Hawkwood

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Vol. 5 Ch. 30 - Ottone Doria
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@Robbini @ Solaz It depends very much on the type of crossbow, the details of which are ignored in this chapter.

Crossbows, like regular bows, have a wildly varying draw poundage depending on their purpose. Light crossbows meant for hunting and skirmishing could have anywhere from 50-80 pounds, while heavy crossbows meant for open war were usually in the 120-150 pound weight. I don't know of any examples off the top, but I've heard references to crossbows that had to be cranked back with a winch because they had a draw weight of 180-200 pounds.

Until firearms became the standard, there were two schools of thought for how crossbows should be made and used: the first school of thought was primarily found in Italy and surrounding areas, which was that crossbowmen were best used as marksmen who shot down high-priority targets to break up battle lines and chains of command. The precursors to modern day snipers, if you will; equipped with heavy, well made crossbows and bolts, usually with fletching. The second school of thought, found elsewhere in Europe, was that crossbowmen were just another variant of levied archers who fired en masse to slow down the enemy in preparation for the inevitable melee and to suppress enemy archers; these would usually have cheap, light crossbows and bolts.

What we're seeing here is sort of a cross between the two historical versions. There's a couple of reasons for why the bolts would not have fletching, but none that easily match the obvious portrayal of these mercenaries as Italian heavy crossbowmen obviously trained in the marksmen style.

Of particular note is page 28, where it's made clear that these are in fact well-made heavy crossbows as evidenced by the stirrup on the end, and the smooth curved stock.

One slight problem is that I don't see evidence of a winch anywhere, which means these aren't the 180+ crossbows I mentioned; those bits where we see the crossbow bolts pierce the actual cuirass (the armored plate over the torso) wouldn't happen with these crossbows. The bolts piercing all the smaller plates and chain are perfectly realistic, though.
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@robbini crossbow bolts do use fletching, but there are some that don't have it though

Last edited 2 mo ago by Solaz.

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@PraetorDragoon
None whatsoever in any case, just the tip and the wood/metal body ?
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Should've listened to him
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He tried to warn 'em. He really did.
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Amateurs forget that fast, ranged small arms are even better on the defense than they are on the offense. Do as the Genovese and volley up.
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They got rekt. Also, those are some long ass bolt.
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@Robbini No, crossbow bolts generally don't have feathers on the tail-end.
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Nitpicking a bit.
But don't crossbow bolts have some feathers as well at the tail-end ?