Military Revolution in Europe
One of the major stimulants of transition and revolution in Europe is the invention of gunpowder and cannon in warfare. Black powder or gunpowder is a chemical substance that is made in such a way that it burns very rapidly and is significantly used to propel firearms. This was an advancement that the feudal monarchs hadn’t had the technological know-how to form and it comprised a Military Revolution that not only involved weaponry advancement but also the improvement of war tactics that were not conversant with the feudal societies.
Standing navies and armies formation was another area that was under much emphasis during this period that saw a revolution of very high magnitude to this date. This invention revolutionized the European monarchs into sovereign states, with the so formed standing armies always ready for war at the king’s command. The noble’s, and later the government’s overture in war were thus eliminated especially in the Western Europe (Peter, 1999, p.
21). Europeans are considered as being among the last to learn and make use of gunpowder secret among the major Eurasian group. However, their delayed acquaintance with this new development didn’t limit their superiority in the advancement of the technology especially by the fact that they are recognized as the ones who made the most significant refining formulas that saw new uses and applications of gunpowder.
It was through the rich and famous Silk Trade Road that gunpowder reached Europe and by the late 13th Century refinement processes were well understood by European alchemists, among the most prominent being Roger Bacon (1214-1292), who identified and listed the ingredients that were used to make this commodity and from there onwards European alchemists, scientists and investors were able to explore limitless improvements on gunpowder. The superiority of Europeans in gunpowder and cannon development gave them advantage over their rivals in war and economic endeavors especially through the ready market for the products.
They advanced this mainly by creating corned gunpowder, whose ingredients were similar to the normal gunpowder though the refining process was quite different in the sense that the gunpowder was mixed with a wet substance and the mixture was later dried (Fredric, 1991, p. 36). The first European cannon were invented by Berthold Schwarz, a German friar in 1353 AD. Furthermore, there was improvement of Middle East and Chinese invented firearms. Through the advanced techniques of the Europeans in metal work, they made significant developments on them and this created more durable and stronger riffles.
Moreover, they precisely calculated the amount of force that the gas chamber could produce as an effort to make guns that were able to fire greater distances than any other that had been used previously. One century since the Chinese invented the first gun, the Europeans were continually improving on the gunpowder and their advancements reached China through the Portuguese in 1520 AD. The Portuguese are the ones who introduced the cannon and improved riffles from Europe to China. In the Middle Ages, cannon was a large firearm, tubular in shape and which was designed and used to fire heavy projectile to very long distances.
The word canon (in the Middle English), was a derivation from the term “Cannone”, an old Italian word meaning a large tube and which had previously come from the Latin “canna” implying reed or cane. Cannons were used during this period in Europe, Middle East and China as important artillery. In Europe, cannons were developed in the late Middle Ages although during the periods of high middle ages Europe was well conversant with the gunpowder. The first cannons to be used in Europe were probably during the Islamic versus Christian Wars in the 13th Century and this is the same period that their use is first documented.
The English cannon was first introduced in 1327 after which it gained more use during the One Hundred Years war and particularly during the Battle of Crecy that took place in 1346. In the 15th century years the use of cannon had significant advancement replacing the bombardment siege- engines. Around the same time the culverin (a 14th century small-bore cannon), came as a transition from the handgun to the full cannon which had originally been used to instill more psychological effect rather than being used to cause physical destruction (Peter, 1999, p. 29).
Earlier applications of gunpowder and cannon in warfare include the Muslim and Christian Iberian war where the Andalusia’s used cannon (Moorish cannon) at the Seville sieges in 1248 and in 1262 in Niebla. In the united kingdom the cannon was introduced in the 14th century as is recorded as having been used in 1327 against the Scots with the pot-de-fer being the first recorded metal cannon. In the 1340s, cannons were used in limited numbers and they were relatively rare and not very different from the siege-engines.
They however gave Europe greater advantage over their enemies since those who had them could cause grave damage and destruction to the enemy with small casualties on their part. The siege of Orleans that took place in 1429 represents an image of cannon battle where the use of guns that were wheeled became common practice in Europe especially towards the culmination of the 15th century. However, logistics such as operation and transportation posed as major limitations in the use of cannon especially since dozens of horses and oxen were required to carry the period’s great guns (Maarten, 2001, p. 54).
There were considerable warfare developments in Europe with production of effective weaponry and bombards which were used to batter towers and walls. Their application was used both offensively and defensively especially during the destruction of the Bamburgh Castle which had originally been thought as impregnable to any attack in 1464. The Culverin became the most common, smallest medieval gunpowder weapon due to the fact that it was relatively portable because it was light compared to other weaponry.
It was used to fire lead shots and lead was relatively cheap at the time (Peter, 1999, p. 45). Another major development in the European military revolution was the recruitment of artillery crews with the master gunner being equivalent to the caster and in contingents of a bigger magnitude master gunners were responsible for control of the heavy artilleries. Careful measures were taken to ensure safe transportation of the weaponry since possibilities of separation of the unstable gunpowder mixture was very eminent and could fragment to charcoal, saltpeter and sulphur.
Cannon development interested some Scottish kings as well with the Mons Meg being probably the most famous cannon among them. King James II was one of them though he fatefully became a victim of one of his own cannons that accidentally exploded and killed him during the Roxburgh Castle besieging in 1460. King James IV made outstanding record of this cannon and gunpowder fascination by launching his flagship (Great Michael) in 1511 AD consisting of 120 gunners, 36 greater guns and 300 lesser artillery pieces.
Such advancements made it possible to defeat foes much easily for example the defeat of the Turks of the Ottoman Empire by the Byzantine’s franks of Galata’s Genoese in 1396 in Constantinople. During this period, though the two empires were fairly matched in technology, the Ottomans were in a period of economic quagmire. Pope Pius II therefore opted to promote the affordable cannon donation from the European monarchs as aid, with all subsequent cannons after the 1422 AD siege being European states’ gifts.
Much of such artillery aid was from Hungary, which had proved a gunpowder technology pinnacle at the time. High financial costs involved in artillery acquisition by that time are illustrated by the fact that many economically deprived countries or empires could not afford it and as thus they always lost and retreated in wars (Maarten, 2001, p. 67). In April, 1453, Sultan Mehmet II laid siege to Constantinople using Great Turkish Bombards or the 68 cannons made in Hungary, with the largest measuring 7. 9 meters (26 feet) and weighing twenty tons.
These could fire stone cannonballs of up to 1200 pounds, and was operated by a crew of two hundred men. The Hungarians boasted that their cannon could fall the walls of Babylon. The cannon also required 10,000 men and 70 oxen to transport. All these accompanied by their extremely loud noise contributed to the great psychological impact they subjected to their enemies during combats. By the end of the Middle Ages, many castles had become susceptible to artillery power making siege warfare an overhaul of the cannon and gunpowder revolution.
Previously, castle walls were constructed with a basic principle of thickness and height, all of which became obsolete under the virility of the cannonballs. Former impregnable fortifications were loosely inadequate in the presence of gunpowder making it an inevitable requirement for them to be made a little bit wider and lower. In Europe therefore, the war revolution caused by the invention of the gunpowder and cannon made geometrical element of the artillery siege introduction for military architecture (Fredric, 1991, p. 79).
References: Peter Baldwin, Contagion and the State in Europe, 1830-1930; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999, 21, 45 Maarten Prak, Early Modern Capitalism: Economic and Social Change in Europe 1400-1800. London: Routledge, 2001, pp. 54, 67 Frederic J. Baumgartner, From Spear to Flintlock: A History of War in Europe and the Middle East to the French Revolution. ; Mahwah, NJ: Praeger Publishers, 1991, pp. 36, 79Sample Essay of BuyEssay.org