WORGUN-02 Breach Loading Field Cannon, Battle of Bosworth Field
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. 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. One account mentions 140 cannon, while the archaeological searches of the battlefield have found more than 30 cannonshot – more than any other discovered on a European medieval battlefield.
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.
Since about 1415, the English Crown had appointed a master of ordnance to supervise the king’s artillery. In 1456, John Judde, a LONDON merchant, won appointment to the post by offering to supply HENRY VI with guns and powder at his own expense. Judde’s ambitious program of collecting and manufacturing guns for the Lancastrians so alarmed the Yorkists that they ambushed and killed him in June 1460 as he was supervising delivery of a new shipment of weapons. Edward IV also appreciated the importance of artillery, and his Masters of Ordnance (like John Wode, who held office from 1463 to 1477) were trusted members of the royal household. Edward was said to frequently inspect his ordnance, and his campaigns usually included a sizable artillery train.