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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 8 of 12

Archers, however, feem to have been again in ufe among the French armies, during the fucceeding reign of Charles VIII. as Philip de Comines makes mention of them at the battle of Fornova, (or Fournue) at which there were many Scotch Archers.166

During the time of Francis I. the Bow feems to have been almoft entirely difufed. P. Daniel fays, that in the year 1522, there was but one Arbalefter in the army, at the fight of Bico; but this one Archer was fo expert, that an officer named Jean de Cardonne, having opened the vizor of his helmet to take breath, this man ftruck him in the unguarded part with his Arrow and killed him.167

Though the Bow was not ufed in this expedition, it was ftill practifed by the inhabitants of Gafcony; and in the reign of Francis I. was ftill introduced in battle.168

Fire-arms after this time became more general, and in a fhort period altogether excluded the Bow and Arbaleft, as warlike inftruments.

The name of Archers, however, was continued to thofe in particular offices for fome years, and even to the prefent day the minifters of executive juftice, retain the title.

The decay of the ufe of the Bow, in our country, fo much regreted by Englifh writers, was attributed to two caufes; firft the fafcination of feveral games and diverfions to which the yeomanry were partial; and fecondly, the introduction of fire-arms.

We cannot wonder that the unvaried ufe of the Bow, fhould in the procefs of time become irkfome; and it is reafonable to fuppofe, that foldiers tired with war, would feel greater pleafure in trivial amufements, if new, than in the familiar practice of Archery. The natural love of variety would foon operate, fo as to make compulfive laws neceffary.

With refpect to the fecond caufe, the introduction of artillery; it was flow, but at length efficacious in fubverting the ufe of the Bow in battle.

It long remained a doubt which was the moft advantageous weapon, the Mufket or Bow. The doubt continued more than two centuries after the ufe of artillery in action, and even in the time of Elizabeth, the preference was by many, given to the Bow.

Sir John Hayward, in his life of the Norman kings, (printed 1613) after fpeaking of the effects of Archery at the battle of Haftings, compares the advantages of fire-arms, with thofe of the Bow and affigns four reafons for deciding in favour of the latter. "Firft," fays he, " for that in a reafonable diftance, it is of greater, both certainty and force. Secondly, for that it difchargeth fafter.169 Thirdly, for that more men may difcharge therewith at once; for only the firft ranke difchargeth the piece, neither hurt they any, but thofe that are in front; but with the Bow, ten or twelve rankes may difcharge together, and will annoy fo many rankes of the enemies. Laftly, for that the Arrow doeth ftrike more parts of the body; for in that it hurteth by difcent; (and not only point blanke like the bullet) there is no part of the body but it may ftrike; from the crown of the head, even to the nailing of the foot to the ground. Hereupon it followeth, that the Arrows falling fo thick as hail upon the bodies of men, as lefs feareful of their flefh, fo, more flenderly armed than in former times, muft neceffarily worke moft difaftrous effects."

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