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Ben P.




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PostPosted: Sat 17 Jan, 2009 12:04 pm    Post subject: Armor and Archery?         Reply with quote

Is it true that full plate makes it hard to use a bow? How does armor effect the use of a bow?
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M. Oroszlany




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PostPosted: Sat 17 Jan, 2009 1:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The gauntlets pose a problem for sure. I can't imagine being able to put an arrow on the string wearing one of those. Also the elbow piece on the bow hand would probably be in the way of the string. Other than that, I don't see a problem. Well, the helmet might get in the way too maybe.
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Hugh Knight




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PostPosted: Sat 17 Jan, 2009 1:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't think there's much evidence for using a bow in full harness; you might see a picture of elite guardsmen called "archers" wearing plate, but their role, while wearing plate, was to use their poll weapons. In war most archers fought in fairly light armor (if any at all). European gentlemen of coat armor, of course did *not* use bows at all in warfare (although they did so in hunting): "A coward was he who first used a bow, for he feared to close with his enemy" (from the 10th-century Chanson de Geste de Girart de Roussillon.)

As for your second question, the effects of archery on armor, this is a question likely to cause extreme dissention because many people have been brought up to believe in the deadliness of the bow as a result of of the writings of historians far more concerend with the outcome of battles than they were with the conduct of those battles. Here are some notes that might help:

"…recently two military historians, John Keegan and Claude Gaier, have cast doubt upon the thesis of the English longbow “invincibility.” In particular, Keegan, in a study of the battle of Agincourt, has shown the tactical use of English archers at this battle, and, for that matter, in all of the battles since the beginning of the fourteenth century, with the longbowmen either skirmishing in a “shoot-out” with their opponents’ archers or flanking their infantry troops, could not have caused the losses of life attributed to them by historians. In fact, there is little evidence that the longbowmen, needing to fire with an extremely steep arc to cover the distance between themselves and the enemy and thus unable to penetrate their opponents’ armor, did any more damage than the killing of a few horses and the wounding of even fewer men. While the archers did not kill many men, however, they did harass their enemy to such an extent that they broke into a disordered charge, a charge narrowed by continual flanking fire until it reached and stopped at the solid infantry line. This then caused the victory—not the archery fire itself, but the archery-induced disordered charge into a solid infantry line, which was neither penetrated nor defeated." (Devries, Kelly, Medieval Military Technology, Broadview Press, 1992, p. 38)

The following quotes are taken from Kelly Devries’ Infantry Warfare In the Early 14th Century:
Bannockburn: English and Scottish archers also engaged in the battle. But they had very little effect, at least according to John Barbour, who is the only source which mentions their participation in detail: the Scottish archers only annoyed the English cavalry, while the English archers might have been more effective had not Robert Bruce sent a contingent of horsed warriors … to successfully disperse them (p. 81)

Boroughbridge: The Earl [of Lancaster’s] cavalry, when they tried to cross the water, could not enter it because of the number and density of arrows which the archers discharged into them and their horses. No one appears to have been killed by the archery assault, but progress was slowed and confused…(p. 96)

Dupplin Moor: The infantry was greatly aided by the archers on their flanks. It seems that most of the Scottish soldiers either wore no helmets or helmets unequipped with visors, and that the disinherited archers…’blinded and wounded the faces of the first division of the Scots by an incessant discharge of arrows.’ This may have caused little death, but in fact is so disrupted the Scots that their attacks fell on the infantry with disarray and confusion. (p. 119)

Halidon Hill: The archers again played a role in this defeat. As at Dupplin Moor they attacked the Scots as they rushed into the infantry lines, and they continued to fire into their flanks and rear as the fight continued. In this, as at Duplin Moor, they blinded many of the Scots, creating disorder in their ranks and adding to the slaughter. The Lanercrost chronicler writes: “Now the Scots approaching in the first division were so grievously wounded in the face and blinded by the host of English archery, just as they had been formerly at Glendenmore (Dupplin Moor), that they were helpless, and quickly began to turn away their faces from the arrow flights and to fall.” (p. 124) Further: It was at this point in the two battles when the archers made their presence felt. Although it may be too much to say, as Jonathon Sumption does, that these battles ‘were [both] won by the archers,’ the archers did play a major role in the battle, although not the one – as a decisive killing machine – which has been bestowed on them traditionally by scholars. (Sumption is in error on pp. 125-26 in describing ‘some thousands of Scots [dying] of arrow wounds.’ There is no record of this in the contemporary battlefield narratives. (p.127)

Crecy: {Referring to the killing of the Genoese—HTK} Most importantly, claims Giles li Nuisit, the Genoese could not withstand the English archery onslaught as they had no armor and carried no shields. (p. 169) {This implies that if the Genoese had had their armor they wouldn’t have suffered the same level of casualties.—HTK} Further: Most commentators report that the arrows of the English longbows caused the death of many men and horses. However Geoffrey le Baker, the Grandes Chroniques, and the Chronigraphica Regum Francorum report only the wounding and slaying of horses during this part of the attack. (p. 170)

(All the above are from: Devries, Kelly, Infantry Warfare in the Early Fourteenth Century, The Boydell Press, 1996.)

Moreover, to add to the evidence in the above chronicles, actual experimentation supports what they tell us. Allan Williams (the foremost expert in the world on medieval European metallurgy) and the Royal Armouries and some others recently did a series of tests in controlled circumstances, taking an 'average' thickness of plate , a mechanical press, and a bodkin point arrow - the metals of both corresponding to the normal range of tensile strengths for early 15th century armors and arrowheads. Then they figured out how many joules of force were generated by an average warbow using the Mary Rose bows as an example for a reconstruction.

The flat plate was laid out in the press, so the bodkin point was given *optimum* conditions for penetration—a strike against a flat surface at 90 degrees (which almost never happens because armor was, as a rule, curved). The end result was the bodkin failed every time. A snippet of the videos of these tests appears on the Series "Battlefield Detectives", the Battle of Agincourt episode.

Part of the confusion lies in the fact that people believe that the "bodkin point" arrow was designed to penetrate armor, which it was: Mail armor. But when it came into widespread use plate armor was developed to counter it. It was not developed to penetrate plate armor, nor would it have done so: "Most surviving … bodkins seem to be of iron, which test show curl up when they strike plate. If they struck mail they would burst the rings apart as they went through." (Gravett, Christopher, English Medieval Knight 1400-1500, Osprey Publishing, 2001, p. 32) [NB: Gravett was senior curator of armor at the Tower Armouries when he wrote this, so don't just dismiss it because it comes from an Osprey book.]

What did arrows do, then, and why were they so crucial for some kinds of combat? They dismounted your opponents (even the best horse armor has huge gaps that make them very vulberable to arrows, and few knights had comprehensive horse armor anyway), they caused your dismounted opponents to close their visors and march long distances (which was exhausting) jammed up together (and jamming them together prevented effective weapon use as th French discovered), they were devestating to morale, they prevented the enemy from using lightly-armored support troops (as with the Genoese crossbowmen at Crecy) and other things. What they did *not* do, however, was penetrate plate very often, nor did they kill many knights.

I hope that helps to answer your questions.

Regards,
Hugh
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James R.Fox




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PostPosted: Sat 17 Jan, 2009 2:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sirs-Dont forget the many knights were too poor to afford full plate,the average knight wore a helm gorget ,back and breast plate and eked out the rest with mail. Also, the brigandine and gambeson plus helm and gorget plus some plate on arms and legs was also popular among poor knights. In short, many knights and rheir horses were vulnerable to crippling wounds, which is why Edward III's thousands of welsh archers wore little armour and carried a heavy dagger or hatchet they were counting on meeting dazed, crippled men. The tough ones they left to the english foot carrying swords,bills, lead mallets(very populsr for bashing dismounted french)and so on. The archers won battles by softening up the enemy, and for that the longbow with it's high rate of fire was perfect. A ratchet-wound crossbow could penetrate plate but the longbowman was getting off 6-8 aimed arrow while the crossbowman was getting ready.And the longbowman was required by law to practice at 220 yards, once he reached 18 on penalty of a very stiff fine for each shot not 220 yards.
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Sat 17 Jan, 2009 3:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Are we sure about bodkin points being used to pierce maille? I was under the impression that their popularity came from their cheapness and ease of manufacutre. The gap between maille links is small, and if an arrow is coming down from an arc, doesn't it begin its fall with no power left from the bowshot?

M.

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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Sat 17 Jan, 2009 4:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Most or all found needle nosed Bodkins were of unhardened iron, as opposed to the chisel type bodkins and broadheads, which are found in both states. Would seem the needle nosed type were the easier to make cheaper arrows.

There is a theory (IIRC by the Royal Armoury) that due to this the Bodkins may well have been flight arrows, as opposed to anything else, used more in the longrange bombardment, switching to broadheads at closer ranges.

One thing though about the less velocity at extreme ranges - if you look at arrow ballistics, they actually have more velocity at their more extreme ranges, as a 45 degree angle and gravity actually makes them faster on impact with a high arcing trajectory. Of course they are best in velocity at close ranges, but I forget exaclty where the break point is. But IIRC, they have more velocity at say 240 yards then at 150 yards.

There have been very few (almost none) tests that are not biased in some way about arrows penetrating ability. They either use the wrong weighted bow, inferior mail, no padding, etc. etc., so it's tough to say.

From looking at various tests, my guess is a 100# or so longbow should pentrate average mail and quilt (the type worn as harness, not to cover openings in the plate which would seem to be a bit more vulberable) at maybe 50 yards or so, but not with a ton of power left over.

Of course you here everything from a knight pierced where only the fletching is sticking out to arrows bouncing off or pincushioning the mail armoured troops. My guess is beyond 50 or at the most 100 yards, they are not going to do much of anything. Of course I've also heard turkish horsebowmen would sometimes loose arrows at the 10-30 foot range, this would seem to be able to go through mail and wound the person beneath pretty well.

One interesting thing - it seems though much shorter, the turkish bows had the same drawlength of longbows, which would give them similar power . Their brace is about the same, and they use material which were probably more efficient.

They only thing here that is in the favor of the longbow perhaps - I have heard they used heavier arrows, whcih would correspond with the fact turkish bows seem to outrange them, so they would have a bit less range but probably a bit better penetrative ability. I'm not sure though if this comparison is just using turkish flight arrows - have no idea if they had the heavier type for closer range or if they used the equivalent of a longbow flight arrow in weight.
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Hugh Knight




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PostPosted: Sat 17 Jan, 2009 7:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James R.Fox wrote:
Sirs-Dont forget the many knights were too poor to afford full plate,the average knight wore a helm gorget ,back and breast plate and eked out the rest with mail. Also, the brigandine and gambeson plus helm and gorget plus some plate on arms and legs was also popular among poor knights. In short, many knights and rheir horses were vulnerable to crippling wounds, which is why Edward III's thousands of welsh archers wore little armour and carried a heavy dagger or hatchet they were counting on meeting dazed, crippled men. The tough ones they left to the english foot carrying swords,bills, lead mallets(very populsr for bashing dismounted french)and so on. The archers won battles by softening up the enemy, and for that the longbow with it's high rate of fire was perfect. A ratchet-wound crossbow could penetrate plate but the longbowman was getting off 6-8 aimed arrow while the crossbowman was getting ready.And the longbowman was required by law to practice at 220 yards, once he reached 18 on penalty of a very stiff fine for each shot not 220 yards.


What evidence do you have to suggest that the average knight was equipped as you suggest? Primary-source accounts of Agincourt, for example, suggest the French knights were armored cap a pied; we read of their sabatons in the mud, for example. The notion that relatively few of the men at arms (a temr that means all knightly combatants) in the HYW were fully armored is a myth.

Moreover, are you aware that there were relatively few Welsh archers in EIIIs array? Men from Cheshire were the largest group of archers. Most of the Welsh used during the HYW were spearmen, not archers. Even the longbow is really more from Cheshire than from Wales; the Welsh were known for using short bows.

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Hugh
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sun 18 Jan, 2009 11:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary Teuscher wrote:
Of course I've also heard turkish horsebowmen would sometimes loose arrows at the 10-30 foot range, this would seem to be able to go through mail and wound the person beneath pretty well.


Indeed, that was the only way that the horse archers could reliably wound armored opponents! All military horse-archery treatises that I know of--or at least the ones that mention range, anyway--say that the horse archer should get as close as possible to the enemy, even to the extent of being almost within the reach of hand-to-hand weapons.


Quote:
They only thing here that is in the favor of the longbow perhaps - I have heard they used heavier arrows, whcih would correspond with the fact turkish bows seem to outrange them, so they would have a bit less range but probably a bit better penetrative ability. I'm not sure though if this comparison is just using turkish flight arrows - have no idea if they had the heavier type for closer range or if they used the equivalent of a longbow flight arrow in weight.


The Turks and other Muslim horse archers during the Crusaders (not all of them were Turks!) did seem to have carried heavier arrows for short-range shooting and lighter ones for long-range harassment.


Hugh Knight wrote:
Even the longbow is really more from Cheshire than from Wales; the Welsh were known for using short bows.


The southern Welsh were known for using long bows, actually, but not necessarily the same as the English long bow since the English chroniclers who wrote about the Welsh bows said that they were powerful but short-ranged. It's still pretty much true that the English longbowmen were overwhelmingly English rather than Welsh, though.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sun 18 Jan, 2009 1:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To balance Keegan and Devries you should read Cliff Roger's ‘Agincourt’ in 100 Years War a different vista. He gives a wide array of primary sources that balance the debate very well. I’d take a looks the Royal Armouries Article on the Royal Military Academy Findings regarding arrows and plate. They have their short comings but the testing it to me the best that has been done, much fairer than most. The Great Warbow is also a good place for info on penetration but as Hugh said it is hotly debated so you will not get a simple answer.

I for one was not convinced by all of Keegan's interpretation of Agincourt. One is by forcing modern military methods and tactics on the battle which in some ways is fine but others less so. But the main weakness to me was he employs a very limited selection of primary sources on a battle that has more primary sources than you can shake a stick… or a sword at. I own the book and reread it every so often but there you go. Kelly Devries in my opinion does not balance all the primary sources on many of the events in regards to this theme so his conclusions are off to me at times, Boroughbridge and Bannockburn being clear examples but I do not want to hijack this thread too much. In general Kelly is awesome in his articles and books and they are very readable. So for sure as Hugh recommended looking into his works is good for balance on the topic.

The same can be said in the opposite direction though so you need have a care with the 'patriot missile' longbow arrow as well. Sadly this is a very 'camp' issue, especially among reenactment, LH and such so it is doubtful you will get a very direct answer. You'd need to get a wide amount of reading in to get even up-to-date. Then you need to get your feet wet in primary sources to get any further as most people quoting primary chroniclers give you only one line of an entire section so you miss 90% of the context which is crucial to understanding. Distance and such is key in the debate


As Hugh said I am not sure if archers were ever normally fully armoured. That said there are some guys who can pull heavy weight bows with a fairly complete harness but the question if it was common in medieval battlefields would look to be no,

Good luck!


Lafayette,

The welsh stuff is really just modern assumptions regarding Welsh army makeups. A friend of mine has studied the Welsh in the 14th to early 15th and the idea that North or South Wales provided one or the other (spear/bow)is just not true. Once his current project is done I'll put a link to it up. The men of Cheshire were well known for archers by mid 14th as well. The short distance archery is a mistranslation according to Strickland and the latin it came from does translate easier with it meaning strong and far instead of strong but not far.


RPM
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Josh Warren




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PostPosted: Sun 18 Jan, 2009 4:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Moffett wrote:
To balance Keegan and Devries you should read Cliff Roger's ‘Agincourt’ in 100 Years War a different vista. He gives a wide array of primary sources that balance the debate very well. I’d take a looks the Royal Armouries Article on the Royal Military Academy Findings regarding arrows and plate. They have their short comings but the testing it to me the best that has been done, much fairer than most. The Great Warbow is also a good place for info on penetration but as Hugh said it is hotly debated so you will not get a simple answer.

I have never found Rogers' arguments all that convincing. IIRC, his primary source evidence is spotty, and sometimes requires a bit of suspension of disbelief to arrive at the conclusion (as he does) that the longbow routinely defeated plate armour. The Great Warbow isn't much different.

I keep a short essay prepared on this subject for those occasions that the longbow fanclub advances the armour-piercing argument:

Quote:
Remember that at Agincourt the French armoured men-at-arms did in fact reach the English line, and were defeated in hand-to-hand combat, not by archery. The high casualty figures for the men-at-arms are probably the result of Henry ordering all prisoners to be slaughtered after they were captured and bound.

Also, remember that Agincourt is the last of the great English longbow victories. It did not prove as effective against advancing armour technology. Plate armour won the conflict with the longbow. Sure, there was a back-and-forth, and at times the longbow even had the upper hand at a few points in the 14th century, but ultimately plate armour prevailed. It took the advent of effective firearms to drive armour from the battlefield. William Turner, writing hudreds of years later in the late 17th century argues that longbow use should be revived because, "...arrows would do more mischief than formerly they did: since neither men nor horses are so well armed now to resist them, as in former ages they used to be." Essentially, he believed that a force of longbowmen would be effective in battle since they can shoot more quickly than musketeers, but also because soldiers would be vulnerable to the arrows precisely because they no longer made a practice of wearing armour into battle. He acknowledges that armour defeated arrows and drove the longbow from its once-exalted position on the battlefield. A century later, none other than Benjamin Franklin would echo his words.

The longbow won at Crecy, Poitiers, and Agincourt simply because the English got to pick the battlefield and made the French fight on their terms, which included placing their longbowmen behind substantial field fortifications. What conclusion should we draw from the results of other battles in which English archers were ridden down by the very heavy cavalry whose bane they supposedly were? In the batle of Patay, that's just what happened. Where was the longbow's armour-piercing power then?

I submit the following passage from Dr. Michael Lacy's paper on the Effectiveness of Medieval Knightly Armour. This portion deals with the battle of Flodden (1513) wherein the Scots fielded a force clad in the latest plate infantry armours mass-produced on the Continent:

"...the longbow, so decisive in the wars of the last century, was defeated by the heavy German armour of the Scottish front ranks; a contemporary accounts describe them as "most assuredly harnesed" in armour, and that they "abode the most dangerous shot of arrows, which sore them annoyed but yet except it hit them in some bare place, did them no hurt." Bishop Ruthal, writing 10 days after the battle remarked "they were so well cased in armour that the arrows did them no harm, and were such large and stout men that one would not fall when four or five bills struck them."

That's right, contemporary English chroniclers reveal that the longbow did not pierce armour. Other accounts from Poitiers and Brouwershaven (1426) tell similar stories, to say nothing of reports of battles from the English dynastic struggle known as the Wars of the Roses in which both sides turned the longbow on each other, in which it is specially pointed out that Lords Clifford and Dacre were not vulnerable to arrows until they had lifted their visors to drink or shout or breathe.

More near the time of Agincourt, here is a passage from the biography of Don Pero Niño, a Spanish privateer, who raided the English coast a couple of years before Agincourt:

"...they (the Spanish) were so near them (the English) that they could easily tell the fair men from the dark...the standard and he who bore it were likewise riddled with arrows, and the standard bearer had as many round his body as a bull in the ring, but he was shielded by his good armour"

For what it's worth, that standard bearer was none other than the author of this account himself, Gutierre Diaz de Gamez. It is noteworthy that his plate armour enabled him to survive a close-range arrow onslaught and live to write this passage years later.

The longbow was not the "king of the battlefield," the magical nuclear armour-piercer that its fanboys want you to believe. It was only effective under certain controlled circumstances, and even then was mostly an anti-cavalry weapon. Don't buy the hype. Don't misunderstand me--the English were awesome during the early part of the Hundred Years War, but it was because of their strategic expertise, and canny use of combined arms tactics, not because they possessed some magical, battle-winning wonder weapon.

I do not say that most of the casualties at Agincourt are the result of Henry's slaughtering of prisoners, but it can't be denied that that action did indeed inflate the numbers of men of rank who perished there.

I think I do make mention of the fact that the English were caught out in the open as being a decisive factor in the French victory. Again, IMO the English longbow seems to prevail over armoured men only if the English get to choose the ground and have time to set up their stakes and such beforehand.

I have lately dug up another account in support of armour stopping arrows. This is from a letter written by one Jehan Baugey, and dated 16 September 1475:

"That Monday after supper the English (mercenary longbowmen) quarreled over a wench and wanted to kill each other. As soon as the duke (of Burgundy) heard of this, he went to them with a few people to appease them but they, not recognizing the duke, as they claimed, shot two or three times directly at him with their bows. (The arrows went) very near his head and it was extraordinarily lucky that he was not killed, for he had no armour on at all."

The Burgundians had been hiring English longbowmen as mercenaries for decades at this point, and would have been intimately familiar with the power of the longbow. Yet they still expected that plate armour would have saved a man if he were struck by one of those arrows. What conclusion should we draw from this?

Here is a passage from Vaughan's Philip the Good that deals with the battle of Brouwershaven:

"...they (The English) returned fire with their deadly long-bows and drove the Dutch back in disorder. However, arrows could make no impression on Philip and his heavily-armed knights, who now arrived on the scene. The chronicler points out that Andrieu de Valines was killed by an arrow in the eye because he was not wearing a helmet."

Here, not only do we again have the expectation that a helmet would have saved one man, but a direct statement that the arrows from those longbows made no impression on the (presumably plate-clad) knights.

So there you are: evidence from several primary sources attesting to the ineffectiveness of longbows against steel plate armour. I can't seem to find any sources stating that arrows killed men through plate armour.


Seriously, where is all the primary source evidence that supports the "arrows often defeated plate armour" side of the argument? It seems that the convictions of most of the longbow fanclub rest on recent tests that one can see all over YouTube that depict arrows driving through poorly-formed, single-layer plates that are then held up as evidence that longbows made easy work of plate armour. These tests never take into account how much of the armour of the period overlapped--your arrow was seldom opposed by just one layer of steel. You never see these guys shooting at the sort of double-layer breastplate-and-plackart combinations that seem to have been so popular in the fifteenth century, some of which could exceed 3mm or even 4mm through the middle, as described in the following Armour Archive threads:

http://forums.armourarchive.org/phpBB2/viewto...=thickness
http://forums.armourarchive.org/phpBB2/viewto...light=bern

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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sun 18 Jan, 2009 11:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That’s fine. I never said he was the end all be all only that it balanced Keegan and Devries equally. Since you decided your point before reading it I am not surprised you got little out of it.

Once again to critique your sources- Maybe I should save this to put up along side yours when you place it up?

The Agincourt conclusion you have that most died as captives is 100% unfounded and not backed up by any historic sources. I linked you to several sources on this last time you brought this up. New evidence indicates even less than a few score were killed as Henry halted them killing as soon as he was no longer worried of a new French attack. Even sources that give huge numbers killed after captured have 10 times that killed in fighting. The more you repeat this does not make it any more founded. This is 100% BS. Read the primary sources of Agincourt in full and we will talk. Until then there is no point in debating this.

Patay…. Josh, Josh, Josh. Been here too. Patay was a surprise battle. Archers had not time to prepare or get in order. That is why they were ridden down. Armour penetration actually requires a large number of arrows which was not something they were able to do, undefended in a place where cavalry can and did ride them down. This is the selective history I am talking about. Missing 90 (in this case 99%) of the context to prove a point.

The statement that arrows did more damage to men in no armour is obvious. By the 17th century there is no way an arrow could get through a proofed breastplate. They are 5-7mm easily. That said Venetians reporting on English armies of the mid 16th tell on their official senate reports that the longbow could piece the average cuirass and corslet of the time of steel.

Saying the terrain won the battle is just as bad as saying the longbow did it. They are all elements that add up to victory. No one element independent able to do so.

Flodden I will give you in general as there are far more going for the armour sustaining the arrow storm though there is evidence in the contrary they are few. I have not had time to read all the sources so cannot tell what the context is in them all.

War of the roses…. Now that is selective and missing how the battles were fought. One of the most common tactics was archery duel (with cannons at times). Victor then turned their arrows on the side that now had no archers. Almost universally in period sources you see the phrase and the arrows forced them to attack etc. St. Albans is another that has clear accounts of men in full armour killed by archers, though at point blank, the king’s armour even failing though in this saving his life.

Spanish account been there as well. No one is arguing that ‘good armour’ could withstand arrows. The point is that most armour was not in this category.

I am not going to get a sources match on this as Cliff has a huge number in his recent publication of Agincourt and I am not going to copy it to put up every time you put up a list of selective histories. If they failed to convince you is irrelevant as they clearly exist. Plenty of people have placed them and others up and the armour crowd turns a blind eye to them as they must or the armour invincibility cannot be sustained. Even your Dr. Michael Lacy states that in the 15th it did piece armour. You use a few clear examples to negate armour penetration for all situations which is a poor argument.

Like I said if you want a balanced answer to Keegan, Devries and the stuff Josh has there read the other side of the argument as they are missing 1/4-1/2 the picture. The sources are out there by people who have read the sources in full and are familiar with them. Some might sweep those that do not support their argument under the carpet but it is still important to be familiar with them.

It's funny I am not of the opinion that the warbow was magic or that 90% of the time it even penetrated in most cases but posts like that remind me why I could never join the armour camp.... Razz

RPM


Last edited by Randall Moffett on Sun 18 Jan, 2009 11:48 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Hugh Knight




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PostPosted: Sun 18 Jan, 2009 11:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Moffett wrote:
I for one was not convinced by all of Keegan's interpretation of Agincourt. One is by forcing modern military methods and tactics on the battle which in some ways is fine but others less so. But the main weakness to me was he employs a very limited selection of primary sources on a battle that has more primary sources than you can shake a stick… or a sword at. I own the book and reread it every so often but there you go. Kelly Devries in my opinion does not balance all the primary sources on many of the events in regards to this theme so his conclusions are off to me at times, Boroughbridge and Bannockburn being clear examples but I do not want to hijack this thread too much. In general Kelly is awesome in his articles and books and they are very readable. So for sure as Hugh recommended looking into his works is good for balance on the topic.


Hi Randall,

I'll grant that Keegan didn't use all that many primary sources (which doesn't invalidate his analytical approach, either; he was looking at the problem from a different angle), but DeVries did, and he looked at good ones, too. Moreover, however many sources you look at you won't find quotes that say that the arrows killed people--not contemporary accounts. You might find a source which says the English archers "won the day", but that's not the same as saying arrows penetrated armor, and it doesn't say *how* they won the day. Moreover, as Josh pointed out, English arrows only won the day because the French weren't very bright; when people started to figure out that charging over open terrain in full harness to get at English men at arms was a bad idea the English started losing.

DeVries makes an excellent point in his book on 14th-century infantry battles. He points to the battle of Halidon Hill (see my original post regarding this battle above) and shows us that if you read a secondary source you can easily misunderstand the role archery played. Sumption read the original chronicle and came away with the statement that the archers won the battle for their side, leaving us to think they did so by shooting arrows through armor to kill knights, but the original text says the archers were only successful because the Scots left their visors up or off.

Again and again you read these chronicles and they are clear: Arrows don't usually kill men at arms. They kill horses (or drive them into wild fits, rendering them useless), they kill lightly-armored support troops, and they force men at arms to fight in tight, compact units with their visors down, and they have several other effects (most notably on morale) but they rarely if ever penetrate plate. We can debate this all we want (which I don't mean to sound frustrated--I respect you and this is a valid point for discussion), but in the final analysis the folks who were there don't say arrows penetrated armor. I've quoted them, Josh has quoted them, and our opponent's try to counter that with vague statements such as "and the archers were most useful" or things like that.

Of course, never say never; one account of Agincourt (I can look it up if you need it) reports that an arrow passed through the visor of someone's bascinet (the thin part on the side) wounding the victim slightly, so we know lucky shots did get through. And there was bad armor; Edward III had to pass a law forbidding the covering of bascinets with fabric because armorers were doing so to cover weak spots. And men at arms did receive wounds through the gaps in their harnesses, but that's the point about bunching the enemy together (that's why archery was effective at controlling enemy formations, because they bunched up to minimize lucky hits to gaps in armor), but very rarely were they killing shots. Didn't Dr. Rogers' paper say something about fewer than 50 (or some other ludicrously small number--500 maybe?) French actually killed by arrows at Agincourt (and by the way, his War Cruel and Sharp is my favorite HYW source of all time, so I'm not knocking him)? I remember discussing this with him and he pointed out some had been killed by arrows but, as I pointed out in return, the number was so small it can only have effected morale.

Regards,
Hugh
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Mon 19 Jan, 2009 12:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hugh,

That is 100% true. Almost no sources will state that arrows killed a specific person by piercing their armour. The problem goes back to period sources. When armour is penetrated it is done in a very soap opera way for the WOW factor. The reason is most accounts are for fun. Men of class want to hear of great deeds. This also lessens the ability of archers though as no one cares about them. To be fair though in 99% of the time men that are said to be killed are left without any detail on exactly how they died. Then the problem then is that the men just died while fighting victim to no weapons blow. The argeument that because it specifically did not say the arrow pierced their armour, then mail, then arming coat then them is that is not common in any period text for any weapon on any armour.

I question Kelly on that interpretation as in the Scalicronica it clearly states armour was pierced as does the The Lanercost Chronicle. Both I think are in ENglish in full. Kelly uses one specific reference in general which I think is well too broad a use.

I am not saying that armour was always defeated. Far from it. My guess is that most bounced or glanced off. Likely a great number of them. But my contention is that it was impossible and was not part of period texts as it is clearly.

As far as Keegan. Like I said I like his book and own it but I think the danger is turning a medieval battle into a WWII text book tactics without looking into general trends of the period. This does what Burne's did. He used his time as an artillery man and imposed it on the archers. I would not fault the general idea of Keegan's section only the manner he went about it. I think Kelly used a good amount of sources but I think he used them with exclusion to important texts in them... He did the same with Bevenshout. Read the period source and 0 men are said killed by the gun but in his account of the battle it won the day killing men right and left.

Like I said I am not a patriot missile warbow fan but think the unbalanced look with regards to armour is also a danger.

RPM
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Hugh Knight




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PostPosted: Mon 19 Jan, 2009 12:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Moffett wrote:
Hugh,

That is 100% true. Almost no sources will state that arrows killed a specific person by piercing their armour. The problem goes back to period sources. When armour is penetrated it is done in a very soap opera way for the WOW factor. The reason is most accounts are for fun. Men of class want to hear of great deeds. This also lessens the ability of archers though as no one cares about them. To be fair though in 99% of the time men that are said to be killed are left without any detail on exactly how they died. Then the problem then is that the men just died while fighting victim to no weapons blow. The argeument that because it specifically did not say the arrow pierced their armour, then mail, then arming coat then them is that is not common in any period text for any weapon on any armour.

I question Kelly on that interpretation as in the Scalicronica it clearly states armour was pierced as does the The Lanercost Chronicle. Both I think are in ENglish in full. Kelly uses one specific reference in general which I think is well too broad a use.

I am not saying that armour was always defeated. Far from it. My guess is that most bounced or glanced off. Likely a great number of them. But my contention is that it was impossible and was not part of period texts as it is clearly.

As far as Keegan. Like I said I like his book and own it but I think the danger is turning a medieval battle into a WWII text book tactics without looking into general trends of the period. This does what Burne's did. He used his time as an artillery man and imposed it on the archers. I would not fault the general idea of Keegan's section only the manner he went about it. I think Kelly used a good amount of sources but I think he used them with exclusion to important texts in them... He did the same with Bevenshout. Read the period source and 0 men are said killed by the gun but in his account of the battle it won the day killing men right and left.

Like I said I am not a patriot missile warbow fan but think the unbalanced look with regards to armour is also a danger.

RPM


Hi Randall,

And I'm not saying no one was ever killed by an arrow while wearing plate, either. But the norm for the archery crowd is to claim the serious killing--the main killing that won the fight--was done by arrows because they can't understand why else they'd have been used when you and I both know that just wasn't so. As I pointed out in the last paragraph of my previous post people *did* die from arrows through plate--just not often enough for it to be significant.

Nor did my arguments hinge solely on the absence of positive indicators in primary-source material; I also spoke of *realistic* modern experiments (as opposed to the garbage on YouTube) and I can provide hard numbers from Alan Williams on the hardness of plate and the power of bows which shows that very rarely will an arrow ever penetrate realistic plate. And when taken in that context, the wording of the chronicles (many of which were not written for the enjoyment of knights, by the way) becomes more telling.

But I've been where you are right now: Seeming to argue on a side of an issue with which I don't generally agree just because everyone else was going too far in the other direction (and feeling bloody weird to have to do so!). So I understand what you're saying, and I want you to know I'm not one of the "it never ever happened, ever" crowd.

At the same time, however, I think it's fair to tilt things a bit toward the "you can't penetrate armor" side of the question because there are just too many people who've grown up believing the egalitarian nonsense that English arrows killed all the bad guys in the HYW. When such folk see us arguing about a few statistically unimportant deaths (although I'm sure it was important to the individuals in question!) it lets them cling stubbornly to their cherished misconceptions and we're back where we started. Statistically speaking, I think it's fair to say "arrows didn't kill men at arms through armor" because while it's not true in an absolute sense it is true in a general sense. Later on we can show people about the anomalies. <grin> The simple fact is that arrows killed *very* few men at arms and that the vast majority of those who died were killed by other men at arms, and that's the point we need to emphasize.

Regards,
Hugh
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Mon 19 Jan, 2009 3:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I may have lost focus, but it appears as if both of you are arguing the same point. You both, correctly, believe that arrows are an unreliable anti-armor weapon, which they are, because arrows defeating plate is a rare occurrence.

M.

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Ben P.




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PostPosted: Mon 19 Jan, 2009 9:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

How does a cuirass and pauldrons influence archery? Draw, parthian shot, etc.
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PostPosted: Mon 19 Jan, 2009 9:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

M. Eversberg II wrote:
I may have lost focus, but it appears as if both of you are arguing the same point. You both, correctly, believe that arrows are an unreliable anti-armor weapon, which they are, because arrows defeating plate is a rare occurrence.


Exactly right, we are; that was the point of my last post.

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Hugh
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PostPosted: Mon 19 Jan, 2009 10:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben P. wrote:
How does a cuirass and pauldrons influence archery? Draw, parthian shot, etc.


Hi Ben,

Are you asking how a breastplate and pauldrons effect your ability to *shoot* a bow? If so, you should know that medieval archers ever wore comprehensive armor. Even a well-equipped Wars of the Roses archer might have no more than a skull cap (or a sallet, etc.) a jack, and possibly something on his legs. I know of no archers who shot while wearing breastplates and pauldrons.

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Hugh
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PostPosted: Mon 19 Jan, 2009 10:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Theorectically if someone was wearing a cuirass and pauldrons how would that effect it?"
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PostPosted: Mon 19 Jan, 2009 12:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

M.,

Yes Hugh and I do agree so you are not lost there. I think the issue of penetration in the end is not the battle winning factor. In the end it is casualties inflicted. On its own the warbow won very few battles. Men at arms were essential to the English systems just as archers were. In fact several of the largest English losses during the HYW are in great part that the lack of Men at arms to cover archers. There are just some things that stakes cannot do.

I do not know statistically or exactly how low or high the casualties of men hurt or killed by arrows or those killed or wounded by arrows penetrating armour in any given battle. I doubt anyone can authoritatively answer this with real numbers. While I think plenty of men at arms died by arrows I do not know percents, not what percent of that percent were killed by armour failures. If I had to guess in most cases it would be fairly low. That said As Keegan points out total casualties do not have to be massive to cause a route. I think it is fair to say by Agincourt that men at arms were inflicting a great part of the casualties of enemy men at arms. I do not know if one can accurately say 50-50, 60-40 or 70-30 or even more. What I do know is that arrows killed indiscriminately though as Hugh points out the lighter infantry would suffer the worst. So no I doubt the longbow was developed specifically for men at arms nor was it perhaps the most effective for fighting them but as Hugh said killed them to some degree. I think it was not as much an anomaly to be a bit pedantic but only that in say maybe 1 in 10 (or even 1 in 100) chances of success (this is a guess maybe too high or too low). Still important for the final casualty count of wounded and killed just as the spear, sword, pole axe, halberd and other weapons were.

Question two-
Since European mounted and armoured knights do not seem to use bows that’s a very hard question. Pauldrons, vambraces, couters, gauntlets etc. could easily get in the way depending on the style. I bet lance rests would be really an issue as well. It is possible that with the right harness it could work I suppose. You’d need very low profile gauntlet cuffs and either a fully enclose couter or fanless one. You’d also need shoulder protection that would not snag the bow string. Since Samurai did use bows with armour might be worth looking at how they get around it. As Hugh said European archers for the most part were lightly armoured. You see minimum requirements in various places, in 15th century England it is sallet, jack, sword, bow and two sheaves. Some archers seem to have worn some form of gauntlets, arms and leg armour and brigandines but I am not sure wearing a full harness would be very effective or possible in many cases.

RPM
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