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?

Wasn't your initial argument that guns only supplanted bows because they made it practical to press large numbers of less-trained soldiers into the field, bows being superior in every other respect? If that were true, then logically the profusion of guns in warfare would have to coincide with an expansion in army sizes, that being the only rationale we accept for their adoption. But that didn't actually happen, and if anything, armies in the age of gunpowder became more professional and dominated by mercenaries, which throws your premise into question, to say the least.
It is easier to take a raw recruit train him in the manual of arms, and to march in formation, then to train a bow, or swordsmen. A good bow, or swordsman can take years to reach proficiency, a musketeer takes months. The necessary level of fitness, and strength to be a bow, or swordsmen is higher then it take to be a musketeer. It's handier to use a musket with a ringed bayonet then a 14' pike. It's easier to maneuver a formation of musketeers on a battlefield, then a pike formation. A pike formation is more vulnerable to musket or cannon fire then a musket formation. Imagine a battle between the Round Head Army vs. Marlboro's Army, who would win?
 
No they didn't




It remained in use by some government officials and forces: guns, along with armies in general, disappeared because there were no wars to fight.

This is wrong, a myth perpetuated by the movie Last Samurai. Samurai as a warrior class wielding swords and wearing armor had already became obselete during the Tokugawa shogunate. The Tokugawa worked very hard in converting the Samurai from a warrior class into a bureaucratic class and they had already lost their traditional role by the 1800s. The Meiji era Samurai revolts were revolts by Samurai outside the government against the ones who had jobs inside the government over issues such as the size of subsidies to samurais who didn't manage to get jobs in the government.
Please I didn't learn about this period of history from the movies. Samurai as a class became unemployable a such in the late 19th Century. Your basically saying the same thing I did, their weapons, and skill sets no longer had military value, so they lost their place in society. Samurai continued as body guards, and hired thugs, but with new weapons, and skills. In short some got better jobs then others.
 
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?
“surpass” in which sense?

If you are talking about the caliber, if anything, caliber of the European siege guns had been steadily decreasing all the way to WWI. Look at https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_siege_artillery. The siege guns of the XV century could have caliber of 69-90 cm with a ball weight of 300-400kg but by XVI a siege gun firing 52 pound balls was “heavy” and in mid-XVIII the siege guns of Gribeauval system were 8 and 12 pounders.
So, if Chinese did not use something similar to the early European monsters, they were not behind at that time. European answer to the artillery was introduction of bastion system in which the main stone walls had been protected from the direct fire by the outworks. Ability to move even the heaviest guns with a relative ease became more important than their caliber and, anyway, the initial monstrosities were rather unique items and too hard to transport
1596254408182.jpeg

At Castillon (1453) the French had numerous relatively small cannons and achieved ratio of the losses 100:4,000 in their favor.
1596255988781.jpeg


With Chinese fortification being rather simple in profile but enormously thick (rammed earth faced with the bricks) artillery was, indeed, not very effective so the need from excessively big calibers was not there from the very beginning and it looks like they were concentrating on the field artillery https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_cannon

So the initial European “surpassing” hardly was a true one: it was just different needs requiring different answers.

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But in other aspects they were seemingly behind Europe by XVI century when they started incorporation of the European models.
 
Europe developed superior cannons because Europe had a highly advanced metal casting industry compared to the rest of the world. European cannons don't come from a particular element of European cannons but from their knowledge about casting metal letting them build a better cannon. Some historians put the credit for this solely on Europe's bellfounding industry, but I'm in the camp that it also had to do with the particular institution of European guilds causing people to look for alternate ways to use their knowledge.
For whatever it worth:
“Of special note are the iron bands acting as reinforcements around the cannon—they indicated that the "Crouching Tiger Cannon" was a built-up cast-iron gun, preceding the Armstrong Gun by five centuries.” https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hu_dun_pao
 
It is easier to take a raw recruit train him in the manual of arms, and to march in formation, then to train a bow, or swordsmen. A good bow, or swordsman can take years to reach proficiency, a musketeer takes months. The necessary level of fitness, and strength to be a bow, or swordsmen is higher then it take to be a musketeer. It's handier to use a musket with a ringed bayonet then a 14' pike. It's easier to maneuver a formation of musketeers on a battlefield, then a pike formation. A pike formation is more vulnerable to musket or cannon fire then a musket formation. Imagine a battle between the Round Head Army vs. Marlboro's Army, who would win?
Not really. The Romans were a militia army for much of their history with minimal weapons training, and still cleaned the clocks of everyone they fought with their swords in the Mid Republic. Xenophon considered the sword a weapon that rewards courage more than skill. Similarly, the pike was considered a 'natural weapon' (like the bow) that any man could handle; contemporaries believed it took only about 1/10th the time to train as a musket. By contrast, the musket was the weapon for the best trained men; in the age of the flintlock, Frederick the Great remarked it took two years for a musketeer to become proficient. People used guns because they were the hands down best missile weapon available, full stop.
 
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?
Yes, Chinese cities had thick and strong earthen filled walls. And the reverse was especially true at the end of the Hundred Years War, when the English held half the country with relatively small castles, with relatively thin, weak, stone walls scattered across a relatively hostile land. So the French king paid the Bourgeois brothers to build an artillery park that could take any given castle, and took back most of France. Source- Froissart, and I think Marx, a Froisssart fan, was thinking of this when he talked about the Bourgeois destroying feudalism.

Other kings noticed that subjects in stone castles could be disciplined if you had an artillery park, and Europe got field artillery.
 
Not really. The Romans were a militia army for much of their history with minimal weapons training, and still cleaned the clocks of everyone they fought with their swords in the Mid Republic. Xenophon considered the sword a weapon that rewards courage more than skill. Similarly, the pike was considered a 'natural weapon' (like the bow) that any man could handle; contemporaries believed it took only about 1/10th the time to train as a musket. By contrast, the musket was the weapon for the best trained men; in the age of the flintlock, Frederick the Great remarked it took two years for a musketeer to become proficient. People used guns because they were the hands down best missile weapon available, full stop.
The Romans of the early Republic Period spent a life time training. They were a nation in arms, until the Marian Reforms, when they became a long term service professional army. Greeks favored spear, and shield tactics. Spanish Swordsmen were some of the most prized units of the early modern period. The empires of the Americas fell more to Spanish Swords then to gunpowder. Pike units, and tactics involved very complicated evolutions, with multiple polearms, and bowmen in support. Only the best trained men could use these combined arms tactics effectively.

If you could just put a bow in a mans hands the Scots could've matched the English, they tried, and couldn't. Longbowmen spent their lives training. Archery was the only sport they could engage in by English Law. That's why they were called the Yeomen Class. Napoleon made the same observation, but that was in an age of professional armies, of a high standard when infantry tactics were far more refined. Soldiers needed to learn line 2 deep, 3 deep, 5 deep, open order skirmish line, column, form square, and do all these things quickly form line of march.
 

RousseauX

Donor
Please I didn't learn about this period of history from the movies. Samurai as a class became unemployable a such in the late 19th Century. Your basically saying the same thing I did, their weapons, and skill sets no longer had military value, so they lost their place in society. Samurai continued as body guards, and hired thugs, but with new weapons, and skills. In short some got better jobs then others.
yeah the point is that they didn't lose their military value in the Meiji era, it occured well before the Meiji restoration
 
The Romans of the early Republic Period spent a life time training. They were a nation in arms, until the Marian Reforms, when they became a long term service professional army. Greeks favored spear, and shield tactics. Spanish Swordsmen were some of the most prized units of the early modern period. The empires of the Americas fell more to Spanish Swords then to gunpowder. Pike units, and tactics involved very complicated evolutions, with multiple polearms, and bowmen in support. Only the best trained men could use these combined arms tactics effectively.

If you could just put a bow in a mans hands the Scots could've matched the English, they tried, and couldn't. Longbowmen spent their lives training. Archery was the only sport they could engage in by English Law. That's why they were called the Yeomen Class. Napoleon made the same observation, but that was in an age of professional armies, of a high standard when infantry tactics were far more refined. Soldiers needed to learn line 2 deep, 3 deep, 5 deep, open order skirmish line, column, form square, and do all these things quickly form line of march.
Indeed.

And in the army of Old Fritz “proficiency” implied not as much individual skill with a musket (the unique and much quoted examples of some sergeants being able to reload with an amazing speed do not matter) but rather doing the marching, loading and firing in synch with the rest of formation. Prussian marching drill was extremely complicated and took a lot of time because doing complicated maneuvers within framework of a linear tactics was not easy. Real effectiveness of their fire (in the terms of hitting something) remained as low as in the rest of the contemporary armies where training took a much lesser time. Not to mention that Fritz’ army was considered unique in the terms of a drill and hardly can be taken as a meaningful example of a musketry training. In a majority of the continental armies training of a musketeer was not taking two years and, judging by the GNW, the needed basic training could be accomplished in few months judging by the speed with which Peter was raising the new troops. It seems that von Steuben managed to train adequately shooting troops (making stress on the Prussian loading drill, not the marching one) while they were staying in Valley Forge (he arrived at the late February and staying in VF ended in mid-June). Even then, practically everything that Fritz did say has to be taken with a grain of salt because his tongue tended to be wagging quite freely. . Even making soldier into a perfect automaton was not taking that long. We do know that Alexander I managed to achieve “a perfect drill” of his troops while they were staying in France. Old Prussian drill was family inspiration.

Anyway, switching to the firearms happened well before Fritz had been born and the reasons were simple: (a) it was reasonably easy to train the big numbers of soldiers (and city militias) to use them and deploy them tactically and (b) they were effective against the armor (when the knights started using the heavier armor, arquebuses were replaced with the heavier muskets and Pavia was a result). Of course, eventually tactics evolved and became more complicated but the “tool” was already there and increasingly effective but it seems that initial deployments were mostly of a skirmishing type (quite a few French gendarmes, including Bayard, had been killed on that stage) eventually evolving into being a part of a column (as at Ceresole where on both sides soldiers with the firearms had been placed behind the first row of the pikemen), then into tercio, etc.
 
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) it was reasonably easy to train the big numbers of soldiers (and city militias) to use them and deploy them tactically and
Except the historical evidence overwhelmingly says that harquebuses and muskets were rare on the battlefield for a long time. They were marksmen's weapons. Expensive, finnicky, and powerful.

By the beginning of the thirty year's war, well into the period of widespread gun usage, firearms made up less than 40% of the infantry. I can't find any figures on exact proportions for 15th and 16th century warfare, but it is certainly lower.
 
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Except the historical evidence overwhelmingly says that harquebuses and muskets were rare on the battlefield for a long time. They were marksmen's weapons. Expensive, finnicky, and powerful.

By the beginning of the thirty year's war, well into the period of widespread gun usage, firearms made up less than 40% of the infantry. I can't find any figures on exact proportions for 15th and 16th century warfare, but it is certainly lower.
Everything is relative but the term “marksmen” is rather hard to apply to those with the weapons lacking any serious precision. An argument that there were relatively few of them comparing to a total mass is neither here nor there as long as they were numerous enough to become a serious factor in a battle (as 3,000 arquebusires at Pavia in an army of 20,000).
At Ceresole (1544) army of d’Avalos included between 12,500 and 18,000 infantry out of which 4,000 were arquebusires and musketeers.

During the French WoR one of the factors of Henry of Navarre’s victories was increased number of the soldiers with the firearms in his army and percentage kept growing. Nobody insisted that the firearms became the main infantry weapon immediately after their introduction.

The pistols allowed creation of the whole new brand of a cavalry, the reitars, who gradually squeezed the gendarmes out of the battlefield. And cavalry of that period often amounted to half of an army.

Even before the 30YW the Ottoman Janissary had been almost completely armed with the firearms starting from 1440s and the same goes for the Russian streltsy (formed in the early 1550s) and the Polish infantry of the early XVII (not that it was numerous). William of Orange in 1578 had 70% of his infantry with the firearms and in 1580 the Dutch infantry company included 77 men with the firearms, 45 pikemen, 6 with the halberds and 6 sword-and-buckler men. https://books.google.com/books?id=w93oDAAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false


As for the 30YW, your percentage belongs to the old-style tercios. By that time in the Swedish army the provincial regiments were divided into field regiments of 1,176 men in eight companies of 147 men each – these including 21 officers, 54 pikemen and 72 musketeers.
 
@alexmilman
You haven't really addressed the point though; the argument is that firearms drove or at least allowed the growth of armies seen in the Early Modern period. It's true that the proportion of firearms increased over time. However, you haven't demonstrated that this increased proportion matches the growth, which would be necessary to prove that firearms were driving the increase.

If, for example, the army increases from 100,000 to 150,000, if more usable firearms were driving the growth, we'd expect those 50,000 new men to be all armed with guns, the sources of pikemen and cavalry being already tapped out. However, the examples you list don't really conform to this pattern. Instead, it's more the army originally had a 3:1 pike:shot ratio, and new forces augmenting it were say 1:1. Not only did growing armies have more musketeers, they also had more pikemen and more cavalry. The proportions changed, but that's because guns got more effective, not because the armies were necessarily recruiting from a wider base thanks to firearms. As pointed out, if the objective was simply to field the largest force possible based on ease of training, the pike would have remained the dominant weapon, being the easiest of all to use. The transition to more firearms and the expansion of armies were largely independent phenomena.

Also, I think you'll find the term marksmen entirely appropriate to the early users of firearms, given how they were commonly used to dispatch point targets on the battlefield, such as particularly troublesome English knights during the Hundred Years War and Aztec captains during the conquest of Mexico. Indeed, their greater precision than previous missile weapons is borne out by the fact that 15th century German cities held their shooting competitions for firearms at twice the distance of crossbows, the previous most precise weapon on the battlefield.

The common ideas that firearms were only useful en masse, or that users were hastily levied peasants unable to fight with any more effective weapon, are basically indefensible under scrutiny.
 

RousseauX

Donor
If, for example, the army increases from 100,000 to 150,000, if more usable firearms were driving the growth, we'd expect those 50,000 new men to be all armed with guns, the sources of pikemen and cavalry being already tapped out. However, the examples you list don't really conform to this pattern. Instead, it's more the army originally had a 3:1 pike:shot ratio, and new forces augmenting it were say 1:1. Not only did growing armies have more musketeers, they also had more pikemen and more cavalry. The proportions changed, but that's because guns got more effective, not because the armies were necessarily recruiting from a wider base thanks to firearms. As pointed out, if the objective was simply to field the largest force possible based on ease of training, the pike would have remained the dominant weapon, being the easiest of all to use. The transition to more firearms and the expansion of armies were largely independent phenomena.
Armies no doubt became bigger because of firearms. The reason is because European warfare revolved around fortifications for centuries and the introduction of gunpowder siege artillery in the 16h century rendered a whole bunch of them obselete or at least much much less useful.

So warfare started to revolve around field armies instead: which required many more men than to garrison fortifications.

Fortifications were effectively a "manpower saving" innovation which became much weaker starting in the 16th century. Hence armies got bigger because the manpower-saving technology wasn't as useful anymore.
 
Armies no doubt became bigger because of firearms. The reason is because European warfare revolved around fortifications for centuries and the introduction of gunpowder siege artillery in the 16h century rendered a whole bunch of them obselete or at least much much less useful.

So warfare started to revolve around field armies instead: which required many more men than to garrison fortifications.

Fortifications were effectively a "manpower saving" innovation which became much weaker starting in the 16th century. Hence armies got bigger because the manpower-saving technology wasn't as useful anymore.
A. That's great, but we're talking about handguns here, not siege artillery.

B. Historically, the only way you can think siege warfare was less important in the 16th-18th centuries is if you've read nothing about Early Modern warfare.

C. This doesn't even work logically, since if in the 15th century warfare was all about sieges, there would still be just as much incentive to outdo your enemy in army size, since that would mean you were both better able to man your own fortifications (either with stronger garrisons or more places) or reduce those of the enemy.
 
May I throw in an alternative idea, which was that Europeanen Cannon technology only really evolved With shipbuilding. On the water, you can't really lead a cavalry charge to stop a fleeing ship and so you needed ship cannons as the primary long-range weapon and coastal fortress cannons as the primary line of defense. Europe practically evolved around the Mediterranean Sea and later had to fight for the routes to the Caribbean and the Tea Lands..... China evolved around.... China

Or is this just complete hogwash?
 

RousseauX

Donor
B. Historically, the only way you can think siege warfare was less important in the 16th-18th centuries is if you've read nothing about Early Modern warfare.
I don't know by what metric "importance" you are using. But anyways, there is no doubt fortifications -decreased- in effectiveness. So you had to rely on field armies more.

C. This doesn't even work logically, since if in the 15th century warfare was all about sieges, there would still be just as much incentive to outdo your enemy in army size, since that would mean you were both better able to man your own fortifications (either with stronger garrisons or more places) or reduce those of the enemy.
Fortifications functioned as a force multiplier for the defending side: there usually isn't much of a point in raising huge field armies if they are just going to sit around draing money whiel sieging a fraction of their number in a castle for what could be months or years. At the same time, you don't need to raise huge defensive forces when the entire point of fortifications of the miedeival era is to allow relatively small garrisons to hold them. There are records of miedieval castles holding out for literally a couple of years in the midieval era: this served as a deterence to try to siege them with field armies in the first place: it usually isn't worth paying the upkeep for an army for that long. All of that goes out the window once siege artillery allowed fortifications to be reduced in a reasonable amount of time.
 
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I don't know by what metric "importance" you are using. But anyways, there is no doubt fortifications -decreased- in effectiveness. So you had to rely on field armies more.
Not really. The thing is, it doesn't matter how good your siege artillery is, it's even better if it's sited in a fortification. Similarly, the zeroeth law of premodern warfare -the only thing harder than moving an army is staying in place- still applies, so once fortresses adapted with their own defensive artillery and sophisticated geometric layouts, they once again held the cards. Warfare in the 16th and 17th centuries revolved around sieges about as much as the 14th and 15th centuries. This only makes sense, because wars were still fought primarily over territory, which fortresses are critical for controlling. There was a brief disruption in the mid-late 15th century, which produced the fall of Constantinople and Grenada, but the equilibrium was pretty quickly restored, and the wars of the Mediterranean, the Ottoman-Habsburg Wars, the Dutch War of Independence, the Thirty Years War, and the Wars of Louis XIV were all fundamentally about sieges more than battles.

Fortifications functioned as a force multiplier for the defending side: there isn't much of a point in raising huge field armies if the are just going to sit around draing money whiel sieging a fraction of their number in a castle for what could be months or years. At the same time, you don't need to raise huge defensive forces when the entire point of fortifications of the miedeival era is to allow relatively small garrisons to hold them. There are records of miedieval castles holding out for literally a couple of years in the midieval era: this served as a deterence to try to siege them with field armies in the first place: it usually isn't worth paying the upkeep for an army for that long. All of that goes out the window once siege artillery allowed fortifications to be reduced in a reasonable amount of time.
Yes, there is a point to raising a huge offensive field army, because if you don't, you won't be able to overcome the defenders in their force-multiplying castle. Similarly, by raising more men on the defense, you can insure yourself against one of your forts falling to a superior enemy by having more forts, allowing you to better dispute more territory. Moreover, insofar as this was ever true of the medieval era, it's just as true for the early modern period. Lots of early modern sieges failed or dragged on forever or took grievous losses. Metz defied Charles V even after the walls were breached. Ostend held out three years, Candia for twenty one, and Ceuta for 26. Perhaps 20,000 Ottomans died before the walls of Malta, Famagusta, and Tunis. Even after Gustavus Adolphus was killed at Lutzen and his army smashed at Nordlingen, the extensive fortifications Sweden still held ensured they retained large German territories.

To put it plainly, numerical superiority has always been an advantage of fundamental importance, to be sought everywhere to the greatest degree possible. Any theory positing there was a time where this wasn't true is pure sophistry.

May I throw in an alternative idea, which was that Europeanen Cannon technology only really evolved With shipbuilding. On the water, you can't really lead a cavalry charge to stop a fleeing ship and so you needed ship cannons as the primary long-range weapon and coastal fortress cannons as the primary line of defense. Europe practically evolved around the Mediterranean Sea and later had to fight for the routes to the Caribbean and the Tea Lands..... China evolved around.... China

Or is this just complete hogwash?
Hate to say it, but yeah, hogwash. Europe developed large siege artillery at the beginning of the 15th century, long before anti-ship cannons were the standard weapons. In the Mediterranean, ships usually used cannons as a close range 'clothing burning' weapon to lead the way for a boarding action, not as a long range tool of destruction.
 
@alexmilman
You haven't really addressed the point though; the argument is that firearms drove or at least allowed the growth of armies seen in the Early Modern period. It's true that the proportion of firearms increased over time. However, you haven't demonstrated that this increased proportion matches the growth, which would be necessary to prove that firearms were driving the increase.

If, for example, the army increases from 100,000 to 150,000, if more usable firearms were driving the growth, we'd expect those 50,000 new men to be all armed with guns, the sources of pikemen and cavalry being already tapped out. However, the examples you list don't really conform to this pattern. Instead, it's more the army originally had a 3:1 pike:shot ratio, and new forces augmenting it were say 1:1. Not only did growing armies have more musketeers, they also had more pikemen and more cavalry. The proportions changed, but that's because guns got more effective, not because the armies were necessarily recruiting from a wider base thanks to firearms. As pointed out, if the objective was simply to field the largest force possible based on ease of training, the pike would have remained the dominant weapon, being the easiest of all to use. The transition to more firearms and the expansion of armies were largely independent phenomena.

Also, I think you'll find the term marksmen entirely appropriate to the early users of firearms, given how they were commonly used to dispatch point targets on the battlefield, such as particularly troublesome English knights during the Hundred Years War and Aztec captains during the conquest of Mexico. Indeed, their greater precision than previous missile weapons is borne out by the fact that 15th century German cities held their shooting competitions for firearms at twice the distance of crossbows, the previous most precise weapon on the battlefield.

The common ideas that firearms were only useful en masse, or that users were hastily levied peasants unable to fight with any more effective weapon, are basically indefensible under scrutiny.
I don’t see how all that is relevant to what I wrote and why I had to address something besides what I wanted to address and what was not in the post to which I was answering. The remark was about proportion of the firearms at various periods and I provided some factual data.

Now, “The common ideas that firearms were only useful en masse, or that users were hastily levied peasants unable to fight with any more effective weapon, are basically indefensible under scrutiny.” is neither here nor there because, AFAIK, nobody made any of these statements so a claim that this is “common idea” is is rather questionable. Personally, I never read anything of the kind anywhere. What I did read in that thread was a statement that the early modern armies put lesser requirements upon soldiers with the firearms than on the efficient fighters of the earlier period. With a possible exception of the pikemen, it seems quite reasonable to me: surely, training a knight, a good swordsman or a good archer should take longer than training of a musketeer/arquebusire. But “longer” does not imply that soldiers with the firearms did not need training. Especially, when these soldiers had to be used in formation.

The same goes for the argument “cheaper”. AFAIK, nobody was proposing cost as the only factor because, besides being affordable, army also had to be able to cause a maximum possible amount of a damage. And it was quite clear even before the 30YW was over that, with the exception of the limited number of the very high quality pikemen (by that time found mostly in the old Spanish tercios), soldiers with the firearms are capable to cause much more damage than what Grimmelshausen mockingly described as “absolutely innocent people who never did any harm to anybody”. BTW, I’m not quite sure that the pikemen of that period had been cheaper because, unlike the musketeers, they had been wearing a lot of a protective equipment which cost money.


If anything, there was a statement by Phillip de Commines the the English archers are needed in the big numbers because otherwise they are useless.
 
Armies no doubt became bigger because of firearms. The reason is because European warfare revolved around fortifications for centuries and the introduction of gunpowder siege artillery in the 16h century rendered a whole bunch of them obselete or at least much much less useful.

So warfare started to revolve around field armies instead: which required many more men than to garrison fortifications.

Fortifications were effectively a "manpower saving" innovation which became much weaker starting in the 16th century. Hence armies got bigger because the manpower-saving technology wasn't as useful anymore.
Well, real growth of the field armies started during the reign of Louis XIV and one of the factors was the fact that a better developed economies were allowing to spend more on the troops. Then, I suspect that an ordinary soldier of the regular armies of the late XVII was cheaper than the mercenaries of the earlier times and definitely cheaper than nobility-based units like the gendarmes. Even armies of the 30YW were relatively small.
 
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