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Hundred Years’ War

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Sadurian Mike
585772.  Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:39 pm Reply with quote

Being lethal is not really what is required on a battlefield. You are just as well disabling as killing, and in many cases it is a better idea to do so.

In any case, the Amerindian bow and the English longbow cannot really be compared. The power of the longbow was unique; the crossbow came closest to equalling it but that was a very different weapon. Even the longbows of the (India) Indians were nothing like as potent.

Yes, a musketball could shatter bone, but it couldn't do so unless it hit. Even a skilled musketeer of the Napolenic era (such as the French Voltigeurs and Chasseurs) would consider himself lucky to hit a man-sized target at 100 yards. A longbowman would have been mortified had he missed the same target at 200 yards, and could get off more "rounds" into the bargain.

In addition, the longbow arrow was deadly enough. The sheer power was reported to be enough to knock over a man even though his armour hadn't been penetrated, and if it did penetrate (or worse, if you had no armour), it was quite capable of burying itself up to the feathers.

This famous quote (taken here from Wiki) shows the sort of damage it could do:
Quote:
... [I]n the war against the Welsh, one of the men of arms was struck by an arrow shot at him by a Welshman. It went right through his thigh, high up, where it was protected inside and outside the leg by his iron cuirasses, and then through the skirt of his leather tunic; next it penetrated that part of the saddle which is called the alva or seat; and finally it lodged in his horse, driving so deep that it killed the animal.

 
Celebaelin
585773.  Fri Jul 17, 2009 11:07 pm Reply with quote

More on the history of surgical treatment of arrow wounds here

http://www.springerlink.com/content/xyx16pgwex3tcmme/

A modern rediscovery of

Quote:
rapid extraction and aggressive therapy

seems to be favoured, with the caveat that only someone qualified to do so should remove the arrow as its presence may be providing the pressure necessary to stem the bleeding.

 
Sadurian Mike
585774.  Fri Jul 17, 2009 11:08 pm Reply with quote

"Aggressive therapy". That is obviously removing the arrowhead and then slapping the patient for being so careless.

 
Celebaelin
585777.  Fri Jul 17, 2009 11:33 pm Reply with quote

Don't really understand that myself, aggressive therapy for a disease sure; regimens of exercise, diet, pharmaceuticals or other forms of therapy but I don't see how you apply that to the fairly obvious trauma of being pierced by a cloth-yard shaft.

Quote:
A cloth-yard was used to measure cloth. It is an inch longer than an ordinary yard. A natural way to measure cloth is to hold one end in one hand, and measure along the edge to the nose, then repeat, and these would be cloth-yards. I measure thread for making lace in the same way. A cloth-yard shaft was an arrow a cloth-yard long.

http://gwydir.demon.co.uk/jo/units/length.htm

but

Quote:
Robert E. Kaiser (MA) writes in the Journal of Archer-Antiquaries that the origin of the term clothyard dates to the reign of (King Edward III), who introduced the Flemish weaver into England. These weavers, makers of fine cloths which were prized by the nobility, had their own unit of measure; their 'yard' was 27.25 inches, as opposed to the standard 36 inches. This was the 'clothier's yard.'

One of the sole surviving examples of a Medieval British war arrow, in the libraries of Westminster Abbey, is of a length of one clothyard. The term itself survives in many writings of the day. Further evidence for its use (as distinct from a standard yard) as the unit of measure of a war arrow lies in a proof, by John E. Morris (modern scholar of Edward III's military) that a 36 inch (standard yard) pull from a period yew longbow of 65-70 lbs. is biomechanically improbable, if not impossible - tending to support the theory of a shorter standard arrow.

and

Quote:
We know now that a cloth yard shaft is really 28 inches which is an ideal draw for many persons.

American Indian Archery (The Civilization of the American Indian Series) by Reginald Laubin and Gladys Laubin pg 146

 
SteveTaylor
585846.  Sat Jul 18, 2009 6:35 am Reply with quote

I think another factor wrt bows being phased out is the fact that amy experienced archer will be able to make a bow and arrows whereas a musketeer could not make gun powder.

Hence if you were a ruling lord you could guard the gunpowder stores and make revolution far more difficult.

 
Celebaelin
585869.  Sat Jul 18, 2009 8:35 am Reply with quote

SteveTaylor wrote:
I think another factor wrt bows being phased out is the fact that amy experienced archer will be able to make a bow and arrows whereas a musketeer could not make gun powder.

Hence if you were a ruling lord you could guard the gunpowder stores and make revolution far more difficult.

Nice idea but not necessarily true unfortunately.

Bows are hard to make and it's best done by a specialist bowyer, plus the yew was imported from Spain and Italy by means of a tariff placed on tuns of wine - obviously this was mediated by the powers that be, or rather the powers that were. Add to that the fact that every man was supposed to have a bow and actively practice with it and the idea looks a bit shaky. In 1363 all other sports were banned and by the time of Henry VIII (in 1515) archery practice and bow ownership was compulsory for males over the age of 7 although only two arrows needed to be bought. Arrows ended up being made by the combined efforts of three trades* as fletching (putting the flights on) became very specialised. The exact reason for this is possibly not as simple as the task being quite tricky and the politics of having a sanctioned guild with a monopoly to protect might have given rise to a warning system if other people were stockpiling arrows.

Gunpowder was indeed difficult to make and we've touched on the use of human, and in particular ecclesiastical, urine in the process in other threads.

Quite why archers with experience of Amy were so much more competent at crafting the tools of their profession remains one of the abiding mysteries of medieval warfare. Many have postulated that this is in fact a misinterpretation and that it was in fact Amy who was the foremost bowyer and fletcher of her day.

* Making a simple shaft is not that difficult but the shafts must be of consistent 'spine' for accuracy and the best of them are 'footed' or composed of more than one wood - these are less likely to break on striking a target. The arrow heads were made by blacksmiths.

More info

Henry VIII wrote:
Item: Whether the Kinges subjectes, not lame nor having no lawfull impediment, and beinge within the age of XI yeares, excepte Spiritual men, Justices etc. and Barons of the Exchequer, use shoting on longe bowes, and have bowe continually in his house, to use himself and that fathers and governours of chyldren teache them to shote, and that bowes and arrowes be bought for chyldren under XVII and above VII yere, by him that has such a chylde in his house, and the Maister maye stoppe it againe of his wages, and after that age he to provideb them himselfe: and who that is founde in defaute, in not having bowes and arrowes by the space of a moneth, to forfayte xiid.. And boyers for everie bowe of ewe, to make two of Elme wiche or othere wood of meane price, and if thei be founde to doe the contrarie, to be committed to warde, by the space of viii daies or more.

And that buttes be made, in everie citie, towne and place accordinge to the law of auncient time used, and the inhabitantes and dwellers in everye of them to exercise themselfe with longe bowes in shotinge at the same, and elles wher on holy daies and other times conveniente.

And that al bowstaves of ewe, be open and not solde in bundels nor close.

And that no stranger not being denizen, shall convey oute of the kinges obeilance (?) anie bowes, arrowes, or shaftes without the kinges speciall license upon paine of forfaiture, and also imprysonment nor use shotynge in anie longe bowe without the kinges license, uppon paine to forfaite the bowes and arrowes to the kinges subjectes that will Seaze them.

http://scortonarrow.com/features/Archery_its%20the%20law.htm

 
Sadurian Mike
585953.  Sat Jul 18, 2009 1:38 pm Reply with quote

SteveTaylor wrote:
I think another factor wrt bows being phased out is the fact that amy experienced archer will be able to make a bow and arrows whereas a musketeer could not make gun powder.

Cel's covered it pretty well but I'll just add that "normal" bows (not war/long bows) could be made for himself by an archer with some knowledge, but their power and strength were limited unless the maker knew exactly what he was doing. Making an English longbow* isn't just a case of tying a bit of string to a long length of wood, you need to have the correct combination of heartwood and sapwood.

Some confusion over the term "self bow" often arises because it suggests a bow made for and by yourself, but it actually refers to the fact that the bow is made from a single piece of wood (as opposed to a composite bow or crossbow).

Making and assembling arrows became something of a cottage industry in England, and huge numbers were shipped over to France during the HYW.


*I make the distinction because, technically, a longbow is simply a long bow, and the warbow/English longbow used by the English is a particular development of the concept.

 
Gyndawyr
585962.  Sat Jul 18, 2009 1:51 pm Reply with quote

Arrowheads can be glued to the shaft using melted tree sap mixed with charcoal.

Ive got a question for people though;
What is the most poweful handheld bow weapon to date??
Including modern weaponry.
Cause I want to see what happens when you make a longbow/crossbow hybrid that can barely be held by human hand :D

 
Sadurian Mike
585965.  Sat Jul 18, 2009 1:57 pm Reply with quote

Gyndawyr wrote:
Cause I want to see what happens when you make a longbow/crossbow hybrid that can barely be held by human hand :D

You can't. They are two different weapons.

The closest "hybrid" would be something like a ballista; far too large to be used by a human in his hands:


Anything more manageable would simply not be a longbow but just be a large crossbow.

 
soup
585967.  Sat Jul 18, 2009 2:09 pm Reply with quote

Mike is it still called a Ballista if the torque is 'provided' by wound up skeins of rope as opposed to the deformation of that bow part?
Can remember Adam Hart-Davis (Local Heroes?) with a troop of re-enactors firing a 'Ballista' using twisted skeins, and the command to fire sounded like "Yaketah!".

 
Gyndawyr
585968.  Sat Jul 18, 2009 2:13 pm Reply with quote

I still think it would be cool to have
a) a really large crossbow.
b) a really large crossbow/Chu-ko-nu hybrid.
c) "The mongol composite crossbow allows for a smaller bow with a greater power potential" - Why not make a really big one? :D
Did they ever make a rocket propelled bolt like a harpoon for a late medieval ship??

 
Sadurian Mike
585970.  Sat Jul 18, 2009 2:21 pm Reply with quote

soup wrote:
Mike is it still called a Ballista if the torque is 'provided' by wound up skeins of rope as opposed to the deformation of that bow part?

I don't honestly know if it correct to call anything but a rope-torsion weapon a ballista. The rope-tensioning was the usual method of providing torsion simply because it provides the best power and doesn't rely quite so much on the strength of the bow (although even with rope-tensioning the "bows" sometimes broke). Large crossbows of the type I illustrated (which came much later in any case) are borderline cases at best because they are essentially crossbows mounted in fortifications. It is a little like the question as to whether a swivel-gun is a cannon or a handgun, it is a little of both and depends on how you want to define the terms.

The classic ballista is rope-torsioned and that is the technically correct term for such a weapon, but I have heard it applied to giant crossbows as well. The two didn't really overlap, however, so using the term "ballista" for the giant crossbow is not strictly accurate.

soup wrote:
Can remember Adam Hart-Davis (Local Heroes?) with a troop of re-enactors firing a 'Ballista' using twisted skeins, and the command to fire sounded like "Yaketah!".

Reinactors are a funny bunch (whatever happened to Gerontius Grumpus) but an excellent resource for historians.

 
Gyndawyr
585972.  Sat Jul 18, 2009 2:34 pm Reply with quote

I find your interest in weaponry education and amusing Sadurian :)
I did not understand the way Ballistas operated until your explaination (i knew they were different to crossbows, didnt know how)
Stone age bows involved alot of complexity themselves :D
That guy (ray mears??) bushcraft was very educational on stone age bow construction, much of which was continually in use in modern bow making. Their stone tools changed to steel, the wood was more selectively chosen etc, but damn I really like the stuff that guy does :)

Anyways what was i saying -_-
Yeah erm which of the following kicks more ass;
Crossbow
Longbow
Chu-ko-nu
?? Its probably the crossbow for its stealth and functionality; chu-ko-nu is older than modern crossbows, and more for warfare than enemy infiltration.

 
Sadurian Mike
585978.  Sat Jul 18, 2009 2:58 pm Reply with quote

Crossbows have the potential for greater power because they are mechanically drawn. This, however, makes them very slow to reload and slower still as you increase the power. They also have the advantage of being easier to learn.

Longbows are faster to use and more flexible in the amount of power you use to loose the arrow, thus allowing for more accurate "indirect" fire (such as dropping arrows over a wall to fall closely behind it).

Which was best? In fortifications the crossbow's limitation were not as obvious, but in open battle the longbow won out time after time.

The Cho-Ko-Nu (repeating crossbow) was inaccurate and weak, but allowed a decent volume of fire to be put down by poorly-trained troops. In the right circumstances this could be important, but the weapon would have been very out of place and of little use on a European battlefield of the medieval period.

 
Gyndawyr
585982.  Sat Jul 18, 2009 3:06 pm Reply with quote

I think I'd go with a crossbow, just because ive used a toy one before (made of metal and string with a plastic body) and based on that experience, they are remarkably easy to use, powerful and accurate.

However the composite rambo style bow is cool, so are longbows, so are chu-ko-nu, infact weapons generally are fun and cool... like drug abuse or smoking...

good advice for children :)

 

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