On the Englifh Long-Bow.
Part 4 of 12
Nothing particularly applicable to the Long-bow (for I do not mean that Archery remains unnoticed) is to be found in our early hiftoriaris, during the reigns immediately following, till that of Edward III. in whofe time this weapon is fuppofed to have been much in ufe."146 Mr. Barrington entertains this opinion very reafonably, from circumftances which occured at the battle of Crecy. The Arbalefts in the hands of the Genoefe, were all expofed to a violent ftorm, which happened juft before the battle commenced. This florin falling on the ftrings of their Bows, relaxed them fo far, as to render them incapable of proper fervice; while on the other hand, the Englifh Bows were kept in their cafes during the rain and were not injured. From hence Mr. Barrington concludes, the Englifh ufed the Longbow, as that inftrument was ufually provided with a cafe, but the Crofs-bow, being of fo inconvenient a fhape, could not be provided with fuch covering. Indeed this latter kind of Bow, is not faid to have been even furnifhed with a cover, as far as I have been able to find.
The Battle of Crecy, as well as that of Poictiers, (where the Archers poured forth their Quivers in fuch bloody victories,147) intimates the Bow to have been highly cultivated by the Englifh at thofe times; but it was found neceiffary by Edward to enforce the practice of Archery during the peace which followed, as the foldiers rather attended to other amufements, than Archery.
During the reign of Richard II. little is recorded with refpect to the Bow. We find, however, from Hollinfhead, that a number of Archers were fent at the requeft of the Genoefe, to affift them againft the Saracens on the coaft of Barbary; and that they performed fome meritorious exploits with their Long-bow.148
From a paffage in Stow, we find Richard II. to have had a very numerous guard of Archers; for in the year 1397, as one day the members were leaving the Parliament Houfe, "a great ftir was made as was ufual; whereupon the King's Archers, in number four thoufand, compaffed the Parliament-houfe, thinking there had been fome broil, or fighting, with their Bows bent, their Arrows notched, and drawing, ready to fhoot, to the terror of all that were there: but the King coming pacified them."149
The moft memorable circumftance with refpect to the Bow, which occurred in the reign of Henry IV. was the victory gained over the Scots near Halidowne-hill, in the year 1402; "where," in the words of an old hiftorian, "the Lord Percies Archers did withall deliver their deadly Arrowes fo lively, fo couragioufly, fo grievoufly, that they ranne through the men of armes, bored the helmets, pierced their very fwords, beat their lances to the earth, and eafily fhot thofe who were more flightly armed, through and through."150
The battle of Agincourt, which happened in the year 1415, under Henry V. is the next fignal victory afcribed to the Englifh Archers, who deftroyed a great number of the French cavalry, by their yard-long Arrows, This, indeed, feems the laft very important action in which Archery is much fpoken of, and although the ufe of it was continued through feveral fucceeding reigns, it at length feems to have been cultivated more as an amufement, than for real military fervice.151
The amufement was extremely fafhionable in the time of Henry VIII. and Hollinfhead reports, that that prince fhot as well as any of his guard.
Edward VI. is faid, by Mr. Barrington, to have been fond of the exercife of Archery.152
Charles I. appears to have amufed himfelf in this way alfo, and is reprefented in the frontifpiece of Markham's Art of Archery, (1634) in the attitude and drefs of a Bowman.