Reflection Review #1: The Crossbow
The crossbow is a weapon which has a bow mounted on a stock that shoots projectiles. These projectiles are known as bolts and look very much like a short arrow. During the medieval times the crossbow was sometimes called a ballista, which actually was a torsion engine resembling a crossbow.
There are many variants of the crossbow. All variants had a bow mounted on a stick, called a tiller or stock. There is a mechanism on the stock that is used to hold the drawn bow string. There is a trigger that releases the bolt, which is carried down the stock and out of the crossbow. The strings were typically made of strong fibers. Whipcord was very common; however linen, hemp, and sinew were used as well.
The use of crossbows in medievail European dates back to Roman times. They almost superseded hand bows in many European armies in the twelfth century. Although a longbow has a faster rate of fire than an average crossbow, crossbows release more kinetic energy and can be used effectively after little training, while a comparable single-shot skill with a longbow takes strength to overcome the draw of the longbow. I
In the armies of Europe, mounted and unmounted crossbowmen, often mixed with javeliners and archers, occupied a central position in battle formations. They engaged the enemy in offensive skirmishes before an assault of mounted knights. Crossbowmen were also valuable in counterattacks to protect the infantry. Along with polearm weapons made from farming equipment, the crossbow was also a weapon of choice for insurgent peasants such as the Taborites.
Mounted knights armed with lances proved ineffective against formations of pikemen combined with crossbowmen whose weapons could penetrate most knights' armor. The invention of pushlever and ratchet drawing mechanisms enabled the use of crossbows on horseback, leading to the development of new cavalry tactics....