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Subject: Longbow "technology" rss

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Mark Johnson
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My next podcast episode will be about the Hundred Years War, and it's raised a few historical questions in my mind. Let's start with the easier, more "fun" one, since it's about military technology: the longbow.

Although I'm looking at some other parts of this long conflict, especially the campaigns of Joan of Arc which are in the siege warfare period, any treatment of the 100YW invariably includes Agincourt. Probably Crécy, too. I just played a couple light wargames about those last week, and was lucky enough to visit both battlefields recently. An enduring part of the military story for these battles was the dominance of the English longbow against French knights (and Genoese crossbowmen).

This looks like a new military technology, successfully deployed to change the previous nature and balance of warfare. This is how we describe later uses of machine guns, tanks, and aircraft. But in the case of the longbow, it cannot really be the same thing. The material technology for the longbow was not new. Yet if it was something that could've been used earlier, why wasn't it? I know there were archers in the Roman army, and going back even further to the really ancient battles.

So what was it that made 1415 (or 1346) so different?

I suppose it was really more of a "socio-political technology," that of finding an effective military use of larger number of non-noble fighters who were less of an economic burden to the king than landed knights. I've read much of the constant training & drills necessary to make the powerful longbow an effective force. That's only possible with the political authority to prohibit other sports and make this constant drilling part of the society.

Though I still don't know why it wasn't used to similar effect in previous societies with sufficient political centralization (Rome, Carolingian France...?)
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Eddy Sterckx
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MarkEJohnson wrote:
That's only possible with the political authority to prohibit other sports and make this constant drilling part of the society.


This.

Note that the crossbow was in essence better than the longbow - they were cheaper to train/hire - anybody could be a crossbowman with half a day training. Longbows had their moment in the sun at Agincourt but weren't so successful later on (Patay) and were phased out of all armies long before the crossbow was.

MarkEJohnson wrote:

Though I still don't know why it wasn't used to similar effect in previous societies with sufficient political centralization (Rome, Carolingian France...?)


As to the Romans : the short recurve (composite) bow as used by their Eastern opponents had in essence the same effective shooting range, hence they would have gone for that (and did - in their auxiliary forces) - the longbow is just one solution to the "must be able to shoot further" problem. In essence the real question is why the English weren't using that technology instead of the cumbersome longbow. I've read that it had to do with the wetter climate being bad for the material.

As to the Carolingian army : apart from the household troops, that's a levy army - they didn't have time to train, they had to work the forest and the land with the same axe they took to battle.
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MarkEJohnson wrote:
So what was it that made 1415 (or 1346) so different?

I suppose it was really more of a "socio-political technology," that of finding an effective military use of larger number of non-noble fighters who were less of an economic burden to the king than landed knights. I've read much of the constant training & drills necessary to make the powerful longbow an effective force. That's only possible with the political authority to prohibit other sports and make this constant drilling part of the society.


I think you described the relevant factors. The English (or Normans if you will) stumbled on the longbow when fighting the Welsh and then worked out the tactics against the Scots, so when the 100 years war came around there was a huge pool of archers as well as "combined arms" tactics ready to use.

Salvo fire seems to be one of those things that gets invented and reinvented. The Persians used it but still couldn't stop the armoured Greeks, for example, and it was rediscovered again in several places in the 1600s.

The French of course tried to copy the "longbow culture" but results were so-so. They were far more successful in adopting the new gunpowder technology, with French siege guns playing a huge part in ending the 100 years war and again cleaning house in Italy 50 years later, and in establishing a sort-of professional state military with the compagnies d'ordonnance.

So French defeat at the hands of the English and their longbow-based tactical system led to innovation and early adoption of other technologies and systems, which then had their enemies playing catchup, and so on.
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L. SCHMITT
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Longbowmen didn't break the French mounted charges at Crecy or Agincourt, their stakes did... deprived of them at Patay, the bowmen were overrun.
These two battles and Poitiers are celebrated in an English vision of History that seems to forget the crushing victories of Patay, Formigny and Castillon. Powder was the crucial technology that ended the war.
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Mark Johnson
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Yes, Formigny is one of the battles in my exploration. I really wish I could obtain a game that included Patay, but was unable to get one.
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Andrew B
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I'm not a military historian (yet), but based on what other people have written, nobody here is, so I feel more confident in sharing my opinions on the subject matter.

A lot of my knowledge is based on old documentaries and a very surface level analysis of the Hundred Years' War, but when it comes to the longbow that's good enough for an overview.

First of all let's look at the technology itself. Especially compared to a regular bow or a crossbow.

The longbow requires by far the most training, without a shadow of a doubt. However, people enjoy archery, it's just something that works well with our brains. You see more people gravitate towards it than fighting with a halberd or a pike. Also, it was a symbol of martial prowess, to be able to use a longbow properly, and a large number of competitions throughout the land would encourage this further.

A longbow has longer range, quicker rate of fire, and superior armour penetration(compared to a regular bow, a crossbow has similar penetration). That last one was really important, it won't go through a metal shield, but it might go through a metal breastplate. This is one of the big wars for heavy cavalry, that coincidentally tend to wear a lot of plate armour.

Crossbows are more accurate, but they are more expensive and more difficult to maintain and repair.

That's the gist on the technology side of things.

Tactics is another really important element.

First of all the longbow was a proven weapon, the psychological effect was really important. It was particularly useful against the Scottish schiltron formation.

Because they're spending all this time training the longbowmen would have a natural discipline and adherence to their tactics. The English armies knew how to use their archers well, this doesn't mean they always succeeded, but they had a pretty good idea about how they should be deployed.

It's also reassuring for the poor bastard that has to withstand a heavy cavalry charge that he has some ranged support that can actually deal serious damage to said cavalry.

Like Duckman said, it's a bit of disruptive technology in the sense that it causes the other side to rethink its tactics, which is great.

One of the reason why the longbow is so important in military history is that triggers this sort of cascading reconsideration of the military tactics of the day.
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L. SCHMITT
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To get Patay, you can still find the good quad Henry V ( 3W ) here and there, but it won't be cheap. Maybe could you buy or lend it from a French player on the wargame forum Strategikon ?
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Kent Reuber
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MarkEJohnson wrote:
Yes, Formigny is one of the battles in my exploration. I really wish I could obtain a game that included Patay, but was unable to get one.


Patay is included in Markham's Henry V. Are there other games featuring it?
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Ivor Bolakov
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andrewbwm wrote:

A longbow has longer range, quicker rate of fire, and superior armour penetration(compared to a regular bow, a crossbow has similar penetration). That last one was really important, it won't go through a metal shield, but it might go through a metal breastplate. This is one of the big wars for heavy cavalry, that coincidentally tend to wear a lot of plate armour.


It might penetrate plate, but not in a way that severely wounds the wearer. Getting 'pinked' by a few arrows isn't going to stop anyone. The shield was essentially abandoned when plate grew effective, because the benefits of plate made shields redundant.
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Mark Johnson
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The two games with Patay that I've found are Henry V and Epées de France. They're both in my geeklist.

Through some Google searching, I've now found Patay scenarios for DBA and DBMM. I'm hopeful I can adapt the former to an Ancients game so I can compare directly to my Crécy/Agincourt games.
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Con
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Like other weapons that are a bit oddball in historical terms, I think the longbow responds to particular adaptive pressures, and away from those specific pressures it is not an optimal solution.

For the English and Welsh, it was probably mainly an adaptation to level the playing field between archers and well-armoured infantry and cavalry. It came at a cost, not just in terms of the huge amount of training required, but also in terms of the sustainable rate of fire. The likelihood is that for most other periods and places in history the higher penetration afforded by the longbow was not worth the downsides.

Part of the adaptation was not just in the longbow itself, but also that in contrast to many other historical users of bows, English and Welsh archers seem to have been better equipped and motivated to get stuck into hand-to-hand malee.

Certainly, the English used longbows effectively against other types of enemy, notably against Scots schiltrons, but throughout history armies have used the troops they have available without optimising for each individual type of enemy. I don't think there is a clear case that longbows were necessarily more effective against a schiltron than a lighter bow would have been, especially given the tactical advantages that they often benefitted from against schiltrons. At Falkirk, for example, the schiltrons were sitting ducks, unsupported by other troops, by the time the English archers shot them to pieces. At Haildon Hill, the schiltrons had to advance across highly unsuitable ground before they could reach the archers.

I think it's noteworthy that the one other major culture to which substantial use of longbows has been attributed - ancient Indians - had a comparable challenge of requiring enhanced penetration, needing to be effective against elephants.
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Andrew B
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ConG wrote:
I don't think there is a clear case that longbows were necessarily more effective against a schiltron than a lighter bow would have been, especially given the tactical advantages that they often benefited from against schiltrons.


I think their increased range over the traditional bow was their advantage there, but I don't have any sources to back this with.

OhBollox wrote:
andrewbwm wrote:

A longbow has longer range, quicker rate of fire, and superior armour penetration(compared to a regular bow, a crossbow has similar penetration). That last one was really important, it won't go through a metal shield, but it might go through a metal breastplate. This is one of the big wars for heavy cavalry, that coincidentally tend to wear a lot of plate armour.


It might penetrate plate, but not in a way that severely wounds the wearer. Getting 'pinked' by a few arrows isn't going to stop anyone. The shield was essentially abandoned when plate grew effective, because the benefits of plate made shields redundant.


They didn't all wear the same quality of armour and even then the armour had weak spots. Even if the armour on the knight was of good quality, often the armour on the horse was not.
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Keith Rose
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I think the OP mentioned the social aspect of the longbow. This indeed had an impact. English nobles were taught growing up to hunt with the bow, unlike their continental counterparts who hunted with the spear on horseback. This led in turn to an acceptance & knowledge of archery in England by those nobles, who were of course also involved in war & its management.
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Brian Train
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Mark, you may find this interesting:

A comparison of why England kept and used the longbow for so long, when France and Scotland didn't.
More broadly, why certain governments choose the military technologies they do.

http://www.peterleeson.com/Longbow.pdf

Brian
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Andy Daglish
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MarkEJohnson wrote:
An enduring part of the military story for these battles was the dominance of the English longbow against French knights (and Genoese crossbowmen).
How many were killed or incapacitated by arrowstrikes?

Quote:
This looks like a new military technology, successfully deployed to change the previous nature and balance of warfare. This is how we describe later uses of machine guns, tanks, and aircraft. But in the case of the longbow, it cannot really be the same thing. The material technology for the longbow was not new. Yet if it was something that could've been used earlier, why wasn't it?
Wales was conquered in the late 13th century. The Welsh longbow had been in use for the preceding hundred years. It probably had been introduced by Vikings in centuries prior to that. The bow is usually the weapon of those who seek refuge in hills and forests, therefore a bit working class [requiring little metal], whereas the average feared Viking killer would earn his reputation with axe and halberd. A maximum range of 400 yards suggests considerable skill can be developed in manufacture and accuracy. The clothyard arrow is too long to be aerodynamically efficient ie. it produces low-pressure turbulence behind the fletchings. The shorter arrows of the eastern recurved bow is better in this respect, and all its consequences.

Quote:
I know there were archers in the Roman army, and going back even further to the really ancient battles.
probably contemporary with the throwing stick, so Mesolithic.

Quote:
So what was it that made 1415 (or 1346) so different?
Improvements in armour primarily, which depended on the developing skill of iron-smelters and armoursmiths, which essentially rested on the highest temperatures their forges could develop. Mechanical bellows driven by wind or water helped here. Carbon monoxide forms at these temps, and this tends to reduce iron ore by pulling oxygen off to make iron and carbon dioxide. Medieval workers valued roman slagheaps as concentrated sources of iron, which these forbears hadn't managed to retrieve, due to cooler furnaces. Temperature limited the size of the bloom or quantity of iron they could make in one furnace. Mail developed as the greatest area you could armour with the least amount of iron. This gave way to coats of [small] plates, and later to uninterrupted plate of the wealthiest, as seen at Agincourt. Then there was extremely fine fluted and corrugated armour, usually a preserve of the best Italian and German smiths, used by the Scots gentlemen at Flodden in 1513, which was proof against longbow arrows at any range.

Quote:
I suppose it was really more of a "socio-political technology," that of finding an effective military use of larger number of non-noble fighters who were less of an economic burden to the king than landed knights.
The Agincourt campaign was funded by Parliament's assent to heavy taxation, and a lot of pawning, so the army it paid for was not feudal exactly. It was English-speaking however, which was a first.

Quote:
I've read much of the constant training & drills necessary to make the powerful longbow an effective force. That's only possible with the political authority to prohibit other sports and make this constant drilling part of the society.
I don't suppose you want the poor hungry ones poaching deer, though. Also there is a difference between clouds of thousands of military arrows falling on enemy armies at 150 yards and shooting at barrels on Sunday afternoon. The best archers were professionals. Henry's army was about the same size as Harold's at Hastings, probably around 8,000 men, but whereas the Saxons were a bit tired, the English were sickly. They probably faced the enemy without their trousers on, due to dysentry [is indecent exposure on the battlefield an offence?], and I think the king had them move off a little way due to the smell.

Quote:
Though I still don't know why it wasn't used to similar effect in previous societies with sufficient political centralization (Rome, Carolingian France...?)
It wasn't seen to be that wonderful a weapon. The crossbow could penetrate contemporary armour better because its missiles arrived at higher velocity. If you were a retarded French king, which would you go for? Bands of mercenary crossbowmen could be hired. England was always a bit backward due to being cut off from the continent's bubbling pot of ideas by the intervening sea, so they tended to stick with old traditions. An obvious and easy antidote to arrows was & had always been the shield, but by 1415 armour was so effective that shields had been abandoned, probably prematurely in this case. Being struck by many arrows that bounce off has the disadvantage that you become scared that sooner or later one will hit a vulnerable location, say breaking a finger, which would stop a French nobleman wearing armour worth a large six-figure sum in today's currency, unless he was seriously committed.
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Andy Daglish
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ltmurnau wrote:
says:
England alone, for a 150-year window in late medieval Europe, was politically stable enough to render the longbow its rulers’ optimal technology choice.


From Wikipedia: The Battle of Shrewsbury was a battle fought on 21 July 1403, waged between an army led by the Lancastrian King Henry IV and a rebel army led by Henry "Harry Hotspur" Percy from Northumberland. The battle, the first in which English archers fought each other on English soil, demonstrated "the deadliness of the longbow" and ended the Percy challenge to King Henry IV of England.
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Brian Train
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Shrewsbury (1403) is mentioned in the chapter, in Table 1 (p.8).
So is Boroughbridge, an earlier (1322) smaller and quite unbalanced battle between Rebel forces under Lancaster, though archers appear to have been used only on the Royal side.

In any event, two internal battles separated by 81 years, within that 150 year period (roughly 1300-1450).
Both battles ended with the destruction of the rebel forces, establishing (or rather re-establishing) political stability.

Brian
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Very un-academic but hands on opinion;

In my experience shooting longbows they require almost daily practice for the user to hit any man-sized target consistently over 20 yards. It takes hours of practice to build up the muscle memory needed to aim the bow. The phenomenon called the "archers paradox" causes the arrow to travel in the direction it is pointing at full draw, basically the arrow bends around the bow when it is loosed. This makes it fairly difficult to "aim" down the drawn arrow to visualize where it will travel.

The English were able to build up their longbows to incredible draw weights without losing accuracy. Historians think some of the English warbows could have had draw weights over a hundred pounds. These bows would have required years of dedicated practice to simply bring the arrow to full draw. While they wouldn't be able to pierce plate armor at distance they would have been very effective at lobbing missiles at horses or unarmored troops. Eventually the crossbow technology caught up to and out-classed the longbow.
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Julien T
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You might be interested in that book:

http://a.co/7RVz1aQ


I inherited it years ago from an English longbow passionate that was shooting the longbow regularly and going to battle reconstitution (Agincourt, etc). This was his 'table de chevet' book.

Its been a while I did look at the book but I recall that one the strength was the different points of arrow that where dedicated to specific target. Long sharp point head to go thru chain mails, bodkin head for plates, broad head for horses, etc.
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James Thompson
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I got excited...

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Matt B
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LOL me too I thought this was gonna be a thread about PNVS
 
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ltmurnau wrote:
Shrewsbury (1403) is mentioned in the chapter, in Table 1 (p.8).
So is Boroughbridge, an earlier (1322) smaller and quite unbalanced battle between Rebel forces under Lancaster, though archers appear to have been used only on the Royal side.

In any event, two internal battles separated by 81 years, within that 150 year period (roughly 1300-1450).
Both battles ended with the destruction of the rebel forces, establishing (or rather re-establishing) political stability.

There was little or no stability of any sort during the 14th century in England. Edward II's entourage once stopped in St. Albans to find there was no food at all, anywhere. The Black Death altered society to a degree that disallows meaningful comparisons between the periods before and after. There were major peasants revolts in both periods. Henry V lived his extremely successful life knowing he was the son of an upstart, whose excellent lineage proved a lack of any real legitimacy, made all the worse by powerful rumours of regicide still extant today. The 14th is generally regarded as the worst century in which to have lived one's English life.

The army sizes mentioned by the table at Shrewsbury are speculation. What we know is that the King's archers turned up in large numbers more-or-less by accident, and put down a lot of the rebels whilst taking very heavy casualties themselves, which drives a coach-&-horses through the theory expounded here.
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Robert Bracey
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I think there is a lot of nonsense talked about the longbow. Some of the nature of it is to with the methedological impoverishment of military history as a field.

Take Crecy. The Genoese crossbow are broken up and driven back by the English bow. Fine, that is what happened. But why did it happen? Take just about any account, and you will hear about wet weather, and lack of pavises, and how you cannot elevate a crossbow and sight it, or rate of fire, etc.
In wargames all of these things lead into how do you differentiate the English bow in such a way as to replicate the result.
This is nonsense.
There were somewhere around 10,000 English archers on the field. Most people do not think the Genoese complement was anywhere close to the 6,000 reported but even if it was in wargames terms that encounter needs no explanation. Seriously, if you have 3 elements of bow in DBA (or any other wargame) and you put them in a shooting match with 5 elements of bow what would you expect to happen?
And this is one of the deeply problematic elements in the study of this battle. Scholarship persistently ignores obvious reasons and tends to draw conclusions on the basis of historical determinism.
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Good evening. I have a few comments, neither for nor against any particular argument here, but which i believe needs to be said nonetheless.

By way of qualification, I'm an archaeologist who wrote my thesis on the introduction of bow & arrow technology into Ancient Mexico. This drew significantly on mathematical modelling and engineering of bow and arrow systems. I make and teach the making of longbows, with some 20 years' experience, some of it with warbows. I have made and fought in plate and mail armour. I'm not anti-crossbow, nor am I pro-warbow.

archers vs crossbowmen - cost

I can see no evidence as to why crossbowmen would be any cheaper than archers.
- An archer is much more cheaply equipped than a crossbowman. Even without power tools I can take a stave in the morning and have a shooting bow by the end of the afternoon. A woodworker, bowyer, locksmith and all the other craftsmen would struggle to make a crossbow in so short a time frame.
- In contemporary art from the period in question, crossbowmen are far more frequently depicted as having been armoured than were the archers. This is immensely expensive in the time period.
- Same with pavises - the medieval and renaissance pavise was not just a big board - it was an expensive bit of kit.

archers vs crossbowmen - skill

I have a surprisingly large number of students take my class who've never before shot a bow. While the draw weights made are nowhere near those used in the HYW, within an hour the students can reliably hit a target.

Archers and crossbowmen do not need to be terribly accurate when shooting en masse against massed enemy troops. The right distance is more important than lateral alignment.

During the HYW, crossbows were spanned with windlasses, cranequins, and other block & tackle type arrangements. These are cumbersome to use and it takes quite a while to become proficient in their use so as to appear to use them efficiently.

The archers of the HYW were practiced by a lifetime, or at the very least many years, at the sport. Much like any other professional soldier skill, such as a crossbowman, billman or etcetera, I'm not sure an argument as to the ease by which any projectile weapon or other could be more easily trained than any other can be applied. Both crossbowmen and archers required considerable skill, and required a lot of practice.

Personally, I would not entrust an expensive crossbow to some levied schmo with an afternoon of training. Neither would I trust one of my bows to such a person.

arrows and bolts - penetration

At any appreciable distance, it is exceptionally difficult to pierce plate armour with mechanically stored potential kinetic energy (as opposed to chemically stored potential kinetic energy - gunpowder). To pierce the plate, the projectile essentially has to hit perpendicular to the tangent of the curve of the armour. If the angle of approach is appreciably off this angle, the projectile will deflect. Some energy will pass into the plate and manifest through deformation, but it will not pierce and not significantly injure the wearer.

Much of the effect of shooting at properly armoured knights is psychological. Plus the shooting of horses (speculation).

At very close range bolts and arrows can be caused to pierce plate armour. I think it was Mark Stretton who conducted tests of sending an armoured mannequin down a hill on a flying fox to simulate a charging knight, which he shot with arrows. There were sufficient numbers of penetrations to conclude that it is possible to kill a knight in armour with an arrow (and presumably a bolt). I believe the study was published in the Journal of the Society of Archer Antiquaries.

A study conducted at a lab in the British Army calculated the energy transfer required to kill a person by a blow to the head. I think the figure was some 70 joules. It was found that a very heavy arrow, striking a helmet could transfer close to this amount of energy into the head of the wearer. Though there would be no penetration, a serious head injury could occur.

the most important thing
It's really, really difficult to penetrate plate armour with anything. Be it arrow, bolt, sword, spear, axe or pike.

The English Warbow as the 14thC GPMG
Many people love to laud the English warbow as the one reason for the widespread English success during the HYW. This is most unfortunately a manifestation of single-cause determinist thinking. Like thinking the American Civil War was fought only because of slavery.

The warbow was one factor among many that led to victory in some circumstances. Favourable terrain, weather conditions deleterious to crossbowmen's gut strings (dampness makes linen bowstrings stronger, gut crossbow strings weaker), attitude of French knights, ineptitude of French generalship, relatively cheap (compared to French foot knights) heavy infantry in the English in the form of billmen, and a multitude of other factors contributed to some English victories.

It is simply not the case that the warbow was the one panacea that ensured English victory, any more than the Mongol horse archer was the sol determining factor of Genghis' victories.

warbows and crossbows (plus a bit on composite bows) - performance
The speed, kinetic energy and efficacy of a bolt or arrow is dependent on two things:
- how much energy the system stores; and,
- what percentage of the energy can be made available to the projectile.

The energy stored in a crossbow per draw force is significantly less than in a longbow. This is because almost universally (and increasingly so as time progressed) the draw length of a crossbow was far shorter than a longbow. A longbow might be able to transfer stored energy into the arrow for some 24 inches or more. A crossbow would push against a bolt for some 10-14 inches.

Let's say it's 12 inches for an example, and the longbow is 24. In order to store an equivalent amount of energy, the crossbow with half the draw length would need double the draw force of the longbow.

Now, the bows used in the HYW were of truly prodigious draw force. 160 lb or more. Modern archers mad keen on seeing how far they can go have recently breached the 200 lb mark. Skeletons of English archers show a permanent deformation in the shoulders and spines as a result of a career shooting such heavy bows.

So someone shooting a 150 lb longbow would have to be matched by a crossbow drawing 300 lb, you would suppose. But it would require even more than this to be equivalent, as there is significantly more drag on a crossbow string than a bowstring, as it contacts the tiller along the length of its power stroke. This, and the gut strings stretch considerably more than linen (~3% compared to ~1%), hich absorb some of the stored energy. What's more, an archer is likely to release the arrow on reaching full draw. A crossbowman has a measurable length of time between spanning the crossbow and shooting it. A spring held in tension is negatively affected in its capacity to expend energy the longer it is held in tension.

Ralph Payne-Gallwey reported a crossbow able to shoot a bolt some 500 yards. This beast was also reportedly some 1000 lb in draw force. An enormous machine by anyone's standards and by no way a feasible weapon of massed combat.

Composite bows are often cited as using lighter arrows. This is only true in some cases. The Turkish used extremely light arrows for flight shooting (competition for distance), and many of the Arabic armies used an arrow lighter than the arrows of the HYW. But there are probably a number of reasons for this:
- different armour to defeat
- lesser draw force
- heaps of others.

The problem with using a lighter arrow is that you trade punch for reach. Sure, the arrow may fly an extra 50 metres, but being lighter with a higher speed often means there is less kinetic energy, and less momentum with which to penetrate a target. But traditionally, their targets were different - fellow cavaliers only lightly armoured to maintain mobility.

Chinese Manchu bows were composites, but they shot enormous arrows, for the sake of extracting as much energy as possible from the bows and penetrating difficult targets.

the longbow - ancestors
The English warbow is a slight evolution of a design that has existed since at least the neolithic. A narrow, long bow that tapered in width and thickness from handle to tip is seen in almost every culture that has made use of wooden bows. The Vikings used them, the stone age hunter gatherers of Europe used them, several tribes in the Americas used them, and minuscule examples can be seen in the Bushmen of the Kalahari to shoot poisoned arrows.

I realise i have taken up rather a lot of space. I should probably leave it there.

Cheers,

Dave



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MarkEJohnson wrote:


Though I still don't know why it wasn't used to similar effect in previous societies with sufficient political centralization (Rome, Carolingian France...?)


To answer some specific questions - I don't think it was used in Rome or Carolingian France because:

in these forces, the bulk of the military force seems to have been modeled on having a standard heavy infantry with sufficient arms to resist the projectiles of the enemies. The Romans seem to have been most interested in their legionaries, with a bit of 'yes, yes...' with a bit of capitulating hand waving when it came to light infantry, often sourced from the locals of wherever they were or the poor of from wherever they had come.

For the Carolingians, it seems they were seeking to model themselves somewhat on the Roman philosophy. Bachrach's Early Carolingian Warfare is quote good on this.

It's only quite late in Roman history that we see an appreciable departure from tradition, such as in the east where Kataphractoi were slowly adopted to meet the demands of a mode of warfare that was not friendly to foot troops.
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