The topic for Photo Friday this week is 'freeze frame' and the photo I thought was best for that is the third one when I managed to catch the muzzle flash from the arquebus.
An arquebus is an early form of 15th century gun . The arquebusiers were called handgunners in english from the previous type of gun called a handgonne that was pretty much a small hand held cannon.
This arquebusier is putting the wad [ cloth or paper] into the barrel of the arquebus - he had previously put black powder [gun powder] into the barrel but the various shots i took did not turn out because the scene had so much going on in the background . Originally shot [a lead ball] would also have been put in the gun and kept in place by the wad -however at the mediaeval fair only black powder is used to give the effect without the actual bullets.
Then the ram rod was used to tamp down the shot and wad
The arquebus has a matchlock- a sort of 's' shaped device that automatically lights the gunpowder when the trigger is pulled . The 'match' is a rope soaked in saltpetre called a 'slow match' because it burned slowly [and hopefully safely if you were a gunner].
This is the instant the gunpowder explodes and the muzzle flash [the visible light produced from the combustion] .
The instant after the powder flashes - when the field is full of people firing arquebuses , the place ends up filled with a thick smoke.
Its not hard to imagine how much worse a battlefield would have been with cannon large and small thundering away as well as these early guns- not forgetting swords clashing and men and horses screams.
Even here, under controlled conditions at a mediaeval fair, people in the background are plugging their ears with their fingers -the noise is intense and leaves the ears ringing for ages afterwards.