- "The flame of the Lady goes with this arrow, and so too the low-born archer before long…"
- —Bretonnia's peasant archers.
Peasant Bowmen are the most basic support infantry fielded by the armies of Bretonnia.
It is customary within Bretonnia for every peasant to learn, willing or not, how to use a longbow. This custom is usually enforced by a local Bretonnian Lord as a means of training their peasantry should the call to war be sounded. Once war is upon the horizon, every able-bodied peasant is encouraged to serve in the armies of Bretonnia as a dedicated holding force.[1a]
On many occasions, peasants are simply pressed into service alongside the more adequately equipped standing companies of Men-at-Arms, bulking out ranks thinned by casualties or sickness. However, most are employed as levies of longbowmen who are expected to engage enemies unworthy of a knight's attention. Though the tenets of the chivalric honour forbid a knight to use any kind of missile weapon, there is, of course, no such restriction on the peasants who are not expected to know better.[1a]
Though the wage of a peasant archer could be judged pitiful by most standards, to the commoners of Bretonnia one copper per campaign is a princely wage indeed. Most parents will encourage their offspring to practice with a bow so they might increase the family's earnings. Unlike the armour and weaponry of the Men-at-Arms companies, Peasant Bowmen are not equipped from the armouries of their local Lord, and instead must bring their own gear to arm themselves in combat, therefor turning up to battle in all manner of garb. Likewise, their longbows will often be their own possessions, handed down from father to son (though it is a rich family that can afford more than a single bow) and accordingly can be of variable quality.[1a]
As you might expect, the quality of these Peasants are often mediocre, and in order to compensate for this weakness, longbowmen often congregate into large huddled units on the battlefield, directing volley after volley into incoming enemy regiments. Predictably unreliable if left to their own devices, these peasant would only fight anything near adequately, should the stern gaze of their commanding Knight be upon them. Bretonnian Bowmen are usually deployed where they can lend the force of their longbows to the Bretonnian knightly charge, softening up the enemy with a continual volley of deadly arrows. In battle they make use of deadly wooden stakes to defend their position, causing the enemy attack to falter.[1a]