Re: Historical China (was RE: Fw: Ted Kacyznski)

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Wed Jun 21 2000 - 12:50:27 MDT

James Rogers wrote:
> On Wed, 21 Jun 2000, wrote:
> > In a message dated 6/21/00 9:33:37 AM, writes:
> >
> > >The Chinese never really used gunpowder as more than a curiousity, and
> > >they never invented anything that could properly be considered a gun in
> > >any conventional sense.
> >
> > No guns, but they did have cannon, which were a critical part of the
> > Ming military system against steppe nomads. It's certainly true they
> > did far less with it than the Europeans did.
> The original Chinese cannons were of limited capability due to the
> limitations of their materials and fabrication methods. While they were
> used effectively against soft targets, such as the steppe nomads, they
> were too weak to be effectively used against harder targets. The bores
> were quite weak and generally not very reliable. This was also the reason
> the Chinese were not able to produce musket-type personal weapons.
> The europeans on the other hand, used their superior metal technologies
> and rapidly produced very strong and functional designs (such as the every
> popular cast bronze bore) that were actually capable of the rock-shattering
> capability usually associated with cannons. The Europeans quickly drove
> the technology to the point where it was well-suited to a much broader
> set of military roles, such as breaching hardened fortresses. The vastly
> superior european cannons were introduced in China in the 16th and
> 17th century by the Jesuits.

Actually, it was the muslims, esp. Mohammed II who originated the cannons'
ability to breach hardened fortresses. Screw-breach iron hoop & stave forged
cannon with 36 inch bores were constructed for his assault on Constantinople
which ended the last remnant of the Eastern Roman Empire. These cannon were so
well constructed they were still in use hundreds of years later when British
ships tried to run the Dardanelles to the Black Sea, and were bombarded with
three foot diameter stone cannonballs...

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