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The coming of the Longbow- why was the French response so tardy?

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  • The coming of the Longbow- why was the French response so tardy?

    Barbavera, the experienced commander of the galleys, was concerned about this. He realised that they would lack manoeuvrability in their anchorage and be open to attack from the ship-based English archers. He advised the French commander to put to sea and gain the weather gage, so as to be able to attack the English while they were disembarking, or deter this by the threat of an attack. Béhuchet, who as constable exercised overall command, knew little of naval operations. He viewed Barbavera as a mere commoner and near pirate, and wishing to take no chances of the English slipping past, insisted on holding a position blocking the inlet.[18]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Sluys

    In 1340, at the opening of the one hundred y3ears war, the English fleet utterly decimated the French opposing fleet with the use of Longbow men on cogs. for the next hundred plus years, , the French on land and sea had no effective response to the combination of English archers and men at arms.

    given the superiority of the longbow, why did France take so long in coming up with the countermeasures, including their own longbow men?




    The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

  • #2
    I'd say it's largely because Edward III used it in combat for years in England against the Scots and Welsh before turning it on the French. He had a large body of trained archers that could use it. The French didn't. Edward had the tactics and use of the weapon down. The English didn't have the mass of armored knights the French did so that wasn't an alternative for them.

    At Crecy, the French knights / aristocracy hired Genoese mercenary crossbowmen to counter English longbowmen. This might have worked had the French knights not decided to ride their crossbowmen down in order to charge the English at the first chance they got.

    The problem for the French was a combination of how their social class system was set up compared to England (eg., the aristocracy and knights weren't about to give up their position of political and economic power to a class of foot soldiers), a lack of experience with the manufacture, training, and use of the weapon, and a lack of having anyone in a position of power that could effect the RMA (Revolution in Military Affairs) that Edward did. Hence, Edward was able to gain victory after victory using a weapon his opponents pretty much refused to use.

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    • #3
      French society did not have a place for longbowmen. The English/Welsh archer was usually from the class of freemen who owed no feudal responsibility to an overlord. They, or their father, owned their own land outright and had no commitment to provide labour to a lord of the manor. This gave them sufficient free time to become proficient with the longbow which required long practice and training. It also required a certain degree of physical fitness and the diet of this class was such as to provide this. The Feudal system in France did not have this type of person in sufficient quantities. Moreover the French nobility was very wary of having a class of peasant who was proficient in a weapon that could slay an amoured knight or man at arms.
      Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
      Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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      • #4
        One reason was if you got armored men among the Archers, the Archers were dead. The English normally protected the Archers with dismounted Men at Arms and stakes. The English did not bring enough horses to France to mount their knights on trained warhorses.

        In England all classes were required to practice with the Longbow until well past Henry VIII's time. Archers were usually well paid compared to other warriors and many served as mercenaries on the continent.

        Pruitt
        Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

        Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

        by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
          One reason was if you got armored men among the Archers, the Archers were dead. The English normall

          In England all classes were required to practice with the Longbow until well past Henry VIII's time. Archers were usually well paid compared to other warriors and many served as mercenaries on the continent.

          Pruitt
          No only Freemen. By Henry VIII's there were no villeins etc so this was effectively all classes but by them compulsory archery was observed as much in the breach as anything else

          BTW there are plenty of example of archers dealing very effectively with armoured men at close quarters
          Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
          Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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          • #6
            The other thing Edward did that was very effective, was he, like Sherman, used looting, pillaging, and destruction of the countryside to force his opponent(s) into battle, usually on his terms. You simply can't let an invading army move across your land creating a 30+ mile wide swath of destruction in their wake and let it go unanswered.

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            • #7
              The effectiveness of the longbow is greatly exaggerated.

              http://www.benjaminrose.com/post/can...edieval-armor/

              The overconfidence and arrogance of the French Nobility made the longbow a decisive weapon. If they had spent more time protecting their food soldiers and crossbowmen as being gallant they may have had better results.
              We hunt the hunters

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              • #8
                The French did not adapt the Long Bow until after the English used it effectively on the French Knights on Horse or on foot. The French fought a lot against the Spanish, Italians and Germans. The French tailored their troops to fight them. The Crossbow was more effective against these other troops. The best Crossbowmen were in Italy.

                The English Nobility kept some professional troops (they were expensive and who guarded the castle while the Lord was away?). It was found that giving the King money to hire Mercenaries was easier.

                Pruitt
                Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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                • #9
                  For a while on Sunday mornings the local yeomen would attend morning service at the church, muster outside afterwards for weekly archery practice and then, duty done to God and the king, adjourn to the inn for ale. A number of churches still have grooves on an external buttress where the bowmen put an edge on their arrowheads. The archery practice died out in the 16th century and was often replaced by some form of sport. However the pattern was restored in the late 18th and early 19th century when men from the local volunteers would gather after church for musketry practice before going to the pub. A history of pub names reveal that a surprising number once had (and some still do) the name of the local volunteer unit.
                  Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                  Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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                  • #10
                    The best sources of yew for bow staves in Europe were Spain and Italy. English and French yew was often unsuitable. Both of these areas had a significant wine export trade to England but not to France which protected its domestic industry. Various English monarchs imposed conditions on the wine trade so that for every barrel brought into the country a significant number of bow staves also had to be brought in. Effectively if Italian and Spanish merchants wanted to go on selling wine to England they also had to sell yew staves as well. This directed the supply of bow staves away from France and into England.
                    Last edited by MarkV; 28 Apr 19, 08:34.
                    Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                    Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                      One reason was if you got armored men among the Archers, the Archers were dead. The English normally protected the Archers with dismounted Men at Arms and stakes. The English did not bring enough horses to France to mount their knights on trained warhorses.

                      In England all classes were required to practice with the Longbow until well past Henry VIII's time. Archers were usually well paid compared to other warriors and many served as mercenaries on the continent.

                      Pruitt
                      Good points, all.
                      Based on my limited archery experience, a longbow arrow was approx 40? Per cent farther ranged a crossbow bolt, and had, IBelieve, a higher proportion of ricocheted shots. ( Henry VI was wounded at St. Albans by a deflected arrow that still penetrated between his helm and gorget.)
                      The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by marktwain View Post
                        Good points, all.
                        Based on my limited archery experience, a longbow arrow was approx 40? Per cent farther ranged a crossbow bolt, and had, IBelieve, a higher proportion of ricocheted shots. ( Henry VI was wounded at St. Albans by a deflected arrow that still penetrated between his helm and gorget.)
                        Tests by Payne-Gallwey suggest that the composite crossbows spanned with a hand hook or a belt claw as used by the Genoese at Crecy may have had a shorter range than the long bow but that later steel crossbows spanned with a cranequin (winch) had a greater killing range but took much longer to span and loose. The tests also suggest that the wet string story about the cross bows was a myth or an excuse.
                        Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                        Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by MarkV View Post
                          The best sources of yew for bow staves in Europe were Spain and Italy. English and French yew was often unsuitable. Both of these areas had a significant wine export trade to England but not to France which protected its domestic industry. Various English monarchs imposed conditions on the wine trade so that for every barrel brought into the country a significant number of bow staves also had to be brought in. Effectively if Italian and Spanish merchants wanted to go on selling wine to England they also had to sell yew staves as well. This directed the supply of bow staves away from France and into England.
                          superb point!
                          the immediate cause of the 100 years wear was the French attempt to take back Gascony, which was strongly resisted - by the Gascons- who preferred the distant and flexible English governance. given that France was prior to 1340, the premier sea power in Western Europe - the war seemed like a French slam dunk.

                          Quiéret was good at organising the fleet, playing a large part in improving the arsenals at Leure (beside Harfleur) and at the Cloes des Galées. However, he was to prove better at organisation than at actual naval combat.[6][8]( Wikipedia)

                          understatement,there....


                          Or maybe he was just - distracted....


                          Last edited by marktwain; 28 Apr 19, 14:24.
                          The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by MarkV View Post

                            Tests by Payne-Gallwey suggest that the composite crossbows spanned with a hand hook or a belt claw as used by the Genoese at Crecy may have had a shorter range than the long bow but that later steel crossbows spanned with a cranequin (winch) had a greater killing range but took much longer to span and loose. The tests also suggest that the wet string story about the cross bows was a myth or an excuse.


                            In Europe it was the development of the crossbow, which had been known in ancient times but was perfected in the Middle Ages, and the English longbow, introduced to European battlefields in the 14th century, that made the arrow a formidable battlefield missile. The longbow, which seems to have originated in Wales, was as tall as a man and the arrow about half that length, the famous cloth-yard shaft. The bow was held with outstretched arm and the arrow drawn back to the bowman’s ear. An English archer could shoot six aimed shots a minute, and his effective range was about 200 yards, though an arrow could go twice as far in the right hands. The crossbow, in contrast, did not require the same physique or training. The crossbow consisted of a short bow mounted horizontally on a stock or tiller, with a sear and trigger to hold the string in drawn position, to be released on demand. Less accurate than the longbow or composite bow in skilled hands, crossbows were highly effective at short and medium range.

                            https://www.britannica.com/technology/bow-and-arrow
                            The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by marktwain View Post



                              In Europe it was the development of the crossbow, which had been known in ancient times but was perfected in the Middle Ages, and the English longbow, introduced to European battlefields in the 14th century, that made the arrow a formidable battlefield missile. The longbow, which seems to have originated in Wales, was as tall as a man and the arrow about half that length, the famous cloth-yard shaft. The bow was held with outstretched arm and the arrow drawn back to the bowman’s ear. An English archer could shoot six aimed shots a minute, and his effective range was about 200 yards, though an arrow could go twice as far in the right hands. The crossbow, in contrast, did not require the same physique or training. The crossbow consisted of a short bow mounted horizontally on a stock or tiller, with a sear and trigger to hold the string in drawn position, to be released on demand. Less accurate than the longbow or composite bow in skilled hands, crossbows were highly effective at short and medium range.

                              https://www.britannica.com/technology/bow-and-arrow
                              One did not draw a crossbow - the correct term is spanned. They were not always a short bow some had a very wide bow indeed. It is unwise to generalise about the cross bow as there were many designs and many materials were used.and many were composite. The Koreans even developed a repeating crossbow with a magazine and a spanning lever and these were still being encountered by Younghusband's expeditionary force in Tibet at the beginning of the 20th century.

                              The longbow appears to have developed not in Wales or England but in the Marches between them - very much a debatable land where loyalties were flexible and there was much raiding and feuding. I live in the Marches and even today there are people living on the English side who regard themselves as Welsh and some on the Welsh side who favour England. This is also reflected in both family and village names
                              Last edited by MarkV; 28 Apr 19, 17:22.
                              Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                              Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                              Comment

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