14th century defense industry

How much is known about the defense industry say prior to 1600AD?

We know that planting of yew trees in England was officially encouraged, while the manufacture and sale of self bows was monitored/regulated. Able-bodied men were “required” to practice their archery at least once a week but often did not because of an emerging national pastime: football. That practice thingy I got from “Weapons that Made Britain” hosted by Mike Loades.

According to the Gibbon book, the Roman pillum was considered the depleted uranium slug of ancient times. Only the Roman army bothered the employ it and the ability to was considered a strategic asset. Non-soldiers were not permitted to practice or hunt with them. Very likely though, this rule wasn’t enforced very much. I mean, why are wild pigs now called “javelina?”

I am more curious as to how the weapons were made. Was each village or township responsible for supplying their own weapons in war or did the English have a well organized defense indusrty in place?

Bow making was down to individual crafting. But large manors and garrisons had full-time smiths and bowyers. To answer your question better, you should look up standardization of weapons and equipment per campaign, like in the Hundred Years war leading to Crecy or Verneuil.

English, organized ?

As far as I remember, everyone was responsible for supplying himself or his own followers if they had none. Some towns were more armament production orientated than most others. Charles le Téméraire disliked Liège, where the arms industry basically started, for many reasons, but the fact they supplied arms to people not Charles le Téméraire helped.
In Armour, beyond simple stuff, the best suits were made in Italy, especially Milan; Germany produced nearly as good, and if less prettified, as functional. English monarchs every now and then induced Italian ( for armour ) and German ( for armour, firearms and mining etc. ) craftsmen to settle here and hopefully teach their mystery.

The group online bowyers group where I hang out has been discussing how war bows were made No one seems to really know how the manufacturing process worked or if it even existed. It is not a particulary difficult trade to learn but it does require some coaching.

I seem to remember that English war bows did not have a uniform draw weight and construction. That already tells you a lack of centralized control (which goes against what I first posted. :smack: )

The Board of Ordnanceseems to be what you’re looking for (for England at least)

So by 1414 there was a person in charge of the armoury and by 1518 a centralised system of assessing design and production of weapons was in place. Actual production was probably sub contracted out to private manufacturers.

Thats good information, I am kind of surprised at how little is known about this period. I have a feeling we might have some good history just buried in the archives.

I read a fascinating book last year on the politics of saltpeter in the gunpowder age. The main theme was that this was A Big Deal in the defence industry from about the fifteenth century onwards, becoming more and more so as firearms became a greater component of an army’s weaponry. Saltpeter was an essential component of gunpowder and its chemistry was not fully understood (obviously, since chemistry was an infant science in those days) - the major thing that was known about it was that it was able to be produced from urine and dung. So the government (ie, king) would employ “saltpetermen” to travel the country searching for this valuable substance in barns, stables and pigeon lofts everywhere, digging up any productive bit of dirt they happened to find (and not generally fixing any property damage afterward, which obviously caused considerable angst among everyone who wasn’t the king.

Pila were a special refinement over the regular kind, but plenty of cultures used javelins both for war and for hunting, on foot or horseback or chariot. Presumably the Spaniards did enough of it to impact their lexicon ? I know the *Medieval *games always give early/high Middle Age Spain really awesome mounted javelin skirmishers, the jinetes.