Gene Garay 11/30/11
Professor Shawcross History 121
The longbow reached its peak during the 14th and 15th Centuries, as it was a major weapon in battle. As the readings for class have been concentrated on the fighting that has taken place during the Hundred Years War, the longbow situates itself as a key component to this discussion, as it was what elevated the English to victories in important battles. It reinforces that the English won through a means of tactical brilliance, even when they were outnumbered.
The longbow showed its greatest strength in three battles during the Hundred Years War, which were the battle of Crecy, Poitiers, and Agincourt. The article also refers to the crossbow, which proved to be weaker than the longbow, as the French used this as part of their tactic at the battle of Crecy. As stated in the article, “…With a firing rate of three – five volleys per minute they (the crossbowmen) were however no match for the English and Welsh longbow men who could fire ten – twelve arrows in the same amount of time…” The French then proceeded to send in their cavalry, as their leaders deemed their archers useless, resulting in the mounted troops being mowed down by English longbow men. Similar to this scenario, the French had developed a small cavalry unit for the battle at Poitiers, whom when sent to attack, were demolished by English archers yet again. The Germans, who had become allies with the French, followed this action with the same approach, proving to be as unsuccessful as before. At the battle of Agincourt, a siege of the town had taken place that lasted up to five weeks, much longer than expected. After an initial stalemate, the English forced the action, creating the French to react and once again send their cavalry after the English troops. A factor that played a role in the English’s success at this battle was the rain-soaked ground, which made it hard for the French cavalry to advance, leaving them in a position to get hit by the volley of English arrows. 6,000 to 10,000 French soldiers perished while the English only lost men somewhere in the count of hundreds.
This article definitely provides insight into the significance of the longbow during these battles. The use of factual information makes the material believable, even with the astonishing numbers that are presented. However, primary sources would have aided in creating the authors argument into just how important the longbow really was. Also, more information on the longbow itself should have been given, to provide the reader with better insight into how it works and why it was such a dynamic weapon at the time.
Further investigation that should be done would be to look into how an archer was most effective, whether it was shooting for accuracy or pace, and what was required of a man to become a skilled longbows man. This article did relate to the readings in class though, providing more insight into these battles that had taken place during the Hundred Years War.
[Waley] [Daniel] [Denley] [Peter] [Later Medieval Europe 1250-1520] [3rd Edition] [Great Britain] [Longman Group]