Last-modified: December 12, 1997
Fast flight is a synthetic fibre, used for bowstrings. It should not be used on any bow designed before the introduction of fast flight, because it has very different characteristic elasticity than Dacron or natural fibers.
Flemish twist or Flemish splice bowstrings are the traditional longbow string, with the loops made in the same manner as a rope by twisting and splicing, rather than being a continuous strand of string material with the loops formed by serving.
No one who used any of those in the middle ages called them that; the distinction, so far as it can be unravelled, was between hunting bows and war bows. A traditional 'English longbow' (like the ones found on the Mary Rose) has a D shaped cross section, with the upright of the D being the back of the bow. (the back of the bow is the side facing the target.) Welsh longbows are longbows used by Welshmen; there is a discussion of them in Geraldus Cambrensis, who describes them as being made out of elm. A short bow would be the same as a longbow in cross section and use, but shorter (and hence of a lesser draw weight - deer being easier to put holes in than armored knights! ); this would be the standard hunting bow. A flat bow is a bow with rectangular limb cross section and the limbs tapered evenly from grip to nock. Examples of these, and examples of the D section style, have been found in neolithic strata in Scandinavian peat bogs.
The two best books I have so far found on this subject are: Bradbury, Jim "The Medieval Archer" Woodbridge, Suffolk, England, 1985. ISBN 0851151949
Hardy, Robert _Longbow: A social and military history_; Bath Press, Bath, Avon. first printed 1976, reprints 1986 and 1990. Third edition (which is the one I've given the ISBN for) from Bois d'Arc press, 1992. Has a chapter on the Mary Rose bows. ISBN 1852604123
To the best of my recollection, the longbow was used at Agincourt in the same matter as at Crecy with the archers on the flanks behind sharpened wooden spikes and the armoured knights dismounted and holding the center.
After some delays due to indecision, the French elected to assault the English line on horseback and were subsequently bogged down in the muddy field. (It had rained heavily the night before.) With the Welsh archers showering them with yard-long, bodkin tipped arrows and the English knights moving in from the front, the flower of French Chivalry was said to have perished that day.
BTW, the French had hired Italian crossbowman but they apparently had little effect due to the significantly lower rate of fire possible compared to that of the longbow.
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Last modified on Friday December 19, 1997