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Old 01-22-2016, 07:27 AM   #1
sorokod
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Resolving the Longbow Puzzle

http://www.peterleeson.com/Longbow.pdf

Abstract:
Quote:
For over a century the longbow reigned as undisputed king of medieval European missile weapons. Yet only England used the longbow as a mainstay in its military arsenal; France and Scotland clung to the technologically inferior crossbow.

This longbow puzzle has perplexed historians for decades. We resolve it by developing a theory of institutionally constrained technology adoption. Unlike the crossbow, the longbow was cheap and easy to make and required rulers who adopted the weapon to train large numbers of citizens in its use.

These features enabled usurping nobles whose rulers adopted the longbow to potentially organize effective rebellions against them. Rulers choosing between missile technologies thus confronted a trade-off with respect to internal and external security. England alone in late medieval Europe was sufficiently politically stable to allow its rulers the first-best technology option. In France and Scotland political instability prevailed, constraining rulers in these nations to the crossbow.

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Old 01-23-2016, 08:35 AM   #2
Michael Douglas
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Re: Resolving the Longbow Puzzle

Let me suggest these items are at best debateable and at worst complete lies ;
Quote:
Yet only England used the longbow as a mainstay in its military arsenal;

France and Scotland clung to the technologically inferior crossbow.

Unlike the crossbow, the longbow was cheap and easy to make .
And Wales.
Superior.
Difficult.
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Old 01-23-2016, 10:57 AM   #3
sorokod
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Re: Resolving the Longbow Puzzle

Debated in the linked paper: http://www.peterleeson.com/Longbow.pdf

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Old 01-23-2016, 05:32 PM   #4
kewms
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Re: Resolving the Longbow Puzzle

I think the superiority/inferiority of the longbow/crossbow depends on what metric you've chosen to compare. The crossbow had a lower rate of fire, for example, but did not require the same degree of specialized training to use effectively.

Another benefit of England's relative political stability was that it allowed an entire industry to grow up around the production of longbows and arrows. The supply lines running from villages in England to archers in France were absolutely critical, and England didn't have to worry that the "factories" would be destroyed. Somewhat similar to the role of the US mainland as the "arsenal of democracy" in WWII.

Katherine

Last edited by kewms : 01-23-2016 at 05:34 PM.
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Old 01-24-2016, 01:42 PM   #5
sorokod
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Re: Resolving the Longbow Puzzle

Quote:
Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
The supply lines running from villages in England to archers in France were absolutely critical, and England didn't have to worry that the "factories" would be destroyed. Somewhat similar to the role of the US mainland as the "arsenal of democracy" in WWII.

Katherine
Can you some references to support this statement?

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Old 01-24-2016, 04:23 PM   #6
kewms
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Re: Resolving the Longbow Puzzle

Quote:
David Soroko wrote: View Post
Can you some references to support this statement?
To support what part of it? Archers are no good without arrows, therefore the arrows that English armies used on the Continent had to come from somewhere. Arrow production is specialized: you couldn't just set up camp and put the local French peasants to work, so the arrows had to come from England. (Where they would have been made by hand by skilled craftsmen, because appropriate machinery didn't exist yet.) Therefore the supply chain would have been absolutely critical. All seems pretty obvious to me.

But if it's not, you might also try here, which offers some useful numbers on the sheer volume of arrows used at Agincourt and where they came from:
http://www.amazon.com/Agincourt-Henr.../dp/0316015040

Katherine
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Old 01-25-2016, 02:38 AM   #7
sorokod
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Re: Resolving the Longbow Puzzle

I know little of the logistics of war in western Europe in 14th - 15th centuries. This prompted my question regarding the quoted text.

At the time the English had very strong connections with the "Continent", specifically:
  • English monarchs were also dukes of Aquitane since the 12 century
  • Burgundy, Brittany and Flanders were (frequently) allied with the English during the 100 years' war

This makes me wonder about
Quote:
"All seems pretty obvious to me"
for any general the "Continent" and the local industries would be the first place to look at for supplies.

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Old 01-25-2016, 09:35 AM   #8
kewms
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Re: Resolving the Longbow Puzzle

Quote:
David Soroko wrote: View Post
This makes me wonder about for any general the "Continent" and the local industries would be the first place to look at for supplies.
If the French armies had also used the longbow, this would be true, but they didn't.

Katherine
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Old 01-26-2016, 01:23 AM   #9
sorokod
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Re: Resolving the Longbow Puzzle

Quote:
Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
If the French armies had also used the longbow, this would be true, but they didn't.
No they didn't - that is indeed the subject of the paper. Are you saying that the artisans on the continent were not capable of crafting longbows?

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Old 01-26-2016, 09:45 AM   #10
kewms
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Re: Resolving the Longbow Puzzle

Quote:
David Soroko wrote: View Post
No they didn't - that is indeed the subject of the paper. Are you saying that the artisans on the continent were not capable of crafting longbows?
I was thinking more of arrows, but yes, I am saying that the product produced by continental artisans with no training or experience would likely be inferior to what could be shipped from England, where there were large numbers of people dedicated to the effort. (See the link I posted.)

Katherine
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Old 02-01-2016, 05:44 AM   #11
Michael Douglas
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Re: Resolving the Longbow Puzzle

I agree with everything Katherine has said, good stuff.
By heck they used a LOT of arrows in them wars.
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Old 02-01-2016, 02:43 PM   #12
dps
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Re: Resolving the Longbow Puzzle

Quote:
Michael Douglas wrote: View Post
I agree with everything Katherine has said, good stuff.
By heck they used a LOT of arrows in them wars.
I always wondered how many were recycled.

Whose job was it to reclaimed used arrows?

dps
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Old 02-01-2016, 05:58 PM   #13
Cady Goldfield
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Re: Resolving the Longbow Puzzle

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote: View Post
I always wondered how many were recycled.

Whose job was it to reclaimed used arrows?

dps
I wonder whether someone made a living from that, like guys who retrieve and collect golf balls lost in water hazards and roughs, and re-sell them.
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Old 02-01-2016, 07:45 PM   #14
lbb
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Re: Resolving the Longbow Puzzle

That sort of work was the job of camp followers, who, contrary to popular opinion, weren't all whores. Legend has it that the travellers of Ireland are descended from itinerant armorers who followed the armies (tinkers) and made/repaired arms and armor.
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Old 02-01-2016, 07:48 PM   #15
lbb
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Re: Resolving the Longbow Puzzle

What of the bow?
The bow was made in England...
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Old 02-01-2016, 07:49 PM   #16
Richard Sanchez
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Re: Resolving the Longbow Puzzle

Quote:
Cady Goldfield wrote: View Post
I wonder whether someone made a living from that, like guys who retrieve and collect golf balls lost in water hazards and roughs, and re-sell them.
It was common practice to salvage weapons and armour after battles so makes sense that it would apply to arrows too. It has happened throughout history and still happens now. Think ISIS who continue to build up their armoury thanks to 'donations' from the field. There surely would have been arms dealers in the 1400s.
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Old 02-02-2016, 09:36 PM   #17
judojo
 
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Re: Resolving the Longbow Puzzle

We love to study the longbow so we need more idea.

REYNALDO L. ALBAÑO
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Old 02-13-2016, 12:40 PM   #18
Michael Douglas
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Re: Resolving the Longbow Puzzle

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote: View Post
I always wondered how many were recycled.

Whose job was it to reclaimed used arrows?
There is a problem with reclaiming 14th-to-16th Centruy arrows from bodies in that maybe half of them were barbed (which wasn't the case in earlier times) making them difficult to pull out by hand.
(Also the short bodkins jam inside plate armour even though they are not barbed : the hole in the metal is smaller than the arrowhead. Yeah, really)
In that case maybe the archers would have left the difficult ones for those camp followers / gleaners.
Arrowheads in those days were even more expensive (relative to food/clothing/coinage) than they are now.
I can buy an arrowhead for a fiver, a good one for eight quid, and a chinese one for two quid.
(I make them for around £4 to £12 each depending on type)
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Old 02-13-2016, 06:47 PM   #19
Janet Rosen
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Re: Resolving the Longbow Puzzle

Quote:
Michael Douglas wrote: View Post
There is a problem with reclaiming 14th-to-16th Centruy arrows from bodies in that maybe half of them were barbed (which wasn't the case in earlier times) making them difficult to pull out by hand.
I'm guessing a fair amount missed their mark/any mark and were on or inserted into the ground making recycling quite possible. Or were the armies so tightly massed the arrows would not reach the ground?

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 02-15-2016, 06:11 AM   #20
Michael Douglas
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Re: Resolving the Longbow Puzzle

Oh yes, lots would have missed a body. Lots would have been easy to just pick up and I think the archers would have done that
and
maybe left the awkward ones to folk with more time and a smaller income.
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