Lack of Longbow Adoption [...]

A theory of why the French never adopted the longbow, based on institutional constraints.

Our theory resolves the longbow puzzle by recognizing that military technol-
ogy adoption is often constrained by institutional context. We argue that, unlike
the crossbow, the longbow had three critical features that, in combination, con-
strained its widespread adoption. First, the longbow required large numbers of
archers to be effective, and the number of individuals privately willing to develop
longbow skills was never sufficient to meet this demand. Second, as a result, a
ruler who wanted to adopt the longbow had to create and enforce a culture of
archery through tournaments, financial incentives, and laws supporting longbow
use to ensure sufficient numbers of archers. Third, the longbow was cheap and
easy to make—in fact, many archers made their own bows—and because of this,
where there was a large number of citizens who had been trained in proficient
use of the bow, there was a potential army of archers.
5
A ruler who adopted the
longbow by creating a culture of archery thus effectively armed a large segment
of his population, which in turn created an opportunity that a usurping noble
with an eye on the Crown could exploit. Such a noble could organize effective re-
bellion against his ruler by utilizing the large number of citizens with the human
capital required for proficient use of the cheap and easy-to-produce weapon. (Source)

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