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The long bow

  1. Mar 5, 2007 #1

    wolram

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  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 5, 2007 #2

    Astronuc

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    Here is an interesting article if one can find it - The Origin of the Long-Bow. I could sware that we have discussed this before.

    Here is another interesting source - The English Bowman by T. Roberts, 1801.
    http://www.archerylibrary.com/books/english_bowman/index.html


    The British army: its origin, progress, and equipment A digitized copy of an old book. Chapter III is on English archers. It attributes the introduction of the bow in England to the Normans. Ostensibly the English then perfected the long bow.
     
  4. Mar 5, 2007 #3

    wolram

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    To my mind there are still questions to ask, ie why did only the English
    adopt the long bow, i know it took years of training to use one, but when
    the advantage of there use was obvious other countries could catch up,
    it is not as if there use and manufacture was a secret known only to the English.
     
  5. Mar 6, 2007 #4
    Wasnt it because of the wood that was used to make the longbow, is native to the UK. I cant remember the name of the tree, but i think it had some elastic properties that other wood did not. Thus the longbows made in England were more effective
     
  6. Mar 6, 2007 #5
    Its the "yew" tree (havent a clue how to spell it, Pronounced *U*)
     
  7. Mar 6, 2007 #6
    It is also a matter of national politics. The English made regular Archery training mandatory for all males of fighting age. This was the beginnings of a professionally trained army.
    Other countries stayed with the gather the peasants when required method so they used bows simpler to use in untrained hands.
    Most other weapoins in use at the same are just modified farm implements, only the knights and seasoned soldiers would have carried swords, the majority of infantry carried bill hooks and other similar long reach farm implements.

    The argument of what is better a large untrained army or a small trained army has gone back and forth ever since.You still see it in the British Army which is very small but highly effective versus most other nations where they still have national service. but when it comes to long extended campaigns we are seriously over stretched.
     
  8. Mar 6, 2007 #7
    It was the combination of Yew and Ash as a laminate that gave the English long bow it's amazing capabilities.
    most other nations used single wood bows but could not get the spring and strength from a single type of wood.
    I think Yew qives spring and Ash gives strength.
     
  9. Mar 6, 2007 #8

    wolram

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    No, in the first article it states that, the best Yew came from Spain or Italy.
     
  10. Mar 6, 2007 #9

    Astronuc

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    My post above mentions that bows were believed to be introduced to Britain by the Normans (after 1066), however I just watched a program on the Saxons who drove the Britons westward during the 5th century.

    A king (mythical?) Ambrosius Aurelianus made a stand at Mount Badon (Mons Badonicus) near what is now Bath, and one his warriors was supposedly Arthur (who may be the basis of the legendary Arthur). Anyway, the program showed the Britons using bows and arrows - 600 years before the Normans.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Mons_Badonicus
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bath,_Somerset#Post-Roman_and_Saxon

    The Britons apparently learned archery from the Romans.

    Or did each invading tribe introduce its own version of archery.

    Now it's interesting that the Romans and Greeks knew archery, and the Huns also were excellent archers. Other tribes tended to favor spears, clubs/maces, hammers, or swords. I am starting to think that northern tribes (surrounded by coniferous forests) seem to have favored spears, hammers or swords, whereas southern tribes (surrounded by deciduous trees) employed bow and arrow, in addition to sword and spear.

    On the other hand, I could be totally wrong on this -
    http://www.history.com/encyclopedia.do?articleId=201396

    The Romans were certainly in Briton before the Saxons.

    So did the Celts bring archery to England?


    Hmmmm.

    Anyway - this is interesting - http://www.atarn.org/chinese/scythian_bows.htm
    The Scythian bow is like that of the Huns - with the ends folded away from the archer which required a shorter draw. The Huns didn't have to stand braced on the ground, but could rapidly fire from horseback which gave them a tactical advantage in battle.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2007
  11. Mar 6, 2007 #10

    wolram

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    Astro, it may be that the bow originated in china, (so many things did), but maybe the English were the first to use of it for mass slaughter in warfare.
     
  12. Mar 6, 2007 #11

    Astronuc

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    Well that's an interesting idea, wolram. I just found this -
    Archery - http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761551756/Archery.html - before I found your post.

    No citations are provided.

    I think the Chinese used archery in full scale warfare - particularly in the period of Warring States - http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/warringstates.htm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warring_States_Period
    http://www.cic.sfu.ca/nacrp/articles/leihaizong/leihaitsung.html (some reasonably good background here)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_of_Zhao

    Now the Huns were a problem, even in 500-400BC, and they practice horse archery (on horseback).

    There are some really good references out there, but they required subscriptions or visit to certain libraries.

    I also have several texts on Chinese history and culture I could consult.
     
  13. Mar 7, 2007 #12
    Surely the bow originated in Mezolithoic times and was traded across the world. By the time the english perfected the long bow, they had a few thousand years of bow development and lots of ideas from invading/trading nations.
     
  14. Mar 7, 2007 #13

    turbo

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    Today, we think of archers and conjure images of sharp-shooters, but that is not the case. Archers using the long-bow and arrows with solid conical-shaped tips were volley weapons, able to lay down withering fire of armor-piecing projectiles. Individual accuracy was not as important as the ability to draw, hold, and release on command. Those bows were very powerful and would have been hard to hold at full draw without practice and good physical conditioning.
     
  15. Mar 7, 2007 #14
    I wouldnt agree with that, the long bow was very accurate in comparison to other weapons around. It was supposedly the most accurate weapon ever used, up until American invented the rifle with a twisted barrel.
     
  16. Mar 7, 2007 #15

    turbo

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    I did not say that the long bow was not an accurate weapon. In the hands of experts, it certainly was. Its tactical value on a battlefield was that heavy volleys of arrows could be fired on massed infantry and cavalry, and archers could be moved around very quickly, since their weaponry and gear were relatively light. In such a situation, the archers were not engaged in discretionary shooting, but would fire volleys against masses of troops on command.

    Until the Revolutionary War, musketeers were used in this manner, as well. Many of the Colonists had learned the tactics of the Rangers during the French and Indian Wars, however, and had learned to take cover and engage in discretionary fire instead of volleys. In such situations, the accuracy of the militia man and his firearm were critical to success. During the Civil War, both sides took this tactic to another level and used snipers to take out high-value targets, such as officers. The Federal snipers were often equipped with Berdans, while the Confederates used the far superior British Whitworth rifle with a polygonal bore, often fitted with a Davidson scope. Still, the average infantryman was usually equipped with a smoothbore musket. Not very accurate, but effective in volley firing (still the predominant form of assault), especially when loaded with "buck and ball" instead of a single projectile.

    Regarding rifled barrels on firearms, the Europeans had experimented with rifling barrels for centuries before us Yanks found ways to automate their manufacture and put them into widespread service. Until that time, rifling was a tedious process requiring much skill and patience, so the cost and low production numbers made rifles impractical for warfare.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2007
  17. Mar 7, 2007 #16
    OK I bow to your superior knowledge :smile:
    Nice post very informative. I think I misunderstood what you were initially saying. Honestly I always thought (never really researched it tho) that you Americans first invented the rifled barrel. Not us meager Europeans :)
     
  18. Mar 7, 2007 #17

    turbo

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    I didn't mean to pontificate on warfare, sorry. :blushing: I used to coordinate auctions of high-end militaria, and when you rub elbows with collectors for years, you can't help but learn stuff about weapons and the tactical and practical forces that drove their development. These collectors are generally VERY knowledgeable about the eras in which their collecting interests lie, and they love to talk about their collections, so I would just ask a few questions when they had time to talk to me, and get a free education. :biggrin:
     
  19. Nov 30, 2007 #18
    I would also like to point out that the Welsh were the first in Britain to really take tactical advantage of the longbow, using it to quite good effect against the Anglo-Norman invaders. I think it was Edward I who really recognized the possibilities and added it to the English army -- perhaps another way to appease the Welsh along with naming his son Prince of Wales? It's why Bowen or Bowman are such prominent names in Wales and those of Welsh heritage today.
     
  20. Nov 30, 2007 #19

    jim mcnamara

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    Two points:
    I.
    The Maxwell Museum of Anthropology in Albuquerque has New World bows that date near to the time of the demise of the atlatl the Four Corners region. That's about 2500 years ago, according to the plaque. SW Native American bows are short with a long draw. They never used long bows AFAIK. It would be safe to assume that the bow arose in Asia Minor at least before Egyptian tomb paintings that date to 1800BC.

    II.
    The old long bows I have seen are not made from two woods, but they do look like it.
    The lath is cut along the boundary of heartwood and sapwood from Taxus baccata (European Yew) wood. The dark heartwood has different physical characteristcs from the sapwood, as well as being a different color. Heartwood is in the thick "handle", inside, toward the archer and is removed from the arms of the bow. This does not mean this is how all long bows were made. Just what I happened to see.
    ---

    Almost any "long bow" you find now, except in museums and collections, probably bears little resemblence to what was in use at Agincourt. I would look askance at any laminated, two wood long bow. It is probably bogus. There was no such thing as waterproof glue in 1350.

    What happens when it rains or you ford a river in 1350? You don't engage the enemy? You carry the bow in your airplane? Animal (protein) glues all absorb water and debond when wet.

    The first really good waterproof glues were created by a chemist, James Nevin, in 1934. That is the point in time where exterior and marine grade plywoods became available. Marine plywood absolutely requires waterproof glue.

    http://www.apawood.org/plywoodpioneers/history.htm
     
  21. Nov 30, 2007 #20

    turbo

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    Interestingly, the medieval Japanese long-bows (asymmetrical with a upper limb much longer than the lower limb) were laminated, with mulberry interiors and faces of bamboo. They were protected from water/weather by many layers of lacquer.
     
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