Arquebus (harquebus, harkbus or hackbut), the light muzzle-loading smoothbore firearm of the late 15th to 17th century. The French term »arquebuse«, a corruption of the German »Hakenbüchse« (hook gun), originally referred to a medieval hand cannon fitted with a barrel hook which could be hooked into a wall or embrasure to absorb the tremendous recoil of the weapon. In the late 15th century, the term »arquebuse« was used for lighter matchlock firearms developed in France, which could be fired with or without a forked rest. In German, this new weapon became known as Arkebuse to differentiate it from the earlier Hakenbüchse. As the 16th century progressed, the term arquebus was used for the light forkless firearm, to differentiate it from the heavier weapon which became known as the musket. The soldiers armed with these firearms were called arquebusiers and musketeers, respectively.
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