The matchlock was the first mechanism invented to facilitate the firing of a hand-held firearm. Before this, firearms had to be fired by applying a lit match to the priming powder in the flash pan by hand. Adding a matchlock made the firing action simple and reliable by a single soldier, allowing them to keep both hands steadying the gun and eyes on the target while firing; the classic matchlock gun held a burning slow match in a clamp at the end of a small curved lever known as the serpentine. Upon the pull of a lever protruding from the bottom of the gun and connected to the serpentine, the clamp dropped down, lowering the smoldering match into the flash pan and igniting the priming powder; the flash from the primer traveled through the touch hole igniting the main charge of propellant in the gun barrel. On release of the lever or trigger, the spring-loaded serpentine would move in reverse to clear the pan. For obvious safety reasons, the match would be removed before reloading of the gun. Both ends of the match were kept alight in case one end should be accidentally extinguished.

Earlier types had only an "S"-shaped serpentine pinned to the stock either behind or in front of the flash pan, one end of, manipulated to bring the match into the pan. Most matchlock mechanisms mounted the serpentine forward of the flash pan; the serpentine dipped backward, toward the firer. This is the reverse of the familiar forward-dipping hammer of the flintlock and firearms. A addition to the gun was the rifled barrel; this made the gun much more accurate at longer distances but did have drawbacks, the main one being that it took much longer to reload because the bullet had to be pounded down into the barrel. A type of matchlock was developed called the snap matchlock, in which the serpentine was held in firing position by a weak spring, released by pressing a button, pulling a trigger, or pulling a short string passing into the mechanism; as the match was extinguished after its violent collision with the flash pan, this type fell out of favour with soldiers, but was used in fine target weapons.

An inherent weakness of the matchlock was the necessity of keeping the match lit. The match was steeped in potassium nitrate to keep. Being the sole source of ignition for the powder, if the match was not lit when the gun needed to be fired, the mechanism was useless, the weapon became little more than an expensive club; this was chiefly a problem in wet weather, when damp match cord was difficult to light and to keep burning. Another drawback was the burning match itself. At night, the match would glow in the darkness revealing the carrier's position; the distinctive smell of burning match-cord was a giveaway of a musketeer's position. It was quite dangerous when soldiers were carelessly handling large quantities of gunpowder with lit matches present; this was one reason why soldiers in charge of transporting and guarding ammunition were amongst the first to be issued self-igniting guns like the wheellock and snaphance. The matchlock was uneconomical to keep ready for long periods of time. To maintain a single sentry on night guard duty with a matchlock, keeping both ends of his match lit, required a mile of match per year.

The matchlock was the first firearm with a trigger. The matchlock arquebus began to be used by the Janissary corps of the Ottoman army in the first half of the 15th century, by the 1440s; the idea of a serpentine appeared in an Austrian manuscript dated to the mid-15th century. The first dated illustration of a matchlock mechanism dates to 1475, by the 16th century they were universally used. During this time the latest tactic in using the matchlock was to line up and send off a volley of musket balls at the enemy; this volley would be much more effective than single soldiers trying to hit individual targets. Robert Elgood theorizes the Italian army used the arquebus in the 15th century, but this may be a type of hand cannon, not matchlocks with trigger mechanism, he agreed. Improved versions of the Ottoman arquebus were transported to India by Babur in 1526. A primitive long gun called Java arquebus is used by Majapahit empire and the neighboring kingdoms in the last quarter of 15th century; the weapon is long, may reach 2.2 m in length, had its own folding bipod.

The matchlock was claimed to have been introduced to China by the Portuguese. The Chinese obtained the matchlock arquebus technology from the Portuguese in the 16th century and matchlock firearms were used by the Chinese into the 19th century; the Chinese used the term "bird-gun" to refer to muskets and Turkish muskets may have reached China before Portuguese ones. In Japan, the first documented introduction of the matchlock, which became known as the tanegashima, was through the Portuguese in 1543; the tanegashima seems to have been based on snap matchlocks that were produced in Portuguese Malacca, at the armory of Malacca, called an istinggar. While the Japanese were technically able to produce tempered steel, they preferred to use work-hardened brass springs in their matchlocks; the name tanegashima came from the island where a Chinese junk with Portuguese adventurers on board was driven to ancho

Kutjevo Abbey

Kutjevo Abbey known as Gotó was a Cistercian monastery in what is now Croatia, in the area of Slavonia, 23 km north-east of Požega. The monastery was founded in 1232 as a daughter-house of Zirc Abbey in Hungary, of the filiation of Clairvaux; the Cistercians planted the vineyards. After the Turkish attack of 1521 the monastery was subsequently destroyed. In 1689 the monastery estate was granted by Emperor Leopold I to Ivan Babić, a canon of Zagreb, named titular abbot. In 1698 the site was re-settled by the Jesuits, who remained there until 1773. In 1882 the property was acquired by Vjenceslav Turković and Franjo Türk who developed a significant wine production on it. After World War II this was conducted as a Socialist enterprise; the existing building complex was built by the Jesuits in the 18th century on the ruins of the Cistercian monastery. The former monastery church, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, still stands. Becking, Gereon Christoph Maria, 2000: Zisterzienserklöster in Europa, map 76.

Lukas Verlag Berlin ISBN 3-931836-44-4 Turković, Milan, 1935: Prošlost opatije B. Dj. Marije vallis honesta de Gotho seu Kuttyeva: 1323-1773.

Poplar Grove (Scotts Hill, North Carolina)

Poplar Grove Plantation is a peanut plantation by the Topsail sound in Scotts Hill near Wilmington in Pender County, North Carolina. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places listings in North Carolina on July 16, 1979; the plantation was owned by the widow of Cornelius Harnett. The property which once included Figure Eight Island became the home of the Foy family, an American family of French Huguenot descent, from 1795 until 1971; the original plantation house was destroyed in a fire. The current house, a 12-room Greek Revival-style mansion, was built in the early 1850s by Joseph Mumford Foy; the Plantation is now under the care of Inc.. Poplar Grove opened as a museum to the public in 1980. Poplar Grove - official site