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9 - Investigating the Socio-Economic Origins of English Archers in the Second Half of the Fourteenth Century

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 November 2014

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Summary

On 25 May 1383 the soldiers of an English army advanced out of the gates of Dunkirk to confront a Flemish force attempting to remove them from the Low Countries. According to Froissart, a herald sent across the field to negotiate was butchered by the Flemish. With tensions already high, this act seems to have sparked a battlefield encounter. The English chronicler, Thomas Walsingham, was in no doubt as to who was responsible for the subsequent English victory.

But among all and before all it was our archers who on that day deserved praise and glory. For they sent such a rain of flying arrows upon the enemy that at the end of it no more armed warriors were still on their feet than if the very arrows had been piercing bare bodies. Such was the density of the flying arrows that the sky grew dark as if from a black cloud, and such was the frequency with which they were loosed that the enemy dare not lift up their faces.

Walsingham's account of the battle, like many of his depictions of warfare, can easily be described as colorful hyperbole. Indeed the veracity within fourteenth-century chronicles of accounts of war, of which many authors had no practical experience, has rightly been questioned.

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Journal of Medieval Military History
Volume XII
, pp. 173 - 216
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2014

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