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A soldier armed with bow and arrows. Archers have practised their deadly skill since prehistory in most parts of the world, for example, the Romans employed Scythian archers on horseback. In the Middle Ages the cumbrous but powerful crossbow was widely used in continental Europe, despite being forbidden against all except infidels by the Lateran Council of 1139. In England the potential of the longbow was discovered in the time of Edward I, but it was in Edward III's reign that full use was first made of it; nearly 2 m (6 feet) long, and made of yew, oak, or maple, it enabled accurate firing of arrows at a range of up to about 320 m (350 yards), and it gave England such victories as Crécy in 1346 and Poitiers in 1356. Archery became the English national sport; Roger Ascham, tutor to the future Elizabeth I, published Toxophilus, a treatise on archery (1545). The musketeer superseded the archer in Europe from the later 16th century, but in 19th‐century North America the Native Americans proved how devastating the mounted archer could be, even against men armed with rifles.

Subjects: History

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