Medieval Crossbow - the Handgun of The Middle Ages

The medieval crossbow is a forerunner of modern day hand held weapons. It gave an ordinary, untrained person the ability to wreak havoc at a distance, something quite beneficial during the period.

Considering the predominance of invaders and marauders, the crossbow was a welcomed weapon in any arsenal. These crackerjacks could pierce plate armor at a distance of 200 yards and they didn’t require years of formal training to master.

The idea behind the medieval crossbow predates the machine by quite some time. In fact, early model catapults are designed after earlier crossbows, but by the time the crossbow came on the scene, the technology had been perfected.

The medieval crossbow was easier to aim than a normal longbow. This is simply because the string didn’t have to be pulled back while aiming. Another advantage to the medieval crossbow was that it could be locked and loaded well in advance of a need to fire. This gave the person firing the crossbow an ability to react quickly and with ease.

The forerunner of the medieval crossbow likely was introduced in Europe around the 900s or before. To make a crossbow, a weapon maker would need wood to create the prod or horn and possibly sinew to make the composite prods. The tiller of the medieval crossbow was generally made out of wood and in the case of some crossbows a bridle made of rope or animal sinew was used to attach the prod to the tiller. The medieval crossbow worked with a triggering mechanism to launch a preloaded crossbow bolt at an unsuspecting enemy.

While the medieval crossbow enabled the untrained to fight, the weapons were quite inefficient. The draw length and the prod of crossbows tended to be quite short. This means energy stored in a drawn crossbow wasn’t transferred in its fullest form to the loaded crossbow bolt. Even so, the medieval crossbow made a name for itself in warfare and even hunting.

The medieval crossbow was quite expensive and inasmuch was used generally by the wealthy. Though use of similar weapons by the Romans dates back to 340 BC, the crossbow became widely used across Europe in the 13th century.

The medieval crossbow almost always consisted of a wooden stock with a bow made of metal crossing at the front. The string was held in a notch by a catch and it was pulled back by a lever. The crossbow bolt was laid into a groove on the top of the stock and it was released by a trigger. Larger, well-made medieval crossbows could launch a bolt over 1,000 feet.

Medieval crossbows are widely made today by those in the replica business. The ingenuity of the crossbow rivals the great catapults in the machine’s ability to hurl a deadly projectile over distances. Its accuracy, however, is also the same as in a catapult where mechanical or operator error often led to ill-landed launchings.