Crossbow > Chapter 6 > Shortbow
and Longbow in Relation to the Crossbow > p.31
The Shortbow and Long Bow in Relation to the Crossbow
Fig. 13. - Archer and Crossbowman of About 1370.
The kneeling figure is fitting his belt-claw
to the string of his crossbow, preparatory to bending its bow. 2
In the Bayeux Tapestry, though no crossbows
are shown, many Norman soldiers are depicted carrying bows and arrows,
the bows being short bows and not longbows. The longbow
can usually be identified, as its length was about the same as the height
of the man who carried it. In this pictorial and contemporary representation
of the Conquest of England, there is only one British bowman to be found,
and he is bearing the ordinary Saxon shortbow
1. The bow was
little used by the Saxons at the time of the Conquest, their chief weapons
at that time being spears and axes, both of which they cast at the enemy
when he approached sufficiently near.
The shortbow, and the primitive crossbow
with its bow of solid wood, or of wood, horn and sinew, were probably equally
effective in early medieval warfare, the crossbow being, perhaps, the more
efficient of the two weapons in the case of men wearing mail, or carrying
It was when the powerful longbow, as used
by foot-soldiers only, appeared, that the crossbow
with its wood, or horn and wood, bow was completely overmatched.
1 See Plate LXV. in the history and description
of the Bayeux Tapestry by F. R. Fowke, 1898.
In reference to the above, Edward A. Freeman in his History
of the Norman Conquest of England, vol. iii. p. 472, writes ' Only one
English archer is represented in the Bayeux Tapestry.'
2 See Chapter XV.
for a description of the belt claw.
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