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Poitiers Supper 15 November 2023

The Bowyers assembled for the annual Poitiers Lecture at Truckles in Pied Bull Yard entitled "How the Bowyers got started in the 14th Century" led by past Master Tony Kench (2016 – 2018). This is a follow on from Tony's previous talk in 2022 about the Finsbury Marks, and it was just as well received.

We had a total of 33 attendees, including 28 Bowyers. Tony talked about the development of the bow as a weapon starting in the 12th Century and culminating with Edward III's huge victory at Crécy in 1346 and the Black Prince's splendid showman's victory at Poitiers itself, ten years later.

Apparently at the battle of Northallerton in 1138 the Scots were "stuck like hedgehogs" from the Anglo-Norman bowmen, but that was before the longbow had developed to be such a fearsome and deadly weapon. It was also fascinating to note that it was Edward I who was the first to have a "central contract" for the hiring of archers and the delivery of bows, so this was one of the first times that government tendered and procured military weapons in bulk. In 1341 2,500 bows were ordered this way from London and the 20-30 bowyers there then must have been very busy. Crécy was the longbow's greatest victory, but it was probably the impetus from the Black Prince's more famous victory at Poitiers in 1356 which hastened the formation of the Worshipful Company of Bowyers: probably about 1360, and certainly by 1363.

After the talk, the Bowyers relaxed into the conviviality of the Company and the hospitality from Truckles, both much appreciated.

Nigel Heilpern
Master 2022-24

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