Medieval Glossary


The bombard was a large caliber gun used for siege work. They were often made in two pieces, the breech and the barrel, which were assembled at the site of battle. Early examples were constructed from iron staves reinforced with hoops, which must have been particularly dangerous for the gunners.

Some were truly enormous shooting projectiles weighing from 300 to 950 lbs. The Ghent Bombard used at the siege of Audenarde in 1382 had a caliber of 638mm.

They were usually placed in prepared trenches that were reinforced with heavy timbers so as to absorb the force of the recoil. Elevation could be achieved by supporting the barrel on stakes of various lengths.

Beginning in the middle of the 15th century, improvements in metal casting, combined with the trouble of assembling and transporting such heavy siege engines made their use prohibitive. Consequently most were broken up or recast into smaller and more manageable pieces.

Related term(s): Ballista; Catapult; Battering Ram; Trebuchet
Category: Siege Weapons and Artillery
Added: 09.03.04
Contributor(s): Alan Chanter


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