Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 February 2013
Edward III is widely credited by historians with having presided over a military revolution in English arms; in keeping with this, he was not slow in adapting to technical innovation in the field of war. The English employed guns at Crécy in 1346; and by the time the French war broke out again in 1369 guns were playing an increasingly important role, although mainly at this time in a defensive role in garrisons. The Tower of London was used as an arsenal from which guns were dispatched to English fortresses ranging from Calais to Roxburgh and Berwick. Garrison captains were also authorized to hire guns and gunners themselves on a private enterprise basis. In 1384 Sir Thomas de Beauchamp, the former captain of Carisbrook Castle on the Isle of Wight, was paid £26 5s. by the Crown to reimburse him for the cost of hiring five gunners (canonarii) and their cannons, and another gunner with three cannons. They were hired to defend the island against the French galley fleet which had been cruising the channel. Unfortunately, no details are given of the identity of the gunners or the type of firearms with which they were equipped (though the three guns used by one of these gunners may well have been mounted together on a single multiple carriage of the type known as a ribaudequin). Nor is it recorded for how long they served – and thus what their wages were.