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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Sun 14 Mar, 2021 4:38 pm    Post subject: Different types of arrows - primary sources         Reply with quote

This was posted by Matt Easton a few years ago on his Schola Gladiatoria forum. It is a court case involving a woman named Margaret accusing a group of people of killing her husband. It is interesting because it gives contemporary names to a lot of different weapons. I've extracted the sections that specifically talk about arrows.

Source: 'Plea Rolls for Staffordshire: 8 Edward II', in Staffordshire Historical Collections, Vol. 10, Part 1, ed. G Wrottesley (London, 1889), pp. 15-19

----------------------
Coram Rege. Mich., 8 E. II.

Staffordshire (1315).
Margaret, formerly wife of Robert de Esnyngton, appeared against John son of Roger de Swynnerton, and Nicholas his brother, Hugh, Parson of the Church of Byshebury, John de Levyngton, Robert Personesune of Byshebury of Esyngton, John Charles, Richard de Chelle, Ithel Poker, Thomas de Stretton of Esnyngton, Robert Knyght of Stretton, Agnes wife of Ralph de Byshebury, Thomas son of Richard Pecok, Petronilla sister of Thomas, and Alice daughter of Margery le Dene of Esnyngton and four others named, for the death of Robert her husband, and the Sheriff returned that none of them could be found and held nothing within his bailiwick. He was therefore ordered to put them into the exigend, and if they appeared, to arrest them and produce them Coram Rege at a month from Easter. m. 7.
...

Margaret the appellatrix also appeared and stated that Robert de Esnyngton formerly her husband, was in pace dei et in pace domini Regis in the vill of Esnyngton in co. Stafford on the Wednesday after the Feast of the Apostles St. Peter and Paul, 7 E. II., at the third hour on a piece of land contiguous to a garden called Berard Orchard, when the said John son of Roger de Swynnerton came up as a felon feloniously holding in his left hand a bow of Spanish yew, two ells in length, and of the thickness of four men's thumbs, and with a barbed arrow called a clotharewe which he held in his right hand, and with the said bow and arrow he shot Robert her husband through the heart, and of which wound he died within her arms, (fn. 1) etc.
...

And the same Margaret appealed Nicholas the brother of the said John of the death of Robert her husband, and stated that at the day, and place, and hour above named, the said Nicholas was present holding in his left hand a bow of Irish yew, and in his right hand a barbed arrow called a Doggearewe, and with the said bow and arrow he shot Robert her husband under the left breast, and of which he died immediately within her arms, and if the said Robert was not killed by the wound inflicted by the said John son of Roger de Swynnerton, he died of the wound inflicted by the said Nicholas, and the said Margaret immediately raised the hue and cry, etc. (as before).
...

And the same Margaret appealed Roger Personesone of Byshebury, of the death of Robert her husband, and stated that on the day and place named, he came feloniously, and with a bow called Turkeys of Spanish yew, one and a half ell in length, and with a barbed arrow called a Wolfare we made of ash and three-quarters of an ell in length, shot the said Robert her husband, wounding him under the right breast, and of which wound he died within her arms, and so that if he was not killed by the wounds made by the said John son of Roger, Nicholas, or John de Levyngton, he was killed by the wound inflicted by the said Roger Personesone, etc.

The same Margaret appealed John Charles of the death of Robert her husband, and stated that at the time and place named, he came feloniously with a bow made of elm, and with a barbed arrow called a Scotische arewe, which was made of a wood called in Romanis Boul, an ell in length, and feathered with the red feathers of a peacock, and shot the said Robert her husband in the back, and if he was not killed by the wounds inflicted by the others above named, then he died of the wound inflicted by the said John Charles, etc.

The same Margaret appealed Richard de Chelle of the death of her husband, and stated that at the hour and place named, he came feloniously with a bow made of Irish yew, and with a barbed arrow called a Scotische arewe, shot the said Robert her husband in the stomach below the navel, so that he died immediately within her arms, and if he did not die of the wounds inflicted, etc. (as before).


---------------

So we have four different arrows:

clotharewe - "cloth-yard" arrow?
Doggearewe - "dog" arrow?
Wolfare - "wolf" arrow?
Scotische arewe - "Scottish" arrow?

Any ideas on how these might have differed?

Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books


Last edited by Dan Howard on Sun 14 Mar, 2021 5:24 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Sun 14 Mar, 2021 4:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I found this inventory dating a century later.

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/291663dc-5852-4b0a-b814-a660ffd4c461

(Annunciation, 10 Hen V); at Notewyll, Inventory of arrows, Sir John Dynham, 25th March, 1422.

Inventory of arrows
Sir John Dynham, knight = (1)
William Michell, servant of (1) = (2)

Indenture testifying that (1) has delivered to (2) at Notewyll various items of archery (parcelle archerie) to keep, namely:

'Ferst a doseyn of pocokke arwys nywe ybounde yn tweyne placys wyth golde & sylke and wyth whyte horne nokkys yhedyth wyth sperhedys; and 1 doseyn of pocokke arwys nywe wyth whyte horne nokkys, ylayde yn thre placys wyth golde foyle yn the federys, yhedyth wyth sperhedys; and xiii arwys of pocokke, the scheftys nywe and the federys olde, yhedyth wyth sperhedys; and 1 doseyn arwys of whyte gose, ybounde wyth rede & blak sylke, yhedyth wyth byker; and 1 doseyn arwys of whyte gose, ybounde wyth golde & rede & blak sylke, yhedyth wyth byker; and xxiiii scheftys of whyte gose, ybounde wyth golde & rede sylke; and xlviii scheftys of whyte gose, ybounde wyth rede & blak sylke, alle of on sorte; and ix hole scheuys & xx arwys olde & febell of grey gose, alle of on sorte, yhedyth wyth dokebyll hedys; and vi arwys of pocokke, olde & ybounde wyth golde of seprys & rede & blak sylk, wyth blak horne nokkys, yhedyth wyth dokebyll; and 1 doseyn of pocokke arwys wyth blak horne nokkys, ybounde wyth golde & rede & blak sylke, yhedyth wyth dokebyll; and xxi pocokke arwys, the nokkys ypoudart therof, olde & forwered yhedyth wyth dokebyll; and xxii pocokke arwys olde & febell, the nokkys ypoudart, ii therof tobroke, yhedyth wyth dokebyll; and xxiiii pocokke arwys wyth blak horne nokkys, olde & forwered yhedyth wyth dokebyll; and xxii pocokke arwys olde and forwered, som wyth blak horne nokkys & som onne honne & som tobroke, yhedyth wyth dokebyll; and 1 doseyn of pocokke arwys, som the nokkys ypoudart & som onne poudart, yhedyth wyth dokebyll; and xxvi scheftys of diuerse federyng, som therof pocokke, som whyte gose, som grey gose; and vi whyte arwys yhedyth wyth byker; and v smale pocokke arwys yhedyth wyth byker; and xvii brode hokede arwys of pocokke, olde and febell, alle of on sorte; and xii brode hokede arwys of pocokke of another sorte; and xii brode hokede arwys of pocokke of another sorte; and iiii brode hokede arwys of pocokke ylayde yn the federys, alle wyth golde foyle; and x brode hokede arwys of whyte swanne; and xiii boltys of pocokke of on sorte; and viii boltys of pocokke of another sorte, v therof pere hedys and thre brode hedes; and xii nywe sperhedys.'


Looks like five different arrowheads.

1. "spearhead"
2. "byker"
3. "duckbill"
4. "broadhead"
5. "broad hooked"

"Byker" means to harass or irritate so this is likely the flight arrow that Henry Barrett recommended to "gall the enemy at range".

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Jonathan Dean




Location: Australia
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PostPosted: Tue 16 Mar, 2021 1:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have a few thoughts.

At the time of Edward I the "ulne/ulnam/ulnas" was more likely to be 36 inches, rather than 45. A fifteenth century manuscript containing definitions of weights and measures from Edward I (Ronald E. Zupko dates it to c.1272) defines the "ulnam" as being three feet, each of 12 inches (Select Tracts and Table Books Relating to English Weights and Measures (1100-1742) by Hubert Hall and Frieda J. Nicholas (pp. 7), and A Dictionary of Weights and Measures for the British Isles: The Middle Ages To the Twentieth Century by Ronald E. Zupko (pp. 120)). It's something to keep in mind when looking at the lengths of the bows and the arrows.

Also on the topic of definitions, "byker" means "battle", rather than "harass or irritate", according to the Middle English Dictionary. The OED suggests that the phrase could be applied specifically to missile troops shooting before the hand to hand fighting began, and the examples they provide contextually seem to mean "shot" rather than "harassed". I'd be inclined to translate "byker" as "battle" or "military" in the context of arrows as a result. I also think that the context of Henry Barrett's mention that "I wishe" that 8 of them them be "flighter" than the others is a proposed change to the standard practice rather than a record of it, since he says that they are to "gall and annoythe enimyes farder of then the usuall custom of the sheafe arrowes". The personal desire of the lighter arrows being added combined with an explanation of their purpose says "reform" rather than "standard practice" to me.

In terms of evidence, I can offer the details on the murder of Simon de Skeffington:

Quote:
...felons shot the said Simon de Skeftington with an arrow from a bow, the arrow being barbed with an iron arrowhead 3 inches long and 2 broad, and the fletch of the said arrow was made of ash of a ell long and 1 inch thick, the said fletch being feathered with peacock's feathers, and the bow being of yew, and the bowstring of hemp, the length of the bow being one ell and a half, and in gross circumference 6 inches, with a length of bowstring of a fathom and a half, and in thickness half an inch, and with that arrow gave him a blow on the left side under the pap, three inches from the said pap, descending two inches into the flank, the length of the blow 3 inches, the breadth 2 inches and the depth 6 inches, so that he immediately died of the blow...


(S.H. Skillington and G.F. Farnham. "The Skeffingtons of Skeffington" Leicestershire Archaeological Society Journal, Vol.XVI. (pp. 113))

I'm not entirely sure how to process arrow lengths, as an ell (36") - also present in an order for arrows from Edward III - is really too long for a practical arrow. Edward IV set the minimum length of an arrow for English settlers in Ireland at "three quarters of the standard", which was almost certainly 3/4 of a yard based on a late 15th century merchant handbook (see Select Tracts (pp. 14)), so that suggests a draw length that matches the Westminster Abbey arrow. French practice, based on Le Livre du Roi Modus et de la Reine Ratio and the Livre de Chasse, seems to have been to measure to the barbs of hunting arrows, but I'm not entirely sure whether Roi Modus is measuring to the base of the barbs or, as with the Livre de Chasse, to their start, since it has arrows that are two "poignes" longer than the latter (10 instead of 8).

Regarding the types of arrows used in Robert's murder, Richard Wadge (Who Were the Bowmen of Crecy? suggests that the arrows weren't all distinct types of arrows but, mostly being "barbed" arrows, were just given vicious sounding names as a rhetorical device. There may be more subtle variations that we can't tell from the record - at least two categories of arrowheads in Sir John Dynham's inventory seem to be barbed arrowheads, and possibly three depending on what "duckbill" means - but I'm not sure if we can match them with the archaeological record without the context of lived experience.
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