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Bowmen of England by Donald F. Featherstone
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Bowmen of England (1968)

by Donald F. Featherstone

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793232,834 (3)2
From the 12th to 15th centuries the longbow was the weapon that changed European history more than any other. In the skilled hands of English and Welsh archers it revolutionized all the medieval concepts and traditions of war. No other weapon dominated the battlefield as it did, and it was the winning factor in every major battle from Morlaix in 1342 to Patay in 1429. Donald Featherstone's study of the English longbow from its early development until the Wars of the Roses is an inspiring and authentic reconstruction in human terms in an age of courage, vitality and endurance. He provides an enthralling footnote to the history of the longbow by recording the engagement in which it was last used - in France in 1940.… (more)

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Showing 3 of 3
It's a good thing Robin Hood probably couldn't read. He might have some complaints about this book otherwise.

Don't misunderstand that. It's a good read. But the historical weaknesses are pretty evident to anyone who knows much about the Middle Ages. Yes, the longbow was an amazing weapon -- in a way, the world's first terror weapon, because (in the hands of a man trained to it) it was the first long-range weapon with both high accuracy and a high rate of fire. It let the English win great battles at Crécy and Agincourt. It made them feared in France and much of Europe.

But the stories about the bow's success can be exaggerated. It made surprisingly little difference in the Wars of the Roses, for instance. And by the time Henry VIII was sending bowmen to invade France, it was an out-of-date weapon -- it was still faster and more accurate than firearms, but any knucklehead could fire a gun; longbows took skill. So the longbow, despite its amazing reputation, was a major weapon for only about a century, and won only a handful of battles.

I won't get into the historical errors in this book; suffice it to say that there are a number of them. It's a fun tale if you like soldier tales, but it it's just not entirely trustworthy. ( )
  waltzmn | Aug 11, 2012 |
I found this an easy and entertaining book to read. In fact, it was almost "too entertaining".
Mr. Featherstone does a good job of relating the historical developement and emergence of England's pride of martial prowess, but one big problem I have with it is the quoting of Sir Conan Doyle's "The White Company" which is, in fact, a piece of fiction. It is well based on history and research, but quoting fiction sources in a "military history" piece is a big no-no in my eyes.
One thing I really did like is Mr. Featherstone keeps away from all the socio-economic-geopolitical machinations of the times that lead to these battles. He gets right down to the nitty-gritty much like a fighting man would do himself.
A novice on medieval warfare would love this book and it would serve to inspire many to more research. The "wizened" vet on the subject is bombarded by the same anecdotes, stories, and quotes that he has read a hundred times before. But I found if far from tiresome and sort of comfortable actually. Overall, a good book. ( )
  Poleaxe | Mar 21, 2009 |
Fun, not to be taken seriously. Featherstone's prose in amusing, but the history is not up to current standards. Still, worth a read for those interested in the story of the English longbowmen in action. ( )
  ksmyth | Dec 19, 2006 |
Showing 3 of 3
Still, overall Bowmen of England remains a classic. It can serve as a good introduction to people who are unfamiliar with the longbow’s history. While not intended to be a scholarly work, Featherstone’s romantic and nationalistic prose may entice the reader into further study.
 
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The shooting of arrows with a bow is undoubtedly one of the oldest of the arts still practiced today.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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