Steel has been lately attempted for the long bow, but without
success, for if made strong enough to insure a quick cast, it was
found to be far beyond the power of man to draw it without
mechanical aid: and when otherwise, it proved extremely sluggish in
According to Grose, Archery, which during the Reign of Edward the
3rd, was raised to the highest pitch of excellence that most
probably it ever attained, was kept up 'till about the year 1643,
when it gradually gave way to the use of fire-arms.
Spanish and Flemish yew was also much esteemed for Bows, and Stow
says "that the People of Castile, purposely destroyed their
woods, and provided by Law that no such wood should be preserved.
The best yew, however, for bows appears unquestionably to have been
imported from Venice. In the Reign of Richard III. merchants trading
to places from whence bow-staves were commonly brought, were obliged
to import four bow-staves for every ton of Malmsey or Tyre wine,
under a penalty of 13s. 4d. and in order to encourage the
Importation, those of six feet and a half long or more, were excused
payment of duty.
Henry VIII. passed acts relative to Archery, and amongst the several
rules and regulations made for the support of the art, was one that
says, " none under 24 years of age, might shoot any standing
mark except it was for a rover, and then he was to change his mark
at every shot, under the penalty of four-pence for every shot made
contrary, &c. Also, that no person above the age of 24 should
shoot at any mark that was not above eleven score yards distant,
under pain of forfeiting for every shot 6s..8d.
The manufacturing of these bows, requires great attention. Mr.
Waring of London has brought bows of this description to a high
perfection. The backed ones which consist only of one or two pieces
of wood for the belly, and the second or third or whole piece for
the back, are probably sufficiently hazardous, considering the
uncertainty and moisture of the English climate, without
increasing the chance of separation and fracture by the
addition of two more pieces glued together—Every backing is
necessarily attended with much risk and trouble. The fixing of the
several parts together, is done in frames, which are generally
reflexed, without which, good backing cannot be accomplished.—Hence
the necessity of employing a good Bowyer.
It is recorded, that on this occasion, Robin Hood was dressed in
Scarlet, and his men in Green, " Lincoln Green," we
presume according to " Ritson," and that they all wore
black hats and white feathers.
"Men at Arms" were Cavalry clad in armour; sometimes
called by Froissart "Gens D'Armes." at other times
"Lances" from the Spears or Lances they often carried.
These soldiers fought both on horseback and on foot.
It is a singular fact, that most of our historians (following
Mezeray, the French Chronicler) have remarked, that at this
famous battle, the strings of the Genoese cross-bows were so much
relaxed by rain, as to have been of little service. Some writers
do not notice this disadvantage on the part of the cross-bow men,
but only the superior effect of the English Long-bow. Muratori
attributes the deficiency of the Genoese force, to the state of
the ground, which was so soft, that when the cross-bow men
attempted to put one foot in the stirrup of the cross-bow, in order
to charge it, the other slipped from under them.
The ancient order of reducing archers into form, was into hearses,
i. e. broad in front, and narrow in flank. " These hearses
of archers were placed either before the front of the armed footmen,
or else in wings upon the corners of battalions, and sometimes both
in front and wings."' Sir J. Smith.
J Stow relates the fact, that the English, under the Earls of
Norwich, Salisbury, and Suffolk, "with their wearied
batailles, joined the Prince after having supplied the exhausted
Quivers of their archers with arrows drawn from their dead and
Speed's Annals, p.. 328.—It is recorded, that in this
desperate conflict between the English and Scots, " the Men at
Arms did not strike a stroke, or were not called much into action ;
they were little more than mere spectators of the valour and
victory of the archers."
Northumberland not thinking his services properly rewarded, and
disgusted at not having been permitted to ransom his Scottish
Captives, amongst whom was the Earl Douglas, set them at liberty,
and joined his forces to those of the Scots, against his Sovereign.
See P. Andrews's Gt. Britain, &c.
See Sir John Smith's discourse on Weapons. This expression
respecting the appearance of arrows, is by no means hyperbolical.
Historians of all ages have made similar obervations on their
flights. So also many Poets.
"_______________And flang out such a flight,
Of shafts, as well near seem'd t' eclipse the welcome light,
And with the shots came shafts, like stormy showers of Hail."
Besides the Dukes of Orleans, Brabant, Nevers, and Bourbon, the
Marshall Boucicault. the Counts D'Eu Vindome, Richemont, and
Harcourt, with 7,000 barons, knights, and gentlemen, were of the
This sanguinary Ruffian. (who was on the side of the Lancastrians)
murdered the Infant Rutland, whom though but twelve years old, he
slew in cool blood, in spite of the earnest prayers of a Priest his
Henry Jenkins believed he might be about 12 years of age at the time
of the battle of Flowden Field, when he was sent to Northalerton
with a horse load of arrows, which a bigger boy had the charge of
from thence to the army under the Earl of Surry.
Henry, the thirteenth Lord Clifford, on account of the hatred, the
House of York, bore to his family, was concealed in the disguise of
a shepherd, from seven years old, till he arrived at his
thirty-second year, when in the first Parliament of Henry VII, he
was restored to blood and honor, to all his Baronies, Lands, and
Castles. He died 1523.
This maule was for the purpose of despatching the wounded, (most
probably those only who were mortally wounded.) These
instruments of butchery, were used as late as the time of
Louis XII. who died in 1524.
See Mason's " Considerations of the reasons that exist for
reviving the use of the Long-bow, with the Pike." Published by
Egerton, Whitehall, 1798.
N.B.—This excellent little work, might prove a complete "
Drill Sergeant" to a corps of archers!
The English archers would frequently discharge their flights of
arrows at the enemy, at fifteen and sixteen score yards distance,
particularly at the approach of large bodies of horse or on the
enemy's infantry coming down in close columns.
• A whole suit of armour is more easily worn, then a heavy
breast plate alone, as the weight of the former is equalized. A girl
carrying a single pail of water, performs her office with more
fatigue, than if she carried the like weight in each hand.
Had Sir John Smith, who was so great a soldier, and who had gathered
so much experience in warfare which fell to his lot, lived to have
witnessed the perfection to which the rifle has been brought, he
would not probably have classed or included such an instrument with
the common musquet of the time of Henry VIII.
Sir John Haywood remarks, that the eye in all battles, is first
overcome.(In the book, this reference is missing in the text. It has
been added by the editor of the digital version based on deduction
from the text)
Arrows charged with fire, and adhering to men and horses, (which, by
a pamphlet in the British Museum, called, " A New
Invention for shooting Fire Shalt- in the Long-Bow, 1698,"
appears to have been the case in former times,) may readily be
conceived to be productive of immediate disorder, amongst the Enemy.
The service also of barbed arrows charged with fire, is in firing
combustible places, also the enemy's tents, sails of ships, &c.
and in molesting the cannoniers, particularly by night, the archers
having of course previously ascertained the distances, all which is
peculiarly adapted for the service of Archery in general.
The practice of archery appears to be rapidly increasing, and there
is hardly a county in England without one archery society or more
than one belonging to it : and in which are generally to be found
Ladies of the first rank and fashion, whose appearance on the target
grounds renders the same at all times particularly lively, and
A backed bow is generally a little reflexed. The bow being thus
formed, may deceive, and induce a beginner to imagine, that it is to
be bent the way it appears to be inclined, whereas, the proper
bending of the bow will be found to be quite the contrary.
Mr. Ainsworth of Walton le Dale, near Preston, Bow Maker and
Fletcher, makes beautiful and most excellent arrows, and which he
covers with thin lacker or varnish. Turkish arrows are often made of
Pile appears to be derived from the latin word pila, a ball, and was
applied to arrow heads belonging to those people who lived within
the royal forests in the time of Henry VII, as they were not allowed
to shoot with arrows that were not rounded, or balled at the heads,
on account of the game.—Since this period, the term pile has
been indiscriminately given to all sorts of arrow heads.
The tempering of steel piles for arrows, should be regulated
according to the use designed for them. If for piercing wood, the
steel must be made to what is called the "cutting temper"
that is of a pale straw color. If for piercing metal, the steel must
be tempered of a much higher color, from which additional heat, it
becomes softer, and therefore better adapted for the end proposed.
But, for common purposes, the temper of the steel may be managed
between these two extremes.
An "Ascham" should be made about seven feet high i.e. in
the "clear" within. About thirty inches from the base
upwards, it is made broader outwards, for the purpose of
receiving a rack with holes pierced and fixed horizontally, to hold
a few dozen arrows, as may be convenient; over this broader part is
a flap, which covers the arrows, and from which upwards the door of
the "Ascham" is placed. The bows are arranged at the back,
having a free space between them and the racks of a few inches, and
may be held in their places by small straps of leather, on brass
This practice of the Turks, presuming that it was founded upon
experience, seems as to the philosophy of the matter, in direct
variance with the fact recorded in the former part of this book,
under the subject of “Heads or piles of arrows," viz.
that, some blunt headed arrows, in an experiment made between such
and some sharp headed ones, always flew the furthest.