Detail of a 16th century painting of the Battle of Pavia

16th Century

By the early 16th century hand-held firearms were being used in battles. They were basic, heavy to carry, slow to load, fired only short distances and were largely inaccurate.

Battle of Pavia

This battle was the first battle in which infantry armed with firearms (harquebusiers) were victorious over fully armoured knights. Metal plate armour proved no defence against bullets.



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The fort with its back to the sea

Fort Nelson, which sits proudly above Portsmouth Harbour, originally pointed its guns inland. At the time it was feared that a French attack would come by land, and not sea.