The Amazon Archers of England : Longbows, gender and English nationalism 1780–1845

Detta är en Master-uppsats från Stockholms universitet/Historiska institutionen

Sammanfattning: In the 1780s the medieval weapon of war; the English longbow, enjoyed a renaissance, as historical archery became a fashionable recreation among the English aristocracy. Later, during 1819-1845, longbow archery developed into a mass movement, as it spread downwards in the English class system, into the bourgeoning middle class. During the entire time period of 1780-1845, the “English warbow” was instrumental in producing a specific English (i.e. not British) nationalistic memory culture regarding the medievalmilitary triumphs of the “English bowmen” in battles of old, against French and Scottish forces, as well as reproducing a nationalistic narrative surrounding the English national hero and master-archer Robin Hood. The English longbow, as an object, became a mani- festation of English nationalism. An important fact was that both men and women were included as archers, despite the masculine context of the memory culture surroundingmilitary archery, the celebration of medieval English battlefield victories and the man- liness of the English “bowmen”. How did England come to view the female archer as an ideal for English women, while at the same time publicly upholding a patriarchal doctrine of a feminine “private sphere” womanhood, whereby women should be constrained to the domestic space as housewives, mothers and daughters? How was the English inclusion of females in the nationalistic public sphere of longbow archery made possible, communica- ted and reproduced? In summary, this study is about how longbow archery was manife- sted in the context of the rise of English modern nationalism and how women were inclu- ded – or rather included themselves – as English longbow archers. As the study shows, the answers exists in an inter-relating web of English memory culture regarding warfare and historical archery; gender constructions and female agency; constructions of English national identity and English nationalism within a British context; and class developments in English society. This accounts for how the Amazon Archers of England came to exist from 1780-1845.

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