Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Victims of generic history.

A BBC reporter who is apparently unfamiliar with the Hussite Wars seems amazed at the discovery of hand-cannon fragments at the site of the Battle of Towton.

Yes, Mr. Reporter, they had hand-gonnes much earlier than you think they did. What makes the find interesting is that, even as late as the mid-15th Century, England was something of a military backwater, so the surprise comes not from finding medieval hand-cannon, but from finding them in England.

(H/T to The Maddened Fowl.)


McVee said...

All the fanboys want to know is it forged or cast? :)

John said...

"The weapons did more damage and scared horses than it did to the opposition," Mr Sutherland said.

Yeah, the historic impact of an inch-plus diameter ball is just a ballistic apparition, apparently.

Scenario: "Now stand right here, with your gonne crewe, Sargent and shoot those big horses and armored knights when they try to ride over you. Load fast and you'll be all right. The archers here, will back you up."

Bram said...

I'll take an English or Welsh Bowman for accuracy, range, and rate of fire. The French would probably agree.

Tango Juliet said...

Fragments!?! Damn MIM!!

Tam said...

The whole "bow v. gonne" is a fun retro-history thing to debate (cf. Ben Franklin), but that verdict was already handed down 500 years ago.

Sure, the English won at Agincourt... and got their longbow-wielding arses kicked out of France just the same, blasted apart by superior French artillery.

mikee said...

Fragments. Heh.

There is a story, most often remaining unknown, with every historical artifact. Still I wonder if there was a bandaged hand held up in the camp canteen later that night, with the Kaboom! story gruesomely repeated again and again over several beers.

tw "bleping", as in, "And then the bleping thing exploded!"

Brian Dunbar said...

From the article
He revealed the reason the guns were probably not found intact was that it was not uncommon for the weapon to explode in the user's hands because of metal casting faults.

P'haps I'm an unedumacated Yankee but the reason, I think, Mr. Sutherland, you don't find more intact guns lying around is because sergeants really frown at you when you come trudging back from the fight without the gun they issued you in the morning.

Ed Foster said...

Perhaps the oops factor was why so many of the early gonnes/hackenbuchse were on the end of a long tiller. I wouldn't worry as much if I were the gunner as I would were I the kid he had touch off the piece.

Cast, brrr... At least the welded guns had hoops holding the staves together. I imagine you would blow out a section of a hooped gun, rather than split into many pieces like a casting.

global village idiot said...

The story doesn't report whether the authorities placed Messrs. Richardson (the one who found the weapon fragments) or Sutherland (archaeologist) under arrest for being in possession of an unregistered firearm.