2008 News Archive - Holidays - Gubbio's Crossbow Tournament a bolt from the blue

21 05 2007

Every hear the end of May sees the crossbow experts of the Umbria region of Italy gather in the beautiful town of Gubbio to test their skills against each other.

The area has a long history of affinity with the crossbow, one of the more effective of medieval weapons.

Gubbio's Crossbow Tournament, or Palio della Balestra, dates back to the 15th century and awards the top three bowmen with prizes of gold, silver and bronze crossbows.

Widely used in European warfare from 800 to 1500 AD, the crossbow was a simple and deadly weapon.

And while the medieval longbows so famously used by the English had greater range, accuracy and rate of fire, these bows required years of training and specially developed chest muscles to use effectively.

The crossbow on the other hand, could be wielded with deadly effect after as little as a week of training.

Located on the slopes of Mt Ingino, Gubbio is one of the oldest towns in Italy and many of its structures date back to the 14th century.


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