Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A Letter from Louis XI to Richard Duke of Gloucester

In 1480 Richard, Duke of Gloucester received at least one bombard as a gift from Louis XI of France. The bombard was probably an obsolescent or obsolete weapon by French standards, but Richard’s letter of grateful thanks has survived. The following document, apparently an early draft of a letter from Louis concerning the gift sheds further light on the matter, as well as tantalizing hints to the relative efficiency of the medieval horse collar, still a question of some historical debate

From: Louis XI
To: My very tresnoble, trespuissant et tresexcellent cousin, the Duke of (Piers, insert the name of whichever beefeating fratricidal maniac is most dangerous this week. And make sure it's a live one. There is no point at all in bribing dead English dukes, even if it is hard to keep track these days. See to it)
Date: April 1, 1480
Re: Gonnes

Cher cousin.

My tresnoble cousin, etc., etc. I am sending you under separate cover, xvii bombardes (Piers, it may be xvi, thought I heard muffled explosion from the artillary park last week, check inventory.). Although I understand that English military opinion still inclines towards the pointed stick and muscle power school of technology, I believe you will find them useful.

You will find that each weighs 2,000 English pounds, and may easily and reliably be drawn by a team of (illegible) horses under ordinary conditions. You will of course, want to use the standard horse collar. We've been experimenting with some harness designs based on an old Roman relief, but for some reason the poor horses wheeze, turn blue, and fall over whenever we try to get them to haul a decent load with it. (And of course, by a decent load I mean anything upwards of (illegible) English pounds). Enguerrand the drover says it's something to do with "constraint".

One word of advice. The gunners do tend to dawdle over reloading if not closely supervised. I am told that the best way to insure a high rate of fire is to stand next to the breech and encourage the gonners from there.

Glad to hear you liked the pillowcases.


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