Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany - the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
In the second oldest dated/closely datable source of contemporary illustration, in Bellifortis (German: der Kriegsstarke; the strong one in war), written and illustrated by Konrad Kyeser of Eichstätt, Bavaria, ca. 1405, later on we will detect the earliest picture of a High Gothic tiller long gun being fired, obviously fitted with a wrought iron edged .. and socketed barrel reflecting the Gothic taste, and a much longer wooden tiller stock; the barrel is rested on a wooden fork.
In Cod.vind. 3069, ÖNB Wien, dated 1411, there are studies of a remarkable variety of methods, all being experiments how to rest and adjust guns at the turn of the centrury. Two watercolors illustrate the use of a thread, some show the guns pivoted, some represent early stages of a forked rest, and the last depicts a gunner firing his tiller arquebus at short distance, and through a slot is his targe which he uses as a rest:
see attachments #1 through 11,
depicting fols. 20r, 10r, 26r, 18v, 24r, 33r, 20v, 25v, 24v, 19v;
appearing in order.
Regarding the proportions of persons and objects, the fact should be considered that before ca. 1490, and ingenious painters like Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Dürer, who were both influenced by the break of dawn of the Modern Age starting with the Renaissance period in Italy, illustrations were not correct representations of reality, neither in terms of perspective nor actual dimensions.
Consequently, Medieval artists pictured every person and object which they felt were most important to point out to viewers, much bigger than lesser persons, or everyday objects widely known.
Looking at Kyeser's illustration from this aspect, we are able to imagine the actual dimensions of both the gun and the forked wooden rest. In fact, both were quite small and thin, when compared to the gunner. Kyeser made these objects look so big because the fork was obviously quite a new invention, a fact that he wished to point out to his fellowmen.
A surviving contemporary of Kyeser's period is world's oldest known surviving long gun, ca. 1390-1410, preserved in The Michael Trömner Collection:
To be continued in follower post.