Originally Posted by fearn
... Thanks for the reminder: I'd forgotten about the crossbows. There's a nicely mounted one in the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Reportedly it's based on old Portuguese models of centuries ago, but made out of indigenous materials, of course....
This is an appealing issue for me. I am trying to spot some info about this topic, but it reveals hard to happen.
But at searching the theme i have read a lecture from qualified sources that bows and crossbows were used by both sides
in the take over of Lisbon, Silves and Santarem from the Moors, in the XII century... Moors having invaded the peninsula in the VII century, coming from North Africa.
The lecturer inferred that there is not much material written on this theme in the period, due an ideologic despise against weapons that killed at distance, in favour of swords and lances, used in singular combat; hence the bow being called the forgotten weapon of the Reconquest.
It is also known that crossbows and bows were the vital weapon in battles fought by Portuguese low nobility, supported by populars, against Spaniards top royalty in the XIV century, to reassure Portugal independence; having the Portuguese been helped by allied British archers with their long bows. We may conclude that Portuguese bows were shorter, but i could find no evidence in my (rather simple) search.
Drawings of Portuguese archers or crossbow men are rare; and even the ones that show up are symbolic or alegoric.
On the other hand we can read chronicles of the discoveries period (XV-XVI century), where the crossbow is often mentioned. Perhaps at this stage the bow was abandoned.