This episode of the podcast ”…and the sky went black!”, tales and history of the English longbow is a bit sad. It deals with the decline and eventual disappearance of the English longbow, from the battlefield. A gradual process which occurred during the 16th and 17th century.
As late as 1776, the famous American inventor and politician Benjamin Franklin wrote in a letter:
But I still wish, with you, that pikes could be introduced and I would add bows and arrows. These were good weapons, not wisely laid aside;
- Because a man may shoot as truly with a bow as with a common musket.
- He can discharge four arrows in the time of charging and discharging one bullet.
- His object is not taken from his view by the smoke of his own side.
- A flight of arrows, seen coming upon them, terrifies and disturbs the enemies’ attention to their business.
- An arrow striking in any part of a man puts him out of combat till it is extracted.
- Bows and arrows are more easily provided everywhere than muskets and ammunition.
Thus, we are encountered with a historical mystery: Why was the longbow replaced by firearms, during the 16th century, if the longbow remained a superior weapon well into the 19th century?
There are several answers to this complex question, and we discuss them in this episode of the podcast: ”The decline and fall of the English longbow”!
Our podcast has been critiqued, since it sounds ”pretty much like the Swedish chef after a week in Cardiff”. That is quite correct! Being Swedish, we are sorry for our horrible English. But hopefully there’s something interesting in our efforts, anyway. 🙂
Behind this humble production are Henrik Arnstad, science journalist specialising in history, and historian Adam Westlund, specialising in medieval history.
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