Thank you, Dave. Enlightening as ever.
Dave Key wrote: In particular I noted Fox's comments ...
"The idea of billman fighting as groups of similarly equipped soldiers in close formation I think is believable though. I draw that conclusion from my understanding of the equipment in archeological finds, and how it's best used (supported by evidence of similar troop types from earlier and later periods). And also from read descriptions of battles."
I'm curious which archaeological finds you are referring to and how this has been extrapolated to support your argument? Also, any contemporary references to battle array I'd be very interested to hear.
Well, it's rather lost the context of the debate, possibly even when it was posted, but I'll do my best to explain what I was saying.
First the comment is with references to the idea of polearms being used collectively together.
There was a good deal of debate whether billmen existed at all at the start of this thread [regardless of what they where called at the time, and meaning billmen in the broadest sense].
There was some suitable reservation about any the relevance of illustrations, because it's difficult to tie them back to an illustrator who was accurately representing the British Isles for the appropriate period.
In light of that, my understanding is that there are physical finds that would support the use of spears and "bills" in the period.
My personal experience of how polearms work is that they work best when they are mutually supportive. I understand the very strong limitations of a purely re-enactment context, but I am adding to this a limited WMA knowledge. You can add this to the generally excepted understanding of how weapons like this are used at different places and in other periods.
3) Battle descriptions
First, I have to be entirely clear, I am not working from primary sources.
I am not a historian, and I don't pretend to have the time or understanding for those sources to be useful to me (it's why I'm so very grateful when someone who does can help).
Therefore I am basing my understand of these events on the compiled knowledge of published historians.
Repeatedly battle accounts (by different authors) make specific comment about the deployment of troops, particularly seperating archers and infantry.
I have no primary basis for why they make these assertions as specific claims are not usually linked to the sources listed.
To clarify, though, my understanding of your points is:
(1) ...that "archers" are indeed archers, and not some mixture of troops.
Presumably this is in answer to the Man from Coventry's post, in which he says that a 1475 expedition from France included a contingent of "700 archers", containing 200 welsh spears.
(2) ...that archers typically outnumbered infantry by factor a three or more. (I don't think anyone has argued anything else in this thread).
(3) ...that man at arms is a general term to refer to infantry. (something proposed in thread on a number of occasions).
(4) ...that billman, like many of the words and phrases we now use to describe the period, is not contemporary.
(5) ...that a lack of drums in English sources might indicate against drilled troops.
What I'm unsure of is whether you are concluding that troops were generally arrayed on the field into seperate infantry and archery, whether they more closely tied together by their origin.
I think I see arguements for both in what you're saying.
Is there anything key that I've missed?