Royal Armouries

Turkish Bombard

Images

Green bronze cannon, Turkish Bombard, 1464. XIX.164

Turkish Bombard, 1464. XIX.164

  • Green bronze cannon, Turkish Bombard, 1464. XIX.164

    Turkish Bombard, 1464. XIX.164

  • Muzzle of large green bronze cannon with cannonballs

    Turkish bombard. 1464. (XIX.164) © Royal Armouries.

  • Large green bronze cannon

    Screw thread which joins the two halves of the cannon together. Turkish bombard. 1464. (XIX.164) © Royal Armouries.

  • Large green bronze cannon

    Screw thread which joins the two halves of the cannon together. Turkish bombard. 1464. (XIX.164) © Royal Armouries.

Date: 1464 | Object number: XIX.164

Turkish Bombard

Description

Collection no. XIX.164
Date 1464
Calibre (mm) 635
Barrel length (m) 5.2
Weight (kg) 16,800
Projectile weight (kg) 304
Range (m) 1,600
Crew 10+
Fire rate 15 per day

Medieval wall smasher

Made in 1464, this is one of the oldest and most extraordinary cannon in our collection.

The Turkish Bombard, with its two giant tubes screwed together, can be seen as a forerunner of the Iraqi Supergun. Beautifully inscribed in Arabic text, this Bombard is one of the jewels of the Royal Armouries collection. Unlike the Supergun, this mighty weapon was used – to hurl a 300 kg stone cannonball against its enemies.

The Great Bombard, firing huge stone balls, was the heavy demolition weapon of the Middle Ages. In 1453 the Ottoman Turks, using bombards, captured Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire.

Turkish armies, with their bold use of artillery, came to be universally feared. Sultan Mehmet II (1430–81) was a great artillery innovator: he first employed a skilled Hungarian gunfounder, Urban, to cast bombards for the siege of Constantinople. Later, he ordered this bombard from bronze-founder Munir Ali. It is a masterpiece of medieval technology, having been cast in two pieces: barrel and powder chamber, which screw together.

It was once sited to attack ships sailing through the Dardanelles Narrows. After 400 years, visitors to Turkey continued to mention it, especially as it was still being fired in the 19th century. In 1866 Sultan Abdul Aziz presented it to Queen Victoria.

Translated from the inscription on the muzzle of this remarkable gun:

Help O God the Sultan Mehmet Khan son of Murad. The work of Munir Ali in the month of Rejeb. In the year 868’ (1464CE)

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