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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Fri 02 Jan, 2009 6:45 am    Post subject: Crossbow usage in medieval armies         Reply with quote

If I recall correctly, sometime in the 14th century, the English army halted the use of crossbows and began to replace them with longbow men for missile support. The French, on the other hand, increased the number of crossbowmen mercenaries from Genoa to support their armies. The reasons for adopting the longbow are clear and well discussed, but what caused the total die-out of crossbow support in England? I would figure as secondary missile support, they would be valuable. Was it simply the cost of the crossbow, or the average requested wage of those skilled with them?

*How "common" where crossbow using units in an army from 1,000-1,500 anyways?

*Were the popular outside of France, who seemed to employ tons of them?

*How expensive was a crossbow to create? I have little knowledge about crossbows, but I figure it would have to be somewhat pricey to create even a simple, unadorned one.

Thanks,
M.

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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Fri 02 Jan, 2009 8:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

At least mid to late 12th it was for most of Western and Central Europe the crossbow was the main missile weapon until 1500 or even after. That said the bow is regional in many places more popular and even in places with major crossbow use the bow never likely dies out.

The longbow begins to replace the crossbow in England in the late 13th. It never truly goes away though but after 1300 more and more they are used in sieges but you get small companies in many if not most armies from England. Numerically they are not usually as large but they seem to have had a part in war still.

Crossbows could cost easily many times what a longbow did but I would not let that be the crux of any debate about why one was more popular. Germany, Italy and France all had crossbow laws that gave some benefit, usually tax deductions for owning and practice with them. Into the 2nd half of the 15th German town forces were usually about 40-50% crossbows and the rest melee troops., but 90% plus missile troops remained the crossbow. I think in most cases the issue was trying to get an entire culture to devote a great deal of time practicing with a bow over a weapon that clear was lethal and straight forward to use.

The French employed the crossbowmen of Genoa as they were pros and had reputations over all Europe as the best, not because they did not have their own. Until I think 1544 crossbows were a main missile weapon in France.

For decent info I'd look at the Springalds and Great Crossbows by Jean Liebel and The Crossbow by Payne-Galloway. To look at its main competition with the hand gun in the late 15th and the 16th look at Bert Halls Warfare in Renaissance Europe.

RPM
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Fri 02 Jan, 2009 8:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In Norway self and crossbows where threated as interchangable in the levy laws. However, it seems that the crossbow replaced the selfbow towards the later middle ages. It was the principal hunting weapon up untill the introduction of the snapplock/flintlock around 1600, when it was rapidly replaced with rifles.

In the late 12th century, the sagas describe King Sverre using a crossbow during sea battles. The Kingsmirror (1250) state that it is a good thing to have a "horn bow, or weak crossbow that can be reloaded on horseback"

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Fri 02 Jan, 2009 10:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If I recall The Great Warbow correctly, crossbow use never died out in medieval England (and longbow use never died out in medieval Scotland, France, Italy, etc.) Crossbows were arguably better for defending and attacking castles, and you could carry one cocked when hunting. Price was an issue before the sixteenth century. An average longbow cost about 9d in the early 14th century, while an average crossbow of the cheapest sort cost 25d (and a carpenter or archer was paid about 3d per day).
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Fri 02 Jan, 2009 11:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm assuming the d stands for ducats, the French currency at the time, correct?

M.

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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Fri 02 Jan, 2009 11:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

'd' stands for pence, actually derived from dinarii if I remember right and so the 9d would be a few days labour cost, so 2-4 days work would buy you a bow.

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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Fri 02 Jan, 2009 11:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So, a pence would be about 50-60 euro, placing a bow at about 350 ero. Which is a bit expensive, but not very.
The crossbow would cost 1250 euro, which is about the same as a modern day millitary rifle. It is expensive, but not prohibitive.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Fri 02 Jan, 2009 12:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Leo is right. Think of the d.ís as pence. Until recently the d. for the latin name was used for pence. £ is just a stylized L comes from the latin word for pound as well.

Quick medieval English money system

Libra/Librae, Solidus/Solidi, Denarius/Denarii
Pound/Pounds, Shilling/Shillings, Penny/Pence

1l. = 20s.
1s.= 12d.
(1l. = 240d.)

A craftsman (mason, carpenter, etc.) in the 14th and 15th could expect 6d. a day.
A day labourer (someone who cleaned, ploughed, cut wood, etc.) perhaps 2-3d.
By mid to late 14th archers often made 6d., mounted archers 9d. which was between the 12d. a men at arms made. I think knights made more at 2s. per day.

This is from Ralph de Nesleís inventory from 1302

c.2s 9.5d. for one bow

c. 18.5s. for one wood crossbow

(Livre Tournois I think, maybe Livre Parisis but the Tournois seems much more common as currency and values in FRance at this tiem- not English pound which is a stronger currency at this time, perhaps 2-5 times stronger than the Livre I'd guess. Typically in the 1330 or so it is 4 french livre to 1 english pound)

There are loads of other crossbows mentioned of horn, wood etc. From here, the cheapest Crossbow to the bow is about 9 times as expensive.


RPM
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Gabriele A. Pini




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PostPosted: Fri 02 Jan, 2009 1:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If I can ask, someone know the use of crossbow in north Lombardia, Como in particulary, in the 12-13th century?

Or if you can suggest me a book for reference..

Tnks
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Fri 02 Jan, 2009 11:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

By this period you are looking at the composite crossbow as being the nicer type around. In italy groups of muslims were making composite bows and bows for crossbows until mid 13th when they seem to have been absorbed into the general populations.

I think Payne-Galloway's book has some info on the area as well.

RPM
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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Sat 03 Jan, 2009 11:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

M. Eversberg II wrote:
I'm assuming the d stands for ducats, the French currency at the time, correct?

M.

The prices are in English pence. They're from a cool PhD thesis by Randall Storey which used to be available online. He looked through a lot of English records and calculated average prices, minimu, and maximum for different types of arms and armour.
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Sun 04 Jan, 2009 3:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I must read this. Is it available anywhere?

M.

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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sun 04 Jan, 2009 9:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not online. The print copy is in Reading University.

RPM
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Jan, 2009 2:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Manning wrote:
(and longbow use never died out in medieval Scotland, France, Italy, etc.)


Certainly; it is much more likely that the francs-archers introduced in the mid-15th century as an adjunct to the French Ordonnance companies drew from existing/surviving resources of native French archers and bowmen rather than having to employ foreign trainers to revive a lost skill. Let me try to find where I last read about that.
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Jan, 2009 4:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The thesis is apparently here:

http://web.archive.org/web/20040622001514/med...ers.co.uk/

It's interesting to note that the price of a "one foot" crossbow is 25d.

M.

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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Jan, 2009 11:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette ,

You are totally right. Something interesting from pay records is that there were Frenchmen as part of English garrisons in Normandy during the time of Henry V and Henry VI. Some of these men were listed as archers. Clearly France had the ability to raise both bowmen and crossbowmen to some degree but it seems like they were just not employed by French military leaders the same as the English as often. During the 15th century in Scotland there are several runs of laws trying to get more men to practive with bows over crossbows and in the late 15th guns. In Italy even into the 16th bows and crossbows remain in use. Especially bows are employed at sea well into the 2nd half of the 16th. I saw a few venetian inventory lists from the mid 16th a while back and was surprised to see this was still the case.

M.,

Awesome find. I have been looking for it for sometime online but could not find it. Was going to email Randall but kept forgetting to do it. It is a amazing PhD thesis. He is awesome to put it up for everyone.

RPM
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Jan, 2009 1:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Credit goes to Sean Manning, who linked it to me. However, his message basically said the thesis wasn't there, and that the site was "down". I haven't had any issues with it, though.

It's a great paper, even if I have some trouble sitting through all of it :/

M.

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Steven H




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Jan, 2009 5:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

On a related note: how much were crossbowmen paid?

I aware of the numbers for English archers but what about, say, the Genoese mercenary crossbowmen?

Thanks to anyone with the info,
Steven

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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sun 11 Jan, 2009 2:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Try this issue of Dragon from the Co.St.G:

http://www.companie-of-st-george.ch/new/drupa...agon-6.pdf
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