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RE: [SCA-Archery] Villard de Honnecourt's crossbow

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  • Rob A
    It certainly looks like the string attached to the back of the bolt is for a message or grappling hook. The message tied around the arrow shaft was
    Message 1 of 37 , May 5, 2003
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      It certainly looks like the "string" attached to the back of the bolt is for
      a message or grappling hook. The "message tied around the arrow shaft" was
      uncommon, especially with crossbows, as the velocity of the bolt, and the
      strength of the bow could mean that the bolt could go straight through the
      "target", thus shredding the message. I have seen other examples, in text
      and picture, for a leather case, containing a message, to be tied to the
      back of the bolt with string, but, in such cases, there would have been a
      little cup on the front of the bow, and the case put in this, with the
      string going over the bow back to the arrow (if the message, etc, was
      attached and left hanging, the string could get caught and cause the bolt to
      "bungee" back at you...)
      Think of a modern grappling iron "gun".
      The "plumb bob" on this drawing... Hmm.. my guess would be that the cup may
      be part of the crossbow, and the "plumb bob" being an entirely seperate

      Just my tuppenceworth.

      (Eban Goode)

      -----Original Message-----
      From: L.J. Sparvero [mailto:lyev@...]
      Sent: Sunday, May 04, 2003 8:07 PM
      To: SCA-Archery@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [SCA-Archery] Villard de Honnecourt's crossbow

      Hi all,
      While doing research on a project unrelated to period archery (Gothic
      cathedrals!) I came across a drawing of a crossbow that's puzzled me. The
      artist is Villard de Honnecourt, who made an architect's sketchbook in the
      early 13th century. There's a jpg of it (folio 22 verso) at:

      Go to the "search by page" link and click on 22v.

      The crossbow is in the upper right corner. I'm drawing a blank as to the
      purpose of the plumb-bob thing in front of the bolt, or the small block on
      a string that seems to be recoiling from the bow. I can guess that the
      small block could be a type of safety for a rolling nut (see Alm's book),
      but I'm not sure that this was a Gothic invention, as opposed to several
      centuries later. The plump-bob I have no idea either (unless it was
      overlapping the crossbow drawing, and unrelated in concept to it). One book
      mentions this drawing and calls it a "sighting device" (with no further
      explanation). I can't figure out how this could be a sighting device at
      all, at least in our use of the word. Being able to judge distances in
      space accurately and sighting straight lines would no doubt have been
      important to him.

      If anyone can shed some light on this, I'd appreciate it. Thanks in advance,


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    • Kinjal of Moravia
      ... Makes me ... bird or ... sides. ... .................................................... Perhaps, but a regular style half-circle doesn t work. I have
      Message 37 of 37 , Apr 6, 2004
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        --- In SCA-Archery@yahoogroups.com, John edgerton <sirjon1@p...>
        > The comment about being in constant motion, like giant birds.
        Makes me
        > think the cloak was attached to both wrists. That would give a
        bird or
        > bat wing appearance and would also provide protection from both
        > Jon

        Perhaps, but a regular style half-circle doesn't work. I have been
        playing with some other styles (you probably guessed that)and have a
        prototype that seems to work - even found some material that sorta
        looks like feathers. I'll keep you posted off-line, or here if
        anyone else in interested. Actually it will be cool and servicable
        even if you are not an archer. And it will be semi-perod, being a
        modified Gallic Coat.

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