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An adventurous shot into the past
by William Butt.
From: The Archer's Register for 1893-1894, pp. 223-225.
Part 1 of 3

IT is so seldom that any mention of archery occurs in early history, perhaps for the very reason that, except darts, stone throwing, and slings, bows and arrows furnished the only handily available missiles, that any text, however meagre, appears welcome. The following freely treated quotations may then possibly prove acceptable, as I do not recollect any previous notice of them.

Sismondi, in his "Histoire des Français"—a history most naturally unpopular amongst the French, as he shows no disposition to cater for the somewhat inflated pride of our neighbours—quoting Ammianus Marcellinus, a Latin writer of the fourth century of the Christian era (who describes the period between 352 and 378, and was a companion of the Emperor Julian during his campaigns), relates the death of the Roman Emperor Valentinian I, and the accession of his elder son Gratian, then aged 16 1/2 years, who had been educated by the Gallic poet Ausonius. During a reign of almost nine years Gratian scarcely left Gaul (residing constantly at Trèves), where he published useful laws and encouraged the cultivation of letters, having abandoned the government of Italy and Africa to Valentinian II., his younger brother, and that of the East to Theodosius the Great.

An invasion of Germans provided Gratian an opportunity to display his valour by defeating them in a mighty pitched battle, fought near Colmar (now ceded to Prussia) in the month of May, 378, when the Germans are said to have lost 30,000 fighting men.