The Commentaries of Messire Blaize de Montluc, Mareschal of France

Blaize de Montluc, 1500?-1577, a French soldier serving 50 or 60 years. He gives some accounts of battles which will embarrass English archers, and lend more credence to Humfrey Barwick and Roger William’s opinions that the longbow was by that time obsolete. This battle takes place just a few days after the sinking of the Mary Rose in 1545.

Being return’d to the Fort of Outreau; there was hardly a day past that the English did not come to tickle us upon the descent towards the Sea, and would commonly brave our people up to our very Canon, which was within ten or twelve paces of the Fort: and we were all abus’d by what we had heard our Predecessors say, that one English man would always beat two French men, and that the English would never run away, nor never yield. I had retain’d something of the Camisado of Bullen, and of the business of Oye; and therefore said one day to Mousieur de Tais, that I would discover to him the mystery of the English, and wherefore they were reputed so hardy: which was, that they all carried arms of little reach, and therefore were necessitated to come up close to us to loose their arrows, which otherwise would do no execution; whereas we who were accustomed to fire our Harquebuzes at a great distance, seeing the Enemy use another manner of sight, thought these near approaches of theirs very strange, imputing their running on at this confident rate to absolute bravery: but I will lay them an Ambuscado, and then you shall see if I am in the right or no, and whether a Gascon be not as good as an English-man. In antient time their Fathers and ours were neighbours.
I then chose out sixscore men, Harquebuzeers and Pikes, with some Halberts amongst them, and lodg’d them in a hollow which the water had made, lying below on the right hand of the Fort, and sent Captain Chaux at the time when it was low water, straight to some little houses which were upon the Banks of the River almost over against the Town to skirmish with them, with instructions that so soon as he should see them pass the River, he should begin to retire, and give them leave to make a charge. Which he accordingly did: but it fortun’d so, that he was wounded in one of his arms with a Hurquebuz shot, and the Soldiers took him and carried him back to the Fort, so that the skirmish remained without a head. The English were soon aware of it, and gave them a very brisk charge, driving them on fighting up to the very Canon. Seeing then our men so ill handled, I start up out of my Ambuscado sooner then I should have done, running on full drive directly up to them, commanding the Soldiers not to shoot, till they came within the distance of their arrows. They were two or three hundred men, having some Italian Harquebuzeers amongst them, which made me heartily repent that I had made my Ambuscado no stronger: but it was now past remedy, and so soon as they saw me coming towards them, they left the pursuit of the others, and came to charge upon me. We marcht straight up to them, and so soon as they were come up within arrow shot, our Harquebuzeers gave their volley all at once, and then clapt their hands to their swords, as I had commanded, and we ran on to come to blows; but so soon as we came within two or three pikes length, they turn’d their backs with as great facility as any Nation that ever I saw, and we pursued them as far as the River, close by the Town, and there were four or five of our Soldiers who followed them to the other side. I then made a halt at the ruins of the little houses, where I rally’d my people to∣gether again, some of whom were left by the way behind, who were not able to run so fast as the rest. Monsieur de Tais had seen all, and was sally’d out of the Fort to relieve the Artillery, to whom so soon as I came up to him, I said, Look you, did I not tell you how it would be? We must either conclude that the English of former times were more valiant then those of this present age, or that we are better men than our forefathers. I know not which of the two it is. In good earnest, said Monsieur de Tais, these people retreat in very great haste. I shall never again have so good an opinion of the English, as I have had heretofore. No Sir, said I, you must know that the English who antiently us’d to beat the French, were half Gascons, for they married into Gascony, and so bred good Soldiers: but now that race is worn out, and they are no more the same men they were.
From that time forwards our people had no more the same opinion, nor the same fear of the English, that before.

Blaize de Montluc, John Underhill, John Smith and Humfrey Barwick all outright state that firearms outreach bows. Yet, many wargames have it the other way around. This inaccuracy comes from people comparing the maximum range of a bow when aimed at 45 degrees, which can indeed be hundreds of yards, especially with light arrows, to either the point blank or “effective” range of a firearm. If bows were held to the same consistent standard as firearms, the bow’s effective range would probably not be much over 40 yards.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s