Ancient Chinese Crossbow Facts: Why Was It So Important And More | Kidadl


Ancient Chinese Crossbow Facts: Why Was It So Important And More

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A crossbow is a weapon that can fire multiple arrows at the same time.

This weapon was used vigorously on the battlefields of ancient China. The crossbow is a ranged weapon, that is the person holding it can shoot their targets from great distances.

The idea behind the invention of this weapon was very different from the way it had been used over the ages. It was merely created as a peace tool so that after seeing the modern and powerful weapons, the enemy soldiers would very easily give in or surrender. However, the reality was much more different. With different shapes and sizes, the crossbow was used largely in ancient warfares and battles. From the age-old bow and arrow, that was used during hunting, to the introduction of crossbows and finally the discovery of multiple shot crossbows, technology played a great role. With the help of multiple shot crossbows or repeated crossbows, people could now shoot more than once without reloading. This, however, reduced the accuracy as well. Nonetheless, it proved to be deadly and devastating for the enemy line. There were several myths surrounding the crossbow as well, one being that it could pierce through the plate body armors of soldiers. In reality, however, it could only pierce through leather armors or the ring mail.

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The Invention Of The Crossbow

The crossbow has its origin in ancient China. It was a powerful weapon and played a significant role in the warfares. Initially made out of wood, the first crossbows were invented around 400 BCE. It was an extension of the old bow and arrow. An elastic string usually made of sinew or rawhide was attached to the bow to shoot the arrowheads which were made out of burnt wood, or even metal. The firing mechanism was made of bronze.

According to archeological evidence, the crossbow was used by the ancient Greeks, ancient Egypt, Persia, and Europe as well. The crossbow differed in size, while some were light and could be moved around easily, some were much larger in size, like the handheld crossbows. The mounted crossbows were used as powerful defensive weapons. By the medieval period, the crossbow had made significant changes in the war fields of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. The exact time when the crossbow was invented is not known, however, writers like Yang Hong and Zhu Fenghan claimed that its existence in the ancient world was much earlier than the estimated period. Compared to the ordinary bow, the Chinese crossbow was much more powerful and could shoot multiple bolts at a time. Similarly, the composite bow was also introduced in central Asia and Europe during the 13th century. There were several layers in the composite bow and was made out of several materials like wood and sinew that were then glued together to make it more efficient. This artillery was largely used during the Han dynasty and played a significant role in the dominance of the Han and Sung empires. Compared to the European crossbows, the crossbows of ancient China were much more powerful.

Multiple Bolt Crossbow

Zhuge Liang is credited to have invented the multiple bolt crossbow during the late period of the 4th century BC. Although some others claimed that the repeating crossbow has its origin much before in Qinjiazui.

It was so large, it had to be carried on a three-wheeled carriage and could shoot almost 10 ft (304 cm) long arrows. It could shoot multiple bolts at a time, however, there was one disadvantage. The accuracy of the shot was rather reduced and the arrows could reach up to 500 yards. Bigger than the standard crossbows, the multiple bolt crossbow was used as field artillery and was very deadly to the enemy line. The repeating crossbow was so powerful that it could destroy something as big as a city tower even. It could fire as many as 10 iron bolts without reloading. The repeating crossbow is also known as zhuge nu in Chinese.

The Ancient Battlefield

From the invention of the crossbows, they were used vigorously in the warfares and the battlefields. However, there are several myths about the crossbow as well. One such is that the crossbow could pierce plate body armors. The crossbows could pierce through lesser armors like the leather armor or the ring mail.

The trigger mechanism of the Chinese crossbows was the main secret of the weapon so much so that they did not want this weapon to fall into the enemy's hand, fearing they might copy it. The crossbows. unlike the old bow and arrow was much easier to aim and could be used by an average person as well, although not as accurately as a skilled person. The earliest crossbows with bronze triggers were uncovered from a grave in Hunan. The bronze crossbow dated as early as the middle of the 4th century BC, along with the bronze crossbow bolts. The repeating crossbows of ancient history made it easier for archers to fire more rapidly and quickly turned into a powerful weapon. An interesting fact about the crossbow is that the idea behind its invention was to use it as a peace weapon. It was believed that seeing such modern and powerful weapons, the enemy soldiers would automatically retreat or surrender. However, the reality was much more different. More and more crossbows were used to destroy the enemy soldiers and the crossbowmen would often arm themselves with spears and axes and join the battlefield as mounted troops. However, with the introduction of gunpowder, the crossbow became obsolete. By 1530, the repeating crossbow was no longer used. During the tenth century, however, there was a spurge of the crossbow again in the regions of Europe.

Crossbows were used widely in warfares.

Ancient Chinese Warfare

Crossbows were powerful weapons used in Chinese warfare. There have been reports of using this particular artillery in many great ancient battles. The first recorded use of the crossbow was during the Batlle of Ma Ling in 341 BCE. The general belief in military treatises was that a skilled crossbowman was as good as a 100-foot soldier.

The crossbow also played a major role behind the Han dominance, where both large and small crossbows were used simultaneously. There have also been records of them using a crossbow that was so light that it could be yielded using one hand only. Compared to the old bow and arrow of the Paleolithic period of Asian history, the discovery of these weapons changed the whole world. By the introduction of the Sung dynasty, there were several improvements and this weapon turned out to be much more powerful, for example, the introduction of the repeated crossbows that could fire multiple shots without reloading.

Modern Military And Paramilitary Usage

Over the years, the crossbow has gone through certain modifications that have made it much easier for a modern person to yield. Although in this present era, it is no longer used in battles or wars, still there are various other purposes that the crossbow fulfills.

Crossbows are used by the Peruvian army to form ziplines in regions, where walking might be dangerous are difficult. Similarly, there have been recorded instances in regions of Brazil as well as China, where soldiers are trained in how to use crossbows. Since, this particular artillery can be used from a great distance, without coming face to face with the opponent, the crossbows are now used in various places as counter-sniper weapons. What merely started as self-defense artillery is now widely used all over the world for various purposes.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for ancient Chinese crossbow facts then why not take a look at ancient Chinese medicine facts, or ancient Chinese art facts.

<p>With a Master of Arts in English, Rajnandini has pursued her passion for the arts and has become an experienced content writer. She has worked with companies such as Writer's Zone and has had her writing skills recognized by publications such as The Telegraph. Rajnandini is also trilingual and enjoys various hobbies such as music, movies, travel, philanthropy, writing her blog, and reading classic British literature.&nbsp;</p>

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