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The Crossbow   >  Chapter 6   >   Shortbow , Longbow and Crossbow   > p.35

Table of Contents List of Illustrations Index Appendix

Shortbow , Longbow , and Crossbow

duty, and enforce the statutes that direct the peasantry to possess longbows, and frequently to practise with them.

On the other hand, foreign nations hailed with delight the gradual disappearance of the English longbow, which they had had such good cause to dread for so long a period of history. Hence our Continental enemies encouraged the use of the handgun, as an arm which might place their soldiers, whether young or old, on an equality with the tall and strong English archers, and which, unlike the longbow, required no special strength to manipulate.

After a persistent struggle against gunpowder, the longbow was generally discarded by the English between the years 1580 and 1590. It was employed in desultory fashion till about 1615, on a few occasions as late as 1620-1630 (notably in the expedition to the Island of Rhe' in 1627), and still more recently, and for the last time in regular warfare in our islands, by Montrose, in his defeat of the Covenanters at Tippermuir, near Perth, in 1644. The longbow was, however, used in the Highlands of Scotland in tribal disputes at a later date than 1644, or long after it was laid aside in England and the Lowlands.1

For instance, in September 1665 the Mackintosh gathered his clan and entered Lochaber, the territory of Cameron of Lochiel, these two Chieftains having been at feud for many years.

Lochiel, of course, assembled his adherents to repel the invaders, and found, on taking muster, that he had at his disposal 900 men armed with guns, broadswords and shields, besides 300 more men who carried bows instead of guns. (' Memoirs of Sir Ewen Cameron of Locheill;' printed at Edinburgh, 1842.) The compiler of the Memoirs remarks, 'This was the last considerable company of bowmen seen in the Highlands.'

The historic reputation of the longbow was so great in England that several pamphlets were issued during the eighteenth century, advocating its re-introduction as a military weapon.

Even so recently as 1798 a book was published with this title:

'PRO ARIS ET FOCIS.

CONSIDERATIONS OF THE REASONS THAT EXIST FOR REVIVING THE USE OF THE LONGBOW WITH THE PIKE2 IN AID OF THE MEASURES BROUGHT FORWARD BY HIS MAJESTY'S MINISTERS FOR THE DEFENCE OF THE COUNTRY. BY RICHARD OSWALD MASON, ESQUIRE, LONDON 1798.'

1 This is confirmed by innumerable passages in the criminal records, and in the record of the Privy Council, of Scotland. The last time archers employed the longbow in warfare in Scotland, is said to have been at a great clan-battle, fought in 1688, between the Laird of Macintosh and Macdonald of Keppoch. -  Archceologia Scotica, vol. iii.

2 In this case the pike was to be employed as a separate arm, and not as recommended by William Neade in his curious book The Double-Armed Man, published in 1625. In Neade's book, the bow was attached to the pike when the latter was used to repulse cavalry.

The Crossbow   >  Chapter 6   >  Shortbow , Longbow and Crossbow   > p.35


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