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Queen Elizabeth’s Pocket Pistol

Past Work

Client:- English Heritage

Project:-  A Reconstruction illustration of Queen Elisabeth’s Pocket Pistol. A 7.3 metre long Tudor cannon shown in action with its gun crew

Queen Elizabeth’s Pocket Pistol is a cannon built in 1544 in Utrecht by Jan Tolhuys, before Elizabeth I came to the throne. The gun was presented to Henry VIII by Maximiliaan van Egmond, Count of Buren and Stadtholder of Friesland as a gift for his young daughter Elizabeth.

The cannon measures 24 ft in length and fired 4.75 inch (121 mm) calibre cannonballs. The cannon is decorated with engravings of fruit, flowers, grotesques, and figures symbolizing Liberty, Victory and Fame. There is also a Tudor coat of arms which includes a verse in Dutch, which translates in English as Break, tear every wall and rampart, Am I called, Across mountain and valley, pierces my ball, By me stricken.

Between 1613 and 1622 the gun was used and was found to be capable of firing a 10 lb (4.5 kg) ball a distance of 2000 yards (1.8 km). Before the English Civil War it guarded the cliffs of Dover and propaganda of the time claimed it could fire a 12 lb ball seven miles. Some even said its shot could reach France if the gun was properly maintained though this is an exaggeration; tests done in the 1970s with similar basilisks have a more realistic range of 1200 yards with a 10 lb ball.