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?

RousseauX

Donor
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.
This is a misconception over the resolution of Midieval European sieges. Storming fortificatins were extremely expensive due to lack of gunpowder artillery, so it wasn't done very often. The vast majority of the time sieges were resolved by starving out the defenders.

In that scenerio having a huge army...doesn't actually help that much. Once you cut off the roads etc there's not much they can do to make the defenders starve out faster. In fact, having a bigger army made things more -difficult- for the attackers: since now you have to provision your army for very long extended period of time and you have more mouths to feed.

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.
Sure, but it's still much, much smaller number of men than big field armies. A few hundred men can garrison fortfications capable of holding out against many times their number.

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.
Yeah sure every general always wants a million men but warfare are constranined by economics.

Yeah you want to have a huge army but you probably dont' want to pay for it. If you can have a few hundred men holding a castle against 10x their number, why are paying more men to sit around? In economic terms their marginal value drops singificantly, while their marginal cost doesn't. Fortifications fundamentally alters the cost effective configuration of your armies. Once fortifications fell more easily then yeah you have to get bigger field armies but the cost of those were often ruinous, unpaid soldiers marauding through a countryside were a frequent feature of both medieval and early modern wars for a reason. If you can pay a few hundred men to hold a fortification cheaply then there's no point in shelling out the cash for 10x when their value doesn't justify the cost.

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.
Yeah I'm not saying long expensive sieges or assaults never ever occured, I'm just saying the proportion of them changed. Now taking fortifications are much easier than before. Im' not saying sieges stopped being important, I'm just saying that the emphasis shifted onto field armies more so than before.
 
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This is a misconception over the resolution of Midieval European sieges. Storming fortificatins were extremely expensive due to lack of gunpowder artillery, so it wasn't done very often. The vast majority of the time sieges were resolved by starving out the defenders.

In that scenerio having a huge army...doesn't actually help that much. Once you cut off the roads etc there's not much they can do to make the defenders starve out faster. In fact, having a bigger army made things more -difficult- for the attackers: since now you have to provision your army for very long extended period of time and you have more mouths to feed.
Yes, they do, because if you don't bring enough men, you won't be able to fend off enemy armies of relief on top of the importance of more men for constructing siege works and engines.

Yeah sure every general always wants a million men but warfare are constranined by economics.

Yeah you want to have a huge army but you probably dont' want to pay for it. If you can have a few hundred men holding a castle against 10x their number, why are paying more men to sit around? In economic terms their marginal value drops singificantly, while their marginal cost doesn't. Fortifications fundamentally alters the cost effective configuration of your armies. Once fortifications fell more easily then yeah you have to get bigger field armies but the cost of those were often ruinous, unpaid soldiers marauding through a countryside were a frequent feature of both medieval and early modern wars for a reason. If you can pay a few hundred men to hold a fortification cheaply then there's no point in shelling out the cash for 10x when their value doesn't justify the cost.
Yeah I'm not saying long expensive sieges or assaults never ever occured, I'm just saying the proportion of them changed. Now taking fortifications are much easier than before. Im' not saying sieges stopped being important, I'm just saying that the emphasis shifted onto field armies more so than before.
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You'll have to present actual evidence that Early Modern fortresses were more easily reduced and that battles became more important and sieges less.

Beyond that, though, you still have a one-sided view of warfare; it doesn't matter that spending more becomes less efficient, what matters is effective strength relative to the enemy, and more is always better, because if you don't put everything you can into fielding a larger army, the enemy will, and then it won't matter that you spent more efficiently. The arms race to field bigger armies started when armies were invented and never let up. Also, you ignore the value of fortifications through the strategic depth of a state, as well as the strategic role of fortresses. A few hundred men in a castle couldn't really hold up an army; they can force the army to detach some portion of their strength to keep a watch on the place if they mean to maintain a supply line or wish to keep that route open for a retreat, but the strategic value of a fortification determined in large part by the strength of the garrison. 5,000 men in a fortress will force the enemy to leave behind far more men than a 500 man garrison, after all, so the idea that fortress warfare doesn't incentivize larger army is completely at odds with military theory and history.
 
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.[/QUOTE]

I envy you; 'bows are better but any two bit peasant could use a musket' is an all-too common take on historical parts of the internet. Guilmartin pushed it in his otherwise excellent book on galley warfare, as did Parker in his military revolution book, which is quite odd since it's practically about the professionalization of armies.

OP said "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."

While this is couched with the phrase 'one of the reasons', the fact is that this interpretation just doesn't line up with the reality. Swords worked just fine for peasant militias in their day, as did bows. Firearms required more training to use effectively, not less. Despite this, the concrete advantages they offered in range and lethality far outweighed the costs. That's why firearms were adopted, not as a way to arm masses of peasants.
 

RousseauX

Donor
Yes, they do, because if you don't bring enough men, you won't be able to fend off enemy armies of relief on top of the importance of more men for constructing siege works and engines.
The average battle in Midieval Europe wasn't between two big field armies, but rather raids and harrassment involving hundreds or even just dozens of men into each other's territories to get around fortified positions rather than big set piece battles over control of fortifications. The model you present simply wasn't the case in the vast majority of the situation.


You'll have to present actual evidence that Early Modern fortresses were more easily reduced and that battles became more important and sieges less.
I don't think anyone in this thread is -disagreeing- with the notion that gunpowder artilleries at least at various points did make fortifications more easily reduced.

Beyond that, though, you still have a one-sided view of warfare; it doesn't matter that spending more becomes less efficient, what matters is effective strength relative to the enemy, and more is always better, because if you don't put everything you can into fielding a larger army, the enemy will, and then it won't matter that you spent more efficiently. The arms race to field bigger armies started when armies were invented and never let up. Also, you ignore the value of fortifications through the strategic depth of a state, as well as the strategic role of fortresses.
I find the disconnect between

1) existence of limited resources available as a constraint

2) the efficient allocation said limited resources at military force composition

3) resulting the military strength

in the thought process presented in this post to be..well interesting.

A few hundred men in a castle couldn't really hold up an army; they can force the army to detach some portion of their strength to keep a watch on the place if they mean to maintain a supply line or wish to keep that route open for a retreat, but the strategic value of a fortification determined in large part by the strength of the garrison.
Not if said fortification are in strategic enough locations that they block the attacking army, and -cannot- be easily bypassed.

5,000 men in a fortress will force the enemy to leave behind far more men than a 500 man garrison, after all,
A 10:1 attacker:defender ratio doesn't seem that unreasonable tbh
 
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The average battle in Midieval Europe wasn't between two big field armies, but rather raids and harrassment involving hundreds or even just dozens of men into each other's territories to get around fortified positions rather than big set piece battles over control of fortifications. The model you present simply wasn't the case in the vast majority of the situation.
Battles were rare compared to skirmishes and sieges in the middle ages. They were at least as rare in the Early Modern period. This was because an enemy who didn't want to fight a battle couldn't be forced to, and the factors that made one side eager for a battle were the very same that drove the other to refuse the challenge. This doesn't change from the medieval period to the early modern. It's also worth pointing out, contrary to your idea that sieges didn't require more men, that the largest army the English ever gathered for the Hundred Years War was assembled after the decisive battle of the campaign to besiege Calais.

I don't think anyone in this thread is -disagreeing- with the notion that gunpowder artilleries at least at various points did make fortifications more easily reduced.
I am. In the middle ages, the walls were defended by dudes with bows and swords. These were arms man portable defenses -shields, armor, wooden mantlets if you're dealing with heavy stuff- could defend against. Even if you have a siege train, though, facing a well laid out Early Modern fortress with ample artillery positioned for overlapping fields of enfilading fire was at least as difficult as a medieval castle, if not moreso.

I find the disconnect between

1) existence of limited resources available as a constraint

2) the efficient allocation said limited resources at military force composition

3) resulting the military strength

in the thought process presented in this post to be..well interesting.
Yeah, retrace your steps there. I'm starting to think you just don't understand fortress warfare if you don't see how crucial manpower is. For any given level of available resources, more men is an advantage. It can be counterbalanced by other advantages, but the idea that siege warfare disincentivizes larger armies is so contrary to the whole history of warfare it scarcely warrants refutation.

Not if said fortification are in strategic enough locations that they block the attacking army, and -cannot- be easily bypassed.

A 10:1 attacker:defender ratio doesn't seem that unreasonable tbh
Depends on your objective. If you're just leaving behind a detachment while the rest of the army moves on, twice or half as many men as the garrison (infantry and cavalry, respectively) were sufficient. That's assuming you have to take that route, by the way, those 'strategically located' fortifications. The way castles exert control over territory is as bases for garrisons to carry out raiding, so you only need to observe them with as many men as it takes to inflict a decisive defeat on that force if it ventures outside its walls. If you only man the place with a few men, then, this represents a relatively small burden on enemy manpower.

Moreover, the idea that battles especially incentivize numerical superiority has to be questioned. As few examples as there are of small armies defeating larger ones in battle, there are certainly even fewer cases of sieges succeeding without great numerical superiority on the part of the attacker. The battlefield victories of Edward III, the Black Prince, and Henry V in the Middle Ages and Charles XII and Frederick II in the modern period illustrate this well enough. To reiterate, numerical superiority is fundamental, but it's probably more fundamental for fortress warfare than field warfare.
 
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.
I envy you; 'bows are better but any two bit peasant could use a musket' is an all-too common take on historical parts of the internet. Guilmartin pushed it in his otherwise excellent book on galley warfare, as did Parker in his military revolution book, which is quite odd since it's practically about the professionalization of armies.


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The only advice I can give you is don’t read crap and you’ll not have to waste energy on argue with it. Then again, “could use” does not mean that just getting a bunch of these “peasants” capable of shooting gives you an army. So this argument is meaningless. Anyway, unlike North America of the XVIII century, most of the European peasants did not have the muskets and did not know how to use them. So they had to be trained.

“The bow is better” (on the now defunct SHM this was one of the favorite subjects) is an argument favored by the Anglophonic medievalists who are simply ignoring the fact that the English longbows were practically unknown on the continent and the French attempt to create the “free archers” was not an overwhelming success, to put it mildly. So, for most of Europe this argument means “something that you don’t have (and probably never saw) is better than something you have and can use”.

Anyway, judging by the contemporaries, the bows were much better in scaring the horses than in killing their armored riders. OTOH, even the reasonably early firearms had been providing a record of killing impressive enough to seriously impact the knightly armor. So what is and what is not better is a matter of opinion and quite often of the confused stereotypes.

The only thing we can tell for sure is that it was easier to train someone to use the musket or arquebuse than to get a decent archer. Archery requires certain development of the muscles while to fire a musket you have to memorize certain sequence of the operations. However, this is only a part of the equation because the Western European firearms tactics soon enough became more complicated than a “classic” longbowmen deployment. And the more complicated tactics becomes the more training you need.
 
“The bow is better” (on the now defunct SHM this was one of the favorite subjects) is an argument favored by the Anglophonic medievalists who are simply ignoring the fact that the English longbows were practically unknown on the continent and the French attempt to create the “free archers” was not an overwhelming success, to put it mildly. So, for most of Europe this argument means “something that you don’t have (and probably never saw) is better than something you have and can use”.
Most of Western Europe had bows quite like the English bow; mandatory bow ownership in Angevin French territories predates English mandatory ownership, after all. The Netherlands, the Burgundians, and the Germans all used similar bows. They didn't base their whole armies around them, but it was hardly foreign to them. The fact was that even having bows aplenty, continental Europeans saw the gun's plain advantages in range and lethality and never looked back.

The only thing we can tell for sure is that it was easier to train someone to use the musket or arquebuse than to get a decent archer. Archery requires certain development of the muscles while to fire a musket you have to memorize certain sequence of the operations. However, this is only a part of the equation because the Western European firearms tactics soon enough became more complicated than a “classic” longbowmen deployment. And the more complicated tactics becomes the more training you need.
Can we tell it for sure, though? The weight of contemporary opinion in England was that the bow was a militia weapon for those without much training. In terms of the strength required, there's a point of diminishing returns on draw weights vs arrow energy (to say nothing of the diminishing returns of arrow energy and wounding potential). The average person can learn to shoot an 80 lb bow in about an afternoon if they're shown the right stance (different from the stance used for victorian target archery that has become standard). Archers of the time emphasized that it wasn't bodily strength that made strong shooting, but (relatively simple) technique. An archer mostly just needs to learn how to get his chest, back, and arm muscles working together to be effective, but a musketeer has to master a horribly complicated manual of arms to reload his piece lest he set himself on fire.

All this is to say that the idea that guns facilitated the growth of armies to a noticeable degree rests on a series of assumptions very far from being proven, in my opinion.
 
In terms of OP's actual question, I do think it's instructive to see how rare it was for Chinese walls to be breached, even by the most modern artillery available. When attacking Chinese fortifications, Western forces tended to either scale the walls or target the gates, rather than breaching the walls as late as the Boxer Rebellion. Zeng Guofan took Anqing through blockade and Nanjing through mining, not breaching with artillery. The Dutch in the 17th century would target the gates of Chinese cities after seeing how little impression they made on the walls. The Qing used artillery to smash tower forts surrounding Ming cities, but more as a way of tightening the noose on thick-walled cities than a way of smashing holes in the main circuit of defenses. Jinzhou and Songshan were taken by treachery and surrender, respectively.

The resilience of Chinese walls is probably a good reason Europe got a head start on heavy artillery, but the Chinese did close the gap to a greater or lesser degree in the 17th century. The reason their firepower was completely outclassed in the Opium Wars was because European experimental science had figured out how to optimize gunpowder weapons, making stronger powders, more efficient guns, and so on. Moreover, the Chinese never had to fight anyone in remotely the same weight class until the 19th century, so they lacked the means and incentive to really push what gunpowder weapons were capable of.
 
@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.
A pike isn't easier to master then the manual of arms. Try to wield a 12' pike, march with one for miles, while balancing it over your shoulder, effectively use it in a mass formation, learn to change formation, coordinate with other infantry arms, and hold the line vs other pikes. Pike vs pike is all offense, no defense, a man with a musket can better defend himself in close quarters fighting, especially if he has a bayonet. After a very short time you'll want to trade weapons with another sucker.
 
Most of Western Europe had bows quite like the English bow; mandatory bow ownership in Angevin French territories predates English mandatory ownership, after all. The Netherlands, the Burgundians, and the Germans all used similar bows. They didn't base their whole armies around them, but it was hardly foreign to them. The fact was that even having bows aplenty, continental Europeans saw the gun's plain advantages in range and lethality and never looked back.



Can we tell it for sure, though? The weight of contemporary opinion in England was that the bow was a militia weapon for those without much training. In terms of the strength required, there's a point of diminishing returns on draw weights vs arrow energy (to say nothing of the diminishing returns of arrow energy and wounding potential). The average person can learn to shoot an 80 lb bow in about an afternoon if they're shown the right stance (different from the stance used for victorian target archery that has become standard). Archers of the time emphasized that it wasn't bodily strength that made strong shooting, but (relatively simple) technique. An archer mostly just needs to learn how to get his chest, back, and arm muscles working together to be effective, but a musketeer has to master a horribly complicated manual of arms to reload his piece lest he set himself on fire.

All this is to say that the idea that guns facilitated the growth of armies to a noticeable degree rests on a series of assumptions very far from being proven, in my opinion.
That was the opinion of Knights. Bowmen spent a lifetime training with their weapon. The average man can't learn to shoot an 80 lb bow in an afternoon, and certainly can't learn to fire 10-15 rounds a minute. Most Longbowmen could shoot with great accuracy, while firing rapidly. They know how to string, and maintain their bows, and what arrow heads to use in the right circumstances. They know archer tactics, including their limitations. Archers often had to fight with other weapons. At Agincourt agile English Longbowmen slaughtered dismounted French Knights with daggers, knives, and short swords. That was hardly an act of poorly trained militia. What happened at Agincourt was hardly a unique event, when archers ran out of arrows they usually joined the melee, and more then held their own.
 
A pike isn't easier to master then the manual of arms. Try to wield a 12' pike, march with one for miles, while balancing it over your shoulder, effectively use it in a mass formation, learn to change formation, coordinate with other infantry arms, and hold the line vs other pikes. Pike vs pike is all offense, no defense, a man with a musket can better defend himself in close quarters fighting, especially if he has a bayonet. After a very short time you'll want to trade weapons with another sucker.
Even prior to the bayonet time the musketeers were not defenseless. They usually had sidearms and in the close quarters muskets could be used as the clubs. Unlike the pikemen, musketeers did not have to be physically strong: while the firearms had been too heavy, some kind of a support was routinely used.
 
Most of Western Europe had bows quite like the English bow; mandatory bow ownership in Angevin French territories predates English mandatory ownership, after all. The Netherlands, the Burgundians, and the Germans all used similar bows. They didn't base their whole armies around them, but it was hardly foreign to them. The fact was that even having bows aplenty, continental Europeans saw the gun's plain advantages in range and lethality and never looked back.



Can we tell it for sure, though? The weight of contemporary opinion in England was that the bow was a militia weapon for those without much training. In terms of the strength required, there's a point of diminishing returns on draw weights vs arrow energy (to say nothing of the diminishing returns of arrow energy and wounding potential). The average person can learn to shoot an 80 lb bow in about an afternoon if they're shown the right stance (different from the stance used for victorian target archery that has become standard). Archers of the time emphasized that it wasn't bodily strength that made strong shooting, but (relatively simple) technique. An archer mostly just needs to learn how to get his chest, back, and arm muscles working together to be effective, but a musketeer has to master a horribly complicated manual of arms to reload his piece lest he set himself on fire.

All this is to say that the idea that guns facilitated the growth of armies to a noticeable degree rests on a series of assumptions very far from being proven, in my opinion.
Of course, a bow was not something unique to England. However, only England was producing big numbers of archers with the powerful longbows. No other European army had the numerous cadres and the French attempt to create ones failed. Of course, if you can produce the data showing that the big numbers of peasants in Germany had been routinely trained with the longbows, or that the foot archers (not English) played a significant role in the battles of medieval Europe you’ll prove your point but otherwise it is just unsupported claim. An “ordinary” bow was quite popular in Eastern Europe due to the contacts with the nomadic neighbors but it was usually too weak to be effective even against mail, forget about the plate armor.
Then, of course, there were Janissary with their powerful bows but they were regular soldiers and they started switching to the firearms in mid-XV century.


About the archers. You are clearly falling into a popular trap of confusing the available pool with the professional soldiers. Available pool were all these peasants who regularly doing a shooting practice. Only a tiny fraction of them had been making it into the fighting army. Of course, the standing regular armies were not, yet there but these archers we are talking about had been as professional as it was possible by the standards of time and their equipment was not cheap. Each of them (at least during the 100YW) had a horse, a helmet, some kind of a protective “armor” and a sidearm which they know how to use. Their tactical deployment was not one of the unprepared farmers either: they were using the deep formations with the regular intervals between the archers and (seemingly) salvo shooting.

Anyway, as was demonstrated during the 100YW the “English system” was quite complicated and had serious limitations. Not just the archers were “static” but they needed a well-protected position and a cover by the dismounted knights. When they did not have time to take such a position (as at Patay) or when they were forced to leave such a position due to the enemy fire (as at Fromigny) they were toast. Even the early primitive field artillery made the system problematic. The problem was not uniquely English: the Janissary archers also tended to use the stakes, trenches, hills, etc.

Of course, learning to shoot a bow is rather easy but it is not the same as to become a battle-worthy archer even making allowances for the fact that as often as not they were doing a barrage shooting. Pulling these 80 pounds a dozen times in a short sequence is not the same as shooting couple arrows at your leisure and then go to take a drink with your reenacting buddies (the main modern source of information on the subject). 😜

As for the “horribly complicated” process of reloading the firearms, it actually was not so complicated that an average person could not learn it within a reasonably short period of time. The beer-bellied burghers of the city militias had been mastering that skill and as soon as the regular drill had been introduced in the armies, the loading had been done by commands shouted by the sergeants.

Regarding your doubts about the army sizes, doubting things is your right but there are things that we do know:
1. Appearance of the firearms did not automatically result in the bigger armies. Armies of the 30YW were not noticeably bigger than those of the Italian Wars. Needless to say that in both cases we are talking about the professional armies in which “noble” element was only a fraction and the bulk of these armies even during the Italian Wars was an infantry.
2. We do know that invention of the pistols allowed to create a new numerous (and relatively cheap) type of a cavalry, the reitars and that this cavalry almost completely squeezed out the gendarmes from the battlefields of the Western Europe. As a byproduct, the armies of the 30YW period quite often had a very high proportion of a cavalry, sometimes up to 50%.
3. We do know that a serious growth of the army sizes started only during the reign of Louis XIV and began in France with the rest of Europe being forced to follow to the extent of their resources. The firearms had been around for quite a while and already became a dominant weapon so it was mostly a matter of finances and resulting ability to maintain a big standing army. BTW, it was still an age of pike and shot formations but the “shot” component was steadily overweighting the pike. In the army of GA at least 50% of infantry had the firearms and in the army of CXII the pikemen amounted only to 1/3 of the infantry. With the new more effective recruitment systems the “pool” of potential soldiers grew and so did the number of people capable of handling the 5 meter long pikes so unavailability of the candidates was not a factor. In some cases a physical shortage of the muskets was forcing to arm big numbers of soldiers with the “half pikes” or the partisans (as in Russia during the GNW).
 
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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.
This is insane. I lived in China in the mid 1980s; you couldn't turn on the TV without being blasted by movies featuring warlords and Japanese puppet governments
 
A pike isn't easier to master then the manual of arms. Try to wield a 12' pike, march with one for miles, while balancing it over your shoulder, effectively use it in a mass formation, learn to change formation, coordinate with other infantry arms, and hold the line vs other pikes. Pike vs pike is all offense, no defense, a man with a musket can better defend himself in close quarters fighting, especially if he has a bayonet. After a very short time you'll want to trade weapons with another sucker.
I'd want to trade weapons so i could fight back on a battlefield dominated by firepower, not because the pike is too hard to wield. Humrey Barwick considered a pikeman better trained after six days than a musketeer was after sixty, and he had a much better idea of what war was like in the 16th century than either you or I do.

That was the opinion of Knights. Bowmen spent a lifetime training with their weapon. The average man can't learn to shoot an 80 lb bow in an afternoon, and certainly can't learn to fire 10-15 rounds a minute. Most Longbowmen could shoot with great accuracy, while firing rapidly. They know how to string, and maintain their bows, and what arrow heads to use in the right circumstances. They know archer tactics, including their limitations. Archers often had to fight with other weapons. At Agincourt agile English Longbowmen slaughtered dismounted French Knights with daggers, knives, and short swords. That was hardly an act of poorly trained militia. What happened at Agincourt was hardly a unique event, when archers ran out of arrows they usually joined the melee, and more then held their own.
No, it was the opinion of Robert Barrett, and Englishman who fought among the French, Spanish, and Dutch armies in addition to the English in the later 16th century. He considered the bow, like the bill, a weapon any man could handle, so it would could serve as a stopgap for untrained men who could not be equipped with firearms. Similarly, captain Yorke, serving in the 1593 siege of Rouen, thought the bow a natural weapon for the laborers of the army, that they may do something besides digging.

Do you have any evidence longbowmen shot with much accuracy while shooting rapidly? Considering the fighting at Agincourt lasted four hours ish, and there were 5,000 archers, and each archer carried 24-72 arrows, the average rate of fire was well under one shot per minute. If there isn't actual evidence of them shooting at such a high rate, I think it's far from proven that shooting 15 arrows per minute was a necessity for an effective archer. Moreover, those other points apply just as much to musketeers re: knowing limitations, tactics, and fighting with other weapons, so the bow is hardly at a disadvantage in that light. The archers' attack at Agincourt was also much aided by the fact that the French cavalry had stampeded into their own vanguard (who were probably already out of breath from advancing with visors down) immediately beforehand, so one shouldn't overestimate their hand to hand skills based on a superficial look at that phase of the battle.

Of course, a bow was not something unique to England. However, only England was producing big numbers of archers with the powerful longbows. No other European army had the numerous cadres and the French attempt to create ones failed. Of course, if you can produce the data showing that the big numbers of peasants in Germany had been routinely trained with the longbows, or that the foot archers (not English) played a significant role in the battles of medieval Europe you’ll prove your point but otherwise it is just unsupported claim. An “ordinary” bow was quite popular in Eastern Europe due to the contacts with the nomadic neighbors but it was usually too weak to be effective even against mail, forget about the plate armor.
The shooting guilds of Flanders for one had large contingents of longbow archers, who played a major role on the battlefield, repeatedly defending i.e. Lillies from the roving armies of their larger rivals and driving out bands of pillagers. French archers also played an important role in the victory of Formigny, as well as the sieges of Caen and Harfleur in 1449, so it's a stretch to call that effort a failure. They had earlier scotched a program to raise a corps of French archers because they became too proficient too fast, becoming a potential threat to the manorial order, so raising archers wasn't exactly a massive obstacle.

About the archers. You are clearly falling into a popular trap of confusing the available pool with the professional soldiers. Available pool were all these peasants who regularly doing a shooting practice. Only a tiny fraction of them had been making it into the fighting army. Of course, the standing regular armies were not, yet there but these archers we are talking about had been as professional as it was possible by the standards of time and their equipment was not cheap.
I'm not confusing them in the slightest. Obviously there were far fewer men in the English army at Agincourt than were available for recruitment; that's kind of my point. It wasn't lack of men who had weapons and knew how to use them that kept medieval armies small, which is why i take issue with the idea that firearms dramatically increased the potential pool of soldiers and increased the size of armies that way.

Each of them (at least during the 100YW) had a horse, a helmet, some kind of a protective “armor” and a sidearm which they know how to use. Their tactical deployment was not one of the unprepared farmers either: they were using the deep formations with the regular intervals between the archers and (seemingly) salvo shooting.
Couple points. Foot archers without horses were a common feature of medieval armies, so mounted archers weren't exactly a crucial component of the English system. They probably formed up in relatively shallow formations, about four ranks or so, since direct shooting is both much more effective than indirect and difficult to pull off with more than four ranks. This is corroborated by studies of battlefield terrain, which give us a sense of the expected front for a given number of men. There's also no evidence I know of of coordinated 'salvo' shooting.

Of course, learning to shoot a bow is rather easy but it is not the same as to become a battle-worthy archer even making allowances for the fact that as often as not they were doing a barrage shooting. Pulling these 80 pounds a dozen times in a short sequence is not the same as shooting couple arrows at your leisure and then go to take a drink with your reenacting buddies (the main modern source of information on the subject). 😜

As for the “horribly complicated” process of reloading the firearms, it actually was not so complicated that an average person could not learn it within a reasonably short period of time. The beer-bellied burghers of the city militias had been mastering that skill and as soon as the regular drill had been introduced in the armies, the loading had been done by commands shouted by the sergeants.
The physical hardiness required for using a bow in battle was well within the reach of most people of the time without extensive training, and was more than outweighed by the relative simplicity of archery compared to musketry. Not only do modern users state from experience relatively heavy bows can be shot by normal people, but contemporary sources confirm it. It's technique, not muscle, that enables strong shooting, and the technique isn't that complicated.

The point I've been making is that if you wanted to raise big armies fast, pikes and longbows were perfectly viable options for the infantry in terms of time/expense. The complexity of firearms meant forces using them took a hit in terms of speed in raising large armies, but it was well worth it for the gun's superior capabilities.

Regarding your doubts about the army sizes, doubting things is your right but there are things that we do know:
1. Appearance of the firearms did not automatically result in the bigger armies. Armies of the 30YW were not noticeably bigger than those of the Italian Wars. Needless to say that in both cases we are talking about the professional armies in which “noble” element was only a fraction and the bulk of these armies even during the Italian Wars was an infantry.
2. We do know that invention of the pistols allowed to create a new numerous (and relatively cheap) type of a cavalry, the reitars and that this cavalry almost completely squeezed out the gendarmes from the battlefields of the Western Europe. As a byproduct, the armies of the 30YW period quite often had a very high proportion of a cavalry, sometimes up to 50%.
3. We do know that a serious growth of the army sizes started only during the reign of Louis XIV and began in France with the rest of Europe being forced to follow to the extent of their resources. The firearms had been around for quite a while and already became a dominant weapon so it was mostly a matter of finances and resulting ability to maintain a big standing army. BTW, it was still an age of pike and shot formations but the “shot” component was steadily overweighting the pike. In the army of GA at least 50% of infantry had the firearms and in the army of CXII the pikemen amounted only to 1/3 of the infantry. With the new more effective recruitment systems the “pool” of potential soldiers grew and so did the number of people capable of handling the 5 meter long pikes so unavailability of the candidates was not a factor. In some cases a physical shortage of the muskets was forcing to arm big numbers of soldiers with the “half pikes” or the partisans (as in Russia during the GNW).
1. Mostly agree, but Italian Wars armies had more cavalry than you give them credit for.
2. Lots of Western European armies had high cavalry proportions well before the proliferation of Reitars. Charles VIII invaded Italy with an army of 50% cavalry, and French armies of the Hundred Years War had similar proportions.
3. Mostly agree. The main caveat is that I don't know if it really was lack of money that kept medieval armies small; doing some envelope math, the French estates' 1355 proposal to raise funds for 30,000 men at arms could have paid for an army of 200,000 infantry, which would have been more effective if some other force, obscure to me but probably known to the men at the time, did not prevent them from raising such an army.[/QUOTE][/QUOTE]
 
Foot archers without horses were a common feature of medieval armies, so mounted archers weren't exactly a crucial component of the English system.
Errrr.... with a volume you wrote on the subject I rather expected that you are aware of the fact that during the 100YW the English archers were
o have horses. The bad ones so that they could be easily abandoned. Of course, they were not “mounted archers” because the horses had been used exclusively for travel.

As for the rest, you are so dedicated to arguing process that you completely missed the fact that I agreed more than one with the point that the firearms were not the only (and not necessarily even the main) factor in the increased size of the armies. 😂

Don’t see the reason in a further exchange.
 
Errrr.... with a volume you wrote on the subject I rather expected that you are aware of the fact that during the 100YW the English archers were
o have horses. The bad ones so that they could be easily abandoned. Of course, they were not “mounted archers” because the horses had been used exclusively for travel.
I meant to type medieval English armies, and mounted archers in the context of medieval warfare refers to archers who had horses for travel, not those who fought on horseback; those are usually called horse archers. Like if you read i.e. Clifford Rogers, most of the archers for the Crecy campaign were foot archers who owned no horses soever. English pay rolls of the period distinguished between mounted archers and foot archers, with the men drawing different rates of pay.
 
I'd want to trade weapons so i could fight back on a battlefield dominated by firepower, not because the pike is too hard to wield. Humrey Barwick considered a pikeman better trained after six days than a musketeer was after sixty, and he had a much better idea of what war was like in the 16th century than either you or I do.



No, it was the opinion of Robert Barrett, and Englishman who fought among the French, Spanish, and Dutch armies in addition to the English in the later 16th century. He considered the bow, like the bill, a weapon any man could handle, so it would could serve as a stopgap for untrained men who could not be equipped with firearms. Similarly, captain Yorke, serving in the 1593 siege of Rouen, thought the bow a natural weapon for the laborers of the army, that they may do something besides digging.

Do you have any evidence longbowmen shot with much accuracy while shooting rapidly? Considering the fighting at Agincourt lasted four hours ish, and there were 5,000 archers, and each archer carried 24-72 arrows, the average rate of fire was well under one shot per minute. If there isn't actual evidence of them shooting at such a high rate, I think it's far from proven that shooting 15 arrows per minute was a necessity for an effective archer. Moreover, those other points apply just as much to musketeers re: knowing limitations, tactics, and fighting with other weapons, so the bow is hardly at a disadvantage in that light. The archers' attack at Agincourt was also much aided by the fact that the French cavalry had stampeded into their own vanguard (who were probably already out of breath from advancing with visors down) immediately beforehand, so one shouldn't overestimate their hand to hand skills based on a superficial look at that phase of the battle.



The shooting guilds of Flanders for one had large contingents of longbow archers, who played a major role on the battlefield, repeatedly defending i.e. Lillies from the roving armies of their larger rivals and driving out bands of pillagers. French archers also played an important role in the victory of Formigny, as well as the sieges of Caen and Harfleur in 1449, so it's a stretch to call that effort a failure. They had earlier scotched a program to raise a corps of French archers because they became too proficient too fast, becoming a potential threat to the manorial order, so raising archers wasn't exactly a massive obstacle.



I'm not confusing them in the slightest. Obviously there were far fewer men in the English army at Agincourt than were available for recruitment; that's kind of my point. It wasn't lack of men who had weapons and knew how to use them that kept medieval armies small, which is why i take issue with the idea that firearms dramatically increased the potential pool of soldiers and increased the size of armies that way.



Couple points. Foot archers without horses were a common feature of medieval armies, so mounted archers weren't exactly a crucial component of the English system. They probably formed up in relatively shallow formations, about four ranks or so, since direct shooting is both much more effective than indirect and difficult to pull off with more than four ranks. This is corroborated by studies of battlefield terrain, which give us a sense of the expected front for a given number of men. There's also no evidence I know of of coordinated 'salvo' shooting.



The physical hardiness required for using a bow in battle was well within the reach of most people of the time without extensive training, and was more than outweighed by the relative simplicity of archery compared to musketry. Not only do modern users state from experience relatively heavy bows can be shot by normal people, but contemporary sources confirm it. It's technique, not muscle, that enables strong shooting, and the technique isn't that complicated.

The point I've been making is that if you wanted to raise big armies fast, pikes and longbows were perfectly viable options for the infantry in terms of time/expense. The complexity of firearms meant forces using them took a hit in terms of speed in raising large armies, but it was well worth it for the gun's superior capabilities.


1. Mostly agree, but Italian Wars armies had more cavalry than you give them credit for.
2. Lots of Western European armies had high cavalry proportions well before the proliferation of Reitars. Charles VIII invaded Italy with an army of 50% cavalry, and French armies of the Hundred Years War had similar proportions.
3. Mostly agree. The main caveat is that I don't know if it really was lack of money that kept medieval armies small; doing some envelope math, the French estates' 1355 proposal to raise funds for 30,000 men at arms could have paid for an army of 200,000 infantry, which would have been more effective if some other force, obscure to me but probably known to the men at the time, did not prevent them from raising such an army.
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Your arguments are sometimes circler. At some points you claim other weapons were better then muskets, and at other times the reverse. This is an obvious truism, since muskets overtook pikes, and bows, along with making armor obsolescent. You quote a source from 1593 favoring muskets over Longbows, but that was in a time Longbow Armies had already faded away, and the yeoman culture that supported them was dying out.

Culture is a major issue in these discussions, arms that people use during their normal civilian lives made their rapid mobilization in war possible. A yeomen bowmen class, knights, riding horses across society, There's a reason the English wouldn't let Irishmen ride horses, they didn't want them to be able to raise cavalry. Southern Country Boys had more of a hunting shooting, and riding culture, then Northern urban boys, and could be more quickly trained as cavalry, and infantry. They had no advantage in training artillerists, since nobody does that in the civilian world. Long pikes, and crossbows were largely reserved to mercenary companies, and long term service soldiers, because civilians didn't commonly use them, and they take a great deal of practice to use efficiently.

In the early modern period muskets were more expensive then other weapons, a whole new industry, with supporting supply chains, and skill sets had be developed to support them. It was worth it because of their greater utility, and recruits didn't need background weapon skills to train in them. What made the bigger armies possible in the early modern period were three factors. First the rise of the nation state, meant kings had higher, and steadier revenues to pay for regular armies, and navies, equipped with new weapons and technologies.

Second firearms didn't require a Social Class to support them. There was never a Musket Class, like the Yeomen Social Class to draw recruits from. Thirdly improvements in agricultural efficiency freed up more of the population for other purposes. Needing fewer farmers made the growth of urban centers possible, and wealthy towns were sources of money, industry, and manpower. Cannon became the final argument of Kings because the industry to produce them was solely under their control, not even the highest nobles could own a cannon foundry, and they tended to be in cities.

So armies got bigger because of increases in royal revenues, enabled kings to support more soldiers on a permeant basis. improvements in agriculture led to greater urbanization, and the rise of cities. New industrial technologies enabled mass gunpower weapons production to grow. Finally musketeers, and cannoneers could be raised from a broader social base.
 
The shift to large armies came with the growth of state’s budgets and increased centralization. Let me come with a example in 1600 50% of the Danish state budget came from the Sound Dues in 1800 around 10% and it only had a population which was slightly larger, even if we ignored the increased value of the Sound Dues this means that Denmark had 5 times as many money to use on the army and navy. At the same time we saw several wave of military reforms from a shift from a small royal guard backed by mercenaries in times of war to a standing mercenary army backed by trained militias to a conscript army backed by trained militias. The army size increased at the same time.
 

NotBigBrother

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It's kinda like how WWII had the fastest advancement of any period of militar technology in history, we don't see revolutionary military technology coming out every 6-12 months the way it did in WWII today. The world isn't anymore isolated, there just isn't the demand for it without big conventional wars.
Biplanes at the beginning. Jets at the end.
 
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