Ethnographic Arms & Armour

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-   -   Late Gothic Crossbows and Accouterments (http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=7516)

Andi 23rd January 2013 02:56 PM

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Archaeological Museum Hamburg is actually excavates some medieval housing sites along a street in Hamburg-Harburg which directs to the former main passage via the River Elbe to Hamurg. At one site they found at least 3 chrossbow nuts made from deers horn as well as a lot of crossbow bolts and musquete barrels dating to approx. 15th century. As they found also lots of other bone and horn objects they suppose that it was a bone carvers house, but the extraordinary high amount of other projectiles may also alow an other interpretation of the houses inhabitants profession.

Here is a photo which I made in August 2012 showing one of the corssbow nuts in comparison with such an object in a reconstructed corssbow. Unfortunately the museum has no information about this crossbow, neither its origin nor its dating. It was found in the museums inventory without any information. They believe it is an early modern reconstruction, maybe of the 19th century.

David Jaumann 25th January 2013 10:15 AM

Thank you for posting Andi! Do you have approximate messurements of the nuts? That would be very interesting!

I´m courios about your information of the Nuremberg-crossbows, Micke :)


Best wishes,
David

fernando 25th January 2013 04:55 PM

David, you have a PM (private message) in your box.

Micke D 27th January 2013 04:43 PM

Hello David and other interested!

These two crossbows in Nürnberg have inventory number W755 and W1762.

My guess is that W755, Armbrust 1, was made in the later part of the 15th century, probably around 1470-1480. It is a crossbow that was owned historically by the Count family Feldkirch-Montfort from Vorarlberg in Austria. I’m happy to say that there are quite a few crossbows preserved from this family, Inv.-nr. K.Z. 207 in Schweizerischen Landesmuseum in Zürich, Inv.-nr. 1777 in Historischen Museum in Bern, posted by Matchlock in post #54, Inv.-nr. 11464 in Legermuseum in Delft, posted by Matchlock in post #32, and my favorite one from Peter Finer Antiques that Matchlock posted in post #55. That post also shows the pattern of the printed birch bark cover on the bow with what looks like parts of the zodiac, but also other things like a squirrel and the Austrian flag.

W755 is of what I call the “second tiller type” from the 15th century, W1762 is from the “first tiller type”, and the “third tiller type” is the earliest examples of the more robust type of central European crossbows from the 16th to 18th century.

The “second tiller type” has a flat lower part on the underside next to the bow; we can see this in David’s photo “Armbrust 1 GNM_2”. The flat underside, with an inlayed dark piece of horn, changes into a round form in front of the lock. This type of crossbow is shorter and of a more robust type than the “first tiller type”. Inv.-nr. XI.434 in Leeds is a very similar crossbow in shape, style and dimensions, and it also has the skinny trigger that looks like it could come from the same smith.

W1762 is of the “first tiller type”, and is probably from the early half of the 15th century; my personal guess is that it may be from 1430-1440. I don’t have any dimensions for this crossbow, but it looks like it is longer than W755, and it should be that to. The tillers length was reduced during the 15th century from circa 90 cm’s to around 70 cm’s, and sometimes even shorter. It also has an earlier type of decorations on the tiller, and it’s inlayed almost from one end to the other.

The “first tiller type” has a more round bottomed lower part on the underside next to the bow; we can see this, but sadly not too well, in David’s photo “Armbrust 2 GNM 5”. In this photo we also see the white horn/bone inlay piece that ends, as almost always with this type, with an arrow shape.

I’m certain that he trigger is a later replacement; it hasn’t the right shape for a central European crossbow at all. After I have looked at it some more I also think that the tiller and bow probably didn’t belong to each other. If we look at David’s photo “Armbrust 2 GNM 10”, we will see that both the arrow rest and the underside has been restored, but the bow still looks a bit too wide for the tiller. It was originally made or converted later to use a cranequin, as we can see by the lugs in the tiller and not the English windlass it is photographed with now. I don’t know why the museum insist of having it attached to this crossbow as it doesn't fit the tiller.

Micke D 1st February 2013 12:55 PM

Was my answer to your liking gentlemen? 😊 Everything must be cristalclear as nobody have written any follow up questions! 😉

fernando 1st February 2013 01:33 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Micke D
Was my answer to your liking gentlemen? �� Everything must be cristalclear as nobody have written any follow up questions! ��

Most certainly fully understood by everyone, Mike ... cristalclear, alright :)

David Jaumann 4th February 2013 04:33 PM

Thank you for your detailed answer, Micke!
I´m sorry that I didn´t write earlier.

It´s very interesting to know that there are several crossbows that can be allocated to the same family.

You said that the lengths of the stocks were reduced from 90cm to 70cm during the 15th century. On picture 90 in "Die Hornbogenarmbrust" which is dated to 1475, I can see a crossbow with a long stock that is spanned with a Riemenrollspanner. Do you think that old crossbows with the first tiller type were still used during the late 15th century or is it more likely that that some crossbowmakers still kept up making oldfashioned crossbows? The crossbow on picture 91 also has horninlays which seem to be oldfashioned...

Do you know more about the crossbow on post no.55?
It has a two-axle-lock and it looks quite simular to the crossbows shown on the St. Veit-Altar of 1487. So do you think that Peter Finer´s estimation is set too early?

Thank you and best wishes,
David

Andi 4th February 2013 09:08 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Jaumann
Thank you for posting Andi! Do you have approximate messurements of the nuts? That would be very interesting!


Today I have phoned with the museums curator and he told me that dimensions of the finds are normally not taken when inventarizing the objects. The dimensions of the crossbow nuts will be taken when they will be scientifically examined somewhen later. :shrug: :shrug:

Hopefully I can try to get them when next visiting the museum. In case I get them I will post them here.

David Jaumann 12th February 2013 09:10 AM

Thank you Andi!
That would be really nice! Is my guess right that this nut was constructed for a weaker crossbow that could be spanned with a belt?

Micke D 12th February 2013 01:14 PM

Yes this family seems to have had some crossbows and they span from middle to late 15th century.

I see now that I was generalizing maybe a bit too much when I said that about the length reduction. As you have seen for yourself, there were also longer crossbows later in the 15th c. The longer crossbows are, as you have also recognized, the ones that was spanned with Riemenrollenspanner. The crossbows that use the Cranequin are in most cases shorter. There are a few crossbows that have used both spanning systems, and a few that started with Riemenrollenspanner and gone over to the Cranequin, the crossbow in post no. 55 is of the latter type.

So I think that both types was made parallel to each other during the 15th c, the longer ones in many cases for war, as they were faster to span, and the shorter ones mostly for sport and hunting.

On page 38-41 in "Die Hornbogenarmbrust" you have an example of what looks like a very early long crossbow spanned with a Riemenrollenspanner, but I think it’s from 1430-1440 also but with an earlier style of inlays on the tiller underside that seems to have been popular around 1400.

I wish I had more info about the crossbow in post no. 55; as it’s one of the most interesting crossbows I have ever seen, I don’t even know if it has gone to a museum or a private collection. I will check with Finer if he can tell.
Yes it has a two-axle-lock, BUT the first axle is hidden/built in. Very strange!

No I don’t think that Peter Finer´s estimation is set too early, I think it is too late! I think this is the earliest known crossbow with a two-axle-lock. I have discussed this with Holger Richter, the author of "Die Hornbogenarmbrust" and he think it can be from as early as 1460, but my estimate is somewhere between 1460 and 1470. The crossbows shown on the St. Veit-Altar is probably the second oldest known crossbow with a two-axle-lock.

David Jaumann 16th February 2013 03:05 PM

It sounds very likely that the crossbow on post no.55 is one the first crossbows with a two-axle-lock, as you said! I guess that the crossbow maker wanted to hide the two-axle mechanism, because he didn´t want other crossbow makers to copy it. It could tell us that the two-axle-lock was´t common yet...


I do still have a view questions about composite prods of the late 15th century.

Were crossbow prods symmetrical or asymetrical in general?
On page 55 in "Die Hornbogenarmbrust" is a prod that looks asymetrical to me. But I´m not shure, if this impression is due to the camera perspective or if the prod distortioned during the last centuries. An asymetrical design would reduce the friction on the stock...

The horn stipes of a crossbow prod were shorter than the entire length of the entire prod, which means that the horn stripes must be assembeled angularily. Were these joinings always in the middle part as shown on page 52 in "die Hornbogenarmbrust" or were these joinings more often allocated on the entire length of the prod? Is a well made teethed joining always a potential weekpoint?

Thank you and best wishes,
David

Micke D 17th February 2013 06:20 PM

Hi David!

Yes I’m also thinking that this crossbow maker was hiding this new invention so that it wasn’t copied by his competitors. I believe that this crossbow maker could actually be THE inventor of the two axle lock, and maybe also the four axle lock! He was at least one of inventors. I think, based on the inlay design and the crossbows overall design, that this maker has also made the crossbow in post #1. This crossbow is later than the one in post #55; it could very well be from 1475 as it says at Peter Finer’s website. Check out the similar design of the crossbow and the delicate inlays between the hole in the tiller and the long white strip below the lock. An interesting and odd thing about this crossbow that it WAS originally built as a two axle crossbow, but it was later rebuilt as a one axle crossbow! This could of course have been done later when the tiller was repaired at the front.

If you also check out the fancier and a lot more expensive crossbow in post #88, page 3, Royal Armouries, Leeds, Inv. –Nr. XI. 11, you will see the same pattern of delicate inlays on the same place as the two other crossbows. This one has a kind of four axle lock, ("Die Hornbogenarmbrust" page 100), that don’t seem to have been used on other crossbows and a lot different than the usual type that was used from at least 1496 to more or less modern times.

I have earlier looked for asymmetrical composite bows, but I can’t say anything conclusive about it, some bows look a bit asymmetrical but the majority seems to be straight. I think the one you mentioned is much to degraded to use as an example for an asymmetrical bow. It’s possible that composite crossbow bows don’t handle the twisting well if they were built asymmetrically.

I think that it is always better if one can build the bow from as few and as long horn strips as possible, but if you look at page 46, 47 and 89 of "Die Hornbogenarmbrust", you will see some examples of how I think most looked inside with pieces of different length and thickness glued together. I don’t think the “teethed joining” between the layers was the weak point but possibly the overlap between the horn pieces or if you get more overlaps at the same place in one of the bow limbs. I think the “teethed joining” was what held the bow together, the pieces locked a bit like LEGO pieces to each other and the glue line was longer.

Best wishes,
Micke

Andi 20th March 2013 07:50 PM

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Here you will find some macro photos of a crossbow nut found in the Schlossstraße in Hamburg-Harburg.

I am wondering about the substance which can be seen on the middle of the nuts notch. It seems to be metallic, possible lead or tin? Has anyone an idea of its purpose? I was also not able jet to take the dimensions and have to ask the exavators of the object.

cornelistromp 20th March 2013 08:48 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andi
Here you will find some macro photos of a crossbow nut found in the Schlossstraße in Hamburg-Harburg.

I am wondering about the substance which can be seen on the middle of the nuts notch. It seems to be metallic, possible lead or tin? Has anyone an idea of its purpose? I was also not able jet to take the dimensions and have to ask the exavators of the object.


yes it is lead, or, in the case of a brass nut it is an iron bar.
it ensures as a counterweight that the nut reverses in the ideal position. (After each shot the nut rotates fast around.)
in the neutral position, the nut can be fixed by the bows internal mechanism while the string stretched can be attached behind the nut again.

best,

Micke D 21st March 2013 11:59 AM

It’s definitely not lead, it’s a reinforcement piece of iron or steel that’s riveted in the nut. All crossbow nuts have this from at least the 14th century.

cornelistromp 21st March 2013 02:11 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Micke D
It’s definitely not lead, it’s a reinforcement piece of iron or steel that’s riveted in the nut. All crossbow nuts have this from at least the 14th century.


yes can also be made of iron.
the metal you can easily test with a magnet and the function of the counterweight with a shaft through the hole of the nut.

I believe it is a counterweight, apart from this a hole with metal will weaken the nut and not reinforce it.
the later 18thC brass nuts also have a counterweight, a metal bar placed on the width of the nut , reinforcement is no question here also.
all the 17 and 18thC crossbows I have and had in my collection had a counter weight build in making the nut always turning into the same position.

best,

Matchlock 21st November 2013 01:08 PM

Stunning Details from the Stundenbuch (Book of Hours) of Katharina v. Kleve, ca. 1440
 
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Please note that the white and blue girdle bag was also used for crossbow bolts/quarrels, just as the usual quiver!

Best,
Michael

Matchlock 30th November 2013 08:56 PM

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A fine and important early painting by the Master of the Worcester Carrying of the Cross, active in Bavaria, where I live, ca. 1425.

Best,
Michael

Matchlock 19th December 2013 03:10 PM

For a detailed treaty on the famous Ambras wheellock-crossbow combination of ca. 1525-26 preserved in the Bavarian National Museum (BNM) Munich, please see my new thread

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...4225#post164225


Best,
Michael

Matchlock 21st December 2013 03:06 PM

Two fine Gothic Crossbows in the Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow
 
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I thought I had posted these here before, and the search button confirmed me, but I cannot find them.
So please enjoy.

The first crossbow is of very early type, 14th c., the second may be dated to the end of the 15th c.


Best,
Michael

Matchlock 21st December 2013 03:10 PM

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More.

cornelistromp 21st December 2013 04:13 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
More.


pictures © Andrea Carloni.

Matchlock 1st March 2014 03:18 PM

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Two fine Gothic cranequins, mid- to late 15th c., in the famous Churburg collection, Schluderns, South Tyrol.

m

Matchlock 1st March 2014 07:38 PM

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Two cranequins from German auctions at Hermann Historica, Munich.

The first Nuremberg, ca. 1540, by the 'Master of the crossed quarrels', the second dated 1565.


m

Matchlock 1st March 2014 08:07 PM

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A fine Late Gothic crossbow, the tiller completely veneered in white staghorn. Sold at auction at Hermann Historica's, Munich, 2nd May 2013.

m

Matchlock 2nd March 2014 04:05 PM

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11th to 12th century Romanesque period artwork depicting crossbows.

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fernando 2nd March 2014 04:15 PM

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Ah, ah ...
Remember the discussion on two foot crossbows ;) :D




.

Matchlock 2nd March 2014 04:24 PM

Hi Nando, ;)


Your response sort of brightened up my mind a great deal because it seems to have gotten a pretty darn lonesome job I'm doin' here - since good people like Micke D and A. Senefelder evidently have stopped contributing ...


Best,
Michl

fernando 2nd March 2014 04:42 PM

Don't be so sure ;)
They are around lurking and, when you less expect, they jump into the scene.
You just keep posting; don't look for excuses :shrug: :cool: :D

Matchlock 2nd March 2014 05:18 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Don't be so sure ;)
They are around lurking and, when you less expect, they jump into the scene.
You just keep posting; don't look for excuses :shrug: :cool: :D




One again, my dear Sir, :rolleyes:


Though insubordinate a time or two, I'm trying to be at your command ...

Anyway I'm glad you show that you care!


Best,
Michl


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