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    Seeking Answers To Crossbows and Quarrels in Use between 11th and 15th Century


    Fresh Blood

    Doesn't mean
    I'm new to crossbows

    Fresh Blood Doesn't meanI'm new to crossbows

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    Join date : 2017-02-19

    Seeking Answers To Crossbows and Quarrels in Use between 11th and 15th Century

    Post by blawr4 on Sun Feb 19, 2017 2:07 pm

    Greetings Members of the Arbalist Guild,

    I would like to open by saying that I’m certain I won’t be of much assistance to this forum in the long term. And, in truth, I’ve only joined so that I might post a question and get some answers by knowledgeable experts. I’ve tried to do online research into crossbow information; yet I’ve spent at least six hours of my life in vein trying to find the answers to some rather obscure questions. I would greatly appreciate any answers given. I also understand, as I saw in the rules post, that I’m not breaking the rules by asking these questions, per say, but that it is a bit in bad taste, seeing as how 99% of people here are interested in building their own crossbows or the application of modern designs for hunting or target practice – specifically information talking about builds, designs, distance, and the like. If those are the other questions you’ll be able to answer, I’ll still be happy with whatever I can gleam here. And, if anybody has any other forums they suggest I take this post to, or the remaining questions of this post to, I’ll happy follow that advice as well. The questions are below.

    1)     What kind of personal crossbows were prevalent in the 11th through 15th centuries?

    2)   Would it be unheard of, in the aforementioned centuries, to create a metal shaft on a crossbow quarrel/bolt so dense that it couldn’t be snapped in half or bent by a human hand?

    3) If such bolts as mentioned in question two did exist, how would the density of the shaft affect flight?

    4)Assuming the people in those centuries had a means of purifying/refining aluminum and carbon, which I understand are very popular metals these days for shaft construction, would have those metals been used in the construction of bolts/quarrels?

    5) What would the fletching be like on such bolts/quarrels?

    6) How would such a bolt/quarrel be produced and what sort of crossbow would be needed to fire it?

    7) In the event that such a bolt/quarrel could not be produced, what other sorts of shaft designs would be resistant to being snapped in two by enemy combatants after removal of said bolt/quarrel?

    8 ) Based on the end results of the questions, what might an early model of the crossbow and break-resistant bolt/quarrel look like, and what refinements would have been made to such a design in the passing of fifty to a hundred years?

    The reason for my asking is a bit complex, so I’ll try to say the short of it. I’m a writer and also an avid table-top role-player, a la Dungeons & Dragons. I generally do not combine the two in any intense way, but with one exception, a Legend of Zelda based forum RPG. To those familiar with the Legend of Zelda franchise, feel free to apply such knowledge in your answers if it helps answer the question more thoroughly. Being a forum role-playing game, each member has their own ongoing storylines, told in topics that they themselves moderate working with the pre-determined rules set. I haven’t actually moderated/ran a topic of my own in some time, and I’ve finally decided to try my hand at it now that I’m older and I can weave a more complex story. The story involves a gang of thieves using military grade crossbows and the terror they’ve inflicted on the villages they’ve attacked. My character and another player’s character are investigating these thieves to discover the mystery of why they are so well equipped, as well as uncovering their hidden base and ultimately bringing them to justice. Naturally, being the story-teller, it is my job to be well informed into all the aspects of the case. But when the other player asked a question through his character about the nature of the bolts being used, I realized I had no knowledge about crossbow what-so-ever. I’ve tried to educate myself, but I cannot delay this topic indefinitely, so I write in the hopes that somebody hear might be able to give me a crash course as it were. If anybody needs further details about my story to provide better answers, I’ll happily provide them, but as I’ve said, I’m just giving the short of it for now. I don’t want to overwhelm people.
    Too long; didn’t read?

    I’m a writer and am trying to educate myself for the sake of telling a story.
    Master Crossbowyer
    Master Crossbowyer

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    Re: Seeking Answers To Crossbows and Quarrels in Use between 11th and 15th Century

    Post by Geezer on Sun Feb 19, 2017 8:19 pm

    Geezer here: you asked a lot of semi-fantasy questions related to legend of Zelda: 11th thru 15th centuries cover a lot of ground with crossbows, from early medieval thru high renaissnce.  At the start of the period, crossbows would be moderate weight, (maybe 200 lb) drawn by hand or belt hook.  By 15th century, you're seeing horn/composite and even steel bows, drawn with various spanning machines (levers, cord and pulley and several varieties of windlass) Bolts for these bows we vary by the power of the bow, from 2 ounces to perhaps 5 ounces. Generally speaking bolts were made of the most resilient hardwood available (ash, birch and oak were common) They would be @ 12 to 18 inches long, averaging around 15 inches, and anywhere from 3/8 to 3/4 inch diameter, depending on bow power (there are field bows from 15th century that might be 600 lb. or more, and siege bows much stronger) I have seen some references to iron bolts, but have never seen any other than hardwood shafts with heavy iron/steel shafts, but being short and rather thick, the heavier bolts would be rather hard to break by hand.
        As for fantasy compounds, like aluminum or carbon fiber, aluminum was known in Napoleon's day (early 19th century) but it was incredibly expensive, due to costs/difficulty of refining (Napoleon had a set of aluminum table-ware, mostly for show.  He wanted aluminum cannon, but apparently that never worked out. Given a sufficiently skilled alchemist/mage in a fantasy setting, you might find solid aluminum bolts.  They would be light strong and rigid, but since aluminum is soft, they might not have good armor penetration qualities.  I have seen solid aluminum bolts made with fluted tails... the later half of the bolt is carved (or caste) into long, low fins. They flew fast and straight, but were subject to bending if they struck a hard target obliquely. 
    Any more questions?  We have lots of knowledgeable people here.  Geezer.
    Master Crossbowyer
    Master Crossbowyer

    Posts : 1065
    Join date : 2010-01-12
    Age : 70
    Location : Austin, Texas, USA

    Re: Seeking Answers To Crossbows and Quarrels in Use between 11th and 15th Century

    Post by Geezer on Sun Feb 19, 2017 8:25 pm

    I should always proofread.. never do.  For bolt materials: I've read accounts of iron shafts, but have only seen wood shafts with heavy iron/steel points.  Fletching varies: really nice target bolts seem to have been feather fletched, but bolts that were stored in armories for years were more likely to have wood/thin metal, or parchment fletching... bugs eat the feathers, you see. Even so. don't expect velocities much over 200 fps with medieval technology (some modern composites are pushing 400 fps) Max ranges 250-350 yards, but effective, enemy-shooting ranges will be under 100 yards.  Does that help?  Geezer.

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    Re: Seeking Answers To Crossbows and Quarrels in Use between 11th and 15th Century

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