Numenorean Crossbows!

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Numenorean Crossbows!

Post by Darnokthemage »

"They made bows of many kinds: long bows, and
smaller bows, especially those used for shooting from horse-back; and they
also devised cross-bows, at first used mainly against predatory birds.
Shooting with bows was one of the great sports and pastimes of men; and one
in which young women also took part."

"Shooting with bows on foot and on horseback was a chief sport and pastime of the Númenóreans. In later days, in the wars upon Middle-earth, it was the bows of the Númenóreans that were most greatly feared. 'The Men of the Sea,' it was said, 'send before them a great cloud, as a rain turned to serpents, or a black hail tipped with steel;' and in those days the great cohorts of the King's Archers used bows made of hollow steel, with black-feathered arrows a full ell long from point to notch."

The famed archers of the King Isildur were using Crossbows all along!
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Re: Numenorean Crossbows!

Post by Taurinor »

I haven't picked up a copy of NoMe yet, so I don't know the full context for the part that you're quoting, but I don't know if that quote alone entirely supports that conclusion.

It seems that the quote differentiates between crossbows (or "cross-bows") and bows, so I'd expect the "bows made of hollow steel" to be described as "cross-bows made of hollow steel", if that was the intent. I think the description of the arrows suggests longbows, though. Wikipedia (so take that for what it's worth) states that the English ell was usually 45 inches, and a quote from The Two Towers (and some math) seems to support that:
TTT, Book IV, Chapter 1 wrote:`[The hithlain rope] does look sort of silver in the dark,' said Sam. `Never noticed it before, though I can't remember as I've ever had it out since I first stowed it. But if you're so set on climbing, Mr. Frodo, how are you going to use it? Thirty ells, or say, about eighteen fathom...'
A fathom is 72 inches, so 18 fathoms x 72 inches = 1296 inches, and 1296 inches/30 ells = 43.2 inches in an ell.

That would make more sense for a longbow arrow (a notable and impressive one, at least!) than for a crossbow bolt.
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Re: Numenorean Crossbows!

Post by Manveruon »

One way or the other though, I think this is still the first ACTUAL documentable reference to crossbows in Middle-earth! That’s fantastic!

Then of course, the questions start: Did they pass that technology on to the Dunedain? Was it adopted by any other cultures? Or was it lost with Numenor? The use of hollow steel bows seems to be the exclusive purview of the elder Numenoreans, so perhaps crossbows were as well? Although given the widespread evolution of the crossbow across different real-world cultures, it would seem to follow that at least SOMEONE might have heard about them and tried it for themselves.
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