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15556Re: Women and archery

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  • jameswolfden
    Jun 30, 2004
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      --- In SCA-Archery@yahoogroups.com, "Kaleyna" <kaleyna@c...> wrote:
      > Can anyone tell me around when noblewomen in England began taking
      up archery
      > as sport?
      > Thanks
      > Kathy

      This is something that comes up now and then in Lions Gate where the
      women archers usually outnumber the male archers. However we have
      found it hard to find real period documentation that deals with women
      and archery (England or Europe). Lots of out of period stuff. A few
      paintings but even then some we have to discount because the picture
      is based on the goddess Diana rather than real medieval women. But
      here is some of the stuff I have right now.

      I am currently reading The Hound and the Hawk: The Art of Medieval
      Hunting by John Cummins. He makes reference to printed debates
      between two heralds - one Englishman and one Frenchman. In the
      debate, the english herald brags about the game parks set up in
      England which allow the women to shoot the long bowe at the deer
      chased up for them. The french herald counters that it is not to
      sporting since the deer have no choice but to head towards the

      The game parks referred to are areas of the forest that have been set
      aside for hunting. There is evidence to date these back to the
      Domesday Book. In some cases, the hunting area is fenced off to
      prevent the game from escaping. In some cases, deer are brought into
      the park specifically for hunting. In other cases, the fencing is set
      up with gates and deer jumps that allow the deer to enter but not to
      leave. The ladies would be participating in a type of hunt
      called 'bow and stable'. They would go to specific areas to wait for
      the game. The 'stable' of men and dogs would rouse up the deer and
      direct them towards the set of archers. Ideally, this would be done
      slowly so that the deer moved warily away from the stable and towards
      the archers without panicking. The stable would stay just out of view
      but within scent range. They would make just enough noise alerting
      the deer that humans were in the area.

      At this point, I have not seen the actual period documentation but
      checking on the web (www.tudors.org) I have found references to date
      the publication of the debates to between 1515 and 1550 with the
      latter publication compiled by John (Jhon) Coke.

      For European personas, there is a painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder
      entitled "Hunt in Honour of Charles V at the Castle of Torgau" and
      dated 1544 that clearly shows a woman holding a crossbow taking part
      in the hunt.

      Hope this helps, looking forward to other information to take back to
      the ladies of Lions Gate.

      James Wolfden
      Arcuarius to John Macandrew
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