“On holidays the youths fight in the streets with blunted swords or staves clashing on shields. When they are older they go out into the fields with bows and arrows – indeed even the women go hunting with them.”
An Italian cleric, Dominic Mancini, visited England in 1482-3. What impressed him during his visit were the archers.
“Their bows and arrows are thicker and longer than those used by other nations just as their arms are stronger than other peoples’, for they seem to have hands and arms of iron. As a result their bows have a long range as our crossbows. Almost every man has a helmet and carries an iron shield and a sword which is as long as our sword; but heavy and thick as well. Only the wealthy wear metal armour; ordinary soldiers prefer comfortable tunics (stuffed with tow) which reach down to their thigh. They say that the softer they are the better they withstand blows; besides which in summer they are lighter and in winter more useful than iron.”
Mancini stayed in London and was a spectator at the martial games which were a traditional part of the city scene