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Guns and Roses
Which weapon in the later part of the Middle Ages rendered castles obsolete? Find out in this quiz.

Guns and Roses

Guns and Roses looks at weapons of the time.

The battles in the Wars of the Roses were the last of the Middle Ages. Weaponry was changing, spurred on by the advancement of knowledge. Traditional medieval weapons were used alongside the newly emerging firearms. It was a time of great change, where the Middle Ages and the Modern Age met. The battlefield, both then and now, was a bloody and violent place, where many men would meet their end.

The development of which weapon in the later part of the Middle Ages rendered castles obsolete?
Siege towers
Hot air balloons
Cannons first appeared in Europe in 1280. These early weapons were largely unreliable and it took many years before they reached their peak. In 1453, Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire, fell to the Ottomans after its walls, said to be the thickest in Europe, were breached by cannon fire
The first hand guns appeared in Europe during the fourteenth century. What were they called?
Fire bows
Hand cannons
Early guns were notoriously unreliable and lacked accuracy. Their main benefit was that the noise they made when fired served to frighten both men and horses, often sending them into a panic. Developments in gunpowder and firearm design during the time of the Wars of the Roses significantly improved the weapon and led to its replacement of bows as the dominant ranged weapon over the next hundred years
The crossbow had a shorter range than the longbow and it could be fired less often. It did have two advantages over the longbow though. What were they?
It was better able to pierce armour and needed little training to use
It was better able to pierce armour and was cheaper to produce
It was less likely to malfunction and needed little training to use
It was less likely to malfunction and was cheaper to produce
A crossbow could be used to its full capability after just a week of training, whereas the longbow required years of practise before it could be used well. It also required an incredible amount of strength to pull back the string. The use of a longbow took such a toll on a man that his skeleton would become deformed by the strains put upon it
A particular weapon was used to dispatch fallen men. What was it?
A knife
A spear
A dagger
A sword
The most popular dagger at the time of the Wars of the Roses was called a 'rondel', so named because of its round guard and pommel. They were used primarily to prise open the visors of fallen foes and to finish them with a stab through the eye. They were also useful in penetrating the gaps in the joints of suits of armour. Their blades were around 12 inches (30 cm) long; more than sufficient to cause fatal injuries
The increasing strength of armour meant that swords were being replaced by what new hand weapon?
The pole-axe
The crossbow
The spear
The pistol
The pole-axe had a shaft as tall as a man which ended in a spike. On one side of the spike was a hammer and on the other a curved blade, or 'fluke'. The spike was capable of puncturing plate armour and the hammer caused crushing damage to both the armour and the man inside. The fluke could be used to trip an opponent. Against armoured men the pole-axe was a successful tool; against an unarmoured man it was a truly formidable weapon
During the Middle Ages clergymen sometimes fought in battles. What weapons did they use?
Clergymen were forbidden by their religion from drawing blood. They got round this by using the mace, which was a crushing weapon, used for bludgeoning rather than stabbing. They consisted of a heavy head, covered with either studs, spikes or flanges upon the end of a short handle. Maces were more successful against armour than swords as the force from one of their blows was sufficient to break bones without actually penetrating through the armour. They were a popular weapon in the Middle Ages as they were both cheap and effective
Richard III is said to have led his final cavalry charge at the Battle of Bosworth, wielding which weapon?
A sword
A pole-axe
A lance
A battle-axe
The battle-axe of a horseman was similar to a pole-axe, except it had an axe-head rather than a hammer and its shaft was shorter, enabling the rider to carry it in one hand. A leather strap was attached to the handle and passed round the bearer's wrist making the loss of the weapon less likely, should the rider lose his grip
Common soldiers during the Wars of the Roses often went into battle armed only with which piece of agricultural equipment?
A flail
A billhook
A rake
A pitchfork
The billhook consisted of a pole, which could be up to 9 feet (2.7 m) long, topped by a short blade which curved round into a hook. Surprisingly, they were quite an effective weapon, especially against mounted opponents. The hook often caught on the rider's armour, pulling him from his mount to the ground, from where he could be dispatched with a dagger
Perhaps the most iconic of medieval weapons was the sword. These varied greatly in length and the blade of the shortest was around 75cm (30 inches) long. What length were the longest blades?
120 cm (47 inches)
110 cm (43 inches)
100 cm (39 inches)
90 cm (35 inches)
The length and width of a sword depended on its intended use. Those intended for hacking and chopping had shorter, thicker blades. The longer swords, which had more slender blades, were used as stabbing and thrusting weapons. These were more common during the Wars of the Roses as armour was too strong to be hacked through. The favoured technique of a swordsman was to stab his weapon at the weaker points of his opponent's armour
Perhaps the dominant weapon in the English armies of the 15th century was the longbow. It had brought an unexpected English victory against the French at Agincourt during the Hundred Years' War and since then had become the primary weapon of England. What material was it made from?
Oak and sheep-gut
Yew and sheep-gut
Oak and flax
Yew and flax
The bow itself was usually made from the wood of a yew tree, although ash and elm were occasionally used. The string was made from flax or hemp


Author:  Graeme Haw

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