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Matchlock 1st April 2012 08:39 PM

The World's Four Earliest Known Cannon Depictions
11 Attachment(s)
Nobody has, at least to my knowledge, assembled these up to now.

From top to bottom:

- 1326-7, Walter de Milemete, traditionally Oxford Christ Church ms 2, now Oxford Bodleian Library ms 92, fol 70v, well known

- 1326, Walter de Milemete, Holkham ms 458, British Library, far less known

- ca. 1340, detail of a fresco at Eremo Lecceto abbey, near Siena, Italy - the earliest known piece of artwork depicting a 'carriage'

- ca. 1343-5, and very similar to the foregoing, from Jan van Boendale, Brabantsche Yeesten (Great Deeds of Brabant), Brussels, Royal Library, ms IV 684

As seen in the latter, please note that in the earliest days of the gun, the charge of powder required was so large that the stone (!) ball was virtually located in the muzzle area (German Steinbüchse).


broadaxe 3rd April 2012 01:57 PM

Interesting images, the first is of course much famous. It shows the difference between the vasi, being (probably) anti-personelle, and the bombard, treated in the early age of gunnery just like a novelty trebuchet, for hurling stone balls onto fortifications via steep angle. I find the stone placed at the muzzle questionable, as I think there would hardly be any ballisticks produced like that.

Matchlock 3rd April 2012 02:44 PM

6 Attachment(s)
Yes, it is seems hard to believe that the ball should have been virtually placed near the muzzle but period black powder recipes as well as real pieces found loaded seem to prove that that was true for at least the early 14th to the mid-15th century. It seems like the best that they could do was to achieve an actual barrel (!) length (Flug), which means minus the smaller breech, of ca. three balls at best.

There also many existing stone guns (Steinbüchsen) with barrels so short that the ball literally had to be placed at the muzzle; actually they had exactly a length of ball diameter. The attached samples are preserved in the fortress of Hohensalzburg and the Musée de l'Armée Paris. I think this fact should be acknowledged.

I am glad that you mentioned the term vase because is was such everday devices that the earliest gunmakers adopted the shapes of their guns from. For exaxmple, I attach an image of two late 13th century vase-shaped mugs from the Museum of London; ignoring their handles, they exactly look like the Loshult Gun (attached at bottom), which is very close to the pot-au-feu (fire pot) illustrated by Walter de Milimete.


Matchlock 3rd April 2012 05:09 PM

1 Attachment(s)
By the mid-15th century, cannon barrels had become notably longer as this illumination in a Swiss Gothic manuscript, on the first crusade, of 1465 depicts (St. Gallen, Sitftsbibliothek, Cod.Sang. 1658, fol. 161, detail); obviously, the rules of ballistics were more closely obeyed.


broadaxe 3rd April 2012 06:17 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Hmmm, thinking of it, you are right about the amount of powder required back then, as during the first 100 years of gunnery the blackpowder was relatively weak. The gunners were in the process of trial & error, experiencing with the percentage of ingredients. By 1420 they made a big leap by graining the powder, hence enhancing greatly its potencial.
The short-barreled bombards with the smaller-diameter burning cell look basically the same as early 1800's mortar (aside of position of the trunnions), like this one from the walls of Acre.

Matchlock 3rd April 2012 07:19 PM

Yeah, mortars interestingly somehow always looked as if they were of much earlier date than they actually were.


Matchlock 15th April 2012 07:09 PM

3 Attachment(s)
I have found another depiction of a small cannon firing stone balls (Steinbüchse), mounted on a carriage and dating from the first half of the 14th century, in an illuminated manuscript mimiature, ca. 1344, the latter two parts including the attached miniature added ca. 1400:

Oxford University, Ms. Bodl. 264, fol. 255r.


broadaxe 15th April 2012 07:30 PM

Interesting enough, the cannon is depicted next to a trebuchet.

Matchlock 15th April 2012 07:48 PM

Right, obviously meaning to represent the more advanced technology.


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