Thursday, December 30, 2010

Combined Firearms: Other Weapons

In the last few posts, we have seen firearms combined with axes, with swords and knives and with daggers. In this post, we will look at some examples of firearms combined with other weapons.

The first ones we will look at are available for display in the Historisches Museum in Dresden, Germany.

What we have here are a pair of German-made spear heads dating from around 1560. Each spear-head has two pistols, one on each side of the head. The pistols are powered by wheel-lock mechanisms, which the Germans were very good at producing, due to their expertise with clocks and clockwork mechanisms. Note that the first spear head is also very heavily decorated indicating that it was built for a rich customer. The first spear head also has a note that says it was built by one Peter Peck of Munich.

The next set of weapons may be seen in the armory display at the Tower of London, England.

Image taken from W.W. Greener's The Gun and its Development, Second Edition. Click on image to enlarge.

The above image shows a round shield with a built in matchlock firearm. These shields date from the 16th century and were ordered by King Henry VIII for use by his bodyguards. About twenty specimens still remain in the present day. The pistol uses a breech-loading mechanism. Also note the grill on the shield. This allows the user to hide behind the shield, but still aim the firearm at the enemy.

The image above is also due to King Henry VIII of England. It is currently on display in the Tower of London as well. This is a combination of a spiked mace with three hidden matchlock pistols in it and is called Henry VIII's Walking Stick. He was known to wield this weapon personally and often took it with him when he would wander about town at night, to check to see if his constables were doing their duty. Unfortunately for him, one of his constables at the parish of St. Magnus (near the London bridge) did his duty very well. He confronted the disguised King at the bridge-foot and demanded to know what this suspicious character was doing with a mace so late in the night. When the King tried to escape, the constable called a watchman to assist him and together, they arrested the King and tossed him into a unlit, cold, tiny prison cell for the night (Such prisons for vagrants, debtors and beggars were called Poultry Compters). In the morning, when his identity became known, the King personally summoned the constable and the watchman who'd arrested him. The two came in trembling, fully expecting to be tortured and beheaded. Instead, they were commended for their honesty and integrity and rewarded with large gifts. The King also immediately passed a law that granted an annual stipend of 23 pounds as well as a large quantity of bread and coal annually for ever to the prison where he spent the night, for the benefit of his fellow prisoners and any other future prisoners! In an article in The London Magazine Vol. III from 1833, it was mentioned that the parish was still receiving its annual grants.

The above image shows a whip which conceals a flintlock pistol within it. The barrel is about 12 inches long and the firing mechanism is concealed by the tassels on the whip. This particular specimen was once the property of a notorious Neapolitan bandit. However, it must be noted that such whip-pistols were not exclusively used by bandits alone. In the 17th and 18th centuries, similar weapons were presented to drivers of French mail coaches travelling south of the town of Lyons.

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