Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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Matchlock 12th March 2014 07:22 PM

Hi Eric,

It was only today that I noticed your query concerning the twisted haft of incendiary quarrel irons. I beg your pardon for not replying any earlier but as you may have gathered meanwile I was in hospital for the whole year of 2013 and can now only slowly make my way through all my posts.

As I have tried to show in this thread, all the iron heads with a very long and thin 'neck' and twisted haft seem to have been been shaped this specific way to safely hold the incendiary mass. We generally attribute them to the Late Middle Ages, ca. 14th to 16th century.
Nevertheless, many iron heads for incendiary crossbow bolts are known to show no twisting at all.


Matchlock 12th March 2014 07:27 PM

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In addition to posts #31 and 32 above, I have added two images of the array of some of the many hundreds of unusually heavy Thirty Years War clay grenades dug up in Ingolstadt, Bavaria, in 1983.

I also added an image of glass hand grenades, French, ca. 1740, found in Freiburg, and provided a link to the Wikipedia survey:


Matchlock 14th March 2014 11:26 AM

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As their principle is basically the same as with incendiary arrows, I'd like to introduce two extremely rare 16th-17th c. tar lances (German: Pechlanzen) in the Emden Armory.
The incendiary tar mass was set afire and the lance was hurled by some sort of a catapult onto the shingled roofs of a besieged town where the delicate iron arrowheads got stuck, and the blazing tar would splatter around. Additionally, the short barrels are barbed for better contact with the roof shingles.
The saucer-like wooden plate at the bottom was meant to direct the splashing fire right onto the roof.

The measurements are:
overall length 2.25 m
width of the tar saucer 21 cm
weight 3.2 kg

I took these photos in 1987.


Marcus den toom 14th March 2014 05:12 PM

Hi Michael,

Amazing that these things survived :eek:
Did the barrels shoot some sort of bullets or incendiary mass/arrows? (sort of mortar arrow ?)

Matchlock 14th March 2014 05:30 PM

Hi Marcus,

Sadly we have no records on the load of these short barrels. They are called Mordschläge (murder blasts) in German but could most probably contain literally any sort of load as their primary use was to abhor the defendors of the besieged town from trying to remove the lance from the roof of a house.


Marcus den toom 14th March 2014 05:47 PM

Aaa, yes.. those overprotective basterds and their precious roofs, i wouldn't mind if they threw on of those things on my roof (if possible not yet ignited for best preservation of course). :D

The linstock (?) next to the arrows, was this used to ignite the mass or is this just a exhibition director (from the museum) his interpretation to put it next to the arrows?

Thanks so much :)


Matchlock 18th March 2014 12:42 PM

The Bavarian/Ingolstadt Clay Grenades Revisited
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This is a follower to post #31-32 and #62, showing more on digging up those grenades from a historic site in May 1983.


Matchlock 18th March 2014 12:48 PM

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A few more, and a local neswpaper article of May 11, 1983.


Matchlock 18th March 2014 01:21 PM

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Some 16th c. sources of period artwork on grenades, from top:

- Vannoccio Biringuccio (+1537), De la Pirotechnica, 1534-5, printed posthumously

- Romeyn de Hooghe (+1708), Austrian grenadiers at the Turkish Siege of Vienna, 1683: the Austrian grenadiers are depicted throwing their grenades high above the heads of the defenders against the Turks, thus taking into account losses on their own side

- as before

and some clay and glass grenades from the vast supplies preserved at Schloss Forchtenstein, Austria.

All scanned from:
Franz Felberbauer, "Die Handgranaten der Grenadiere der Fürsten Esterházy aus Gusseisen und Ton im Zeughaus der Burg Forchtenstein" (the cast-iron and clay hand grenades for the grenadiers of the Princes Esterházy, at the Armory of Forchtenstein Castle), in: Waffen und Kostümkunde, 2012, vol. 2, pp. 181-220, and 2014, vol. 1, pp. 1-52.


Matchlock 18th March 2014 05:05 PM

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Before Felberbauer's comprehensive and topical study on the 17th c. Schloss Forchtenstein hand grenades, published in two vols. of the German Journal of Weaponry (Zeitschrift für historische Waffen- und Kostümkunde) in 2012 and 2014 (see post above), there have sadly only been two tentative aprroaches to the matter, both made by Heinz-Peter Mielke in the same Zeitschrift, in 1980 (vol. 2, pp. 153f.) and 1982 (vol. 1, pp.64-66).
For those to whom German is not just an accumulation of hieroglyphs :p :D ;), I attached scans.

The first essay is on 17th-18th c. glass hand grenades in the Swiss Landesmuseum Zurich, while the second is on clay hand grenades in general (Mielke called them ceramic weapons).


Marcus den toom 18th March 2014 06:30 PM

I found this link to a manuscript about munitions and explosive devices ( Ms. Codex 109 - Helm, Franz, approximately 1500-1567 - Feuer Buech )
Maybe it has been published before but i find it rather interesting.
In the top left corner you can leaf trough the illustrattions with eas, or on the right upper corner you can browse trough every page (my post medieval German is not what it used to be so i skipped to the images ;) )

Also some other manuscripts i think on the same site.

Matchlock 18th March 2014 07:55 PM

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Hi Marcus,

This the so-called Buch von den probierten Künsten (on well-tried arts), printed in 1535.

I attached some samples which are of interest in our thread although Helm's original intention was to demonstrate fireworks as a means of merrymaking.

The bottom attachments depicts a notable device quite similar to some presented by Franz Helm; Veste Coburg collections;
and two glass hand grenades for the so-called Greek Fire, 10th-12th c., and a few caltrops; National Historic Museum Athens.


Matchlock 19th March 2014 10:13 AM

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And finally I found this in my archives:

a roll of 17th/18th century matchcord for kindling hand grenades!

The grenadier just had to take out the wooden plug, pull a small length of match off that quill, light it and set fire to the fuse of the grenade. After throwing the grenade he would just push the match right back into its wooden case and replug it, and the glow would die for lack of oxygen.
Now ain't that a perfect device?

Photographs: Armin König, Germanic National Museum (GNM) Nuremberg.


Matchlock 20th March 2014 08:05 PM

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Clay and glass hand grenades in the Museo d'Arte, Modena. Italia.


M ELEY 21st March 2014 12:02 AM

Spectacular pics, Michael!!! The Italian ones do very closely resemble the one I inquired about on the other thread! Do you have a prospective date on the last pieces posted? 17th-18th c.? or earlier? Thanks again!

Matchlock 21st March 2014 10:29 AM

Hi Mark,

The caption reads that the first two grenades are dated to ca. 1700, the third 18th c., the fourth and sixth 18th/19th c., and #6 is 18th c.


Matchlock 21st March 2014 11:27 AM

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Here is an islamic hand grenade, ca. 7th to 9th c. AD, a Fatimidian (Egyptian) grenade of ca. 900-1200 AD and a few modern items, together with some older stuff.


Matchlock 23rd March 2014 06:40 PM

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I also found these iron hand grenades in an auction catalog of 2011, 10 cm diameter, probably 18th or 19th c.


Marcus den toom 23rd March 2014 06:42 PM

Some pictures of my Pechkranze, they are some very interesting objects :D
I am very interested to learn why the fabric is at some places faintly red??

Marcus den toom 23rd March 2014 06:42 PM

and some more

Marcus den toom 23rd March 2014 08:07 PM

This area is even more clear, some parts of the fabric is red...
Maybe these qouites where made of reused fabric? Or is there a substance which would be used on such an item that would turn this fabric red?

Andi 23rd March 2014 09:07 PM

Hello Marcus ten toom! Thank you for this phantastic images. Where you have taken them?
Regarding the red fabric I think that most probably the fabric was taken from worn garments. There is absolutely no need to weave a fabric especially for the quoits. In former times fabrics had a much higher value compared to modern times, especially when no automatic machines were available for fibre processing, spinning, weaving, dyeing and sewing. From archaeological excavations many examples for reused worn garments are present such as toilet papers, fillings of blind building structures, relic packings and decoration, textile appliqué on newer garments, caulk material for ships and so on.. - But what makes me wonder is the red colour. In former times dyeing linen in red colour was very difficult, this could be affordable by an aristocratic, clerical or noble elite.
But the red colour as result of a chemical process with the incendiary matters would be an interesting question.

Matchlock 23rd March 2014 09:23 PM

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Hi Andi and Marcus,

You are right, for making items like quoits old garments were frequently employed. The qouits in my collection though consist of braided willow rods wrapped in white linen.
In the Landeszeughaus Graz there are many trapezoid powder and priming flasks of ca. 1540-60 the wooden bodies of which are covered with fabric from Late Gothic chasubles (see attachments).


Marcus den toom 24th March 2014 12:20 PM

Hi Andi and Michael,

Thank you both for your answer, the reusing of fabric seemed the most likely to me as well, only the fact it was red seemed odd.

Well Andi, this great collection can be found in the Netherlands at castle "Toom" :P (not really a castle, but just my own room).

I wonder how they came by those Gothic chasubles, maybe at the church flea market??? :confused: :rolleyes:

Andi 31st March 2014 04:59 PM

Last Thursday i have been at Museum Veste Coburg in northern Bavaria and had a long and very interesting conversation with the museums director Dr Alfred Geibig who gives me some valuable hints. The red colour of the fabric in Marcus den tooms qouites can be a result of a chemical reaction of mercury and sulfur forming cinnabar compounds. Cinnabar is a bright red pigment which was often used in arts. Many early authors of fireworks books and works on blackpowder were recommending the addition of metals such as mercury to powder mixtures. According to modern chemical knowledge the mercury as no positive effect on the powders brisance and its use was maybe based on a spiritual background according to early alchemy.

Marcus den toom 2nd April 2014 06:12 PM

Hi Andi,

Thank you for this information, i think that your story might be more applicable to my qouites. Though the reusing of fabric is a know fact, it seems unlikely to use a expensive dye on a crude fabric as those on my qouites... :confused:
Also, such a expensive piece of coloured fabric would likely be reused on something else than pitch drenched wreaths :D :cool:

Andi 4th April 2014 09:59 PM

Hello Marcus

Is the textile braid on this image visible by an damage of the quoits surface or was it brought outside by intention - probably as a ligting fuse/match? As far as I understood the publications of Dr. Alfred Geibig no quoits were known so far where a lighting match was visible on the outside.

Do you know where your - very nice - quoits were originating from?

Marcus den toom 6th April 2014 08:57 PM

Hi Andi,

I can see no damages to this part of the qouites, but i do notice a ridge of dried pitch.. like it stood upright when it dried. I think this piece of fabric somehow escaped the pitch. One remarkable thing i noticed is how smooth the outer surface of this example is, it really looks like someone tried to create something nice rather than a monstress ring from hell :D

They came from the "veste Coburg" , Germany.

Eric Slyter 9th April 2014 07:21 AM

Thanks for the information on the incendiary heads, Matchlock, and I hope you are fully recovered!

Matchlock 10th April 2014 05:04 PM

Hi Eric,

Thank you so much for wishing me well.
I'm afraid though that nothing will ever change.
The specialists at an orthopedic clinic told me they could not really do anything for me that my health insurance would pay for. I have to face the facts that disability, extreme pain in spite of opium and other pain 'killers' will be unavoidable, and so be will limited stays at hospitals every few weeks.


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