The earliest use of firearms in a battle?

Posted by Tory Historian Friday, December 03, 2010 , ,

Tory Historian was fascinated by this news item about archaeological excavation at Towton in Yorkshire, the site of one of the bloodiest battles on English soil, fought between the Yorkists and Lancastrians in 1461.

There are the usual arguments about the numbers killed and whether it was worse than Marsden Moor of the Civil War. But that is not the fascinating news. It would appear that archaeologists together with a metal detectorist [sic] have found bronze barrel fragments and very early lead shot. This will, one hopes, be followed up but obviously the discovery changes a number of military historians' calculations about when firearms started replacing bows and crossbows.

On the other hand, one wishes archaeologists had a clearer grasp of what does and what does not change the course of history:
But Sutherland [lead project archaeologist according to the article] is nevertheless unequivocal when it comes to the battle changing the course of English history.

"Everybody has heard of King Richard III and if it hadn't been for Towton, won by his brother who died early, he would not have taken the throne," he said.
Errm, no, not exactly. The Yorkists might have won the throne anyway and Henry Tudor was not that bothered which king he was to overthrow with this French troops.


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