Guttman – English Longbow

Ryan McNeill

Bows first appeared around the 11th century. The English Longbow came much later, not until the 15th century. What surprised me the most of the Longbow, was despite its ability to be mass produced, the making of a longbow was a process that lasted multiple years. This is because the wood had to fully dry out for it to be bent and flexible. By the 13th centuries, kings would have archers practice every day which led to bows being very effective during a war. Experienced archers could hit their target up to 180 yards away. Because bows could be used from such an extreme distance (180 yards nowadays is practically close range but for the 13th century it was quite far), bows became an instrument vital to war. Bows could reach distances of 250 yards, which provided archers excellent opportunities to kill enemies without needing to worry about being attacked themselves. If the enemy were to make it past the long range distance, archers also carried swords and daggers to be used fighting in hand to hand combat. Overall, the arrival of the Longbow completely changed how wars were fought. Battles such as Crécy (1346), Poitiers (1356), and Agincourt (1415) all have written evidence telling just how decisive these bows were in determining the victorious side.

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Below is a link to a video that will show you the process of making just one If you do not want to watch the entire 15 minutes, you could skip around from these times. These are the times that most interested me. This video was very interesting and shows just how much detail goes into making only one bow.








This link has 10 interesting facts (and a bonus!) how the longbow. I found number five has very similarities with the picture the Guttman article provides. The Guttman article provides information saying that bows can fire up to 250 yards, while this article claims bows could fire up to 360 yards. While distance varies from bow to bow and article to article, one thing is clear: Longbows drastically changed the game when it came to war and combat.

6 Replies to “Guttman – English Longbow”

  1. This is really cool! I had no idea how long it took to make a longbow. Also, naming the battles is really helpful and because you did I can now look them up. The article you chose was also very interesting!
    -Kyle M. Foster

  2. Ryan,
    Your post did a great job of explaining the long range capabilities of the longbow and the advantages it provided to soldiers. An archer would not have to put himself in any sort of immediate danger whilst attacking the enemy; he could be 200-300 yards away inflicting damage on enemy troops.


  3. Ryan,

    Great summary of the reading. I did not know it took so long to make a longbow! I also really liked the article you included at the end with the 10 interesting facts.


  4. Ryan,

    I found this summary very interesting. I like how your post includes information about the technical facts about how far the longbow could be used and how precise it was for archers to fight with throughout the centuries. I especially liked the extra information given through the link.


  5. It’s hard to say that the English longbow came around at such a late time in history in the 15th century. Archery was not new to the Britannia at this point as it had become a major place of hunting and conflict. However, it is hard to say where the origin of the English longbow came about. One could say that is was always there or point to the successes of the Norman invasion or the Viking incursions. Both the Vikings and Normans used longbows but the Normans used them at the Battle of Hastings in the same way the English would later use them at the Battle of Agincourt- archers taking the frontline with spearmen behind them. The English longbow did not draw its strength from the actual bow being made of elm (while it did help increase power), it drew strength from how it was used. There was no need to fear of incoming projectiles should your army be the one that holds the more effective projectiles (although there are many cases of bowmen having small shields affixed to the ground in front of them when placed in the front). What needed to be feared by the archers were the cavalry that could decimate light troops but that fear was eliminated by the reinforcing spear men. A military man would realize the whole formation would fall apart should the army be outflanked but that never was a worry due to how the English picked up from William the Bastard. William at Hastings and the English in France would weaken the enemies with a protected vanguard barrage of arrows followed by a deployment of heavy infantry, typically billmen, to break the ranks, which would then be followed by a calvary charge. This type of tactic is remarkably different than what the rest of Europe was doing by adopting the pike and arquebus and, when introduced newly, overcame the mainland armies of Europe.

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