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  • Were 'England's' archers truly supermen?

    Mary Rose Archers were all over 6ft tall.

    Below is the latest on the skeletal remains of the Mary Rose

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/s...rs-by-RSI.html

    Which begs the question; were the warbowmen of England always of such stature and should Crecy, Agincourt etc, be reapraised?

    Paul
    ‘Tis said his form is tiny, yet
    All human ills he can subdue,
    Or with a bauble or medal
    Can win mans heart for you;
    And many a blessing know to stew
    To make a megloamaniac bright;
    Give honour to the dainty Corse,
    The Pixie is a little shite.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Dibble201Bty View Post
    Mary Rose Archers were all over 6ft tall.

    Below is the latest on the skeletal remains of the Mary Rose

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/s...rs-by-RSI.html

    Which begs the question; were the warbowmen of England always of such stature and should Crecy, Agincourt etc, be reapraised?

    Paul
    Perhaps the Mary Rose had an elite unit? Wouldn't the best of the best at longbow be tall in stature?
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    • #3
      But wouldn't say, each noble during the Hundred years war strive to have archers in his retinue who looked and were better skilled in the art as those of his rivals within his society?

      Paul
      ‘Tis said his form is tiny, yet
      All human ills he can subdue,
      Or with a bauble or medal
      Can win mans heart for you;
      And many a blessing know to stew
      To make a megloamaniac bright;
      Give honour to the dainty Corse,
      The Pixie is a little shite.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Dibble201Bty View Post
        But wouldn't say, each noble during the Hundred years war strive to have archers in his retinue who looked and were better skilled in the art as those of his rivals within his society?

        Paul
        That is possible only with a generous genetic pool. The Aussies were all over 6 foot tall at the beginning of WWI and then they began to shrink in size did they not? First Emperor of China also had lots of six-footers guarding his tomb.
        Flag: USA / Location: West Coast

        Prayers.

        BoRG

        http://img204.imageshack.us/img204/8757/snap1ws8.jpg

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PtsX_Z3CMU

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Salinator View Post
          That is possible only with a generous genetic pool. The Aussies were all over 6 foot tall at the beginning of WWI and then they began to shrink in size did they not?
          Selection, training and diet all help does it not?

          Paul
          ‘Tis said his form is tiny, yet
          All human ills he can subdue,
          Or with a bauble or medal
          Can win mans heart for you;
          And many a blessing know to stew
          To make a megloamaniac bright;
          Give honour to the dainty Corse,
          The Pixie is a little shite.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Dibble201Bty View Post
            Selection, training and diet all help does it not?

            Paul
            So they are going to recruit toddlers to feed them well? I would think it is more like "you ten tallest dudes, follow me!".
            Flag: USA / Location: West Coast

            Prayers.

            BoRG

            http://img204.imageshack.us/img204/8757/snap1ws8.jpg

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PtsX_Z3CMU

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Salinator View Post
              So they are going to recruit toddlers to feed them well? I would think it is more like "you ten tallest dudes, follow me!".
              I'm sure that males from a certain age, over 6ft, fit, would be the first ones singled out for any future campaign abroad.

              Paul
              ‘Tis said his form is tiny, yet
              All human ills he can subdue,
              Or with a bauble or medal
              Can win mans heart for you;
              And many a blessing know to stew
              To make a megloamaniac bright;
              Give honour to the dainty Corse,
              The Pixie is a little shite.

              Comment


              • #8
                In the South African war Kitchener marvelled at the size of the Canadians brought by Sam Steele, Steele remarked that they were the smallest he could find. A generally rural existence in a place/time of plenty, seems to yield some of the best base material for soldiers which civilisation then moulds with skill and training, often in more urban settings. Though that may be less so in this time period as it's at a less advanced level of urbanisation. When we did those 'Romans versus Chinese Empire' threads, I would ask, who had the better diets, who was taller, longer limbed, capable of greater physical feats. That kind of thing. Because it does matter when you're building up an army and especially an elite unit which could including these Longbow men.

                Interestingly practitioners of the bow have told me (I've been to two archery events ever, both in the past month) that you end up with a powerful left arm, but a weaker right one. (depending on which hand you favour though, obviously) So already these men are going to have more powerful limbs, probably, than the peasant with a spear.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Dibble201Bty View Post
                  Mary Rose Archers were all over 6ft tall.

                  Below is the latest on the skeletal remains of the Mary Rose

                  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/s...rs-by-RSI.html

                  Which begs the question; were the warbowmen of England always of such stature and should Crecy, Agincourt etc, be reapraised?

                  Paul
                  It probably took archer candidates, who started at a young age, about ten years of repetitive heavy exercise to build up one's arms in order to heft and accurately fire arrows from those yew tree bows. One account said that an archer's right arm bones were twice the size of the left.
                  "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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                  • #10
                    It was law to practise with the bow from an early age, thus a large selection of men would be available to choose from. Further, given that longbowmen wages were very high, as much as a master craftsman iirc, then you have many willing and able recruits. A commander could choose some very good troops indeed.

                    The demise in the longbowman probably came about due to the Tudor agricultural revolution. Wool was given priority, and less emphasis was placed on the plough. That plus the fact that Henry VII did not want any more wars, and banned personal retinues, then the demand for archers plummeted as well.
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by johnbryan View Post
                      It probably took archer candidates, who started at a young age, about ten years of repetitive heavy exercise to build up one's arms in order to heft and accurately fire arrows from those yew tree bows. One account said that an archer's right arm bones were twice the size of the left.
                      Yes, I know all about the young age that a potential archer practiced the bow and that of bone structure etc, but they were also part of a community who were not only able to take the time to practice, they also must have had a pretty good diet to enable them to carry on with what was a long term physical and special ability mixed with the workplace toil they faced every day.

                      'If' the bows from the Mary Rose were the norm and the pull-weight was in the area of 120lb, 150lb and even up to 200lb then already we are seeing that the type of bowman of the Mary Rose at least, were extra-ordinary specimens (about 180 in all); so who's to say that of those that were indentured for Medieval campaigns, were not of the same calibre?

                      Paul
                      Last edited by Dibble201Bty; 27 Nov 12, 09:12.
                      ‘Tis said his form is tiny, yet
                      All human ills he can subdue,
                      Or with a bauble or medal
                      Can win mans heart for you;
                      And many a blessing know to stew
                      To make a megloamaniac bright;
                      Give honour to the dainty Corse,
                      The Pixie is a little shite.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Well, Mary Rose was a flagship with an admiral on board, so it could be postulated that the archers were a specially selected unit. I don't think it can be proven yet, though it is a respectable hypothesis.

                        Regarding the bows, there is still a little debate, but a few warbow societies have fellows shooting warbows in the 150 pound range pretty regularly. The world record is held by a fellow named Mark Stretton and is currently 202 pounds. Interestingly, that bow was made by a man named Pip Bickerstaffe, who is a highly regarded English Bowyer. Mr. Bickerstaffe has serious doubts that the English warbow was typically over 100 pounds in draw weight. Opposing views come from well respected bowyers like Steve Stratton and Mark Stretton, who believe the bows on the MR were indeed in the 120-180 class. All of the above individuals claim to have handled the bows personally.

                        I am relatively junior in the warbow community and by no means an expert. I have a laminate bow (Not traditional) which draws 120 pounds at about 32 inches, and though certainly not an easy bow to shoot, it's certainly viable. Shotting two dozen arrows in one sitting is not a problem. (Of course, I'm not shooting them 10 per minute for several minutes as they might have been at Agincourt) I have a 150 pound bow on order from Celestino Poletti, who is an Italian bowyer. This bow will be made from high altitude Italian yew, and is probably as close as one can get nowadays to an authentic English warbow.

                        It's also imortant to remember that to bows on MR are from the Tudor period and not Medieval. I don't think we know if that would make a difference or not, but it might so we should note it. Perhaps the archers on MR were indeed larger than those at Agincourt. The article state they were in the 6'2" to 6'3" range, which is far larger than the average height even today. This to me indicates a specially selected group, but that's just a theory.

                        I myself am 6'5", weigh about 250 pounds, and have led a fairly athletic and at times violent life. I'm also 41 years old, and can definitely feel it in my back, neck, and especially bow (left) shoulder after a session with the bow. I can see how, if started with heavy weights from an early age, skeletal deformations could result. However, though I'm completely confident in being able to shoot the 150 pound yew bow on the way, it's probably the heaviest I will purchase. (They aren't cheap, and it does hurt a bit afterwards)

                        The English Warbow Society also has distance contests with Standard, Livery, and Quarter Pounder class arrows. The site is currently down, but suffice it to say that there are some guys on there who are drawing around their own body weight in warbows, around the 170 pound mark or better. There are plenty of fellows well under 200 pounds who can draw bows well over 100 pounds in weight.

                        Long rambling post now concluded.
                        Last edited by llkinak; 27 Nov 12, 10:37.

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                        • #13
                          There are plenty of fellows well under 200 pounds who can draw bows well over 100 pounds in weight.
                          That as maybe but would they use those bows as effectively on campaign, in battle, with diarrhea and/or fatigued through days of marching through an enemy country where sustenance got progressively harder to come by?

                          The thing that has perplexed me is how two Kings could each put their kingdoms on the line by fielding one or two thousand knights and men-at-arms, supplemented with 5/10 thousand warbowmen and a handful of guns, win sieges and run riot over another country, where a huge army is expected to confront them, and, 'as in Agincourt, a half starved, sick and puny army of about 7,500 not only won the battle easily but also initiated the action.

                          Surely the English kings must have had supreme confidence in every single person within their army, knowing full well that the Earl of Warwick's and Earl Marshall Mowbray's of their world would bring the best they had to the muster. To please the King would be to employ the best; each lord vying to outdo the other.

                          The height thing of all medieval bowmen being over 6ft2" I agree probably wasn't statutory, but I bet that those that did go on campaign with the King were the biggest, tallest, fittest and best around.

                          Paul
                          ‘Tis said his form is tiny, yet
                          All human ills he can subdue,
                          Or with a bauble or medal
                          Can win mans heart for you;
                          And many a blessing know to stew
                          To make a megloamaniac bright;
                          Give honour to the dainty Corse,
                          The Pixie is a little shite.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Salinator View Post
                            That is possible only with a generous genetic pool. The Aussies were all over 6 foot tall at the beginning of WWI and then they began to shrink in size did they not? First Emperor of China also had lots of six-footers guarding his tomb.
                            Australians "shrink in size " !?

                            Your source, please ?
                            "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
                            Samuel Johnson.

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                            • #15
                              In addition to any selection process the average man of fighting age in the 15th and 16th centuries would have been a lot fitter than the average man today. It was only with the industrial revolution that heights and fitness dropped.

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                              Last edited by Surrey; 27 Nov 12, 15:58.
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