On A Lighter Note- French Cannoneers Training With A Great Deal of Panache, Circa 1635

Information accompanying the print-

Callot / Jacques / 1592-1635 / 0410. [L’exercice du canon : le tir] /
[estampe] / [Jacques Callot]. [1635].

Callot / Jacques / 1592-1635 / 0410. [The exercise of the cannon: shooting] /
[print] / [Jacques Callot]. [1635].

Note the casks of cannon balls, 4 or 6 pdr?



Since the word “artillery” comes from “art”, and therefore the cannoneers were “artistes”, they deserved the panache and theatrical clothing. My understanding is that the cannons were so imperfect that it was an actual art to learn and fire a particular cannon, because a similar cannon would shoot differently.


I read recently that very early cannons were dangerous due to lack of understanding of metallurgy (brittle alloys used) and powder chemistry (varying composition) and would often explode into pieces, killing or maiming the cannoneers. It was said that prisoners were often used to fire the cannon and if they survived, would be pardoned for their crimes. Does anyone know if this is true?


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In 1844 an accident involving a firing of a naval cannon aboard the USS Princeton killed a number of people, almost killing President Tyler.

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I don’t know the origin of the word “Artillery” but it is apparently a corruption of the Italian phrase for “Art of Shooting.” I have also seen it as a contraction for “Art of Tilleri”, Tilleri supposedly being some early cannoneer. If he indeed existed, he must have been historically very obscure.

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