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The Field and the ForgePopulation, Production, and Power in the Pre-industrial West$
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John Landers

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199279579

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199279579.001.0001

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The Gunpowder Revolution

The Gunpowder Revolution

Chapter:
(p.153) Chapter Seven The Gunpowder Revolution
Source:
The Field and the Forge
Author(s):

John Landers (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199279579.003.0007

The introduction of gunpowder to warfare represented the beginning of the large-scale exploitation of chemical energy by human societies. The introduction of firearms to land warfare affected all three mobile arms but the infantry most of all, because it radically shifted the relative power of distance and shock weapons in a historically unprecedented manner. In two centuries, gunpowder altered the battlefield beyond recognition as new troop types, tactics, and organisation hierarchies were introduced. The introduction of firearms was the most profound and far-reaching discontinuity in technological development because military hardware and organisation on land and sea were transformed, and the consequences stretched beyond the narrowly military sphere to the economic and financial foundations of the state.

Keywords:   gunpowder, warfare, chemical energy, human society, firearms, infantry, battlefield, technological development, military hardware

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