A Deadly Weapon Defeated by Rifles in History: Crossbows
The Crossbow is a ranged weapon consisting of a bow attached to an ergonomic wooden body. The principle of operation is to throw the arrow on the wooden body (seating) forward by pulling the trigger that keeps the bow taut. When and where the crossbow was discovered is a bit of a mess, especially since the Persian resources were destroyed by the Arab invasion. However, estimates are that it was discovered by the Chinese around 600 BC. It is a weapon known in Greek and Roman times.
Its biggest feature is that it pierces very well even all piece plate armor thanks to its short arrows and energy. The ability to penetrate armor very well is the biggest feature that distinguishes croosbows from other bows. It could easily kill a fully equipped knight. For this reason, it was a very deadly weapon in the Middle Ages. Thanks to the power of the crossbows, even ordinary soldiers managed to pierce the armor of the knights with successive shots and throw them out of battle. That's why II. The Council of Loterano prohibited the use of the crossbow against one another among Christians at 1139.
Another important advantage of the crossbow is its ease of use. This type of spring can be used by young, old, children and women because of its ease of use. To use the crossbow, it was enough to pull the trigger and aim. But using other springs required years of training. Therefore, the crossbow was used by everyone. It is also a weapon that allows to wait as long as desired after the mechanism is stretched, so that the target can be tracked and suddenly thrown at the target.
Carrying and using this bow was no more difficult than carrying and using infantry rifles of recent use. It was a very useful weapon, especially in defense. Used behind walls and trenches, it was more useful than launchers or even a regular bow. Because unlike the traditional bow, it was possible to use the crossbow lying face down and camouflaged. In addition, it was stronger and more accurate than conventional bows.
It is very effective at only close range, its range is not very high. Not suitable for distant targets.
The biggest disadvantage of the crossbow is the length of time between two shots. After shooting an arrow, it is necessary to insert a new arrow into the wooden body and attach the mechanism. It was a weapon that could fire only about two arrows per minute. In the famous Crecy battle in history, the crossbow brought defeat to the French because of this feature. This war was fought between the British and French armies, and the French were outnumbered in the war. But the British won the war. In this war, while the French used the Tatar bow, the British used a bow called Longbow that could shoot 6-7 arrows per minute.
With the beginning of the 15th century, when the construction and design of the crossbow reached perfection, the widespread use of the rifle, which is a more powerful weapon, caused the crossbow to fall into the background against this weapon. The armies were more enthusiastic about the use of the rifle than the crossbow, taking into account the psychological impact of this new weapon. The use of the crossbow, which has such important features, ended with a decree in history. A French King was killed with this bow, and the Pope completely banned the use of the crossbow, calling it an invention of the devil.
Crossbows in Today's World
Today's crossbows serve mostly in hunting activities. Of course, this bow has undergone great changes compared to the past. For example, binoculars are attached to the gun. At the same time, laser types are also available in the market. Crossbows made today are made of Carbon Fiber and are produced very strong. At the same time, today's crossbow works very quietly, not as loudly as modern weapons.
The Chinese, on the other hand, developed the crossbow. With a spring-mounted magazine and an arm that can move back and forth, they turned it into a weapon they called Chu-ko-nu, which can shoot arrows alternately.
Expert Historian Kennedy Hickman
Columnist Deniz İhsan Taşdelen
Columnist Erdoğan Gül