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An extract from Armies of the Middle Ages, volume 1
by Ian Heath


Other than the English the Burgundians were the only extensive employers of the longbow for most of this period, their widespread adoption of it in the 15th century undoubtedly being a direct result of English influence. Many of the archers in Charles the Bold's armies were in fact Englishmen, though the majority of Burgundian archers appear to have been Picards. This particular figure, with his arrows in a fur-covered bag slung from his belt, is from a miniature in Schilling's 'Lucerne Chronicle' depicting the Battle of Grandson.

Others would have been armed instead with a crossbow, usually of steel. The earliest known document referring to a steel crossbow in military use by the Burgundians is an entry in the ducal household accounts of 1426 for the purchase of a number of such weapons. The Burgundians were responsible for the introduction of the steel crossbow into Switzerland during the Burgundian Wars. However, the disadvantage of the steel crossbow was that it tended to become brittle and break in very cold weather, so that Burgundian armies campaigning against the Swiss were accompanied by a 'considerable' supply of spares. Also, unlike the Swiss most Burgundian crossbow-men still carried pavises. 113a is such a pavise, with gold steles, black flints, and red cross and flames; the field was probably originally white.

Next: 114. BURGUNDIAN HANDGUNNER, in Armies of the Middle Ages, volume 1 by Ian Heath