Detail of a flintlock hunting gun by Simpson of York, showing a highly decorated stock with silver inlay showing a hunting scene

Weapons as works of Art

Until the 15th century, weapons used for hunting were little different than those used in war. Indeed a major reason for members of the nobility to pursue large game, such as wild boar on horseback, was in order to become familiar with the threat of injury or death in the face of real danger and thus prepare them for war.

From the 15th century onwards, however, it became more common to decorate weapons used in hunting, to demonstrate the wealth and status of their owner. This developed further later, as hunting itself became a major social and courtly pursuit.



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Did you know?

Is newer better?

The last cast-iron British smoothbore cannon, the 68 pounder, was 8 inches (203 mm), the same calibre as the heaviest guns of King Henry VIII three hundred years earlier. Their performance was probably not very different either!