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History of Crossbows

Long before the crossbow made its debut as a weapon in movies and television, it was used for centuries as effective warfare across Asia and Europe. From the age in which it was invented until the time in which firearms were developed, it was the go-to weapon in sieges and on battlefields. Check out these three historical facts about crossbows.

1. Believed To Originate in China

The first historical writings about crossbows come from China and go back as far as the 6th and 5th centuries BCE. It is believed that the Chinese developed a mechanical trigger for the bow that could be used and reloaded without tiring the crossbowman. It is possible that it was established long before the utilization of a metal trigger, but the development and use of a bronze trigger was the key to the crossbow's effectiveness and increased use.

2. Used By Alexander The Great in Battle

Over the next 200 years, the crossbow would eventually find its way into Europe, and it made its first documented appearance in Greece. It is said to have been used in the Siege of Montya in 397 BCE, but is more accurately recorded to be used by Alexander The Great in the Siege of Tyre in 332 BCE. This was the first documented use of a torsional spring for increased projectile force.

3. The Preferred Military Weapon Until Medieval Times

Because the crossbow could be used with accuracy and effectiveness with less training and finesse than other weapons, it became the most popular weapon in warfare for centuries. With a steel bow, shots went further and had deeper penetration strength compared to longbows. Only until the 1500s, with the development of firearms did the crossbow fall out of military favor on battlefields.

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