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Military inventors faced a host of challenges, he finds, from Europe's lack of naturally occurring saltpeter—one of gunpowder's major components—to the limitations of smooth-bore firearms. Manufacturing cheap, reliable gunpowder proved a difficult feat, as did making firearms that had reasonably predictable performance characteristics. Hall details the efforts of armorers across Europe as they experimented with a variety of gunpowder recipes and gunsmithing techniques, and he examines the integration of new weapons into the existing structure of European warfare. There was no exact way on how to build cannons of the era.

Eventually manuals were made that helped set precedence as to how cannons should be safely built as well as the logistical aspect of the weapons range and energy of the cannon. Some cannons that were used for anti-personnel were the ribalds, falconet, organ gun, and grape shot. The grape shot was most devastating when infantry was concentrated in an area and it could shoot multiple projectiles across the field of battle. The first cannons that had the capability to fire within the walled cities were the bombards and the mortars. The mortar enabled the operator to hit targets previously untouchable with previous siege equipment which included the trebuchet and catapult.

These mortars were able to effectively bring a city to its knees by a shock-and-awe effect especially during the cannons debut. Over the years they became more lethal and destructive and the operators adept with these weapons over time. To operate these siege weapons mathematical skills was a necessity. Geoffrey Parker, a renowned military historian, argues in his book The Military Revolution that bombards were terrifying to see on the battlefield of the Medieval Age, because 16 Arnold and Keegan, The Renaissance at War, Cummins 7 they were overly large and impractical.

Parker identifies in the battle of Berwick-upon-Tweed the English used a monster bombard, 8. A classic example of the effectiveness of the cannon can be found in the Siege of Constantinople in Pitted against the Ottoman Turks, the Byzantines desperately attempted to prevent the fall of this famous city.

Despite the best efforts by the defenders to retain their city, the Ottoman guns were too devastating on the cities ancient walls. Ottomans used a 26 foot- long cannon that hurled stone balls of 1, pounds at Byzantine walls.

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Furthermore, Constantinople had never previously fallen into enemy hands, this was truly unprecedented. While cannons cemented their role on land, they also cemented their role at sea. Prior to the advent of gunpowder in Europe, warfare at sea had changed little since ancient times, with participants attempting to ram and board their opponents.

It would not be until the fifteenth century that various European navies begin to arm their ships more widely. Especially as the century came to an end and there was a greater emphasis placed on naval supremacy and the ability to colonize various lands. Similar to their counterparts on land in the beginning, cannons fitted for the sea was gradual, including the effectiveness and lethality. By the sixteenth century, cannons became the staple weapon to engage the enemy at sea and ensure that cargo would be 18 Geoffrey Parker.

Cummins 8 protected. This was especially important for Spanish and Portuguese vessels carrying gold and silver from the new world. As the design and effectiveness of these cannons evolved, so too did the tactics and design of ships to accommodate such weapons. This lead naval commanders to use the broadsides of ships to fire upon the enemy, and place emphasis on maneuverability.

An example of the cannons role in history can be seen in the attempt by the Spanish Crown to invade England in This clearly demonstrates the potential of the cannon at sea and its ability to defend or cripple opponents. Both historians Tonio Andrade and Parker agree there is a lack of knowledge of naval warfare in the Modern Age which relied heavily upon the use of artillery weapons. Both historians agree that without the introduction of guns on ship, and there would not be a rise in the military revolution, and the escalation of European empires. Cummins 9 their huge ships and cannons.

The ships are three hundred feet long, sixty feet wide… On the sides are small ports where they place brass cannons… underneath the masts they have huge twenty-foot-long iron cannons, which, when fired, can blast holes into and destroy stone walls. Some notable artists that were that came to the service of various rulers were Leonardo Di Vinci. Monarchs began to turn to Renaissance artists who were more than artists.

These men were at the cutting edge of mathematics, science, and other various disciplines. These men were viewed as having a wealth of knowledge. Regions that were war torn were among the first to incorporate new fortification designs and ideas, principally Northern Italy. Some of these new designs included the rise of reinforced walls, angled bastions, buttress, earthworks, and the use of trench works through the years.

Much of the work from engines was derived from trial and error. Additionally, there was a greater emphasis placed on mathematics. Engineers had to have an intimate understanding of the ballistic capability, fortification designs, and the robustness of the walls themselves. These advances also placed more financial demand on rulers who in turn had to find the means and resources to improve their fortifications.

By the mid-fifteenth century fortifications had a dramatically changed from the fourteenth century. The new designs called for shorter walls that were thicker, and an earth worked design. This design was supposed to make the bastion a smaller target to shoot at with cannons. By adding thinker walls it made it harder to conduct siege warfare upon the bastion. Cummins 10 Parker argues that these fortresses help European powers gain a foothold upon the Asian content.

8 emerging technologies transforming international security

In particular, the historian Jeremy Black argues that the artillery was overestimated by non-Europeans. Black points out the battle of Hormuz of He suggests that historians must take in account the global military balance of the seventeenth century. Early cannons in Europe were used for entertainment for the monarchs. Many of these men-at-arms were of freeborn aristocratic families, or mercenaries.

The deadly irony of gunpowder - Eric Rosado

These soldiers were the knights, archers, and cavalry. In order to train a soldier of this caliber, training had to start at an early age. Those trained in the art of combat were primarily of 23 Andrade and Reger, The Limits of an Empire, 1. Cummins 11 noble lineage. On the other hand, the peasantry was usually unskilled and lacked proper equipment, and was often put on the front line as infantrymen. These lowly soldiers made up the majority of the armies. Medieval reasoning devalued the peasant army to an expendable resource because of their lack of skill in combat and no linkage to nobility.

With the introduction of guns into militaries of Europe the peasants became a formidable fighting force that became the backbone of the early Modern Age. The rise of the infantryman was born out of necessity for advancement of the weaponry. No longer was their need for archers or knights due to the potential firepower of the gun. It was significantly easier to train an infantryman with a gun, polearms, or crossbow than it was to train them with bows.

An advantage of a bow to a gun is the rage it had over a gun. A bow could be deadly accurate up to two-hundred yards. The other advantage that a bow possessed was the ability to shoot a projectile in rapid succession. A disadvantage of the bow was the time it took to tediously train an archer. It was a lifelong of training, starting from adolescence.

With the bow you had to consistently master your skill of archery. Another downside to an archer was the cost of arrows.

Arrows were an expensive piece of military hardware; archers relied upon the peasantry to tediously make arrows. Cavalry was an expensive commodity in the Medieval Age. Western European armies invested heavy emphasis on cavalry as core element of strategy during warfare. The Hundred 28 Ibid. Parker argues that cavalry was not of equal importance in regards to time frame and location. In fact, cavalry of the era were the main force for militaries during the beginning of the fourteenth century.

Parker agrees that after generations of careful breeding horses were large in stature when compared to the shire horse. Parker claims that these cavalry horses were seventeen hands tall. During the Medieval Ages, heavy cavalry can be described as being fully armored knights 30 Spielvogel, Western Civilization Volume I: to , Cummins 13 possessing a multitude of weapons from lances to swords and maces.


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Heavy cavalry horses were armored and larger in stature to the common horse. Pikes were the most effective weapon against heavy cavalry during the late Medieval and early Modern eras. The age of knights on horseback that reigned supreme was coming to an abrupt end. Calvary would still have a role in the early Modern Age, but never again would they hold the strategic advantage as they did in the fourteenth century onward. Pikemen were the first line of defense used to defeat heavy cavalry in the Mideval Age.

Without a cohesive formation, the line could break when defending against a cavalry charge. The pikemen were the first valued infantryman that could turn the tide of battle with a single sharpened pole. Pikes were long and heavy, and they needed strength and training to maneuver them. A well- disciplined pikemen would hold their pikes steadily. If the pikes wavered the enemy could tell that they were exhausted or inexperienced. Martin's Press, , Cummins 14 catapult. Disputed Genoese sources recalled that the English deployed three small cannons on the battlefield after the retreat of the Genoese crossbowmen.

Firearms were used as a shock-and-awe effect against their foes. These small hand cannons were extremely inaccurate, and were seen as a novelty on the battlefield. Another example of guns being effectively used on the battlefield was in the Battle of Beverhoudsveld on May 3rd, Philip van Artevedle faced a major dilemma before the battle, he lacked heavy cavalry. When they met on the battlefield van Artevedle was outnumbered by his opponent five to one roughly forty thousand to six thousand. The ribalds were known to be a lowly expendable class of servants in the Medieval Age. Cummins 15 thought of the gun as a meager weapon.

The Ghent militia was able to fit three to four ribaudequins to a cart allowing the militia to fire in rapid succession. The Gentenars lured the Flemish men-at-arms who possessed some guns of their own. When the Gentenars retreated back to safe distance, the ribaudequins roared over the battlefield. This spectacle of early guns left the men-at-arms panicked and frightened, the Gentenars routed the rest of the forces with a flaking maneuver.

Kelly DeVries agrees that in that Philip van Artevelde and his militia was able to effectively use the bombards as a shock-and-awe method of warfare. DeVries argues that firearms had drawbacks within their own ability to be an effective weapon on the battlefield. They were costly to make and costly to supply chemical fuel.

Corfis and Michael Wolfe. Supporting DeVries argument, Geoffrey Parker illustrates in his book that the military revolution of Europe was facilitated by the advancement in weaponry during the early Modern Age. History is replete with technologies which are initially developed with the aim of winning a conflict and later bring a peace dividend, such as improvements in aviation spurred by the First World War. History also shows it can be difficult to foretell what technologies may become most militarily impactful: just as those innovated in a military context can turn out to have life-enhancing civilian applications, so ostensibly benign technologies can be unexpectedly tweaked into killing machines.

Leaving aside the desirability of bans on the development of technologies, there is the question of feasibility. In a growing number of fields, the capacity to innovate potentially weaponizable technologies is no longer the preserve of militaries with large budgets, and can increasingly be done by small groups or individuals with off-the-shelf equipment. While technology is also improving our capacity for surveillance, it will be difficult to be confident that no group is working undetected. Instead, the way forward lies in finding ways to incentivize technological innovation that avoid the rush into a technological arms race.

John Landers

This will require collaboration to understand how technologies are evolving and likely to evolve, to enable the discussion of new ethical guidelines before such technologies are widely weaponized, fall in the wrong hands or are utilized for malign purposes. Everyone stands to benefit from greater insight, more qualified oversight, better preparedness and collaborative thought leadership.

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