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Author Topic: English Longbow Myth busted....  (Read 3883 times)

Offline FierceKitty

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Re: English Longbow Myth busted....
« Reply #30 on: April 12, 2021, 06:52:02 AM »
I rationalise it by saying 75% of casualties represent fatigue, loss of confidence, broken weapons, and reduced control as NCOs buy a farm. Anything rather than rewrite all my rules!
The laws of probability do not apply to my dice in wargames or to my finesses in bridge.

Offline commissarmoody

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Re: English Longbow Myth busted....
« Reply #31 on: April 19, 2021, 11:10:49 PM »
And too add more fuel to the fire. ..
https://youtu.be/v3QqdEX_ka8
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Offline carlos marighela

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Re: English Longbow Myth busted....
« Reply #32 on: April 20, 2021, 06:31:39 AM »
Some poor bugger will need to sculpt new French casualty figures. lol
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Offline commissarmoody

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Re: English Longbow Myth busted....
« Reply #33 on: April 20, 2021, 08:42:59 AM »
Some poor bugger will need to sculpt new French casualty figures. lol
  ;)

Offline Atheling

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Re: English Longbow Myth busted....
« Reply #34 on: April 20, 2021, 09:03:35 AM »
I'm really looking forward to seeing what round two of the Capwell, Gibbs and Cutler come up with this year re: lWarbow vs armours

Offline gregmita

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Re: English Longbow Myth busted....
« Reply #35 on: April 20, 2021, 08:32:59 PM »
Interesting that it went into what looks like a "shot trap" ridge. In the previous videos the arrows tended to glance off the breastplates.
Definitely looking forward to more videos from them.
The thing is, armour was never completely invulnerable, just tough enough that charging cavalry or infantry can make it to the enemy line in enough numbers. That happened in successful battles against longbows, while in unsuccessful battles the attackers were slowed down enough so they were too few or too exhausted when they reached the enemy line.

Offline Atheling

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Re: English Longbow Myth busted....
« Reply #36 on: April 21, 2021, 06:59:13 AM »
The thing is, armour was never completely invulnerable, just tough enough that charging cavalry or infantry can make it to the enemy line in enough numbers. That happened in successful battles against longbows, while in unsuccessful battles the attackers were slowed down enough so they were too few or too exhausted when they reached the enemy line.

Which is exactly what I have been pointing out earlier in the thread. Please see former posts :)

That is why the Warbow was so successful, though not always as consistently as the mythology suggests.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2021, 07:12:07 AM by Atheling »

Offline gregmita

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Re: English Longbow Myth busted....
« Reply #37 on: April 22, 2021, 11:33:01 PM »
Which is exactly what I have been pointing out earlier in the thread. Please see former posts :)

That is why the Warbow was so successful, though not always as consistently as the mythology suggests.
I generally agree with you here, although once the French realized the weaknesses of English armies, they were able to exploit that and win.

Offline Atheling

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Re: English Longbow Myth busted....
« Reply #38 on: April 23, 2021, 07:03:51 AM »
I generally agree with you here, although once the French realized the weaknesses of English armies, they were able to exploit that and win.

I think the majority of people reading this would agree with you. As do I. But, that is not really the point of the thread which was about armour penetration and blunt force trauma. :)

Offline Unlucky General

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Re: English Longbow Myth busted....
« Reply #39 on: April 23, 2021, 08:17:23 AM »
I do wonder what medieval commanders would make of these sorts of modern conversations. Armour effectiveness, penetration of certain ranged weapons, debates over conditions of specific battles to back-up or argue against this persons theory or that.
Consider that by the fifteenth century the jury was in and the verdict unanimous - massed archery vie longbow was extremely effective. Every army during the English civil wars (let's call them the Wars of the Roses) had longbows in vast numbers for a reason. AND it's not becasue they were cheap - they weren't. The bows, the ammo and the men to shoot them were far from cheap or expendable - they were vital becasue they were extremely effective.
All this discussion is modern people trying to agree on what people in the middle ages all accepted as fact. But even superb armour can't cover all the gaps and an arrow storm (as someone previously quite rightly identified it as) can hit the beaten zone like running water and water will find the gap.
Always amusing to see the English national pride and it's detractors come into play. Consider that the UK or Britain is Britain largely becasue the English lost their continental possessions. National identity today is forged from historical outcomes. The aggression of the English crown came to nothing becasue in the end their foothold in what was to become France was never adequately supported by the locals who ended up identifying as French. Bit like the same bloody wars and mistakes in the American wars of the eighteenth century. Consider, what would the Brexit vote have looked like if half the country was still the other side of the Channel?
History tends to work out in the end. 

Offline gregmita

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Re: English Longbow Myth busted....
« Reply #40 on: April 24, 2021, 08:30:13 PM »
I think the majority of people reading this would agree with you. As do I. But, that is not really the point of the thread which was about armour penetration and blunt force trauma. :)
Well, the original video showed arrows generally unable to penetrate armour, which does tie in to the weaknesses of the longbow. If they can't reliably penetrate, that has a significant effect on tactics, which the Fench managed to exploit later.
I also wonder if Medieval commanders would have been so obsessed with armour penetration, etc., but in a different direction. It seems to me they would have done analyses no different from ancient commanders, the educated or at least well-informed ones anyhow, that light troops like archers get scattered by cavalry, but are better in poor terrain and are good at whittling down and disrupting enemy heavy troops. I doubt they would have worried about specific models of weapons, which is a rather modern obsession. Again, the French experience (to reiterate once more, they *won* the war) showed the ancient analysis still worked. That timely heavy cavalry charges in good terrain will destroy archers, and the key is to not allow the archer+heavy infantry combination enough time to prepare defensive positions. The original video in this thread shows why that view makes sense.
The English overwhelmingly used longbowmen and billmen in the War of the Roses because that's what they had. In French "civil wars" (and I'm including things like the War of Burgundian Succession) they used gendarmes, pikes, and various mercenaries, because that's what they had.

Offline Atheling

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Re: English Longbow Myth busted....
« Reply #41 on: April 24, 2021, 08:59:45 PM »
Just thought it with mentioning, to anyone interested in reading more about the Warbow, there are a few very good books on the subject that I would personally recommend.

i/ Mike Loades, Warbows, a study not just of the European Warbow but the the Crossbow, the Composite bow and the Japanese bow to boot.

ii/ Robert Hardy CBE, Matthew Strickland, The Great Warbow: From Hastings to the Mary Rose An excellent and in depth study of the Warbow. Hardy's "enthusiasm" is brilliantly tempered Matthew Strickland's more measured approach.

iii/ Richard Wadge, Arrowstorm Largely a study of the economics of fielding the weapon in large numbers but with an important emphasis on the professional nature of "English" armies during the wars.

For an overall history of the dynastic struggles, then Jonathan Sumption's, Hundred Years War Vol 1, Trial by Battle, Hundred Years War Vol 2: Trial By Fire, Hundred Years War Vol 3: Divided Houses and Hundred Years War Vol 4: Cursed Kings are absolutely essential reading. Warning; they are very heavy going largely due to the vast quantity and quality on information.

EDIT: I hope Lord Sumption lives long enough to complete the final chapter in his masterful pentalogy!

Offline Patrice

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Re: English Longbow Myth busted....
« Reply #42 on: April 24, 2021, 09:14:26 PM »
Consider that the UK or Britain is Britain largely becasue the English lost their continental possessions (...) Consider, what would the Brexit vote have looked like if half the country was still the other side of the Channel

Would it have lasted? The Tudors were from Wales, and later a king James was from Scotland, and they moved to London. Attraction of the richest place. If an English king had won the HYW he would perhaps have found Paris more attractive. In any case, there would have been unhappy people on one side of the Channel or the other, leading to more wars of independance from one side or the other, later(?)

the French experience (to reiterate once more, they *won* the war)

There were many periods in the war... the result in each period was significant about weapons and tactic, the final result was perhaps not, depending on other factors too.
(...and I'm a Breton, our Duke arrived one day too late at Agincourt, on purpose, he probably told the French king he had an excuse from his mum or whatever)  lol

Offline Charlie_

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Re: English Longbow Myth busted....
« Reply #43 on: April 24, 2021, 09:25:46 PM »
The English overwhelmingly used longbowmen and billmen in the War of the Roses because that's what they had. In French "civil wars" (and I'm including things like the War of Burgundian Succession) they used gendarmes, pikes, and various mercenaries, because that's what they had.

Let me just add that the French also used longbows in large quantities in the latter half of the 15th century, as did the Burgundians. It's true that we don't really have any sources talking about the effectiveness or even role of these European longbowmen in this period - perhaps because everyone used them they weren't considered noteworthy? Perhaps the French and Burgundians never made the most of them tactically, or if every army in these conflicts featured large numbers of longbowmen they sort of cancelled eachother out.
I've been researching the War of Burgundian Succession you mentioned, where both the French and Burgundian sides used longbows. I haven't come across any reference to them doing anything special. The Burgundians also used English archers, and there are a few references to actions they took part in, but again no real reference to massed archery being an important factor. Does this mean they weren't utilised as well as in past decades, or does it mean they did what they were supposed to do effectively and it just wasn't noteworthy enough to talk about? I don't know.

Offline sukhe_bator

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Re: English Longbow Myth busted....
« Reply #44 on: April 25, 2021, 08:27:51 AM »
The same intense debate has been going on for years about the actual effectiveness in battle of black powder weapons like the brown bess. In the case of the musket, individually it is a pretty mediocre weapon compared to an equivalent matchlock or rifled hunting weapon of the period. Used collectively though it is more than the sum of its parts. The psychological effect of such weapons used in large numbers is often not appreciated. The musket is loud, and when combined with the sulphurous gunsmoke and the seemingly indiscriminate bone smashing and maiming hits, fearsome. By contrast the almost silent rain of shafts, all seemingly aimed at you and intent on finding any chink in your armour can be equally unnerving. Flinching from or avoiding such armed bodies of men can often be as effective in battle as the cumulative effect of the actual damage they do.
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