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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Fri 03 Aug, 2012 9:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

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His key pieces are a bowstave 49” long and arrow 24” long dated circa 1200 excavated at Waterford, Ireland (p. 334: but were these handbows or crossbows?) and two English legal records from around the year 1300 which mention bows a yard and a half long (p. 335-336: but one of these is marked as “Turkish” ie. composite or recurved).


OK, I am familiar with that. I'd say these are more the middle period of the middle ages. The Irish finds could be Irish, Welsh, or Norman, we don't know. IIRC the Irish were using "short bows" in the 15th-16th centuries, maybe these were the precursors.

Could be a hunting or child/woman's bow, though I think this is more unlikely.

As far as the legal records, I think they are both called "turkish" bows, which to me means the composite bow was known in Europe, though not widely used, perhaps more of an assasins weapon as it's not as cumbersome. This is not a huge suprise to me though, as composite crossbows were also in use during this time in Europe.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sun 05 Aug, 2012 3:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kurt Scholz wrote:
The problem with all kinds of bows were large shields. As soon as the enemy has enough shields as an inexpensive armour, he can move up to any formation of bowmen and engage them in close combat. The crossbow is part of this system of large shields, adding a precise long range missile weapon that does allow additional ranks to influence close combat (not disorganized melée) by shooting at any opening gap. It's very important for such a combined arms idea to be a trained team and fellow crossbowmen are good for that task. It's not required of the crossbowmen in the front ranks to be outstanding fighters, just hold the line and let the shooters further back do the killing.


Any primary sources to back up this hypothesis? It doesn't sound like anything I've read or heard about medieval infantry crossbowmen, so I feel the obligation to remain very skeptical until I see some contemporary corroboration (not just modern speculation/extrapolation) that medieval crossbowmen were supposed to be able to use their missiles to support their own front ranks in close combat. The closest thing I've ever heard of this was of Tang Chinese crossbowmen who were equipped with a sword or short polearm so that they could defend themselves against an unexpected rush or charge in support of more conventional close-combat troops, but that's hundreds of years and many thousands of miles away (not to mention that the interpretation of the Tang Dynasty texts is still subject to dispute).


Gary Teuscher wrote:
There may be some exceptions to the idea that missile trrops are not good in close combat - anyone know of any? And by missile, I mean bows, crossbows or slings, not javelin users.


English longbowmen. But that's exactly what they are--an exception. Contemporaries noted their unusual eagerness to join (or, rather, lack of eagerness to avoid) close combat with their bucklers and large swords.


Gary Teuscher wrote:
You know the one thing we know little of (at least to my knowledge) is how troops intermixed in a unit and how this made them function in combat.

We have little tidbits, such as one of the Byzantine Manuals that I think have heavy cavalry lancers mixed with archers - ranks 1,2, and 5 as lancer, 3 and 4 as archer. But we don't know a ton about how this worked among many other armies, if someone does please enlighten me.


The Byzantines liked this. A lot. Our best source for a similar formation is the Nikephorian Byzantine infantry formation (so called because it's theoretically based upon the manual attributed to the emperor Nikephoros Phokas) whereby several ranks of archers were sandwiched between front and rear ranks of spearmen/pikemen. Seriously, I'd call this a "sandwich" rather than "intermixed." This seems to have been primarily an archery formation, with the spears/pikes being intended to protect the archers against attempts to engage them in close combat and perhaps to finish off enemy formations worn down to the breaking point by the archers' missiles. "Seems" being the key word here. Byzantine battle accounts don't really have that much information on how specific units engaged the enemy so there's not much data to help us judge whether the Nikephorian regulations were actually implemented in the field.

And then there's Richard I (of England) and his crossbowmen at Jaffa; accidents of terrain seemed to have enabled these crossbowmen to shoot even as the men-at-arms and other heavy infantry in front of them engaged the enemy hand-to-hand.

Finally, the Burgundian Ordonnances stipulate a formation whereby longbowmen would be sandwiched or encircled by pikemen, but we don't seem to have any evidence of this method being actually put into practice in battle.

That's for primarily missile-oriented formations with a protective "icing" of close-combat troops around the edges. The opposite model--of a close-combat core with a rather amorphous "cloud" of skirmishers hovering around it--was so common that it's hardly worth mentioning. If Roman velites and Greek akontistai were not enough, just look at almost any medieval battle illustration and you'll find the missile-men hanging around the flanks of the men-at-arms (or some other type of heavy infantry) and sometimes roaming the no man's land when the opposing lines are drawn some distance apart.
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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Mon 06 Aug, 2012 12:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Kurt Scholz wrote:
The problem with all kinds of bows were large shields. As soon as the enemy has enough shields as an inexpensive armour, he can move up to any formation of bowmen and engage them in close combat. The crossbow is part of this system of large shields, adding a precise long range missile weapon that does allow additional ranks to influence close combat (not disorganized melée) by shooting at any opening gap. It's very important for such a combined arms idea to be a trained team and fellow crossbowmen are good for that task. It's not required of the crossbowmen in the front ranks to be outstanding fighters, just hold the line and let the shooters further back do the killing.


Any primary sources to back up this hypothesis? It doesn't sound like anything I've read or heard about medieval infantry crossbowmen, so I feel the obligation to remain very skeptical until I see some contemporary corroboration (not just modern speculation/extrapolation) that medieval crossbowmen were supposed to be able to use their missiles to support their own front ranks in close combat. The closest thing I've ever heard of this was of Tang Chinese crossbowmen who were equipped with a sword or short polearm so that they could defend themselves against an unexpected rush or charge in support of more conventional close-combat troops, but that's hundreds of years and many thousands of miles away (not to mention that the interpretation of the Tang Dynasty texts is still subject to dispute).

Gary Teuscher wrote:
You know the one thing we know little of (at least to my knowledge) is how troops intermixed in a unit and how this made them function in combat.

We have little tidbits, such as one of the Byzantine Manuals that I think have heavy cavalry lancers mixed with archers - ranks 1,2, and 5 as lancer, 3 and 4 as archer. But we don't know a ton about how this worked among many other armies, if someone does please enlighten me.


The Byzantines liked this. A lot. Our best source for a similar formation is the Nikephorian Byzantine infantry formation (so called because it's theoretically based upon the manual attributed to the emperor Nikephoros Phokas) whereby several ranks of archers were sandwiched between front and rear ranks of spearmen/pikemen. Seriously, I'd call this a "sandwich" rather than "intermixed." This seems to have been primarily an archery formation, with the spears/pikes being intended to protect the archers against attempts to engage them in close combat and perhaps to finish off enemy formations worn down to the breaking point by the archers' missiles. "Seems" being the key word here. Byzantine battle accounts don't really have that much information on how specific units engaged the enemy so there's not much data to help us judge whether the Nikephorian regulations were actually implemented in the field.

And then there's Richard I (of England) and his crossbowmen at Jaffa; accidents of terrain seemed to have enabled these crossbowmen to shoot even as the men-at-arms and other heavy infantry in front of them engaged the enemy hand-to-hand.

Finally, the Burgundian Ordonnances stipulate a formation whereby longbowmen would be sandwiched or encircled by pikemen, but we don't seem to have any evidence of this method being actually put into practice in battle.

That's for primarily missile-oriented formations with a protective "icing" of close-combat troops around the edges. The opposite model--of a close-combat core with a rather amorphous "cloud" of skirmishers hovering around it--was so common that it's hardly worth mentioning. If Roman velites and Greek akontistai were not enough, just look at almost any medieval battle illustration and you'll find the missile-men hanging around the flanks of the men-at-arms (or some other type of heavy infantry) and sometimes roaming the no man's land when the opposing lines are drawn some distance apart.


You explained it yourself below. Crossbowmen could do that, doesn't mean they did, my bad for not highlighting this. Best example would be the Hussite formations.
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Mon 06 Aug, 2012 11:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Byzantine battle accounts don't really have that much information on how specific units engaged the enemy so there's not much data to help us judge whether the Nikephorian regulations were actually implemented in the field.


That's the problem, we have some treatises giving perhapd hypothetical advice on how it should work, but little or no actual descriptions of performance on the battlefield.

Quote:
English longbowmen. But that's exactly what they are--an exception. Contemporaries noted their unusual eagerness to join (or, rather, lack of eagerness to avoid) close combat with their bucklers and large swords.


Willingness, yes, but they way they were equipped and armoured they seemed to be best and jumping an opponent that was already routing, or at least disorganized, like having to advance through adverse terrain and defensive works while under arrow fire. They seemd to be best jumping inot what was laready an unformed mellee.

Against cavalry and perhaps even infantry in the open - they seemed to have far worse results, given how they were ridden down easily by Scottish cavalry if not otherwise supported in the 13th-14th century conflicts, and it seems that when facing the French in the 100 years war they were at a great disadvantage again if in the open and not behind a prepared defensive postion.

But they did seem willing and agressive to a point - just my thoughts, but as they had at least a decent social standing in their culture they seemed better off from a morale standpoint than levied foot. and missile troops often came from those of lower standing in NW europe, other than specialists like the crossbowmen.

Sometime I think the growing effectiveness of archery had as much to do with the social standing of English Archers as much as anythng else.
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William P




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Aug, 2012 5:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescrip..._46_1_2225
its funny that just now i was researching the byzantine infantry
http://members.ozemail.com.au/~chrisandpeter/...archy.html and here

essentially the native byzantine infantry in nikopheran times had 4 elements
hoplitai (heavy infantry)
toxetai/ psiloi (archers)
akontistai (skirmisher javilineers
menaulatoi (heavy skirmisher infantry)

we had the infantry the 'hoplites' these were pikemen, equipped with the 4 meter kontarion pike, a shield, likely a round shield or a kite shield. also were equipped with a spathion and wearing a thick felt cap, and at the least a kavadion aka a long thick gambeson pls whatever else they decided to carry with them.

the archers were arranged as shown in the links, they probably had a hand axe, bow and maybe a much smaller shield maybe
next we had akontistai, these were the 'clouds' of javelineers and slingers etc

the last group was the most unique, the menaulatoi or 'menavlion bearers were a flying squad and can be best compared to the macedonan hypaspists , or the rodeleros, halberdiers of zweihander wielders of renaissance armies

the menaulatoi wielded te menavlion an 8 ft hewing spear with a blade a foot long, they are said to have a smaller shield then the regular pikemen as well, its also worth noting that the menavlion was a VERY stout spear i think the manuals reccomend using a whole sapling as the shaft

these acted in multiple roles, 1 running ahead of the phalanx to head of enemies and be aggressive in general,
2 plugging gaps between phalanxs when in the byzantine 'mobile fortress' formation of a large hollow box with gaps between phalanxes to allow the cavalry to sally back and forth.

the third function is why they have such thick spears, in the case of a head on attack by heavy cavalry, the menaulatoi form an extra rank in front of the leading rank of the regular pikemen, the manuals SPECIFICALLY tell these men to brace the butts of their menaulatoi against the ground to create a 'chevex de frise'
the extra tough menavlion spears are meant to be able to withstand charges that would otherwise shatter the shafts of the normal pikemen , period chronicalers mention that the menavlion bearers held fast even though the ontaria were broken and that allowed he phalanx to not be completely steamrolled.
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Wed 08 Aug, 2012 10:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thats a good reference for the Byzantine infantry, William.

Of course, the only thing it does not do is specifically describe how the archers organize themselves when loosing arrows. DO they do to the front of the formation and retreat behind it? Are the using indirect fire? DO they intermingle in the ranks and retreat before combat?

The author of the article gives some of his ideas regarding this but I do not believe the primary source does.
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Clifford Rogers





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PostPosted: Wed 08 Aug, 2012 12:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary Teuscher wrote:
Quote:
His key pieces are a bowstave 49” long and arrow 24” long dated circa 1200 excavated at Waterford, Ireland (p. 334: but were these handbows or crossbows?) and two English legal records from around the year 1300 which mention bows a yard and a half long (p. 335-336: but one of these is marked as “Turkish” ie. composite or recurved).


OK, I am familiar with that. I'd say these are more the middle period of the middle ages. The Irish finds could be Irish, Welsh, or Norman, we don't know. IIRC the Irish were using "short bows" in the 15th-16th centuries, maybe these were the precursors..


In addition to the one complete bowstave from Waterford there are fragments of six others and the archaeologist believes "the other surviving bowstaves were probably of much the same length" as the complete one. Similarly for the arrows. In addition, there is another bow of similar proportions which was excavated at Desmond Castle.The context suggests they were Anglo-Norman/Welsh, not Irish, though the Irish also used short bows--about half the length of English longbows-- in the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries, as we know from both iconographic and textual evidence.

Quote:

Could be a hunting or child/woman's bow, though I think this is more unlikely.

Found with clearly military arrows (identifiable by heads).

Quote:

As far as the legal records, I think they are both called "turkish" bows, which to me means the composite bow was known in Europe, though not widely used, perhaps more of an assasins weapon as it's not as cumbersome. This is not a huge suprise to me though, as composite crossbows were also in use during this time in Europe.


Actually neither of the 4'6" bows is called a Turkish bow, andboth are specified as being made of yew (the later one Spanish yew). The later document does also mention a bow "called Turkeys," loosing a 27" arrow, but its length is not specified.

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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Wed 08 Aug, 2012 1:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
The context suggests they were Anglo-Norman/Welsh, not Irish, though the Irish also used short bows--about half the length of English longbows-- in the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries, as we know from both iconographic and textual evidence.


Strongbow originally came to Irsh from an invitation from an Irish chieftan, Dermot MacMurchada. This was to help Dermot recover his kingdom. From this I think it is likley that Strongbow's force included native Irish.

I don' t think there is anything that really determines whether the bows are Norman, Irish, or Welsh.

As later Irish bows were shorter, this would mnake it a distinct possibility that the bows were Irish, as they were using shorter bows when the rest of Europe was using longer ones.
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Clifford Rogers





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PostPosted: Wed 08 Aug, 2012 4:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary Teuscher wrote:

Strongbow originally came to Irsh from an invitation from an Irish chieftan, Dermot MacMurchada. This was to help Dermot recover his kingdom. From this I think it is likley that Strongbow's force included native Irish.

I don' t think there is anything that really determines whether the bows are Norman, Irish, or Welsh.

As later Irish bows were shorter, this would mnake it a distinct possibility that the bows were Irish, as they were using shorter bows when the rest of Europe was using longer ones.


Strongbow brought lots of archers from South Wales. Waterford was an Anglo-Norman settlement and it would have been unusual to have native Irish archers inside it, though certainly not impossible.

The main point, however, is that the only European selfbows from the period 1000-1300 that we know the length of, from archaeological evidence or documentary evidence, are 4'6" or shorter, not longbows-- which also fits with the iconographic evidence. The are no clear artistic depictions of longbows until the 14th century.

For most of Europe, short and medium bows were the normal bows used in war for as long as bows continued to be used in war-- or so the iconographic evidence indicates. That's about all we have to work with, aside from various fifteenth and sixteenth-century statements by Continental Europeans that the English used "enormous" bows.
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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Aug, 2012 5:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think its likely that many of those authors are comparing English bows to crossbows and Turkish bows (in the modern sense) though. Those would be the bows that, say, a North Italian of the late 15th century would be familiar with.

One of the best things about Strickland's book is his emphasis that medieval European archery is bigger than the debate about the longbow and the Hundred Years' War, and that lots of people other than English and Welsh made and used longbows. If people with the right skills take him up on his challenge and start to look through Spanish port records and Italian legal archives, I think many things will be clearer in a decade or two.
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William P




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Aug, 2012 8:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary Teuscher wrote:
Thats a good reference for the Byzantine infantry, William.

Of course, the only thing it does not do is specifically describe how the archers organize themselves when loosing arrows. DO they do to the front of the formation and retreat behind it? Are the using indirect fire? DO they intermingle in the ranks and retreat before combat?

The author of the article gives some of his ideas regarding this but I do not believe the primary source does.


http://etd.ohiolink.edu/view.cgi/Westermeyer%...1152113453 heres one on archery, this one i think discusses an account of a battle to help explain things
heres another one on archery if you want more info might i reccoment the owner of the second website peter beatson, who has done a LOT of work on the byzantine military particularly in the 10th century...

also the 6th century byzantine manuals very specifically mention how archers shoould shoot, but this isnt the nikopheran army i THINK the manuscript im reading with this info is leos tactita so this is kind of justinians era
it also includes instructions on how to train arhcers including a special target for encouraging and measuring an archers progress to increase the POWER of his shots theres also instructins on how to train for increased accuracy, and for rate of fire.

you can find this in the book 'three byzantine military treatises' whch also has 2 10th century manuscripts, one on campaigning and the other on 'skrmishing' by skirmishing, it means raids, border security and the like.
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Thu 09 Aug, 2012 10:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
The main point, however, is that the only European selfbows from the period 1000-1300 that we know the length of, from archaeological evidence or documentary evidence, are 4'6" or shorter, not longbows-- which also fits with the iconographic evidence. The are no clear artistic depictions of longbows until the 14th century.


My issue with "short" bows being used by the Normans is as follows. We have two Scandanavian bowfinds from the Viking age, the Balinderry bow (Ironically found in Ireland) and the Hedeby bow from Denmark. I believe both are 10th century, though the Hedeby bow may be a bit more recent - I am unsure of it's date, but both are roughly 10th century weapons. Both are estimated at a 100 pound draw or heavier, the Hedeby estimated to be a fair amount over 100 pounds. Both are over 6' in length, 6'1" and 6"3 inches. Length and draweight are very comparable to later longbows. They are a few inches below average in length to the Mary Rose Bows, but right in line in length to other found english longbows.

The Normans were Scandanavians, probably with a heavy Danish mix, settling Normandy in the 10th century, the same century of the Viking bowfinds.

For the 48" inch bows you mention to be a standard Norman bow, The Normans would have had to have dropped their traditional 6'+ bows in preference for a shorter 48" bow, and all of this occurring prior to Hastings. And to my knowledge, there have been none of these 48" bows found in France or Normandy from this time period.

This does not make sense to me. It is an improbability to me, though not an impossibility.

The biggest issue though, and why it is speculation IMO, is that there have not been enough bow finds, and we do not have enough evidence for any true conclusion.

I could go on regarding the pictorial evidence, but to keep it short I'll say that artistic styles had changed by the 14th century. The abstract illustrations of the 10-12th century were replaced by a more realistic illustrating method. I'd hate to use things such as the Bayeaux tapestry as evidence based on sclae of size. If so, Edward the Confessor is about 8 feet tall when speaking to Harold, if Harold was 6 feet tall or a bit shorter.

And one of the iconographic "evidences" is of a Spanish soldier, indeed holding a shorter bow. But the bow is also a recurve, which would indicate a composite bow likley from Moorish influence.

I might add, this Norman from the Bayeaux tapestry has a pretty good sized bow. And if we look at it to be scale, a very very thick one as well. PLus he has awful big hands for his size -

http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&sa=X&a...s:18,i:144
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Clifford Rogers





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PostPosted: Thu 09 Aug, 2012 4:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary Teuscher wrote:

My issue with "short" bows being used by the Normans is as follows. We have two Scandanavian bowfinds from the Viking age, the Balinderry bow (Ironically found in Ireland) and the Hedeby bow from Denmark. I believe both are 10th century, though the Hedeby bow may be a bit more recent - I am unsure of it's date, but both are roughly 10th century weapons. Both are estimated at a 100 pound draw or heavier, the Hedeby estimated to be a fair amount over 100 pounds. Both are over 6' in length, 6'1" and 6"3 inches. Length and draweight are very comparable to later longbows. They are a few inches below average in length to the Mary Rose Bows, but right in line in length to other found english longbows.

The Normans were Scandanavians, probably with a heavy Danish mix, settling Normandy in the 10th century, the same century of the Viking bowfinds.

For the 48" inch bows you mention to be a standard Norman bow, The Normans would have had to have dropped their traditional 6'+ bows in preference for a shorter 48" bow, and all of this occurring prior to Hastings.


4'6" is 54", not 48". That's the sort of bow, +/- (close to shoulder high) that is both shown in the main panel of the Bayeux Tapestry and recorded in an English legal document of the late 13th c., and in many other artistic depictions.

Gary Teuscher wrote:
And to my knowledge, there have been none of these 48" bows found in France or Normandy from this time period.


Correct. As I said, the only bows of any sort that have been found in Europe dating from the 11th c. through the 14th are the Irish ones, which are around 48".


Gary Teuscher wrote:
I could go on regarding the pictorial evidence, but to keep it short I'll say that artistic styles had changed by the 14th century. The abstract illustrations of the 10-12th century were replaced by a more realistic illustrating method. I'd hate to use things such as the Bayeaux tapestry as evidence based on sclae of size. If so, Edward the Confessor is about 8 feet tall when speaking to Harold, if Harold was 6 feet tall or a bit shorter.


That's the argument Strickland and Hardy make. But I base my conclusions on literally hundreds of medieval artistic representations. By the mid-thirteenth century there are plenty of artists with good mastery of proportion, but no longbows until the 14th (and quite a few shortbows still thereafer). E.g. see BL Add MSS 35166 fo 36v; Bodleian Douce 180 p. 13; BN Ms FR 403 fo. 7v; the Macclesfield Psalter fo. 36r; BL Royal 2 B VII facsimile plates 24, 103, 242, 272; BL Yates Thompson 13 fo. 187v and 192. (And even much earlier some artists had good command of proportion.) Even the BT, in the main panel--the only part worth considsering for this question-- is fine. It wouldn't lead you to conclude that swords were 2' or 5' long, or that kite shields stood 6' high. Or that Norman bows were 6' tall.


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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Aug, 2012 4:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary Teuscher wrote:

I might add, this Norman from the Bayeaux tapestry has a pretty good sized bow. And if we look at it to be scale, a very very thick one as well. PLus he has awful big hands for his size -

http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&sa=X&a...s:18,i:144


Assuming that the proportions are correct then it looks taller than shoulder height to me.
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Clifford Rogers





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PostPosted: Fri 10 Aug, 2012 4:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Gary Teuscher wrote:

I might add, this Norman from the Bayeaux tapestry has a pretty good sized bow. And if we look at it to be scale, a very very thick one as well. PLus he has awful big hands for his size -



Assuming that the proportions are correct then it looks taller than shoulder height to me.


That's from the lower panel, and the proportions evidently are NOT correct, as Gary's post said-- huge hands, one leg bigger than the other, etc. So since the bow shown would be a longbow if judged relative to the height of the archer, but a shortbow judged by the hand-over-hand method (which actually was used in the c14), this image cannuot be used even as part of a package of evidence to say one way or another what type of bow was in use... though the two-finger draw and the draw to the chest mean that even if he did have a longbow, it would not have the increment of power derived from the long draw to the ear that is the main advantage of having a longbow-- the extra punch for armor penetration. The five archers in the main panel, by contrast, do have natural proportions, and are clearly not using longbows.

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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Fri 10 Aug, 2012 8:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
the draw to the chest mean that even if he did have a longbow, it would not have the increment of power derived from the long draw to the ear that is the main advantage of having a longbow


To my knowledge we having nothing indicating these bows were drawn to the chest other than pictorial evidence, and this is of the abstract type art from the early middle ages. I wonder how accurate this draw to the chest is or if it is merely a convenient method of illustration, much in the way there are a few ways that were used to illustrate mail but none of these methods gives a great rendition of what mail actually was.

Have there been any finds of arrows from this time period? I'd think that could define the draw issue. Finds of 30" or so arrows would clarify the drawlength issue.

The thing that makes it toughest for me to believe the bows of the Norman period were 54" in length is again, the thought that they would abandon the bows they were using in the 10th century at least, and trade these in for a shorter less powerful bow.

It just does not seem to make sense, though I guess it could possibly have happened. I'd still think they would have kept the tradition that was in force 100 years before Hastings.

ETA - I have read arrows Found in the Nydam vessel were up to 36 inches in length, cetainly as long as Mary Rose arrows, which would indicate a long draw, though this is of course centuries prior to the Viking or Norman age.
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Jan Boucký




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PostPosted: Fri 10 Aug, 2012 11:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Gary Teuscher wrote:

I might add, this Norman from the Bayeaux tapestry has a pretty good sized bow. And if we look at it to be scale, a very very thick one as well. PLus he has awful big hands for his size -

http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&sa=X&a...s:18,i:144


Assuming that the proportions are correct then it looks taller than shoulder height to me.
¨

Sorry Dan, but this discussion is under my opinion relatively fruitless, because in Hastings 1066 Anglo-saxon guys were fighting in a shieldwall, so from the tactical perspective it is only about range and midbow/shortbow/longbow question is negligible. In fact length of bows on the Bayeux tepestry seems to me very similar to any other depictions of the guys from period 1000-1200. Primarily painters had problems wth proportions - i.e. body, heads, weapons and etc. and one might expect that war-bows were more powerfull than bows for example for hunting. Just a note we cannot also forget that in these years majority of warriors had at maximum helmet + some textile armours and chainmail was bloody expensive....... Cool
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Clifford Rogers





Joined: 11 Mar 2012

Posts: 40

PostPosted: Fri 10 Aug, 2012 11:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary Teuscher wrote:
Quote:
the draw to the chest mean that even if he did have a longbow, it would not have the increment of power derived from the long draw to the ear that is the main advantage of having a longbow


To my knowledge we having nothing indicating these bows were drawn to the chest other than pictorial evidence, and this is of the abstract type art from the early middle ages. I wonder how accurate this draw to the chest is or if it is merely a convenient method of illustration, much in the way there are a few ways that were used to illustrate mail but none of these methods gives a great rendition of what mail actually was.

Have there been any finds of arrows from this time period? I'd think that could define the draw issue. Finds of 30" or so arrows would clarify the drawlength issue.

The thing that makes it toughest for me to believe the bows of the Norman period were 54" in length is again, the thought that they would abandon the bows they were using in the 10th century at least, and trade these in for a shorter less powerful bow.

It just does not seem to make sense, though I guess it could possibly have happened. I'd still think they would have kept the tradition that was in force 100 years before Hastings.

ETA - I have read arrows Found in the Nydam vessel were up to 36 inches in length, cetainly as long as Mary Rose arrows, which would indicate a long draw, though this is of course centuries prior to the Viking or Norman age.


The draw to the chest is not necessarily easy to depict. There's another short draw often shown where the right elbow is pointing up into the air... including in well-executed fourteenth and fifteenth century paintings and manuscript illuminations, not just early medieval ones. You are correct, however, that there is no evidence for the short draw except (lots of) artistic evidence... and short arrows (the ones about 24" found in Ireland, and the one 3/4 of a yard [27"] used to murder Simon de Skeffington on 22 march 1297 [from a bow 1.5 yards long, yew, with a circumference of six inches], and the other one also 3/4 of a yard long in the Robert de Esnyngton murder indictment of 1313.

"It doesn't make sense that they would" is something that has often been said in reference to the abandonment of the longbow in favor of the musket, yet no one doubts the longbow was abandoned in favor of the musket.

Also, bear in mind that the Norman archers in 1066 would have been mostly or entirely descendants of the French peasants of Normandy, not of the Norsemen who settled under Rollo.

If longbows were in use right along, why is there so much evidence from between 1000 and 1300 that arrows from bows were much less effective against armored opponents than [wooden or composite] crossbows, indeed simply ineffective, whereas English longbows of the c14 were quite effective against mailed enemies?

And if it doesn't make sense that people would start using shorter bows between 1000 and 1066, how does it make sense that the Irish were using 4' bows in the twelfth century (as archaeological evidence shows) or that some Englishmen were using 4'6" bows in 1297 and 1313 (as documentary evidence shows).

Clifford J. Rogers
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Jan Boucký




Location: Czech Republic
Joined: 20 Jul 2012

Posts: 15

PostPosted: Fri 10 Aug, 2012 11:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Clifford Rogers wrote:
Gary Teuscher wrote:
Quote:
the draw to the chest mean that even if he did have a longbow, it would not have the increment of power derived from the long draw to the ear that is the main advantage of having a longbow


To my knowledge we having nothing indicating these bows were drawn to the chest other than pictorial evidence, and this is of the abstract type art from the early middle ages. I wonder how accurate this draw to the chest is or if it is merely a convenient method of illustration, much in the way there are a few ways that were used to illustrate mail but none of these methods gives a great rendition of what mail actually was.

Have there been any finds of arrows from this time period? I'd think that could define the draw issue. Finds of 30" or so arrows would clarify the drawlength issue.

The thing that makes it toughest for me to believe the bows of the Norman period were 54" in length is again, the thought that they would abandon the bows they were using in the 10th century at least, and trade these in for a shorter less powerful bow.

It just does not seem to make sense, though I guess it could possibly have happened. I'd still think they would have kept the tradition that was in force 100 years before Hastings.

ETA - I have read arrows Found in the Nydam vessel were up to 36 inches in length, cetainly as long as Mary Rose arrows, which would indicate a long draw, though this is of course centuries prior to the Viking or Norman age.


The draw to the chest is not necessarily easy to depict. There's another short draw often shown where the right elbow is pointing up into the air... including in well-executed fourteenth and fifteenth century paintings and manuscript illuminations, not just early medieval ones. You are correct, however, that there is no evidence for the short draw except (lots of) artistic evidence... and short arrows (the ones about 24" found in Ireland, and the one 3/4 of a yard [27"] used to murder Simon de Skeffington on 22 march 1297 [from a bow 1.5 yards long, yew, with a circumference of six inches], and the other one also 3/4 of a yard long in the Robert de Esnyngton murder indictment of 1313.

"It doesn't make sense that they would" is something that has often been said in reference to the abandonment of the longbow in favor of the musket, yet no one doubts the longbow was abandoned in favor of the musket.

Also, bear in mind that the Norman archers in 1066 would have been mostly or entirely descendants of the French peasants of Normandy, not of the Norsemen who settled under Rollo.

If longbows were in use right along, why is there so much evidence from between 1000 and 1300 that arrows from bows were much less effective against armored opponents than [wooden or composite] crossbows, indeed simply ineffective, whereas English longbows of the c14 were quite effective against mailed enemies?

And if it doesn't make sense that people would start using shorter bows between 1000 and 1066, how does it make sense that the Irish were using 4' bows in the twelfth century (as archaeological evidence shows) or that some Englishmen were using 4'6" bows in 1297 and 1313 (as documentary evidence shows).



Clifford, thank you for your comment, but I have got some points to discuss:

a) English longbows of 14c are reletively really powerfull, but I have never found an information, if the battle-effectivness was based on the number of killed horses or men - I would expect that in 1346 in Crecy French knights had some coat of arms or so.......perhaps its more about tactical deployment than armour piercing capability.....,

b) Irish bows - nothing special against Irish, but forumites are really often from the US and sometimes forgetting that Ireland was in Middle Ages really a country on the edge of civilasition in some aspects the same is valid also for England, so it does not surprise that for example they used in 12-13 c. longer bows, because crossbows were in these times expensive high-tech weapons..... Wink
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Gary Teuscher





Joined: 19 Nov 2008

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PostPosted: Fri 10 Aug, 2012 11:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
"It doesn't make sense that they would" is something that has often been said in reference to the abandonment of the longbow in favor of the musket, yet no one doubts the longbow was abandoned in favor of the musket.


Yeah, I'd agree, things often happen that make little sense. But reducing bow length is not going to a new technology as with firearms - and it is changing a traditon of archery, and traditions are often the things that make change less likely to occur.

Quote:
Also, bear in mind that the Norman archers in 1066 would have been mostly or entirely descendants of the French peasants of Normandy, not of the Norsemen who settled under Rollo.


I don't agree with this, but I'n not entirely disagreeing. Military traditon has those with at least some social standing (meaning lands usually) providing the service. Add to this that for an invasion, local militias would be less likely to participate, the troops being more "professional" (look at he English longbowmen as a for instance - they were generally minor land holders, certainly not "noble" but somewhat well of compared to the majority of the peasantry). Rollo's men would have been given land in Normandy from Rollo. Not all would be Miles. The troops that provided archers could well have been descended from Rollo's men.

Quote:
(the ones about 24" found in Ireland, and the one 3/4 of a yard [27"] used to murder Simon de Skeffington on 22 march 1297 [from a bow 1.5 yards long, yew, with a circumference of six inches], and the other one also 3/4 of a yard long in the Robert de Esnyngton murder indictment of 1313.


Well, 27 inches is certainly not a short arrow by any means. The most common length of Mary Rose arrow was 29.5 inches.

The 24" arrows in Ireland - are those from the same Waterford find? If so, this makes me think that in likelyhood the bows and arrows found were Irish, as they are abut the shortest arrows found, and combined with this:

Quote:
how does it make sense that the Irish were using 4' bows in the twelfth century (as archaeological evidence shows)


as well as a later Irsh traditon of a "short" bow is why I think they are more likley Irish weapons.

Could be welsh as well - we really have no information on welsh bows. They may indeed have had the same archery tradition as the Irish, using a shorter bow. Perhaps this is part of the Celtic archery tradition.

Quote:
If longbows were in use right along, why is there so much evidence from between 1000 and 1300 that arrows from bows were much less effective against armored opponents than [wooden or composite] crossbows, indeed simply ineffective, whereas English longbows of the c14 were quite effective against mailed enemies?


Where does the "quite effective against mailed enemies" come from? And we really don't know to my knowledge that these self bows were that much less effective. I do think however the amount of archers deployed in an english army changed, and having many more archers makes the archery more effective.

For that matter, we have Gerald of Wales late 12th Century of an Welsh arrow passing through an armoured leg of a knight and linning him to his horse - which would not be possible without a bow that was very capable of penetrating armour. This also makes it questionable if the welsh had the same archery tradition as the Irish.
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