lacquering leather armour (has become Archer vs Armour)

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Man from Coventry
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Postby Man from Coventry » Fri Sep 04, 2009 2:29 pm

There are loads of good points here and to date I’ve been busy organising Blore so have had to resist the temptation to comment, until now…..

Blunt Trauma

In the aforementioned talk Mr Stretton likened the impact of a warbow arrow hitting you to a 16lb lump hammer swung through 3-4 feet. Even if it didn’t penetrate this imparts a lot of energy to the target. Good armour and padding can distribute this, but a hit will certainly stagger the wearer (and give him pause for thought). Also the padding armour will be less effective if there are a several simultaneous or hits in short succession, with the potential for severe bruising, fractures and could induce heart failure.


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Postby Man from Coventry » Fri Sep 04, 2009 2:33 pm

Effectiveness of the Longbow vs improved armour.

Certainly after Agincourt the effectiveness of archery seems to decline and it was no longer a battle winner in its own right. Part of the success at Agincourt (1415) may well have been the terrain soft ground and the stakes, slowing the French attack and allowing the archers to get in more shots at the short ranges where their arrows would penetrate the armour. Referring to the theoretical calculation of armour penetration in Longbow, given the speed of a charging Knight, you may get only 1-2 shots off within the range where the arrows will penetrate. At Verneuil (1423) where the stakes weren’t placed due to the hardness of the ground and against heavily armoured opponents on barded horses (the Lombard cavalry), the archers were swept away. ( Although later when the Lombards attacked the baggage train they were driven off by a reserve of 2,000 archers, who attacked them from the flank/rear, against a target which was then stationary and against the sides and rear of the horses which may not have been as heavily armoured). This success suggests that archery may have been relatively ineffective against really good armour except at very short ranges. As Glyndwr suggests a canny archer would go the weakest point where the target was less well armoured - the horse, even if the rider survives the fall unhurt - if his horse goes down he’ll be seriously winded. Hence the predilection for fighting on foot “In the English Fashion”.

Subsequently the historic record after Agincourt suggests that archery in itself was not the battle winner it once was, where archery was notably successful it seems to have been in battles where there were abundant soft targets; i.e Blore Heath (1459) (unarmoured horses), Stoke Field (1487 (unarmoured Irish Kern), Flodden (1513) (Poorly armoured highlanders) suggesting it was less effective against better armours, than in the 14th Century. To a degree towards the end of the 15th Century, English Archery could have been living off its laurels.


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Postby Donald_McQuag » Fri Sep 04, 2009 6:58 pm

Just a little aside on the note on Flodden, The Archers didn't seem to be effective against the rest of the scottish army in the accounts and books I have read, it was a bit of a swan song.


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Postby Man from Coventry » Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:46 am

Donald - I wasn't implying that archery was effective in general at Flodden, I'd agree that by all accounts the archery made little impact on the scots pikeblocks, fronted as they were by well-armoured men (including much of the gentry/nobility), but the archery is referred to as being effective against the lightly armoured highlanders under Lennox and Argyll on the Scots right and subsequently when Stanleys men attacked the Scots rear. I.e it was only effective against softer targets.

I mentioned it because it is one of the few battles in the late 15th/16th century where archery made a notable contribution, but as in all the exampls above the issue was decided by hand strokes.


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Postby Colin Middleton » Mon Sep 07, 2009 5:05 pm

Man from Coventry wrote:Blunt Trauma
...with the potential for severe bruising, fractures and could induce heart failure.


I've heard a couple of people mention this idea of the heart 'giving up' after a powerful blow. Could some-one please explaine to me how this happens, in what sort of curcumstances, how common it actually is, etc? I'm not asking to cast doubt on it, but simply to try and understand it better. Sometimes you hear it quoted as though you get shot through the leg and your heart spontaniously explodes! :lol:

Many thanks


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Postby Man from Coventry » Mon Sep 07, 2009 5:57 pm

This was quoted from Mr Strettons talk. However I had heard this before from other sources, though like you Colin I can't be definitive as to how this is actually acheived. I've had a quick look on the web and there are numerous references to Blunt Cardiac Trauma, but they are all in highly technical medical language.

I'll get in touch with my younger brother, (a surgeon in the army) and see if he can give an explanation laymans terms as to how it works.


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Postby Black Pear » Tue Sep 08, 2009 1:14 pm

I'm no medico (other than "put a plaster on that, it'll get dirty") but could it be that a severe shock to the chest interrupts the heart's pumping rhthym and causes the heart to go into that fluttery condition that the electric paddles are designed to reset?

I think Man from Coventry has it, Agincourt as pretty much the pinnacle of the longbow's effectiveness, enhanced by terrain and the tactics of old holeface Henry. With the arrival of plate, the longbow does seem to decline in its effectiveness against the important people at front middle, except at close ranges or advantageous angles!



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Postby Hobbitstomper » Tue Sep 08, 2009 1:48 pm

I think there is a bit of a myth about the power of arrows. Imagine a knife weighting a few ounces thrown out of a car passing at 110mph. That is what an arrow is like. They are not like bullets which have massive energy and high velocity. The things bullets do with shock waves and cavitation will not happen with something as slow as an arrow. Instead you get a strong cutting action, a bit like a stabbing knife but with more energy. If the arrow can’t cut because someone has put some fancy armour in the way then the blow is probably not going to be any worse than being stuck hard with a blunt bill by a fat re-enactor. It will hurt and it might knock you down but you can probably get up and keep going.

If your armour is second rate and the blade/arrow passes througha and can still cut then it doesn't take much energy to make a mess of someone.



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Postby gregory23b » Tue Sep 08, 2009 4:44 pm

Hobbit, what an arrow can do that a bullet cannot is pass through kevlar for example, for the same reason, ie low(ish)velocity high mass, bullet high velocity low mass.

The arrow oscillates along its length, that creates the puncturing, an arrow in optimal conditions can stick into rock and pass through metal, but the emphasis is going to be optimal...


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Postby Colin Middleton » Wed Sep 09, 2009 12:39 pm

A better anlogy for arrows than a knife would (I suspect) be a cold chisel. AFAIK, most sharp medieval weapons were intended to bite into armour so that they could deliver their force effectively. If you place a chisel against a piece of steel at an angle and hit it, it will slide off. If you place it square, it can bite in and cut through, much as an arrow is intended to do. This is rather different from a re-enactment bill, which is not designed to get any grip on the steel, but is more like hitting it with a hammer.

Like G32b said, the angle is all important in the arrow against plate.


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Postby Black Pear » Wed Sep 09, 2009 1:28 pm

Hobbitstomper said:
Imagine a knife weighting a few ounces thrown out of a car passing at 110mph.


That's still going to be a hefty whack though, isn't it? And isn't a better analogy hundreds of knives weighing a few ounces etc. etc.?? It is the numbers of arrows hitting that provides the effectiveness. We're not talking picking out visor slits Robin Hood style.

and...
It will hurt and it might knock you down but you can probably get up and keep going.

I think that is exactly the point, especially when you are in an arrowstorm. It is hurting, you are getting knocked about if not knocked down, bringing confusion and pain and, as you get closer, more effective shooting and more pain. Not a nice experience and not the one-on-one armour vs armour fighting that would have been practiced by those wearing armour.

I think an arrow going through plate is not impossible given the right circumstances, but would agree that the idea that there were hundreds of knights and men at arms with armour pinned to them by arrows is probably a little far-fetched. I think the real value of the bow was against the softer targets, but I can't underestimate its effectiveness against plate where the circumstances give the archers opportunity to pick targets from close to.

Are we using our experiences of standing in front of underpowered bows shooting pencil-thin arrows with big feathers (when compared to medieval ones) to inform our thinking? That type of arrowsquall is scary in soft kit and I am sure can certainly be shrugged off by plate, but big and heavy pointy sticks at high speeds are a different matter, surely?



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Postby Hobbitstomper » Wed Sep 09, 2009 2:28 pm

Arrows don’t oscillate backwards and forwards noticeably along their length. They do oscillate sideways a bit but that is not going to help them going straight in to a target. If anything it will make them flex and buckle when they hit something hard. Any flex in the arrow will reduce the power of the impact as when the arrow bends, some of the kinetic energy will be used up and the force exerted on the target will be reduced. It is equivalent to throwing a big steel spring at someone instead of a rigid steel rod.

Arrows go through Kevlar because they are sharp. Kevlar is used in bullet proof armour to stop blunt nosed projectiles by stretching and absorbing their energy. It can’t do this if the fibres have been cut by a high force exerted over a miniscule area (the front surface of a cutting edge). If you put a rounded tip on a longbow arrow it won’t go through bullet proof armour. To stop sharp pointy weapons (knives, arrows and the like) you need something hard to resist the cutting like metal plates or mail. Even modern anti-stab armour often contains welded mail.

A decent medieval longbow should go through both modern anti-stab armour and soft bullet proof armour. The anti-stab armour is designed to stop knives (or really a test device that represents an ice pick style knife) at a lower energy than the arrow. The arrow will just blast through. The bullet proof armour is designed to stop pistol bullets with nice big impacting faces, not sharp arrows. Medieval plate armour is better protection than modern anti-stab armour.



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Postby Man from Coventry » Thu Sep 10, 2009 9:19 am

Again referring to Mr Strettons talk and the notes I made at the time, he was of the opinion that a heavy war bodkin (the optimum penetrator against plate )could penetrate armour (unspecified thickness) if the projectile had an energy of ~100J. How exactly this figure was arrived at I don't know and this presumably assumed a strike normal (90 degrees to the armour). (It is possible to calculate using ballistic formulae the thickness of plate that could be penetrated by a given arrow, but I have not had time to check this).

In the Appendix in Warbow an arrow impact of 80J is generally considered lethal against an unarmoured target.

In that trial with a 150lb Mary Rose replica, shooting a 96gm (3.3 oz) Ash arrow with a heavy war bodkin head would have penetrated with a 'normal hit' to approx 85m (93 yards) and potentially lethal to an unarmoured target to approx 180m (200 yds). Such an arrow had a max range from this bow of approx 220m. Interesting a metal blunt head, would also have been potentially lethal at that range also .

However the ability to penetrate is reduced when the angle of strike varies from normal, with the arrow more likely to glance off, buckle and break or for the point to bend or break in the armour. Also its not clear whether there is full penetration i.e does the arrow get stuck in the plate and only partly goes into the targets flesh, causing a shallow wound or does it kill ?. So a realistic penetration distance to kill I would suggest would be approx half this say 40-50m.

A foot target at slow run (charging) 6 mph (2.66m/s) would take approx 15-19s to cross this distance assuming 8 arrows a minute rate of shooting, this equates to 2-3 arrows. A mounted target at a speed of 30mph (13.33s) would cross the same distance in 3-4 seconds 1 arrow at most (though one can argue that the penetration distance would be increased as the relative velocity and energy of the arrow would be increased by the target moving towards you). So the value of stakes or other obstacle to slow the target down is apparent and this might explain why English Archers who had not planted stakes were ridden down - at Verneuil and Patay.


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Postby Man from Coventry » Thu Sep 10, 2009 10:02 am

Further to my last post

A foot target at slow run (charging) 6 mph (2.66m/s) would take approx 15-19s to cross this distance assuming 8 arrows a minute rate of shooting, this equates to 2-3 arrows. A mounted target at a speed of 30mph (13.33s) would cross the same distance in 3-4 seconds 1 arrow at most


This also assumes that the archer is not
a) doing a runner by this stage or
b) grabbing melee weapons.


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Postby Grymm » Thu Sep 10, 2009 12:14 pm

"slowing the French attack and allowing the archers to get in more shots at the short ranges where their arrows would penetrate the armour"

Just an aside to the arrow vs armour discussion.
The man may be safe in his tin but the nag is going to be unhappy with all the sharp pointy things, I think that we forget that the man isn't the only target. plus we've been conditioned as modern reenactors that dobbin is not a legit target, fair enough, we are only playing at soldiers and wars ,plus, horses are now recreational items and no longer weapons of war. Best way to put a donkey walloper off is to put a few arrers in the pony either drop it or upset it enough so it doesn't want to play or do what the driver wants any more.
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Postby Man from Coventry » Thu Sep 10, 2009 12:59 pm

Grymm - Valid point - but see my earlier post of Fri Sept 4th, 1.33pm and earlier posts by Glorfindle and Glyndwyr. Easy to miss as there is alot of real "meat" on this thread.

The front of horses could be armoured, though this seems to be relatively rare. Though the French on particular occassions Verneuil, Agincourt, Poitiers did try with select forces of mounted men on well armoured horses (definitely the case at Poitiers and Verneuil to ride down the archers) - not so sure in the case of Agincourt whether the horses were armoured or not.

What I was trying to illustrate with the above post was that their was relatively narrow range where arrows were effective against well armoured targets and that only a limited number of shots could be got off at this range.


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Postby Colin Middleton » Thu Sep 10, 2009 1:05 pm

The Warbow talks of arrows penetrating 2mm steel plate. I'm not sure of the distances involved. I suspect that this assumes flat steel plate, hit at a right angle.

I was reading Blood Red Roses this morning, and in the section about the injuries sustained, they reported only 2 injuries that have been identified as arrows. One, a bodkin penetrated all the way to the 'skirt'. The other was a 'normal' head and only penetrated 10mm into the skull. All other puncture wounds were identified as belonging to hand weapons (save for 2 possible cross-bow hits). However we only have a sample-set of 50 bodies and we don't know if any armour was worn when the injuries were sustained, so this information doesn't add too much to our debate. I would have expected more arrow wounds though.


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Postby Hobbitstomper » Thu Sep 10, 2009 1:55 pm

This is what they recommend for bow hunting in the US (multiply by 1.4 to turn in to Joules)

< 25 ft. lbs. Small Game (rabbit, groundhog, etc.)
25-41 ft. lbs. Medium Game (deer, antelope, etc.)
42-65 ft. lbs. Large Game (elk, black bear, wild boar, etc.)
> 65 ft. lbs. Toughest Game (cape buffalo, grizzly, musk ox, etc.)



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Postby Man from Coventry » Thu Sep 10, 2009 1:59 pm

Colin - At the danger of going even further off thread, its not clear to me whether these majority of these casualties (Blood Red Roses) were from the battle or the pursuit, my personal view is that they are from the pursuit, many of the injuries blows to the head, from front side and he rear seem to me to be consistent with blows struck from above, from an assailant on horse back, to target who had either no helmet or may have discarded it in the rout.

Also as you've only got the skeleton, there is no information on "flesh" wounds and arrow striking bone is more likely to glance off (save with the skull) and not leave a discernible mark. Furthermore armour thickness studies, generally show that the thickest armour (for obvious reasons) is on the head so the area most likely to show an injury on a skeleton is also the best protected and least likely to be penetrated by an arrow.

This might explain the relatively low level of attributable arrow injuries.


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Postby The Methley Archer » Thu Sep 10, 2009 4:08 pm

The weights Hobbitstomper mentions would be more appropriate with mordern recurves or compounds as these will project an arrow with greater force than a Longbow.

In Canada my 36lbs recurve would have been suitable for medium game but I wouldn't dream of it with a 36lbs one piece longbow.


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Postby Hobbitstomper » Thu Sep 10, 2009 4:37 pm

Archer- They are not bow draw weights (lbs force) but arrow kinetic energy values (ft lb force). It isn’t that easy to convert between the two as it depends upon the length of the draw, the type of the bow and the efficiency of the energy transfer.

I put them in as an arrow energy level good enough to cleanly kill large American game should be plenty for an unarmoured man at arms.



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Postby The Methley Archer » Thu Sep 10, 2009 4:59 pm

Fair enough.


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Postby Colin Middleton » Fri Sep 11, 2009 12:44 pm

Man from Coventry wrote:my personal view is that they are from the pursuit,


I agree. I'd only read part of the article at that point, but wanted to post the details before I forgot them. I suspect that the individuals concerned had removed their helmets and were fleeing when they were hit. I thought that they were worth throwing in here as a bit more data though. Sorry if my lack of details caused confusion.


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Postby Man from Coventry » Fri Sep 11, 2009 2:21 pm

"Sorry if my lack of details caused confusion".

Not at all -its all useful stuff. warbow also has some interesting stuff on Wisby, with albeit crossbow bolts embedded in skulls etc, but even though it mentions that many of the corpses were buried in armiour its not clear from the text how much had been penetrated.

All in all there is surprisingly, little hard scientific evidence on this topic, to ascertain at what distances archery really was effective against armoured targets and by how much this reduced over the years as armour technology improved. That it did improve is evident from the historical anecdote, one of the explanations for the failure of the archers at Flodden against the Scots pike was the quality of the Scots armour in the front ranks.

"This is what they recommend for bow hunting in the US (multiply by 1.4 to turn in to Joules)

< 25 ft. lbs. Small Game (rabbit, groundhog, etc.)
25-41 ft. lbs. Medium Game (deer, antelope, etc.) i.e 35-59J
42-65 ft. lbs. Large Game (elk, black bear, wild boar, etc.) i.e 59J to 91.5J
> 65 ft. lbs. Toughest Game (cape buffalo, grizzly, musk ox, etc.)"

These energies for large game compare favourably with those generated for different arrows in warbow in the 150lb Mary Rose trial.


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Postby Colin Middleton » Mon Sep 14, 2009 12:47 pm

In that case, some exerpts from the Archery chapter of Blood Red Roses:

From a description of a murder which took place in 1293 we know the effect that an arrow could have on the human body with no protection... The arrow made a wound on the left side, three inches below his breast. The wound, which killed him immediately measured three inches long (the arrow head was 2" wide), 2 inches wide and six inches deep".


Speaking of a typical household archer from the Beaucham Pageant;
The head and torso were well protected. The helmet could deflect arrows and also most attacks from hand weapons. The torso, protected as it was with brigandine, jack, mail shirt or plackart (alll worn over a quilted jacket which acted as a shock absorber) made the body reasonably safe from most weapon attacks, as rescent tests conducted and filmed by the Royal Armouries demonstrate.

The last target for arrow attack at Towton was the man-at-arms. Nobles who could afford the best armour, some pieces fo which were perhaps themselves padded and also worn over a padded arming jacket, were reasonalby safe from most attacks by arrows and even from bolts from a windlass-spanned crossbow, as recent test have shown.


The author (John Waller) goes on to mention the deaths of Lord Clifford (at Ferrybridge in 1461) and Lord Dacre (at Towton, the next day) when hit in the face with arrows, while their bevour was removed. He also mentions Henry V's injury in the face (at Shrewsbury in 1403), which he survived (though Hotspur was supposedly killed by an arrow in the same battle).

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Postby Black Pear » Mon Sep 14, 2009 2:01 pm

Nice post Colin. The "murder" arrow sounds as if it would be a hunting arrow (I would think, anyway, as wouldn't it be the most available for a murder?), which are typically designed for making a big hole on impact and then waving about to keep that hole open and the blood flowing. The murderer sounds like he was a good shot - pretty much directly into the heart by the description!

I would say it looks as though an arrow in the face (what a nice, butch phrase "arrow in the face" is!!) would be the most common near "instant" fatal injury once plate had begun to cover all the more vital bits. The equivalent power of an arrow driven six inches to the chest would take your eye out (probably, I am no doctor!) and then punch into the relative softness at the back there, but a hit anywhere on the facial area has the liklihood to cause massive bloodloss by hitting one of the major vessels into the head. A good-ish archer could easily hit a head at anything up to 40 yards, maybe more, with a sniping shot, but by the time the MAA was this close his visor would be firmly shut, I would hope for his sake, and the archer would be reaching for his maul. However, a storm of arrows from a way off is likely to catch the MAA with his visor up, at least early on in the battle.

Something was driving the move towards total plate armour - was this just the desire for more protection close to or the result of archery? Plate was possible before and used (by the Romans for example), but seems to have largely gone away (in Europe) until large numbers of archers began to be used.



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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Mon Sep 14, 2009 2:20 pm

Segmented armour was never the most common form of Roman armour and was only used for a brief period in Roman Imperial service.
Like building multi-story buildings, aquaducts and concrete the skill really did seem to disappear (at least in the West) following the fall of Rome.
I really don't see an archer 'sniping" on their own. I envisage a hundred of them all loosing at the same target of opportunity (a MAA with his visor up) at the same time.
Some Swiss and Italian crossbowmen were expected to serve as anti tank weapons and be practically stood at point blank range before they delivered a bolt, the same tactic was used with handgonnes.
Muddying waters still further. :(


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Postby Phil the Grips » Mon Sep 14, 2009 2:49 pm

Black Pear wrote:Something was driving the move towards total plate armour.
Start off by reading "The knight and the blast furnace"- a sample is available on googlebooks


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Postby Grymm » Mon Sep 14, 2009 3:18 pm

Bits on No.5's facial injury and the surgeon wot healed him lifted directly from this page
http://www.rcpsg.ac.uk/hdrg/2006Nov3.htm

Saving Prince Hal: maxillo-facial surgery, 1403

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In the summer of 1403, the influential Percy family of Northumberland revolted against King Henry IV of England. The Percys assembled a feudal army and marched south into Cheshire where they recruited other malcontents to their cause. These included a notable body of English and Welsh archers. The rebels drove on to Shrewsbury in Shropshire where they were confronted by the king’s forces. The Percy bowmen opened with a massive barrage. A chronicler recorded that the arrows flew:
“… so fast and thick that it seemed to the beholders like a thick cloud, for the sun, which at that time was bright and clear then lost its brightness so thick were the arrows…” (1)

The following battle was one of the bloodiest fought on English soil during the Middle Ages. Both sides probably lost around 1600 men in the field, with another 3000 wounded. One of those injured was the King’s sixteen-year-old son, Shakespeare’s Prince Hal, later Henry V the victor of Agincourt. During the battle, the young prince appears to have lifted his visor perhaps to give an order or for ventilation and was wounded in the face by an arrow. The arrowhead entered the boy’s flesh at an angle, penetrating to the left of his nose just below the eye. The shaft was extracted but the point remained lodged “in the furthermost part of the bone of the skull to the depth of six inches”. (2) Although he had received a painful and potentially fatal injury, the young prince refused to leave the field until it was clear that his father’s forces had prevailed. Thereafter he submitted to the royal surgeons and retired to Kenilworth Castle for treatment. (3)

Extracting an arrowhead was well known to be a hazardous procedure as Chaucer remarks in The Franklin’s Tale:
“And well ye know that of a sursanure [a superficially healed wound]
In surgery is perilous the cure
But men might touch the arwe or come thereby.”
Various medieval surgical manuals gave instructions regarding the tricky and potentially lucrative business of removing bolts and arrows. One of the best regarded of these was the Chirurgia of Robert of Salerno, a continental work written in 1180 but well known in England and still popular in 1403. Surgery could involve extraction, excision or propulsion whereby the embedded arrow was forced through the flesh thus creating an exit wound. For superficial penetration, a drawing potion or poultice was the first line of treatment to make the iron head easier to manipulate; thereafter Robert of Salerno recommended molten lard to draw and seal the wound. Alternatively, where the arrow tip lay deep in the bone, he noted that it was often best to leave it in situ. It is possible that this was the course taken in the case of the unfortunate King David II of Scotland, who was struck in the face by two arrows at the battle of Neville’s Cross in 1346. One of the tips was extracted but the other defied the attempts of his surgeons to dislodge it. David continued to suffer until sometime between 1365 and 1370 when the pain miraculously ceased. His relief coincided with a visit to the shrine of St Monan in Fife. The King rebuilt the church there as a thank offering.

Another author, Heinrich von Pfolspeunt (15th century) preferred sawing off the shaft a few centimetres above the wound and doing nothing more for 8 to14 days until “the wound becomes full of pus”. The arrowhead could then be lifted out without much trouble. The site was subsequently scalded with boiling oil and a branding iron used for haemostasis. (4)

After Prince Hal was conveyed to Kenilworth Castle his doctors followed the advice of these manuals in trying to remove the arrowhead by “potions and other methods” but failed.(5) They sent for John Bradmore, a London surgeon who had already served the Royal household. Bradmore left an account of his treatment of Prince Henry’s injury in his own surgical treatise entitled Philomena [The Nightingale], written sometime between 1403 and his death in 1412. He describes the case thus:
“And it should be known that in the year of Our Lord 1403, the fourth year of the reign of the most illustrious King Henry, the fourth after the Conquest, on the vigil of St Mary Magdalene, it happened that the son and heir of the aforesaid illustrious king, the prince of Wales and Duke of Aquitaine and Lancaster, was struck by an arrow next to his nose on the left side during the battle of Shrewsbury. The which arrow entered at an angle (ex traverso), and after the arrow shaft was extracted, the head of the aforesaid arrow remained in the furthermost part of the bone of the skull for the depth of six inches. The aforesaid noble prince was cured by me, the compiler of this present Philomena gratie [The Nightingale of Grace], at the castle of Kenilworth - I give enormous thanks to God – in the following manner. Various experienced doctors came to this castle, saying that they wished to remove the arrowhead with potions and other cures, but they were unable to. Finally I came to him. First, I made small probes from the pith of an elder, well dried and well stitched in purified linen [made to] the length of the wound. These probes were infused with rose honey. And after that, I made larger and longer probes, and so I continued to always enlarge these probes until I had the width and depth of the wound as I wished it. And after the wound was as enlarged and deep enough so that, by my reckoning, the probes reached the bottom of the wound, I prepared anew some little tongs, small and hollow, and with the width of an arrow. A screw ran through the middle of the tongs, whose ends were well rounded both on the inside and outside, and even the end of the screw, which was entered into the middle, was well rounded overall in the way of a screw, so that it should grip better and more strongly. This is its form [See Fig 2. and note]. I put these tongs in at an angle in the same way as the arrow had first entered, then placed the screw in the centre and finally the tongs entered the socket of the arrowhead. Then, by moving it to and fro, little by little (with the help of God) I extracted the arrowhead. Many gentlemen and servants of the aforesaid prince were standing by and all gave thanks to God.
And then I cleansed the wound with a syringe [squirtillo] full of white wine and then placed in new probes, made of wads of flax soaked in a cleansing ointment. This is made thus. [Item] Take a small loaf of white bread, dissolve it well in water, and sift through a cloth. Then take a sufficient quantity of flour and barley and honey and simmer over a gentle heat until it thickens, and add sufficient turpentine oil, and the healing ointment is made. And from the second day, I shortened the said wads, soaked in the aforesaid ointment, every two days and thus within twenty days the wound was perfectly well cleansed. And afterwards, I regenerated the flesh with a dark ointment (Unguentum Fuscum)(6) . And note that from the beginning right up to the end of my cure, I always anointed him on the neck, every day in the morning and evening, with an ointment to soothe the muscles (Unguentum Nervale) (7), and placed a hot plaster on top, on account of fear of spasm, which was my greatest fear. And thus, thanks to God, he was perfectly cured.”
[This translation of the relevant extract from Bradford’s Philomena is reproduced by courtesy of Dr. Matthew Strickland, Rutherford Research Fellow, Fitzwilliam College Cambridge. Senior Lecturer in Medieval History, University of Glasgow.] note8
It is notable that Bradmore used honey in his aftercare of the wound, which is currently undergoing a renaissance as an antiseptic in modern surgical dressings. The post-operative spasm to which he refers with trepidation was probably tetanus. Bradmore mentions also that he was careful to massage Henry’s muscles twice daily with the nerve regenerating ointment, Unguentium Nervale. He writes elsewhere in his treatise that this ointment was, “good for chilled nerves and sinews”. (9) It is possible that he knew from experience that, even if the patient did not contract a fatal infection, such a wound as that suffered by the prince, might very well cause paralysis and disfigurement by damage to the nerve. Bradmore’s careful massage regime may have helped to spare Henry this complication. The patient, it seems, made an uneventful recovery. No paralysis or disfigurement to the left side of his face is recorded but it is interesting to note that a portrait of the young man, painted sometime after his coronation in 1413 shows him left profile.. (10) Whatever the case, Prince Hal did not forget Bradmore’s skill. At the time of the surgeon’s death in 1412, he was still receiving 10 marks a year from the household of the future Henry V. (11)


Image Fig 2: Bradmore's extractor, which was reconstructed from the specifications in the Philomena by the historical ironworker, Hector Cole. See Cole and Lang, pp 97-99 for this illustration and a description of the process.





* Josephine Cummins BDS MA PhD, dentist and historian, Glasgow

(1) Waurin (a Burgundian chronicler) II, 63, trans, Chronicles 60.
(2) Cole H and Lang T, "The Treating of Prince Henry's Arrow Wound, 1403" in Jnl of the Society of Archer Antiquaries, 2003, pp. 95-101.
(3) Thomas of Elmham, Vita et Gesta Henrici Quinti.
(4) Karger B, Sudhues H, Brinkmann B, "Arrow Wounds: Major Stimulus in the History of Surgery" In World J. of Surgery, 25, pp.1550-1555, 2001, p. 1553
(5) Bradmore, Philomena, British Library, MS Sloane 2272. See translation below.
(6) Unquentum Fuscum; a compound of resin and gums, probably mildly antiseptic. Cole and Lang, p. 97.
(7) Unquentum Nervale: a compound of more than 20 herbs, wax, butter and some resins. Bradmore gives the recipe at f.338v. Cole and Lang, p.97.
(8.) Strickland S, Hardy R, The Great Warbow, Sutton, 2005, pp 284-5.
(9) Cole and Lang, p. 97.
(10) See Fig 1. above.
(11) For further details of John Bradmore's life see: Lang SJ, "John Bradmore and his book Philomena" in the Social History of Medicine, 5, 1992, pp. 121-30.


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Marcus Woodhouse
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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Mon Sep 14, 2009 6:26 pm

Now that was worth hanging around for. Thanks, omae.


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