bigger, better, more accurate weaponry

made possible by the mysterious combination of saltpeter, sulfur and

charcoal was a deciding factor in many key battles...


Medieval Technology pages: Cannon

This page is maintained and copyright by Paul J. Gans.


(Site Excerpt) By 1350 Petrarch wrote "these instruments which discharge

balls of metal with most tremendous noise and flashes of fire...were a few

years ago very rare and were viewed with greatest astonishment and

admiration, but now they are become as common and familiar as any other

kinds of arms." [quoted from Cipolla 1965 p 22]


Cannon, development


(Site Excerpt)Cannon were getting larger and better in the 14th century, so

that pieces of more than 1,000 pounds were in existence by Du Guesclin's

death. There was one at Mons in 1375 which ran to 9,500 pounds. But such

monster guns were so immobile as to be practically worthless and so costly

as to practically beggar their owners. As a result, most cannon remained

fairly small.




(Site Excerpt) Any blend of roughly equal proportions of sulphur and

charcoal with from 40% to 75% of potassium nitrate --saltpeter-- will flash

with considerable noise and may thus qualify to be called "gunpowder".

Precisely when the substance was invented remains obscure. Indeed, in view

of the fact that the ingredients had been known and in common use from

earliest times, it is surprising that gunpowder was not invented much sooner

than was actually the case. Incendiary and pyrotechnic mixtures with

military applications had been around since ancient times.




(Site Excerpt) Then there is an item in the chronicles of Ghent in Belgium

for 1313 to the effect that one Berthold Schwartz, a friar from Breisgau in

Germany, had in that year invented "bussen," that is "guns"; but there are

several linguistic and stylistic oddities about the reference, which suggest

that it was probably inserted some centuries after the fact. It is only in

the 1320s that references to firearms begin to become reliable.


Social Impact of Cannon


(Site Excerpt) Artillerymen very early earned acceptance by the social order

in the most perfect of Medieval fashions. Guilds of gunners appeared fairly

early, replicating all the practices of the guilds which regulated and

guarded the secrets of less spectacular crafts. And they soon acquired a

patron saint of their own, St. Barbara, selected appropriately enough

because her martyrdom is alleged to have been avenged by a timely bolt of



Darwin Awards: Urban Legend: A Medieval Tale


(Site Excerpt) During the night the people of Paks created the first wooden

cannon in history, ready for deployment. They towed it up a nearby hill, and

the entire village gathered around to watch the victory....


Mad Monk of Mitcham Home Page,

maintained by Andy Lubienski,

member of the Medieval Siege Society Ltd.


(Site Excerpt) We are a group of enthusiasts of all ages - we even have

three generation family memberships - who have combined to re-enact the

conflicts & campaign life of the high medieval period, which covers the Wars

of the Roses and the Hundred Years' War (circa 1350-1490 though currently

the majority of members plump for the later end of this period). At present

we form the largest medieval re-enactment group in the UK.


High Beam Research: How Chickens Helped Fire Medieval Cannon

(Free Trial Membership required to read entire article)


(Site Excerpt) MEDIEVAL gunpowder packed more of a punch than scientists

thought, according to a project to recreate the explosive using dung pits,

foot stomping and wood ash.  Researchers at the Royal Armouries in Leeds

were astonished by the results of a 10-year collaboration with European

colleagues to recreate 14th century gunpowder recipes.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org