Medieval Longbowmen

Medieval longbowmen were a special class of medieval infantry archers who were experts in using longbows.

Meieval Longbowmen Fire Arrows

This class of medieval archers required much more extensive training compared to medieval crossbowmen. Longbows, 10 bodkin head arrows could be fired off in around a minute compared to the crossbowmen’s inferior rate of 3 bolts a minute.

Bodkin Arrow Head

Medieval Longbowmen *History

The use of bows and arrows existed from time immemorial. However, the medieval longbow was invented by the Welsh who used it against England when the latter attacked the Welsh.

The English immediately recognized the importance of this type of archery and thus it became a very important part of medieval archery in England.

English enemy fire their arrow bolts at French Enemy

English longbowmen fire their bodkin head arrows

Medieval Longbowmen Weapons

The longbow was made by medieval craftsmen called bowyers *The bow was generally shaped into a D-section with the use of flexible wood commonly yew * The length of the medieval longbow was typically 6-7 feet, usually a similar height to the archer who wielded it.

Medieval Bowyer Making a Longbow

Medieval Longbowmen Fighting Skills

Compared to the crossbow, medieval longbowmen required considerable training and skills for proper accuracy during battle. On the other hand, medieval longbowmen could shoot arrows at the rate of 10-12 arrows per minute, which was much higher than the crossbowmen.

The arrow shot with a longbow could have as much range as around 200 – 300 yards.

Medieval Bowyers Longbow

Medieval Longbow *Made by Bowyers

Medieval Longbowmen Training

The use of a longbow required much more extensive training compared to the crossbow. Special places called “Butts” were used for the training of medieval longbowmen.

Various common commands were used during training, including “ready your bows!”, “Nock!”, “Mark!”, “Draw!”, “Loose”, and others.

Extensive training was required for medieval longbowmen to become expert marksmen.

Medieval Longbowmen training

Medieval Longbowmen trained for years to perfect their skills

Medieval Longbowmen in Battle

The longbow is generally considered a British form of archery, although it was invented in Wales and later adopted in England. Extensive use of longbowmen was made during major medieval battles.

For instance, during the Battle of Crecy in 1346, it is estimated that 6,000 England archers were used who launched as many as 42,000 arrows per minute.

Medieval Footsoldiers Battle of Crecy

Longbowmen *Battle of Crecy

Medieval Longbowmen Battle Formations

Multiple positions and formations could be used for medieval longbowmen during battles. In the main, they could be either deployed on the flanks or sometimes to the front in which case they started the action.

It was also common to have a skirmish formation with longbowmen used along with arquebusiers.

Morning of Battle of Agincourt

Famous Medieval Longbowmen Battles

Other than the famous Battle of Crecy described above, medieval longbowmen were used in many other major battles. For instance, the Battle of Agincourt 1415 saw heavy use of longbowmen.

This battle is particularly noteworthy because most of the army of the British king, Henry VI, consisted of longbowmen from England and Wales.

King Henry V battle of Agincourt

King Henry V *Battle of Agincourt in 1415

Medieval Longbowmen Summary

Medieval longbowmen were a necessary part of every major battle during medieval times. This was particularly true for England since the use of longbows was invented by the Welsh and it became widespread in England during the medieval times.

Medieval longbowmen required extensive training and they could shoot arrows at a much higher rate compared to medieval crossbowmen.