Female archers?

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Postby EnglishArcher » Thu Jul 16, 2009 2:39 pm

thomas wrote:would it be fair to say that if an army was marching towards you hell bent on killing you and there were bows and arrows lying around you would'nt pick one up and shoot it.
The bows in the early battles would have ranged from 60lb drow to 100lb.
plenty of arrows lying about to.just a thought.


If the enemy has not reached you yet, why would there be bows and arrows lying around? Unless you were an archer - in which case you've have your own equipment. There's no evidence of men-at-arms suddenly getting all nervous and reaching for a bow. You would stand firm and let the archers do their job.

After the enemy has engaged you a spear, pike, bill or other staff weapon (or a sword) is far more effective in the melee than a bow. You'd probably be better off poking the enemy with your bow rather than shooting it!

The bows in the early battles would have ranged from 60lb drow to 100lb.


Why do you assume this? There is no evidence of the draw-weights of earlier bows.

Gerald of Wales writes in the 12thC about an arrow piercing a 4" oak door. Trust me, it takes a LOT more than a 60lb bow to do this (or even 100lb). So the heavier bows must have existed.

This is an example of ignorant people projecting what they can do onto their forebears. Don't be fooled into thinking a 100lb bow is a heavyweight bow. With practice and good technique just about any fit adult male can shoot a 100lb bow. Those who can't generally lack either the will or the technique.


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Postby EnglishArcher » Thu Jul 16, 2009 3:10 pm

gregory23b wrote:As for bows, a 50lb or 40lb draw is lethal enough to hunt game, well within the range for women or youths.


I agree: 40 - 50lb is perfectly adequate for hunting. However, as far as I'm aware, game doesn't wear armour. :D

Draw weights did not, as far as we know exist, merely a requirement to shoot arrow a over distance b).


The bow is a 4-part system: The bow, the arrow, the warhead (arrowhead) and the archer. All must be balanced otherwise the system is ineffective.

To do damage to an opponent you need a heavy projectile, travelling fast (kinetic energy and momentum). The arrow must be heavy enough to do give sufficient mass, and of sufficient ballistic characteristics to travel a long way without losing much speed. When it hits it must have a warhead capable of disrupting, damaging or penetrating the target. To move a heavy projectile fast you need a strong bow. To pull a powerful bow you need a strong archer capable of imparting as much energy into the arrow as possible.

So you have a heavy bow to shoot heavy arrow A, so that it can do lots of damage to the enemy, at distance B.

Master arrowsmith and World Record holding archer Mark Stretton has studied the ballistic properties of medieval arrows. He has found that a war arrow has as much (penetrative) energy at 220 yards as it does at 60 yards. (And no, he didn't use a 200lb bow :roll: - it was around 140lb, well within the limits of a military archer)

With that information, why would you NOT engage your enemy at distance, rather than waiting until they get within 60 yards?


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Postby gregory23b » Thu Jul 16, 2009 4:15 pm

"I agree: 40 - 50lb is perfectly adequate for hunting. However, as far as I'm aware, game doesn't wear armour. "

Do the statutes for men shooting mention:

armour

arrowheads?


By having to get arrow a over distance b with some measure of accuracy, it becomes a self-evolving situation where the tools are created to achieve the aim, no pun intended.

"All must be balanced otherwise the system is ineffective. "

as above, that is a self-creating situation, you end up needing a big bow to push a big arrow a long way, which means an archer capable (conditioned) of doing it.

I am getting at the idea of draw weights as being a convenient modern benchmark in terms of power, ie it is more easily imagined by us if we quantify the scale rather than shoot this over there with accuracy.

"rather than waiting until they get within 60 yards?"

trajectory perhaps? Obstacles that have slowed the enemy down so he is vulnerable?

"Gerald of Wales writes in the 12thC about an arrow piercing a 4" oak door. Trust me, it takes a LOT more than a 60lb bow to do this (or even 100lb). So the heavier bows must have existed. "

Or it was an exaggerated description, I imagine a high poundage crossbow/arbalest having great difficulty in penetrating 4" of seasoned oak, I would be highly sceptical of such claims unless tested out. I am very open to the idea of metal penetration as I have seen first hand a needle bodkin hit and stay in the wall of Dover castle from a 90lb draw weight bow. I have also handled original pieces of armour that have been missile penetrated, possibly by arrows or crossbow bolts.

But different materials in different circumstances work differently.

The same archer mentioned above also tested his bow against a pavise I made to spec, ie an inch of lime, canvased and gessoed, the arrow had no trouble penetrating it but it didn't get very far, the end half inch or so protruded but it was held fast.

I would be more than happy to make such a pavise again, same spec in order for a higher poundage bow to be used against it, mainly to test the efficacy of them and the bows, that is a genuine offer and if the thing gets destroyed so much the better. We can document it next time round ;-)


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Postby Steve Stocker » Thu Jul 16, 2009 4:16 pm

As I understand it, Gerald of Wales wrote of an arrow piercing an oak door 'the thickness of a man's hand' - more like 1.5" than 4". This seems more realistic and achievable.


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Postby Brother Ranulf » Thu Jul 16, 2009 4:25 pm

Gerald of Wales is one of the sources that has regularly been deliberately misquoted, as in the case of the door mentioned above. He very clearly, in the most specific Latin, wrote that the door was as thick as a man's palm (about 1.5 inches) and this has consistently been twisted to read "as thick as a man's palm is wide" - in other words about 4 inches.

Fabrication of evidence such as this in support of "Welsh longbows" only serves to discredit the people supporting that theory.

The other element in the case is that he states that the Welsh had already captured the outworks of the castle and were chasing English troops across a bridge towards the castle donjon - the implication is that they were shooting at very close range as the English made it through the door. The fact that the Welsh archers missed their targets seems to me no cause to brag about their prowess - and having shot arrows into a piece of oak is absolutely no proof of the size of the bows (as I have pointed out elsewhere, short bows were being used in the 19th century to kill fully-grown buffalo at short range, so an oak door is equally within their scope).

Please cease misquoting Gerald - it does nothing to help your case.


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Postby EnglishArcher » Fri Jul 17, 2009 9:26 am

I stand corrected on the Gerald of Wales quote.

This still raises the question of why so many believe that a war bow would be as light as 60 - 100lb.

I still believe the answer is modern arrogance - I can't do it so no medieval man could, either.


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Postby Colin Middleton » Fri Jul 17, 2009 1:16 pm

thomas wrote:would it be fair to say that if an army was marching towards you hell bent on killing you and there were bows and arrows lying around you would'nt pick one up and shoot it.
The bows in the early battles would have ranged from 60lb drow to 100lb.
plenty of arrows lying about to.just a thought.

DJ


Why would the army be hell bent on killing the women. As said, generally you flee, well ahead of the men. Most armies are interested in killing the guys that are hell bent on killing them, not killing the women who are near-by and unarmed. That's why the attack on the luggage in Henry V is so shocking. It is in effect a war crime.

I a seige or raid, everyone in the area is fair game, so the women fight. On a battle field, it's really about controlling the area. Surrender the area and you've got a good chance of running for it, so why stay and fight if you don't have to?


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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Fri Jul 17, 2009 4:05 pm

Nothing in the rules for fighting a good war says that attacking the luggage train is a war crime. good practice, especially as the luggage train often formed part of the defences you fought behind, not only in italy but eastern europe.
I thought that was always a bit of a myth that gave henry V the justification to commit a real act of bad war namely killing high born prisoners who had already given their oaths in return for ransom.
That said during the periodic disatsters that befall the Burgundians during the career of Charles the Bold women camp followers would bare their breasts to avoid being butchered by Swiss soldiers.
I have not seen a woman using a bow in any seige illustration that was not meant to be a legend or myth or allegorical (such as the siege of the city of women).
Flemish chronicles talk about then casting down darts and spears and the neuss one talks about them putting out fires, throwing quicklime and stones over the battlements.
Don't need any real strength or skill to drop a big rock on someones head. Children and old people were put to use in the same way.
I'll dig out St. tom and find out what made a good or bad war Colin, but attacking the luggage train isn't one of them.


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Postby gregory23b » Fri Jul 17, 2009 4:37 pm

"I still believe the answer is modern arrogance - I can't do it so no medieval man could, either."

Not even that, merely not getting it.

Most of use here are pro the idea they could do more than we do in some things due to their circumstances etc. but the idea of a given draw weight rather than a 'big bow' that can deliver an arrow x yards, otherwise medieval battlefields would have resulted in total casualties in the first arrow exchange, we know that not to be the case. Not forgetting draw weight as we know it is not an indicator of performance.


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Postby Colin Middleton » Mon Jul 20, 2009 12:51 pm

Marcus Woodhouse wrote:Nothing in the rules for fighting a good war says that attacking the luggage train is a war crime. good practice, especially as the luggage train often formed part of the defences you fought behind, not only in italy but eastern europe.
I thought that was always a bit of a myth that gave henry V the justification to commit a real act of bad war namely killing high born prisoners who had already given their oaths in return for ransom.


I didn't know that there were rules of war, just sort of vague conventions. Surely Shakespear wouldn't have used that as a narative device (even if it didn't happen), if it weren't for the fact that people would react to it. I'm not saying that it didn't happen, just that it wasn't expected (or was expected that you wouldn't).

Naturally, if you're using the baggage to hide behind, you're into the 'human sheild' territory that's going on in the Middle East right now.

I agree that killing prisoners was very much against the rules like you said. For that matter, I agree with everything else you said in your post.


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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Mon Jul 20, 2009 1:04 pm

Will doesn't mention the massacre of French knights even though it happened and was well reported at the time.
St Augustine and later St. Thomas Aquinus laid down the blue prints for "good" and "bad" war.
There were also various attempts by the church to codify and regulate martial practices in order to limit the effects on the young, the old, women and the clergy.
They didn't do a lot of good and the practice of one pope legitimising a war against a rival (spiritual or secular) as a crusade which was a feature of the Great Schisim did considerable harm to the respect shown to these efforts.


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Postby craig1459 » Tue Jul 21, 2009 12:10 am

Marcus Woodhouse wrote:Nothing in the rules for fighting a good war says that attacking the luggage train is a war crime. good practice, especially as the luggage train often formed part of the defences you fought behind, not only in italy but eastern europe.

Even the English got up to it - Battle of the Herrings 1429


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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Tue Jul 21, 2009 12:03 pm

And used by the Scots in the employ of Charles VII against the English in the Castellian campagin in 1453-4 as well. It was by no means a novel trick anyone who had read that Roman fella (Vegitas twous and meatus) would have been familiar with the notion.
The Huss, the horse empires of eastern europe and the northern Italians just took it to the ninth degree.


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Postby Colin Middleton » Tue Jul 21, 2009 12:52 pm

Thanks for that Marcus. I don't suppose that you'd know what these rules of war were?


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Postby Sir Thomas Hylton » Tue Jul 21, 2009 8:23 pm

Of course the most famous example I can think of of raiding a baggage train is that of the Battle of Naseby 1645



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Postby Medicus Matt » Tue Jul 21, 2009 8:54 pm

Marcus Woodhouse wrote:St Augustine and later St. Thomas Aquinus laid down the blue prints for "good" and "bad" war.


Cicero got there first by a few hundred years though, with his 'De Officiis" (which both the saints mentioned above owed an acknowledged debt to) in which he lays down the conditions for a 'good war' and the behaviours to be expected therein.

An example of that behaviour being that victors had a duty to show mercy to the vanquished, provided that those vanquished had themselves acted without cruelty or barbarism.

So, Henry Vs slaughter of the surrendered French can be seen as morally justified (Cicero's work was held in such high esteem that the Church recognised it as a moral authority) given their attack upon the baggage train. They broke the rules first.


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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:47 pm

Colin I have a full list of them in a book about seige craft, can i just lend you the book at an event like Bosworth and then you could post it back or give it back at a later point-there are a few of them you see and it would take a lot of copying down.


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Postby Colin Middleton » Wed Jul 22, 2009 1:06 pm

That is very kind of you, thank you. I'll be at Bosworth (both days) and Blore and Heckmondwyke (Saturday only).


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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Wed Jul 22, 2009 1:13 pm

Then I'll see you at Bossie.
I'll be in the Woodville camp or wandering.
My wife has made a gornecia (sp?) one of those pleated tabard come cloaks that you see in a lot of Florentine pictures in particular. It goes well over a very stained arming doublet as it hides the worst of the mess.
As I doubt there will be that many people in 15th century Italian dress (and it is a very distinctive fashion item) I should be easy to track down.
I'll also be handing out more of the "Have You seen this child?" wanted posters so follow the trail of irate Ricardians.
Failing that if you beat up a shortie in partial harness and a bright red brig pick him up and ask if its me.


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Postby Colin Middleton » Wed Jul 22, 2009 1:19 pm

I'll see you there. I might be one of those irate Ricardians though, I'm in Norfolk's Household!


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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Wed Jul 22, 2009 3:43 pm

See being a Woodville I can go on about childkilling usurping gobshite and move swiftly onto why we are supporting a unknown Welsh milksop born to a pack of French loving bastards and thus upset everyone.
Last year I was actually jeered which pleased me no end, this year I am to get the crowd spitting everytime they hear me.
And why is an italian interested in this? It took me ten years to get into a postion where I could, through my patron, have some influence in who lends money to the King of England and then some crockbacked northern barbarian usurps the throne. This isn't war this is business. Medici style.


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Postby Jim Smith » Wed Jul 22, 2009 9:08 pm

Marcus Woodhouse wrote:See being a Woodville I can go on about childkilling usurping gobshite and move swiftly onto why we are supporting a unknown Welsh milksop born to a pack of French loving bastards and thus upset everyone.
Last year I was actually jeered which pleased me no end, this year I am to get the crowd spitting everytime they hear me.
And why is an italian interested in this? It took me ten years to get into a postion where I could, through my patron, have some influence in who lends money to the King of England and then some crockbacked northern barbarian usurps the throne. This isn't war this is business. Medici style.


Marcus - sometime soon you and I are going to have to sit down and discuss your misguided support for a bunch of Jonny-Come-Lately Welsh squires and jumped-up parvenus. :wink:


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Postby Jim Smith » Wed Jul 22, 2009 9:13 pm

Plus, I'd have thought you userous foreign bankers wouldn't have minded whom you did business with...

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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Thu Jul 23, 2009 7:27 am

You should hear the full irate version of it that I tell MOPs.


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Postby behanner » Fri Jul 24, 2009 12:54 am

The primary legal treatise on the subject is John of Legnano's Tractatus de bello, de represaliis et de duello. It was edited and translated into French in Tree of Battles and Christine de Pizan used parts of it.
There is actually a book Henry's Wars and Shakespeare's Laws: Perspectives on the Law of War in the Later Middle Ages.

Also I'm aware of no contemporary who condemned Henry V for what he did. And the condemnation of the French attack on the baggage train I believe had more to do with the valets as opposed to the baggage. Not sure if that is condemned in contemporary chronicles either.



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Postby Merlon. » Fri Jul 24, 2009 4:25 am

behanner wrote:The primary legal treatise on the subject is John of Legnano's Tractatus de bello, de represaliis et de duello. It was edited and translated into French in Tree of Battles and Christine de Pizan used parts of it.

If anyone is interested a modern english transcription of this book is available at http://www.archive.org/details/tractatusdebello00legnuoft
The translation to english starts around page 209,



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Postby Fox » Fri Jul 24, 2009 6:57 am

Jim Smith wrote:Marcus - sometime soon you and I are going to have to sit down and discuss your misguided support for a bunch of Jonny-Come-Lately Welsh squires and jumped-up parvenus. :wink:


Can I help with this "discussion"?



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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Fri Jul 24, 2009 1:10 pm

As long as it involves lots of arm waving and bad accents.
Medieval Allo, Allo.


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Postby WorkMonkey » Fri Jul 24, 2009 1:47 pm

Women will generally protect their homes, their children, and themselves if threatened, and will kill without concern if there is a reason, ie killing an animal to feed their children, a womans ability to kill or hurt is rooted in necessity. Hence why you get less female "yobs" but actively seeking to go and join the men folk in what amounts to tearing each other apart seems abit far fetched. Women are still not allowed to serve in the front line for the same reason. I know this sounds sexist but again thats coming from our modern equality view point, women are not wired for killing. A man is able to emotionally disengage himself from violence, so that killing becomes an almost ritual aspect. Now obviously all the females who do re-enactment fighting would say differently, that they would be perfectly happy joining the men folk with a weapon in their hand and thrust it into another mans body without concern, but then most of the men think they are elite fighting machines and in a real battle they would leave a trail of death in their wake. The fact is we are not actual soldiers, we are weekend warriors, play fighters. And put in a situation where we had to kill someone just for the hell of it, I doubt many of us would oblige because we are the nerdy, educated, intellectual branch of human evolution.

And that's not even starting to get into the physical ability of a woman to perform in combat.


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Postby behanner » Fri Jul 24, 2009 3:42 pm

Merlon. wrote: If anyone is interested a modern english transcription of this book is available at http://www.archive.org/details/tractatusdebello00legnuoft
The translation to english starts around page 209,


Thanks I hadn't even thought of looking for that online. It is amazing the books online. For England a better book would be De Studio Militari by Nicholas Upton who was English and wrote around 1440. There is a late-15th century English translation of which part has been published.




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