Captain of Archers

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nest
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Captain of Archers

Postby nest » Tue Oct 18, 2011 5:22 pm

Hi there, we've been trying(unsucessfully!) to find specific references to a position of "Captain of Archers" during the one hundred years war.
Would anyone have held such a title and if not, what title would have been given to someone in command of a group of archers?

Can anyone help with an answer or point me in the direction of where I might be able to look it up?

Many thanks in advance

nest



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SvenNygard
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Re: Captain of Archers

Postby SvenNygard » Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:17 am

I'm not sure of any sources from the time referring to 'Captains of Archers', but Bernard Cornwell's Azincourt has 'Centenars' of a group with 'Venetars' taking command of about a dozen of that unit.

I'm not sure where Cornwell found these positions, but considering his usual attention to detail, I'd say it'd probably be well worth looking into. :thumbup:


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EnglishArcher
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Re: Captain of Archers

Postby EnglishArcher » Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:47 am

A Vintenar is responsible for 20 men
A Centenar is responsible for 100 men

My understanding is there was no intermediate organisational group between 100 men and a Battle, which could consist of several thousands.

As far as I'm aware the 'modern' nomenclature - Captain, Lieutenant, Sergeant, Corporal, etc - doesn't get properly formalised until the formations of the Trained Bands in the late 16th Century; although the terms probably existed before that.

By that time, archers would be under the control of a Corporal within the company.


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John Waller
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Re: Captain of Archers

Postby John Waller » Wed Oct 19, 2011 12:04 pm

I would be interested to see records refering to Vintenars and Centenars. Groups of archers are usually only recorded as being under command of a knight or squire the 'NCO' level is not generally recorded. Below is an interesting example of archers being grouped in watches.


By the autumn of 1398, Richard had a bodyguard of over 300 Cheshire archers which was grouped into seven ‘watches’, four containing 44 archers, two with 45 archers, and one with 46 archers. [2] That there were seven groups suggests that each may have been responsible for the watch on one day of the week. Each watch was under the command of a knight or esquire from Cheshire: John del Legh del Boothes; Richard de Cholmondeley of Cholmondeley; Ralph de Davenport; Adam de Bostok; John Donne of Utkinton; Thomas de Beeston; Thomas de Holford

Have a look at The Soldier in later Medieval England reseach project http://www.icmacentre.ac.uk/soldier/database/index.php


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EnglishArcher
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Re: Captain of Archers

Postby EnglishArcher » Wed Oct 19, 2011 2:24 pm

The problem we have is a lot of the records are financial in nature; not organisational. They're structured in terms of who gets paid, for how long, and how much.


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nest
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Re: Captain of Archers

Postby nest » Wed Oct 19, 2011 5:22 pm

Hi, quick post from work as home PC is at the Pc hospital

John, thanks for the link, site looks really interesting for when PC returns

SvenNygard and English Archer, Mr nest found those terms referred to in Arrowstorm but no reference to captain of Archers. So then, he's on pretty safe ground if he asserts that there is no evidence for a military position of captain of Archers?

Many thanks for your help

nest



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SvenNygard
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Re: Captain of Archers

Postby SvenNygard » Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:07 pm

Could it perhaps be, that the ranks and positions etc. changed with each campaign and army?

After all as English Archer pointed out the ranks structures weren't really made official to a fair bit later, so it could be possible that they were all used interchangeably.

Maybe the ranks for an army were thought up over a pint as the lords were trying to work out how much to pay their 'captains' or whatever.


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Alan E
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Re: Captain of Archers

Postby Alan E » Thu Oct 20, 2011 9:45 am

Well MED (http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/m/mec/med ... s=23486012) shows two distinct meanings for Captain, neither are the military rank which we now understand of course:

1. (a) The leader of an army, a general; the leader of a rebellion; also fig.; (b) ruler, leader, master.

2.(a) A military officer, one in command of a body of troops; chef ~, principal ~, the leader of an army; peti ~, a minor officer, one in charge of a small body or detachment of troops; also fig.; (b) the military governor of a castle or town; also fig.; (c) the commander of troops fighting aboard ships; chef ~, commander of the soldiers in a fleet; under ~, commander of the soldiers in one ship.

It seems to me that the question points towards the latter usage. The link should drop you into some quotes to illustrate the usage, although I can't specifically see archers there it does appear to match the idea of 'anyone in charge' of a place or body of men.


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John Waller
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Re: Captain of Archers

Postby John Waller » Thu Oct 20, 2011 1:38 pm

OK found some refs vintenars & centenars in the Norwich militia lists . Check these out http://users.trytel.com/~tristan/towns/ ... def05.html

I don't see why a group of archers could not be commanded by a captain. Rank structures were just more fluid and less formal than in modern armies and more to do with social status. Clive Bartlet states that a centenar became more commonly called a captian later in the C15th who was supported by 'petty captains' under him. As seen by the armament of the vintenars and centenars in the Norwich lists they would probably not be serving as archers themselves.


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Colin Middleton
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Re: Captain of Archers

Postby Colin Middleton » Wed May 02, 2012 12:41 pm

And the guy in charge of everyone was a Great Captain. Basicall Captain seems to mean "the guy giving you orders". In that context, Fauconberg could be considered 'captain of archers' at Towton, though he was probably never adressed as such.


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Brian la Zouche
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Re: Captain of Archers

Postby Brian la Zouche » Thu May 03, 2012 9:07 am

captain of archers.... sounds really, formal / structured / impressive

i've seen a group that had 5 knights/men at arms and 1 fella titled as captain of archers , true he did have a woman from the camp assist him from time to time, ... aint it just an ego thing with some groups ??



Chris T
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Re: Captain of Archers

Postby Chris T » Thu May 03, 2012 6:44 pm

Maybe stating the obvious, by the 20 /100 are nominal quantities. Given the pracrice in almost all armies throughout history it is probable that units were understrength at the start of the campaign, and got worse.
Officers and NCOs (whatever they are called in particular periods) tend to last better than men, for various reasons, so in some ways re-enactors dont do as badly in this respect as is sometimes claimed. For example, in the ECW it does not seem uncommon for a full compliment of officers to be present even when the number of rank and file is understrength by 50%, or even more.

I believe Parker quotes a unit from the 30YW still marching as a regiment in three bodies under officers despite being reduced to single figures of actual rank and file! (and thats in total, not per body)



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Brian la Zouche
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Re: Captain of Archers

Postby Brian la Zouche » Thu May 03, 2012 8:19 pm

but how many groups have a high officer/ nco percentage honestly so they represent historical units ?

i was in a small confed cav group, maybe 10-12 turn ups to events, we didnt have a QM in rank or name, as it was easy to say to new members ''if you need anything see dean''

but anyway back to the thread, :D

so i take it the general thoughts are, there was no 'captain of archers' rank as such durring medieval times ?

if that is the case how do the societys that list such ranks on their web sites justify it while at the same time say they strive for authenticity ?



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Bittersweet
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Re: Captain of Archers

Postby Bittersweet » Fri May 04, 2012 5:33 am

In our group we usually refer to Dave as our "Captain of Archers". It's not an official rank in any way, it's just that he knows what we're all supposed to be doing, and besides, it winds so many other people up that we consider it fun :lol:


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Brian la Zouche
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Re: Captain of Archers

Postby Brian la Zouche » Fri May 04, 2012 12:05 pm

hey dont get me wrong i wasnt having a pop at any group or individual. i bet you enjoy yourselves as much as an authentic group, and i have in the past known some groups who really do go to wind people up ( not seen it in medieval period tho.. yet )

if you want to wind people up get him to tell the archers to 'fire' their bows, maybe use fibreglass recurves too :D
maybe get your highest rank to call himself 'brigader' and im sure there must be loads of other ways :D

anyway i've gone off topic, so i'll surrup :D



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Bittersweet
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Re: Captain of Archers

Postby Bittersweet » Sat May 05, 2012 4:59 am

I was actually referring to winding up people who deserved it at the time so I'm not keen on the tirade on 'authenticity' :(

Maybe you just proved a point to me though....slight lack of sense of humour overall when it comes to discussing the ins and outs of what really happened in the past...too much academia and not enough attention to potential reality? I'm not saying people shouldn't strive to get their representations as 'accurate' as they can (bearing in mind how much we don't know), just that if you should be able to have some fun too.


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Chris T
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Re: Captain of Archers

Postby Chris T » Mon May 14, 2012 2:14 pm

I was not really suggesting that overofficered groups did it in the name of authenticity :-)

BUT....in at least some (if not most) periods it probably be less authentic to have a 'paper' strength of officers / men than to have an overofficered structure by 50 % or even 100 % or more.
In my own main period of C17th a unit of as many as 500 foot seems to have been a rare exception in practice, despite a theoretical norm of 1000 or more.



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Bittersweet
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Re: Captain of Archers

Postby Bittersweet » Tue May 15, 2012 8:35 am

That makes more sense Chris. Overdoing the 'officer' bit is like too much admin in an organisation, doesn't work too well.


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Re: Captain of Archers

Postby randallmoffett » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:32 am

Pretty common in English records. A few examples are in the Letter Books and Plea and Memorand of London. During ED II's reign the city provides 500 men broken into these groups with leaders. As well there are a few people in the REgister of Edward the Black Prince as well, Edward having these units and leaders as well as priests. I found a few in the Patent Rolls for men being given protections from legal issues who were serving in these capacities.

If I was in a unit with 20 people or more I can see the utility. Seems to have been more common for people raised in the commission of arrays and levies.

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