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Home > Books > An Essay on Archery > Chapter XI: On the Englifh Long-Bow.
Chapter XI
On the Englifh Long-Bow.
Part 11 of 12

Our Archers formerly, alfo, carried a leaden maul, with which the wounded were finally difpatched. This inftrument was known among the Englifh and Scotch, as early as the beginning of the fourteenth century, and continued to be ufed by them till the middle of the fixteenth. This weapon was fometimes twenty-five pounds in weight, and had an iron hoop on each end, to prevent the lead indenting on the edges. Its handle was five feet long, and it was ufually carried on the back.

It is fomething extraordinary, that the Laplanders have reprefented their great God Thor, with a Bow in one hand and a Mallet, or Maul, in the other. They fay this God wounds the evil Daemons with his Bow, and then dafhes out their brains with the Maul.183

Befides the defenfive armour worn by each individual, there was an expedient by which the troops were often protected from the effects of Archery. One of the moft beautiful, as well as ufeful manoeuvres, in the ancient difcipline, was calculated to ward off the miffive weapons. The Teftudo, was in ufe among the Greeks, the Romans, the Englifh, and others; and was often executed with wonderful addrefs. According to Potter, it was formed " when the foldiers, drawn up clofe together, and the hindermoft ranks bowing themfelves, placed their Targets above their heads; as if we fuppofe the firft rank to ftand erect, the reft to ftoop lower and lower by degrees, till the laft rank kneeled upon the ground ; the men in front and on the fides holding their Targets before their bodies, the reft covering the heads of thofe that were placed before them; fo that the whole body refembled a pent houfe, or roof covered with tile, down which the enemy's miffive weapons eafily glided without prejudice to the foldiers beneath."184

The formation of the Teftudo is often mentioned by our old Chronicle writers, and feems to have been much ufed in this kingdom in early times, againft the force of Arrows and Javelins.185

Our ancient Archers, as well as thofe of France, were accuftomed, at the befieging of towns, to protect themfelves by a very large kind of fhield, which was placed on the ground before them, and which warded off the attacks of the enemy; while they from their ambufh, kept up a perpetual difcharge of Arrows on thofe who ventured on the walls, and whilft the larger engines and battering-rams were exerting their efforts in forcing a breach. G. Britton makes mention of thefe large fhields, as ufed by our King John, when attacking a town in Anjou.186

Befides thefe expedients ufed againft the attacks of an army, the old Englifh Archers had a method of protecting themfelves from the approach of the cavalry. Each Bowman carried with him one, and fometimes two large flakes, fharpened at each end. Thefe were placed in the earth before the lines, prefenting their points on a level with the the breafts of the horfes, and oppofing their purfuit.187

The principal ufes for which Archers were valued in battle, have been divided under the eight following heads, viz.

  1. — To begin the fight at a diftance.
  2. — To provoke the enemy, to harrafs and draw him out of his advantageous poft.
  3. — To wound the enemy at a diftance.
  4. — To diforder the enemy as he makes his approach.
  5. — To gall the horfes.
  6. — To cope with, and hinder efforts of the light armed troops of their antagonists.
  7. — To fcout and difcover ambufhes, as well as to lie in ambufh themfelves.
  8. — In making fpeedy and fudden attempts in time of battle.188
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