The arbalest (also arblast) was a late variation of the medieval European crossbow. A larger weapon, the arbalest had a steel prod ("bow"). Since an arbalest was much larger than earlier crossbows, and because of the greater tensile strength of steel, it had a greater force. The strongest windlass-pulled arbalests could have up to 22 kN (5000 lbf) strength and be accurate up to 500 m. A skilled arbalestier (arblaster) could shoot two bolts per minute. Arbalests were sometimes considered inhumane or unfair weapons, since an inexperienced arbalestier could use one to kill a knight who had a lifetime of training.

This led to their ban by Pope Innocent II, in whose name Canon 29 of the Second Lateran Council (1139, as translated in "Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils", ed. Norman P. Tanner) states "We prohibit under anathema that murderous art of crossbowmen and archers, which is hateful to God, to be employed against Christians and Catholics from now on." ." In context, this proscription was probably a very late part of a wider, millennial attempt by the Roman Catholic Church to limit warfare, known as the Peace of God movement.Fact|date=February 2007 This movement eventually failed and medieval crossbowmen and archers still existed, and did continue to kill knights. There was nothing done to these people, because the Church could not possibly round up every single person who used a bow, crossbow, or arbalest.

The term is sometimes used interchangeably with . 'Arbalest' is Medieval French corruption from the Roman name "arcuballista" for crossbow; Modern French uses the word "arbalète", which is linguistically one step further from the stem (disappearance of the "s" phoneme in the last syllable before "t"). The word applies for both crossbow and arbalest (the latter may be referred to as "heavy crossbow", but an actual heavy crossbow may not be the same as an arbalest). In some cases, the word has been used to refer to the people who actually used the weapon.


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  • Arbalest — Ar ba*lest, Arbalist Ar ba*list, n. [OF. arbaleste, LL. arbalista, for L. arcuballista; arcus bow + ballista a military engine. See {Ballista}.] (Antiq.) A crossbow, consisting of a steel bow set in a shaft of wood, furnished with a string and a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • arbalest — (n.) crossbow, c.1300, from O.Fr. arbaleste large crossbow with a crank (12c., Mod.Fr. arbalète), from V.L. arbalista, from L.L. arcuballista catapult, from L. arcus bow (see ARC (Cf. arc) (n.)) + ballista machine for throwing projectiles (see …   Etymology dictionary

  • arbalest — [är′bəlistär′bə lest΄] n. [ME arbelaste < OFr arbaleste < LL arcuballista < L arcus, a bow (see ARC) + ballista, BALLISTA] a medieval crossbow consisting of a steel bow set crosswise in a wooden shaft with a mechanism to bend the bow: it …   English World dictionary

  • Arbalest — Ein Armbrustschütz beim Laden seiner Arbalest Die Arbalest (auch Arbalst genannt) war ein im Spätmittelalter verwendetes Modell der Armbrust. Beschreibung und Verwendung Diese Armbrust war eine etwas größere Variante der schon im Frühmittelalter… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • arbalest — or arbalist noun Etymology: Middle English arblast, from Anglo French arblaste, arcbaleste, from Late Latin arcuballista, from Latin arcus bow + ballista more at arrow Date: before 12th century a crossbow especially of medieval times …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • arbalest — arbalester, arbalister /ahr beuh lis teuhr/, n. /ahr beuh list/, n. a powerful medieval crossbow with a steel bow, used to shoot stones, metal balls, arrows, etc. Also, arbalist. [bef. 1100; < OF arbaleste < OPr < LL arcuballista (see ARC,… …   Universalium

  • arbalest — noun A late form of medieval crossbow, having a steel prod, or bow …   Wiktionary

  • arbalest — n. medieval crossbow which shot arrows or stones …   English contemporary dictionary

  • arbalest — [ α:bəlɛst] (also arblast) noun historical a crossbow with a mechanism for drawing back and releasing the string. Origin OE arblast, from OFr. arbaleste, from late L. arcubalista, from L. arcus bow + ballista (see ballista) …   English new terms dictionary

  • Arbalest — A very strong crossbow that had a bow made out of steel and a mechanical winding system. (Ger. Armbrust, Crossbow) The correct term for a crossbow, introduced early in the 14th century. The crossbow consisted of a bow mounted on a stock that… …   Medieval glossary

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