Sean M wrote:
This lists things provided to Robert l'Artilleur to make 25 crossbows (arbalestres) for the castle of Rouen in October 1358:
Let's discuss the items a bit.
25 staves of yew, 5s. each, worth £6 5s
I wonder if this is the normal price for a full sized bow staff, or if these are special "shorties" for crossbows. If they were full sized, I would expect to get two crossbows from each. But, perhaps that's optimistic.
25 staples (estaples), 25s
Every time I come to this item I expect it to be the stirrups, but clearly it's something else. Does anyone have an idea what these estaples
25 nuts for arbalests, 2s each, worth 1s (!)
It's interesting that he doesn't have to make the nuts. Presumably they are the work of some specialist. Would that it could be thus today!
25 stirrups (éstriefs), 1s [the price for a similar order in 1361 suggests that this should be 1s each-ed.]
25 triggers (clefs "keys"), 1s [the price for a similar order in 1361 suggests that this should be 1s each-ed.]
It's less surprising that these iron parts would be made by another craftsman.
12 pounds of hemp thread (fil de chanvre), 30s
I wonder if this is for the string or the binding, or both. In any case it's about 7 1/2 oz (213g) per bow.
1 pound of wax, 6s
1/2 pound weight of resin (livre de pois raisiné), 10d
4 pounds of tallow (sieu), 5s
These clearly go with the hemp thread. It would be interesting to know his recipes for using them. I presume that the treatment of the string and the bindings are different, but I really don't know.
charcoal (carbon de bose), 10s
I wonder if this is enough to heat the shop, or if it's just to run a brazier for heating the work. Traditional Korean boyers make a great use of charcoal braziers for bending the horn and heating the parts prior to gluing. They also do a certain amount of tillering of the completed bow with heat.
4 pounds of glue (colle), 24s
I presume that most of this will be used in assembling the bow, but some may be for work on the tiller. In any case it's only 2 1/2 oz (70g) per weapon.
4 pounds of shredded/carded ox sinew (ners de beuf carpis), 40s
It's nice that it comes processed. Breaking tendon up into fibers is a pain in the ass. This amount gives him 2 1/2 oz (70g) per bow. that's the same as weight of glue. I have not done enough sinew backing to know whether this is normal.
1 pound of varnish, 8s
This is unexpected. If it is varnish as we know it, I suppose it's to be used as a finish on the weapon. It may be another type of glue, though.
12 ox? buck? horns (cornes de bouc), 12s 6d
Even if this it 12 pounds, it doesn't seem like enough horn to be part of the basic structure of the bows. Divided into the 25 weapons, it's only 2 1/2 oz (70g ) each. Perhaps it's for trimming out the tillers.
Sean M wrote:
Edit 2: On the subject of drying time ... Master Robert was to deliver the crossbows at Easter 1359 (so he had about six months).
This is a very interesting datum! It takes months for sinew backing to dry, so he'd best have gotten the bows started soon and made the tillers later.
Speaking of which... we don't have any wood mentioned for the tillers. I wonder what's up with that.