Talk:English longbow

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Longbows between 16th and 20th centuries[edit]

With the removal of the poorly referenced Wellington comment, we have rather a gap. Obviously sporting archery continued during this period, which we may wish to reflect. In military terms, Heath and Featherstone both quote schemes to recreate military archery in the late 18th/ early 19th century. Heath records Ben Franklin was a proponent in the 1770s, that the Honourable Artillery Company had an archer company between 1784 and 1794 and a man named Richard Mason wrote a book proposing the arming of militia with pike and longbow in 1798. Featherstone records one Lt. Col. Richard Lee of 44th Foot advocated the military use of the longbow in 1792. Now, I have the bare references to these which could be dropped into the text but does anyone have more detail which would make a better job? Monstrelet (talk) 13:42, 8 August 2012 (UTC)

That sounds like a lot more material than I would be able to contribute! I'd be surprised if there were a great number of sources which have substantial material on the period after the last significant use of the English longbow in battle. --Merlinme (talk) 08:37, 9 August 2012 (UTC)

400-lb welsh longbows[edit]

on a visit to the national library of Wales I came across a book, the title of which eludes me which refered to a welsh bow that could easily penetrate steel armour as it was so strong that the only way to use it with great effect was to lay down on one's back, place both feet on the wood of the bow then draw back the string by using both hands. If I remember correctly the poundage was in excess of 400lb — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:08, 24 July 2013 (UTC)

That sounds more like a crossbow to me, where later medieval examples had enormous draw weights. I believe the method you describe could be used to cock a heavy crossbow, although some sort of crank (i.e. windlass) was more common. I find it hard to believe you could ever use that method to draw a longbow; if you need your legs to draw it, how are you going to actually fire it? The method works with a crossbow because once you cock it the force is taken by the crossbow itself. With a longbow, unless you are proposing to fire it from between your legs, then you somehow have to take the strain using your arms and chest and then hold it long enough to at least vaguely aim at something. If such a weapon existed I find it hard to believe it would have been very effective. In any case, we need a proper reference before we could consider adding something to the article. --Merlinme (talk) 10:37, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
In Conan Doyle's book The White Company a plucky longbowman beats a dastardly foreign crossbowman in a shooting competition using this technique (it is a distance shooting contest). Even Conan Doyle thought this was a trick shot. I have not seen a suggestion that the battlefields of the Middle Ages were full of Welshmen shooting from a prone position, however.Monstrelet (talk) 17:09, 25 July 2013 (UTC)

Reordering sections prior to adding new content[edit]

I intend to add a few comments from Mike Loades new book "Longbow", mainly around modern experiments. However, when I came to consider how best to do this, I concluded that the current structure of the text was somewhat confused. I've therefore done a bit of preparatory work in advance and will try to add a few pieces of information down the week.Monstrelet (talk) 17:41, 27 October 2013 (UTC)

I have completed the bits of editing I intended although, having worked on the armour penetration section, I have some concerns (below)Monstrelet (talk) 18:49, 31 October 2013 (UTC)

Revising armour penetration section[edit]

I have given the experimental sub-section a bit of a make over but both contemporary evidence and summary sections lack a developed argument. Both are weak on cited sources and the summary section comes across as a bit OR to me. If anyone thinks they could make these sections better, it would greatly improve the article. Monstrelet (talk) 18:56, 31 October 2013 (UTC)

Yeah, I think I wrote most of that section some years ago (although I didn't give it the heading "Summary", which makes it sound more definitive than I perhaps meant). I'd write it differently now, with more references for a start. I've just rewritten the Summary to be less OR, although it still needs the references.
The rest is not incredibly straightforward as a lot of the most recent research is not in widely available reliable sources. I think Bane's stuff is fine as far as it goes, especially his summary of other people's research, but it's not a published book. Strickland and Hardy is probably the most authoritative, but it is a little out of date. Having said that, they came to fairly similar conclusions to later writers, if you ignore the outlying Primitive Archer test. Rogers' stuff looking at armour thickness on the limbs is also interesting, but again, it's in an appendix of another work. I might have a go at seeing if I can pull it all together when I have time. --Merlinme (talk) 10:32, 1 November 2013 (UTC)

Edwin of Northumbria[edit]

We seem to have some difficulty with the incident of Edwin's death. It currently occurs in the lead section, which may give it undue prominence, especially as we have no evidence of longbow usage. It could usefully be mentioned in the section on history,however, if we expand commentary on pre-Norman archery. Monstrelet (talk) 08:30, 15 November 2014 (UTC)

As an addendum, it appears it was Offrid, son of Edwin, who was killed by the arrow. Edwin died in the same battle, exact cause of death unspecified. No effect on use of the story but we should get it right. We could use a good source to cite for this - it is quoted across the web but it is difficult to pin down a reliable source to reference. Monstrelet (talk) 12:56, 15 November 2014 (UTC)

I'm not sure what the source could be. I looked up the two primary sources for the battle—Bede and the Welsh annals—and they don't mention an arrow at all, let alone that it certainly came from the Welsh and not their allies the Mercians. Where did you see that it was his son Offrid? Something reliable or just another Wiki page? — LlywelynII 15:19, 15 November 2014 (UTC)
We need a source and consensus, and while I'd personally accept reference to Dark Age arrows as coming from longbows (on the assumption that the European longbow tradition was the only one around) others might be more fussy. I'll remove Edwin from the lede for the time being. Richard Keatinge (talk) 16:24, 15 November 2014 (UTC)
I've been unable to track down the original arrow story - I have checked Bede, the Anglo-Saxon chronicle and Geoffrey of Monmouth (just in case) but, although Offrid (or Osfrith, which he is sometimes called) clearly died, there was no detail. The best secondary source I have is Robert Hardy's Longbow (p.30)where he states clearly we don't know whether the arrow is Welsh or English or whether it came from a longbow. I think we have enough to place it as a "first example" in a sentence/para on pre-Norman archery but I wouldn't put it in the lead paragraph.Monstrelet (talk) 17:46, 15 November 2014 (UTC)
Interesting. Indeed the arrow detail isn't in either the Chronicle or in Bede. A quick Google search for the words "Offrid" and "arrow" brings up statements going back at least as far as Tobias Smollett, but no further. Did Smollett simply add a touch of color? Anyway, in this case I think we should await a really reliable source, a scholarly comment specifically supported by primary sources, before we add anything here. Richard Keatinge (talk) 11:01, 16 November 2014 (UTC)
Interestingly, Smollett references the AngloSaxon Chronicle as source, which it certainly isn't in. For completeness I've done a few more histories - Henry of Huntingdon, Florence of Worcester, William of malmesbury - looking for an embellishment of Bede or AS chronicle but nothing has turned up. So, looks a bit unreliable at this stage. But a good referenced comment in a reliable secondary work could change that in the future. Monstrelet (talk) 12:37, 16 November 2014 (UTC)