Object Title

6 pr triple gun

6 pr triple gun

Date

1690-1720

Object Number

XIX.52

Provenance

Early guides to the Tower describe this gun and No.51 as trophies taken by the Duke of Marlborough at the Battle of Ramillies in 1706. Listed in 1713 Tower Inventory.

Physical Description

The gun has two barrels side by side with a third one above all cast as a single unit, the chambers being constricted with a choke of sexfoil section. The upper barrel is embellished in low relief with, rearwards from the muzzle, a scroll with the name of the piece now almost illegible but possibly LES TROIS FOVDRES, next a double scroll inscribed VLTIMA RATIO PEGVM (The last argument of kings), then a triple scroll bearing the name of the 'Grand Maitre de l'Artillerie', LOVIS AVGVSTE DVC DV MAINE, then again the duke's arms and last, two cannon. The dolphins are formed as sea-horses, but the heads are now missing. The reinforce bears the arms of France with, above, a sun in splendour and the motto NEC PLVRISVS IMPAR (nor unequal to the many). The three vents are grouped near together on the breech of the upper barrel, each drilled in a pan formed as a scallop shell. The almost flat cascable is ornamented with a grotesque mask. there is a small loop projecting rearwards from the lower edge of the base ring for connection to an elevating gear on the carriage. The right trunnion is incised with the weight number 1002, the left XI over 32. The muzzles were much damaged in the fire of 1841 making accurate measurement of the bore impossible.

Dimensions

Dimensions: Length: 46 in (116.8 cm), Overall length: 50 in (127 cm) Weight: Before damage, 9 cwt 2 qtr 17 lb (490.3 kg)

Firearms/Artillery

Serial Number nvn

Calibre

approx: 3.75 in _ (9.5 cm)

Associations

Places France

Bibliographic References

H.L.Blackmore, The Armouries of the Tower of London, Ordnance Catalogue, H.M.S.O. London 1976, p.118.

Notes

The Battle of Ramilllies described by Captain Peter Drake in his 'Memoirs' (O.U.P. 1960 edn., p.78): 'The French brought this year among their train three-bore field-pieces; a new invention, of which they were so careful, for fear of a discovery, that they had them cased over, and never exposed to view, until they came to the Plain of Ramillies, the scene of this bloody engagement, where they...fled, with great precipitation, like frighted sheep'. The guns were also used against the British troops under Major General Webb at the Battle of Wynendaele in 1708, but again with little effect (J.A.H.R. XXXIV (1956), 29). The 1713 Tower Inventory (App.1) lists two 5ft guns and eight 4ft guns of '3 Cillenders'.


This type of triple gun is referred to by Pere G. Daniel ('Histoire de la Milece Francaise' (Paris, 1721), 1, 451-2) who states that they were the invention of an Italian priest. Two other guns of this series, both cast at Douai by Claude Berenger de Faliz, one in 1704 and the other in 1706, are in the Rotunda Museum, Woolwich, Nos.II. 101-2. Gun No.II. 101 is in fact, inscribed M.F.I.M FIGAR. AVGVSTIN. INVENIT., which may be expanded to 'Me Frater Iacobus Maria Figare Augustinianus Invenit'.
'Giacomo Maria Figari'
An Augustinian priest of Venetian origin, as well as being a Master of Theology, described himself as Master in Military Arts. Manufacture appears to have started in 1703, the first gun being proved before the Duc du Maine in November of that year. The trials being successful it was decided to order up to fifty of the guns for the forthcoming French campaigns. Figare was to be paid 50 livres for each gun and several lump sums to cover his expenses (see P. Azau, 'Les Premieres Mitrailleuses'(1342-1725) (Paris, 1907),53-8). In an album of contemporary drawings of one of these triple pieces on its original carriage (Fig.,p.19). This one was captured by the Allies when they forced the French Lines of Brabant on 7 July 1705. The drawing shows a crude crank and rope elevating mechanism on the trail connected to the barrel loop. The curious form of chamber is explained by a drawing of one of the gun's shot seated on a cone-shaped wooden sabot presumably designed to jam in the constriction. According to Daniel all three barrels could be fired together by laying a train of powder across the three vents. This would be possible with both the Tower guns, Nos.51 and 52. An improved model of the three-barrelled gun, now in the Kungl. Armemuseum, Stockhom (No.NRF 36), which overcame some of the problems of loading this type of gun, was made in Stockholm in 1708. Its barrels are cast in line horizontally and connected longitudinally by slots. This form of construction allowed the use of an ingenious triple powder laoder whose three ladles could be inverted inside the three barrels all togther by one twist of the handle. The Duc du Maine, 1670-1736, a natural son of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan, was made 'Grand Maitre de l'Artillerie' in 1694.