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Medieval History/the medieval crossbow


How did the crossbow change Medieval warfare? and what situation was the crossbow most used in?


The Medieval crossbow helped to change Medieval warfare by giving archers a weapon that could shoot very accurately and hit very hard. Although bows are accurate, they require a lot of arm strength to use. The crossbow required very little arm strength (compared to the bow, and later longbow)to use; and then only to "wind up" the crossbow between shots (depending on how the crossbow was wound up), and then hold steady while aiming. While the crossbow could not kill a knight in full plate armor; the arrows (called bolts) could be used to stop the horses at a much greater range then the normal bow, which meant that the archers could now have a chance of stopping a mounted charge at a much greater range. The bolts could also be used to pierce the weak spots in the knights armor (the parts at the elbow and knees for example). The bolts also extended the killing range from the normal bows in use at the time (as mentioned above); so that now archers could hit both enemy archers, and lighter enemy armored soldiers, allowing them to inflict casualties at a much greater distance, either while the crossbow men were on foot or mounted.

The problem with the crossbow was its slow reloading time, and so this helped to offset the greater killing power of the crossbow to some extent (the normal crossbow man could fire two to three bolts a minute, while a more expert crossbow man could fire three or four a minute). This lead to many archers using a large shield to hide behind while reloading. It was also more complicated to make then a normal bow; and so took longer and because of this was also more expensive to make.

The crossbow was most used in war. It was used in field battles as well as sieges, and from everything from war to hunting. The use of the crossbow depended on the wealth of the user (again, it was more expensive the the normal bow so less easy for the normal archers to afford -- men who weren't that wealthy to begin with, generally speaking) less then the situation (unless it was extremely close, then they would generally have to draw the short sword or dagger they carried). At any range other then extremely close range, there was no situation where the crossbowman wouldn't use his crossbow.

I hope this helped,


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Zachary Phillips


I can answer questions relating to medieval culture and weaponry. Specifically in terms of culture I can answer questions relating to style of dress, weapons employed by the various classes -- in simple terms the nobility (knights, feudal lords, and Kings of the various countries -- Britain, Wales, France, Germany Italy, Portugal, to name a few of the prominent states of the period--), the religious orders (priests, for example), and the peasantry (which contrary to the normal view of the populous, could fight. The problem was they were unable to gain sufficient leverage in terms of weaponry to overcome the problem the armor of the time worn by knights and wealthy land-owners such as priests, and so are modernly stereotyped as incompetent fighters. In addition I can also answer questions relating to the use of the weaponry, as well as the weaponry in use at the time. I can also answer questions relating to diet and fasting. Also mannerisms (though I lack linguistically knowledge of how they differed besides general terms). I am unable to answer a question that does not fall into one of these categories. For this part of history I am a predominate military historian, and thus focus more on the weaponry. As well as the military tactics of the period.


I am self taught, and have been studding military tactics and weaponry from the age of approximately two years old. My focus in history is predominately Roman and Byzantine history (which, depending on your view point may be oxymoronic. However, a distinction between the two terms is made here due to many making the distinction). However, I have amassed a sufficient quantity of knowledge on medieval practices as to be of use in this section (in addition to knowledge of other wars and time period which may be of use in explaining the evolution of such weaponry as pole arms).

I am a student at an accredited university currently. I have been accepted into the Molloy College Undergraduate Philosophy Lecture, to present a lecture on my philosophical work -- despite not attending said university. As testament to my education (mostly self-taught) I enrolled in university at the age of 15, and have maintained enrolment in said university. My credentials as to material should be evident from my answers to questions put-forth to me by the general population -- and my peers in the field.

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