An extract from Armies of the Middle Ages, volume 1
by Ian Heath


Officially one man per lance was equipped with a handgun in Charles the Bold's forces, though figures dating to 1472 indicate that they were in reality about 50% understrength, half of those who should have served as handgunners (culverineers in the source) actually serving as pikemen. Nevertheless, amongst the Swiss booty at Grandson there were as many as 800 handguns. The gun illustrated here is from a Burgundian edition of Froissart dated 1468 and shows the serpentine firing mechanism (also called a 'dog' or 'dragon') that was in existence by 1411. This comprised a match-holding metal arm which pivoted on the side of the stock, its shape, as explained under figures 68-70, probably giving rise to the term 'arquebus'. Guns fired by hand-held matches remained in use alongside the serpentine until the late-15th century.

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