Do you agree with the theory that Chinese guns didn't develop to the size and complexity of European ones due to their massive earthen walls?

Despite being the birthplace of gunpowder Chinese guns i.e cannons were never able to surpass what Europeans (and Turks) were developing by the end of the middle ages. The theory is China had to deal with much thicker and stronger earthen filled walls that made breaching by even very large guns impossible. As opposed to the much thinner mortar based castle walls that were common place in Europe.

Is the this the real reason despite having a few centuries head start in the gun powder race over Europe, China eventually fell behind in that front?
 
I've always gone with China's long term unity was their problem. India, the ME, and Europe's perpetual arms races led to more advanced guns. If china had their walls but was disunited, we would probably see massive canons.
 
I've always gone with China's long term unity was their problem. India, the ME, and Europe's perpetual arms races led to more advanced guns. If china had their walls but was disunited, we would probably see massive canons.
Problem with the theory: China developed gunpowder while it was divided, and had it for 400 years by the time it was finally reunified under Han leadership, while it took less than a century for Europeans to turn gunpowder into a wall-smashing weapon.
 
the europeans also had walls heck 17th century fortresses and cities took siege warfare to a whole new level that guns , mines cannons and more became vital to crack open the fortresses these 17th century fortresses really outshined castles (except the ones who kept up in the arms race ) and the chinise defenses so i dont think it was that.
 
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Total bunk best I can tell. Based on this Wikipedia article it seems the Ming had artillery just as good as the Europeans, but they only fell behind when the Qing took over and turned inward.
 

RousseauX

Donor
Problem with the theory: China developed gunpowder while it was divided, and had it for 400 years by the time it was finally reunified under Han leadership, while it took less than a century for Europeans to turn gunpowder into a wall-smashing weapon.
that's because European fought wars for the whole time and their warfare was fortification centric: developing effective siege artillery was the obvious next step.

Chinese gunpowder weapons actually advanced pretty fast during the Yuan-Ming civil war transition: the problem is that unity meant there is no pressure or incentive to develop fortification busting weapons most of the time. You advance faster in 100 years of war than 400 years of peace.
 
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RousseauX

Donor
Total bunk best I can tell. Based on this Wikipedia article it seems the Ming had artillery just as good as the Europeans, but they only fell behind when the Qing took over and turned inward.
The Qing had better cannon:men ratio than European armies in the 1700s, the problem only occurred in the 100 years of peace or so between the Dzingar wars and the Opium wars.
 
Total bunk best I can tell. Based on this Wikipedia article it seems the Ming had artillery just as good as the Europeans, but they only fell behind when the Qing took over and turned inward.
Those artillery pieces you linked are literally called "European-style cannons". Of course, the Chinese had their own natively-developed artillery as well.

OP's theory is a common one, and I think I tend to agree with it. Chinese walls were often built first by making a big pile of tamped earth and then facing it, rather than building from solid stone. This also meant that the Chinese walls had a slope (sometimes a very significant one), which would aid against cannons.

China also lacked a culture of castles, with most walls enclosing actual cities. This may have meant fewer sieges.

While I'm sure that later artillery could have done okay against Chinese walls, I suspect that early cannon couldn't dent them, and this may have discouraged their further use.

A very related question which people also don't have a good answer to is why the Chinese just sort of used handguns alongside everything else while they very quickly became widely adopted and rapidly improved in Europe.

I've always gone with China's long term unity was their problem. India, the ME, and Europe's perpetual arms races led to more advanced guns. If china had their walls but was disunited, we would probably see massive canons.
China's long-term stability is a myth. As dandan_noodles points out, China saw a lot of conflict and "civil war" over the centuries, but it's always suited their governments (especially the CCP) to act like China has always been united.
 

Ulyanovsk

Donor
As dandan_noodles points out, China saw a lot of conflict and "civil war" over the centuries, but it's always suited their governments (especially the CCP) to act like China has always been united.
Considering the CCP explicitly came to power off of a civil war borne from an era of complete Chinese disunity and foreign invasion, humiliation at the hands of the Western Powers, etc. I wouldn't say it's really correct that China emphasizes perpetual unity in discussions on Chinese history. It's more that they emphasize that a united China is one that can withstand foreign invasion and attack, while the China wrought with conflict and "civil war" was weak and open to exploitation and punitive treaties from all sides.
 
A very related question which people also don't have a good answer to is why the Chinese just sort of used handguns alongside everything else while they very quickly became widely adopted and rapidly improved in Europe.
Are you referring to Chinese armies continuing to use small arms alongside their traditional weapons (swords, bows etc.) as opposed to Europeans who seemed quicker to replace them with muskets?
 
The real question is why Europe was able to utilize gunpowder at least as effectively as China by the Ming period despite being well behind them in adopting/discovering it.
 
Considering the CCP explicitly came to power off of a civil war borne from an era of complete Chinese disunity and foreign invasion, humiliation at the hands of the Western Powers, etc. I wouldn't say it's really correct that China emphasizes perpetual unity in discussions on Chinese history. It's more that they emphasize that a united China is one that can withstand foreign invasion and attack, while the China wrought with conflict and "civil war" was weak and open to exploitation and punitive treaties from all sides.
Or that the CCP is happy to rewrite history.

Until very recently (the past decade or so), the CCP banned any historical media, including of WWII, portraying China as being disunited. The CCP didn't take over in a civil war, they were the spearhead of a glorious revolution that spread all across of united China. There were no warlords, no Japanese puppet governments, just a united China under an unfortunately decadent and corrupt KMT.

Are you referring to Chinese armies continuing to use small arms alongside their traditional weapons (swords, bows etc.) as opposed to Europeans who seemed quicker to replace them with muskets?
Yes. China had handguns/arquebuses/whatever, but they were one weapon among many, whereas in Europe firearms replaced bows and crossbows fairly quickly before the bayonet allowed them to replace pikes as well. The best theory I've heard for this one is that armor was less common in China, so the armor-piercing quality of firearms was less important than the faster loading and reliability of bows.

The Chinese also continued to have swordsmen in their "line companies" long after Europe had switched to pikes and polearms almost exclusively.
 
Considering the CCP explicitly came to power off of a civil war borne from an era of complete Chinese disunity and foreign invasion, humiliation at the hands of the Western Powers, etc. I wouldn't say it's really correct that China emphasizes perpetual unity in discussions on Chinese history. It's more that they emphasize that a united China is one that can withstand foreign invasion and attack, while the China wrought with conflict and "civil war" was weak and open to exploitation and punitive treaties from all sides.
The punitive treaties happened under the Qing, not during the Chinese Civil War. Also unity is relative. China was absolutely more united than Europe.
 
Yes. China had handguns/arquebuses/whatever, but they were one weapon among many, whereas in Europe firearms replaced bows and crossbows fairly quickly before the bayonet allowed them to replace pikes as well. The best theory I've heard for this one is that armor was less common in China, so the armor-piercing quality of firearms was less important than the faster loading and reliability of bows.

The Chinese also continued to have swordsmen in their "line companies" long after Europe had switched to pikes and polearms almost exclusively.
That is a good question I believe they still had sword divisions during the Boxer rebellion of the turn of the 20th century.

One of the reasons European armies were so quick to switch muskets and the like was it was easier to arm and train a mass of peasants with them than the years it took to develop real skills with a longbow and sword perhaps as well.

Perhaps the greater emphasis of martial arts in Chinese military training meant the average solider was better versed to use a bow and sword than found among the farmers and peasants in Europe?

The Japanese of the 16th and 17th century mentioned how someone well trained with the Yumi bow could unleash 15 arrows in the time it took someone armed with an arquebus to fire 2 or 3 shots.
 
That is a good question I believe they still had sword divisions during the Boxer rebellion of the turn of the 20th century.

One of the reasons European armies were so quick to switch muskets and the like was it was easier to arm and train a mass of peasants with them than the years it took to develop real skills with a longbow and sword perhaps as well.

Perhaps the greater emphasis of martial arts in Chinese military training meant the average solider was better versed to use a bow and sword than found among the farmers and peasants in Europe?

The Japanese of the 16th and 17th century mentioned how someone well trained with the Yumi bow could unleash 15 arrows in the time it took someone armed with an arquebus to fire 2 or 3 shots.
This is mostly baloney.

Europeans used guns because they were better missile weapons than bows; their superior range, accuracy, armor penetration, and killing power more than made of for their slower rate of fire. Even soldiers who had trained to use bows shot better when they switched to guns. Moreover, firearms were considered weapons for highly trained troops, not masses of peasants. On the other hand, the bow was considered a 'natural weapon' that didn't need much teaching to use to some level of effectiveness. Supposedly, the French effort to train a corps of native longbowmen was scotched because they became too good too fast, and it was feared they would undermine the manorial order.

The Qing had better cannon:men ratio than European armies in the 1700s, the problem only occurred in the 100 years of peace or so between the Dzingar wars and the Opium wars.
Not really. When you break down the lists, a lot of the 'cannon' are just oversized muskets; looking at the weight of shot their armies were capable of throwing, European armies were well ahead of the Chinese by 1700. Moreover, their guns were generally better designed, having a better ratio of shot : barrel weight.


the europeans also had walls heck 17th century fortresses and cities took siege warfare to a whole new level that guns , mines cannons and more became vital to crack open the fortresses these 17th century fortresses really outshined castles (except the ones who kept up in the arms race ) and the chinise defenses so i dont think it was that.
This is beside the point; star fortresses only developed because gunpowder had already turned into a wall-smashing weapon in Europe in the late 14th century. The theory is that this happened because the walls of the 14th century Europe were small enough to be feasibly smashed by contemporary cannon, thus facilitating this development. By contrast, Chinese walls were ridiculously huge, so the potential of gunpowder to breach them may not have been apparent.
 
This is mostly baloney.

Europeans used guns because they were better missile weapons than bows; their superior range, accuracy, armor penetration, and killing power more than made of for their slower rate of fire. Even soldiers who had trained to use bows shot better when they switched to guns. Moreover, firearms were considered weapons for highly trained troops, not masses of peasants. On the other hand, the bow was considered a 'natural weapon' that didn't need much teaching to use to some level of effectiveness. Supposedly, the French effort to train a corps of native longbowmen was scotched because they became too good too fast, and it was feared they would undermine the manorial order.


Not really. When you break down the lists, a lot of the 'cannon' are just oversized muskets; looking at the weight of shot their armies were capable of throwing, European armies were well ahead of the Chinese by 1700. Moreover, their guns were generally better designed, having a better ratio of shot : barrel weight.



This is beside the point; star fortresses only developed because gunpowder had already turned into a wall-smashing weapon in Europe in the late 14th century. The theory is that this happened because the walls of the 14th century Europe were small enough to be feasibly smashed by contemporary cannon, thus facilitating this development. By contrast, Chinese walls were ridiculously huge, so the potential of gunpowder to breach them may not have been apparent.
Yeah ir makes sense canons made walls kinda of weak to fix this fortresses where improved and had their own canons and men with guns and mines to deal with the enemies Canon guns and mines
And so it continued
Even if china did have better walls I think we'll place dynamite below the wall could weakned the foundation (not destroy it ) but there are options .
I don't know why the Chinese did no keep up with the things seen by the Turks and Europeans but I don't think thick walls was the reason as counters to them existed .
 
Yeah ir makes sense canons made walls kinda of weak to fix this fortresses where improved and had their own canons and men with guns and mines to deal with the enemies Canon guns and mines
And so it continued
Even if china did have better walls I think we'll place dynamite below the wall could weakned the foundation (not destroy it ) but there are options .
I don't know why the Chinese did no keep up with the things seen by the Turks and Europeans but I don't think thick walls was the reason as counters to them existed .
I mean you're literally proving my point here. If Chinese walls were too big to destroy with early cannons, it only makes sense that you'd use other ways to counter them rather than develop a large siege artillery train.
 
I mean you're literally proving my point here. If Chinese walls were too big to destroy with early cannons, it only makes sense that you'd use other ways to counter them rather than develop a large siege artillery train.
If early canons do not work then yes
But the most logical would be make better canons where the Chinese did not believe it would work I don't know but I do know the ming had mostly bronze canons and had a interest in European canons and tried to incorporate their densing so maybe I the Chinese at first did not think it the canons where worth it but that does not explain why later they didn't incorporate more European canons
 
This is mostly baloney.

Europeans used guns because they were better missile weapons than bows; their superior range, accuracy, armor penetration, and killing power more than made of for their slower rate of fire. Even soldiers who had trained to use bows shot better when they switched to guns. Moreover, firearms were considered weapons for highly trained troops, not masses of peasants. On the other hand, the bow was considered a 'natural weapon' that didn't need much teaching to use to some level of effectiveness. Supposedly, the French effort to train a corps of native longbowmen was scotched because they became too good too fast, and it was feared they would undermine the manorial order.
So that goes back to the question, what do you think is the answer to why many Chinese armies held onto medieval era arms well into the 19th century, despite the headstart they had over Europeans in developing gunpowder small arms?
 
This is mostly baloney.
Europeans used guns because they were better missile weapons than bows; their superior range, accuracy, armor penetration, and killing power more than made of for their slower rate of fire. Even soldiers who had trained to use bows shot better when they switched to guns. Moreover, firearms were considered weapons for highly trained troops, not masses of peasants. On the other hand, the bow was considered a 'natural weapon' that didn't need much teaching to use to some level of effectiveness. Supposedly, the French effort to train a corps of native longbowmen was scotched because they became too good too fast, and it was feared they would undermine the manorial order.
I would not call any 15th century guns acurrate even the arquebus was not that acurrate and yes guns where could be used by peasant most of Pizarro force in the conquest of Peru where that with some having experience in other parts but by no means they where professionals
The training of guns was mostly the drills as they need it to shoot while moving and retreat while the pike wall advance with them which requiered a high level of training to do that consistently
 
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