The Longbow

The Longbow

The bow was a crucial part of medieval warfare, appearing in three forms during battle - the shortbow, the composite bow and the longbow.

The longbow played a significant role during the Hundred Years War, helping the determine the outcome of many important battles, and was also used during naval battles by highly trained English archers. This was the case during the Battle of Sluys in 1356, where the longbow was responsible for significant death on French shops.

The longbow also played a vital role in the Battle of Poitiers in 1356, where it was responsible of the deaths of 2,000 French knights, the highest ranking troops in the French army.

In total, 20,000 English soldiers defeated 60,000 French soldiers, and it is believed that the longbow was the reason for the success of the English.

Keen on ensuring this success continued, English kings regularly provided prizes as sponsors for tournaments, which would be awarded to the best archers. Archery was also the only sport that could be practised on a Sunday as it ensured there were many archers available should war break out. Lords would also encourage this as it was the law to provide the king with a certain number of archers each year.

Historians believe the first longbow was designed in Wales, from which is spread across England. In fact, Edward I himself witnessed its used when he conquered the Welsh during the 1280s, and subsequently helped to boost its reputation.

English longbow
English longbow

The average longbow measured around six feet in length and was created from the yew tree. However, a shortage of these trees meant they were also crafted from ash and elm trees.

Archers also had to carry arrows, which measured around three feet and had either large tips designed to pierce armour or narrow tips created to pierce plate armour. All arrows were crafted from ash, oak or birch trees, which were common.

When experienced and well trained, archers were capable of firing one arrow every five seconds, which made for a strong attack when coordinated.

According to medieval stories, the longbow was strong enough to pierce four inches of oak, and this has been confirmed in modern day tests from a close distance. However, the longbow was also capable of crossing vast distances of up to 400 metres, making it a versatile weapon.


See also:

The Hundreds Years War

MLA Citation/Reference

"The Longbow". HistoryLearning.com. 2015. Web.