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The Arquebus was really the first rifle. It was developed in the 1400s and worked with a simple, “S Shaped” metal piece that was fastened to the side of the gun. This part, called a “Serpentime” was fastened in its middle to pivot. The upper half held a cotton cord, usually soaked in saltpeter which made it a slow burning fuse, or match. When the gunman pulled on the lower part of the serpentine, it pulled the top half down onto a pan which held a priming charge of gunpowder. The fire them went doen a blowhole to ignite the powder charge in the barrel of the gun.
The Arquebus was more frightening, faster loading and more accurate than the crossbow. The gunner could use both hands to aim and by plaving the weapon against their dhest, they could look down the barrel. The importance of the Arquebus was proven at the battle of Pavia between the Spanish and the French in Italy in 1525.
The Spanish used 3,000 Arquebus shooters, protected by pikemen to kill over 8,000 French knights on horseback, in full armor. This defeat effectively ended the Age of Chivalry and the importance of warfare in Europe by armored knights. Never again did the armored knight on horseback represent the fearsome power that had previously dominated medieval war.