Raimond Fourquevaux – Instructions for the Warres

The translator of this discourse, Paule Ive, attributes the original French work to William de Bellay. Everyone else seems to attribute it to Raimond Fourquevaux. According to Wikipedia the original was published 1548. This translation dates 1589.

Page 25-26

The Harquebusse hath bin inuented within these fewe yeares, and is verie good, so that it be used by those that haue skill, but at this present euery man will be a Harquebusier : I knowe not whether it be to take the more wages, or to be the lighter laden, or to fight the further off, wherein there must be an order taken, to appoint fewer Harquebusiers, and those that are good, then many that are worth nothing : for this negligence is cause that in a skirmish wherein tenne thousand Harquebussados are shot, there dieth not so mutch as one man, for the Harquebusiers content themselues with making of a noyse, and so shoote at all aduentures… Amongst other weapons least accustomed, are the Bowe and Crossebowe, which are two weapons that may do very good seruice against unarmed men, or those that are ill armed, specially in we weather, when the Harquebusier loseth his season. And were it so that the archers and crossebow men could carry about them their prouision for their bowes and crossebowes, as easily as the Harquebusiers may do theirs for their Harquebusse, as well for their readinesse in shooting, as also for the surenesse of their shot, which is almost neuer in vayne. And although the Harquebusier may shoote further, notwithstanding the Archer and Crossebow man will kill a C. or CC. pases off, aswell as the best Harquebusier : and sometime the harnesse, except it be the better, can not hold out : at the uttermost the remedy is that they should be brought as neere before they do shoote as possibly they may, and if it were so handled, there would be more slaine by their shot, then by twice as many harquebusiers, and this I will prooue by one Crossebow man that was in Thurin, when as the Lord Marshall of Annibault was Gouernour there, who, as I haue understood, in fiue or sixe skirmishes, did kill and hurt more of our enemyes, then fiue or skixe of the best harquebusiers did, during the whole time of the siege. I hauve heard say of one other only that was in the army that the King had under the charge of Mounsieur de Lautrec, who slewe in the battaile of Bycorque a Spanish Captaine called Iohn of Cardone, in the lifting up of his helmet. I haue spoken of these two specially, because that being employed amongst great store of Harquebusiers, they made themselues to be so knowne, that they deserued to be spoken of: what would a great number of sutch do…

Page 27

The Harquebusse likewise must be accompted amongst weapons, and the Bowe and Crossebowe also. True it is that I would that these two last should be caried by the people of the Countrey where they haue their most course, and but a certaine number of them.

Pages 28-29

…the Harquebusiers, Archers, and crossebowmen should be armed with a shirt [with] sleeues of male, and with a good headpeece : or for want of a shirt of male, they should have cotes of plate, and good Jacks, yet they are almost out of season, but that maketh no matter, so there be any aduantage to be found by them.

Page 31
[Fourquevaux describes a method for organizing the troops into a Legion of 6100, divided into 12 bands, each further subdivided into six companies of four squadrons of two deciniers. Ten of the bands would consist mainly of pikemen, with 1/12th of the band being shot. Fourquevaux recommends that half of this shot be archers and crossbowmen. The remaining two bands, called the Forlorne Hope, would be mostly arquebusiers with a few pikes in loose order and some archers mingled among them.]

…Those of the sixt Corporall shalbe the one halfe pikemen, with the other halfe Harquebussiers, except that we would mingle some Archers amongst them, and make that the one chiefe of squadron should haue all his men to be Harquebusiers, and that the other chiefe of squadron should haue one Decene of his men to be all Archers, and the other Decene to be all Crossebowes, to the intent to haue seruice of these people, in places where the Harquebusiers should be unseruicable, as in the rayne, as is aforesaid, or to make any secret charge where the fire might discouer them, or in any other place where these two weapopns might serue more sure then the Haquebusse… [Of the Forlorne Hope] Foure of these corporals shall haue all their men Harquebusiers, which may be mingled with Archers and Crossebowes who so would.

William Garrard – The Arte of VVarre

The Arte of VVarre, by William Garrad, d. 1587, published posthumously 1591.

Page 2-3:

He which seekes to attaine and attribute to himselfe the honourable name of a Souldier, must first employ his time in practice of those armes wherewith he means to serue, and so apply his time, that when any enterprise shall call him forth to make proofe thereof, he may be able to handle his peece with due dexterity, and his pike with assured agilitie : since those be the weapons wherwith now Mars doth most commonly arme his warlike troupe, and trie each doubtfull fight of bloudy battaile : for in this our age experience and practise makes apparant that Archers amongst forreine Nations be neuer vsed, and the halberd but either amongst few or few in number. The Archer serues to small purpose, but when he is shadowed with some trench or bulwarke free from hargabuse or musket-shot : Or that lyning a band of Hargabusiers, hee doth second them in any inuading onset, and then a whole flight of arrowes, so that they be light and able to flie aboue tweluescore, will maruellously gaule any maine battell of footemen or Squadron of Horsemen. The Halberd likewise doth onely serue in the sacke of a towne, in a breach, in a sally, or canuisado, to enter a house, or in the throng of a stroken battell to execute slaughter ; wherefore touching these two weapons, vnlesse necessitie constraine, and that Hargabusiers be wanting, Archers may well be spared : and these great numbers of Halberdiers and Bill-men, which are and haue beene in times past vsed in England, may well be left off, saue a few to guard euery Ensigne, and to attend vpon the Colonell, or Captaine, which in an armie will amount to a sufficient number to depresse the ouercome and flying enemy.

Page 82

Caliuers or Hargabuzieres, or Musketieres
Such must haue either of them a good and sufficient peece, flask, tutch-bore, pouder, shot, yron, mold, worme, tyrebale, rammer, swoord and dagger, and a morion. The like must the Musketeare haue, witha  forked staffe best hye, with a stringe to fasten to his wrist. Such as serue with shot in raine, mistes and windes, must haue their peeces chardged and primed: They must carie the tutch hoale of their peeces under their arme-hoales, match light in their hands couertly and drie, their peeces faire and cleane within and without, so bee they seruicable at all times, hauing regard they keepe their march and retyre of good distance in sunder, their match and pouder verie drie, and their peeces often chardged and discharged.

Archers or long Bowes.
Necessarie it is that euery man haue a good and meete bowe, according to his draught and strength, light & easie, a light side jake hanging loose to his knee, with a skul, swoord & dagger, nothing upon his armes, wherby in time of seruice hee may easilie draw the arrow to the head, that they may deliuer the same with strength and art, as Englishmen bee accustomed, They must haue also a bracer and shooting gloue, their stringes whipped and waxed ouer with glew, their feathers drie: and so is he seruiceable.

Page 112-113

These two bands of Hargabuzers set to encounter the enemy on their broad sides, the fronts discharge & turn their faces, retyring betwixt the other, which aduance in like maner for their rescue. These retire and charge againe to seruice, by practicing the skirmish in this sort, you may bring bands of Archers to seruice, to the great anoying & discomfiting of the enemie.

These bands of Archers beeing brought to seruice by the Hargabuziers, although the hargabuziers bee accompted to be of greater force then they bee of, and the Archers not now so much used in the field as they haue bin, yet hauing light shaftes made to shot 12. or 14. scoore, may keepe their place, shooting al together ouer the heads of the hargabuziers, to the gauling, blemishing, and great annoy of the enemie.

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.

John Smith battles Indians

This is an excerpt from chapter VI of John Smith’s third book. That is, Sir John Smith the explorer, not to be confused with Sir John Smythe, who wrote a treatise, Certain Discourses (transcription linked), praising the bow over the musket (though the two men have a surprising amount in common).

p. 65:

This gaue vs cause to prouide for the worst. Farre we went not ere seauen or eight Canowes full of men armed appeared following vs, staying to see the conclusion. Presently from each side the riuer came arrowes so fast as two or three hun∣dred could shoot them, whereat we returned to get the open. They in the Canowes let fly also as fast, but amongst them we bestowed so many shot, the most of them leaped overboard and swam ashore, but two or three escaped by rowing, being against their playnes: our Muskets they found shot further then their Bowes, for wee made not twentie shot ere they all retyred behind the next trees. Being thus got out of their trap, we seised on all their Canowes, and moored them in the midst of the open. More then an hundred arrowes stucke in our Targets, and about the boat, yet none hurt, onely Anthony Bagnall was shot in his Hat, and another in his sleeue.

This is similar to John Underhill’s account of the landing at Block Island. Surprisingly few (in this case no) casualties from a multitude of arrows, and the muskets are able to drive off the bowmen by outreaching them.

There are a couple more excerpts I want to post even though they aren’t strictly relevant evidence. Among Thomas Esper’s many mistreatments of Humfrey Barwick in his paper The Replacement of the Longbow by Firearms in the English Army, Esper reports Barwick’s suggestion that musketeers make up for their slow rate of fire by loading their piece with multiple bullets rather snidely. Yet, it was a common practice at the time, which the evidence shows if one is willing to look. For example, during the duel scene in Simplicius Simpliccissimus’s titular novel, he loads his musket with two bullets in preparation. Here are two examples of the practice from Smith:

Third book, chapter II, p. 45:

Sixtie or seaventie of them, some blacke, some red, some white, some party-coloured, came in a square order, singing and dauncing out of the woods, with their Okee (which was an Idoll made of skinnes, stuffed with mosse, all painted and hung with chaines and copper) borne before them: and in this manner being well armed, with Clubs, Targets, Bowes and Arrowes, they charged the English, that so kindly receiued them with their muskets loaden with Pistoll shot, that downe fell their God, and divers lay sprauling on the ground; the rest fled againe to the woods, and ere long sent one of their Quiyoughkasoucks to offer peace, and redeeme their Okee.

Third book, chapter V, p. 56:

Repairing our saile with our shirts, we set sayle for the maine and fell with a pretty convenient riuer on the East called Cuskarawaok,*the people ran as amazed in troups from place to place, and diuers got into the tops of trees, they were not sparing of their arrowes, nor the greatest passion they could expresse of their anger. Long they shot, we still ryding at an Anchor without there reatch making all the signes of friendship we could. The next day they came vnarmed, with euery one a basket, dancing in a ring, to draw vs on shore: but seeing there was nothing in them but villany, we discharged a volly of muskets charged with pistoll shot, whereat they all lay tumbling on the grownd, creeping some one way, some another into a great cluster of reedes hard by; where there companies lay in Ambuscado. Towards the euening we wayed, & approaching the shoare, discharging fiue or six shot among the reedes, we landed where there lay a many of baskets and much bloud, but saw not a Salvage.

Smith also lists the prices of many necessary provisions for colonists. The prices he gives for ammunition are significantly higher than the ones in my previous blog post.

Armes for a man, but if halfe your men be armed it is well, so all haue swords and peeces.

1 Armor compleat, light.

17 s.

1 long peece fiue foot and a halfe, neere Musket bore.

1 l. 2 s.

1 Sword.

5 s.

1 Belt.

1 s.

1 Bandilier.

1 s. 6 d.

2 pound of powder.

18 s.

6 pound of shot or Lead, Pistoll and Goose shot.

5 s.

Jacopo di Porcia: The Preceptes of Warre

A military manual by Jacopo di Porcia. Some of the advise is obvious, some silly. This is a text transcription from EEBO and I’m not confident at all that it’s accurately transcribed. Translated 1544 by Peter Betham.

32. ¶ Of gonners on horsebacke.
It shal not be vnprofitable to acquaynten and wount your horses, as the duchmen do, to suffer the sytter whyche is a gunner and not to be affrayed therof. For no sorte of souldyers, is more profytable than they nor yet doth more myschife and hurte. For no man is so well harnaysed, that can be saulfe from them: such a vyolence is in that warlye instrumente.
33. ¶ Of gunnes called serpentines wyth other.
It shall be very profitable to haue many wagons & charettes laden with gons For there is none armye so strong, whom they wyll not destroye, so that horses & men far of be slayne, wyth them. Also the great sounde shal so feare men, that their strength and courage shal fal and decay.

42. ¶ Of bowes.
Fotemen with bowes, whych englysh men vse: do greate seruyce in an host. For there is no breste plate, whyche is able to wythstand, and holde owte the stroke of the arrowes, suche force and vyolence is in bowes.

87. ¶ What is to be done when we mistrust our souldyours to be afrayed of the sowne of gunnes and noyse of them yt wayle.
Yf any lykenesse be, or mistrust that thy souldyours bene afrayed of the gunshote and otherwyse, whereby theyr hertes be lyke to fayle, it is a good pollicye, to stop their eares with some thing, and so with out feare they shall fyght, neyther hea∣ryng the wofull waylynges of them that be wounded, ne yet the noyse of gunnes. Whych pollicye wyl serue at these dayes agaynst the Almaynes that vse a greate nombre of gunnes in theyr armyes.

88. ¶ What is to be done when thyne enemyes be moost parte archers.
When our enemyes be for the mooste part archers, then set aganyst them, men fenced with tergates, whych sort of souldyours be sometyme in the hostes of the East partie. And by this pollicie thyne army shal be out of theyr daunger.

92 ¶ A pollicie to diffeate and dispoynt the gunners, that they stande in no stede and vse.
The Frenchemen and Almaynes, at these dayes haue in thēyr armies a great nombre of gunners, which sore trouble & hyndre theyr enemies. Wherfore my counsayle is, that armye (which hath no suche souldyours) to sette vpon them in mooste raynye wether. For at those tymes they be vnseruyable, and can do no good.

16th Century Prices of Weapons


Great factoids in this book.

Page 105:

Bow, best sort- 3s. 4d.

” second- 2s. 6d.

” third- 2s.

Sheaf of livery arrows- 5s.

Sheaf of arrows, 8 or 9 inch the feather- 2s. 4d.

Page 106:
35 lb. of big shot for the ordnance at 2d. the lb. – 5s. 10d.

Page 107:

274 lb. of powder- 14l. 14s. (about 1s. a pound)

Page 112:

Corselet- 30s.

Caliver- 20s.

Harquebus- 8s.

Pike- 2s.

Bow and sheaf of arrows- 5s. 4d.

Sword- 6s.

Barrel of Gunpowder- 6l. 19s.

20 bullets- 2d.

From these figures, we get that a sheaf of 24 arrows cost 2s. 4d. At 1s. a pound for powder and 2d. a pound for lead, and assuming that half a pound of powder is needed for each pound of lead, we get a price of 8d. for 12 musket shots or 20 caliver or harquebus shots. Bows are still so much cheaper than the firearms that the archer could purchase several sheafs with the difference. I have never heard of archers carrying any more than 96 arrows, or 4 sheafs, which would have cost 9s. 4d., less than half the price of a caliver  and a third of a corselet. Thus while powder and lead was cheaper than arrows, the price of arrows is not a satisfactory explanation for the obsolescence of the bow in England.

In 1599 the bows and arrows finally disappeared from the muster rolls.The musket gained ground ; no more, perhaps, by its value, than by the special recommendation of the deputy lieutenants, 18th April, 1596, signed Sir Matthew Arundel, Sir George Trenchard, and Sir Ralph Horsey, ” to encrease armour and weapon, especially corslet and musket.” Nichols writes, that at Leicester, the queen, in 1598, ordered the bows and arrows to be refused and supplied with muskets. 
Page 114

Alonso De Contreras Witnesses the Accuracy of a Greek Archer

“I put the Greeks ashore, and went on my way with the caramuzal to the Arm of Mayna, which is not far distant. This Arm of Mayna is a district of the land which is in the Morea, a barren land, and its inhabitants are Greek Christians. They have no houses, but exist in grottos and caves, and are great robbers. They have no elected chief, but they obey him who is the most valiant; and though they are Christians, never, as it seems to me, do they act as such. The Turks have found it impossible to subdue them, although they live in the heart of the Turkish lands. Nay, it is the Turks whose cattle they steal, and sell them to others. They are great archers. One day I saw one of them bet that he would shoot an orange off the head of a son of his with an arrow at twenty paces; and he did it with such ease that I was amazed.”

The Life of Captain Alonso De Contreras: Knight of the Military Order of St. John, Native of Madrid, page 83, as translated by Catherine Alison Phillips.