French Noble Archers from the lists of those appearing for royal musters from about 1420 to 1560
By James Prescott
Published Online, 2011
Introduction: The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether, and to what extent, French nobles had the bow as their primary military weapon. This is not about a noble using a bow for hunting, nor about a noble picking up a bow during battle in order to shoot at a particularly annoying enemy soldier. This is about French nobles going to war with the bow as their weapon of choice.
Firstly, we have direct evidence from the French regulations governing the musters. For example, here are some of the requirements for a noble (in 1481), based upon their annual income in livres (pounds of silver) of rent. A noble with an income of under 100 (or 140) livres was required to serve either as an archer or as a polearmer (presumably their choice). A noble with an income between 100 (or 140) and 200 livres was required to serve as an archer. A noble with an income above 200 livres was required to serve as a man at arms. This shows that the noble archer in the 1481 muster ranked below the noble man at arms and above the noble polearmer.