Barnabe Rich- A right exelent and pleasaunt dialogue, 1574

I was surprised to find that this one was published in 1574. The arguments are extremely similar to those of Roger Williams, whose Discourses were not published until 1590. The argument takes place in the form of a dialogue between Mercury and an English soldier. Since speaker tags have been forgotten in some places I’ve added them in for clarity.

 

 

Soul. But if without presumption I might but demaund this laste question wherein I greatly desire to be satisfied, and this it is, whether the Calyuer, or the long Bowe as we tearme them heare in Englande, be of greatest force I haue harde this question diuers times to be argewed on & some that haue bin supposed to haue had good experience haue preferred the the Caliver to be of greater force in seruice then the bow which I think few wisemen wyll beleeue, and our enemies can witnesse to the contrary that from time to time haue felte our Archers force, and how many noble victoryes haue bin by them achiued, Cronicles are ful, and Histories can well make mencion, and I am of that mind that one thousand good Archers would wronge tow thowsande shot, yea and would driue them out of the feeld and there be a great many of that opinion beside my selfe.

[Mer.] What hath bin don in time paste maketh nothing to the purpose for the time present for the order of the warres is altogether altered, and in an other manner then they haue bin in time past, but now to answer to thy demaund and breifly to satisfye thy desire, thou must first consider to what perfection shot is lately growne unto ouer it hath bin within these few yeares, when paradnenture if there were one that sarued with ah Halfhaake or a Hagbus as they termed them which were peeces to small efect, unlesse it were euen hard at hand, ther is now ten for that one, which serueth with that Caliver or Musquet which, peeces ar of a new inuention and to an other effect. So lyke wise they haue a better composition for the makynge of their powlder and the Souldier is grown by practise to a greater celetrity in the using of his peece then in the paste he hath byn of. Thus the effecte of the one by practise is increased, and the force of the other by nature is deminished, for the strength of men is generally decaied, whereby they are not able to draw so stroung a bow, nor to shoote so stronge a shotte as in the olde tyme men haue bin accustomed.

But to the ende thou mayest the better perceaue wherein the aduantage or disaduantage doth growe. I wyl use this comparison (wherby) I doubt not but thy owne reason shall perswade thee.

Suppose one thousande Archers shoulde be leuyed within two Shiers in Englande let them use no further reagard in the choice then of ordinary they ar accustomted: In the seruice of the Prince, let these Archers be apoynted with such liuery Bowes as the Country generally useth to alow, let these Archers continnewe in the feelde but the space of one weeke, abidynge such fortune of weather, with their Bowes and Arrowes, as in the mene time might happen. I would but demaunde how many of those thowsand men were able at the weeks end to shoote aboue x. score. I dare undertake that if one hundred of those thousande doo shoote aboue ten score, that .ii. hundred of the rest, wyll shoote shorte of .ix. score, and is not this a peece of aduantage thinkest thou? when euery Calyuer that is brought into the feelde wyl carry a shot xviii. score and .xx. score, and euery Musquet .xxiiii, and xxx. score.

Besides this euery Bushe, euery Hedge, euery Ditch, euery Tree, and lamost euery Moalhil is a sufficient safgarde for a shotte, where the Archer is little worse, but on a playne, when the shotte wyll conuay them selues into euery couerte, that the Archer shall not see whereat to shoote, and yet hee himselfe remayne a fayre marke for the other, or els can use no seruice.

Now whether part hath the aduantage, I thinke may well be deemed, and whether weapon is of greatest force, a man mays easlye perceaue, when the shotte shall be able to preiudice the Archer, who shal not be able to shoote halfe the grounde towardes him agayne. Farther when the Shotte shal take aduantage almost in eueri ground to shrowd himselfe, where the Archer must remaine an open mark uppon the plaine or els to occupy his Bow to smal efect.

[Soul.] But let it be that one thowsand Archers and one thowsande shot should meete in the playne feelde where no vantage were to be taken by the ground, & admit they were ioyned in skirmish, within .viii or .ix score where the Archer is able to shutte twice to the others once, wherby the Arrowes comming so thick amonst them, wil so astone them that the contrarye part shall not well know where at to shoote.

Mer. But those that frame this argument hath little practise in the use of the Calyver, and lesse experience in the order of a skyrmishe for if a thowsand Archers were brought into the feelde I trust all woulde not be brought to shootte at one instant for yf they were, some of them would shoote to small auauayle, as he that hath experience can well say.

And yet if there were no other aduantage to be used in skirmishe, but who can shoote fastest he that is a ready shoote I dare say, would be loth that an Archer should shoots aboue .viii times to his .v

And this aduantage in often shootyng is not so great in the one but the difference is much more in the other, considerig their force for where the one doth but gaulde the other doth either mayne or kyll.

But to shew thee what farther aduantage the shot hath of the Archer thou shalt undertstand that where the Archer may shoot both wide short and gone, the other may shoott but wyde onely. But because thou mayst the better perceaye my meanynge thou must consider that when the Archer shooteth any distance of grounde, the Arrowe commeth compasse of a great height, so that when it commeth where it should indanger, which is, with in the compasse of mans height it falleth presently to the ground and hath but as it were one lightyng place and paraduenture may come directly ouer one mans head and fall right at an other mans feet which standeth but .iii, yeardes behind, where if it had falne but one foots shorter, it had indaungered the firste so yf it had gone but one or two foote farther it had hazarded the last.

Thus as I haue saide the Archer, though he shoote right yet he may shoote both ouer and under, where the other can shoote but wide onely, considering that the shot is styll carried away within the compasse of mans height, which aduantage to such as hath reason to decerne it arighte shall perceyue, that one shotte from the Musquet or Calyuer, is of greater possibilytie to indaunger then fiue that shall come from the beste Archer that is brought into the feelde.

Soul. I understande the meanynge verye well, and doo nowe perceaue the Calyuer indeede to be of greatest force, and yet I had a great deale rather beleeue it my selfe, then to undertake to make a great many of others to beleeue it.

But now I perceaue we may hange our Bowes uppon the walles for I can not perceaue how they wyll nowe stande us in any great steede to serue in warres.

Mer. Nay not so neyther, was it any part of my pretence to absolutlye to objecte the Archer nor yet to make hym of so small effect, but that his seruice is to be commended, and not to be forborne, for so it mighte as well be sayde what should Horsemen do in the feelde where the enemye hath picks to defende them against whom they coulde yet neuer preuayle: yet no man doubteth but Horsemen are seruisable for manye causes, although it be not to run against the picks, so likewise Archers maye do verye good seruice, althoughe it be not to inconnter with shotte.

But my wordes tended to this ende that I woulde not haue thee to be ignoraunt in the use of so principall a weapon, but rather woulde wyth it might be practised, considering it asketh tyme, or many haue the ready use of it, for lyke as it is a specyall Weapon to hym that can use it in good order, so it is as defused, untowarde to hym that hath not the practise of it, and shal sooner indaunger hymselfe, or his friends that standes nexte unto hym, then hurte his Enemye. Therefore I woulde wyshe that those which shoulde use this Weapon, to be very expert and wary in the use and orderyng of the same.

Juan de Palafox y Mendoza – The History of the Conquest of China by the Tartars

Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, Bishop of Puebla in Mexico, was privy to reports of the Manchu conquest of Ming China via the Phillipines. Though he had never been to China himself, Palafox used those reports to write a detailed history of the conquest. Throughout, the Manchu are referred to as Tartars.

Pages 521-522

The Tartars exercised their Souldiers every day before the Palaces of their Vice-Roys : There they drew up the Troops in Battalia, and fired at one another with their Muskets and Guns as eagerly, as if two Armies had been contending for Victory. They had likewise Prises, and persons appointed to take notice of, and recompense the address and expertness of those who shot with Bows and Guns every day at a mark. Whosoever hit the mark with three Bullets, or three Arrows, had given him, as a reward, a little piece of Siver Plate, fashioned like a shell, worth about four Julio’s ; ( a Julio is in value about six pence sterling : ) He who hit the mark twice had one worth about two Julio’s ; and he who hit it but once had one only of the value of one Julio. But they who missed the mark thrice were instantly bastinado’d. And to disgrace them the more, were publickly hooted and hissed at, or else had some other affront put upon them. The Tartars were not obliged to these exercises, but the Chineses of those Provinces, who had submitted themselves, that by custome they might learn not to be afraid of Guns or Arms. They designed by this continual exercise, to disaccustome them from that Effeminancy and Laziness, in which they had lain so long buried. These idle Fellows would very willingly have been excused from this trouble. But they deserved to be learnt by their Enemies the exercise of Arms, that they might carry them in their Service, since they so little concerned themselves, to make use of them in the defence of their own Country, and for the preservation of themselves.

Page 524-526

[The Manchu] Bows and Arrows are their most honourable Weapons, of which they are very proud, and take pleasure in shewing how skilfully they can shoot with them, which they do so dexterously, that several person with one draught of the Bow will let fly three or four Arrows at a time, with that force and violence, that should they at a due distance hit any man, the lightest would pierce him quite thorough. Their Bows are rather little than great. They are light but very strong and solid. Their Arrows are some long, some short, but all so strong, that they will pierce through a stiff board : The Iron heads are made four square, or triangular, but long and extraordinary well pointed and tempered.

They had no Fire Arms, when they first entred into China :  But as soon as they had possessed themselves of some places, they took out all the great Guns, Muskets and Fire Arms, which they found, and made use of them ever afterwards. But they never employed any Tartars as Cannoneers and Gunners, but only Chineses, and some few Europeans : Nor suffered any to carry Muskets or Fire Arms, but only the Chineses of those provinces which had submitted themselves, with whom they encreased their Army, that they might the sooner compleat their Conquest. As for Petards or Fire-works, they neither know how to make them or use them, nor how to spring a Mine. It may seem strange, that the Tartars would thus put their best Weapons into the hands of their new Subjects, and not learn how to handle them themselves. That they should train up both Citizens and Countrey people in their Military Discipline : For which several persons censure the Conduct of Xunchi, as likewise for entrusting the Princes of his Family with so great a Power. But this Monarch was convinced that the more he confided in his Uncles, the more he engaged and secured their Loyalty ; and by manifesting how little he feared, and how much he slighted the Chineses, he made them the more dread of his valour, and the courage of the Tartars.

Robert Barret – The Theorike and Practike of Moderne VVarres, 1598

Barret is another military writer critical of “inueterate conceirers of bowes and blacke billes”. Barret asserts the superiority of the firearm over the bow, the corselet over the jack, and the pike over the bill (halberd). I have skipped over the sections dealing with the bill and jack.
Pages 2-3
Gent.

You haue touched many pointes vnder a few termes, but (Captaine) all this and much more will hardly perswade our rurall sort; and I thinke many of vs Gentlemen not farre better minded: for in executing her Maiesties commands, for trayning our men, prouiding of armour, I heare many say, what neede so much a do, and great charge in Calliuer, Musket, Pyke and Corselet? our auncestors won many battels with bowes, blacke Billes, and Iackes. But what thinke you of that?

Captaine.

Sir, then was then, and now is now; the wars are much altered since the fierie weapons first came vp: the Cannon, the Musket, the Caliuer and Pistoll. Although some haue attempted stifly to maintaine the sufficiencie of Bowes, yet daily experience doth and will shew vs the contrarie. And for that their reasons haue bene answered by others, I leaue at this instant to speake thereof.

Gent.

Why, do you not like of our old archerie of England?

Capt.

I do not altogether disalow them; true it is, they may serue to some sorts of seruice, but to no such effect as any of the fierie weapons.

Gent.

Will not a thousand bowes handled by good bowmen, do as good seruice, as a thousand hargubuze or muskets, especially amongst horsemen?

Capt.

No, were there such bowmen as were in the old time, yet could there be no comparison.

Gent.

Your reasons.

Capt.

First, you must confesse that one of your best Archers can hardly shoot any good sheffe arrow aboue twelue score off, to performe any great execution, except vpon a naked man, or horse. A good Calliuer charged with good powder and bullet, and discharged at point blanck by any reasonable shot, will, at that distance, performe afar better execution, yea, to passe any armour, except it be of prooffe, & much more neare the marke then your Archer shal: And the said Calliuer at randon will reach & performe twentie, or foure and twentie score off, whereunto you haue few archers will come neare. And if you reply, that a good archer will shoot many shots to one; Truly no, your archer shall hardly get one in fiue of a ready shot, nay happely scarce one; besides, considering the execution of the one and the other, there is great oddes, and no comparison at all.

Gent.

But our bowmen may shoot by vollies, as thicke as hayle in the ayre.

Capt.

They may shoot thicke, but to small performance, except (as I said) vpon naked men or horse. But should there be led but eight hundred perfect hargubu∣ziers, or sixe hundred good musketiers against your thousand bowmen, I thinke your bowmen would be forced to forsake their ground, all premisses considered: and moreouer a vollie of musket or hargubuze goeth with more terrour, fury, and execution, then doth your vollie of arrowes. And againe, against a resolute troupe of horse, either Pistoletiers, Hargulatiers or Lanciers, they will stand lesse time (except they be well fronted with hedge, ditch or trench; or seconded with a strong stand of pikes,) then either Hargubuze or Musket, considering the execution of the one & the other. And what souldier is he, that commeth against a weapon wherein there is little hazard of life, which will not more resolutely charge, then against a weapon, whose execution he knoweth to be present death? Many more reasons might be alledged for the sufficiencie of the one, and the insufficiencie of the other, but others haue answered the same already, besides the proofe which dayly experience bringeth: and thus you heare mine opinion of your Bowes; desiring you (Gentlemen and others) not to conceiue sinisterly of me for this mine opinion, as not held of me for any dislike I haue of our old Archery of England: but that common experience hath made it most manifest in these our later warres: well wishing in my hart (had it bene Gods good will) that this infernall fierie engine had neuer bin found out. Then might we boldly haue compared (as our auncestors did) with the proudest Archers in the world.

But you must note this by the way, that the fierie shot, either on horsebacke, or foote, being not in hands of the skilfull, may do vnto themselues more hurt then good: wherefore the same is often to be practised, that men may grow perfect and skilfull therein.

Pages 4-5
Gent.

Your proportion I like well, but our countrey people are loth to be at the charges of so many costly weapons, although her Maiestie and her honorable priuie Counsell, haue giuen orders and directions for the same.

Capt.

I perceiue it to be so, whereat I grieue not a litle, considering, how dangerous is the time; how malicious, strong, & politike is the enimie; how carelesse, yea senslesse are we; and how vnwilling to our owne weale? But should these your secure men once heare the Alarme of the enemie, (from the which God defend vs,) then should you soone see them alter their copies, chaunge their colours, forget their great bragges of blacke Bills and Bowes, and stand at their wittes ende what course to take; and should they yet recall their courage, and plucke vp their spirites, and dare to looke the enimie in the face, what guides (I pray) haue they? It is not enough to say downe with them, downe with them, Lay on Billes and Bowes: they should encounter strong squares of armed Pikes, gallant squadrons of Muskets, braue troupes of shot, conducted by skilfull Leaders: then should they soone see the difference of weapons; the danger of the one, the litle doubt of the other, with repentance (perhaps) for not taking them to other weapons in time. Thus much I speak to our inueterate conceirers of bowes and blacke billes.

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.

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.

Musket Vs Rifle: “A letter on the defence of England by corps of volunteers and militia”, 1852

A Letter on the Defence of England by Corps of Volunteers and Militia by Sir Charles James Napier, Lt. General, is a short essay advocating for the retention of the “tried” musket, rather than the adoption of the “untried” minie rifle. The subject is not strictly related to Bows Vs Muskets, but we do get a valuable point of comparison between the attitudes towards the musket at the beginning and the end of its service life in England. Like the latter 16th century partisans of the longbow were proven wrong by history, so was Sir Charles Napier. We see some similarity in the rhetoric, in appeals to past victories with the old weapon fought long before the new one came into existence. The defense of the obsolete weapon is accompanied by defense of other obsolete ideas: John Smythe railed against soldiers wearing less armor and using longer swords. Napier defends the bright red uniform while doubting the military usefulness of trains.

Here are some of the most interesting sections.

“I fought in “The Bush” in America: so thick it was, that we could hardly pierce its denseness; my regiment was opposed to Kentucky riflemen. We had muskets, and we beat them. We had red coats—they had brown coats; yet we slew more of them than they did of us. We are told that, at the Cape, the Kafirs lie hidden till our soldiers come within a few feet! Then what do we want with a rifle? The Cape corps were armed with short carabines, not with rifles, and are said to have done better service than any other corps, while the men were faithful.”

“I saw about a dozen of these Affreedees (who are generally supposed, perhaps with reason, to be excellent marksmen), fire a volley with their jezails at about eight or ten British staff-officers, who were in a cluster about two hundred yards distance, and not one of those officers was touched, nor one of their horses! The same number of our musketeers would have killed and wounded half the party. The Jezailchees were hidden in the rocks; they took deliberate aim in perfect security to themselves, and, having fired, were off before we could get a shot at them, for they understand that work. In short, in those five days, of skirmishing, and also on more serious occasions, I never saw anything in war, as regards weapons, more marked than the superiority of the musket over the jezail and matchlock, or any rifle that I ever saw.”

“This is no trial of weapons fit for war!— firing in a dark night, rainy weather, tired soldiers, clumsy fingers, made more stiff by cold, empty bellies, not a drop of champagne to wash the experiment down! but a stern will to shoot all “foreigners” the moment they become “distinguished” in the gloom of the night, or the dawning of the day! We do not want fire-arms, in the infantry, for individual combat, but for combat in masses, where the nice aim of the deerstalker is not wanted, and human nature will not take it till men grow old in war, and become more calm in danger than those who are less practised; and even then the veteran cannot see through the dense smoke of battle: he knows well that to level low and to load quick is his game.”

The letter itself:

https://books.google.com/books?id=5RNcAAAAQAAJ