The Spanish Harquebus

The Spanish Harquebus


  • The Spanish Harquebus

Published Date

  • published 1940



A great factor in the success of the early Spanish military
expeditions in the New World was their development of efficient
firearms. It was the Spanish harquebus that first aroused superstitious
fear in the Indian heart, and it was the deadly execution of the strange
"fire stick" that enabled a mere handful of men to awe and conquer for a
time the vast numbers of America's aborigines.

Authorities agree that the hand-gun did not come into practical
use until the latter part of the fourteenth century, although many
specimens have been unearthed that antedate this period. It would seem
from the description given of the earlier specimens that these weapons
were simply bronze tubes with touch holes at the top; so constructed that
they could be fastened to a crude wooden stock. The first written
records reveal that these ancient fire-arms were among the first type
produced and conclusively prove that they were the prototypes of the
harquebus, an early infantry weapon developed about 1400.

The early harquebus was a crude makeshift. The piece was fired by
holding the stock under the arm instead of against the shoulder, making
the procedure both awkward and unwieldy. It is not hard to imagine how
difficult it was for an infantryman to aim his gun accurately while applying
the match to the touch-hole; dressed as he was in the heavy breast plate
and other armor of the day. Some weapons had a bore of