SLINGERS, 11th-13th CENTURIES

An extract from Armies of Feudal Europe 1066-1300
by Ian Heath

[Based on Uriah is Slain
in the Morgan Crusader Bible of Louis IX or Maciejowski Bible.
]
[Based on Fighting around Bethulia
in the Roda Bible
]

39 & 40.      SLINGERS, 11th-13th CENTURIES

The sling remained in general use throughout this era and is frequently mentioned in accounts of battles and sieges. Though its use declined during the second half of the 13th century there were nevertheless slingers in the barons' army at Lewes in 1264, while King Edward I is recorded raising an elite unit of slingers from Sherwood Forest even in 1303. Indeed, in Spain the sling remained the principal infantry missile weapon right up until the late-14th century, the chronicler Froissart's description of sling-fire at the Battle of Najera (1367), which 'could split a helmet in half, testifying to its effectiveness (see Armies of the Middle Ages, volume 1). Figure 39, from an illustration in the Maciejowski Bible', indicates that some slingers at least continued to use a small circular shield of about 18" diameter in conjunction with the sling as in ancient times. That neither of the men depicted here carries any sort of weapon other than his sling mid a dagger is characteristic. A passage of Matthew Paris' chronicle states that where present slingers 'always preceded the army'.

The somewhat more sophisticated staff-sling was also still in use, ultimately outlasting the hand-sling in military service. It was used principally, if not exclusively in naval and siege warfare, often to hurl combustibles contained in pots and bottles. The staff was normally about 4 feet long. Figure 40 comes from a Spanish ms. of the mid-11th century.



41. SERGEANT-AT-ARMS, 13th CENTURY