The arbalest (also arblast) was a late variation of the medieval European
crossbow. A larger weapon, the arbalest had a steelprod ("bow"). Since an arbalest was much larger than earlier crossbows, and because of the greater tensile strengthof 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 knightwho 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 anathemathat 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 Churchto limit warfare, known as the Peace of Godmovement.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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