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Watch Weapons That Made Britain online: Episode 2 Longbow

The longbow appears to be the end result of the development of a Welsh design, the first appearing in the early 12th century. As with any bow, it is essentially a platform for launching arrows, a means of getting missiles to their target. But the longbow signifies much more than that it empowered the peasant soldier and was a great leveller. Archers were used to great effect as lightly armed yet highly mobile forces; their arrow storms were almost always guaranteed to halt an enemy advance. In England, the cult of the archer ran deep. Ancient laws forced compulsory archery practice on all men, so that a trained force was always ready. In addition to the archers in the infantry, mounted archers had great reputations and status. Their common bond was a simple yet deadly weapon: the longbow.

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