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Were 'England's' archers truly supermen?

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  • #16
    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?
    Probably with the right training. Also, it's probably a safe assumption that the bows at Agincourt, Crecy, and Poitiers were as heavy as those on the MR, but we do need to point out that it is, in fact, only assumption. As far as I know there is not a single surviving Medieval warbow to examine to prove how powerful they were. As far modern humans being able to use them as effectively as they were used in those battles? The raw material is the same, the only difference is training. I don't doubt it could be done, but it would obviously take time and effort.

    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.
    Not just Agincourt, they did it repeatedly. The French were having a hard time getting away from mounted knights being the dominant force on the battlefield. The English didn't have the same qualms and reaped the benefits. I find all those battles interesting, however Agincourt especially could have gone the other way very easily had only one or two things been different. Simply having dry ground could have turned that into a French victory, or patience on the French side. However, what did Wellington say? "They came on in the same old way, and we defeated them in the same old way"? I'm paraphrasing so bear with me, but it rings true.

    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.
    Makes sense to me. In addition to pleasing the king, bringing the best you have probably had a positive effect on one's lifespan, or at least helped avoid having to pay expensive ransoms.

    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.
    I've never seen anything on statuatory size for archers, but it could be there waiting to be discovered. (I doubt it, but who knows?) I do recall distances of 220 yards or better being sort of the minimum standard with "Sheaf" or "Livery" arrows, but I can't honestly remember where I read it. However, it's important to remember that archers did engage in hand to hand fighting, certainly they took a very active part in this at Agincourt, so being big and strong helps with much more than shooting bows.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by llkinak View Post
      Probably with the right training. Also, it's probably a safe assumption that the bows at Agincourt, Crecy, and Poitiers were as heavy as those on the MR, but we do need to point out that it is, in fact, only assumption. As far as I know there is not a single surviving Medieval warbow to examine to prove how powerful they were. As far modern humans being able to use them as effectively as they were used in those battles? The raw material is the same, the only difference is training. I don't doubt it could be done, but it would obviously take time and effort.


      Not just Agincourt, they did it repeatedly. The French were having a hard time getting away from mounted knights being the dominant force on the battlefield. The English didn't have the same qualms and reaped the benefits. I find all those battles interesting, however Agincourt especially could have gone the other way very easily had only one or two things been different. Simply having dry ground could have turned that into a French victory, or patience on the French side. However, what did Wellington say? "They came on in the same old way, and we defeated them in the same old way"? I'm paraphrasing so bear with me, but it rings true.


      Makes sense to me. In addition to pleasing the king, bringing the best you have probably had a positive effect on one's lifespan, or at least helped avoid having to pay expensive ransoms.


      I've never seen anything on statuatory size for archers, but it could be there waiting to be discovered. (I doubt it, but who knows?) I do recall distances of 220 yards or better being sort of the minimum standard with "Sheaf" or "Livery" arrows, but I can't honestly remember where I read it. However, it's important to remember that archers did engage in hand to hand fighting, certainly they took a very active part in this at Agincourt, so being big and strong helps with much more than shooting bows.
      Sorry Lance but I should let you know that I do have a good understanding of the social and military history of the day, all I am trying to do is get an opinion on what the poster thinks, try a new theory on account of new evidence etc, then see what comes out at the end of it.

      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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      • #18
        Originally posted by Dibble201Bty View Post
        Sorry Lance but I should let you know that I do have a good understanding of the social and military history of the day, all I am trying to do is get an opinion on what the poster thinks, try a new theory on account of new evidence etc, then see what comes out at the end of it.

        Paul
        Ah. In that case I appolagize for droning on. Mea culpa.

        My thought is that the boys on the MR are a somewhat select unit based on the importance of the ship and do not represent medieval archers as a broad group.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by llkinak View Post
          Ah. In that case I appolagize for droning on. Mea culpa.

          My thought is that the boys on the MR are a somewhat select unit based on the importance of the ship and do not represent medieval archers as a broad group.
          The fact is that the only evidence we really and annoyingly have to go on (apart from a rather sorry specimen of a bow stave and an arrow shaft that was found in Westminster) are those that were recovered from the Mary Rose, 85 years and 58 years after the HYW and WotR.

          But I still think that all those archers within the armies fighting abroad and within the King's army were the best of them.

          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


          • #20
            I agree, I wish there was more evidence to look at. For example, I find it interesting that so many of the arrows on the MR were poplar. Ash or birch seem to make a much more durable shaft, so why so much poplar? I believe the Westminster arrow was poplar as well. Did they consider them more of a one shot deal, did they prefer poplar for some reason, were they low on ash? The fach that they were on a ship like the MR would seem to indicate it was by choice rather than necessity, but I find it odd one would select poplar over the heavier woods. Maybe they wanted a longer cast which they could get with the lighter weight.

            Another interesting thing. If the boys on MR were 6'2" or so, why are the arrows so short? Average length is only like 30.5 inches or so. At 6'2" they should be drawing at least 32" or better. That extra length would make a difference in power. Unless, of course they found it easier on the bows (and themselves) to not regularly draw the full length they were capable of. Questions, questions...

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