THE SCIENCE OF ARTILLERY MADE LARGE STRIDES DURING THE EIZABETHAN ERA
Gunnery was fairly rudimentary at the start of Elizabeth I’s reign, but steady improvements were made. By the end of the 1570s, the addition of front sights on cannon barrels (simply pieces of straw attached with wax) and the use of quadrants to judge muzzle elevation had greatly improved accuracy.
Practice was essential to the effective handling of a gun, but even when using a brand new piece, an experienced crew could have a good grasp of their gun’s accuracy after as little as two shots. Gunners also became expert at estimating the quality of gunpowder from its appearance (dry was obviously best), taste, texture and colour.
By the end of Elizabeth’s reign, cannons were divided into categories for different tasks, with the largest (double cannon and demi-cannon) being used as siege guns, quarter cannons and culverins for defence of fortifications, and sakers, falcons and falconettes (as well as some culverins) for field use. Culverins and demi-culverins were the most common gun sizes for use at sea, along with many smaller anti-personnel weapons, such as robinets, bases and fowlers.
Elizabeth’s reign saw the use of artillery advance dramatically