16th Century English Weapons Essay

1513 words - 6 pages

16th Century English Weapons


During the 16th century England and much of Europe found itself in turmoil and in a constant state of war. The outbreak of fighting led to the invention and development of new weapons and the growth and change of weapons of old. The development of weapons was a trademark of the time, with a sort of renaissance, or re-birth in the field of weaponry (Miller). The technology was highlighted by the invention of gunpowder by the Chinese which eventually found its way to England (Grolier). However, the use of gunpowder was minimal, because the use of had yet to be perfected. The technological advancement most useful during the period was progression of the metals used in weaponry. The new forms could be found in the production of swords, arrows, cannons, and armor, as well as varies siege weapons.

The three major categories of weapons used during the 16th century were handheld, siege, and missiles. The primary use of handheld weapons is for the obvious is hand to hand combat in close quarters. Handheld weapons were not always the most efficient weapons but played a major role in battle because of their simplicity. An entire army would depend on the use of foot soldiers and simply outnumber their opponent while fighting in the trenches (Grolier). Siege weapons were effective not on battles on an open area, but rather when one army would attack the fortress or castle of the other army. The siege weapons were used to either knock the gate at the entrance of the castle, or other wise gain entry, or to hurl large objects or arrows over the defensive walls around the perimeter of the castle. Fire was another common tactic used with siege of castles, as well as the use of the newly found gunpowder (Revell, "Missile"). The third type of weapons are missile weapons, which came to be the signature of the time period. The missile weapons were fired or projected from a distance and were found effective due to their range, but accuracy became important and so did the skill involved in warfare.

Handheld weapons represented a large portion of the weapons used during 16th Century warfare (Iannuzzo). Most commonly used was the sword. Throughout the middles ages, metals were developed to withstand more abuse and thus became more effective (Iannuzzo). The metals now had to strong enough to pierce through the newly developed armor of the time (Revell, "Armour"). The use of carbonized iron, which was heated, beaten, and cut the process repeated many times over to form a solid and durable and lighter than previous swords. The double edge sword was far superior in strength and sharpness of the other swords of the time (Grolier). The 16th century also brought forth the use of flamberge sword that had an undulating cutting edge, that was believed to be able to easily pierce the armor, but was too awkward for battle and was eventually abandoned. By this time the Great sword, sometimes over six feet in length,...

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