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The crossbow played an important role in the late Medieval period. The crossbow was really the first hand-held weapon that could be used by an untrained soldier to injure or kill a knight in plate armour. The most powerful crossbows could penetrate armour and kill at 200 yards. Longbowmen could certainly penetrate plate mail (though perhaps not at such a great distance), but longbowman were generally highly trained soldiers. This meant that they were also expensive, and that they could not be replaced easily. (Many bowmen were recruited at a young age to master their craft.)