TTME The Longbow

For a while, from the 13th to 15th centuries, the king of England possessed a military tool that no other nation appeared to be able to imitate. The argument is whether it had any lasting impact of why England is as she is.

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Welsh heroic poetry is something of which I know almost nothing. Except that it is rather magnificent. I cannot read Welsh sadly, so here’s one small extract in English translation – it’s from Y Gododdin. Difficult to now from when maybe as early as the 7th century.

He was a man in mind, in years a youth,
And gallant in the din of war;
Fleet, thick-maned chargers
Were ridden by the illustrious hero;
A shield, light and broad,
Hung on the flank of his swift and slender steed;
His sword was blue and gleaming,
His spurs were of gold, his raiment was woollen.
It will not be my part
To speak of thee reproachfully,
A more choice act of mine will be
To celebrate thy praise in song;
Thou hast gone to a bloody bier,
Sooner than to a nuptial feast;
Thou hast become a meal for ravens,
Ere thou didst reach the front of conflict.
Alas, Owain! my beloved friend;
It is not meet that he should be devoured by ravens!
There is swelling sorrow in the plain,
Where fell in death the only son of Marro.


4 thoughts on “TTME The Longbow

  1. You know the Longbow is the reason why the pound was developed as a currency and the William Tell Overture was written…and why England lost the American Colonies.

  2. It’s not necessarily the reality of the military results of the weapon, but the way it has been used over history, to represent the plucky ‘ordinary man’, with a formidable weapon,a proud Englishman, as good a man as any. Whether it’s the case or not, I know that,from here in Australia, as kids watching Robin Hood, the longbow represented an idea of England and the Engish-men of old.I think the longbow belongs in the cabinet!

    1. Thanks Anne, and yes I agree, it’s the cultural story that really makes the Longbow important. It has pride of place!

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