The Serpent, Spear, and Wheel of Time
A Compendium of Weaponry and Military Costuming
of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time
Rand al'Thor
Tam's heron-mark sword
Laman's sword
the Dragon Banner
the Dragon Scepter
the Crown of Swords
Legion of the Dragon
Perrin's axe
Perrin's hammer
Two Rivers bow
Mat Cauthon
Mat Cauthon
the Shadar Logoth dagger
the Horn of Valere
the Band of the Red Hand
The Two Rivers
Two Rivers bow
Queen's guards of Andor
Elayne's Bodyguard

The Aiel
al'Lan Mandragoran
Shienaran lances
Saldaean light cavalry
the Arafellin
the Crown of Swords
The White Tower
al'Lan Mandragoran
Armsmen of Tar Valon
The Black Tower
The Seanchan
Deathwatch Guards
sul'dam and damane

The Other Nations
Defenders of the Stone
Mayener Winged Guards
Arad Doman
Amadician pikes
Far Madding Guards
Other Weapons
Loial's axe
Birgitte and her bow
Aram's sword
Sword of Kirukan
throwing daggers
the Ebou Dari marriage knife
Aludra's Dragons, &tc.
measurements in the WoT
link to us
Dragon icon

** the Legion of the Dragon **

A heavy, gold-worked crossbow catches Mat Cauthon's eye - just after his hanging 'death' from Avendesora's branches. Head stuffed with new military knowledge and experiences, he reflects that "... a good Two Rivers longbow could shoot six arrows while a crossbowman was still cranking back the bowstring for his second shot. A longer range for a crossbow that size, though, by a hundred paces. With two men doing nothing but keeping a crossbow with bolt in place in the hands of each crossbowman, and stout pikemen to hold the cavalry off ..." <TSR: 37, 605, Imre Stand> In Mat's mind, the Legion of the Dragon is born.

crossbowThe Legion is unique in both armament, and its deployment: "An officer marked by a tall red plume on his helmet strode ahead of some twenty men carrying shields as tall as their shoulders, followed by perhaps two hundred more with heavy crossbows." <ACoS: 41, 650, A Crown of Swords> No mention is made of two men per crossbowmen to load the bows, as Mat first intended - with a force as large as the Legion, they might well get in the way. A slower (but, because of the numbers, still overwhelming) firing rate is chosen for far greater maneuverability.

The Legion's crossbow is presumably the type Mat obviously approved of, with a range a hundred paces further than that of the Two Rivers bow - or 500-600 paces, equivalent to 330-430 yards or 500-600 yards, depending on the actual length of Jordan's pace (see also the Two Rivers bow, and measurements).

Only steel and possibly composite bows could achieve these ranges, and these could not be drawn by arm strength alone. Jordan's reference to "cranking back the bowstring" suggests a lever, cranequin or windlass system was used to draw the string back. Mat appears unaware of cranequin/windlass-type mechanisms until Talmanes tells him about the Band's new cranks: likely, then, the crossbows used some form of lever. Elsewhere, Jordan clearly specifies steel-armed crossbows. <TFoH: 37, 605, Imre Stand; TPoD: 21, 415-6, Answering the Summons; KoD: 26, 553, As If the World Were Fog>

The Legion grows to a force of fifteen thousand trained men under Davram Bashere, "... every one in a blue coat made to button up the side so the red-and-gold Dragon across the chest would not be broken. Most carried steel-armed crossbows; some bore heavy unwieldy shields instead, but not one carried a pike." <ACoS: 41, 646-7, A Crown of Swords> Instead, in Illian, they follow Bashere's Saldaeans into battle. <ACoS: 41, 648, A Crown of Swords>

TPoD expands on this image "... blue-painted Andoran helmets ... breastplates, but beneath their coats, so as not to hide the Dragons ... every man carried a short-sword at his hip and a steel-armed crossow, every one shouldered exactly the same as every other." <TPoD: 21, 415-6, Answering the Summons:> Bashere appears to have changed their deployment against the Seanchan: no mention is made of men with shields, and officers are followed by drum and a blue pennant bearing the Dragon, and the number of the company. <TPoD: 21, 415-6, Answering the Summons> Alternately, this might represent a Jordan oversight - a fairly large one, and as such, it probably isn't.

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