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Old 8th September 2014, 10:57 PM   #1
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Location: Bavaria, Germany - the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
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Default The Dresden MONK'S GUN - a MYTH Revisited, and Finally CORRECTLY DATED: ca. 1525-30!

This is about a real myth of weaponry, the famous so-called Monk's Gun, which, according to the formal, stylistic and technical criteria set up by the author, should be correctly dated "ca. 1525-30", and was almost certainly made in Nuremberg or Augsburg.

Actually, the
Monk's Gun is a combination of a tubular padlock and a firerarm activated by friction, when the rear ring-shaped bolt is pulled; with a usual padlock, that bolt would, of course, be a key with a threaded haft.
It is preserved in The Saxon Royal Collections, which is the Rüstkammer in Dresden.

Attached, please
find photos of the famous so-called Monk's Gun, which, according to the formal, stylistic and technical criteria set up by the author, should be correctly dated "ca. 1525-30", and was almost certainly made in Nuremberg or Augsburg.
Up to this day, various arms experts have suggested a very wide time line of dating the Monk's Gun, from "ca. 1450-1550"
(Claude Blair: "Further Notes on the Origins of the Wheellock", in: Robert Held (ed.): Arms and Armour Annual. December 1973, pp. 28-47, esp. 42ff.);
see second attachment showing the illustration on p. 44

until "before 1667, probably around 1600"
(Maus I. Rattinger);
see top attachment in my follower post.

Dating that item on the basis of the criteria defined and set up by the author for the first time, the Monk's Gun should finally stop being a "riddle" to experts of both Late Gothic/Early Renaissance ironworks and firearms.

What seems to be "Gothic script" at first glance, is actually stylized letters making no sense - they are nothing but mere decoration, reminding the spectator of the past period of the Middle Ages.

The petiolated trefoil ornament
(German: gestielter Dreipass) struck as three dots and a slightly curved line, is the ultimate stylized simplification of a what originally was a bunch of grapes, retaining their stalk.
Please cf. Marcus's thread:
especially my posts #7 through 9.

And this one, by the author:

The finely made wrought-iron, blued barrel is round throughout and two-staged, with the rear section (German: Hinterstück) longer than the forward. Two-staged round barrels are hardly known to appear before the late 1530's. Up to then, the ones made of wrought iron were usually three-staged from ca. 1512-15, while cast-copper alloy barrels (brass, or bronze) for wall guns and even larger pieces were often four- or five-staged, from ca. 1515 to ca. 1530.
The earliest two matchlock arquebuses known are dated 1539 on the barrel
, and both bear the same Nuremberg workshop mark struck two times, two crossed arrows in a shield; the limewood stock of one of these matchlock arquebuses from the same series additionally shows the Nuremberg proof mark N behind the barrel tang.

The latter gun is in The Michael Collection:

The forward section (German: Vorderstück) of the Monk's Gun is definitely elongated already, a stylistic criterion for dating that shows up on larger pieces first, and from 1522 onward. Two cast-bronze falconet barrels that were founded, and signed, by Endres Pegnitzer the Elder, Nuremberg, are preserved in the collections of the Museum at Schloss Heidecksburg, Rudolstadt, Thuringia; they came from the former arsenal of the Princes of Schwarzburg-Leutenberg, are dated 1522, with the date cast in high relief, and finely contoured with the chisel.
This section is separated from the rear by accentuated, filed moldings.
See author's photos, attached to follower post #7.

As the author has stated before, the Early Renaissance period, which put an end to the Medieval Times, and, by circa 1500, marked the sunburst of the Modern Age, was characterized by a completely new way of thinking. Man started exploring literally everything: his environments, the world, far-off continents, the sky and planets above him.

Revolutionary thoughts of freedom went together with an importance, and self-confidence, of all artisans and craftsmen alike, and
hitherto unknown - including the men of war. For the first time ever, the little ones did count as well, not just the nobility. When it all came down, kings and knights were actually nothing, had it not been for the peasants, skilled soldiers, and craftsmen.
The self-established Landsknechts/mercenaries were free-lancers, fighting for who would offer the best pay, and booty. Most of them were still loyal to a certain warlord, though - but now, the choice was theirs, and that made all the diffence.

And it was the age of geniuses like Leonardo da Vinci, Albrecht Dürer - and, among others, the smiths of weapons. Starting out from Italy, the Renaissance triggered a widely based new way of cultural, philosophic and political thinking, at the same time giving birth to brilliant ideas that lead to mechanical inventions like the use of screws and springs on objects, especially the first clocks in Nuremberg - and, of course, the closey related wheellock.

Nails got threaded,
a central slot to the head - and became screws.
By the late 15th century, we begin to find iron nails that show a number of deliberately punched sharp and slanted nicks - obviously meant to make
a tighter fit in the wood at first, but very soon, these slanted nicks got connected by filing, and the idea of the thread known since Ancient Times, got re-enlivened by the Renaissance, and the screw was invented.
Very soon, former rivets started getting replaced by screws, and in iron plates as well. They now allowed delicate adjustments to movable parts, e.g. mechanical breast plates for tournament (German: Stechzeuge), and made repairs much easier to accomplish.

A new profession was born: the mechanically skilled locksmith, who, from now on, only wrought delicate and ingenuous actions.

The Renaissance period was also the age of the ludo globi:

Mankind started detecting, and playing with, everything nature provided, and the human mind could think of. As nobody wished to carry more different items along than necessary, the respective functions of separate objects were now preferrably combined in one single item, uniting them all - even up to a level of creating things quite impractical for everyday use,
like three- and four-barreled firing maces:

- and the Monk's Gun.

Also attached, find images of a large tubular and tapering padlock formerly in the author's collection, and also made in Nuremberg, for a heavy chest, at the very same time, ca. 1525-30.
Further, there is a source of contemporary illustration, an engraving dated 1533, and depicting two padlocks of exactly the same tapering form, securing
a large money chest.
The padlock is illustrated in:

Michael Trömner: Behältnisse für Kostbares 1500-1700. Verden, 2005, pp. 82f. and 86.

Furthermore attached are photos of similar padlocks, in the collections of the Joanneum in Graz, Styria, Austria.

Michael Trömner
Rebenstr. 9
D-93326 Abensberg
Lower Bavaria, Germany
  • Self-established Academic Medievalist
  • Graduated from Regensburg University in 1982
  • Stipendiary recipient and member of the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes, Bonn
  • Author of BEHÄLTNISSE FÜR KOSTBARES 1500-1700, 2005
  • M. of the Arms & Armour Society, London since 1991
  • M. of the Gesellschaft für Historische Waffen- und Kostümkunde e.V., Berlin since 1987
  • Expertises in European weapons, ironworks, and furniture of the 14th through 17th centuries
  • Preservation and academic documentation of museum collections

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