In the 16th and 17th centuries, a foot soldier armed with a musket, a large-calibre smooth-bore firearm that was aimed from the shoulder. Inefficient hand cannons had been used in Europe during the 14th century, and matchlock “arquebuses” were subsequently used, rather haphazardly, in battle. In the mid-16th century Spanish troops pioneered the use of the more powerful, more accurate mosquete (musket). They also evolved complementary battle tactics. Effective as these weapons were, infantrymen still needed forked stands as props for aiming and firing; and since they were slow to load, pikemen had to be included in battalions to protect musketeers from enemy cavalry charges. The 17th-century development of the bayonet eventually removed the need for pikemen. Wheel-lock and flintlock muskets also became practical for military use at this time.


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