Doug McCoy Traditional Archery.
The English longbow, also called the Welsh longbow, was a powerful type of medieval longbow (a tall bow for archery) about 6 ft 6 in
(2.0 m) long used by the English, Scots and Welsh, both for hunting and as a weapon in medieval warfare. English use of longbows was
effective against the French during the Hundred Years' War, particularly at the start of the war in the battles of Crecy (1346) and Poitiers
(1356), and most famously at the Battle of Agincourt (1415). They were less successful after this, taking casualties at the Battle of
Verneuil (1424), and being completely routed at the Battle of Patay (1429) when charged before they had set up their defensive position.
The earliest longbow found in what is now England is dated to 2665 BC,
but there are no surviving longbows dated to the period when the
longbow was dominant (c. 1250-1450 AD).Robert E. Kaiser,
"The Medieval English Longbow"] ,
"Journal of the Society of Archer-Antiquaries", volume 23, 1980]
This is probably because it was in the nature of bows to become weaker,
break and be replaced, rather than be handed down through generations
. [Ben Levick (1992) [http://www.regia.org/SaxonArchery.htm They Didn't
Have Bows, Did They?] , [http://www.regia.org/ Regia Anglorum
Publications] 2002.] There are however more than 130 surviving bows
from the Renaissance period (see Surviving bows). Descriptions range in
length from 4 ft 1 in to 6 ft 11 in (1.2 to 2.11 m). They were made from
yew in preference, although ash and other woods were also used. Estimates for the draw of these bows varies considerably. The
original draw forces of examples from the "Mary Rose" were typically estimated at 706–804 N (160–180 lbf ) at a 76.2 cm (30 inch) draw
length.Strickland p.17] A modern longbow's draw is typically 265 N (60 lbf) or less. Historically, hunting bows usually had draw weights
of 222-266N (50–60 lbf), which is enough for all but the very largest game, and which most reasonably fit adults can manage with
practice. Today, there are few modern longbowmen capable of using 800N (180 lbf) bows accurately.Strickland pp. 13,18] [Cohu, Will. "
[http://www.arts.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2005/04/03/bostr27.xml&sSheet=/arts/2005/04/03/bomain.html How they did
affright the air at Agincourt ] ", by "Daily Telegraph" 3 April 2005. A review of the "The Great Warbow" "The power of a bow is
measured in its draw-weight, and these days few men can pull a bow above 80lb. Bows recovered from the Tudor warship "Mary Rose"
show a draw-weight of up to 180lb, and skeletons retrieved from the wreck show spinal distortions, indicating just what it took to be a
A longbow must be long enough to allow its user to draw the string to a point on the face or body, and the length therefore varies with
the user. In continental Europe it was generally seen as any bow longer than 1.2 m (4 ft). The Society of Antiquaries says it is of 5 or 6
feet (1.5-1.83 m) in length. [Kaiser footnote 5, citing "The Berkhamsted Bow", Antiquaries Journal 11 (London), p. 423] Richard Bartelot,
of the Royal Artillery Institution, said that the bow was of yew, 6 feet (1.83 m) long, with a 3 foot (914 mm) arrow. [Kaiser footnote 6,
citing Major Richard G. Bartelot, Assistant Historical Secretary, Royal Artillery Institution, Old Military Academy, Woolwich, England.
Letter, 16 February, 1976] Gaston Phoebus, in 1388, wrote that a longbow should be "of yew or boxwood, seventy inches [1.78 m]
between the points of attachment for the cord". [C.J. Longman and H. Walrond, "Archery" (New York: Fiederick Ungar Publishing Co.,
1967), p. 132] Historian Jim Bradbury said they were an average of about 5 feet and 8 inches. [Bradbury, "The Medieval Archer", 2002]
The range of the medieval weapon is unknown, with estimates from 165 to 228 m (180 to 249 yds). Modern longbows have a useful
range up to 180 m (200 yd). A 667N(150 lbf) "Mary Rose" replica longbow was able to shoot a 53.6 g (1.9 oz) arrow 328.0 m (360 yd) and a
95.9 g (3.3 oz) a distance of 249.9 m (272 yd).Strickland p.18, Appendix 408–418 ]
The longbow had a long range and high accuracy, but not both at the same time. Modern champion archers maintain that a hit cannot
be guaranteed on an individual target at more than 75 m (80 yards) with any bow whatsoever.Fact|date=June 2008 Most of the longer
range shooting mentioned in stories was not marksmanship, but rather thousands of archers launching volleys of arrows at an entire
army. Longbowmen armies would aim at an area and shoot a rain of arrows hitting indiscriminately at anyone in the area, a decidedly
un-chivalrous but highly effective means of combat. Standards for accuracy have changed dramatically in the modern age. An archer
could hit a person at 165 m (180 yards) "part of the time" and could always hit an army.Fact|date=June 2008
A Welsh or English military archer during the 14th and 15th Century was expected to shoot at least ten "aimed shots" per
minute.Fact|date=June 2008 An experienced military longbowman was expected to shoot twenty aimed shots per
minute.Fact|date=June 2008 A typical military longbow archer would be provided with between 60 and 72 arrows at the time of
battle,Fact|date=June 2008 which would last the archer from three to six minutes, at full rate of shooting. Thus, most archers would not
loose arrows at this rate, as it would exhaust even the most experienced man. Not only are the arms and shoulder muscles tired from
the exertion, but the fingers holding the bowstring become strained; therefore, actual rates of fire in combat would vary
considerably.Fact|date=June 2008 Ranged volleys at the beginning of the battle would differ markedly from the closer, aimed shots as
the battle progressed and the enemy neared.Fact|date=June 2008 Arrows were not unlimited, so archers and their commanders took
every effort to ration their use to the situation at hand.Nonetheless, resupply during battle was available. Young boys were often
employed to run additional arrows to longbow archers while in their positions on the battlefield. [The statistics on rates of shot are
taken from Juliet Barker's "" (2006), ISBN 0-316-01503-2 page number] "The longbow was the machine gun of the Middle Ages: accurate,
deadly, possessed of a long range and rapid rate of fire, the flight of its missiles was likened to a storm."Robert E. Kaiser,
[http://margo.student.utwente.nl/sagi/artikel/longbow/longbow.html "The Medieval English Longbow"] , "Journal of the Society of
Archer-Antiquaries", volume 23, 1980] . This rate was much higher than that of its Western European projectile rival on the battlefield,
the crossbow. It was also much higher than early firearms (although the lower training requirements and greater penetration of
firearms eventually led to the longbow falling into disuse in English armies in the 16th century).
The traditional construction of a longbow consists of drying the yew wood for 1 to 2 years, then slowly working the wood into shape,
with the entire process taking up to four years. (This can be done far more quickly by working the wood down when wet, as a thinner
piece of wood will dry much faster.) The bow stave is shaped into a D-section. The outer "back" of sapwood, approximately flat, follows
the natural growth rings; modern bowyers often thin the sapwood, while in the Mary Rose bows the back of the bow was the natural
surface of the wood, only the bark being removed. The inner side ("belly") of the bow stave consists of rounded heartwood. The
heartwood resists compression and the outer sapwood performs better in tension. This combination in a single piece of wood (a self
bow) forms a natural "laminate", somewhat similar in effect to the construction of a composite bow. Longbows will last a long time if
protected with a water-resistant coating, traditionally of "wax, resin and fine tallow".
Bow strings were and are made of hemp, flax or silk and attached to the wood via horn "nocks", which fit onto the end of the bow.
Modern synthetic materials (often Dacron), are now commonly used for strings.
Recognizable longbows dating as far back as the Mesolithic period have been found in many parts of Northern Europe"The Great
Warbow: From Hastings to the Mary Rose" (Hardcover). Matthew Strickland. Sutton Publishing 2005. ISBN-10: 0750931671, ISBN-13:
978-0750931670] . The medieval English use of a powerful longbow as a decisive weapon of war was more of a social than a technical
development. It required in particular the training, recruitment, and maintenance of a large number of men, their supply with yew
wood by means of foreign trade, and their incorporation with other troop types into an effective tactical system. The first recorded use
of the term 'longbow', as distinct from simply 'bow', occurs in a Paston Letter of the fifteenth century.
Archery does not appear to have been especially significant in pre Norman Conquest Anglo-Saxon warfare and the first great English
archery victory was the Battle of the Standard in 1138. During the Anglo-Norman invasions of Wales, Welsh bowmen took a heavy toll
on the invaders, using short, rough elm bows technically distinct from classic English yew longbows. As soon as the Welsh campaign
was successfully over, Welsh conscripts began to be incorporated into English armies. The lessons the English learned in Wales were
later used with deadly effect by Welsh mercenaries on the battlefields of France and Scotland. Their skill was exercised under King
Edward I of England (r. 1272–1307), who banned all sports but archery at the butts on Sundays, to make sure Englishmen practised with
the longbow. As a result, the English during this period as a whole became very effective with the longbow.
The longbow decided many medieval battles fought by the English, the most significant of which were the Battle of Crécy (1346) and
the Battle of Agincourt (1415), during the Hundred Years' War and followed earlier successes, notably at the Battle of Halidon Hill (1333)
during the Scottish wars. The longbow corps saw particularly heavy casualties at the Battle of Patay and this loss contributed to
England's eventual defeat in that war. Longbows remained in use until around the 16th century, when advances in firearms made
gunpowder weapons a significant factor in warfare and such units as arquebusiers and grenadiers began appearing. Before the English
Civil War, a pamphlet by William Neade entitled "The Double-Armed Man" advocated that soldiers be trained in both the longbow and
pike; this advice was not followed in anything but a few town militias. The last recorded use of bows, in an English battle, seems to
have been a skirmish at Bridgnorth, in October 1642, during the English Civil War [
[http://www.sealedknot.org/beertent/thread.asp?CatNo=3&TI=12998&RNG=1&MX=59 Did bowmen repell Earl of Derby before
Bridgenorth 1642?] In "The Garrisons of Shropshire during the Civil War" there is reference to a letter written by a John Norton, dated 5
October 1642 from Bridgnorth describing the incident.] . Longbowmen remained a feature of the Royalist Army, but were not used by
the Roundheads. By the 19th Century skilled longbow men had all but vanished. The Duke of Wellington even asked for a corps of
longbows to provide a force producing more rapid fire than guns could. It would have been particularly devastating against the then
unarmoured targets in his Napoleonic campaigns, but he was told that no such skilled men existed in England any
The longbow was also used against the English by their Welsh neighbours. The Welsh used the longbow mostly in a different manner
than the English. In many early period English campaigns, the Welsh used the longbow in ambushes, often at point blank range that
allowed their missiles to penetrate the English Knights' armour and generally do a lot of damage. One famous Welsh longbow victory
was on 22 June 1402 when Owain Glyndwr fought a battle against the English at Bryn Glas. He strategically placed his longbowmen on
top of a high hill, meaning that his longbowmen had a better range than the English longbowmen, who were overwhelmed down on
the low ground. The result was a crushing victory for the Welsh.
Although longbows were much faster and more accurate than any black powder weapons, longbowmen were always difficult to
produce, because of the years of practice necessary before a war longbow could be used effectively (examples of longbows from the
Mary Rose typically had draws greater than convert|637|N|abbr=on). In an era in which warfare was usually seasonal and non-noble
soldiers spent part of the year working at farms, the year-round training required for the effective use of the longbow was a challenge.
A standing army was an expensive proposition to a medieval ruler. Mainland European armies seldom trained a significant longbow
corps. Due to their specialized training, English longbowmen were sought as mercenaries in other European countries, most notably in
the Italian city-states and in Spain.The White Company [Project Gutenberg e-text of " [http://www.gutenberg.net/etext/903 The White
Company] " by Arthur Conan Doyle] , containing men-at-arms and longbowmen and commanded by Sir John Hawkwood, is the best
known English Free Company of the 14th century.
The trade of yew wood to England for longbows was such that it depleted the stocks of yew over a huge area. The first documented
import of yew bowstaves to England was in 1294. In 1350 there was a serious shortage, and Henry IV of England ordered his royal
bowyer to enter private land and cut yew and other woods. In 1470 compulsory practice was renewed, and hazel, ash, and laburnum
were specifically allowed for practice bows. Supplies still proved insufficient, until by the Statute of Westminster in 1472, every ship
coming to an English port had to bring four bowstaves for every tun. Richard III of England increased this to ten for every tun. This
stimulated a vast network of extraction and supply, which formed part of royal monopolies in southern Germany and Austria. In 1483,
the price of bowstaves rose from two to eight pounds per hundred, and in 1510 the Venetians obtained sixteen pounds per hundred. In
1507 the Holy Roman Emperor asked the Duke of Bavaria to stop cutting yew, but the trade was profitable, and in 1532 the royal
monopoly was granted for the usual quantity "if there are that many". In 1562, the Bavarian government sent a long plea to the Holy
Roman Emperor asking him to stop the cutting of yew, and outlining the damage done to the forests by its selective extraction, which
broke the canopy and allowed wind to destroy neighbouring trees. In 1568, despite a request from Saxony, no royal monopoly was
granted because there was no yew to cut, and the next year Bavaria and Austria similarly failed to produce enough yew to justify a
royal monopoly. Forestry records in this area in the 1600s do not mention yew, and it seems that no mature trees were to be had. The
English tried to obtain supplies from the Baltic, but at this period bows were being replaced by guns in any case. [ Yew: A History.
Hageneder F. Sutton Publishing, 2007. ISBN 978-0750945974] .
Longbows were difficult to master because the force required to deliver an arrow through the improving armour of medieval Europe
was very high by modern standards. Although the draw weight of a typical English
longbow is disputed, it was at least 360 N (80 lbf) and possibly more than 650 N
(143 lbf) with some high-end estimates at 900N (202 lbf). Considerable practice was
required to produce the swift and effective combat shooting required. Skeletons of
longbow archers are recognizably deformed, with enlarged left arms and often bone
spurs on left wrists, left shoulders and right fingers. [Dr. A.J. Stirland. Raising the Dead:
the Skeleton Crew of Henry VIII's Great Ship the Mary Rose. (Chichester 2002) As cited
in Strickland and Hardy, The Great Warbow. Sutton Publishing 2005.
ISBN-10: 0750931671, ISBN-13: 978-0750931670]
It was the difficulty in using the longbow which led various monarchs of England to
issue instructions encouraging their ownership and practice, including the Assize of
Arms of 1252 and King Edward III's declaration of 1363: "Whereas the people of our
realm, rich and poor alike, were accustomed formerly in their games to practise archery - whence by God's help,
it is well known that high honour and profit came to our realm, and no small advantage to ourselves in our warlike enterprises... that
every man in the same country, if he be able-bodied, shall, upon holidays, make use, in his games, of bows and arrows... and so learn
and practise archery." If the people practised archery, it would be that much easier for the King to recruit the proficient longbowmen
he needed for his wars. Along with the greater ability of gunfire to penetrate plate armour, it was the amount of time needed to train
longbowmen which eventually led to their being replaced by musketmen.
The effects of a powerful bow on contemporary armour are illustrated by this 12th century account by Gerald of Wales:quote|... [I] n the
war against the Welsh, one of the men of arms was struck by an arrow shot at him by a Welshman. It went right through his thigh, high
up, where it was protected inside and outside the leg by his iron cuirasses, and then through the skirt of his leather tunic; next it
penetrated that part of the saddle which is called the alva or seat; and finally it lodged in his horse, driving so deep that it killed the
animal. ["Itinerarium Cambriae", (1191)] In a modern test, a direct hit from a steel bodkin point penetrated Damascus chain armour.
[Hunting with the Bow and Arrow, by Saxton Pope.http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext05/8hbow10.txt "To test a steel bodkin pointed
arrow such as was used at the battle of Cressy, I borrowed a shirt of chain armor from the Museum, a beautiful specimen made in
Damascus in the 15th Century. It weighed twenty-five pounds and was in perfect condition. One of the attendants in the Museum offered
to put it on and allow me to shoot at him. Fortunately, I declined his proffered services and put it on a wooden box, padded with burlap
to represent clothing.
Indoors at a distance of seven yards, I discharged an arrow at it with such force that sparks flew from the links of steel as from a forge.
The bodkin point and shaft went through the thickest portion of the back, penetrated an inch of wood and bulged out the opposite side
of the armor shirt. The attendant turned a pale green. An arrow of this type can be shot about two hundred yards, and would be deadly
up to the full limit of its flight."] (Bodkin points have been described as "armour-piercing", but the latest research is that they were not
made of hardened steel and were not designed for this purpose.) [
[http://www.royalarmouries.org/what-we-do/research/analytical-projects/armour-piercing-arrowheads Royal Armouries: 6.
Even very heavy draw longbows have trouble penetrating well made, tough steel plate armour, which was used increasingly after
1350. Armour of the Medieval eras was not proof against arrows until the specialized armour of the Italian city state mercenary
companies. ["Medieval Military Surgery", Medieval History Magazine, Vol 1 issue 4, December 2003] Archery was ineffective against
plate armour in the Battle of Neville's Cross (1346), the siege of Bergerac (1345), and the Battle of Poitiers (1356); such armour became
available to European knights of fairly modest means by the late 1300s, though never to all soldiers in any army. Strickland and Hardy
suggest that "even at a range of 240 yards heavy war arrows shot from bows of poundages in the mid- to upper range possessed by the
Mary Rose bows would have been capable of killing or severely wounding men equipped with armour of wrought iron. Higher-quality
armour of steel would have given considerably greater protection, which accords well with the experience of Oxford's men against the
elite French vanguard at Poitiers in 1356, and des Ursin's statement that the French knights of the first ranks at Agincourt, which
included some of the most important (and thus best-equipped) nobles, remained comparatively unhurt by the English arrows."
[Strickland M, Hardy R. The Great Warbow. Sutton Publishing 2005. Pages 272-278]
However, not all plate armour was well made or well looked after, and there were also weak points in the joints where arrows could
still penetrate. Full plate armour of the highest quality was also extremely expensive, only used by the most elite (and rich) soldiers,
such as knights; the vast majority of soldiers were not armoured in plate from head-to-toe. Even for knights, in practice their horses
tended to be less well protected than they were themselves. As late as 1415, the hail of arrows created by massed ranks of thousands of
longbowmen helped to win the battle against plate armoured French knights at Agincourt. English longbowmen often carried short
swords or mauls (massive hammers), and longbowmen taking advantage of wet, muddy terrain could outfight dismounted armored
knights whose horses had been killed by arrows.
On the battlefield, English archers stabbed their arrows upright into the ground at their feet, reducing the time it took to notch, draw
and loose (as drawing from a quiver is slower). An additional effect of this practice was that the point of an arrow would be more likely
to cause infection.
Arrows recovered from the Mary Rose show that some arrowheads were attached using a copper-based glue. Copper is slightly toxic
but there is no evidence that it was used because of this, or indeed that it could enter the bloodstream through a wound at all.
The only way to remove such an arrow cleanly would be to tie a piece of cloth, soaked in boiling water or another sterilising
substance, to the end of it and push it through the victim's wound and out of the other side — this was extremely painful. There
were specialised tools used in the medieval period to extract arrows from places where bone prevented the arrow being pushed
Prince Hal (later Henry V) was wounded in the face by an arrow at the Battle of Shrewsbury (1403). The royal physician John Bradmore
had a tool made, which consisted of a pair of smooth tongs. Once carefully inserted into the rear of the arrowhead wound, the tongs
screwed apart till they gripped its walls and allowed the head to be extracted from the wound. Prior to the extraction, the hole made
by the arrow shaft had been widened by inserting larger and larger dowels of wood down the entry wound. The dowels were soaked in
honey, which has antiseptic properties. The wound was dressed with a poultice of barley and honey mixed in turpentine. After 20 days
the wound was free of infection. [Josephine Cummins [http://www.rcpsg.ac.uk/hdrg/2006Nov3.htm Saving Prince Hal: maxillo-facial
surgery, 1403] , [http://www.rcpsg.ac.uk/hdrg/ History of Dentistry Research Group] , University of Glasgow, [3 November] 2006. Accessed
14 April 2008]
Although bowmen were still deadly at close range, they were light skirmishers unsuited to prolonged hand-to-hand combat and were
understandably vulnerable to a committed attack by cavalry. Consequently they were often deployed behind physical barricades, such
as stakes and poles driven into the ground; at Agincourt, they were deployed behind boggy ground. A longbow corps was vulnerable to
ambush until its defensive barricade was complete. This practice discouraged offensive battle tactics because the longbow was most
effective when an opposing army charged.
A common battle formation:
* Light Infantry (such as swordsmen) in the centre forward, in rank formation.
* Heavy Infantry (often armed with pole weapons such as poleaxes, bills being a preferred English weapon) in the centre middle, in
rank or square formation.
* Traditional Archers and Crossbowmen in the centre back, in rank formation.
* Cavalry either on the flanks (to protect against attacks), or in the centre in reserve, to be deployed as needed (for example, to counter
* Longbowmen were usually on the side, in an enfilade formation, rather like this: ___ /, with the middle being occupied by melee
Archery is not very accurate at extreme distances, so generals massed longbowmen in order to create a 'cloud of arrows.' A skillful
general would alternate flights of arrows with cavalry charges, sometimes alternating flank attacks to induce shock and fear in the
enemy. The arrows were used in volleys and not aimed at specific targets until the enemy was quite close. The English used
longbowmen in unprecedented numbers in the Hundred Years War, as the dominant part of their armies, with approximately 7,000
archers in an army of 9,000 at the Battle of Agincourt.
Surviving bows and arrows
More than 3,500 arrows and 137 whole longbows were recovered from the "Mary Rose", a ship of Henry VIII's navy that was sunk at
Portsmouth in 1545. It is an important source for the history of the longbow, as the bows, archery implements and the skeletons of
archers have been preserved. The bows range in length from 1.87 to 2.11 m (6 ft 1 in to 6 ft 11 in) with an average length of 1.98 m (6 ft 6
in). [ The Mary Rose Trust. The Ship - Armament - Page 6 of 10 - Bows. http://www.maryrose.org/ship/bows1.htm] The majority of the
arrows were made of poplar, others were made of beech, ash and hazel. Draw lengths of the arrows varied between 61 and 81
centimetres (24 to 32 inches) with the majority having a draw length of 76 centimetres (30 inches)). [ The Mary Rose Trust. The Ship -
Armament - Page 7 of 10 - Bows. http://www.maryrose.org/ship/bows2.htm] The head would add 5-15 cm depending on type, though
some 2-4.5cm must be allowed for the insertion of the shaft into the socket."The Great Warbow: From Hastings to the Mary Rose"
(Hardcover). Matthew Strickland. Sutton Publishing 2005. ISBN-10: 0750931671, ISBN-13: 978-0750931670, page 6.]
The longbows on the "Mary Rose" were in excellent finished condition. There were enough bows to test some to destruction which
resulted in draw forces of 450 N (100 lbf) on average. However, analysis of the wood indicated that they had degraded significantly in
the seawater and mud, which had weakened their draw forces. Replicas were made and when tested had draw forces of 680 to 900 N
(150 to 200 lbf). ["Longbow", by Robert Hardy ( [http://www.florilegium.org/files/ARCHERY/p-archery-msg.html on line summary] )]
In 1980, before the recent finds from the Mary Rose, Robert E. Kaiser published a paper stating that there were five known surviving
* The first bow comes from the Battle of Hedgeley Moor in 1464, during the War of the Roses. A family who lived at the castle since the
battle had preserved it to modern times. It is 1.66 m (65.5 in) and a 270 N ( 60 lbf) draw force. [Henry Gordon and Alf Webb, "The
Hedgeley Moor Bow at Alnwick Castle", "Journal of the Society of Archer-Antiquaries" 15 (1972), pp. 8–9]
* The second dates to the Battle of Flodden "a landmark in the history of archery, as the last battle on English soil to be fought with the
longbow as the principal weapon..." [E.G. Heath, "The Grey Goose Wing", p. 134] in 1513. It hung in the rafters at the headquarters of
the Royal Scottish Archers in Edinburgh, Scotland. It has a draw force of 360 to 410 N (80 to 90 lbf).
* The third and fourth were recovered in 1836 by John Deane from the "Mary Rose". Both weapons are in the Tower of London Armoury
and Horace Ford writing in 1887 estimated them to have a draw force of 280 to 320 N (65 to 70 lbf). [Horace Ford, "The Theory and
Practice of Archery" (London: Longman Green and Co., 1887), page 3.] A modern replica made in the early 1970s of these bows has a
draw force of 460 N (102 lbf). [Alexander McKee, "King Henry VIII's Mary Rose" (New York: Stein and Day, 1974), p. 103]
* The fifth surviving longbow comes from the armoury of the church in the village of Mendlesham in Suffolk, England and is believed to
date either from the period of Henry VIII or Queen Elizabeth I. The Mendlesham Bow is broken but has an estimated length of 1.73 to
1.75 m (68 to 69 inches) and draw force of 350 N (80 lbf). [W.F. Paterson, Chairman, Society of Archer-Antiquaries. Letters, 5 May, 1976.]
The importance of the longbow in medieval English culture can be seen in the legends of Robin Hood, who was increasingly depicted
as a master archer and in the "Song of the Bow," a poem from "The White Company" [Project Gutenberg e-text of "
[http://www.gutenberg.net/etext/903 The White Company] "] by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
The Assize of Arms of 1252 stated that all "citizens, burgesses, free tenants, villeins and others from 15 to 60 years of age" should be
armed. The poorest of them were expected to at least have a bow. This made it easier for the King to raise an army, but also meant
that the bow was a commonly used weapon by rebels during the Peasants' Revolt. From the time that the yeoman class of England
became proficient with the longbow, the nobility in England had to be careful not to push them into open rebellion. This was a check
on the power of the nobility of England which did not exist on the European continent.
*V sign as an insult, details on the "two-fingers salute" and if it derives from the gestures of longbowmen fighting in the English army at
the battle of Agincourt.