Historys Underrated Inventions- 1 The chariot---4 Longbow

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by NEO_CON, Nov 11, 2005.

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  1. Well it wasn't going to be the SA80 was it?
  2. Anyone know how effective the English Longbow was against the armour as used at Agincourt ?
    I have an answer from another source and I would like to check it against what is 'Known' by board members.
  3. Believe the longbow was quite effective as they changed the shape of the arrowhead from the normal barbed one to one which didnt have barbs which penetrated more easily and effectively.
  4. Stirrups! Allowed mongols to fire from horseback! Surprised that Romans didn't have them until quite a time later!
  5. How come is it that virtually every thread on arse gets mongs intorduced at some stage ???????
  6. I have a mate who fancies himself as a longbowman. A few summers ago he and I decided to put it to the test. We used a bodkin tipped arrow for piercing armour (a long pointy one without barbs or flayed edges.)

    Our target was a large sheet of 18 gauge steel.

    The arrows would puncture the steel at distances of up to a hundred and fifty yards but any more and only the occasional arrow made a hole. However 18 gauge steel is quite a sturdy material and as we were not experts in medieval armour we could not really comment on the effects against armoured knights. At close range there is no doubt that the 18 gauge steel was not enough to stop the arrows - especially when fired by me (I am much stronger than my scholarly friend) when I managed to hit the large target. :roll:

    Both of us agreed that chainmail would be next to useless against these arrows as by nature of design they would part the links.

    The longbow was fomidable but not in my hands.

    what would be good is for a volunteer to wear a suit of armour and let us take pot shots at him. (he'd have to supply his own armour of course.)

    Good book - The Bowmen of England by Donald Featherstone (1968)

    Hope this helps Jon.
  7. http://members.aol.com/dargolyt/TheForge/longbow.htm

    Read what the site said about the Composite Bow. It's hard to believe.
  8. you need to read 'Longbow a social and military history' by Robert Hardy

    great book with all the facts including information and stats on the longbows revovered from 'The Mary Rose'
    the average longbow from its introduction as a 'standard' arm by Edward the 1st (the hammer), untill its demise in the Elizabethan era was a 100lb draw.
    the Longbow was quicker firing, longer ranged and more accurate than the brown bess musket, (as well as being able to be used in the rain)
    the medieval archer carried 2 different types of arrow, a lightweight long range arrow with a small barded head and long shaft you drew to the ear and shot in unison at hi angle (indirect) fire up to 300 yrds with your 'band' (a group of around 100 pers) and a shorter heavier 'bodkin' armourpiercing arrow you drew to the eye and used as direct fire for up to 100/150 yrds.
    but you could train a competent musket man in 6 months, it took years (growing up into it) to master a yew warbow.

  9. Thanks for the helpful answers I do like a spot of serious debate and the Longbow was THE piece of equipment in it's rather long day.
    I have said in other posts that I am a fan of the program Battlefield Dectectives, one reason being the lack of serious books on Militar where I know live.
    I do have a copy of The Bowmen of England by DF, but it's been some time since I read it.
    I have always understood that to use a Longbow it took a lifeimes training for the Pull alone was massive and out of the reach for ordinary untrained folk. This I will sugest is the reason why it remaind basicaly an English weapon. (sorry Taff).
    In the BD edition on Agincourt they where very emphatic that The longbow was NOT the weapon that won the day.
    They had 'modern' longbows and constructed from, examples of the day, modern iron Bodkin points.
    They demonstrated by using Modern test procedures the Iron bodkin point would not penetrat the new 'Steel' plate that they claimed had been introduced by the time of Agincourt and used this 'Proof' as part of their argument on conduct of the battle.
    Altho a Fan of the prog I took issue on several points they made and which in my opinion they did not argue though.
    They implied that all the rich nobles would have had the new modern Italian steel armour.
    I cannot beleive this, I will conced a few maybe 24-30% max, but I doubt 50%.
    So I will say the Longbow would have been it's effective old self against the vast majority of armoured French troops.
    They also tried to suggest that the majority of the foot soldiers attacking where dismounted French Noblemen in high quality armour and that as these troops where at ground level the angle of attack of the arrows would aid defection of the incomming. Another attempt at trying to prove their point which I consider weak.
    They do go to quite a lot of trouble to show how the terrain of the land funneled the Attacking troops into a narrow area, the sides where falling off and no one in heavy armour would willingly start going off downhill. This point I accept.
    They then had a modern expert on crowd control, demonstrate with aid of a POP Music Concert video how one person falling brings down the crowd around him. The gents was an expert on Hillsbourgh and other major events. I accepted this point.
    Agincourt was fought in the Somme valley and they demonstrated just how clinging this mud was, later generation attested to that. Once again point accepted.
    They where very upset by the English murdering their prisoners and judged this act on modern standerds, which to me is a little bit silly and very PC.
    I also saw another prog on History Channel concerning the Crusades, which I know Lardix is the boards expert.
    They stated that at time of Third Crusade King Dick had fortifit the coastal towns. He was holding his positions when Saladin attacked and took Jaffa the southern most town and closest to Jeruselem the main target of the Crusade.
    What the baffled me was their statement that with 55 (Fifty five) men Richard launched a succesful counter attack. Gobsmacked.
  10. i saw that program, i thought it wasnt very well researched at all,
    the idiot who was making the bodkin heads on that forge had no clue how to wield a hammer, let alone the fact that medieval bodkins were hardened and tempered, all he had was badly beaten up mild steel.
    longbow fanatic archery friends of mine described the program as 'shite'
    your right about the fact most 'knights' didnt have plate armour, a VERY expensive commodity in the 'ol days indeed, most would have had mail shirts and mybe a chest plate and a helmet with no face guard.

    a few more points reguarding the yew longbow,

    most of the bows, and practicaly all of the 'military' issue ones, were made from imported wood, mostly from spain or northern italy.
    in 1472 Edward 4th made it law that any importer of wine or spirits into England had to bring 4 yew staves with every ton of goods, or pay default 6s 8d import tax.

    Edward 4th made it law that every man in the realm 'most have a bow of his own height and use it every feast day' or be fined 1/2d (half a days labours wage then)

    in 1475 Edward landed in france with 1500 knights and 15,000 archers, all on horseback, louis of france took one look at them and bought them off with wine, venison pies, money and promices that he was no threat to England. wise lad.

    by Henry the 8ths time it was up to 8 bow staves a ton ' of stright timber, no knots or pins, 3 fingers square and 7 ft long' they all had to be assessed and stamped by an English trade agent in euro to be accepted as import tax.

    the ordinance report for the Tower of London in 1523 showed there were 11,000 made bows ready, 6,000 staves seasoning, 16,000 sheaves (24) of 'livery' arrows, thats 384,000 arrows (livery is the lightweight longrange arrow with a small barbed head, called a 'type 16' today) 4,000 sheaves of Bodkin pointed arrows and 600 gross bowstrings, in 1534 Henry ordered that 30,000 bows be made and stored at the tower with almost 3/4 of a million arrows

    Henry made it law that everyman who has reached the age of 24 must shoot not less than a range of '11 score', thats 220 yrds

    it was the reformation more than anything that killed off the longbow in the English armoury, when Henry the 8th broke with the vatican, the pope forbid anyone from trading in 'the English weapon', supplies of decent wood for the army bowyers dried up.
  11. henry 5th ordered the prisoners killed because the baggage train to the rear was being attacked, it was only by the french camp followers, but he didnt know that at the time, fault for that one lies with the 3 french nobles who led the attack on the baggage train.
    20 yrs earlier, just before the battle of nicopolis the french had murdered 1200 prisoners for mere convenience.
  12. Erm ... horse archers in the East were firing arrows from horseback way before stirrups came along, and way before the Mongol Hordes come into being. Just read up on the battle of Cannae (53 BC) to see how effective they could be. Parthians 1, Romans 0.

    And as to longbows at Agincourt, surely the main effect they would have would be to kill the horse not the man ? I understand that the arrows were fired up at a steep angle to create a beaten zone rather then direct fire at specific targets. So you're more likely to hit the horse - it's bigger after all. Once that goes down the armoured knight either gets squashed underneath or finds himself up to his knees in mud wearing a lot of heavy armour. Then he's quite vulnerable to a bunch of unarmoured archers approaching with big sticks, pointy objects and bad attitudes.

    As to some of the "research" I've seen, I remember shouting at some chap on the TV who was trying to argue that the bows found on the Mary Rose must be blanks that needed to be trimmed as couldn't possibly be used as he couldn't pull one as found. Archers permanently deformed their skeletons pulling these things, and were very hard men to boot.
  13. That was my understanding too from reading various nerdy accounts of the Hundred Year War. As the picture above shows the default aiming position made longbowmen, en masse, a semi-indirect fire weapon. At Agincourt the "Flower of French Nobility" died pinned underneath their horses, butchered by lightly armoured archers armed with falchions as OOTS points out.

  14. The vast majority of the French at Agincourt were dismounted, these are sometimes described as just "men-at-arms" but a very large contingent of them would have been nobles. Not all of the fuedal lords of France would have been able to afford the full kit that a mounted knight required - a bare minimum of three or four horses, weapons and armour - warhorses cost the equivalent of a good-sized house, even a decent hack was pretty expensive and a knght would need two or three decent "hacks" to transport himself, his kit and his squire.