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    Vertical Steel Bow Medieval Crossbows



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    Vertical Steel Bow Medieval Crossbows

    Post by HeroSK on Mon Apr 14, 2014 2:27 am

    Hi all,

    While searching about mechanical artillery, I found quite interesting if not shocking information in an article by A Bruhn Hoffmeyer written in 1966.


    In Page 132, some steel bow crossbows mentioned with following sentences;

    At least during the 12th and 13th centuries Chinese steel crossbows appeared, first in Russia later on in Persia and further to the West. The steel bow here was placed vertically, not horizontally as in Hellenistic or Occidental medieval crossbows.

    For this information, the following sources are given;

    " K. HUURI.0 C , p. 230; R. SCHNEIDERD: ie Artzllerie des Mzttelalters.
    See: A. N KIRPICHNIKOWD:i e Wurfartillerie des alten Russlands, p. 43 ff (in

    I tried hard to reach those sources but failed. I also can't read German and Russian thus it would be great to hear what the sources are really meaning by someone could evaluate above sources.

    Thanks in advance.
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    Re: Vertical Steel Bow Medieval Crossbows

    Post by Geezer on Mon Apr 14, 2014 1:27 pm

    My sources: Josef Alm, Wm. Paterson, and Harmuth suggest steel crossbows show up in written sources... presumably inventories, etc... in the 14th century... maybe 13th.  I've never seen reference to a non-modern crossbow with vertical prod, but can't swear nobody tried it.  I think there are obvious advantages to mounting the prod flat, but vertical Can be done.  Geezer


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    Re: Vertical Steel Bow Medieval Crossbows

    Post by HeroSK on Wed Apr 16, 2014 3:04 am

    Available crossbow books dismiss this information that is why I am so surprised when I read the article.

    After some search I started to think that steel bow crossbow could be a misconception in case of China.  Some sources mentions Chinese crossbows with steel stirrups not bows. A scholar of Chinese arsenal giving following information about this.

    According to my book on Chinese weapons, these are the statistics of the Shenbi Nu (Divine-armed Crossbow) or Shenbi Gong (Divine-armed Bow):

    Bow span - 98cm
    Length - 140cm
    String length - 77cm
    Effective range - 150m
    Maximum range - 370-460m
    The penetrating power is such that the bolt can pierce two layers of iron lamellar even at the extreme range of 460m.

    The arm of the bow is made of wood, but the arming foot-stirrup is made of steel and the crossbow mechanism of bronze. So it is not strictly speaking a steel crossbow - only a larger crossbow that is armed by stepping with one foot on a steel stirrup attached to the stock, while pulling the bow string with both arms. This was probably one of the first stirrup-armed crossbows in history, since the first depiction of a stirrup-armed crossbow is in the Wujing Zongyao, written around 1044. Before that, the crossbowman had to step on the bow arm with both feet while pulling the bow string, which could damage the bow arm and also allowed less use of leg power.

    According to the "Mengxi Bitan" by Shen Kuo of the Song dynasty, the Shenbi Nu was invented between 1068 and 1077 by a man of the Xi Xia empire named Li Ding (but named as Li Hong in the Song official history). It came to the Song empire in the form of a tribute offering by the Xi Xia. The Song emperor was so impressed by the power of this crossbow that he ordered it to be manufactured by the imperial armouries as a standard weapon for the Song armies. The Jin (Jurchen) heavy cavalry, whose "Iron Pagoda" elite unit who wore two layers of iron lamellar, were said by the famous commander Wanyan Wushu to fear only two Song weapons - the pole-axe (which could be used by infantry to chop the legs of horses, as Yue Fei did), and even more than that the Shenbi Nu.

    The famous Song general Han Shizhong developed an improved version called the Kedi Gong (Enemy-vanquishing Bow) in 1135, in the critical years after the fall of the Northern Song. Its maximum range increased to 553m, and it was extremely effective against Jin heavy cavalry.

    It is possible to read the discussion here.

    Yet, I failed to find anything about Russian steel crossbows.

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    Re: Vertical Steel Bow Medieval Crossbows

    Post by stm2010 on Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:54 pm

    Wonderful introductions. Was Shenbi Nu used vertically?If so,how the trigger and bolt being set?the Since the Bolt length was quite small (<30cm).


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    Re: Vertical Steel Bow Medieval Crossbows

    Post by HeroSK on Fri Apr 18, 2014 12:51 am

    I am too, curious about those too but there are no other resource mentioning vertically placed bows over stock than A Bruhn Hoffmeyer's article. The only method to make things more clear is to take a look to sources given in the first post. If someone could achieve finding them and sharing the given information, it would be great.

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    Re: Vertical Steel Bow Medieval Crossbows

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