William Powell Firth. 'English Archers 19th Century'
William Powell Firth. ‘English Archers 19th Century’

I laughed when I saw this picture. Here we find three middle class ladies firing a bow and arrow. Now such a hobby is indeed enjoyable, I can think of many targets I would like to use such equipment on, and this is one of those ‘sports’ that women can participate in happily, unless you are in front of them of course. (Or maybe behind when I think about it….) Here the middle classes of the late 19th century are at play, while the working class are cleaning the house for them during their 14 hour day! What struck me as funny was the comparison between these ladies and the ‘English Longbowmen’ of 1346 at places like Crecy or Agincourt!

The lass in the gray dress, with matching headgear, compares well with a smaller man dressed in tights, ripped of course, a thick quilted short length coat with short sleeves. Sometimes a conical helmet was worn, without the flowers or bows used by the ladies, and I suspect the condition of the archers outfit was somewhat tardy in comparison to these ladies. There again the lassies would have powdered themselves with all the latest overpriced ointments to enhance their chances with the (wealthy) male of the species while the longbow carriers would merely have used mud and body fluids! For some reason this comparison drew laughter from my cruel heart.


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