Crossbow History

The history of crossbows begins in the 4thcentury BC in China, although a type of crossbow called the gastraphetes may have been independently invented in Greece at about the same time. It was not until the 10th or 11th century AD that the crossbow became a significant military weapon in Europe. It passed from genral military service in the 16th cenyury.

The role of the corssbow became very important in the late medieval period, as it was one of the first hand-held distance weapons that could be used by an untrained soldier.Unlike the longbow the crossbow is easier to shoot as the sring does not have to remain drawn while aiming, subsequently less body strenght is required for operation. However during battle the crossbowman was particularly vulnerable while reloading and requred some form of defence like a wall or a sheild to be fully effective.

Crossbows were not only used as weapons of war, but were also used for hunting and target shooting. The most powerful of crossbows were able to penetrate the armour of a fully amoured soldier and kill him at 200 yards.