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Old 5th May 2014, 05:04 PM   #1
Matchlock
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Default Matchlock Petronels, Germany, ca. 1550-1600

Please also see lots of photos in
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=16183

The English term petronel derives from the French poitrine, meaning chest. Of course, the often read explanation that petronels were pressed against the mercenary's (Landsknechts) chest when firing, is total rubbish. The recoil would have smashed the poor guy's ribs and stomach.
Like most early arquebuses, petronels were held with strong arms before the breast and aimed quite freely, although their barrels usually were equipped with both rear (mostly of tubular shape tapering towards the muzzle) and foresights.
The eponymous, basic and characteristic feature of a petronel is its long and slender, pronouncedly downcurved buttstock; the earliest petronels of ca. 1550-60 seem to have been made in both Nuremberg and Northern Italy; at the mid 16th century, they did not yet have iron mounts to either the blunt end of the buttstock or the fore-end of the forestock. Their trigger is also characteristic of their type of firearms as it always is a long tiller trigger/trigger bar, derived directly from the trigger bars of Late Gothic crossbows. The wood used for petronels made after ca. 1550 usually is walnut.

The average weight of a military petronel musket usually was quite the same as of a contemporary musket with a triangularly flared fishtail buttstock: 7 to 10 kg, at an overall length of ca. 140 to 156 cm!
However, there also were lighter and shorter smallbore calivers (Schützenrohre), weighing only ca. 4-5 kg, at an overall length of ca. 130 cm.

The earliest predecessors of petronels can be seen on a painting by Ruprecht Heller: The Battle of Pavía, dated 1529 (the famous battle took place in 1525), in the National Museum Stockholm, inv.no. 272.
I posted many details from those wonderfully detailed scenes depicting all kinds of contemporary weapons:

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...via+heller+1525
Go to post #28!

A unique and important short matchlock Landsknecht matchlock arquebus of ca. 1520, with a petronel butt and a brass/bronze barrel featuring the same shape of muzzle as depicted by Heller, is in my collection! I will soon post it .

It is the one at the bottom on the attached photo of four matchlock arquebuses, all 1st half 16th century.

Have fun studying the various variations of forms!

Best,
Michael
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Last edited by Matchlock : 5th May 2014 at 09:26 PM.
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Old 5th May 2014, 07:16 PM   #2
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Light matchlock petronels - calivers (German: Schützenrohre) - in the Landeszeughaus Graz, Styria, Austria, 1560's to 1570; one of them is dated 1568. The barrels all have Nuremberg marks; the locks are combined tiller matchlocks and snap tinderlocks, with two serpentines united on one lockplate: the long trigger bar acting on the 'usual' serpentine, and the short trigger (German: Züngel) releasing the cocked serpentine to snap into the igniting pan.
In Austria, these petronels with downcurved buttstocks are traditionally called Krummschäfte (bent stocks).
The second attachment gives their exact data both in English and German.
Author's photos.

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Old 5th May 2014, 07:34 PM   #3
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More from the 1560's Nuremberg petronel series with combined locks in Graz.
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Old 5th May 2014, 08:03 PM   #4
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That's the rest of my photos of the Nuremberg 1560's series.

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Old 5th May 2014, 08:14 PM   #5
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A good North Italian military matchlock petronel caliver, ca. 1560 (it was misdated by the auction house).
Please note the coat-of-arms on the barrel, the long tubular rear sight and the male portrait stamped on the pan cover. The latter is common to all mid 16th century Italian petronels; as the Renaissance originated in Italia, and was the rebirth of the Ancient Greek and Roman styles, these portraits copied the way that the Roman Emperors had their portraits struck on coins!
Sold at auction with Czerny's, Sarzana.

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Old 5th May 2014, 08:39 PM   #6
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Another North Italian 1560's military matchlock petronel caliver, preserved in 'untouched', heavily patinated condition throughout, but the stock heavily wormed and damaged, and with the downcurved buttstock missing, it was nothing more than a mere fragment.
Of course, it, just like the previously shown specimen, had the coin-like portait struck on the pan cover.
It was sold at auction today with Hermann Historica's Munich for 1,700 euro hammer price, plus 23 per cent commission.
Their expert did not even know it was ca. 1560 and Italian; their catalog description reads 'a German! matchlock musket!, 1st half 17th century'!!!
As I stated, it was not a long and heavy musket but a short, light and smallbore caliver.

I wonder whether we will meet that piece again on the market.
Anyway, by then it will of course be crudely 'restored', with the buttstock most certainly reconstructed the wrong way!, and robbed of all its charming patina that proved its great age ...

m
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Old 5th May 2014, 10:11 PM   #7
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A very elegantly shaped, North Italian matchlock petronel caliver, ca. 1570, the pan cover also showing the coin-like Renaissance portrait.
Overall length 1.35 m, bore 16 mm, weight 5.1 kg.
Armeria Reale, Torino, Italy, inv.no. M.1 (3 attachments).

And another, maybe somewhat earlier, ca. 1560-70, the buttstock elegantly shaped. On this piece we also understand the function of the small eye screw at the underside of the buttstock. Many petronels feature this screw, as well as some early matchlock muskets before ca. 1600. As is depicted here, it was to secure the long and delicate trigger bar from getting lost, by attaching it by means of a cord. On our piece in discussion, this cord (or piece of wire) sadly is too short. The effect is that the internal leaf spring is held under permanent tension, and the serpentine is forced backwards, frozen in the firing position!
How can any museum curator possibly do such a mindless, horrible thing?! You know me well enough by now to have a premonition of what is coming next - and you are right! Here it is: museums!!! Grrr ...! mad:
Armeria Reale, Torino, Italy, inv.no. M.4 (1 attachment).



Attached at the bottom are three close-ups of the rear section of the octagonal barrel of another North Italian petronel caliver, an earlier piece of ca. 1550-60, and preserved in fine condition. Again, the pan cover is struck with a coin-style male portrait; this gun is in the collection of a friend of mine. I was allowed to dismantle it for research purposes, and took these potos.

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Last edited by Matchlock : 5th May 2014 at 11:42 PM.
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Old 5th May 2014, 10:38 PM   #8
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For more valuable stuff on petronels, please see

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ed=1#post169935

Best,
Michael
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Old 6th May 2014, 06:58 AM   #9
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I added a more detailed picture of the pancover of the petronel fragment in post 6... Requiescat in pace quia novi possessor mos delebimus vos



and this link to an other petronel in the castello bolognini, inventory number 326 (325 and 329 are also of the same make)

http://www.lombardiabeniculturali.i...de/LO330-00958/
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Old 6th May 2014, 10:21 AM   #10
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Hi Marcus,

Thank you for linking this site!

By experience I know, however, how quickly such links can be 'dead' and gone; this is why I have always pleaded our community to take their time, copy and paste the information provided in those links.
So I brought the contents of your link here.

For those who do not speak Italian, I have summarized the infomation provided: this is another North Italian military matchlock pertonel caliver, of usual shape and features, ca. 1570 (the author gives a rather wide span of time, ca. 1550-1590). The stock is of walnut, and the gun is in the collection of the Museo Morando Bolognini, Bologna, Italy.
Alas, that photo does not depict anything more clear than the gun's outline. I guess, though, that by now, we have seen a couple of typical Italian matchlock petronels; this knowledge should enable us to identify and date them by their characteristic outlines.

And Marcus: your Latin saying sounds as if you liked that petronel fragment at Hermann Historica's a lot and would have given it exactly the right kind of curation. I am positive that you, just as I, would have preserved this piece in its 'untouched', though heavily damaged condition.
Well, look forward and see whether maybe another, much better preseved petronel is coming your way.

In my threads, my main aim has always been to provide all the information and dating criteria of the piece in discussion that I have. Whenever I feel that a thread of mine is 'full enough' for the community to use it as a reference, and ask specific and demanding questions, I am satisfied.
During my first years on the forum, Richard (Pukkabundook) was the one to bring forward questions that were so brilliant and demanding that I really loved having a hard time, giving my very best and answering them as competently and comprehensively as possible.
Richard, where are you??! Please do return to my threads!


Best,
Michael
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Old 6th May 2014, 12:35 PM   #11
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After introducing the earliest forms of petronels from the 1550's to ca. 1570, I feel it is time to proceed to the latter types of ca. 1580-90. In some cases, petronels seem to have been built - or at least restocked - in around 1600. By the turn of the 16th to the 17th century though, they vanished, and in the armories as well as on the fields of war, the Spanish/Netherlandish buttstock with its characteristic triangularly flared, 'fishtail' form had taken over, both on the long and heavy large-bore muskets (overall length ca. 1.56 to 1.72 m!, bore ca. 18-20 mm, weight ca. 8-10 kg) as on the light, short and smallbore calivers (overall length ca. 1.30 m, bore ca. 14-16 mm, weight ca. 4-5 kg). The earliest types of that 'classic' type of widely flared musket buttstock seem to have originated in around 1560. The oldest known dated samples are a group of muskets in the Landszeughaus Graz, Styria, Austria, that were ordered from Nuremberg workshops, and two of them are dated 1567 and 1568 respectively on the barrels (top attachments). The preferred wood for stocks of military long guns from now on, and way through the 19th century, was common beech.

The first illustrative source of short arqubuses with flat and downcurved butts was Heller's painting of 1529, which marked the fist prestage of 'petronel' long guns. Scenes from it are attached at the beginning of this thread. Fully developed and notably longer, 'real' petronels were first illustrated in the late 1550's, as firearms of the Landsknechte (mercenaries). Also, an illustration by Franz Brun, in the Kriegsbuch (book on war) by Reinhard Graf von Solms, printed in 1559, depicts a very skilled Doppelsöldner-Landsknecht (a mercenary who had mastery in fighting with the sword and the gun, and therefore got double pay) carrying a decorated petronel, the stock obviously painted or inlaid profusely with arabesques and foliage (top attachment). This is, at the same time, the oldest illustration after 1529 to show a triangular powder flask.

From around 1560 and 1566, we know illustrations by Jost Amman, showing welldressed mercenaries with long matchlock petronels, a length of thick and early (!) matchcord wound around the forestock, and a staghorn powder flask attached to the belt at the back.
The form of the locks, with triangular finials, exactly corresponds to those on the Graz group of petronels from 1568 to ca. 1570 (lots of photos attached previously in this thread).

Many author's photos of petronels of the 1570's are subsequently attached in this and the following posts:

- two specimens in the Schweizerisches Jagdmuseum Schloss Landshut near Bern, Switzerland; the first ca. 1560's.
The second probably of Suhl/Thuringia make, ca. 1590-1600[/B] , one of the latest samples ever; the lock plate with raised central section, pretending to be a more valuable wheellock mechanism at a cursory glance; the rear end of the buttstock incomplete.

m
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Old 6th May 2014, 01:15 PM   #12
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Thank you Michael, it would be a shame if the fragment was ruined even further. A somewhat brilliant and opportunistic thought just crossed my mind... that with this forum and all of its knowledge there could come a time where there is no longer a need (read demand) for "shiny museum quality (cough) " firearms and people will accept the real deal


I also have a question when i am at it
Why did this form of butstock develope? Was it because the weight would be easier to handle?
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Old 6th May 2014, 02:49 PM   #13
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Hi Marcus,

The only explanation I can think of is what I have said in previous threads here: as stocks are concerned, the whole of the 16th and the first half of the 17th centuries were dedicated to experimenting with different forms, obviously in search of the anatomically perfect shape of the buttstock. This, however, has only been found by the 1660's, in France; it is known as the French buttstock (German: französischer Flintenkolben), and is still used almost unaltered with many English shotguns.

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Old 6th May 2014, 02:59 PM   #14
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Attachments:

a very good Nuremberg matchlock petronel, ca. 1565-70, in the Schweizerisches Landesmuseum Zürich, Switzerland.
Please note the finely wrought trigger bar and the iron straps attached by large screws, completely encircling and reinforcing the delicate and fragile buttstock! This reinforcement of the buttstock is characteristic of the high-quality petronels made by Nuremberg workshops during the 1570's to ca. 1590.
Author's photos.

Added at the bottom is a very elegantly shaped sample of a typical North Italian matchlock petronel of ca. 1570, sold with Christie's Rome in the 1970's. The catalog, of course, is in my library but I cannot seem to find it at the moment; else I would present a better quality scan than this poor old ceroxed copy that was on my computer.
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Old 6th May 2014, 03:35 PM   #15
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Attached are, from top:

two specimens scanned from Gaibi, Armi da fuoco italiane: a very fine North Italian matchlock petronel, ca. 1570, the iron parts profusely etched and gilt!
Please note the wingnut of the serpentine is pierced with a Gothic trefoil ornament that originated in Italy in the 1530's but showed up again on later pieces from time to time (Armeria Reale Torino, inv.no. M.4).
And another, no inv.no. given, also in Torino.


In 1579, Franz Hogenberg illustrated Landsknechts from Spain with their matchlock petronels, in his engraving The Surrender of Schloss Hohenlimburg (next 3 attachments).

Also by Franz Hogenberg, ca. 1595, is the colored detail from a cityscape of Rgensburg (1 att.)


Preserved at the University of Edinburgh are illustrations of ca. 1580, with mercenaries and their petronels (6 att.)


m
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Old 6th May 2014, 03:43 PM   #16
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One more close-up from the Edinburgh illustrations of ca. 1580, showing mercenaries with their petronels.

Hendrick Goltzius, in 1585 and 1587, and Jacob de Gheyn, in 1587, depicted young mercenaries with matchlock petronels rested on the shoulders (attached susequently). The older engraving by Goltzius, attached first, portrayed the musketeer with his full accouterments: a bandelier with exactly measured powder containers for each shot, slung around his shoulders, a large trapezoid musketeer's powder flask attached to his back by the belt hook, and a small matching priming flask suspended on its tassels of raw silk and wool.

For comprehensive information on military powder flasks and bandeliers, please see my threads

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...l+powder+flasks

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...l+powder+flasks

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...rman%27s+flasks

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ight=bandeliers


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Old 6th May 2014, 04:08 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
... In 1579, Franz Hogenberg illustrated Landsknechts from Spain with their matchlock petronels, in his engraving The Surrender of Schloss Hohenlimburg (next 3 attachments).

Say Michael ...
Meaning that those mercenaries are Spaniards hired to fight in Hohenlimburg ?
... or am i on the wrong track ?
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Old 6th May 2014, 04:28 PM   #18
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I don't know for sure but I think the soldiers depicted by Hohenberg are not Spaniards; the Spanish paragon concerning court ceremonial, costumes, armor and weapons alike was copied all over Northern Europe in the second half of the 16th century - England (Queen Victoria I) included. The German morion helmets looked just like the Spanish, from the mid 16th century onwards.

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Old 6th May 2014, 04:36 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
...The German morion helmets looked just like the Spanish, from the mid 16th century onwards...

Thst's what hit me; apparently Portuguese looked the same.
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Old 6th May 2014, 04:37 PM   #20
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So let's have a look now at the latest stage of development of the petronel, the 1580's and 1590's, up to ca. 1600.

The top attachments show Italian petronels of the most modern form of the bent stock, ca. 1580's to 1590.

Here is a heavy petronel musket, the stock inlaid with plaques of engraved bone or staghorn, dated 1579, in the Rüstkammer (armory) of Emden, Northwest Germany.


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Old 6th May 2014, 05:17 PM   #21
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A short 'retrospective' into the 1570's:


Attached find an unusually fine and elegant Italian matchlock petronel caliver, ca. 1570; overall length 1.31 m, sold at auction with San Giorgio's, Italy, 10 October 2007, lot 415.
The barrel is profusely iron carved, and the delicate stock is inlaid with strips of staghorn along the edges. Just wonderful but it would seem a shame to use this piece in war.
Yes, sometimes it happens that beauties like this caliver actually are for sale.

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Old 6th May 2014, 05:20 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Thst's what hit me; apparently Portuguese looked the same.


Of course they did, Nando; the Portuguese have always ranked among the best!!! And at least one of them still does ...

m

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Old 6th May 2014, 05:32 PM   #23
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Flattering Bavarians
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Old 6th May 2014, 06:01 PM   #24
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Yeah, my friend, that's what we are ...

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Old 6th May 2014, 07:46 PM   #25
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Two decorated, early (ca. 1570), large-bore cand heavyweight matchlock petronel muskets, in the Bayerisches Armeemuseum (Bavarian Army Museum) Ingolstadt; author's photos of May 1988.

The fruitwood stock of the first inlaid with engraved staghorn or bone plaques, showing hop decoration that is characteristic of the style of the 1560's to ca. 1580. The barrel octagonal throughout, and struck with the Nuremberg proof mark.
Please note that the delicate buttstock is reinforced with an iron strap, which is often seen on Nuremberg petronels (cf. the Nuremberg petronel in the Zürich museum, posted above). Nuremberg and Augsburg makers usually provided the best workmanship.
The serpentine (match- or tinderholder) is a modern and stylistically inapt 'restoration'.

The stock of the second sparsely decorated with arabesques and a few oval, engraved staghorn or bone plaques. The serpentine definitely shows North Italian influence, and may not belong; the barrel octagonal to round, with short, swamped and ornamentally iron-carved muzzle section.
The original long and tubular backsight and pan cover are missing.


A basic warning to prospective buyers of a petronel:

The chance to acquire a heavily 'restored' and altered piece is over 80 per cent! Most of the petronels I have seen, in musems, at dealers or auctions, were shortened by about 25 per cent, often altered as early as in the 18th and 19th century. The decoration was often faked, and the long tubular back sight was nearly always missing. The highly ornamented piece in the British museum is a complete late 19th century (Spitzer) fake, with a few parts recycled.
And believe me: it takes decades of closest studies to tell the good from the bad ...


Best,
Michael
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Old 6th May 2014, 08:04 PM   #26
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One last glimpse into the large-bore muzzle ...

Note that the iron finial (German: Setzerkopf) of the wooden ramrod is threaded for a little tool like a worm or scourer, to clean the barrel or pull out the ball.
I attached three photos of my collection of 16th/17th century worms and scourers.

All guns preserved at the Landeszeughaus Graz equiped with a so-called 'patch box' (German: Kolbenfach) in their buttstocks, still retain their original worm and scourer in that stock recess - these little tools have been in there since the guns entered the Graz armory 500 to 350 years ago! The Graz armory was turned into a museum in the second half of the 17th century!!!
On early guns, that buttstock recess, beneath a sliding wooden cover, actually was not for storing patches but little accesories like these. Butt trap would be the correct English term.

I attached a close-up of a matchlock pertronel of ca. 1566-70 in the Graz armory, with the box cover detached, and showing the two tools, as well as close-ups of them.

A very fine, Nuremberg-manufactured military wheellock musket of ca. 1600 in my collection, with straight, so-called German buttstock (deutscher Wangenschaft), also retains these two tools in the butt trap. It came from the Graz armory.
Like almost all weapons in Graz, mine, too, is preserved in virtually mint condition throughout, with the lock plate retaining its original bluing, and the original pyrite wrapped in a strip of lead, and clamped in the jaws of the dog for 400 years!
Two photos attached.


Best,
Michael
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Old 20th May 2014, 04:03 AM   #27
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Here is the link to my latest research report on one of the earliest predecessors of petronel stocks on long guns; those long guns were aimed held firmly in front of the arquebusier's chest, with one hand firmly grabbing the downcurved buttstock: a short Landsknecht/mercenay's matchlock aquebus of ca.1520-1530, with an older brass/'bronze' barrel from ca. 1490-1510 re-used:

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...k+arquebus+1520


m

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Old 1st October 2014, 01:10 AM   #28
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There is a representation of arquebusiers carrying matchlock petronels, datable to ca. 1570;
from: Johann Samuel Ersch and Johann Gottfried Gruber:
Allgemeine Encyclopädie der Wissenschaften und Künste. Leipzig, 1818.
("The Allgemeine Encyclopädie der Wissenschaften und Künste ("Universal Encyclopaedia of Sciences and Arts") was a 19th-century German encyclopaedia ... also known as the "Ersch-Gruber"):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allgem... d_K%C3%BCnste

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Last edited by Matchlock : 1st October 2014 at 01:29 AM.
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