Anecdotes of Archery
Part 11 of 34
EDWARD III. in the 15th year of his reign iffued an order to the fheriffs of moft of the Englifh counties; for providing five hundred white bows and five hundred bundles of arrows for the then intended war againft France in 1341.
Similar orders were repeated in the following years; with this difference only, that the fheriff of Gloucefterfhire is directed to furnifh five hundred painted bows, as well as the fame number of white. The famous battle of Creffey was fought four years afterwards, in which the Englifh are faid to have Had four thoufand Archers, who were oppofed to 15000 Genoefe crofs-bow men. Thefe having their bow ftrings moiftened with rain, their arrows fell fhort for want of the ufual elafticity ; the Englifh having guarded againft this inconvenience, gained a complete victory in 1346.
The battle of Poictiers was fought ten years after, (A. D. 1356) and gained by the fuperiority of the Englifh Archers.
A.D. 1392, an act paffed to oblige fervants to fhoot with bows and arrows on Holydays and Sundays.
Sometimes the archers gained great victories without the leaft affiftance from the men at arms; particularly the decifive victory over the Scots at Hamildon in 1402 In that bloody battle the men at arms did not ftrike a ftroke; but were mere fpectators of the valour and victory of the Archers. The EARL of DOUGLAS who commanded the Scots army in that action, enraged to fee his men falling thick around him by fhowers of arrows, and trailing to the goodnefs of his armour (which had been three years in making;) accompanied by about eighty lords, knights, and gentlemen in complete armour, rufhed forward and attacked the Englifh Archers fword in hand. But he foon had reafon to repent his rafhnefs. The Englifh arrows were fo fharp and ftrong, and difcharged with fo much force, that no armour could repel them. EARL DOUGLAS, after having received five wounds was made prifoner; and all his brave companions were either killed or taken.
PHILIP DE COMINES acknowledges what our own writers affert, that the Englifh Archers excelled thofe of every other nation :
And SIR JOHN FORTESCUE fays again and again,
"that the might of the realme of England ftandyth upon Archers."