I've been thinking about this for a while, but how effective is full plate armour? Was it actually a good way to defend yourself?
Short Answer: Yes.
Here’s a general rule: People in the past were ignorant about a lot of things, but they weren’t stupid. If they used something, chances are they had a good reason. There are exceptions, but plate armor is not one of them.
For a type of armor, no matter what it is, to be considered effective, it has to meet three criteria.
The three criteria are: Economic Efficiency, Protectiveness, and Mobility.
1. Is it Economically Efficient?
Because of the nature of society in the Middle Ages, what with equipment being largely bring-it-yourself when it came to anybody besides arrowfodder infantry who’d been given one week of training, economic efficiency was a problem for the first couple of decades after plate armor was introduced in France in the 1360s. It wasn’t easy to make, and there wasn’t really a ‘science’ to it yet, so only the wealthiest of French soldiers, meaning knights and above, had it; unless of course somebody stole it off a dead French noble. The Hundred Years War was in full swing at the time, and the French were losing badly to the English and their powerful longbows, so there were plenty of dead French nobles and knights to go around. That plate armor was not very economically efficient for you unless you were a rich man, though, it also was not exactly what we would call “full” plate armor.
Above: Early plate armor, like that used by knights and above during the later 1300s and early 1400s.
Above: Two examples of what most people mean when they say “full” plate armor, which would have been seen in the mid to late 1400s and early 1500s.
Disclaimer: These are just examples. No two suits of armor were the same because they weren’t mass-produced, and there was not really a year when everybody decided to all switch to the next evolution of plate armor. In fact it would not be improbably to see all three of these suits on the same battlefield, as expensive armor was often passed down from father to son and used for many decades.
Just like any new technology, however, as production methods improved, the product got cheaper.
Above: The Battle of Barnet, 1471, in which everybody had plate armor because it’s affordable by then.
So if we’re talking about the mid to late 1400s, which is when our modern image of the “knight in shining armor” sort of comes from, then yes, “full” plate armor is economically efficient. It still wasn’t cheap, but neither are modern day cars, and yet they’re everywhere. Also similar to cars, plate armor is durable enough to be passed down in families for generations, and after the Hundred Years War ended in 1453, there was a lot of used military equipment on sale for cheap.
2. Is it Protective?
This is a hard question to answer, particularly because no armor is perfect, and as soon as a new, seemingly ‘perfect’ type of armor appears, weapons and techniques adapt to kill the wearer anyway, and the other way around. Early plate armor was invented as a response to the extreme armor-piercing ability of the English longbow, the armor-piercing ability of a new kind of crossbow, and advancements in arrowhead technology.
Above: The old kind of arrowhead, ineffective against most armor.
Above: The new kind of arrowhead, very effective at piercing chainmaille and able to pierce plate armor if launched with enough power.
Above: An arrow shot from a “short” bow with the armor-piercing tip(I think it’s called a bodkin tip) piercing a shirt of chainmaille. However, the target likely would have survived since soldiers wore protective layers of padding underneath their armor, so if the arrow penetrated skin at all, it wasn’t deep. That’s Terry Jones in the background.
Above: A crossbow bolt with the armor piercing tip penetrating deep through the same shirt of chainmaille. The target would likely not survive.
Above: A crossbow bolt from the same crossbow glancing off a breastplate, demonstrating that it was in fact an improvement over wearing just chainmaille.
Unfortunately it didn’t help at all against the powerful English longbows at close range, but credit to the French for trying. It did at least help against weaker bows.
Now for melee weapons.
It didn’t take long for weapons to evolve to fight this new armor, but rarely was it by way of piercing through it. It was really more so that the same weapons were now being used in new ways to get around the armor.
Above: It’s a popular myth that Medieval swords were dull, but they still couldn’t cut through plate armor, nor could they thrust through it. Your weapon would break before the armor would. Most straight swords could, however, thrust through chainmaille and anything weaker.
There were three general answers to this problem:
1. Be more precise, and thrust through the weak points.
Above: The weak points of a suit of armor. Most of these points would have been covered by chainmaille, leather, thick cloth, or all three, but a sword can thrust through all three so it doesn’t matter.
To achieve the kind of thrusting accuracy needed to penetrate these small gaps, knights would often grip the blade of their sword with one hand and keep the other hand on the grip. This technique was called “half-swording”, and you could lose a finger if you don’t do it right, so don’t try it at home unless you have a thick leather glove to protect you, as most knights did, but it can also be done bare-handed.
Above: Examples of half-swording.
2.Just hit the armor so fucking hard that the force carries through and potentially breaks bones underneath.
Specialty weapons were made for this, but we’ll get to them in a minute. For now I’m still focusing on swords because I like how versatile the European longsword is.
Above: A longsword. They’re made for two-handed use, but they’re light enough to be used effectively in one hand if you’d like to have a shield or your other arm has been injured. Longswords are typically about 75% of the height of their wielders.
Assuming you’re holding the sword pointing towards the sky, the part just above the grip is called the crossguard, and the part just below the grip is called the pommel. If you hold the sword upside-down by the blade, using the same careful gripping techniques as with half-swording, you can strike with either the crossguard or the pommel, effectively turning the sword into a warhammer. This technique was called the Murder Stroke, and direct hits could easily dent plate armor, and leave the man inside bruised, concussed, or with a broken bone.
Above: The Murder Stroke as seen in a Medieval swordfighting manual.
Regular maces, hammers, and other blunt weapons were equally effective if you could get a hard enough hit in without leaving yourself open, but they all suffered from part of the plate armor’s intelligent design. Nearly every part of it was smooth and/or rounded, meaning that it’s very easy for blows to ‘slide’ off, which wastes a lot of their power. This makes it very hard to get a ‘direct’ hit.
Here come the specialized weapons to save the day.
Above: A lucerne, or claw hammer. It’s just one of the specialized weapons, but it encompasses all their shared traits so I’m going to only list it.
These could be one-handed, two-handed, or long polearms, but the general idea was the same. Either crack bones beneath armor with the left part, or penetrate plate armor with the right part. The left part has four ‘prongs’ so that it can ‘grip’ smooth plate armor and keep its force when it hits without glancing off. On the right side it as a super sturdy ‘pick’, which is about the only thing that can penetrate the plate armor itself. On top it has a sharp tip that’s useful for fighting more lightly armored opponents.
3. Force them to the ground and stab them through the visor with a dagger.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Many conflicts between two armored knights would turn into a wrestling match. Whoever could get the other on the ground had a huge advantage, and could finish his opponent, or force him to surrender, with a dagger.
By now you might be thinking “Dang, full plate armor has a lot of weaknesses, so how can it be called good armor?”
The answer is because, like all armor is supposed to do, it minimizes your target area. If armor is such that your enemy either needs to risk cutting their fingers to target extremely small weak points, bring a specialized weapons designed specifically for your armor, or wrestle you to the ground to defeat you, that’s some damn good armor. So yes, it will protect you pretty well.
Above: The red areas represent the weak points of a man not wearing armor.
Also, before I move on to Mobility, I’m going to talk briefly about a pet-peeve of mine: Boob-plates.
If you’re writing a fantasy book, movie, or video game, and you want it to be realistically themed, don’t give the women boob-shaped armor. It wasn’t done historically even in the few cases when women wore plate armor, and that’s because it isn’t as protective as a smooth, rounded breastplate like you see men wearing. A hit with any weapon between the two ‘boobs’ will hit with its full force rather than glancing off, and that’ll hurt. If you’re not going for a realistic feel, then do whatever you want. Just my advice.
Above: Joan of Arc, wearing properly protective armor.
An exception to this is in ancient times. Female gladiators sometimes wore boob-shaped armor because that was for entertainment and nobody cared if they lived or died. Same with male gladiators. There was also armor shaped like male chests in ancient times, but because men are more flat-chested than women, this caused less of a problem. Smooth, rounded breastplates are still superior, though.
3. Does it allow the wearer to keep his or her freedom of movement?
Okay, I’ve been writing this for like four hours, so thankfully this is the simplest question to answer. There’s a modern myth that plate armor weighed like 700 lbs, and that knights could barely move in it at all, but that isn’t true. On a suit of plate armor from the mid to late 1400s or early 1500s, all the joints are hinged in such a way that they don’t impede your movement very much at all.
The whole suit, including every individual plate, the chainmaille underneath the plates, the thick cloth or leather underneath the chainmaille, and your clothes and underwear all together usually weighed about 45-55 lbs, and because the weight was distributed evenly across your whole body, you’d hardly feel the weight at all. Much heavier suits of armor that did effectively ‘lock’ the wearer in place did exist, but they never saw battlefield use. Instead, they were for showing off at parades and for jousting. Jousting armor was always heavier, thicker, and more stiffly jointed than battlefield armor because the knight only needed to move certain parts of his body, plus being thrown off a horse by a lance–even a wooden one that’s not meant to kill–has a very, very high risk of injury.
Here’s a bunch of .gifs of a guy demonstrating that you can move pretty freely in plate armor.
Above: Can you move in it? Yes.
Here are links to the videos that I made these .gifs from:
me: To be, or not to be- that is the question: Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them. To die- to sleep- No more; and by a sleep to say we end The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to. 'Tis a consummation Devoutly to be wish’d. To die- to sleep. To sleep- perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub! For in that sleep of death what dreams may come When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, Must give us pause. There’s the respect That makes calamity of so long life. For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely, The pangs of despis’d love, the law’s delay, The insolence of office, and the spurns That patient merit of th’ unworthy takes, When he himself might his quietus make With a bare bodkin? Who would these fardels bear, To grunt and sweat under a weary life, But that the dread of something after death- The undiscover’d country, from whose bourn No traveller returns- puzzles the will, And makes us rather bear those ills we have Than fly to others that we know not of? Thus conscience does make cowards of us all, And thus the native hue of resolution Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought, And enterprises of great pith and moment With this regard their currents turn awry And lose the name of action.- Soft you now! The fair Ophelia!- Nymph, in thy orisons Be all my sins rememb'red.
Disclaimer: I have been practicing archery since I was eight and became really involved with the sport / hobby since turning eighteen; despite my experience, I am by no means an actual expert but I do know a considerable amount and am capable of answering any and every question you all may have!
Types of Bows: recurve, long / flat / traditional, compound, crossbow, pistol crossbow, war, mongolian, takedown, priminitive, composite
Types of Archery: traditional, competitive, field, target, hunting, 3D, military
Types of Arrows: aluminum, carbon, fiberglass, wooden ( traditional ), bolts ( crossbow )
Types of Fletchings: straight, helical, flu-flu. Material: feather, plastic
Types of Points: target, bullet, blunt, field, judo, fish, broadhead, fixed blade, mechanical blade, small game, bludgeon ( stump ). Medieval: bodkin, war, crescent leaf, swallowtail, hunting. Some are push-ins and others are screw-ins, the material tips are made out of can also vary: plastic, aluminum, stone, flint, carbon, etc…
Types of Nocks: push/press-in, pin, overnock, convential. For crossbows, the nocks will be different as the arrow sits differently (such as: flat, capture, omni-nock, and half moon)
Types of Draws: mediterranean ( most common ), mongolian, pinch
Types of Quivers: hip, back, side, pocket, bow
Types of Gear: shooting gloves, shooting tabs, arm guard, chest guard, quivers, silencers, wrist sling, bow sling, finger sling
Types of Stances: square, open, closed
Anatomy of a Bow generally consists of their limbs, riser, bow string, grip / handle, ( arrow ) rest, and nocking point. Additional features ( mostly with compound and competitive archery ) also include: sight, stabilizer, long rod, side rod, limb bolt, clicker, shelf. Additionally, there are two sides to a bow ( a front and back ), the outer portion — or the part that faces away from you when you aim — is called the back and the inner portion is called the belly.
Anatomy of a String: Sometimes, with some strings you will see three points of the string with different colours at the ends of the limbs and at the center, these are called servings. Top, bottom, and center.
Anatomy of an Arrow: Point ( tip / insert ), shaft, crest, fletching, nock
Anchor Point — A consistent part on the face where the draw hand comes back to.
Cant — This is a bow that is being tilted to one side or another, more commonly used by hunters.
Dry Fire — NEVER do this to your bows, this is VERY harmful to the bow and decreases longevity. A dry fire is when you pull the string back WITHOUT an arrow nocked then release.
Sky Draw — This is illegal and incredibly dangerous, don’t do this. This is the act of aiming your bow towards the sky and releasing. Do not pull a Katniss Everdeen. It’s not worth it. Only do this in places in a wide open and empty field or somewhere it is at least permitted.
Index Feather / Vane — There are commonly three fletchings to an arrow with two of three being one colour; the one that is the odd one out is called the index. This should be facing out / away from the bow’s arrow rest.
Nock — Commonly used and confused for notch ( similar to blood spatter vs blood splatter ). This is the slot at the end of an arrow; there is also an accompanying point on the string itself where the arrow sits on top of for a consistent level of shooting. Additionally, on some arrows, there is a nock nodule that typically lines up with the index feather ( this is used to easily nock an arrow into place without having to look down mid-aim or shooting, so typically hunting ).
Overdraw — The act of using a shorter bow compared to draw length, thus putting an overload of pressure on the limbs. It can also mean using a shorter arrow than meant to be used with draw length.
Poundage ( # ) — A bow’s weight at full draw. For instance, while the poundage of a bow says forty#, the bow isn’t actually going to weigh that much ( bows, in contrast, are actually really light ).
Draw Weight — I see this used interchangeably with poundage but there really isn’t such a thing as a draw weight? Or, at least, it doesn’t have a specific function that I am aware of.
Draw Length — This is the length of how far you can pull the string back to your anchor point; the length typically is about the half of your arm span from middle fingertip to middle fingertip. Measured in inches ( “ ).
Bow Length — The length of the bow unstrung from limb tip to limb tip.
Bow Arm / Hand — The hand that commonly grips the handle.
Dominant Eye / Hand — The hand that pulls on the string; and the eye that more accurately sees the target. Sometimes, the dominant eye and hand are not on the same side of the body but there are ways to get around this!
Spine Flexibility — When getting new arrows, it’s important to test the spine for any cracking sounds. If an arrow does that, you do not want to use it. Also checking for arrow hardness.
Archer’s Paradox — The arrow flexing as it leaves the bow. Also, an arrow arches, it doesn’t go straight out like how a bullet might.
Followthrough — Holding your posture / position after letting go of the string to when the arrow hits the target.
The correct way to draw / pull a bow is by using back muscles rather than your arms ( arms are used too but not as majorly as the back ), this helps lessens fatigue! And allows you to use the maximum poundage. In saying that, bows are not the same from person to person; for example, because I use a longbow ( 48″ ) and my arm span is shorter, even though my bow is 40#, I am actually drawing 35#. And unless you’re using a primitive bow or a bow that has a versatile grip, bows are specifically made to be used by one hand or the other ( so left or right ). And just like all bows aren’t the same from person to person, all arrows aren’t the same and don’t necessarily work with every bow, especially indoors versus outdoors, grain, shaft thickness / hardness, tip, weight, etc…
When aiming, it’s important to keep in mind: direction and force of wind, height of target in comparison to you ( is it higher or lower ), indoors vs outdoors, stable or moving target, terrain, distance, etc…
The best way to build up stamina and strength is to consistently do muscle strength exercises, practice with the bow often. I also recommend holding the string back for thirty seconds to a minute at least three times in a day.
There is A LOT of muscle memory involved! And like overtime if you don’t exercise or ride a bike, getting back into the sport can take a readjustment to get up to par. The elbow of your bow arm should be pointed out and not down at the ground ( this is to get your elbow out of the way so that the string doesn’t slap against your forearm upon release ), your back should be straight ideally, and your should have your weight evenly resting on your hips ( not shifted ).
Do NOT use wooden arrows with compound bows. It will more than likely explode in your face and cause bodily injury. Additionally try to use the right arrow with the right bow and bow poundage; it’s like using a gun, you wouldn’t overload it with ammunition it’s not meant to shoot, so don’t do that to your bows. Also, traditional and recurve bows tend to be more forgiving than compound bows because of the difference in anatomy; compound bows have wheels attached to the limbs and warping or twisting the string at all while pulling it back can cause the string to detach from the railing ( but in general, avoid twisting your hand, wrist or forearm as you draw back the string ).
If a bow creaks or makes any kind of sound while you draw it back, do not use that bow. Same with an arrow. It’s safer to avoid injury.
Do not fire a bow with anyone or anything in your peripheral or around the target. Be very aware of your surroundings.
War bows have the highest poundage, that I am aware of, that goes up to 180# and are made of a different wood. These are incredibly powerful and dangerous weapons, so I don’t recommend a war bow to shoot in your basic backyard unless you have a really great stopping tool / target. War bows also take the longest to train for and can’t just be used by anyone right off the bat compared to modern bows, because the heavier the poundage, the more back and arm muscle needed; so strength needed will be needed for this ( and this is why archers from medieval periods who used these bows were documented as to having thicker arm bones because they trained in their youth as to use such a bow ).
If you can, try to practice at archery ranges. Hunting with a bow requires a license; please check your city / state laws regarding archery and its restrictions ( some don’t allow backyard shooting ).
Lastly, bows ARE weapons. I know they are treated very much like toys but they are not! Even the toy bows that you see at medieval fairs and in stores, those are still dangerous. Actual bows should be taken seriously; do not have an arrow nock and at full draw while you haphazardly aim the bow in jest at your group of friends, claiming to be the next Legolas or Katniss. That is the quickest way of hurting someone, don’t do it. In saying that, television and all other mediums of entertainment are not wholly accurate depictions of archery; some of the moves they do are highly ridiculous and unrealistic ( Hawkeye, Arrow, THG, LOTR, etc… ). While there are good depictions out there and some decent moments, they should not be your basis of instruction. It’s of course okay to take inspiration from these characters but don’t treat what they do as fact and law.
Leg Straps Tutorial!! This is the method that I used to make my new leg straps for my Panty Anarchy cosplay! For some reason, it took me 3 years to buck up and just sew real leg straps, so no more gluing ribbon to my leg! I’m just transferring this tutorial from my Cosplay Amino account to tumblr in case anyone wants to save it for their own cosplay uses.
It’s fairly simple (even though it took me a while to figure it out), so go ahead and keep reading to see pictures and read the whole tutorial!
What Wodehouse writes is pure word music. It matters not one whit that he writes endless variations on a theme of pig kidnappings, lofty butlers, and ludicrous impostures. He is the greatest musician of the English language, and exploring variations of familiar material is what musicians do all day. In fact, what it’s about seems to me to be wonderfully irrelevant.
Shakespeare? Milton? Keats? How can I possibly mention the author of Pearls, Girls and Monty Bodkin and Pigs Have Wings in the same breath as these men? He’s just not serious!
He doesn’t need to be serious. He’s better than that. He’s up in the stratosphere of what the human mind can do, above tragedy and strenuous thought, where you will find Bach, Mozart, Einstein, Feynman, and Louis Armstrong, in the realms of pure, creative playfulness.
to die—to sleep,
no more; and by a sleep to say we end
the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
that flesh is heir to: ‘tis a consummation
devoutly to be wish’d. to die, to sleep;
to sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub:
for in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
when we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
must give us pause—there’s the respect
that makes calamity of so long life.
for who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
th'oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
the pangs of dispriz’d love, the law’s delay,
the insolence of office, and the spurns
that patient merit of th'unworthy takes,
when he himself might his quietus make
with a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
to grunt and sweat under a weary life,
but that the dread of something after death,
the undiscovere’d country, from whose bourn
no traveller returns, puzzles the will,
and makes us rather bear those ills we have
than fly to others that we know not of?
We decided to go and tell Odds Bodkin how much we love his shows, and he stood up from his meal and hugged us and said “You darlings have been to all of my bar shows” BECAUSE WE HAVE and he said that we had great senses of humor because we laughed so much.
He also said he was thinking of us on his drive down, he didn’t even know our names but he knows us as the girls who wept openly at his Beowulf story. And I’m just. So honored, I’m so glad, I was secretly hoping he’d recognize us but didn’t really expect it, certainly didn’t expect that sort of response.
I’m just so happy and we confirmed with the owner that they plan to do more shows in the winter.
Hamlet, To Be or Not to Be in Original Pronunciation, Recited by Ben Crystal
For reference, here are the words to the soliloquy:
To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep; No more; and by a sleep to say we end The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep; To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub; For in that sleep of death what dreams may come When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, Must give us pause: there’s the respect That makes calamity of so long life; For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely, The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay, The insolence of office and the spurns That patient merit of the unworthy takes, When he himself might his quietus make With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear, To grunt and sweat under a weary life, But that the dread of something after death, The undiscover’d country from whose bourn No traveller returns, puzzles the will And makes us rather bear those ills we have Than fly to others that we know not of? Thus conscience does make cowards of us all; And thus the native hue of resolution Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought, And enterprises of great pith and moment With this regard their currents turn awry, And lose the name of action –Soft you now! The fair Ophelia!
The list that no one asked for of books in Sherlock’s flat
When Friendship Runs Deeper than Blood; Sleepers - Lorenzo Henry IV- Shakespeare Easing the passing: the trial of Doctor John Bodkin Adams - Patrick Devlin The Second World War IV - Winston Churchill Bringing Down the House - Ben Mezrich Memoirs of a Bow Street Runner - Henry Goddard The Pickwick Papers - Charles Dickens Manuel de Numismatique Française II - Blanchet et Dieudonné A Practical Approach to Planning Law - Michael Purdue and Violet Moore Tales of Mystery & Imagination - Edgar Allan Poe The Return of the Native - Thomas Hardy Signature Killers - Robert D. Keppol The Courage to Be - Paul Tillich The Boer War - Thomas Pakenham Mathematics Teaching; Theory in Practice - T.H.F Brissenden Nicholas Nickleby - Charles Dickens Polly and the Wolf again - Catherine Storr The Glittering Prizes - Frederic Raphael Critical Practice - Catherine Belsey Charlotte Bronte - Jane Eyre Speed, Ecstasy, Ritalin: The Science of Amphetamines - Leslie Iversen Blackstone’s Statutes on Criminal Law - P.R. Glazebrook Stunned Mullets and Two-Pot Screamers - G.A Wilkes The Damage Done - Warben Fellows Proclaimed in Blood - Hugh Miller Remembering our Childhood: How Memory Betrays us - Karl Sabbagh Systema Naturae 250: The Linnaean Ark - Andrew Polaszek Investigative Interviewing - Oxford- Eric Sheppard Happy Like Murderers - Gordon Burn Mysteries of the Unexplained - Carroll C. Calkins The History of Music - Emil Naumann A Beginners Guide to Airsports - Keith Carey Moriarty’s Police Law - Williams W. J. Provinces of England - C.A. Fawcett Going to Extremes; How like Minds Unite and Divide - Cass R. Sunstein
New Oxford Textbook of Psychiatry Oxford Textbook of Suicidology and Suicide Prevention The reader’s digest Great encyclopedic dictionary The children’s Encyclopedia Collier’s Encyclopedia Halsbury’s Laws of England 9, 21, 700 & 54 English Idioms Britannica Yearbook of Science and the Future - 1991
Perspectives in sociology English Idioms Wild life of the world Critical Practice A Bible Commentary Smiles (George Moor-?) Inventions that changed the world Human Physiology study guide Chromatography Planning Law The Mystery Book Inventions that changed the world (20th Century) Family Law Psychotherapist The Silver Jubilee Book
Today, 600 years ago, the battle of Agincourt takes place
The build-up to the battle over the past two weeks has been chronicled here.
Today marks the anniversary of arguable the Medieval period’s most famous battle. The clash itself had been very brief. It may have only taken half-an-hour, although some accounts give two – three hours (which probably included some of the preliminaries).
On the 24th of October 1415 Henry V’s English warhost found its route to safety in Calais blocked by a much larger French force. Knowing he had to reach Calais before his army starved to death, Henry ordered his forces to advance on the morning of October 25th Once in position his archers began to shoot at the enemy.
Just imagine for a moment that you are an archer in the English army. You are famished, cold and wet and suffering from diarrhoea or worse from the effects of your diet of unclean water and nuts and berries. You expect to die in the forthcoming battle. For the men-at-arms there will be ransoms and often cosy captivity at the hands of men of their own class, related by birth or known to them personally. As a despised and feared footman, all you can expect is to be slaughtered by men so well-armoured as to be almost invulnerable or, if captured, to be mutilated so that you may not ply your craft again. The King has just reminded you that you can expect to lose three fingers from your right hand. However rousing his speech, you are most fortified by despair. At first it seems impossible that the French can be beaten. Then as you advance it becomes apparent that they have been careless – that they do not know what they are doing!
The English archery seems to have stirred the French to action. First their crossbowmen loosed off a hasty volley, then fell back for fear of the English arrows. Then their two wings of cavalry launched a charge across the intervening ground.
It is doubtful whether the French cavalry could have got up much speed over recently ploughed, rain-soaked ground. Just how slippery the surface was can be gathered from St Rèmy’s account of William of Saveuse’s charge. He is described as a valiant knight who encouraged his men to through their mounts upon the archers’ stakes. The ground was so soft that the stakes fell down, enabling the force to withdraw with the loss of only three men. But clearly not all the stakes fell down or the French would have broken through and ridden down the archers. The sort of thicket hedge that has been described nullified the impetus of an already laboured charge. Having performed their duty, the horsemen duly made off. What of the three men who died? They shared the fate of their leader, William de Saveuse, whose horse collided with a stake that held firm. As a result he was propelled over his mount’s head to lie stunned and helpless at the feet of the English archers, by whom he was swiftly dispatched. The loss of their dashing commander must have taken the heart out of the French. The English bowmen began to shoot at their now-retreating enemy, maddening the horses with arrow wounds. A similar drama was acted out on the other side of the battlefield.
The arrow storm forced every man to keep his head down for fear that a shaft might penetrate the eye slits in his helmet. Furthermore the English stood with the low, winter sun behind them – another unnerving and disorientating factor. As the range shortened, there can be no doubt that the English bodkin arrows, designed for the job, began to go through even plate armour protection. When the French arrived at the English line, after three hundred yards of blind, muscle-wrenching foot-slogging, there can have been no impetus left. Perhaps they did push the English back a few yards, represented poetically as a ‘lance’s length’. But many of the French must have been stupefied with exhaustion. And they were so crowded together that even if they had the strength to lift their weapons there was no space in which to aim a blow.
The fighting was nevertheless intense. The English did suffer casualties, the most notable of whom was the Duke of York. He probably was not suffocation under a mound of bodies as is usually claimed, but had his helmet beaten in so that it smashed his skull. The same fate nearly befell the King. All the eighteen squires who had supposedly sworn to fell Henry were killed, but somebody (perhaps one of them or possibly the Duke of Alençon) struck him a blow on the helmet which lopped a fleuret off the gold crown and left it heavily dented. Henry was certainly in the thick of the action. He stood over the badly wounded Early of Oxford and prevented him from being killed by the French. The battle between the men-at-arms seems to have been very close fought. Surprisingly, perhaps, the most effective intervention in the outcome of the fighting seems to have been provided by the lightly-equipped archers. All accounts describe them as throwing down their bows and engaging in the fray. They were equipped with swords, including the chopping falchion, axes and heavy mallets (used for hammering in the stakes and now for beading down the enemy). Their nimbleness, being so lightly clad upon the heavy ground, made them more than a match for the exhausted and bemused men-at-arms who opposed them – men, furthermore, who despised the low-born archers but now fell easy prey to them.
So the seemingly impossible happened. The small English force began to drive the French in front of it, killing, beating down and taking prisoner all who opposed them. Some chronicles speak of piles of dead as high as a man. While there were doubtless many bodies strewn around, some dead, some unconscious, some merely trapped, such a thing is a physical impossibility; but it captures the feeling of a massacre. The first French division was no forced back on to the second. But this strengthening of the French line seems to have had no effect. It merely produced the same results as before. On all sides French men-at-arms, including the most nobly-born amongst them, were giving themselves up. This was a risky business in the heat of battle. Too many Frenchmen seem to have seen the mêlée as a sort of joust between gentlemen, in which it was possible to hand over one’s glove as a symbol of surrender when a duel had been concluded with honour on both sides. The Duke of Alençon lost his life in this way, as doubtless did many others. We are told that after sparring with Henry but finding himself worsted he attempted to give himself up. As he did so, he was struck down by a battle-crazed Englishman, and so died.
The third division, looking on with horror at the defeat of the first two, made no move. Some indeed, being mounted, rode off in flight. Some of the luckier men-at-arms among the first two battles were also helped to their horses by their retainers and so escaped. But all the leaders of the French were killed or fell into English hands.
It was now early afternoon on a short, late October day. The English were looking to gather their prisoners and tot-up the lucrative ransoms they had made, as well as tending to their wounds and catching their breath. The battle was apparently over, the French utterly defeated and in flight. But something happened to cause Henry to order an action that quite offended against the conventions of warfare: the slaughter of a large part of those taken prisoner. In fact, two things happened.
The first was the report brought to Henry that his camp was being attacked. Exactly when or how this was carried out is far from clear. The conventional story accepted by chroniclers after the battle was that the local lord, Isembart d’Agincourt, assisted by Robinet de Bournoville, Riflart de Clmasse and several other men-at-arms, leading 600 peasants, of their own volition launched a raid on the camp. Certainly several precious items, a crown, some silver and a precious sword were looted from the camp.
The second action that spurred the massacre was the attempted counter-attack by a remnant of the third division. Amid all the confusion, several lords, named as the Counts of Marle and Fauquembergh and the Lords of Louvroy and Chin, managed to gather together six hundred men-at-arms. With them they made a mounted charge, which, according to Monstrelet, ended as disastrously as all the others.
The English, although victorious, were very vulnerable. They had by no means secured all their prisoners or accepted their surrender. There were still more than enough heavily armed Frenchmen at liberty to overwhelm the English should they recover their morale. So Henry gave the order to kill the prisoners. Only the most prominent were to be spared, such as the Duke of Orleans and Bourbon. But, as we have seen, high birth was no guarantee at such a moment. The knights and men-at-arms considered it an ignoble act and beneath their dignity to engage in killing defenceless men, so the task was carried out by a squire commanding two hundred archers. Even compared to the mayhem of battle it must have been a grim sight. How were the French killed? St Rèmy, who witnessed the massacre, describes them as ‘cut in pieces, heads and faces’. Indeed that was the only place where a knight in full armour was truly vulnerable. Only if they removed a man’s helmet or lifted his visor could he be killed easily. Those who resisted even this would have been stabbed through the eye-slit in their bascinet. Such cold-blooded killing appalled contemporaries, not so much for how it was done, although that did batter, but for whom it was done to. The men killed were noblemen and gentlemen, not the low-born who were expected to die in a battle. The men who wrote the accounts came from these upper classes, and such brutal realities clashed with the image of war as a gentlemanly pursuit, which they generally promulgated. But they did not blame Henry for carrying out this brutal necessity, but rather those leaders who so alarmed him as to bring the situation about.
The impact of Agincourt meant relatively little strategically, beyond the fact that France failed to capture the English king. However the event was hailed as a huge deliverance in England, and there was widespread celebration. It seemed to cement, once and for all, the might of English arms, especially the fabled longbow. The war would not turn in France’s favour for over a decade.
Me, an intellectual: To be, or not to be- that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them. To die- to sleep-
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die- to sleep.
To sleep- perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub!
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despis’d love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th’ unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would these fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death-
The undiscover’d country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns- puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.-
The black book is by patrick devlin. wanna know what he wrote about…
Patrick Arthur Devlin, Baron Devlin, PC (25 November 1905 – 9 August 1992) was a British lawyer, judge and jurist. He wrote a report on Britain’s involvement in Nyasaland in 1959. In 1985 he became the first British judge to write a book about a case he had presided over, the 1957 trial of suspected serial killer John Bodkin Adams. Devlin is also well known for his part in the debate around homosexuality in British law; in response to the Wolfenden report, he argued, contrary to H. L. A. Hart, that a common public morality should be upheld.
My main characters are five 15 year old schoolgirls and I'm trying to think of medieval weapons that would fit them. All are reasonably fit, though one has a back issue, and two of the others are trained black belts in Tae Kwon Do. None have any formal weapons training and have minimal training time. Should I just give them all bows/arrows and be done with it or are there other options?
The funny thing about the bow, especially a medieval war bow, is that it takes a very long time to master. We’re talking years, here. It’s also heavily dependent on upper body strength, particularly in the back, arms, and shoulders. You need a heavier bow to deal with heavily armored targets which requires more strength and more practice drawing.
Basically, perceptions about the D&D Ranger along with Film/TV have caused a problem when looking at the body types or strength quota associated with archery. In particular, medieval war archery. The hunting bow and the war bow are different. While someone certainly could kill another human with the hunting bow, the draw weight is such that it will have a much more difficult time penetrating armor. This includes the padded armor made from cloth. War bows have a draw weight of around 60-70 pounds. The famous English or Welsh longbow was notorious for it’s difficulty and weighed in somewhere around 100-180 pounds.
Besides that, bows (and all weapons) require a great deal of care. You can’t just hide a wooden bow unprotected in a log for six weeks, come back and expect it to be useable. It must be oiled regularly to maintain it’s flexibility. It must be unstrung between engagements and restrung before the next one, thus requiring a fair amount preparation time. The must also be carefully wrapped when traveling to protect it from the elements. This is before we get into the required type of arrows, (heavier with a heavier head), and the difficulty in acquiring them. Which, if your characters are schoolgirls, may have a problem convincing the local fletcher on why they need bodkins rather than broadheads.
Regardless of how they get presented in fiction, the bow is not any easier to master than a sword. Your characters are better off with crossbows. However, it should be noted that the crossbows fire much more slowly and take more time between shots. They can be learned quickly, within a few months, rather than the years. They’ll still need to learn how to care for it and shoot it though.
Taekwondo black belts come in a few flavors which heavily depends on the system employed by their school and who trained them. Given how young they are, I’d peg them at starting their training between 5 and 8 with their black belt testing between 12 and 14. The average recreational martial arts student takes about 4-5 years to reach their first black belt rank. Sometimes you get the outlier earlies between 8 and 10, but a lot of programs institute a specialty curriculum for the really littles. (Our school had a special class for “Little Turtles”, which were for kids between 4-6 that had their own belt ranks and camouflage belts with colored stripes to denote their rank in the system before they were introduced into the regular white belt class. I think it ran white to red.)
If they tested at 12 then they were probably preparing for their second degree test at 15, if they tested at thirteen then they were moving up on training crunch time, and if they tested at 14 then they’re still about a year off their second degree test.
Worth remembering that recreational martial arts are still recreational. They offer up some good skills and are helpful for self-defense, but they’re not on par with trained professionals and they’re still going to need to adjust to the psychological effects of combat. I’d give at least one of them the rudest awakening. You can probably get away with giving them the quarterstaff because they should’ve had some training on the bo staff. The two aren’t comparable, they’ll be used to training on the rattan staff. Quarterstaves are actually heavier, thicker, and made of oak rather than bamboo. They are very solid and can do a great deal of damage. The range will also lend an advantage over enemies wielding swords.
I’d think about daggers, crossbows, cudgels, quarterstaves, and other varieties of low end but easily acquired equipment that don’t take as much time to learn. If you’re willing to have them take the time to learn and depending on the time period/country/rules at play, then it’s possible one might find someone willing to teach them the sword and buckler. It wouldn’t be a weapon with a shorter hilt that was primarily wielded one handed like an arming sword rather than the longsword.
Bodkin arrowheads were not ‘armor-piercing’, they were just pointy. They were not made of hardened steel, they did not cause any damage if they hit plate armor. The advantage of a bodkin point is that it’s cheap. An example of an arrowhead used for penetrating armor is the type 16, which resemble a stretched-up broadhead, with flanges but a low profile.