The Arquebus is a shoulder-fired firearm that was developed in the 1400’s and is the forerunner of the modern rifle. It completely revolutionised warfare as it made its counterpart the crossbow obsolete.
Compared to archery where it took many years of training to produce an effective archer, the Arquebus could be used after minimal training, which meant that many soldiers could be trained to use the Arquebus in the same time that it took to train a single skilled archer.
The Arquebus was widely used across Europe and in parts of Asia, but its importance can probably be best illustrated by its use during the battle of Pavia between France and Spain in Italy in 1525.
Facing overwhelming opposition the Spanish deployed 3000 Arquebus shooters to kill over 8000 knights on horseback. This defeat marked the swan song of warfare being dominated by armoured knights, and ended the age of chivalry.
Although the Arquebus was indeed a huge advance in technology its usefulness was initially inhibited, as it was not effective for long range sniping. However it was by developing the tactic of using it by massed ranks of soldiers in an organised manner that allowed its full potential to be realised.
The Arquebus was a revolutionary weapon which combined with innovative tactics and technical superiority allowed the Spanish to destroy the once great Aztec empire in Colonial Latin America, making all other weapons obsolete and becoming the weapon of choice for 150 years.