Field snake

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Depiction of a field snake around 1500, Albrecht Dürer
Field snake with 6 cm caliber. Small picture: Enlarged view of the ignition hole on the top
Feldschlange of Golub

The field snake , also Kolubrine (from Latin colubrinus - "snake-like"; French Couleuvrine , English Culverin , Turkish Kolomborna ) or Kalverine , was a type of cannon from the late Middle Ages and early modern times .

The name Feldschlange comes first time in Germany in 1440 before and probably dates from the first as snakes - or dragon head shaped mouth . However, it is also possible that the term alludes to the design of the field snake, the tube of which was often forged with a corkscrew-shaped iron band (see shrink rings on today's cannons).

Compared to the siege guns known as cartoons , field snakes had a relatively small bullet caliber , between 13 cm ( whole field snakes ) and approx. 5 cm ( falconettes ) or 3.5 cm ( serpentine ). The barrel , on the other hand, was usually between 30 and 40 caliber lengths longer than the barrel of the Kartaune, which usually only counted 17 calibers, the quarter kartaune also 24 and the Falkaune (if classified as kartaune, see below) also 27 calibres. The longer tube increased the accuracy, range and penetration effect of the projectiles, since the bullets were exposed to the explosion pressure of the propellant charge for longer. Guns with an even greater caliber length were also known as bastard field snakes (from French batard ).

The development of cannon casting in the 16th century was based on the combination of several breakthroughs in the crafts involved:

  • the development of melting furnaces with higher temperatures,
  • the discovery of particularly tough bronze alloys ,
  • the resulting weight savings (the lower metal consumption per piece also reduced costs),
  • the closely guarded secrets of how such long and precise pipes can be made from the model to the mold to the casting itself.

The iron balls fired varied in weight from about 20 pounds for the largest guns to one pound for the smallest. Field snakes were usually mounted on a two-wheeled carriage that could be pulled by a horse.

The classification of the field snake types was subject to certain variants depending on the region or author with regard to the naming and the associated caliber and bullet dimensions. The field coils are generally divided into whole field coil (bullet weight: about 18 lb), Notschlange (16-pounder) Half field coil (9-pounder) and Quarter snake or Falkaune (7-pounder, Michael Mieth divides the Falkaune in 1684 but as a 6-pounder cardaune!) and a falcon (2-pounder).

The targeted single shot at enemy officers or gun crews was used by Falkonett (also eighth snake , 1 pounder) and Serpentinell (also emery or (field) snake . Bullet weight: 16 plumb or 1/2 pound). A falconette hit cost Giovanni dalle Bande Nere a leg, the infected wound then his life, as did Marshal Guébriant . Götz von Berlichingen lost his right hand to a field snake.

This type of cannon was later used in the field cannon .

Curiosity: The pipes of disused field snakes were occasionally walled in as a curbstone on busy street corners to protect the house edges (as described by Wilhelm Raabe in Die Chronik der Sperlingsgasse ).


  • 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 .
  • Erich Egg : The Tyrolean gun casting. 1400–1600 (= Tiroler Wirtschaftsstudien 9, ZDB -ID 527219-1 ). Wagner, Innsbruck 1961.

Web links

Commons : Culverins  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ [According to a classification of the types of artillery by Michael Mieth: Artilleriae Recentior Praxis , Frankfurt and Leipzig 1684]
  2. Johann Georg Krünitz: Economic-Technological Encyclopedia , Volume 34, Berlin 1785, p. 314 ff.
  3. Kurbairisches Dragoons Johann Wolf eV - armament artillery
  4. Engelbert Hegaur (Hrsg.): Life description of the knight Götz von Berlichingen assigned with the iron hand. = Life, feuds and actions of the knight Götz von Berlichingen. Released to print, set in our script and provided with an index. Reprint of the original edition Munich, Langen, 1910. Melchior-Verlag, Wolfenbüttel 2006, ISBN 3-939102-91-1 .