Historum - History Forums  

Go Back   Historum - History Forums > World History Forum > Medieval and Byzantine History
Register Forums Blogs Social Groups Mark Forums Read

Medieval and Byzantine History Medieval and Byzantine History Forum - Period of History between classical antiquity and modern times, roughly the 5th through 16th Centuries


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old November 20th, 2012, 04:52 PM   #11

Ancientgeezer's Avatar
Revisionist
 
Joined: Nov 2011
From: The Dustbin, formerly, Garden of England
Posts: 5,238

A neighbour of mine, a reserve cop in the South African police,was involved in an incident a few years ago. He and a colleague came under fire from some bad guys armed with 9mm pistols and an R4 5.56mm rifle.
Both were wearing body armour and both received hits. My neighbour had trauma plates inserted, the colleague did not. My neighbour received an R4 round full in the chest ( the trauma plate) and was both winded and bruised ( nothing worse), the collegue received two 9mm rounds which did not penetrate his body armour, but smashed his breastbone and ribs and caused substantial internal injuries.
Now an arrow is not a modern ballistic round, but is it possible that one could knock an armoured knight down, wind him, and make him vunerable to the Oik with a mace?
Ancientgeezer is online now  
Remove Ads
Old November 20th, 2012, 10:36 PM   #12

funakison's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Oct 2012
From: Between a rock and a hard place
Posts: 3,408
Blog Entries: 1

The English longbow was used en masse delivering up to 10 rounds a minute, so in a 100 years war battle, that could be 40000 arrows a minute. Mounted knights though armoured were still at risk, their trusted steeds were not covered from mane to hoof in plate armour and many a fine animal must have been hit, this world have caused mayhem at the charge. Foot knights had to walk into a hail of arrows pinging off their armour, at close range this must have been at best painful and at worst down right hazardous.
funakison is offline  
Old November 20th, 2012, 10:59 PM   #13

Belisarius's Avatar
Dominus Historiae
 
Joined: Jun 2006
From: U.K.
Posts: 9,699

Quote:
Originally Posted by Von Ranke View Post
Sorry I just saw your link. Could you loan me 18 quid for the DVD as times are pretty tough up here? Seriously though what we can say is that using specialised arrowheads the longbow was capable of penetrating plate armour but in fact it did not need to as the force of impact was enough to disable the armoured knight.
As it happens I once had a long and interesting conversation with a re-enactor who made reproduction period arrows, while his colleague made reproduction longbows. While not in any way a citable source, the information they provided is at least interesting. The bodkin arrow head developed from this:

Click the image to open in full size.

to variations on this:

Click the image to open in full size.

The first type was designed to penetrate mail, the second to penetrate plate. There's a good article on the subject here:

Differences in Bodkin points?
Belisarius is offline  
Old November 20th, 2012, 11:51 PM   #14

Belgarion's Avatar
Cynical Optimist
 
Joined: Jul 2011
From: Australia
Posts: 3,182

Quote:
Originally Posted by funakison View Post
The English longbow was used en masse delivering up to 10 rounds a minute, so in a 100 years war battle, that could be 40000 arrows a minute. Mounted knights though armoured were still at risk, their trusted steeds were not covered from mane to hoof in plate armour and many a fine animal must have been hit, this world have caused mayhem at the charge. Foot knights had to walk into a hail of arrows pinging off their armour, at close range this must have been at best painful and at worst down right hazardous.
Yes, it seems quite likely that an armoured man, hit by two or three arrows in quick succession could be knocked off his feet and be trampled by his comrades or become stuck on the mud, unable to rise. I saw a programme about Agincourt some years ago that suggested that the majority of French casualties were caused by a crowd crush similar to a modern football stadium disaster, where some fell and others were unable to avoid falling over them.
Belgarion is offline  
Old November 21st, 2012, 01:05 AM   #15

AlpinLuke's Avatar
Knight-errant
 
Joined: Oct 2011
From: Lago Maggiore, Italy
Posts: 9,456
Blog Entries: 13

I remember that after the Mary Rose was found, some long bows have recovered and studied. The results of those research were impressive [a mean around 150 lbs!]. The bow labelled A812 recorded a power of 153 lbs. According to the calculations made by Patterson and Clark the bow MR1607 would have a power around 170 lbs [!!].

The main doubts regarding these calculations were about charging the bow. Today in archery a powerful bow for an adult is between 70 and 100 lbs [a 100 lbs bow requires a sensitive effort to be opened].

Modern archery is quite different and accuracy is preferred to power. Actually there are contemporary bowmen, like Simon Stanley, who are not wrestlers and use bows around 150 lbs.

It's a matter of technique, more than of force.

An other detail is about the weight of the arrows: to shoot those arrows it needed a bow above 110 lbs.

The limit.

According to Alan Williams and others the power required to pass the minor protection [ on legs and arms] is around 90J. Different was the matter of the chest.

If the knight had mail, plate armor and under them a pad, the force increased a lot. Up to 180-200J, if the metal was good. Too much also for a long bow [145J is the maximum calculated]. Of course the impact deformed the armor and many impacts in a short time ...

Anyway, technically to hit the chest of such a knight it required a crossbow.

See: The Great WarBow by Matthew Strickland-
The Medieval Archer by Jim bradbury
AlpinLuke is offline  
Old November 21st, 2012, 04:27 AM   #16

Nemowork's Avatar
Teflon Soul
 
Joined: Jan 2011
From: South of the barcodes
Posts: 5,388

Quote:
Originally Posted by Von Ranke View Post
Last night I watched the documentary Instruments of Death which examined the different types of weaponry and their effectiveness employed at the battle of Towton (1461). I was particularly interested in an experiment they carried out using a replica of the English longbow and a pig carcass. The upper half of the pig was dressed in a blouson and breastplate while the lower half was dressed in chainmail. They hung it on a hook and shot arrows at it from a distance of no more than thirty metres. The arrows had no difficulty in penetrating the chainmail but bounced off the breastplate leaving serious dents in the metal.

Now given the carnage that we know the longbow caused at the battles of Falkirk (1298) Crecy (1346) and Agincourt (1415) the question is how did they take out fully armoured knights ? My contention has always been that the arrows did not need to penetrate plate armour as the force of the strike was so great it could break the sternum or the ribs thus rendering the victim hors de combat. I have never seen any primary source stating that the plate armour of knights was penetrated by the longbow, which of course does not mean that there are none. What do you think?
It depends on so many factors, the quality and thickness of the armour and the way its curved to deflect arrows, the amount of padding and the angle the man is standing at.
Armour is hand made, that means its an art, some armourers are high class, some are shoddy, some use high quality steel, some men are in worn armour thats been out on campaign since grandad bought it.
Its not a standard factor.

Then you have to consider that High quality armour is expensive so only the richest will be wearing it, or there will be composites of plate with chain over the flexible areas such as joints, any weak point can be penetrated.

Then theres the strength, skill and degree of adrenaline fuelled rage or tiredness of the archer and how good his bow and arrow tips are, how close the target is, if its clear weather or moisture in the air lowers the bow strings qualities.

Every single factor is a variable, the best all these tests show is that on the day tested, with the archer tested and with the armour selected it gave one result.
Since we're using modern arrows, a modern bow, repro armour and an a modern archer theres no saying how accurate the tests are anyway.

Its all kind of academic either way, the arrow storm picks off the weaker men in the line, even without factors like bringing down horses that bring down other men, mud, crowd surge and so on it thins out the enemy formation.
By the time they get to the stake wall theyre stopped and thinned out so the foot soldiers can get around them and bring them down with polearms and finish them off with malls and knives.

The archer is important to the English way of war but he's only a component.

Every single factor
Nemowork is offline  
Old November 21st, 2012, 08:20 AM   #17

Von Ranke's Avatar
Sir! I have a plan!
 
Joined: Nov 2011
From: Thistleland
Posts: 4,454

Thanks for all your enlightening comments guys they have certainly helped me build up a picture of the effectiveness and efficiency of the English longbow. After some rooting about I have finally dug up two primary sources which supports the theory that the longbow could and did penetrate plate armour. They are both contemporary and although the authors were not present at the battles described they were in a position to have conversations with men that were. The first is by the English chronicler Adam Murimuth who has this to say about the effect of the arrows at the battle of Crecy :

' seeking out the entrails of men just as much as those of horses, their armour rarely preventing it. '

The second is a verse by the monk and poet John Lydgate from his work The Bataille of Agincourt :

' Oure archers shot full hertyle,
And made Frensshmen faste to bleed.
Ther arwes wente full good speed,
Oure enemyes therwith doun gon falle,
Thorough brestplate, haberion and bassonet yede.
Slayne there were xj thousande on a rowe alle,
Wot you right that thus it was.'

These two pieces of contemporary evidence coupled with the results of the modern day experiments have convinced me that the English longbow could and did penetrate plate armour.

Last edited by Von Ranke; November 21st, 2012 at 08:37 AM.
Von Ranke is offline  
Old November 22nd, 2012, 03:00 AM   #18

SPERRO's Avatar
Ex Cold War Warrior
 
Joined: Mar 2011
From: North East England
Posts: 3,326

Quote:
Originally Posted by Von Ranke View Post
Thanks for all your enlightening comments guys they have certainly helped me build up a picture of the effectiveness and efficiency of the English longbow. After some rooting about I have finally dug up two primary sources which supports the theory that the longbow could and did penetrate plate armour. They are both contemporary and although the authors were not present at the battles described they were in a position to have conversations with men that were. The first is by the English chronicler Adam Murimuth who has this to say about the effect of the arrows at the battle of Crecy :

' seeking out the entrails of men just as much as those of horses, their armour rarely preventing it. '

The second is a verse by the monk and poet John Lydgate from his work The Bataille of Agincourt :

' Oure archers shot full hertyle,
And made Frensshmen faste to bleed.
Ther arwes wente full good speed,
Oure enemyes therwith doun gon falle,
Thorough brestplate, haberion and bassonet yede.
Slayne there were xj thousande on a rowe alle,
Wot you right that thus it was.'

These two pieces of contemporary evidence coupled with the results of the modern day experiments have convinced me that the English longbow could and did penetrate plate armour.
I have always concluded that the effectiveness of the longbow launched arrow against plate armour, was an inexact phenomena. To state that the arrows could not penetrate plate armour is a misnomer, as it is to state that it could.

There is sufficient evidence to prove that the Longbow was a highly effective weapon, and did what was required of it namely, to stop an enemy in his tracks, either by winding/wounding or ultimately killing. the wounding/ bring down horses, is just another way to stop an enemy. If the opponent is on foot, the arrow storm has just as much impact as it does on cavalry.

The other factor regarding this weapon, is that it is cost effective and economical, disregarding the disdain put on it by European nobility.
SPERRO is offline  
Old November 22nd, 2012, 03:48 AM   #19

Von Ranke's Avatar
Sir! I have a plan!
 
Joined: Nov 2011
From: Thistleland
Posts: 4,454

Thanks for your input Sperro old mate and I agree wholeheartedly with your second paragraph. On your first point I think you are guilty of anachronistic thinking. It may only be of academic interest today whether the longbow could penetrate plate armour but it obviously mattered to the medieval weapon developers of the day. Why else would they invest so much resources into developing metal piercing arrowheads or conversely improving the resistance to them of plate armour? The psychological effect alone of an arrowhead that could pierce armour and take out the military elite of the time would I suggest have been devestating. For this reason alone I think it is a debate worth pursuing.
Von Ranke is offline  
Old November 22nd, 2012, 04:31 AM   #20

arras's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Apr 2010
From: Slovakia
Posts: 14,337

I for one have doubts about longbow, or any other bow been able to penetrate armour, especially plate on regular basis.

For one, plate armour was very expensive. You do not put so much time and resources in to something which does not work.

For second, use of plate armour increased not decreased during and after 100 years war. Again, if it did not work, it would have been used less not more.

For third, use of longbow by English on the other hand declined, not increased. Had it been battle winning weapon as it is presented, you would expect the opposite. I have to admit however, that there might have been other reason for its decline, like availability of trained archers.

For fourth, Europeans developed and used in increased umbers stronger and stronger crossbows. Like arbalest. That was heavy, clumsy weapon, very slow to load and in the end, it needed another soldier just to shield and protect crossbowman while he was reloading it. Its only advantage was sheer penetrating power of projectile. There must have been reason why were they used.

For fifth, as far as Napoleonic era, bullet-prof plate metal cuirasses were still in use. Longwow however was nor around any-more.

So all in all, I imagine relation between longbow and other missile weapons of the time and armour was probably similar to relation between tank armour and antitank guns. That is for most part it was balanced technological race with periods of one having advantage over other, than shifting positions around. Both missiles and armours were probably effective enough to guarantee their use. Longbow itself might have been just one part of that technological race, eventually getting outclassed and replaced by better missile weapons.
arras is online now  
Reply

  Historum > World History Forum > Medieval and Byzantine History

Tags
armour, english, longbow, penetrate, plate


Thread Tools
Display Modes


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Japanese Yumi vs English Longbow okamido War and Military History 100 August 10th, 2014 04:29 PM
What made the English longbow so special? Salah War and Military History 102 December 18th, 2013 02:51 AM
Why Did the West Develop Such Heavy Plate/Full-Body Armour When the East Did Not? SuperMario65 Speculative History 23 January 1st, 2012 05:39 PM
Vote: can arrows penetrate armour? spqr95 War and Military History 22 August 7th, 2011 01:11 PM
Plate Armour and support elements Chookie Medieval and Byzantine History 4 May 15th, 2008 10:07 PM

Copyright © 2006-2013 Historum. All rights reserved.