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The Longbow

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The Longbow

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The Longbow

The longbow was the most effective weapon of the Hundred Years War against France, used to deadly effect to gain English victories at Crécy, Poitiers, and Agincourt. Made of yew, a strong but very springy wood, its power came from its size, for it was as tall as the archer who fired it. A longbow had the same range as a crossbow, yet it could shoot twelve arrows in the time it took a crossbowman to fire three.

Because longbowmen needed regular practice, English kings made it illegal for commoners to take part in all sports but archery on pain of death. Every Sunday, on village greens all over England, men shot arrows at white cloth targets. Repeated practice from youth gave archers huge shoulder, arm and back muscles, and led to thickened bones where these muscles were attached. This was used to identify two skeletons found on the Mary Rose as longbowmen. They also had misshapen backbones, probably caused by the pressure of drawing the bow with the body twisted to one side.


Your comments

It played a significant role in many legends and stories eg Robin Hood English soldiers used the longbow to devastating effect when we were a warring nation and archery still has a massive following today in England as well as the rest of the United Kingdom. English archers are responsible for that other very English insult of raising two fingers (to show their opponent they are still able to pluck yew - fire a bow). If anything defined us as a nation historically then it is the longbow.

Matt Linehan

The longbow was not a Welsh invention. It has existed from pre-history. The Vikings were probably the people that introduced it to the British Isles. The Welsh bows were usually made of Witch-Elm which doesn't make a good longbow. It does, however make a superb flat-bow. So the Welsh bows were probably flat-bows, not longbows. That said the Welsh were superb archers, and did form a large percentage of the English armies during the 100 years war.

It is interesting to note, that had the English/Welsh longbow still been in use during the Napoleonic wars, the massively superior rate of fire-power (arrow-power) of the longbow would have seen-off Napoleon a damned sight sooner! Ten to twenty, yard long arrows per minute, compared to three, possibly four rounds, for a musket! Ok, I'm not dismissing the use of 'artillery' here; but the accurate usage of a longbow out-performs that of a Brown Bess musket. It's a thought to conjure with.....
Johnathan Oswin

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I believe rice, peas and jerk chicken is an Icon of England.

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