Certain discourses, vvritten by Sir Iohn Smythe, Knight: concerning the formes and effects of diuers sorts of weapons, and other verie important matters militarie, greatlie mistaken by diuers of our men of warre in these daies; and chiefly, of the mosquet, the caliuer and the long-bow; as also, of the great sufficiencie, excellencie, and wonderful effects of archers: with many notable examples and other particularities, by him presented to the nobilitie of this realme, & published for the benefite of this his natiue countrie of England
Smythe, John, Sir, ca. 1534-1607.
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A briefe comparison betwixt Rei∣sters, Carabins, or Argolettiers, so much vsed in forren parts in these our dayes; & Crosse-bowers and Archers on horsebacke, which were vsed by the English, and diuers other Nations many yeares past: With mine opinion also, concerning which of those weapons are of greatest effect for serui∣ces in the field.

DIuers of our English Captains and Gentle∣men that haue serued in the 〈◊〉 warres of the Lowe Countries, or perad∣uenture some time in the ciuill warres of France, do so praise and magnifie the shot of Cara∣bins or Argolettiers (as they terme them) and of Rei∣sters, which are Pistollettiers, that they will not ad∣mit any shot on horsebacke to be comparable vnto them, imitating therein diuers forren Nations, that in these dayes doe vse those weapons on horseback. In which their opinions I doe not meane to touch them with any blame, because I do not remember a∣ny Nation in these West parts of Christendome, that doe vse at this present anie other. Howbeit, when I come to consider of such shot on horsebacke as hath bene vsed in times past, which are the Long-Bowe and the Crosse-bowe, and that there be some principall Gentlemen and Captaines of diuerse Nati∣ons yet aliue, that haue seen them vsed in the field, as namely of our English, that graue and most experi∣enced Gentleman sir Iames Crofte; & that I do com∣pare the vnreadines, imperfections and small effectes of the weapons of fire aforesaid, with the readinesse, perfections and great effectes of Crosse-bowes and Long-bowes. I doo (in mine opinion) greatly prefer those two ancient weapons on horseback before the Page  46 said weapōs of fire for al seruices in the field. And be∣cause it may appeare vnto such Gentlemen as may peraduēture reade this my opinion, how, & in what sort I would haue such Archers & Crosse-bowers to be horsed, armed and weaponed, I will first make mention thereof, and after briefly proceed to the for∣tifieng & prouing of mine opiniō by diuers reasons.

All the Crosse-bowers on horsebacke vnder suffi∣cient conductours well skilled in that weapon,* I would they should haue Crossebowes of two pound and a halfe of the best sort, with crooked gaffles han∣ging at their strong girdles after the manner of Ger∣manie, that they might on horsebacke bend their Crossebowes the more easily and readily, with foure and twentie quarrells in a case, well and fitly set at their saddle pommells, mounted vpon good cold gel∣dings of meane size, themselues armed with good murrians of the Spanish fashion vpon their heades, collars, light and short wasted cuirasses and backes, with sleeues of maile or chained with maile; or else, that they should be armed with murrians, light and easie Brigandines, and sleeues chained with maile, with broad short swords by their sides of not aboue a yarde in length,* and short daggers. The Archers on horsebacke vnder their Captaines or conductours skilful in Archerie, I would likewise haue mounted vpon good quiet geldings of meane size, with deepe steele skulles in very narrowe brimbd hats, well stuf∣fed for the easines of their heades; and either iackes of maile, according to the ancient manner when they were called, Loricati Sagittarij, or else light and easie brigandines, or at the least Ilet-holed doublets verie Page  [unnumbered] easie and well fitted to their bodies, their sleeues chai∣ned with maile, with broad short swordes and short daggers, their Bowes of good Yeugh, long and well nocked and backed, and all their strings well whipt, with sheafes of foure and twentie arrowes apeece, with shooting gloues and bracers after the manner of our Archers in times past. And all these both Ar∣chers and Crosse-bowers I woulde haue them to be well practised, that they might knowe how to dis∣charge their arrowes and quarrells gallopping vpon the hand, and in all other motions of their horses, and the Crosse-bowers to bend againe with great readi∣nes. And diuers bandes beeing thus horsed, armed, weaponed and exercised, as also reduced into little bandes of fifties vnder sufficient conductours, and o∣ther Officers skilfull in those weapons, should (in mine opinion) be able to performe greater seruices in the field either against horsemen or footmen,* than a∣ny of the forenamed weapons of fire on horsebacke, considering that both Archers and Crosse-bowers may with their arrowes and quarrells very certainly wound or kill in their points & blancks either hors∣men or footmen that are in esquadron or troupe, two or three scores off; and rouing sixe, seauen, or eight scores, may greatly mischiefe and annoy the enemie: whereas the Argolettiers and Pistolettiers are not to worke any effect against esquadrons, or troupes of horsemen or footmen aboue ten or fifteene yards off at the furthest, and if it be enemie to enemie single, then they are not to discharge their peeces aboue three or foure yards off, vnlesse they will faile foure times before they hit once, so vncertaine are those Page  47 weapons of fire: the iudgement whereof, (because this mine opinion may seeme strange to such as doo not knowe the imperfections of those weapons of fire on horsebacke) I referre vnto any Captaines or Conductors of those weapons either Italians, Spani∣ards, or French that haue bene vsed to receiue the pay of Emperours or Kings: and if it be of the Pistolet∣tiers, then to the Reisters themselues.* Besides whose iudgements, by all reason it may appeare, that if the shot of Harquebuzrie on foote in their distances in the field be so vncertaine, as I haue in my former dis∣course declared, then of necessitie it must be a great deale more vncertaine vpon horsebacke, where, by euery motion & stirring of their horses (although they be very quiet) they shall in a manner as often hit Barnacles flying in the ayre, as hurt or kill any horses or men, vnlesse they be very thicke and wonderfull neere. Besides that, the charging of their peeces on horsebacke (be it with flaskes, cartages or charges) is so vncertaine as they shall as often spill their powder besides the mouthes of their peeces, and faile of their chargings, as charge the same. And also put∣ting their touch-powder into the pannes of their peeces, although there be no winde to disperse the same, yet vpon euery motion of their horses, they are ready to powre the powder beside their pannes. And if their peeces be Petronells, then if their stones should happen to breake, or not to stand right in their cockes, whereby they should faile to strike iust vpon the wheeles being fire-lockes, or vpon the hammers or steeles, if they be Snap-hances, or being of match, if their matches be not good and stiffe, and well set Page  [unnumbered] in their serpentines or cockes, they also shall faile in their discharging; besides the difficultie that they shall finde at one time to charge their peeces, to haue an eie to their enemies, and to gouerne their horses, vsing also their scowring sticks as they ought to do: which imperfections of weapons of fire, with manie more, in the experience of all olde and skilfull sol∣diors, are the cause that the shot of them doo terrifie and scare newe soldiors and nouices of warre a great deale more with crackes, smoke and noyse, than with any often hurting with the bullet. All which vnreadinesses, disaduantages and imperfections of Argolettiers, Carabins, Pistolettiers, or Reisters consi∣dered with the readinesses, aduantages and perfecti∣ons of Archers and Crosse-bowers for all seruices in the field. I come to conclude, that Crosse-bowers on horsebacke vsed by many forren Nations of great antiquitie, and that Archers on horsebacke vsed by our auncestours many yeeres past, as also at this pre∣sent by the Turkes, Tartars, Persians, Arabians, and o∣ther mightie Nations, do farre exceede and excell all weapons of fire on horsebacke.