THE ‘CONTO’ OF THE LISBON CROSSBOWMEN

At the end of the 13th century, King Dinis granted three ‘letters of privileges’ to the crossbowmen of Serpa, an act which is regarded as the founding of the besteiros do conto (units of crossbowmen). However, there was already a long tradition of these local militias.

Explaining their development, use and effectiveness in battle, we’ll focus on the history of the besteiros do conto, which were important local militia. We will cover all aspects of the besteiros do conto, from their militia obligations to their royal privileges.

The crossbowmen will take part in Sunday target practice, demonstrating their expertise and the capabilities of the weapons. One unit of crossbowmen will be placed in the field, led by their anadel, dressed in Ofício Bélico colours and bearing all the other equipment worn by the men who were trained in the use of these weapons.

Lisbon had the biggest conto de besteiros in the kingdom, numbering 300 marksmen, reflecting its position as the nation’s capital.

We’ll be presenting a collection of crossbows, from the oldest models without a nut for the trigger to the more advanced models with nut and metal arch, as well as different spanning methods. We’ll also be presenting the different types of quarrels and their use. The technological development and manufacture of both the different types of crossbows and various types of quarrel will play an important part in our presentation to visitors.

In addition, we may present the bows that were precursors to crossbows as well as arquebuses which followed them.

Visitors will have the chance to handle the crossbow, under the supervision of members of the Ofício Bélico.

FAMILY SUNDAYS | ARTS OF WARFARE
THE ‘CONTO’ OF THE LISBON CROSSBOWMEN
13 JAN | 10 FEB | 10 MAR | 14 APR
11:00 | Over 5s | Castelo S. Jorge ticket
OFÍCIO BÉLICO

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