The Michael's Armament

— #19 Andrew Wood Court

Overview Andrew Wood of Largo The Great Michael The Michael’s Armament

For defence, the ship’s sides were ten feet thick, and were obviously meant to defy the power of any artillery which could be brought against her.

The bronze cannon carried by the Great Michael, considering her size, amounted to 24 guns (purchased from Flanders) on the broadside, 1 basilisk forward and 2 aft.

She was crewed by 300 mariners, 120 canoniers and 1000 soldiers along with their captains and quartermasters.

A 16th Century French Canon similar to the type used on the Michael, 24 per broadside.

One of the guns that The Michael was reputed to have carried on occasion was Mons Meg which can be seen today at Edinburgh Castle.  Not a cannon but a bombard it was specifically employed to destroy castle walls.   It has a barrel diameter of 20 inches (510 mm) making it one of the largest cannons in the world by calibre.  The gunstones (canonballs of stone weighing 175 Kg)  can be seen in the foreground of the photo on the left. Built in 1449, Mons Meg was last “fired” — for theatrical effect using a car battery  and fireworks — at the start of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay firework displays.

Mons Meg can be seen on the battlements of Edinburgh Castle.

According to Robert Lindsay of Pitscottie.(1532-80) who wrote the first history of Scotland in Scots we learn of the dimensions of “the great schipp” and its armaments. Apart from the canon and basilisks, The Michael also boasted, “300 other ‘shot of small artillery’ (arms), that is to say moyennes, falcons, quarter falcons, slings, pestilents, culverins, crossbows and handbows”

Hand culverins, in particular, were a favourite weapon for James IV.  He held shooting matches in the great halls of Holyrood Palace and Stirling Castle, took a culverin to stalk deer in the park of Falkland Palace, and shot at seabirds from a rowing boat off the Isle of May with his culverin.

Hand Culverin in use