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8-08-2015, 17:01

An Unprecedented Bombardmen

Because cannon technology swiftly progressed, however, these devices steadily became more powerful, reliable, and accurate. One particularly crucial advance took place in about 1370 when engineers began employing several long, thick pieces of iron placed edge to edge and held together by sturdy iron rings. h is allowed for the creation of much bigger cannons than ever before. By the close of that century, all large cannons were termed bombards (the source of the modern term bombardment). h ese monster guns, as some later writers called them, bore pet names and i red balls of enormous weight. According to Geof rey Hindley, “Mons Meg,” now in Edinburgh [Scotland], i red a stone shot weighing about 550 pounds. “Dulle Griet,” or the “Great Bombard of Ghent [Belgium],” i red one of over 750 pounds. And the “Pumhart von Steyr,” (“the bombard of Styria”), in Vienna [Austria], i red a mammoth shot of 1,530 pounds. Given that the explosive force of gunpowder was still relatively weak, such weapons made sense, for that powder was now easily available in quantity and cheap.43 With the size of the cannons and their shot now making up for their limited explosive force, it became possible to demolish castle walls. It took a mere two days, for example, for a German prince’s big guns to destroy a castle during a siege in 1414. A growing number of fortresses across Europe met a similar fate in the decades that followed. h e biggest shock of all to numerous Europeans came in the pivotal year 1453, when the Ottoman Turks used their large cannons to devastate the huge and supposedly invincible walls protecting the great Christian city of Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey). Historian John Julius Norwich calls it “a bombardment unprecedented in the history of siege warfare.”44