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Period crossbow description

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  • Obsidian
    Greetings And now, for something completely different... This is not in aid of any current thread, but I was leafing through some old classics today, and
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 9, 1999
      Greetings
      And now, for something completely different...
      This is not in aid of any current thread, but I was leafing through
      some old classics today, and chanced upon a description of crossbow
      technology from the First Crusade. Interested? I thought you might be...
      Here then, is a passage from Book X of the ALEXIAD, by Anna Comnena. It
      is a description written by an elderly Byzantine Princess in the
      1140's, concerning things she witnessed 50 years before:

      "...The cross-bow is a weapon of the barbarians, absolutely unknown to
      the Greeks. In order to stretch it one does not pull the string with the
      right hand while pushing the bow with the left away from the body; this
      instrument of war, which fires weapons to an enormous distance, has to
      be stretched by lying almost on ones back; each foot is pressed forcibly
      against the half-circles of the bow and the two hands tug at the bow,
      pulling it with all one's strength towards the body. At the mid-point of
      the string is a groove, shaped like a cylinder cut in half and fitted to
      the string itself; it is about the length of a fair-sized arrow,
      extending from the string to the centre of the bow. Along this groove
      arrows of all kinds are fired. They are very short, but extremely thick
      with a heavy iron tip. In the firing the string exerts tremendous
      violence and force, so that the missles wherever they strike do not
      rebound; in fact they transfix a shield, cut through a heavy iron
      breastplate and resume their flight on the far side, so irresistible and
      violent is the discharge. An arrow of this type has been known to make
      its way right through a bronze statue, and when fired at the wall of a
      very great town its point either protruded from the inner side or buried
      itself in the wall and disappeared altogether. Such is the cross-bow, a
      truly diabolical machine."

      From THE ALEXIAD OF ANNA COMNENA; (transl.) E. R. A. Sewter, Penguin
      Books; Harmondsworth, UK; 1969

      Forester Nigel FitzMaurice

      --

      Ex Tenebra, Lux

      http://web.raex.com/~obsidian/index.html
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