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A decorated French matchlock petronel from the 1570s

A Petronel is a 16th or 17th century firearm, defined by Robert Barret (Theorike and Practike of Modern Warres, 1598) as a horsemans peece. It was the fire-arm which developed on the one hand into the pistol and on the other into the carbine. The name (French petrinel or poitrinal) was given to the weapon either because it was fired with the butt resting against the chest (French poitrine, Latin pectus) or it was carried slung from a belt across the chest. Petronels are found with either matchlock or wheellock mechanisms.[1]

The sclopus was the prototype of the petronel. The petronel is a compromise between the harquebus and the pistol.[2] By extension, the term petronel was also used to describe the type of light cavalryman who employed the firearm. The petronel (cavalryman) was used to give support to more heavily armoured cavalry such as demi-lancers and cuirassiers. The petronel was succeeded by a similarly armed cavalryman called the harquebusier.


  1. ^ Chisholm 1911, p. 333.
  2. ^ Clephan 1906, pp. 38–39.


  • Clephan, Robert Coltman (1906). An outline of the history and development of hand firearms, from the earliest period to about the end of the fifteenth century. London: The Walter Scott Publishing Co. pp. 38–39.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Petronel" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 21 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 333.