RYORKART-02 Two Artillery Crew Loading, Wars of the Roses
By the start of the WARS OF THE ROSES in the late 1450s, artillery had been in use in northern Europe for over a century, and most armies included at least a small artillery force.
Because one pound of powder was required to throw nine pounds of shot, and because the barrel had to be washed with a mixture of water and vinegar after every firing, ten shots per hour was considered a good rate of fire. During the Wars of the Roses, this slow rate meant that cannon were used mainly on the eve or at the start of a battle, firing one volley at the enemy before the hand-to-hand combat commenced. Experts in medieval gunnery suspect that the artillery played a role at the beginning of the battle – but may have become less useful tactically as the battle progressed. It was notoriously difficult to turn the artillery pieces round to face new directions – so adapting to the progress of the battle would have been difficult for these early gunners. Their artillery pieces and carriages would probably have weighed between 400 and 1000 kilos each.
The cannon appears to have been used extensively by both sides at the Battle of Bosworth Field. The present position of the battlefield is based on the discovery in a field by Fenn Lane Farm of a large quantity of battle relics including many cannon balls.