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The diffusion of artillery terminology in the early thirteenth century : the case of Henry of Livonia

Author:

Michael S. Fulton

GB
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Abstract

As medieval mechanical artillery developed, variants of a new term for identifying the heaviest engines spread across Latin Europe. First appearing in northern Italy at the end of the twelfth century, early forms of the word ‘trebuchet’ found their way into French, German, English and crusader sources by the second decade of the thirteenth century. Although the terms appear to have been used to refer exclusively to counterweight trebuchets by the time they were adopted north of the Alps, the invention of this engine-type would appear to predate the vocabulary with which it came to be associated. Writing on the fringe of Latin Europe in the 1220s, Henry of Livonia did not employ any of these new terms in his account of the Christian campaigns in the Baltic. Whether Henry was ignorant of the new terminology or avoided it deliberately, he appears to have employed traditional terms to identify what may have been engines of this newer and heavier type. While sources appear to have used pre-existing vocabulary to refer to the earliest counterweight trebuchets in the twelfth century, some, like Henry, continued to employ such terms in the early thirteenth century, avoiding the new vocabulary embraced by others.

How to Cite: Fulton, M.S., 2016. The diffusion of artillery terminology in the early thirteenth century : the case of Henry of Livonia. SHARE: Studies In History, Archaeology, Religion And Conservation, 3(1), pp.1–27. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18573/j.2016.10059
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Published on 02 Jun 2016.
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