Hussite Guns and Ranged Weapons

Hussite guns and ranged weapons. Hussite army was the first medieval European army with massive use of gunpowder. Some names of Hussite guns were adopted by other languages and we use them till today.

Hussite wagons
Hussite wagons

Hussites were anti catholic rebels in Czech kingdom. Hussite wars lasted from 1419-1434. Special tactics, skilled leaders and new technologies made Hussite armies totally invincible.

Hussite guns
Hussite guns - Pistala, houfnice and tarasnice

List of Hussite guns and other ranged weapons

Pistala (pistala means pipe in English)
French word pistole (hand gun) was adopted form Czech pistala.
Pistala was predecessor of a later rifle. Hussites used them mostly as a psychological weapons to frighten horses of enemy knights. Special ammo caused a very uncomfotable sounds.
Shooting range: small
Caliber: 15-20mms.

Hussite Pistala
Hussite weapons - Pistala

Hakovnice ( Hook gun)
This handgun was more powerful and effective than lighter pistala. Hook was included for recoil compensation. Hakovnice without hook was able to thow 3 men to ground.
Shooting range: 100m.
Caliber: 15-30mms.

Hussite weapons - Hakovnice
Hussite weapons - Hakovnice

Tarasnice
Tarasnice was a light cannon with a long barrel and an aiming system. It was loaded by a round stone and metal and also by a spiked balls.
Shooting range: 250-300m.
Caliber: 50-100 mms.

Hussite weapons - Tarasnice
Hussite weapons - Tarasnice

Houfnice (Howitzer)
The word howitzer was adopted from Czech houfnice word. “Houf” means crowd or a group of soldiers. Purpose of this Hussite canon was hitting of large groups of enemies.
A howitzer is a type of artillery piece characterized by a relatively short barrel (barrel length 15 to 25 times the caliber of the gun) and the use of comparatively small propellant charges to propel projectiles at relatively high trajectories, with a steep angle of descent.
Houfnice was usually chained up between hussite wagons. Chaining prevented breaking the wagon fort.
Shooting range: up to 250m

Hussite howitzer - houfnice
Hussite howitzer - houfnice

Bombarda
Heavy cannon used for castle sieges.
Shooting range: up to 500m
Caliber: up to 850mms.

Hussite bombarda
Hussite bombarda

 

Hussite ammo

Hussite ammo
Hussite ammo

 

Shooting with Hussite pistala and hakovnice

 

Shooting with Hussite tarasnice and houfnice

 

Other Hussite ranged weapons

Crossbow: the most common Hussite ranged weapon.
Crosbowmen were part of each hussite wagon. They were also placed under wagons together with shooters with pistal.

Hussite crossboman
Hussite crossboman

 

Trebuchets
Classical medieval machines used for siege.

Slings
Hussite kids used slings to frighten horses of enemies.

10 Comments

    • Please reread the article. Author wrote: “First Medieval EUROPEAN” army. Chine is located in Asia and they used gunpowder fro ancient times but the article is about EUROPE:)

  1. just to clarify a couple of points. Speaking as a Czech born in the town of Tabor, which was founded by the Hussite revolutionaries and served as their base and still has the best Hussite Museum in the country. The Hussites led by their General Jan Zizka were the first real gunpowder army. They were a peasant army trained with adapted agricultural weapons like flails – and used armored agricultural wagons in circles as a defense against mounted knights. Zizka collected as many guns as he could and was the first in history to use field artillery effectively to target and breakup an enemy formation rather than siege weapons. By the way the Czech word pistala does not mean flute as indicated above rather it means whistle. Also the pic. of Hussite Ammo show caltrops which were star shaped anti-cavalry devices which were made to land pointing up (I don’t believe those were intended to be fired but were scattered on the ground). Zizka never lost a battle in his life, and on several occasions such as the Battle of Sudomer and Vitkov Hill was able to defeat an enemy force many times his number. Sudomer was a battle of some 400 Hussites with 12 wagons against 4000 mounted knights, but Zizka placed his wagons defensively in a semicircle on an outcrop and the rear was defended by a drained fish pond. (It was very common to have many large fishponds in southern Bohemia) So the knights attacking from that side were forced to dismount and had to cross the muddy lake to engage the Hussites. Zizka was blind in one eye for most of his life but the last four years – was blind in both and still fought his most successful battles in that time. The Hussite revolution though little known in the west was one of the first in a series of reforming revolutions that shaped much of the west. In addition, Zizka devised a military code that organized troops into a hierarchy of fixed detachments with commanding officers as well as rules of engagement that are still followed by modern armies – something that didn’t exist at the time (the Roman system was long forgotten).

    • Awesome comment. Thank you very much for the info. You have mentioned the battle of Sudomer. There were many more battles between Hussites and crusaders. For example in Battle of Domazlice, hussites destroyed army of 100 000 crusaders with nearly no loses. This battle is commonly not well known as for example famous battle of Stirling (2500 Scots x 10 000 Englanders). Hussite revolution was very important event in history of medieval Europe and i recomment to every teacher of history to mention it in their lessons.

      Angelo, Italy

      • thanks Angelo, the battle of Domazlice was an early example of psychological warfare, in which the enemy which greatly outnumbered the Hussites fled upon hearing them approach singing their favourite battle anthem – (sung in low voices and could be heard some distance away). By this time the Hussites already had a reputation for unconventional tactics. In a sense it was not much of a battle. The battle of Malesov is one of the most interesting in that it was a battle of two Hussite factions – and one in which both sides were familiar with the tactics. Zizka and the Taborite Hussites were being pursued by a larger Hussite and Royalist aligned force. Zizkas army entered the Malesov area – in which the road to the town was flanked by a river and a fairly large hill. Zizka and his army moved around and deployed on the side of the hill. WHen the enemy force approached Zizka ordered several wagons that were loaded with rocks to be pushed at the enemy as well as an artillery bombardment followed by an infantry charge down the hill. This completely broke up the enemy and forced them in to the river leading to their massive defeat. Yes I agree with your point that the Hussites and their amazing form of warfare and their many victories against a much larger enemy are little known in the west. There are only a handful of english books, on the subject. The best (by Frederick Heymann – Zizka and the Hussite Revolution) is out of print and recently you can find Victor Verneys Warrior of God on Amazon – it is quite well done, and takes a lot from Heymann. I myself am working on a historical novel – which will cover much of this era. Watch this space. cheers Peter.

  2. Hello Peter, thank you for the additional valuable info. I visited Prague a few years ago and i definitely loved my trip. You have an awesome history.

  3. Do you mind if I quote a couple of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources back to your webpage? My blog is in the very same area of interest as yours and my users would genuinely benefit from some of the information you provide here. Please let me know if this okay with you. Cheers!

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