Re: [SCA-Archery] ascham
- Njall replies;
"I would have to consider Toxophillus to be a secondary source at worst.
... It is far better then tertiary for the following reasons
It's written in period by an actual observer. Ascham is an actual
< This is not entirely true. Although Ascham is period to the SCA his
life began at the end of the great age of the British longbow.The
Hundred Years War was over a century before and The War of the Roses
which is responsible for killing off the great war archers of Britain
was almost half a century earlier.>
".....Further study of his work should revel that the book shows the two
different sides of Ascham life. Because it is written as a dialog
between a lover of archery and a lover of learning.
I would be hard pressed to classify Ascham as ONLY a academic."
< And what a wonderful man he must have been and what a wonderful
gift to archery he gave us. He wrote about this subject that is so dear
to all of us from a point of view that is CLOSER to the great period of
the longbow than we are. William Shakespeare was much closer than we
also. He was genius, but his account of Agincourt must be treated with
a very critical view of the facts as we
know them. As students and lovers of history, we must put it all in the
mix, Ascham, Shakespeare, the records from the Tower of London, the
manuscript illustrations,the poets, the period accounts of battle, the
recent finds, and see if we can make an educated GUESS. Because there
are contradictions up the WAZOO.
I love Ascham's book as I've stated before and use it to refer to
regularly. But, it is not THE GOSPEL of medieval archery, though it's
one of the better sources we have. We are all speculating here, with a
handful of facts that are universally accepted, the rest of the answers
to our questions are still out there somewhere. Maybe some day more
light will be shed on the subject of medieval archery. Look at how the
facts changed within the last forty years due to the efforts of the Mary
- Scott Jaqua wrote:
> ----- Original Message -----Greetings
> From: James W. Pratt Jr.
> Not to change the thread to much... if Ashams book "Toxophillus" is a
> tertiary source
> how should an A&S "Judge" judge a conjecture? (snip)
Ok, maybe a little digression on research catagories is in order here...
Sources come in three flavours; primary, secondary, tertiary. A primary
source is a text (normally untranslated) that was written in period, or an
artifact of the period under study. A secondary source is an edited and/or
translated primary, or a text which uses primary sources to make it's point or
describe it's field of study. A tertiary source is a general overview of a
topic, one which uses secondary sources to base it's conclusions or
An encyclopedia article on the history of archery is tertiary. Robert
Hardy's book "Longbow" is secondary, as would be Payne-Gallwey's work "The
Crossbow". Ascham is definitely primary, as would be actual bows, quarrels, etc.
sitting in museums.
This is all a simplification, but that's it basically. What needs to be
recognized next, though, is that the distinction between primary and secondary
is somewhat blurry, and prone to interpretation to a degree. Ascham is written
in early modern English. Does it become secondary if I translate it into modern
20th century English? Most would say yes. Is Gervase Markham's work "The Art of
Archerie", published in 1614, secondary? Markham was about 46 years old then,
and was writing in the light of experience garnered in his twenties and
thirties, ie. in period (just barely).
A further problem is this: how accurate is Ascham (written in the 1540's)
regarding early archery of, say, the time of Agincourt (130 years before)? That
is a real can of worms because on the one hand you have to assume that some
changes took place over the span of two centuries between the golden age and
Aschams age of encroaching decadence. But on the other hand we know that tackle
from 1350 was pretty close to identical to tackle of 1550: bowyers in Aschams
day practiced about the same as their great great great grandfathers.
The fact is, is that primary sources need to be examined and evaluated just
as much as any other source; in some ways more so. Just because it's primary
doesn't mean it's infallible.
Ascham is primary, but to understand period archery you need to look a lot
further than just his book.
Forester Nigel FitzMaurice (Mid)
Ex Tenebra, Lux