Firearms: A Global History to 1700
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Kenneth Chase traces the history of firearms from their invention in China in the 1100s to the 1700s, when European firearms had become clearly superior. In Firearms, Chase asks why it was the Europeans who perfected firearms, not the Chinese, and answers this question by looking at how firearms were used throughout the world. Early firearms were restricted to infantry and siege warfare, limiting their use outside of Europe and Japan. Steppe and desert nomads imposed a different style of warfare on the Middle East, India, and China--a style incompatible with firearms. By the time that better firearms allowed these regions to turn the tables on the nomads, Japan's self-imposed isolation left Europe with no rival in firearms design, production, or use, with lasting consequences. After earning his doctorate from Harvard in the area of East Asian Languages and Civilizations and traveling extensively in Asia, Kenneth Chase pursued a career in the law. His interest in history endures unabated, however, and after nine years of research on firearms, he is now working on a history of international trade in the Indian Ocean region in the 1300s and 1400s.
illness. Third, Barwick denied that arrows were anywhere near as deadly as bullets, and he dismissed the claims that arrows could wound and harass the enemy as being of little consequence. In the hands of an experienced archer, rate of fire and accuracy clearly favored the bow. The Turkish mamluks of Egypt could get off a second and third arrow before their first arrow hit a target 75 yards away, and experienced archers can generally keep up a pace of six to eight well-aimed shots per minute
the gunner appears, from his clothes, to be European. Siileyman led another campaign north from Istanbul in 1 5 2 9 . Buda was occupied again, and the army pushed on to Vienna early in the autumn. The city walls were not of the newest design, and the Ottomans set to work with 300 cannon and a series of mines. The garrison fought back with aggressive sorties and beat back several assaults. After less than three weeks in front of the walls, the Ottoman army had to retire due to the lateness of the
firearms, and gunpowder are mentioned repeatedly in the preparations for the expedition; the Mamluks seem to have devoted all their available firearms to it. However, by the time the combined Ottoman-Mamluk fleet was defending Jidda against the Portuguese in the Red Sea in 1 5 1 7 , war had already broken out again between the Ottomans and the Mamluks for control of the eastern Mediterranean. Marj Dabiq The Ottoman expansion into eastern Anatolia brought them into conflict with the Safavid
Tunisia, and perhaps refugees from Granada in Spain as well - may have been chosen for this kind of duty because of their low status as foreigners in the Mamluk realm.75 On the other hand, they may have been recruited because they knew how to handle firearms from their experience fighting the Spanish. As rnentioned earlier, Tiirkmens and Maghribis had been included in the "fifth cftass" musketeer regiment organized in 1 5 1 0 . The Mamluk army took up positions outside of Cairo. According to a
of the inhabitants [of Iran], when their land is invaded, to lay waste and burn everything, and so force the enemy to retire through lack of food."^^ Hampered by difficult terrain, severe winters, and long supply lines, the Ottomans could not keep their army in the field more than two years at a stretch before it had to withdraw. In 1 5 34, the Ottomans seized Tabriz and Baghdad, but the Safavids retook Tabriz after the Ottoman army returned to Istanbul the following year. In 1 5 4 8 , the