More advantages of the crossbow It could be loaded and be ready to fire long before it was needed whereas it took time for a regular bowman to load his weapon. It was more accurate than a bow because the crossbowman could use two hands to aim it. He didnt have to apply pressure like a bowman had to do when drawing the bow string back.
Disadvantages of the Crossbow It took time to draw the bowstring back so it's fire rate was slower than a regular bow. This improved over time but still was a disadvantage. The Crossbow was also more complex and it needed skill to build so they were less readily available to common soldiers.
The next two pictures are of a real 15th Century Crossbow - This is in the collection of the Higgins Armory Museum in Massachusetts. I also have more pictures and information about the Higgins Armory here
This crossbow used something called a Cranequin to wind it back.
Giant Medieval Castle Defense Crossbow - European Crossbows of the Middle Ages saved many a Castle from siege. Crossbows were brought to England by the Normans in 1066 and soon became an important weapon in history. They were used for hunting and warfare and employed throughout England through the time of Queen Elizabeth. Large crossbows were more powerful than any longbow and unlike their light counterparts that were used in the field by armor clad soldiers, these giant crossbows were mainly used in the attack and defense of fortified places such as castles. This exceptional reproductions of Castle Defense Crossbows that are made in Italy and although they are meant as wonderful historical display pieces, they have functional parts. Each comes complete with its own "bolt" (missile shaped arrow). Get your crossbow now because "Bigger is Better" in defense of a Castle! The size is an incredible 47" long from stock to stirrup. Made in Italy.
Stronghold Crossbow -
The castle or "stronghold" of the middle ages afforded protection during attack. These fortified structures brought refuge to villagers as long as royalty during war. Atop these stronghold walls stood the archers whose bravery and accuracy with a crossbow kept opposing forces from scaling walls. Size over 35" long. Made in Italy
A variation on the Crossbow was the Arbalest which was a siege engine version (Much Larger and more powerful) Read more about the Arbalest
Ever thought about making your own crossbow? I have some wonderful pictures of a hand-made crossbow that is carved in the shape of a dragon. Doesn't get much better than this! Check out the pictures here: The Medieval Dragon Crossbow
Interested in making your own crossbow, catapult, slingshot or other type of projectile weapons? Take a look at this book:
The Practical Guide to Man-Powered Bullets: Catapults, Crossbows, Blowguns, Bullet-Bows and Airguns (Available at Amazon.com)
Thinking about Making Your own Crossbow?
Here are some pictures submitted by a web visitor (James) of a crossbow he made. Thanks for the great pictures James!