In 1544, a visionary gunsmith named Giovanni Battista realized that firearms had a pretty big design flaw: While you're standing there in a battle aiming at someone, some other jerk is doing the same to you. Sure, you could use a shield to protect yourself from bullets, but you can't fire a shield. And what's the point of anything if it can't shoot bullets?
So Battista came up with a perfect(ly insane) solution: the gun shield. It's exactly what it sounds like.
Battista went up to King Henry VIII himself and pitched him the idea of a big iron shield with a pistol sticking out of a hole in the front. It even had a little window through which you could aim at your enemies and presumably taunt them with obscene gestures. There were a couple of kinks, though.
First of all, it turns out that iron is heavy as hell. Soldiers couldn't use the gun shield without setting it down somewhere, meaning that it was really only effective for shooting at enemies who happened to be standing directly in front of you. And second, while this type of gun could be loaded from the back (most were muzzle-loaded), you still had to clean the barrel every few shots or risk blowing your face off. Yep, once you got a couple of shots in, you either had to turn the cumbersome shield around or ask your opponent for a time out so you could hop to the front, clean it, and then resume trying to kill them.
It was a dumb idea.
Naturally, Henry immediately ordered 100. They failed to revolutionize warfare as Battista had hoped, but at least they looked pretty rad in Henry's armory.
And this is way less useful than the trick Marty McFly borrowed in Back To The Future III.
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