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Thread: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

  1. #41
    hessia78's Avatar Libertus
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    New South Wales, Australia

    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    actually it was both the depletion of suitable wood producing trees such as yew and the decline in the amount of people who physically condition and trained to use a warbow to its maximum effectiveness. There was a phrase about when training a longbowman you start with his grandfather, as it pretty much took a lifetime to master the bow and learn the required skills to pass down to the next generation. Training firearm equipped troops on the other hand took only a few weeks with basic instructions. While a musket or crossbow were better at penetrating armour, a longbow in the hands of a trained yeoman had a greater rate of fire and was more accurate at long range.

  2. #42

    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    The other data-point is the steady decline in the use of shields, particularly large shields such as would be good defense against arrows, by those with access to heavy armor (especially plate). Assuming we allow that well made shields and armor in concert would have been effective against a war bow (which I suspect is uncontroversial), and that the former is not a significant expense to anyone capable of affording full armored panoply for war (speculation on my part), why would they be abandoned if the armor itself wasn't a worthy protection against enemy shot? The big advantage gained by not having them was the ability to use the two-handed weapons best suited to engaging plated opponents, but there were still weapons that could be used with a shield that would do the job, like a good pick. The halberd might be more effective to fight with, but that doesn't matter if you're shot down thirty paces from the nearest foe. So it's hard for me to imagine people with the means choosing to discard proven defenses in favor of one that doesn't work for limited advantage. (In contrast to the later decline of armor, which had hit a point where sufficient armor to be of benefit was impractical thanks to weapons developments)

  3. #43

    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    Great thread, should be stickied at the top of every forum discussing medieval weaponry.

    Not much to add. As pointed out above, developments in missile weapons and armor drove, and were driven by, improvements in the other. Melee weapons, on the other hand, were pretty much always lagging behind armors until they caught up, if ever. Beyond anything else, the central tenet of RC was meant to be that medieval weaponry was generally overmatched by contemporary high-end armors.

    Unfortunately the hardcoded M2TW combat model has a too-flat weapons-vs-armor curve, ie weak weapons have a too-strong effect versus strong armors, significantly beyond the liklihood of 'lucky hits' versus visors etc.

    If people find the missile weapons too powerful, or conversely the opposite, they can alter the missile-weapons-accuracy global tuning values. I can't remember the file name right now, it's been a while. The values at present in RC are:
    vs infantry 1.0
    vs cavalry 1.5
    vs elephants 2.0
    Last edited by Point Blank; December 23, 2016 at 06:21 AM.

  4. #44

    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    Dr Sam Willis has done a 3 part TV prog on British weapons from medieval to present day.
    I suspect ppl outside UK might have problems accessing this - but the prog is here :

    Nice little sequence regarding longbows. Shows how a 140lb warbow in the hands of someone actually able to use it could go through two layers of mail - depending I suspect on what was worn under the mail. But even at short range a 70lb bow wealded by someone with little experience could get through a single layer of mail at close range.

    And then came arquebusiers and they could shoot through 2mm plate steel with ease.

  5. #45

    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    Not so, especially with improved metallurgical techniques.

    Look up Armor of Proof, and see this

    But yes pretty much nobody wore mail without underpadding, and by the time that more shooters were armed with 140lb etc bows plate was in common use.

    Did that bbc show do any tests vs plate?
    Last edited by Point Blank; January 15, 2017 at 08:22 AM.

  6. #46

    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    No they didn't try longbows vs plate armour,
    The arquebus was a replica of one from 16th century, used to illustrate Battle of Pavia 1525.
    Unable to penetrate into the wood without dismounting, the French were blasted off the battlefield. The remnants of the French chivalry were destroyed by the Landsknechts. Pavia and Bicocca showed that three or four close range volleys from arquebusiers were sufficient to shatter any unit in Europe.
    After which Henry VIII - along with anyone else still using - longbows switched to gunpowder weapons

  7. #47

    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    No they did not, especially in England.
    The ship Mary Rose from Henry's reign, sunk in 1545 and recovered with a large stock of bows.
    Archery training still compulsory.
    Last recorded battle on English soil using bows in 1642.

    And crossbows?

    The destruction of the French cav at Pavia was a specific tactical circumstance where the range was very short and the cav was bunched and hemmed in.

    From memory, Bicocca was three large Swiss pike formations advancing over open ground under heavy fire and even then completed the crossing in good order. They failed in their final assault under point blank fire largely because the shooters were behind raised and heavy earthworks.

    I repear, see Armor of Proof and the link above.
    Last edited by Point Blank; January 15, 2017 at 12:49 PM.

  8. #48

    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    I'm just summarising the program for those who can't watch it.
    It was very superficial run through of weapons.
    As for Mary Rose longbows - the ship was sailing out to do battle, but the longbows and arrows were still neatly packed away in boxes.
    I'd agree that there wasn't an instant change from longbows to gunpowder weapons, it must have taken many years.

  9. #49
    +Marius+'s Avatar Domesticus
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    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    Huh, it is quite embarrassing going through my posts in this thread and looking at how I used to argue.

    On to it;

    Quote Originally Posted by Used2BRoz View Post
    Dr Sam Willis has done a 3 part TV prog on British weapons from medieval to present day.
    I suspect ppl outside UK might have problems accessing this - but the prog is here :

    Nice little sequence regarding longbows. Shows how a 140lb warbow in the hands of someone actually able to use it could go through two layers of mail - depending I suspect on what was worn under the mail. But even at short range a 70lb bow wealded by someone with little experience could get through a single layer of mail at close range.

    And then came arquebusiers and they could shoot through 2mm plate steel with ease.
    That show is quite flawed, and so are the tests.

    It is stated in the show that the age of armor ended in the 1510s/1520s, that the range of a 17th century New Model Army musket was "50 yards if you were lucky" and had no accuracy

    There are videos popping up on youtube onto how bad certain segments are, one such video on the sword part;

    As to the archery, the target looked as a cardboard box, eliminating the issue of the arrow travelling through the torso, also, more importantly, the padding was quite obscure and not identifiable.

    As everything with the ever lovely archery expert and bowman Mr. Stretton, it is somehow always an utter win for his longbows.

    In reality, a 70lbs bow will have quite a difficulty penetrating mail(I would say, it is actually improbable), while a 140lbs bow will most likely puncture it, but may not puncture the gambeson underneath, as presented in this documentary featuring Mike Loades;

    The archers are from the English Warbow society, and you will notice that one of the archers is none other than Mark Stretton himself, the same man shooting the bow in your documentary

    Aside to that, we have loads of historical sources mentioning mail+gambeson protecting from arrows quite well, Baha Din describes Saladin's archers as basically useless against it, while del Carpini states that a double linked mail shirt will even stop a quenched arrowhead fired from a Mongol bow.

    The same thing goes for the musket test, if armor was so easily punctured(won't even go into the fact that they were shooting at a fixed sheath), than armor would start disappearing already in the 1480s-1490s.

    In reality, plate armor was still in widespread usage even into the 17th century(even among ordinary footmen), obviously it worked at least some of the times;

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

  10. #50

    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?


  11. #51

    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    but it does not means that if something hit you,and not touch your skin,body,only your armor that it will not hurt you .

  12. #52

    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    Were you able to find the problem with the not-working campaign?

  13. #53

    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    I have the laptop that has the files back, but it will not boot so will try to image it's drive. Once that is done will find the error and do a final run-through of the EDU to take acccount of changes to some weapon stats and then publish.
    Last edited by Point Blank; January 22, 2017 at 08:18 AM.

  14. #54

    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    Reading Hugh DH Soar's "Secrets of the English War Bow" (with among others the ubiquitous Mark Stretton).
    Has a chapter where Stretton tests out various arrowheads against various targets.

    Couple of interesting observations :

    1) Penetration of armour greater if the target is moving towards the shooter.
    Basic physics - the kinetic energy is dependent on the relative momentum of arrow vs target. A horse and rider moving at full gallop would receive more on impact than one that is stationary. (but then you'd aim at the horse not the rider at close range, it presents a much larger target and is more vulnerable.)

    2) Brigandine proved very resilient. Most of the arrows fired against it, at even close range just bounced off. Stretton had to design entirely new arrowhead to get one that could penetrate at all. Understandable that archers favoured it.

    That said the Battle of Shrewsbury (1403) shows what longbowmen were capable of :

    The action began with a general advance by the royalists. They had to move forward uphill, through a large field of peas (unlike today, the ground was unenclosed by hedgerows), whose stems had been woven together by the rebels in an attempt to impede the advance. As royalist ranks became disordered, Hotspur's archers opened a devastating fire: "so thick and fast that it seemed to the beholders like a thick cloud." The king's men went down "like apples fallen in the autumn…when stirred by the south-west wind." Royalists archers attempted to reply, but were evidently overwhelmed.

    It was normal practice for an archer to carry two quivers, or arrow bags, giving him a total of 48 arrows. The average archer could be expected to fire at a rate of about ten shots per minute. Assuming that Percy's men opened fire at a range of about 300 yards, and that about 3000 archers were involved, they could in theory have fired some 60,000 arrows in the time it would have taken the Royalist troops to reach their position.

    King Henry's men never got that far. Both Stafford's and the King's divisions began to fall back in disorder. Stafford was killed, and many of his men, including a number of Cheshire troops, made off, stealing mounts from the horse lines to the rear. The King's division, though shaken, managed to halt approximately back on its start line. Henry, Prince of Wales was seriously wounded in the face by an arrow, though he remained in the field to encourage his men.
    from here :

    Note - 300 yards is too long a range to start shooting arrows. Standard butts were around 200-240 yards, effective range would be less than that. Hotspur's archers did have significant (terrain) height advantage. How well armoured were their opponents is difficult to say, many of the Royalist forces were local militia levy troops who may have had minimal armour. But Stafford was serious nobility and if anyone could afford to be well-protected he was. Yet the arrows killed him outright.

  15. #55
    +Marius+'s Avatar Domesticus
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    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    No offence, but people should seriously stop using websites alone for historiography.

    Firstly, the arrow storm was immense and many died, however, they did not halt the advance and the forces did "got that far" and did clash in melee.

    Secondly, Stafford was not killed by arrows but by Archibald Douglas, along with Sir Walter Blount, he killed them both with his sword, however he was wounded in the groin by a third man, but he survived.

    Here is the account of Archibald's and Percy's final breakthrough into the enemy ranks in order to capture the king, described in The Chronica Maiora;

    "Indeed Henry Percy, the enemy commander, and earl Douglas(Archibald) the Scot, the bravest soldiers anyone has ever seen, cared no thought for the arrows being shot by the king's side or the ranks of armed men packed close together, and roused their strength and turned their weapons against nobody but the person of the king. Thinking that he was worth ten thousand of his men, they looked for him, mowing down those who stood in their way and searching for him with death dealing spears and swords. But when the earl of Dunbar saw their purpose, he led the king awayfrom this station, a deed which on that occasion saved the king as the royal standard bearder was laid low by the raging rebels, the standard thrown on the ground and all those around it killed. Among these fell the earl of Stafford and Sir Walter Blount, a knight of the king."

    However, it all failed because of the death of Percy;

    "Meanwhile Sir Henry Percy was at the head of his men in the battle, and without thought of danger, penetrating the enemy ranks, when he was unexpectedly killed and fell, it is not certain by whose hand."

    The capture of Douglas;

    "But the earl of Douglas was captured in this battle, which made it twice in one year. Fighting against the English, he always met with bad luck. For in the first battle he was wounded in the head and lost an eye, and in the second he was wounded in the genitals and lost his smaller ball, and came under the yoke of a second captivity."

    The Scotichronicon, about Archibald Douglas mighty onslaught on foot into the kings personal ranks;

    "...he wreaked so much slaughter that besides the others he killed with his great mace three men disguised as kings in the hope that each was the real King Henry."

    Also, same wounding story;

    "...lost one testicle, just as earlier at Hombleton he lost one eye."

    Quote Originally Posted by Used2BRoz View Post
    How well armoured were their opponents is difficult to say, many of the Royalist forces were local militia levy troops who may have had minimal armour. But Stafford was serious nobility and if anyone could afford to be well-protected he was. Yet the arrows killed him outright.

    The Chronica Maiora, on the battle casualties;

    "On the king's side fell ten knights, many squires, several servants and about three thousand were seriously wounded. On the rebel side, most of the knights and squires of Cheshire fell, in number about two hundred, not counting servants and foot soldiers, whose numbers I do not know. The battle was fought on the eve of the feast of St Mary Magdalene, and it was thought that no fiercer battle had ever been fought."

    So, in total, of the estimated 25-30 000 men in total and 5-7 000 estimated direct casualties by modern historiography;

    10-50 knights died,

    scores of squires,

    an unknown(probably very high) number of regular foot soldiery.

    Also, prince Henry was famously shot in the face by an arrow, but continued fighting and survived.

    So yes, those arrows most likely took out plenty of men and were quite an important part of the battle, but the battle was still decided in the melee.
    Last edited by +Marius+; January 29, 2017 at 02:57 PM.

  16. #56

    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

  17. #57

    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    Here is a list of some individuals being wounded or killed by arrows when wearing plate armour (or helmet).

    David II of Scotland, two arrow wounds to the face, Nevilles Cross 1346
    Philip VI of France, arrow stuck in his jaw, Crécy 1346
    French Lord the Bastard of I'Isle, slain by an arrow "which went through his head," Castelsagrat 1356
    Bailiff of Pontevedra, struck by an English arrow "which pierced his bascinet and head also," siege of Pontevedra 1386
    Archibald, Earl of Douglas "was pierced with five wounds, notwithstanding his elaborate armour", including losing an eye, Homildon Hill 1402
    Archibald, Earl of Douglas, losing a testicle, Shrewsbury 1403
    Henry V, arrow wound to the face, Shrewsbury 1403
    Sir William de Saveuses, "was shot dead from off his horse", Agincourt 1415
    Amado de Vignolles, brother of La Hire, killed by an arrow during the siege of Creil 1434
    Henry VI, arrow wound to the neck, 1st St Albans 1455
    Duke of Buckingham, arrow wound to the face and two arrow wounds to his arm, 1st St Albans 1455
    Lord Dudley, arrow wound to the face, 1st St Albans 1455
    Lord Stafford, arrow wound to the hand 1st St Albans 1455
    Henry Fenyingley, shot through the arm in three or four places, 1st St Albans
    Earl of Warwick, arrow wound to the leg, Ferrybridge 1461
    Sir John Paston, arrow wound to arm below the elbow, Barnet 1471
    James IV, potential fatal wound, Flodden 1513

    Here are some quotes of men-at-arms or prominent people being killed or wounded by arrows when wearing full plate armour.

    Agincourt in 1415
    "It is true that Sir William de Saveuses, who had been also ordered on this service, quitted his troop, thinking they would follow him, to attack, the English, but he was shot dead from off his horse."
    The Chronicles of Enguerrand de Monstrelet, translated by Thomas Johnes (London, 1840), vol. 1 p. 342

    Flodden 1513
    Hall noted on the death of King James during the Battle of Flodden 1513 ‘diverse deadly wounds and in especial one with an arrow, and another with a bill as appeared when he was naked.’
    Strickland & Hardy, The Great Warbow 2005 p. 398
    Hall, Kyng Henry the VIII p. 564

    1st St Albans 1455
    According to an account of the engagement sent to the Duke of Burgundy, four of Henry's bodyguard were killed by Yorkist arrows. Henry's army commander, the Duke of Buckingham, was struck in the face by an arrow, and wounded by two more, Lord Stafford was wounded by an arrow in the hand, while Henry Filongley, nephew of Sir John Fastolf, ‘faught manly, and was shet throwe the armys in iii [3] or iiij [4] places’.
    Strickland & Hardy, The Great Warbow 2005 p. 371

    Here is one of interest quote regarding mail armour.

    ‘The arrow pierced the blazon of William Despencer, and through three folds of mail armour, and through three plies of acqueton, and into the body, so that he lay there dead of the blow.’
    Strickland & Hardy, The Great Warbow 2005 p. 268-9

    Here are some quotes that explicitly say arrows penetrated plate armour.

    Thomas Walsingham, describing a battle of 1383, says that English archers "surpassed all others...for they so struck the enemy with their flying arrows that of their armored men no more remained [unharmed? on the field?] than if they had been unarmored...
    Bodies were perforated, their armor [lorica] notwithstanding; breasts were wounded, the plates [lamina] not resisting; heads were shot through [transfigebantur], the helmets not helping; hands holding lances or shafts were nailed to them, gauntlets being no protection."
    St Albans Chronicle, p. 680

    Homildon Hill in 1402
    Archibald, Earl of Douglas, attempted to counter-attack with a cavalry charge against the English archers, "trusting too much in his equipment (armatura propria) and that of his men, who had been improving their armour for three years.’ (...) Faced with the oncoming Scots cavalry, however, the archers fell back in good order, ‘but still shooting, so vigorously, so resolutely, so effectively that they pierced the armour, perforated the helmets, pitted the swords, split the lances and pierced all the equipment with ease. The Earl of Douglas was pierced with five wounds, notwithstanding his elaborate armour (sumptuosissima armatura.) The rest of the Scots who had not descended the hill turned tail, and fled from the flight of arrows. But flight did not avail them, so that the Scots were forced to give themselves up, for fear of the death-dealing arrows.’ (...)
    ‘no lord or knight received a blow from the enemy; but God Almighty gave the victory miraculously to the English archers alone, and the magnates and men-at-arms remained idle spectators of the battle.
    Walsingham, Historia Anglicana, II 251-2; trans EHD, IV, no. 86, 191

    Siege of Pontevedra in 1386
    The bailiff of the town was struck by an English arrow (qui luy percha le bacinet et la teste aussi) “which pierced his bascinet and his head also.”
    Froissart, Oeuvres, 11:412.
    “The Battle of Agincourt,” The Hundred Years War (Part II): Different Vistas, ed. L. J. Andrew Villalon and Donald J. Kagay (Leiden: Brill, 2008) p. 44

    Here are all the sources on the battle of Agincourt 1415

    ‘And then, when the enemy were nearly ready to attack, the Frenche cavalry posted on the flanks made charges against those of our archers who were on both sides of our army.
    But soon, by God's will, they were forced to fall back under showers of arrows and to flee to their rearguard, save for a very few who, although not without losses in dead and wounded, rode through between the archers and the woodlands, and save, too, of course, for the many who were stopped by the stakes driven into the ground and prevented from fleeing very far by the stinging hail of missiles shot at both horses and riders in their flight.’

    ‘But the French nobility, who had previously advanced in line abreast and had all but come to grip with us, either from fear of the missiles which by their very force pierced the sides and visors of their helmets ...’

    ‘And then the battle raged at its fiercest, and our archers notched their sharp-pointed arrows and loosed them into the enemy's flanks, keeping up the fight without pause. And when the arrows were all used up, seizing axes, stakes and swords and spearheads that were lying about, they struck down, hacked, and stabbed the enemy.’
    The Gesta Henrici Quinti (c. 1417, Latin), Chapter 13.
    Anne Curry, The Battle of Agincourt Sources and interpretations p. 36

    ‘Their nobility in the front, divided into three groups, advanced towards the banners in the three positions. Our arrows were carried and penetrated, and the enemy was worn out under the weight of their armour.’
    Thomas Elmham, Liber Metricus de Henrico Quinto (Metrical Life of Henry V) (c. 1418, Latin), Chapter 37.
    Anne Curry, The Battle of Agincourt Sources and interpretations p. 47

    ‘..., they advanced in terrifying fashion into the field, sending the mounted men ahead who were to overwhelm our archers by the barded breasts of their horses, and to trample them under their hooves.
    But, by God's will, things turned out other than they had hoped. The archers simultaneously shot arrows against the advancing knights so that the leading horses were scattered in that great storm of hail.
    For ‘no blow but fells, no missile flies without wound’, and there was no rest from the hand of the marksman for ‘every dart finds its mark’, since ‘no stroke [was] without wound’. The horses were pierced by iron; the riders, turning round by means of their bridles, rushing away, fell to the ground amongst their army, and all horses who escaped drew away from the field.
    Next, as the lines met, a huge cry was lifted to the heavens by our men, and the air was filled with a terrifying sound. Then the cloud of arrows flew again from all directions, and iron sounded on iron, while volleys of arrows struck helmets, plates and cuirasses. Many of the French fell, pierced with arrows, here fifty, there sixty.
    Thomas Walsingham, St Albans Chronicle (c. 1420-22, Latin)
    Anne Curry, The Battle of Agincourt Sources and interpretations p. 52

    ‘The order of the English would have been thrown into disorder by the French knights if the greater part of the latter had not been killed or wounded with arrows and had been forced to retreat in terror.’
    Tito Livio Frulovisi, Vita Henrici Quinti (c. 1438, Latin)
    Anne Curry, The Battle of Agincourt Sources and interpretations p. 61

    ‘But there, the warlike bands of archers, with their strong and numerous volleys, darkened the air, shedding as a cloud laden with a shower, and intolerable multitude of piercing arrows, and inflicting wounds on the horses, either caused the French horsemen to fall to the ground, or forced them to retreat, and so defeated their dreadful purpose.’

    ‘The air thunders with dreadful crashes, clouds rain missiles, the earth absorbs blood, breath flies from bodies, half-dead bodies roll in their own blood, the surface of the earth is covered with the corpses of the dead, this man charges, that one falls, this one attacks, that one dies, this one recovers, that one vomits forth his soul in blood, the killer is enraged, the dead crashed in grief...’
    Pseudo Elmham, Vita et Gesta Henrici Quinti (c. 1446-49, Latin), Chapter 27.
    Anne Curry, The Battle of Agincourt Sources and interpretations p. 72

    ‘Then the French came pricking down as if to override all our men, but God and our archers made them stumble. Our Archers shot no arrow off target; all caused death and brought to the ground both men and horses.’
    A continuation of Brute from 1377 to 1419.
    Anne Curry, The Battle of Agincourt Sources and interpretations p. 92

    ‘But God and our archers caused them soon to stumble, for our archers did not shoot a single arrow which did not kill and bring to the ground man or horse...’
    Version of the Brut written 1478-9
    Anne Curry, The Battle of Agincourt Sources and interpretations p. 95

    ‘Between nine and ten in the morning the admiral of France, Clignet de Brabant, Louis Bourdon and the lord of Gaule were charged to go with 1,000 crak men at arms who had the best mounts to disperse the English archers who had already engaged in combat.
    But at the first volley of arrows which the archers caused to rain down upon them they turned and fled, to their eternal shame, leaving their leaders stranded in the midst of danger with only a small number of brave hearts.’

    ‘The English, however, thanks to the disorder brought about by their archers whose shots, as dense as a hailstorm, obscured the sky and wounded a great number of their opponents...’

    ‘They were also saddened by seeing the two illustrious knights who commanded the vanguard, the count of Vendome, cousin of the king and leader of his house, and Guichard Dauphin, both equally renowned for their prudence as for their valor and their fidelity, forced to retreat in the face of the enemy archers after they had lost several of the braves of their men.

    ‘In the opinion of the French, it was precisely what injured the most their enemies which assured the English of victory, especially the continuous way in which they had rained down on our men a terrifying hail of arrow shot.’
    The Religieux (Monk) of Saint-Denis, Histoire de Charles VI (c. 1415-22, Latin), Chapter 8.
    Anne Curry, The Battle of Agincourt Sources and interpretations p. 106

    ‘But it went completely the other way. For when it came to engaging, the English had such a large quantity of archers who began to shoot strongly against the French.’
    Mémoires de Pierre de Fenin (?1430s, French)
    Anne Curry, The Battle of Agincourt Sources and interpretations p. 118

    ‘Straightway the English approached the French; first the archers of whom there were a good 13,000, began with all their might to shoot volleys of arrowes against the French for as long as they could pull the bow.’

    ‘Then the English sounded their trumpets loudly and the French began to bow their heads so that the arrow fire would not penetrate the visors of their helmets. So they advanced a little against them, but then made a little retreat. But before they could engage together, many French were hampered and wounded.

    ‘In very truth, Sir Guillaum de Saveuses who had been ordered to be mounted with the others, broke ranks to be alone in front of his companions wanting them to follow him and went off to strike against the English. He was immediately shot from his horse and put to death.
    Enguerran Monstrelet (1444-1460s)
    Anne Curry, The Battle of Agincourt Sources and interpretations p. 161

    ‘Straightway the English approached the French; first the archers began with all their might to shoot volleys of arrowes against the French for as long as they could pull the bow.’

    ‘When they approached their trumpets and clarions gave great nois. The French began to bow their heads, especially those who had no shield (pavaix), because of the English arrow fire. The English fired so vigorously that there were none who dared approach them and the French did not dare uncover themselves or look up.
    So they advanced a little against them, but then made a little retreat. But before they could engage together, many French were hampered and wounded.’
    Jean Waurin (1444-1460s)
    Anne Curry, The Battle of Agincourt Sources and interpretations p. 161

    ‘Clignet de Brabant, with 1,200 horsemen who were well armed and mounted, should launch a charge against them in order to separate them from the English men-at-arms. Clignet tried to do this but could not because of the resistance of the archers, so he went on to the English camp to rob it. Meanwhile, the English archers caused maximum damage to the French with their arrows, so that they could not get close enough to the English to engege them in hand-to-hand combat.’
    Edmond de Dynter, Chronique des ducs Brabant (?early to mid-1440s, Latin), Chapter 127
    Anne Curry, The Battle of Agincourt Sources and interpretations p. 173

    ‘They advanced whilst firing at the enemy wounding so many horses on which the French were mounted and men also, killing a good number, so that even before they came to hand to hand fighting, the French turned around and were suffocated in the crush.’
    Thomas Basin, Histoire de Charles VII (1471-72, Latin), Chapter 9
    Anne Curry, The Battle of Agincourt Sources and interpretations p. 187

    ‘Our archers shot full heartily, and quickly made the Frenchmen bleed; their arrows went at great speed, and took down our enemies; through breastplate, haubergeon, and bascinet they went. Eleven thousand were slain there all in a row; you know right well that it was so..’
    John Lydgate, The Bataille of Agyncourt, quoted in C. Hibbert, Agincourt (London, 1964), p. 107
    Last edited by Strategos Autokrator; September 09, 2017 at 05:29 PM.
    "Alea iacta est"

  18. #58

    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    Here's how Alan Williams calculated the kinetic energy required for penetration when the following factors changes

    1) thickness
    2) fracture toughness
    3) angle of impact

    He tested modern mild steel with 0.15 % carbon, 0 % slag and a fracture toughness of 235 kJ/m2
    Penetration of a 1 mm plate requires 55 joule. This would leave a 5*5 mm hole in the plate, and the arrow would penetrate to 40 mm.

    First let us take a look at thickness. The formula goes like this:
    E2 = E1*t^1.6
    If 1mm requires 55 joule and you want to know how much kinetic energy you need for 1.5mm you do the following.

    E2 = 55*1.5^1.6
    E2 = 105.22 joule

    (1.52mm is the thickness of the side/visor/back of two of the bascinets on p. 233-234 in the book: Longbow by Hardy. One is only 1.27mm)

    When this is done we'll take a look at the toughness of 4 different plate qualities. When you know the fracture toughness you can give them a coefficient.

    Here is Alan William's research.
    A) Iron munitions armor such as the plate made in Köln. High in slag (3-4%) and without carbon. R = 120 to 150 kJ/m2
    B) Low-carbon steel armor such as the plate made in Nürnberg. Low in slag (1%), low in carbon (0.3%). R = 180 to 210 kJ/m2
    C) Medium-carbon steel armor such as Milanese armor of the 15th/16th century or Greenwich (before 1530). Low in slag (less than 1%), high in carbon (0.6 %). R = 240 to 260 kJ/m2
    D) Medium-carbon hardened steel armor such as armor from Innsbruck, Augsburg, Landshut or Greenwich (after 1530). Very low in slag (0.5 to 1%), high in carbon (0.6%) but carbides presented as tempered martensite rather than pearlite. R could not be measured but is estimated to at least 300 kJ/m^2 and might be over 500 kJ/m2

    Allan Williams gave the plate qualities the following coefficients represented with the letter W.
    A) 0.5
    B) 0.75
    C) 1.1
    D) 1.5
    I can't say I agree with him and here is why. I divide the toughness of the tested plate on the toughness of the mild steel plate he used as a reference. The coefficient only apply when the toughness is on the lower end of the scale for the lower qualities, as can be seen where I have marked it with an asterisk. C and D is 260 kj/m2 and 354 kJ/m2 respectively.
    120/235 = 0.51*
    150/235 = 0.64
    180/235 = 0.76*
    210/235 = 0.89
    240/235 = 1.02
    260/235 = 1.10*
    300/235 = 1.27
    354/235 = 1.50*
    500/235 = 2.13

    Use my coefficients if you calculate something yourself.

    The answer we got was 105.22 joule. Now we multiply this with the coefficient for the plate quality of our choosing, and we'll use the coefficient for 180 kJ/m2. In other words 0.76

    E2 = E1*W
    E2 = 105.22*0.76
    E2 = 79.96 joule.

    It doesn't matter if you calculate the fracture toughness or thickness first or both at the same time. In other words:

    E2 = E1*t^1.6*W

    After we have established the kinetic energy for a specific thickness and toughness we move on to the angle of impact.

    Let's say the arrow strikes at a 10° angle.

    E2 = E1/cos(A)
    E2 = 79.96/0.9848
    E2 = 81.2 joule

    I type in 79.96 divided on 10 and push the cos button and push =.

    So here we have the answer. 81.2 joule when the plate is 1.5 mm thick and with a fracture toughness of 180 kJ/m2. In other words, approximately a plate with 0.25 % carbon and 2 % slag and carbids presented as pearlite. Every single one of the German-made bascinets in The Knight and the Blast Furnace have this quality or worse. That is wrought iron or low-carbon steel. Around half the Italian made bascinets have better quality.

    If you want to do everything in one go you do it like this:

    E2 = E1*t^1.6*W/cos(A)
    E2 = 55*1.5^1.6*0.76/cos(10)
    E2 = 81.2 joule

    Longbow arrows have a kinetic energy of around 100 to 150 joule point blank, depending on the velocity of the arrow and weight. Some might have even more.

    Kinetic energy is calculated like this.
    E = 0.5mv^2
    E = 0.5*mass in kg * velocity in m/s * velocity in m/s
    Let us say the arrow is 64 gram and leaves the bow at 63 m/s.
    E = 0.5*0.064*63*63
    E = 127 joule

    Let's say the energy at 20 meters drop down 10 joule.
    127-10 = 117
    117 - 81.2 = 35.8 joule left to kill or knock out the person wearing the helmet and go through the lining inside.

    That's the equivalent of being stabbed in the head with a dagger. I don't think I would like to be on the receiving end of that.
    If you change the arrowhead to a plate cutter you'll get better results becuase of the lozenge-shape. A square head is not the optimum shape.

    So what do we know about the Italian made armour from 1340 to 1450?

    Here is from the book: The Knight and the Blast Furnace by Alan Williams.

    Armour between 1360 to 1450 with a maker's mark have a VPH of:

    1360-70 = 180 VPH
    1385 = 202 VPH
    1395 = 374 VPH
    1400 = 154 VPH
    1435 = 395 VPH
    1440 = 204 VPH
    1450 = 215 VPH
    1450 = 252 VPH
    1450 = 236 VPH
    1450 = 234 VPH
    1450 = 279 VPH
    1450 = 226 VPH
    1450 = 145 VPH
    1450 = 344 VPH
    1450 = 157 VPH

    There is also 8 fully hardened, medium carbon steel specimens he have not tested. They are fully-harden and might have a VPH of 340-390. There is also 3 attempted hardened medium-carbon steel specimen. They might have a VPH of 280-340. The 4 air-cooled medium carbon steel samples he didn't test might have a VPH of 230-280. There is also 3 low-carbon fully-hardened specimen he didn't test. They might have a VPH of 200-280.

    Italian armour without a maker's mark between 1340 to 1450 have a VPH of:
    1370 = 366 VPH
    1385 = 868 VPH
    1390 = 270 VPH
    1400 = 276 VPH
    1400 = 193 VPH
    1400 = 164 VPH
    1430 = 174 VPH
    1435 = 184 VPH
    1440 = 338 VPH
    1450 = 229 VPH
    1450 = 233 VPH
    1450 = 262 VPH
    1450 = 120 VPH
    1450 = 223 VPH
    1450 = 160 VPH
    1450 = 120 VPH

    There is only 1 fully hardened medium carbon steel specimen he didn't test ( VPH 340-390) and 4 air-cooled medium carbon steel specimens (VPH 230-280), 4 low-carbon air-cooled specimen (VPH 150-220), and 1 wrought iron specimen (VPH 117-150.)

    So there is 59 specimen.
    15 fully hardened medium carbon steel specimen
    3 attemted hardened medium carbon steel specimen
    11 air-cooled medium carbon steel specimen
    7 fully hardened low-carbon steel specimen
    10 attempted hardened low-carbon steel specimen
    9 air-cooled low-carbon steel specimen
    4 wrought iron specimen

    The average of all of this if we give those he didn't test the most likely VPH value
    9 fully hardened medium carbon steel specimen, VPH 375
    3 attemted hardened medium carbon steel specimen, VPH 300
    8 air-cooled medium carbon steel specimen, VPH 260
    3 fully hardened low-carbon steel specimen, VPH 250
    4 air-cooled low-carbon steel specimen, VPH 160
    1 wrought iron specimen, VPH 160

    The average is then VPH 265.74. That is not too bad, but this is the best armour available and still 23 out of 59 pieces of armour is useless when shot at with warbows. That is 2/5 of the armour!

    Anything below 230 VPH is inadequate protection.

    Italian made armour was the best available armour during the Hundred Years War period. According to Clifford J. Rogers 13 % had good quality armour at the battle of Agincourt, 33 % had low-carbon steel armour and 54 % had wrought iron armour made by local smiths. Of all the 9800 men-at-arms fighting at the battle, most of them were either Gentlemen or Equires. This explains why around 2000 made it to the English lines without serious wounds while the rest ended up being wounded and killed by arrows and put out of their missery during the melee that followed.

    If we take a look at armour made in Germany and other places in this time period (1340-1450), it is either wrought iron or low carbon steel. That's what they had available.

    The puzzle is starting to take form. We can't take the outliers, like 375 VPH and generalize from it!
    "Alea iacta est"

  19. #59

    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    Didn't have time to check all the sources but the 1st battle of Albans is a special case since many of the Lancastrians weren't full armoured and King Henry VI and several men were surrounded in a small street and longbows are very close range (less than 20 feet) were used to kill/wound the men around the king leaving Henry able to be captured with less risk of killing him. Also it isn't clear how armoured the men were having fled to an inn after being surprised while preparing for battle, most likely they had donned something since it was deemed too dangerous to attack in melee around the King but the archers were supposedly told to aim for the head/pick individual targets for less chance of hitting the King.
    Last edited by Ichon; September 08, 2017 at 08:49 PM.

  20. #60

    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?


    You are correct, we do not know if they had armour on or not. However, it stands to reason that Buckingham had his helmet on. If the range was only 20 feet, even a 70 lbs bow would drive a light 45 gram arrow straight through his head. The arrow never did that. The archers on the contrary did not use weak bows. They were probably in the 120-160 lbs range somewhere. Most likely around 140-160 lbs. The most likely scenario would be that the arrow penetrated his visor with 3-4 inches and then wounded him with 1-2 inches before the plate-cutting arrowhead got stuck in the plate around its socket. The same can be said about Henry VI and Lord Dudley. However, Henry VI's bodyguards might have been without helmets when they died, we don't know. The wounded hand of Lord Stafford might have been caused by the removal of his gauntlets. Henry Fenyingley, on the other hand, most likely had his rerebrace, couter and vambrace on when he received his wounds. At this stage of the fighting, the Lancastrian forces had been fighting at the barricades for some time. Warwick found a way around Holwell Street and attacked them in the rear and took them by surprise, but they had their armour on with possibly only gauntlets and helmets removed. It is during this stage that Henry VI and Buckingham received their wounds, and the sources explicitly state that they were in the thick of it encased in their armour and stood under the banner.
    "Alea iacta est"

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