:This is about firearms. For the militia, see Miquelet (militia)
(miguelet) is a modern convention, largely used by and for the benefit of the English speaking world, widely applied to a distinctive form of flint-against-steel ignition mechanism (lock
) prevalent in the Mediterranean
lands in the late 16th to early 19th centuries. The origin of the term as it applies to this ignition method is a matter of opinion, one commonly held opinion being that the term was originated by British troops in the Peninsular War
ascribing the term to the particular style of musket or fusil used by the Miquelet (militia)
assigned to the Peninsular Army of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
. Strictly speaking, the term "miquelet" is inapplicable to any gunlock not directly associated with Catalonia
Sometime in the middle 1570’s, Madrid
gunsmiths introduced a prototype miquelet lock, possibly based on a lock developed in Brescia
. The prototype was further developed by Madrid gunmakers, almost certainly including the Marquart family of Royal gunmakers, into the Spanish patilla style now most associated with the miquelet.
The miquelet snaplock with its combined battery and pan cover was the final innovative link that made the true flintlock mechanism possible. It proved to be both the precursor and companion to the true flintlock. Two major variants of the miquelet were produced. The Spanish lock where the mainspring pushed up on the heel of the cock foot and the two sears engaged the toe of the cock foot. The other variant was the Italian type where the mainspring pushed down on the toe of the cock foot and the sears engaged the cock on the heel of the foot.
The lock was known by various names, depending on region or variation of design. In Spain, it was known as the llave española; a la Catalan, or simply the patilla. In Portugal, it was known as the fecho de patilha de invenção. Indigenous variations to the patilla had names such as the a la de invenciõn, later known as the alla romana or romanlock or just plain Italian. The Italian version of the Spanish patilla is termed alla micheletta, although serious writers and collectors in Europe eschew this term and use more precise, chronologically and geographically pertinent terminology, such as alla brobana for the Neapolitan (Naples) variety of external-mainspring lock due to its association with the Bourbons and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The French-influenced hybrid was known as the ala moda or more commonly, as the Madrid lock, again due to Bourbon court influence. It had the appearance of the French flintlock, but was Spanish in operation due to the horizontal sears.
The horizontal sears, acting through the lockplate, coupled with the external mainspring and the top jaw screw ring are the features most associated with the miquelet (actually, the horizontal acting sears are the one true defining feature as some variations of the miquelet do not have the external mainspring and/or the large top jaw screw ring).
The miquelet is often termed the Mediterranean lock due to its diffusion to areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, particularly in the Ottoman sphere of influence. The miquelet may have come to the attention of arms makers in Istanbul from long established trade routes from Italian city-states through the port of Ragusa (Dubrovnik) to provinces on the Balkan Peninsula. Other avenues probably were a result of booty from corsair raids and/or from the many Ottoman-Euro conflicts of the period.
Additionally, the agujeta lock, a contemporary of the patilla was produced in Ripoll, primarily on a long barreled pistol called a pedrenyal. Ripoll was a gun-making center in Catalonia. The agujeta lock, sometimes referred to as the Arab toe-lock, survived in modified form in North Africa well into the 20th century.
A percussion lock or caplock mechanism styled on the patilla pattern miquelet was used on pistols and sporting guns right up to the advent of the cartridge firearm; indeed, many percussion locks were modified or adapted for use with cartridge firearms. Sculpturing of the hammer in the form of dogs or fish was a common practice on these percussion miquelet locks. Miquelets fashioned in this way were particularly well represented by the gunmakers of Eibar.
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