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This article is about the Age of Empires III unit. For the unit of the same name in Age of Empires II, see Crossbowman (Age of Empires II).

Archaic archer. Good against infantry.
—In-game description

The Crossbowman is an archer in Age of Empires III that can be trained at Barracks, Fort, and Galleon.

Crossbowmen are available to the French, Germans, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedes.


Crossbowmen are ranged infantry units that use crossbows in battle. They are counter infantry units that are useful for attacking heavy infantry such as Musketeers, but are easily defeated by melee cavalry and artillery. They are similar in many ways to Skirmishers. Although the Crossbowmen might be out-ranged by their Skirmisher counterparts, they are cheaper and are trainable earlier in the game. The exceptions to this rule reside in the Dutch who can train Skirmishers in the Commerce Age and the French through the use of the "TEAM Early Skirmishers" Home City Card which allows them and their allies to train Skirmishers in the Commerce Age.

Spanish players have the option of being able to almost instantly train (2.7 seconds) Crossbowmen and Pikemen in the Commerce Age, due to the "TEAM Archaic Soldier Training" and "Fencing School" cards, and can train instantly if the cards are also used with the Standing Army improvement.


Age Upgrade Cost Effect Civ.
Ages fortress.jpg
Veteran archer.png Veteran Crossbowmen 200 wood,
200 coin
Upgrades Crossbowmen to Veteran (+20% hit points and attack) French
Ages industrial.jpg
Guard archer.png Guard Crossbowmen 600 wood,
600 coin
Upgrades Crossbowmen to Guard (+30% hit points and attack); requires Veteran Crossbowman and The Papal Guard politician French
Guard archer.png Ordinance Besteiro 1,000 wood,
1,000 coin
Upgrades Crossbowmen to Ordinance Besteiros (+10% hit points and attack, as well as upgrading to Guard, granting another +30% hit points and attack); requires Veteran Crossbowman and The Papal Guard politician Portuguese
Imperial Age
Imperial archer.png Imperial Crossbowmen 1,500 wood,
1,500 coin
Upgrades Crossbowmen to Imperial (+50% hit points and attack); requires Guard Crossbowman and The Papal Guard politician French
Imperial archer.png Imperial Ordinance Besteiros Upgrades Ordinance Besteiros to Imperial (+50% hit points and attack); requires Ordinance Besteiro and The Papal Guard politician Portuguese

Civilization differences[]

  • As seen on the table above, Crossbowmen will be automatically upgraded to the Guard level (Royal Guard for the Portuguese) by choosing The Papal Guard to advance into the Industrial Age, which also allows them to be upgraded to the Imperial level.
    • Before the Definitive Edition, the Portuguese have the Besteiros technology, which upgrades their Crossbowmen to the "Guard" level by granting the Veteran upgrade (if not already) and giving them +30% hit points and attack.
  • Indians and Japanese can get Crossbowmen by allying with the Portuguese, which provides Portuguese Expeditionary Company and Portuguese Expeditionary Force that includes 7 and 10 Crossbowmen (named Besteiro) respectively. These Crossbowmen start with +10% hit points and attack than their regular counterpart, and are automatically upgraded in each Age starting from the Fortress Age (see here for the exact values).

Further statistics[]

Unit strengths and weaknesses
Strong vs. Heavy infantry, light cavalry, Eagle Runner Knights
Weak vs. Heavy cavalry, Coyote Runners, artillery
Hit points Infantry Breastplate.png Infantry Breastplate (+10%)
Besteiros.png Besteiros (+30%, Portuguese only)
Cree Tanning.png Cree Tanning (+5%)
Navajo Weaving.png Navajo Weaving (+5%)
Attack Besteiros.png Besteiros (+30%, Portuguese only)
Carib Kasiri Beer.png Carib Kasiri Beer (+10%)
Carib Garifuna Drums.png Carib Garifuna Drums (+1.0x multiplier vs. villagers)
Iroquois lacrosse.png Iroquois Lacrosse (+10%, vanilla Age of Empires III only)
Seminole Bowyer.png Seminole Bowyer (+25%)
Tupi Poison Arrow Frogs.png Tupi Poison Arrow Frogs (+10%)
Yoga.png Yoga (+5%)
Clenched Fist.png Clenched Fist (+30% melee attack)
Speed Military Drummers.png Military Drummers (+10%)
Tillys Discipline.png Tilly's Discipline (+20%, Germans only)
Inca Road-building.png Incan Road-building (+20%)
Apache Endurance.png Apache Endurance (+5%)
Sight Town Watch.png Town Watch (+2)
Creation speed Standing Army.png Standing Army (-25%)
Inca Chaquis Messengers.png Incan Chasquis Messengers (-25%)
Other Besteiros.png Besteiros (ships 22 Crossbowmen and grants the Veteran upgrade, Portuguese only)
Merritocracy.png Meritocracy (-20% upgrade cost)
Penalties Tillys Discipline.png Tilly's Discipline (+10% cost, Germans only)
High Crusade.png High Crusade (-5% hit points, Knights of St. John only)

Home City Cards[]


Definitive Edition[]

  • Crossbowmen ranged attack inaccuracy removed.
  • Guard and Imperial upgrades are available to the French, Germans and Spanish through the Papal Guard. Portuguese can now upgrade Royal Besteiros to Imperial.
  • With update 14825, the Swedes can train Crossbowmen, but cannot upgrade them to Guard and Imperial.


  • Besteiro, the Portuguese Royal Guard and Consulate Crossbowmen, means "crossbowman" in Portuguese.
  • The Dutch originally had access to training the Crossbowman, and there are unused voice files for Dutch Crossbowmen in the game files and in the Scenario Editor.


Handheld crossbows began to appear in the tenth and eleventh centuries. Crossbowmen were attractive to military leaders because they took much less time to train than archers using bows. Firearms eclipsed Crossbows by the end of the sixteenth century.

Europeans, chiefly the Spanish, included crossbows amongst the muskets and cannon they brought to the New World. Cortes arrived with more than two dozen crossbows and less than ten muskets. Columbus' crew had crossbows when they landed in the West Indies. When the original stockpile of munitions ran out it was difficult or impossible to make or trade for more. Explorers had to be very careful with their limited supply.


See also[]