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"What positions for the longbowmen figurines of the WOTR?" Topic


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Paskal Supporting Member of TMP21 Nov 2019 12:13 p.m. PST

Good morning all,

As you know the longbowmen figures for the WOTR, it does not miss, but they are sometimes in positions not very useful …

First of all, in a unit of longbowmen figurines for the WOTR, should they be in the same position?

For example in a longbowmen unit that shoots, everyone shoots at the same time?

How do you arrange your longbowmen figurines in a unit?

The longbowmen were maybe up to 8 for a M.A.A. to say that even in melee, the fate of a battle rested on their shoulders and yet we do not find longbowmen figurines in hand-to-hand combat?

Where did they put their longbows during melee?

What were they fighting for during the WOTR?

You'll tell me with their swords and daggers, actually what's on the figurine, but nothing else specific?

In fact, as they were little protected and when they had shields, they were tiny, the melee had to be a real massacre for them when the longbowmen were in hand-to-hand combat.

Some might think that the longbowmen were not fighting in hand-to-hand combat and leaving this kind of activity to the M.A.A and the billmen, took shelter behind them, but as they were the majority of the combatants I do not believe it…

Paskal

Glengarry521 Nov 2019 1:50 p.m. PST

In my understanding once they had run out of viable targets the longbowmen would join already existing melees in support of their men at arms, archers using their agility to attack heavily armoured opponents from blind spots. This would be particularly effective in wooded or muddy conditions. They might also use tools such as axes and mauls as weapons.

William Warner21 Nov 2019 1:57 p.m. PST

My understanding is that the longbowmen would generally be deployed in front of their MAA and billmen. The fighting would begin with the bowmen seeking to drive off the opposing bowmen. Once they had achieved this their "arrow storm" would be directed on the enemy MAA and billmen, forcing them to either attack or retire. If the enemy advanced the bowmen would keep them under fire as long as they could, then fall back behind their own MAA and billmen. They would not engage in hand-to-hand unless the enemy were routed, then they would undoubtedly join the pursuit.

advocate21 Nov 2019 2:20 p.m. PST

I realise that English isn't your first language, but you do come over rather aggressively, Paskal.
I don't know what the sources say, but the longbowmen of the WOTR seem to have been less heavily armed than their equivalent in the Hundred Years War, who often did have to fight in hand-to-hand combat. The earlier chaps may well have been more experienced professionals, not to say far from home. The later ones may have been less inclined to risk everything at close-quarters.
And yes, I suspect they did fire in volleys. But again, no evidence.

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP21 Nov 2019 3:13 p.m. PST

Actually, there is evidence of volley fire in the WotR, at least at first, in one of the battles whose name escapes me right now.

It's the one with the long-bow battle, with both sides firing arrows at one another, at long range, and one side's falling short. IIRC, it was during Winter, in windy conditions (there might have been snow, too).

Ah yes, the Battle of Towton.

link

"As Somerset was content to stand and let his foes come to him, the opening move of the battle was made by the Yorkists.[60] Noticing the direction and strength of the wind, Fauconberg ordered all Yorkist archers to step forward and unleash a volley of their arrows from what would be the standard maximum range of their longbows. With the wind behind them, the Yorkist missiles travelled farther than usual, plunging deep into the masses of soldiers on the hill slope.

The response from the Lancastrian archers was ineffective as the heavy wind blew snow in their faces. They found it difficult to judge the range and pick out their targets and their arrows fell short of the Yorkist ranks; Fauconberg had ordered his men to retreat after loosing one volley, thus avoiding any casualties. Unable to observe their results, the Lancastrians loosed their arrows until most had been used, leaving a thick, prickly carpet in the ground in front of the Yorkists.[18][61]".

Charlie21 Nov 2019 4:24 p.m. PST

I have often wondered if longbowmen would have spears and polearms to hand, so they would drop their bows and pick up these weapons to join the ranks of men-at-arms when the time came?

I don't know if there is any evidence of this, but it a possibility worth considering.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP22 Nov 2019 12:32 a.m. PST

@ Glengarry5:

Possible but for the tools I do not know because there must not be rows of piles during the WOTR.

And for the other questions?

@William Warner:

It's plausible, but for the other questions?

@advocate:

Yes English is not my mother tongue, but I do not see how aggressive I am (LOL) ???

But to come back to the subject, yes, the WOTR archers seem to have less armed forces than their counterparts in the One Hundred Years War, who often had to fight hand-to-hand.

And yes, they certainly shot in volleys.

But after they inevitably participate in melee because the M.A.A. and billmen were too few.

@ Thresher01:

Yes and for other questions?

@ Charlie:

Abandon their longbows to the ground?

They could not wear them on their backs?

Otherwise, it would be an additional protection …

@All:

Which factory offers longbowmen figurines in melee?

gunnerphil22 Nov 2019 12:46 a.m. PST

I do not think anyone makes archers in melee figures, pretty sure they would look like much like any other figure in melee.

dapeters22 Nov 2019 11:24 a.m. PST

I believe that they (Long bowmen) would simple let loose there arrows at the individuals on pace until they ran out of arrows, hence the "Darkening of the sky" and the Rain of "Arrows" comments this would be harder to brace for and even more difficult to advance against then volleys. To other point, you are an Archer having run out of arrows you look at the enemy who is better armored and carrying fearful two handed pull weapons, you look at your short sword or knife….unless of course the other-side has broke.

MajorB22 Nov 2019 12:06 p.m. PST

The longbowmen were maybe up to 8 for a M.A.A.,

Never as many as that. A rule of thumb is that up to half a WOTR army would have been archers. Crumbs, there were not even that many in the HYW!

Where did they put their longbows during melee?

Probably just dropped them on the ground.

What were they fighting for during the WOTR?

The WOTR was a series of dynastic wars. Trying to decide who should be king. In parctice you fought because the leader of your retinue told you to.

In fact, as they were little protected and when they had shields, they were tiny,

No eveidence for archers carrying shields of any description in the WOTR.

MajorB22 Nov 2019 12:07 p.m. PST

I have often wondered if longbowmen would have spears and polearms to hand, so they would drop their bows and pick up these weapons to join the ranks of men-at-arms when the time came?

I don't know if there is any evidence of this, but it a possibility worth considering.

No evidence for that that I am aware of.

MajorB22 Nov 2019 12:09 p.m. PST

But after they inevitably participate in melee because the M.A.A. and billmen were too few.

I think you're confusing the WOTR with the HYW.

Charlie22 Nov 2019 12:17 p.m. PST

Though of course a 'professional' archer (as in part of a lord's retinue), wearing sallet, brigandine, perhaps some plate on arms and legs, armed with a sword and buckler….. Can surely handle himself in close quarters.

I believe that such men would get get stuck in alongside the men-at-arms. Whether they had any polearms to hand or just fought with sidearms I don't know, though remember a sword and buckler is a perfectly valid weapon combo (sidearms for sure, but much better than just a dagger!).

Though it's certainly true that not all archers would be equipped as described.

Remember that in some battles of the Wars of the Roses, the armies just consisted of the private retinues of the lords, so would presumably all be well equipped and somewhat disciplined and motivated, including the large number of archers present. For example the first battle of St Albans.

But then there are other battles where armies were hastily raised and no doubt would feature large numbers of archers who were poorly equipped, inexperienced, not particularly motivated or perhaps had no reason why they were supposed to be fighting in the first place.


I must confess though that the question of what they did with their bows remains a mystery to me – if they chucked them on the ground, are they realistically expecting to find them again afterwards?

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP23 Nov 2019 12:09 p.m. PST

@gunnerphil:

Given how the archers are equipped, they must not look like the melee specialists.

@ dapeters:

According to you, the archers do not fight in hand-to-hand combat whereas they can constitute up to 68% of the workforce ???

@ MajorB:

After Ian Heath it's maximun 8 longbowmen for a M.A.A. Longbowmen could not put their longbows on their backs The longbowmen had no tiny round shields called "rondelle de poing"?

I do not confuse the WOTR with the HYW, the M.A.A. and billmen were proportionately so few in the WOTR armies that the longbowmen were forced to fight hand-to-hand.

@Charlie:

Me neither do I cry that they put their longbows on the ground, they could not carry them across in the back? For melee I think they had nothing but the sword, the dagger and sometimes the little round shield ….

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP23 Nov 2019 2:50 p.m. PST

I think Archers would be pretty tired after shooting off a sheaf or two of warbow arrows, I suspect they probably fell back through the men at arms and rested – possibly taking prisoners and finishing off passed over wounded if possible.

Charlie23 Nov 2019 2:51 p.m. PST

@ Paskal:
Yes the 'little round shield' is the BUCKLER. Sword & buckler was the main sidearm combination for soldiers of the late medieval era. So longbowmen, crossbowmen, handgunners, pikemen, halberdiers, billmen, etc…. Would often / usually have a sword & buckler as sidearms.

Charlie23 Nov 2019 2:56 p.m. PST

This is what I'm talking about, though obviously its a modern Graham Turner painting!

With visored sallet, brigandine over a mail shirt, sword & buckler, archers like this would likely know how to handle themselves at close quarters. Obviously not as heavily armoured as a man-at-arms, but still much better equipped than just a 'peasant' with a dagger!

picture

MajorB23 Nov 2019 2:58 p.m. PST

After Ian Heath it's maximun 8 longbowmen for a M.A.A.

Maybe Ian Heath did say that. Doesn't mean it's true.

I do not confuse the WOTR with the HYW, the M.A.A. and billmen were proportionately so few in the WOTR armies that the longbowmen were forced to fight hand-to-hand.

Again as I think I have said before, it is estimated that a typical WOTR army had 10% MAA in full harness with equal numbers of billmen and archers. So more than half the army was either MAA or billmen.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP24 Nov 2019 4:44 a.m. PST

@Herkybird:

According to you They remained at the shelter, far from the melée and wait for other packets of arrows ???

@ Charlie:

Strongly agree, that's what I said above, they had some "hand puck" and were fighting hand-to-mouth behind the billmen and Mr.A.A.

@MajorB:

Yes, but in this case, it does not mean that what Ian Heath says is wrong, that's a good basis in my opinion, no?

You find that up to 9% of Mr.A.A., up to 23% of billmen and up to 68% of longbowmen or 8 longbowmen for a M.A.A. and a billmen for three longbowmen, it's not good?

@all :

Do you absolutely want them to put their longbows on the ground?

I would wear it in the back to have extra protection and not lose it.

It's impossible to wear a longbow in the back?

Warspite125 Nov 2019 4:30 a.m. PST

@ Paskal
If you want drama, all same positions.
If you want reality, various positions. Some shooting, some loading, some waving their weapons or looking behind them.

I have already answered on longbow percentages elsewhere. The most reliable figures we have (the Walter Strickland indenture) is 50% bill and 50% longbow. You can add maybe 10% armoured 'knights' on top of that.

As I have stated elsewhere, I have no idea where Heath gets his figures from but the figure of 68% longbowmen MAY come from Edward IV's French expedition in 1475. High longbow figures against France were possible as longbow is a national resource, but they have to be halved for English v English.

Stick with 50/50 and you will not go far wrong. For variation, 60/40 either way. A few foot knights on top.

B

Atheling25 Nov 2019 5:42 a.m. PST

In my understanding once they had run out of viable targets the longbowmen would join already existing melees in support of their men at arms, archers using their agility to attack heavily armoured opponents from blind spots. This would be particularly effective in wooded or muddy conditions. They might also use tools such as axes and mauls as weapons.

Agreed with the caveat that they probably headed for the back of the 'unit', more in support perhaps?

Just Add Water Painting and Wargaming Blog:
justaddwater-bedford.blogspot.co.uk

dapeters25 Nov 2019 10:44 a.m. PST

@Paskal sorry I do not understand what you are asking.

@Charlie the figure in the painting would have been great for collecting taxes and other "enforcement" duties. But in a battle I am not to sure how happy he would be to pull his sword and go up against men at arms or liveried billmen.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP25 Nov 2019 10:55 a.m. PST

@ dapeters:

It's simple, in a battle how did the WOTR longbowmen fight when they did not shoot?

And are there any 28mm figurines representing them for that?

Warspite125 Nov 2019 11:39 a.m. PST

@Paskal
What did longbow do after shooting?

We do not know for sure. There is so much that we do not know for sure. Such references as we have suggest (and I stress suggest) that the longbow were at the front to shoot but either retired back after shooting or else the billmen advanced through them and the longbow then followed.

Only the Burgundians had a different drill where pikemen were trained to kneel in front and the longbowmen stood behind fired over their heads.

Once the billmen fought each other it is usual to suppose that the longbowmen also fought alongside or behind their own bills. Some illustrations in manuscripts appear to show longbowmen fighting with sword and buckler. Tudor writers said the best place for a longbowmen was with a 'stout bill at his back' which suggests that the longbow started in front.

Remember that there was a lot of pushing and shoving and back rank longbowmen could be just as useful bracing the unit by pushing with their backs against the backs of their friends; think of it as a very dangerous rugby football 'scrum'.

Barry

MajorB25 Nov 2019 12:32 p.m. PST

You find that up to 9% of Mr.A.A., up to 23% of billmen and up to 68% of longbowmen or 8 longbowmen for a M.A.A. and a billmen for three longbowmen,

Where did you get those numbers from?

dapeters25 Nov 2019 1:13 p.m. PST

Some one posted on one of these boards that it took 6 years to produce a longbowmen, the notion I've had was 6 months but whatever it was, as commander of any contingent that had Longbowmen you would not want to see them literally get chop up in a melee unless things were that desperate or as I said earlier the enemy had broken.

MajorB25 Nov 2019 3:48 p.m. PST

Some one posted on one of these boards that it took 6 years to produce a longbowmen,

Boys starting learning to shoot from the age of about 7. So that's 11 years until they are 18…

as commander of any contingent that had Longbowmen you would not want to see them literally get chop up in a melee unless things were that desperate or as I said earlier the enemy had broken.

Stop thinking like a 20th century commander. In the medieval period, the archers came from the "yeoman" stock – that is, the people that worked the land. Interestingly enough people have this amazing habit of breeding. Families were large and so lives were cheap. All the boys trained as archers from a young age so there was always a plentiful supply of replacement troops.

Warspite126 Nov 2019 3:23 a.m. PST

I would repeat that the Bridport and Oxfordshire muster lists show that universal use or possession of the longbow did not exist. I will have to dig out both lists but, from dim memory, around 50% had some connection with bows, some bringing either bringing arrows OR bows to the muster.

However the criticism of the two lists is just that, there's only two, and they may not be representative of the whole country. The village next door may have been armed to the teeth!

Various royal commissions appointed to investigate the number of longbowmen in each county in the 1450s threw up some very low numbers. Typically hundreds for a large shire county. However I have been unable to ascertain whether these numbers were just the shire levies who were not already sub-contracted to an existing retinue or local lord.

Barry

Warspite126 Nov 2019 3:38 a.m. PST

The Bridport muster roll 1457:

201 named individuals
114 with longbows and arrows.
69 swords
74 sallets
67 jacks (padded jackets)
4 with metallic armour parts

20 had bow and arrow but no armour
7 archers had sallet as their only armour
5 had jack but no sallet
2 had brigandines but no sallet

I cannot find the Oxfordshire one online but I found a refence to it which claims only one man in four had a longbow.

I would stress that these are LEVY grade troops and may represent those either too ill or not good enough to have been included in the retinue of the local lord. It may also include those who did not wish to enter into such agreement with a local lord. Military service in return for good lordship and your lord's support in legal and other matters may sound familiar. It is pretty much the way that the Mafia operates.

These mustered troops may represent those who have not 'sold out' to the local lord but who will serve the King personally in time of war. Only the King could issue Commissions of Array and call out the levies but, in practice, with Kings Henry VI and Edward IV both claiming the throne BOTH sides could issue Commissions of Array!

Barry

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP26 Nov 2019 4:00 a.m. PST

@ Warspite1:

Can not put a longbow behind his back to have his hands free for melee? For% of troops, we need to ask Ian Heath what sources he has, because I think he's serious.

@MajorB:

Simple deduction from what Ian Heath wrote: 8 longbowmen per M.A.A. and 1 billmen per 3 longbowmen.

People have this incredible habit of reproducing because of infant death is enormous and many women die in childbirth.

@ dapeters:

Ok so when their M.A.A. and billmen are fighting, what are they doing? When they can no longer fire, they fight close to the flanks of Mr.A.A. and billmen to prevent overflow for example?

Warspite126 Nov 2019 4:47 a.m. PST

@Paskal
Some people have suggested this and L & F Funken even produced an illustration in their Middle Ages book showing this. It appears that this is actually awkward and re-enactors have agreed. The complaint is that the longbow, side arm and arrows are heavy enough, a two-handed bill is just too much!

It would appear that the Tudor writers were just being colourful and what they meant was a stout BILLMAN at his back. This also fits with 50/50 in the Strickland document and the 60% bill and 40% longbow in Henry VIII's army.

It would appear that most armed longbow favoured a sword and buckler (small round shield) or maybe an axe. The sword and buckler hang from his belt. All this means he can also ride a horse. Where would a mounted longbow put his bill while he is riding a horse?


I have a great deal of respect for Ian Heath (I also have his book) but his book was written a long time ago and more material has come to light since due to research or discovery.

B

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP26 Nov 2019 6:46 a.m. PST

@ Warspite1 :

So no longbow in the back?

Warspite126 Nov 2019 9:46 a.m. PST

@Pascal:

Your question is not understood.

B

Charlie26 Nov 2019 11:30 a.m. PST

I think Paskal is talking about wearing the archer wearing the longbow on his back as he fights with sword and buckler.

I've no experience with this myself, but I imagine it would be VERY awkward and simply not done. Then of course the question is what did he do with his bow. Throw it on the ground? And now we're going in circles, we've already discussed this…. either in this thread or another, there are too many to keep track of!

MajorB26 Nov 2019 11:53 a.m. PST

Simple deduction from what Ian Heath wrote: 8 longbowmen per M.A.A. and 1 billmen per 3 longbowmen.

Yes but what sources is he using to prove that?

People have this incredible habit of reproducing because of infant death is enormous and many women die in childbirth.

Well it couldn't have been that bad since the English nation didn't die out. In fact the England of the 15th century was in the process of recovering from the Black Death so the popluation was increasing.

Warspite126 Nov 2019 1:41 p.m. PST

@Charlie:
I suspect that is what he meant but I am not sure.

B

dapeters26 Nov 2019 2:04 p.m. PST

@Paskal "Ok so when their M.A.A. and billmen are fighting, what are they doing? When they can no longer fire, they fight close to the flanks of Mr.A.A. and billmen to prevent overflow for example?"

I think they were closely watching the battle either to loot bodies or run if thing went wrong.

@Major"Stop thinking like a 20th century commander. In the medieval period, the archers came from the "yeoman" stock – that is, the people that worked the land. Interestingly enough people have this amazing habit of breeding. Families were large and so lives were cheap. All the boys trained as archers from a young age so there was always a plentiful supply of replacement troops."

LOL usually I accuse folks of this myself. I am sure that there were leaders that felt this way, but as stated else where longbowmen are not easily replace. I would also caution you about relying on stereotypes of the period.

MajorB26 Nov 2019 3:11 p.m. PST

but as stated else where longbowmen are not easily replace.

Where is it stated that longbowmen are not easily replaced?
As has been said before, all boys trained to the bow from the age of about 7. So there was a plentiful supply of archers. Yes, an archer takes years to train, but if all the lads were doing it, that ceases to be a problem.

In fact this view actually supports Paskal's 8 archers to 1 MAA which of course is discredited. So a smaller proportion of trained archers in an army becomes more achievable.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP27 Nov 2019 4:01 a.m. PST

@ Warspite1:

When you wear your longbow in" bandoulliere", it's over the shoulder. This leaves your hands free to fight and the long bow protects you from side hits in the back.

@ Charlie:

I do not think he's laying down his bow, can you imagine the thing with hundreds of longbowmen?

@ MajorB:

What sources is it using to prove that? It must be in his bibliography but I do not know in which he read it.
This is what Ian Heath explained, to do with him.

@ Warspite1:

I wanted to say that as the infant mortality was huge people were making a lot of children to keep some of them.

@dapeters:

Do you think they were wrong? No, that would surprise me.

Warspite127 Nov 2019 4:19 a.m. PST

@ Paskal

I have handled a longbow myself and I have met many re-enactors who also melee. The longbow is big, awkward and difficult to wear across the back. Worn across the back it would be a trip hazard, at best, or something to get caught on trees and bushes while fighting and running.

A longbow provides NO rear protection at all and would only get in the way while in melee.


Child mortality? I never questioned it.

Barry

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP27 Nov 2019 10:02 a.m. PST

@ Warspite1:

So maybe the longbowmen did not fight hand-to-hand except in exceptional cases ?

Because it seems that the % of 8.57% of M.A.A., 22.85% of billmen and 68.57% of longbowmen that I sometimes gave would not be correct for foreign expeditions.

For WOTR battles the number of men at arms would be a little bit more expensive than the so-called "shire levy" so a reasonable proportion would be 10-12 MAA 20-30% archers say50-60% billmen ranging from almost men to arms to shire levy rubbish the rest made of gunners, scourers and foreign mercenaries in some armies.

But we must remember that none of these figures are hard and fast rules. A foreign expedition would have no "shire levy" quality troops therefore a lower proportion of billmen …

You see that I am not limited and more than M.A.A. and especially Billmen proposes – in my opinion – more interesting armies …

MajorB27 Nov 2019 2:41 p.m. PST

What sources is it using to prove that? It must be in his bibliography but I do not know in which he read it.
This is what Ian Heath explained, to do with him.

And there's lies the problem. Just because some writer says something in a book doesn't mean it is true. Particularly if he doesn't quote his sources. Then other writers read his book and quote him in their writings and you end up with what is often referred to as "myth perpetuation".

I can find nothing online about Ian Heath's academic credentials. I have a vague recollection that he is actually a wargamer who has done some personal research on historical armies and what the soldiers loooked like.

He may be right. But without references to primary sources we have no way of knowing.

MajorB27 Nov 2019 2:42 p.m. PST

But we must remember that none of these figures are hard and fast rules. A foreign expedition would have no "shire levy" quality troops therefore a lower proportion of billmen …

Unless you know the comparative makeup of a retinue as opposed to a shire levy, you cannot make such a deduction.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP28 Nov 2019 12:59 a.m. PST

@ MajorB :

Simple sentence on presentiment.

MajorB28 Nov 2019 12:09 p.m. PST

Simple sentence on presentiment.

???

Warspite128 Nov 2019 3:39 p.m. PST

@Paskal:
While we cannot be certain about anything in this period I think we can reliably assume that longbowmen took a full part in the hand-to-hand fighting – that is why the longbowmen carried swords, falchions, axes and bucklers. Soldiers do not carry what they do not need.

I also think that they dropped their bows on the ground to join the hand-to-hand combat and then picked them up afterwards.

B

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP29 Nov 2019 1:04 a.m. PST

@ Major:

You too, sometimes have presentiments, no?

@ Warspite 1:

I find this bizarre but put his longbow in the back too …

I have the presentiment that we are both wrong.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP29 Nov 2019 2:27 a.m. PST

In my opinion they did not drill as units though they did sometimes "shoot wholly together"…

In the WOTR one suspects that longbowmen, avoide melee with heavier troops if they could and that they would move back behind the melee units or possibly on the flanks –but we do not know for certain.

For the bows – probably over the shoulder if they had the chance. But personally I suspect also that they tried to stay our of melee if they could…

Longbows on the ground is too ridiculous given the amount of men.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP29 Nov 2019 3:43 a.m. PST

And putting your bow on the shoulder is possible without a doubt but putting it in the skull of some is impossible.!

MajorB30 Nov 2019 9:20 a.m. PST

Longbows on the ground is too ridiculous given the amount of men.

Why?

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