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With blunderbuss and Arkebuse a diverse family of will muzzle the 15th and 16th centuries respectively. These can be found in Europe and Asia with matchlocks and a caliber of around 18 to 20 millimeters (according to other information up to 25 millimeters).

Hook box



The earlier and heavy hook boxes were still bulky further developments of the barrels , which, however , were decisively improved by means of pistons and matchlocks . Due to their clumsiness, they were only suitable as defensive weapons, whereby they were mainly used down from the castle wall; some early models may have differed from a hand tube only in their butts and hooks and were fired (as usual) by guiding the fuse to the ignition hole by hand. At the beginning of the 16th century, the much more manageable arquebuses were developed from the hook boxes . They were the shorter and lighter versions of the muskets , which were still so heavy that they always required a support fork, and they could also be used by riders. This enabled them for the first time to mount firearms and represent the forerunners of the carbine .

Forged hook bushes, 16th century ( Army History Museum , Vienna)
Arquebus archer around 1600
Arkebusier, loading the pipe, at the beginning of the Thirty Years War

Etymology, definition of terms

Arquebuse is derived from the French name arquebuse , a corruption of the German word hook box . The first sure evidence of the term arquebus dates back to 1364, when the Prince of Milan , Bernabò Visconti , recruited 70 Archibuxoli , although in this case the term arquebus may be used here as a synonym for a hand pipe . Both names refer to an iron hook under the barrel . With this, the firearm could be fixed (hooked) on a surface such as a wall or a branch in order to absorb the enormous recoil .

The terms hook bushes and arquebuses are sometimes used specifically ( hook bushes for the older, bulky models, arquebuses for the more modern, more manageable types), sometimes synonymous.

Although both hook boxes and arquebuses have hooks in their names, it can only be found in hook boxes; Arquebuses generally don't have it.

While modern rifles have a rifled ( helical, grooved) barrel, hook rifles and arquebuses were always smooth like a modern shotgun .

Historical development

The early hook boxes were still very heavy at around seven kilograms, and according to other information even with up to 25 kilograms.

During the 16th century, lighter models were developed in France, which in Germany were called arquebuses. They were therefore suitable for the cavalry , which gave rise to the arquebusier rider .

The accuracy of both the hook boxes and the arquebuses (as well as the muskets) was relatively low, so that their use only made sense at a short distance or when massaged as a battery.

The battles of Cerignola and Garigliano (both 1503) and Bicocca (1522) were early victories of the infantry armed with arquebuses. During the Battle of Pavia in 1525 in particular , the arquebusiers demonstrated the power of their firearms by defeating both the Swiss rice paddlers and the French heavy riders.

In the late 16th century, the musketeers made up the heavy infantry, while the arquebusiers made up the light infantry. They first appeared around the middle of the 16th century in Piedmont and France as a mounted troop, which, however, mostly dismounted for battle and from which the Dragoons later developed. The notorious "Black Gangs" (Bande Nere) of the Condottiere Giovanni di Medici, called Giovanni dalle Bande Nere , were largely members of this branch of arms.

The departments of mounted arquebusiers, which were based on the French and Italian models in Germany, were known as "hookers" or "bandolier riders" - after the bandolier carried across the shoulder to attach the cartridge cases.

Use in Asia

Japanese arquebuses
Demonstration of a hook rifle, a wall rifle and a chamber gun , FLM Roscheider Hof 2011

From 1543 Portuguese sailors and traders made contact with Japan ; Portuguese arquebuses were also among the traded goods. The Portuguese "adventurer" Fernão Mendes Pinto claims in his travel reports that he introduced the arquebus to the Japanese in 1542/43. These arquebuses were later reproduced in large numbers by blacksmiths on the island of Tanegashima as Tanegashima arquebuses . Fifty years later, Japan was the country with the most firearms in the world. A later important center of firearm manufacturing in Japan was Saiga in Kii Province (now Wakayama Prefecture ).

In 1575 3,000 arquebuses decided the battle of Nagashino against cavalry attacks by the opposing samurai for Oda Nobunaga . During the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592 a little more than a quarter of the Japanese troops of 160,000 men were arquebuses.

In the naval battle of Lepanto in 1571 between the Christian Holy League , the u. a. Spain, Venice and the Papal States, and the Ottoman Empire of the Turks, were novel ships ( galeas ), but also arquebuses were decisive for the victory of the Christian League. This victory meant that the Ottomans, who had greater (financial) resources, commissioned 20,000 arquebuses, which enabled the Ottomans to continue their successes. However, since their warriors traditionally fought mainly on horseback and with bows and arrows or swords, handguns first prevailed among the disciplined infantry of the so-called Janissaries .

These weapons then spread through the Ottoman Empire to Persia , Afghanistan , India and North Africa . The Central Asian Jezail and the Indian Bandukh Torador , for example, are derived from these weapons, but due to their length and caliber are more likely to be counted among the muskets . Especially in Central Asia and North India, the production and handling of match guns reached a very high standard.

Various types of arquebuses and muskets with fuse ignition were also used in Nepal, Tibet and China, sometimes up to the beginning of the 20th century.

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e arquebus. In: Brockhaus Encyclopedia . Leipzig 1996, ISBN 3-7653-3100-7 .
  2. Fabio Romanoni, Fabio Bargigia: The Spread of Firearms in the Visconti's Lordship (14th Century) - La diffusione delle armi da fuoco nel dominio Visconti (secolo XIV) . In: Revista Universitaria de Historia Militar . ( [accessed May 25, 2019]).
  3. Perrin, p. 25.
  4. Noel Perrin: Giving Up the Gun. Japan's Reversion to the Sword, 1543-1879 . 3. Edition. David R. Godine Publisher, 1999, ISBN 0-87923-773-2 , pp. 19 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  5. Perrin, p. 27.
  6. GEO epoch no.28


  • Thomas Meyer: bow, crossbow, hook box. Development and technology of long-range weapons in the Middle Ages . Books on Demand, Norderstedt 2009, ISBN 978-3-8370-8676-8 .

Web links

Commons : Arkebuse  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Arkebusier  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Arquebus  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations