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English war bow

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Gavriel View Drop Down
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  Quote Gavriel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: English war bow
    Posted: 18-Jul-2005 at 19:03
The war bow is commonly known as the longbow (a later conception)its origins can be traced back to neolithic times, but the fact is it emerged in the years leading up to the hundred years war as a Battle winning weapon.What made it so effective was the number of bowmen who could be assembled in  a army,one or two might do damage but thousands could destroy armys and the English alone in europe were capable of assembling those numbers,why?
 It took years of practice to master the huge weapon (some reports say the bows had a 180lb draw weight,WOW)the english started training the common folk as archers at 5years of age,by the time they were 16 they were ready for the wars.
So why didnt ant other nation use the commoners as Archers?
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  Quote Styrbiorn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Jul-2005 at 19:53
They did. In 1361 the Danes slaughtered a Gotlandish peasant army, and a third of the 1800 killed peasants were killed in the initial longbow harrassing. It is speculated that a Swedish peasant army defeated a larger number of Danish knights in 1210 using longbows (that is doubtful though. anyhow longbows were used in the whole Northern Europe long long before the 100 years' war). For example.
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  Quote John the Kern Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Jul-2005 at 16:40
most of the other european countries had proud traditions, France and her brave Knights(cough, idiots, cough) my ancesteral home Eire had good javalin throwers, the Germans heavy infantry and later horse, italians were a trading sea nation, most ofhtier infatry was mercinary, simply the Longbow/ Warbow had always been a favortie amoung the english
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  Quote Achilles Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Jul-2005 at 16:49
I a'm not sure about the draw weight of the English war bows, although i am pretty sure none were ever 180 lbs. Most experts tend to agree that the typical draw weight would be between 90 and 130 lbs.

The English war bow was infact a longbow, only heavier in draw weight and made from English yew(mostly). it had a slightly differnet style than the rest of northern Europe's bows, but it was longbow, no doubt about it.

the bow i use most of the time is a 50 lbs bear grissly recurve. i also have a 55 lbs longbow. anyone else have anybows. (no compunds or anything, only good old traditional bows, such as composite bows or wooden.)
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  Quote Gavriel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Jul-2005 at 17:46
I have a 65LB yew Longbow,i got my information on the draw weights from"trial by battle,the hundred years war,volumeI" by jonathan sumption.
Any one else read this book?
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  Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Jul-2005 at 17:32
Do you know when it went out of use, or the last recorded use of longbows?
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  Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Jul-2005 at 18:35

Well for one thing let's distinguish between the longbow and other bows. Firstly the longbow was made of the precious yew wood and IIRC this is a native wood in the British Isles but not really anywhere else.

The English took up this relatively new method of warfare for a number of reasons:

*They had access to the yew wood, which ensured their bows were more powerful and had a longer range than any bow except the composite.

*They were able to see its effectiveness in thier invasion of Wales firsthand, when Welsh defenders were able to use the longbow to good effect in the local hill country. King Edward I Longshanks paid particular attention to their abilities and after completing his conquest of Wales made sure to enroll Welsh longbowmen into his army. However, it was more of an auxiliary force which he used to soften up and harass the enemy, it was not considered the main arm for destroying the enemy force. Like most Catholic powers in the area the English army still retained their heavy cavalry as the decisive force that broke enemies and won the battle.

*At Bannockburn in 1314 the English army of Edward II suffered a shock defeat at the hands of the Scots. IMO it was this point which forced the English to revolutionize their armies as they realized heavy cavalry could not simply be relied upon to win the battle for them. They made use of the emerging trends of using well disciplined and well armed infantry to resist cavalry, and increased the ratio and quality of the bowmen in their armies.

England basically took emerging practices of using infantry to counter cavalry and combined this with a piece of technology unique to their region, the longbow, to revolutionize their armies. You will find extensive use of archers in other parts of the world, particularly in eastern Europe and farther east. However, the English innovations were truly novel for their region and their age, they combined the best in military technology with superior professionalism amongst their soldiery to create an utterly devestating force. Most other nations in Europe lacked the innovative spirit and access to bows like the longbow, simply preferring to rely on the traditionally successful but increasingly antiquated heavy cavalry charge.

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  Quote Achilles Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Jul-2005 at 21:55
Currently no one is known to be able to pull a 180 lb bow. the strongest bow anyone can pull and fire multiple times is a 165 lb English war

English Yew is only found in England, correct, but there are differne types of yew all found in differne tplaces. there is a type found in southwestern Italy, and also a type found in Japan and the pacific islands.
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  Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jul-2005 at 03:30
Weren't the Samurai bows aswell from Jew?
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  Quote Styrbiorn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jul-2005 at 08:37
Yew, Taxus baccata (sometimes, and only in Anglo nations, referred to as "English Yew") is native to the whole of Europe except Iceland, and was in the Middle Ages spread all over the place. It is only in modern times it has become rare. 

Longbows of yew existed in all of the northern half of Europe since the Neolithic Age - that it is somehow English is a myth. For example the Vikings commonly used longbows made of yew or elm.
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  Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jul-2005 at 08:55
Even more to their credit that they exploited a weapon so freely available to anyone
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  Quote mord Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jul-2005 at 08:57

Originally posted by Styrbiorn

Yew, Taxus baccata (sometimes, and only in Anglo nations, referred to as "English Yew") is native to the whole of Europe except Iceland, and was in the Middle Ages spread all over the place. It is only in modern times it has become rare. 

Longbows of yew existed in all of the northern half of Europe since the Neolithic Age - that it is somehow English is a myth. For example the Vikings commonly used longbows made of yew or elm.

Certainly, the bows found at Hedeby (Haithabu) were made of yew. Check Das Archaeologische Fundmaterial IV.  Unless I've missed something (certainly possible), these are the only actual bows found in Early Medieval ("Viking Age") Scandinavia.

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  Quote Gavriel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jul-2005 at 17:59


Hmmm,how do i post pics?that didnt work out,LOL
Yew bows as long as the ones used at Crecy have been found in Neolithic graves,so theres no doubt they had been around for a while.But for some reason or another, the middle ages saw a popular enthusiasm for the pursuit of archery in  parts of England and Wales that led to the rise of the Longbow as a mass weapon of war.
The earliset intact Longbows in britain came from the mary rose,Henry VIII doomed warship,but these bows are a few hundred years newer than the famed 100yr war bows,so we dont really know the draw weights but im sure some of them would of exceeded the weights we use today.
Gavriel



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  Quote Quetzalcoatl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jul-2005 at 22:41

 

 The longbow is rather overrated, it is more french arrogance that was the major cause of defeat. At the end of the war, the longbow loss most of it's effectiveness, french knights usually took shelter amongs the trees and then would rush the longbows, this usually lead to one sided battle where entire english army were decimated for almost an insignificant french casualties. The bombard also made the longbow rather obsolete. Bombard could harass longbows from far away, when the longbow men would charge the bombard knights would run them over. basically this ended the war. Arrogance of the knights untill they started to learn the hard way.  the knights so believe in their own superiority that they took little time in planning, they would simply rush the enemy lines and at time get caught in mud and became turkey shots. Much of hundreds years battle is wrongly described, too much credits are given to the longbows, when in reality it was the french knights that defeated themselves at initial battles, only at the end of the war they swallow their prides and fought with more cunning (previously thought to be cowardice when in fact their reckless bravery is nothing more but stupidity) to eventually win the war.



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  Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jul-2005 at 01:50

Well I agree with that for the most part, but rather than it being an issue of arrogance I would say it was an issue of professionalism. The English entered the Hundred Years War with centuries of fighting behind them engaging the Welsh, Scots and Irish. France was always a nation famed for its military during the Middle Ages and still engaged regularly in war. Yet interest in the Crusades had died down, the Spanish were increasingly able to handle the Moors on their own and the once powerful Holy Roman Empire in Germany was increasingly splintered and reluctant to engage in military offensives against France as it once used to.

When the English began a serious invasion they did so with highly professional troops who had some of the best experience in warfare. In Wales the hill country had taught them the value of fielding scores of men as missile troops, they adopted the tactics of the enemy which they had conquered thanks to the perceptive Edward Longshanks. In Scotland the defeat at Bannockburn taught them not to rely on their heavy cavalry to simply charge in and win for them, they adapted by updating the ability of their infantry. Ireland and Scotland were never properly conquered for long but always provided the English with a good training ground to refine their skills and toughen them into professionals. France, basking in its newly earnt economic prosperity and peace, could field men but most of these lived on the antiquated traditions passed down by troubadors and aspired to a romantic ideal which did not reflect the reality of war. Consequently it took the French a while to adapt to an enemy who was professional, and was also well led. The English had some excellant commanders in the persons of Edward III and his son the Black Prince, Henry V is also very noteworthy. One cannot help but feel some sympathy for France when comparing Henry V to the psychotic Charles, but can see clearly why the fortunes of war began to change when Charles and Henry both died.

Another thing I neglected to mention was the use of the bodkin arrowhead. This arrowhead was sharper and thinner than normal ones and the English made extensive use of it. The result was an arrow better able to pierce armor, which was of particular usefulness against the French knights who possessed some of the heaviest armor in the world.

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  Quote Gavriel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jul-2005 at 18:46
Does anyone have any ideas on the decline of the Bows?Common wisdom suggests at the invention of the gun but surrely a battalion of Archers could of outshot a battalion of Wellingtons smoothbore muskets.
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  Quote Emperor Barbarossa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jul-2005 at 20:52
I would suggest that the gun was a heck of a lot easier to train with, and carry, and the gun could pierce steel plate armor easier than a longbow. And a shot by a .60 caliber gun would definitely kill, many men can be shot by two arrows and still live.

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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jul-2005 at 21:06
I would imagine that a 180 pound draw would be extremely difficult to use. I have used a longbow with a draw of around 40 pounds and a modern hunting bow with a draw of about 60 pounds. Based on this It would not seem practical to use a bow with more than around a 90 pound draw, though as the English longbowmen trained for so long they would probably be extremely used to using bows with extremely large draws.
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  Quote Gavriel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jul-2005 at 21:06
Yeah i agree the guns a lot easier for the men to master but carry?i would of thought a Longbows lighter than a musket?Muskets have better Armour penetration than Bows,true, but i was thinking more on the lines of rates of fire.Your quite right Emperor B many men can live after being shot by Arrows but can they still fight?
Why give up a cheap reliable effective weapon?

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  Quote Quetzalcoatl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Jul-2005 at 20:56

Originally posted by Emperor Barbarossa

I would suggest that the gun was a heck of a lot easier to train with, and carry, and the gun could pierce steel plate armor easier than a longbow. And a shot by a .60 caliber gun would definitely kill, many men can be shot by two arrows and still live.

 Still that doesn't explain it all. The handguns initially were very inefficient and unreliable. It wasn't the gun that caused the slow decline of the bow but changes in tactics. The early medieval guns alone stand no chance against the long bows or cross bows. You'll need to combine the arms. Handguns while very inefficient and unreliable at long range create extreme havoc at close range (like 10 m) against infantry and cavalry, when used in very large numbers. To counter the archer threats, bombards, cross bowmen and other archers were used. Usually the hand gunners could be rushed by infantry or cavalry and were annilated . To prevent that, the hand gunners were protected by pikemen formation. Cavalry were important to decide battle at critical points, act as screen or to rush unprotected flank.

  Strictly speaking early guns couldn't stand alone and lack the range. Then better and more accurate guns were created making archers almost obsolete, the pikemen also became obsolete when the bayonets came into play, the gunman also became a pikemen with the bayonet. So as you see it was all a transition and tactics were a critical factor for the develop of handguns.

 

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