Soldier firing an arquebus

The arquebus (s/ AR-k(w)ib-əs; see § Terminology for synonyms), derived from the German Hakenbüchse ("hook gun"), was a form of long gun that appeared in Europe during the 15th century. Although the term arquebus was applied to many different forms of firearms from the 15th to 17th centuries, it originally referred to "a hand-gun with a hook-like projection or lug on its under surface, useful for steadying it against battlements or other objects when firing."[1] These "hook guns" were in their earliest forms defensive weapons mounted on German city walls in the early 1400s, but by the late 1400s had become handheld firearms.[2] The development of the arquebus is somewhat tied to technology developed for the crossbow as without the stock from the crossbow, the arquebus would not have a stable platform to rest one's shoulder on.[3] Priming pans also were placed on the arquebus.[3] A matchlock mechanism was added around 1475 and it became the first firearm with a trigger.

The heavy arquebus, known as the musket, was developed to better penetrate plate armor and appeared in Europe around 1521.[4] A standardized arquebus, the caliver, was introduced in the latter half of the 16th century. The name "caliver" is derived from the English corruption of calibre, which is a reference to the gun's standardized bore. The caliver allowed troops to load bullets faster since they fit their guns more easily, whereas before soldiers often had to modify their bullets into suitable fits, or were even forced to make their own prior to battle. The smoothbore matchlock arquebus is considered the forerunner to the rifle and other long gun firearms. Heavy arquebuses mounted on wagons were called arquebus à croc.[5] These carried a lead ball of about 3.5 ounces (100 g).[6]

An infantryman armed with an arquebus is called an arquebusier.


Depiction of an arquebus fired from a fork rest. Image produced in 1876
A serpentine matchlock mechanism
Musketeer from Jacob van Gheyn's Wapenhandelingen van Roers, Musquetten ende Spiesen (1608)

The arquebus has at times been known as the harquebus, harkbus, hackbut,[7] hagbut,[8] archibugio, haakbus, schiopo,[9] sclopus,[10] tüfenk,[11] tofak,[12] matchlock, and firelock.[13] The first sure attestation of the term arquebus dates back to 1364, when the lord of Milan, Bernabò Visconti, recruited 70 archibuxoli, although, in this case, the term arquebus may have been used as a synonym for hand cannon.[14]

In the early 16th century, the term "arquebus" was used to describe an assortment of guns, but by the late 16th century the arquebus, caliver, and musket had settled down into size categories for firearms.[15][16] Continental European powers such as the Spanish, Germans, and French differentiated muskets from arquebuses by size and if they required a fork rest or not. However, the musket—essentially a large arquebus—which had been introduced around 1521, fell out of favor in the mid-16th century due to the decline of armor, but the term stuck around and musket became a generic descriptor for all 'shoulder arms' fireweapons into the 1800s. At least on one occasion the musket and arquebus have been used interchangeably to refer to the same weapon,[17] and even referred to as an "arquebus musket".[18] A Habsburg commander in the mid-1560s once referred to muskets as "double arquebuses".[19] The matchlock firing mechanism also became a common term for the arquebus after it was added to the firearm. Later flintlock firearms were sometimes called fusils or fuzees.[20]

Other Languages
Alemannisch: Arkebuse
العربية: قربينة
asturianu: Arcabuz
বাংলা: আরকেবুসে
български: Аркебуз
brezhoneg: Akebut
català: Arcabús
čeština: Arkebuza
dansk: Arkebuse
Deutsch: Arkebuse
eesti: Arkebuus
Ελληνικά: Αρκεβούζιο
español: Arcabuz
Esperanto: Arkebuzo
euskara: Arkabuz
français: Arquebuse
Frysk: Heakbus
Gaeilge: Arcabas
galego: Arcabuz
한국어: 아쿼버스
hrvatski: Arkebuza
Bahasa Indonesia: Senapan kopak
italiano: Archibugio
עברית: ארקבוז
Latina: Arquebusum
македонски: Аркебуза
Nederlands: Haakbus
norsk: Arkebuse
norsk nynorsk: Arkebuse
polski: Arkebuz
português: Arcabuz
română: Archebuză
русский: Аркебуза
Scots: Arquebus
slovenščina: Arkebuza
српски / srpski: Аркебуза
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Arkebuza
suomi: Hakapyssy
svenska: Arkebuse
Türkçe: Arkebüz
українська: Аркебуза
中文: 鉤銃