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27 Jul

Medieval Bows and Arrows

All medieval armies used bows and arrows, a weapon consisting of:

  • the bow made of a strip of wood which was bent and held in tension by a strip
  • arrows with a sharp metallic point (arrowhead) which was powered by the elasticity of the string of the bow.

The bow and arrows was considered a lower class weapon in the Medieval Times even after the introduction of the English longbow which proved to be very powerful weapon during the Hundred Years’ War, especially in the battles of Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt.

Illustration of the crossbow


English longbow, probably of Welsh origin was usually 6 feet and 6 inches (2 meters) long and had an effective range to about 656 feet (200 meters). Trained archers shot from 6 to 10 arrows per minute but longbow required a lot strength to pull and years of training. For that reason many medieval armies used the crossbow consisting of a bow mounted on the stock, a groove that guided missile called the bolt and a trigger. Crossbow was the leading missile weapon in the Medieval Times although longbow achieved greater range, better accuracy and faster shooting rate than the crossbow which shot only one bolt per minute. However, crossbow achieved greater power and could had been used effectively only after about a week of training. The efficacy and damage that could have been achieved with the medieval bows and arrows (although regarded as secondary and inferior weapon by the knights) clearly indicate the canons of the Second Lateran Council (held 1139) which prohibited the use of bows and crossbows against Christians.

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