So, it's the A-Z. My goal in these posts is to look at the bits of medieval history that are useful to writers of fantasy. I’m going to begin with archery. Descriptions of medieval battles have a couple of oddities to them. The numbers in armies (another A word for you) were usually massively over inflated. At the same time, the impression given was that knights did most of the work, being effectively invulnerable.
Archers were written out, perhaps because the bow wasn’t seen as a weapon for a noble man. Yet they were effective. Agincourt didn’t come out of nowhere. Curiously, fantasy writers also have problems with bows. Book after book has shown the big, muscly types at the front avoiding their use. Bows are for elves. Or girls, because it is another issue with fantasy fiction that women are often stuck at the back in fights, shooting stuff while the men get on with swinging swords. Even in the Hunger Games, what weapon do we see the main character using? It says something about both our attitudes to female characters and our attitudes towards archery. If you’re writing fantasy, it’s probably worth looking hard at both.