MEDIEVAL MYTH BUSTING - Arrows vs Armour

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
5,002
Australia
Smythe specifically said that a fouth of each sheaf should consist of these arrows. Which head out of the ones we have in the archaeological record do you think they put on those arrows?
Correction: It wasn't Smythe, it was Henry Barrett, and it wasn't a fourth, it was a third. Here is the original quote:

"a sheafe of arrows in noumber xxiv whearof I wishe viii of them more flighter then the reste to gall and annoy the enimyes farder of then the usuall custom of the sheafe arrowes, whose sharpe hallshot may not be indured."

"A sheaf of arrows, 24 in number, whereof I wish 8 of them more flightier than the rest to gall and annoy the enemies farther off than the usual custom of the sheaf of arrows, whose sharp hail-shot may not be endured."
 
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Feb 2017
256
Devon, UK
Correction: It wasn't Smythe, it was Henry Barrett, and it wasn't a fourth, it was a third. Here is the original quote:

"a sheafe of arrows in noumber xxiv whearof I wishe viii of them more flighter then the reste to gall and annoy the enimyes farder of then the usuall custom of the sheafe arrowes, whose sharpe hallshot may not be indured."

"A sheaf of arrows, 24 in number, whereof I wish 8 of them more flightier than the rest to gall and annoy the enemies farther off than the usual custom of the sheaf of arrows, whose sharp hail-shot may not be endured."
I seem to remember Henry V forbidding patten makers from using a particular type of wood (IIRC poplar) because he wanted it for arrow shafts. Presumably a light wood such as poplar would have been used for 'flighter' arrows. Later Ascham certainly sang the praises of Ash for heavier arrows

'Yet, as concerning sheaf arrows for war, (as I suppose) it were better to make them of good ash, and not of asp, they be now-a-days. For of all other woods that ever I proved, ash being big is swiftest, and again heavy give a great stripe withal, which asp shall not do.'
 
Jan 2019
21
Northumberland-England
Yes he did Dave, it was in 1416 after Agincourt. Ash definitely does make a heavy shaft. I've just made some heavy-ish arrows but used tapered Ash shafts, which may have been a mistake as they've come in under 4 oz. (3.4 oz.). It's actually quite a trick to make a 'quarter pounder', you have to overbuild a bit to achieve the weight, but having said that the idea of several thousand of them dropping out the sky would be a bit disconcerting even to a well armoured Frenchman, so obviously well worth the effort.

To anyone interested in pursuing the topic of arrows versus armour, there's a very good thread developing on the 'Longbow and Warbow' Facebook page where a link is given to an article by a gentleman called Eirik Ronald Fossheim which explains in great detail the metallurgy involved. Highlighting why there is so much concern (in some quarters) about the validity of the pile and plate used in the test. It's a fascinating read. The article appears in another forum, so not sure if I'm allowed to divulge the address in this thread.