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Matt J




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PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2016 7:13 am    Post subject: Archers wearing Armor         Reply with quote

Hello,

I've found a similar thread on here, but it did not answer what I was looking for. So, here it goes...

Why didn't Knights use bows? Or, why didn't Archers use plate armor?

I know that knights thought bows were cowardly, and I'm sure plate armor was out of the budget for most archers, but is that the only reason? Are there any instances in history of bows being used with heavy armor?

I know that some parts of the armor may make it difficult to use a bow, but you could still have a guy with a more open helmet, no gauntlets, and maybe even a less covered drawing arm.

Thank you.
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Alexis Bataille




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PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2016 7:47 am    Post subject: Re: Archers wearing Armor         Reply with quote

brigandine (plate armour) was used by archers but knights was more shock troops than skirmishers.
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Jeremy Wolf




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PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2016 8:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It was probably a matter of expense for the most part. My understanding is that Archers wouldn't have worn Full Plate, obviously, but when you look at period representations of archers you sometimes see them in open-faced helmets, and thick cloth or leather armor. They may have worm chain-mail and/or Jack chains as well. I think by and large the answer to your question is that if they could afford armor, they would probably have it, but I don't think the distribution of armor was universal enough to make a statement for sure.
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2016 8:40 am    Post subject: Re: Archers wearing Armor         Reply with quote

Matt J wrote:
Hello,

I've found a similar thread on here, but it did not answer what I was looking for. So, here it goes...

Why didn't Knights use bows? Or, why didn't Archers use plate armor?

I know that knights thought bows were cowardly, and I'm sure plate armor was out of the budget for most archers, but is that the only reason? Are there any instances in history of bows being used with heavy armor?

I know that some parts of the armor may make it difficult to use a bow, but you could still have a guy with a more open helmet, no gauntlets, and maybe even a less covered drawing arm.

Thank you.


Because Knights/Men-at-arms were drawn from the nobles and gentry who could afford to fight as heavy infantry or cavalry. A rather funny analogy would be asking why fighter jet pilots don't fight on the ground with a M16's and hand grenades Wink

That said archery was a pastime for many people and I know that one of the dukes of Burgundy and one of his half brothers were good shots. I am not sure what the status of archery was among English nobles though but it wouldn't surprise me if they practiced it too.

Now on to the armor bit:






Some the most heavily armored archers in Europe appeared during the 15th century. The archer guard of the French kings is reported to have worn plate armor on the legs, a mail skirt and a brigandine with elbow length mail sleeves, a mail collar and a sallet. Archers in the Warwick Roll are shown wearing mail skirts reaching down to the middle thigh, brigandines and elbow length mail sleeves too. A the burgundian ordonnance makes it a point that the mail sleeves should not be longer than elbow length and should be a bit baggy so as to not hinder drawing the bow, full length mail sleeves seem to be, judging by earlier manuscripts, quite form fitting and therefore probably unsuited for archery. In terms of plate armor I could see how a large pauldron might hinder drawing too but that is a topic I will leave to people who actually shoot longbows!

Bottom left corner:



So to answer your question; Men-at-arms typically didn't bother with bows because they had better things to do on the battlefield while heavily armed archers existed in the 15th century.
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Matt J




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PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2016 8:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you guys for the responses. That was some helpful information, especially the last post's examples of armored archers.

It seems it does mainly have to do with expenses, but it does seem that no amount of money could buy a full harness suited for archery. A lot of those archers don't even seem to be wearing a backside to their breastplate. Their helmets are not full faced, and I'm pretty confident that it isn't solely because of the price.

I have a follow up question regarding Brigandines. I know it's generally a bad idea to rank things better or worse when often times things are just different, but how do brigandines rank up in terms of defense? In my mind I've always ranked them as less protective than mail, but I'm getting the impression that I have it backwards in my mind. Now, I've never heard of brigandine style leg armor, so maybe mail just has better coverage, but referring solely to the chest portion of the body, does a brigandine offer greater protection than mail? I'm also under the impression that it was not uncommon to wear a brigandine over a mail hauberk, but I'm just curious about the differences between wearing one or the other, with a padded jack underneath.
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Jeremy Wolf




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PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2016 9:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm hardly an expert- but Brigandines were a very common type of Armor in the middle ages, especially among foot soldiers The name Brigandine is derived from the word Brigand, which we now take to mean Bandit but initially referred to foot soldiers, so this type of armor would be heavily correlated with foot soldiers. It would probably afford great protection against cuts and arrows and such. One advantage it probably had over Chainmail was greater rigidity. Chainmail doesn't protect against impact damage- a sword blow might not hew your body but it might still break bones. Brigandines aren't a fabric of mail rings, and so were more rigid, thus protecting against degrees of impact force. A Brigandine probably offered greater overall protection than a mail shirt, but they were often worn in conjunction. I would say based on it's popularity alone, it must have been at least equally as effective, if not more so, than chainmail.
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2016 9:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matt J wrote:
Thank you guys for the responses. That was some helpful information, especially the last post's examples of armored archers.

It seems it does mainly have to do with expenses, but it does seem that no amount of money could buy a full harness suited for archery. A lot of those archers don't even seem to be wearing a backside to their breastplate. Their helmets are not full faced, and I'm pretty confident that it isn't solely because of the price.

I have a follow up question regarding Brigandines. I know it's generally a bad idea to rank things better or worse when often times things are just different, but how do brigandines rank up in terms of defense? In my mind I've always ranked them as less protective than mail, but I'm getting the impression that I have it backwards in my mind. Now, I've never heard of brigandine style leg armor, so maybe mail just has better coverage, but referring solely to the chest portion of the body, does a brigandine offer greater protection than mail? I'm also under the impression that it was not uncommon to wear a brigandine over a mail hauberk, but I'm just curious about the differences between wearing one or the other, with a padded jack underneath.


Well I believe the same Burgundian ordonnance mentions that the archers should get a sallet without visor but some manuscripts do show archers with visored sallets. Though it's probably good to remember very few people would be wearing full face protection in medieval times, it seems like it was mostly reserved for European cavalry between the time of the great helmet and the mid 17th century.

As for Brigandines it can hard to pin down exactly when they appeared and sometimes it can be difficult to tell whether something is a brigandine or a coat of plate. That said they appeared relatively late in medieval warfare. In other threads on this forum I recall someone saying brigandines had integral mail sleeves and not an entire mail shirt worn under it which also seems to be mentioned in some official documents such as the ordonnance's of the 15th century.

I do not know if (heavy) padding was worn underneath it, you'd have to ask someone else about that.

Here is a thread about another brigandine with mail liner.

https://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?p=294294
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T. Kew




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PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2016 10:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A few thoughts:

Re breastplates alone, the obvious archer who you're referring to is already wearing two full layers of armour on his torso: he has a fully padded jack, and the rim of what's probably a mail shirt underneath it. Why bother with a backplate?

Re open-faced helmets, these are extremely common throughout European history. A fully closed helmet is restrictive, hot and tiring. While they have a place, especially if you are doing front-line combat, there is still loads of evidence for people making the tradeoff of having a visor open or absent. It may be less protective, but you're so much more able to see and breathe that it can often be worth it.

Re brigandine, it's a series of solid iron/steel plates. Better than mail for raw protection, but correspondingly harder to fit, pack, and cover gaps (full plate is further still along this axis). It's a really good midpoint for infantry or medium cavalry, though, and extremely commonly worn by them. Obviously, it's still nice to have mail sleeves and skirt, or a mail shirt, just to fill in gaps like the armpits.

Re shooting a bow in plate, I've done this for kicks. Full plate harness, including spaulders and demigauntlets. It's a bit awkward, but works fine. Unsurprisingly, you can also find plenty of artistic depictions of this, if you dig through manuscript miniatures or similar. Obviously, it's rarer than archers in lighter armours, though (see below).

Re knights not being archers, why would you take your highly trained expert melee combatants, outfitted in a full steel skin, and have them shoot a bow at people? You'll still need to have some fighters to go handle the melee, and not using your knights for this means that you have to use less armoured, less trained troops to do it instead. In smaller scale operations, raiding and skirmishing and so on, we have plenty of reason to suppose knights used missile weapons such as crossbows.

Re archers not being armoured, armour is expensive and heavy. Once you've got a helmet and a jack, you're reasonably well sorted, and so you want to pile on more armour only if you need it and can afford to. To a first approximation, therefore, you mostly see archers armouring up in three situations: 1) They're an honour company who need to have flash-looking equipment, 2) they serve a dual purpose role as medium melee infantry, 3) armour is readily available so they can access it easily.

The second point, in particular, is probably a key reason why English longbowmen adopted armour on a fairly large scale relatively early. Perhaps their distinguishing feature as a medieval missile unit was that they were extremely willing to engage in melee combat. Even Agincourt, one of the iconic victories of archery, is settled when the English archers down bows and join the melee as flankers.

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Philip Dyer





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PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2016 11:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've remember reading that for large portion of the Middle ages, England, Wales and Scotland had hard setting up stables for large number of robust, high maintenance, war horses and that Professional well paid archers and foot men at Arms where cheaper to outfit and maintain. Since they didn't have the land or money to maintain large bodies of heavy cavalry bowl over things, they found it cheaper have professional archer which was also well equipped enough to multi role as melee combatants, thus the usage of relatively heavy armor for archers, Mauls and mallets which can serve as stake drivers and heavily armor men smashers and longbows. Also, this goes to explain why English melee specialist (Man at Arms) armor cover more area of the body, they were on foot more often, thus more target areas were exposed because you don't have horse to cover your inner thighs and high saddle to cover your crotch. Also, most of what we consider as knights weren't knights because for you to be considered a knight, you can to be dubbed and thus serve under a baron or the king or queen. Also, I've read it was actually not at all uncommon for Barons to raises squadron or heavily armored mounted crossbowmen.
brignandine and plate are both better protection than mail, but they both harder to clean, repair, fix , fit for large numbers of people, and can't cover joints like mail can. Large ponys and breeds other than chargers were much easier to take care off have higher stamina but are unsuited for high impacted charges, lacking the mass of chargers, hence they were used by the English and Scots as mount for scouting and raiding units.
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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2016 11:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pieter B. wrote:
As for Brigandines it can hard to pin down exactly when they appeared and sometimes it can be difficult to tell whether something is a brigandine or a coat of plate. That said they appeared relatively late in medieval warfare. In other threads on this forum I recall someone saying brigandines had integral mail sleeves and not an entire mail shirt worn under it which also seems to be mentioned in some official documents such as the ordonnance's of the 15th century.


Brigandines appear in the 1370s IIRC. The 1397 Inventory of Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester contains a number of them, which are distinguished in some unknown manner from the pairs (or coats) of plates.

Itm j peir briganters coν*ez de rouge velvet garnisez darg endorrez ove j peir maunches de plate p's lxvjs. viijd.
Item, 1 pair brigandines covered with red velvet, garnished with silver gilt, with 1 pair sleeves of plate. valued 66s. 8d. (pair or set being applied in the same way it is used with 'pair of plates')
Itm j peir briganters cov*ez de blu baudekyn garnisez darg ove les manches sanz plate lxvjs. viijd.
Item, 1 'pair of brigandine' covered with blue baudekin, garnished with silver, with the sleeves without plate. http://www.finedictionary.com/Baudekin.html
Itm j peir briganters cov*es de rouge velvet garnisez de cupr enorrez ovesq, j coler dasser pr joustes de guerre p's xl.s.
Item, 1 'pair of brigandine' covered with red velvet, garnished with gilt copper 'ovesq'?, 1 steel collar for the joust-of-war.
Itm j peir plates cov*ez de blu velvet pr joustes de guerre p's xl.s.
Item, 1 pair of plates covered in blue velvet, for the joust-of-war. valued 40s.
Itm ij. peir plates cov*ez de noir velvet p's lxxiijs. iiijd.
Item, 2 pair of plates covered with black velvet. valued 73s. 4d.
Itm j peir de plates pr joustes de pees cov*es de rouge velvet p's xl.s.
Item, 1 pair of plates for the joust-of-peace, covered in red velvet.
Itm j peir de plates enorrez pr joustes de pece ove vantbras & rerebras j gaunt & j maindeferr p's c.s.
Item, 1 pair of plates decorated with gold for the joust-of-peace, with vambrace & rerebrace, 1 gauntlet and 1 manifer. valued 100s.
Itm j peir plates de blu .baudekyn q fust iadys a Roy Edward p's x.s.
Item, 1 pair of plates of blue baudekin, that once was King Edward's. 10s.
Itm j peir briganters dout le pys & le dos blanc et de bas cov*ez de blu velvet xxvj.s. viij.d.
Item, 1 'pair of brigandine' all the worse(?) & with a white back and base covered in blue velvet. 26s. 8d. (worse for wear?)

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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2016 1:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matt J wrote:
Now, I've never heard of brigandine style leg armor,


There are Chinese brigandines with leg armour. Often a long split skirt, but sometimes armour fitted to the individual legs.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Sat 07 May, 2016 8:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's worth keeping in mind that fully armored cavalry used bows across much of Asia, from Constantinople to Japan. Such horse archers used various styles of bows and armor, often different from what was common in Europe, but it was still standard practice for a lot of the world. Mounted crossbowers existed in Europe in significant numbers and often wore extensive armor. There's some evidence that French mounted archers, as well as crossbowers, used their weapons from horseback. Writing at the end of 16th century, Sir John Smythe wanted to revived the tradition of mounted crossbowers as well as institute mounted archers armed with a English-style yew bows. Nothing ever came of this, but it's interesting that was his dream.

Smythe wanted the following armor for his mounted archers:

Quote:
The archers on h[...]rsebacke vnder their Captaines or conductors skilfull in archerie, I would likewise haue mounted vpon good quiet geldings of mean size with deepe steele sculles in very narrow brimd hattes, well stuffed for the easines of their heades: or rather with certen light morrions of some gallant fashion inuented and deuised for them; and either Iacks of maile according to the auncient manner when they were called Loricati Sagittar[...], or else light and easie brigandines, or at least Ilet holed doublets, verie easie and well fitted to their bodies; their sleeues chained within with maile, or else with certen narrow stripes of serecloth betwixt the lining and outside of their sleeues for the easines of their armes


And for the infantry archers:

Quote:
Now as for their armors I would wish, that archers should either weare Ilet holed doublets, that wil resist the thrust of a sword, or dagger, and couered with some trim and gallant kinde of coloured cloth to the liking of the Captains, with their sleeues striped within, with certen narrow stripes of serecloth or maile, to resist the cut of a sword, or else Iackes of maile quilted vpon fustian to resist a blow or a thrust, of a conuenient length, and the skirts not too long, in respect of the lightnes & easines of them: with their doublet sleeues as aforesaid; and for the defence of their heads, because these steele. Cappes commonly vsed, are of verie small comlines for soldiors, and most of them too shallow, and therefore of small defence, I would wish some new and gallant fashion morrions verie light and easie to be made for archers to weare without any couering vpon them, but that they should be milde or burnished white; which besides their greater defence, being well and aptly made; would with their brightnesse greatly bewtifie the archers that do weare them.


Smythe apparently didn't want full mail sleeves for archers, only sleeves chained with mail or cerecloth.

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James Arlen Gillaspie
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PostPosted: Sat 07 May, 2016 11:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Archery duels did occur, with some noted examples in the 'Wars of the Roses'. Such duels were a very good reason to wear armour - the 'naked' would be taken out much quicker.
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James Arlen Gillaspie
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PostPosted: Mon 09 May, 2016 12:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It also occurs to me, from working on a movie about Jeanne d'Arc years ago (never got made, unfortunately), and thus having read as much eyewitness testimony as I could, that archers, crossbowmen, handgunners and even gunners with small wheeled culverins (we are talking before 1430 here) were often very close to the hand-to-hand fighting so that their weapons would have maximum effect. Armour is a very good idea if you are going to do that - along with a sword at your side.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Tue 31 May, 2016 7:44 am    Post subject: Re: Archers wearing Armor         Reply with quote

Matt J wrote:
Why didn't Knights use bows?


Are you sure they didn't? Carolingian miniatures from the 8th/9th centuries and Spanish illustrations up the the 12th (or even 13th) century or so showed the occasional fully-armoured horseman with a bow. After that the bow no longer appeared in conjunction with top-of-the-line armour for the period, but we started getting mounted crossbowmen instead. By the end of the 15th century we were seeing mounted crossbowmen whose equipment standards were so high that a rather large proportion of them were recruited from among men of the knightly social class who didn't have the means to afford the multiple horses and complete armour of a full-fledged man-at-arms.


Quote:
I know that knights thought bows were cowardly,


We're not really sure about that. They certainly didn't have any compunctions against letting their archers shoot at men-at-arms on the opposing side. And it has been proposed that the fact that they didn't use bows in major battles could be attributed to various possible causes from bows simply not being suitable for their tactical role (since if they were shooting too, who would be facing the enemy's men-at-arms and other close-combat troops in hand-to-hand fighting?) to the idea that it might be insulting for a man-at-arms to shoot another with a bow since it meant that the man-at-arms was treating his adversary more like a game animal than a human being.


Quote:
Are there any instances in history of bows being used with heavy armor?


MANY, especially if you look outside Europe. The cataphracts of the Near East generally had both bows and heavy armour (variously combined with lances, maces, swords, and what-have-you). Central Asian city-states and, well, states (like the Khwarezm-shahs defeated by the Mongols) had heavy cavalry with both heavy armour (including horse armour) and bows. Even the Mongols had groups of heavily-armoured cavalry with bows. Japanese samurai started out as heavy horse archers (and stayed that way until around the end of the 15th century). Manchu heavy cavalry had both heavy armour and very heavy bows -- one of the heaviest types ever made in large numbers.
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Henry O.





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PostPosted: Sat 18 Jun, 2016 11:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

On the subject of knights with bows, the 13th century King's Mirror also suggested that an armored horseman might choose to bring a bow or crossbow if they wanted to.

Quote:
. . . there are, however, other weapons which a mounted warrior may use, if he wishes; among these are the "horn bow" and the weaker crossbow, which a man can easily draw even when on horseback, and certain other weapons, too, if he should want them.
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Lukasz Papaj




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PostPosted: Sun 19 Jun, 2016 5:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Maile- wearing archer cavalry called "pancerni" ("armoured ones") are found in Polish army even in late XVII century.


Tactically they are filling gap between shock cavalry (hussars) and light cossack/ulan units (than again the actual lines were quite blurred, especially in cossack units that tended to pick up more armour and armament as they were employed in field)

As for the question though, it is mostly a matter of using best tools for the job.

Heavy cavalry is the most expensive to field, then we go all down to levied troops.

Logically, if you are trained and can afford it you will want to be in most elite unit possible. So once your status and wealth allows you to, you join heavy cavalry, and heavy cavalry uses lance as a tool for the job. (plus pair of heavy pistols in later eras)

Once you are in the field you move and attack with your unit, outside rare occurrences when pre-battle skirmishes happen - and even that those are for lower tiers of troops. Honour, dignity all that, plus you cannot really swap equipment on the fly.

Bow and arrows takes space, both on foot and on horse, and those are not throwaway tools, that you can just ditch in mud and forget. (note just how much compact are firearms in that respect). So as a soldier, one could have bow and paraphenalia as equipment, but during pitched battle those would be under care of his attendants in the camp, to use in hunting or skirmishing.

Japanese context is different, as here you do not have massed shock cavalry per se (at least to my knowledge) , so you have commanders in second line doing all the troop management and sometimes engaging in archery duels with their equivalent on the other side.

When analyzing historical record it is good to understand the importance of unit on the battlefield, in contrast to usual free-for-all every-man-for-himself unorganized blobs of battles portrayed in movies and many games
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Mario M.




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PostPosted: Sun 19 Jun, 2016 7:24 am    Post subject: Re: Archers wearing Armor         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Manchu heavy cavalry had both heavy armour and very heavy bows -- one of the heaviest types ever made in large numbers.


I am of the opinion that the proposed average draw weights for both their and Korean bows are exaggerated in a similar manner that the longbow is often pushed to 170-200 pound range.

Perhaps present in the elite and wielded by the largest men, but definitely not the average bow draw often proposed.

They were shorter East Asians with low muscle mass(low animal protein intake).

Stephen Selby states that the surviving Manchu bows are around 30kg/66lbs of draw weight.

He also describes in his book the infamous presentations done centuries ago that state much higher draw weights, but people are blinded to the fact that those were most probably for strength and form showmanship.




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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Sun 19 Jun, 2016 2:15 pm    Post subject: Re: Archers wearing Armor         Reply with quote

Mario M. wrote:
Stephen Selby states that the surviving Manchu bows are around 30kg/66lbs of draw weight.


There are surviving bows with higher draw weights than that. See the paragraph "Antique bows" on http://www.manchuarchery.org/historical-draw-weights-qing-bows for some examples.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Mario M.




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PostPosted: Sun 19 Jun, 2016 2:37 pm    Post subject: Re: Archers wearing Armor         Reply with quote

Yes, I know.

I merely provided the Shelby's statement to cool off those who use Emperors personal boasts of strength as a proper source for draw weight.

Most sources usually are a statement of soldiers ability to draw a bow of a certain poundage, meaning draw once without losing form.

This does not mean that they would use such bows in combat, where regular repetitive drawing is necessary.

You also presented one of my favorite sources;

"In comparison, the 500 troops at the small Dezhou garrison acquitted themselves with honor, all of them being able to take a five-strength bow [67 pounds], 203 a six-strength [80 pounds], 137 a seven ­strength [93 pounds], and 85 a ten-strength bow [133 pounds]."

I love that one, merely 17% of the garrison was even able to draw a 100+lbs bow, and nearly half the garrison could not go above 80lbs, and these guys were bragging.

I am not insulting them, I just see it as a proper dash of realism.

Short, skinny and malnourished medieval/early modern period men pulling 100+ lbs was not an usual trope.

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