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Old Aug 26th 2012, 09:17 PM
wrianiur wrianiur is offline
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Default What spurred the adoption of muskets?

Not really a game question, but more of a
meta/historical thing.
When armies were moving out of the medieval era, what
caused them to adopt the musket over the crossbow? I
get that bow users had to be trained a long time, but I
assumed crossbows were more accurate and had greater
range than muskets (i hear a lot about bolts punching
through plate easily).
They also seemed relatively easy to use compared to the
gazillion steps needed to fire a matchlock. Didn't they
have certain mechanisms for pulling back the drawstring
so the user's strength wasn't an issue?
Plus they seemed to load around the same speed or
faster. It could also fire when wet, although perhaps
not as effectively.
Could it be cost? I always assumed wooden bolts were
cheaper than metal bullets + gunpowder. Was a crossbow
cheaper to make and maintain than a musket?
Just a nagging question. I'm no expert, so my
assumptions may be off. Anyone know?
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  #2  
Old Aug 27th 2012, 06:49 PM
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Michael Michael is offline
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Location: Toronto
Posts: 14,838
Default Re: What spurred the adoption of muskets?

Quote:
Originally Posted by wrianiur View Post
Not really a game question, but more of a
meta/historical thing.
When armies were moving out of the medieval era, what
caused them to adopt the musket over the crossbow? I
get that bow users had to be trained a long time, but I
assumed crossbows were more accurate and had greater
range than muskets (i hear a lot about bolts punching
through plate easily).
They also seemed relatively easy to use compared to the
gazillion steps needed to fire a matchlock. Didn't they
have certain mechanisms for pulling back the drawstring
so the user's strength wasn't an issue?
Plus they seemed to load around the same speed or
faster. It could also fire when wet, although perhaps
not as effectively.
Could it be cost? I always assumed wooden bolts were
cheaper than metal bullets + gunpowder. Was a crossbow
cheaper to make and maintain than a musket?
Just a nagging question. I'm no expert, so my
assumptions may be off. Anyone know?
Quote
MultiQuote
Basically because the crossbow sucked. The question is much more interesting if you asked about the longbow, but you didn't.

The crossbow was very difficult to operate, was extremely short range and was extremely slow to reload.

The musket was also difficult to operate, short ranged and slow to reload.

The difference between the two is that you could teach 1000 peasants how to shoot a musket in few weeks and become servicable soldiers. The same could not be said of the crossbow.

Indeed, the crossbow pretty much died on the battlefields of Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt where the English longbow not only wiped out the French chivalry and ended the age of armored knights, it also wiped out the mercenary crossbowmen too.

And that's the key to understanding the evolution of warfare - it is as much about social status as it is about weapons. The crossbow, like the longbow, was a yeoman status weapon and therefore was unacceptable to the ruling elite class (nobles & gentry). Peasants were too poor to operate muskets when they went home from the war - but longbows and crossbows could be used cheaply at home for hunting or political rebellion - because they were the weapons of the yeoman class - which had the leisure time to train and the money to afford to keep such weapons.

The ruling elite class (nobles & gentry) much preferred to arm the uneducated peasants who became weapon-less when the war was over - which is just what the ruling elite class wanted. Therefore, when war came, the ruling class made certain that neither the crossbow nor the longbow would be widely used. War and conquest may have been fun and profitable, but the ruling elites were always more concerned about maintaining their rule at home after the war. And a well educated and well armed yeoman class is the enemy of an elite aristocracy. Peasants were too poor and powerless to pose any danger to anyone (and therefore were preferable as soldiers - armed with muskets).
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