History of Gunpowder
Gunpowder is a military weapon that had been developed gradually overtime. It has been recorded to be invented by the Chinese sometime between 850 AD to 1000 AD. Recorded in history books to have been invented around 850AD to 1000AD, gunpowder has transformed warfare and military thinking. The usage of black gunpowder for canons, rockets, muskets and bombs replaced all weapons and forces that prevailed before them.
Earliest known written formula of gunpowder
No one weapon has revolutionized human history as gunpowder has. From its ancient source in China, it traveled the danger-laden paths of silks and spices and with it traveled the knowledge to both remake and destroy the world. The Silk Road which was dominated by the West was initially controlled by the nomadic tribes and Chinese merchants. Gunpowder resulted in the greatest repercussions on Western life since the invention and usage of steel.
Many regions participated in gunpowder warfare during this period. The first civilization that made use of gunpowder in warfare was medieval China, beginning in the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period (907–960 AD). What exactly spurred the development of gunpowder weapons in China was actually the hike in trespassing of tribes on its borders.
The earliest illustration of a gun was back in the 1100s in a cave in Sichuan. Rocketry usage started from the 13th century and was used as a sign for both peace and war. One crucial historical event around 1368 was the Chinese Divine Engine division where with only the usage of gunpowder weaponry, Zhu Yuanzhang defeated the Mongols and established the Ming Dynasty.
It has been said that the forceful entrance of Mongols resulted in the introduction of gunpowder into the Islamic world. The indigenous hand cannon was written in the Arabic manuscripts during the medieval period, around the 14th century. It was seen as the most ancient portable firearm and the forerunner of handgun.
It has been suggested that the Indian influence that came with the arrival of Buddhism in China sparked the development of gunpowder in India.
Before rockets were brought into Europe, the Indian war rockets were the most forminable weapons. The bamboo rods used were aimed and shot at a target though the lighting of a fuse. However, trajectory back then was rather unpredictable.
The 15th through 17th century saw widespread development in gunpowder technology mainly in Europe. The advancement in metallurgy resulted in the invention and usage of portable weapons and the advancement in development of various hand-held firearms such as muskets. Cannon technology in Europe slowly surpassed that of China and these technological improvements which were brought back to China through Jesuit missionaries, who were responsible for cannon manufacture, by the late Ming and early Qing emperors.
While there is some evidence that other cultures recognized the military potential of gunpowder, none developed weapons to make use of it as fast as the Europeans. During this period, the size and scale of warfare increased drastically. Wars also became extremely deadly which can be attributed to the advancement in military technology.
The Napoleonic Wars started after the French Revolution (1789 - 1803) ended with the crowning of Napoleon as the Emperor.
(Picture courtesy of www.wikipedia.org)
First French Empire at its greatest extent in 1811
French Empire Conquered "Rebellious" States
Conquered "Allied" States
Development in gunpowder and weapons from muskets to flintlocks to the Baker rifle allowed Napoleon to conquer much of Europe in the 19th century.
Napoleon combined mobile artillery supporting his infantry and cavalry to out-manoeuvre his enemies.
There were many military tactics developed and deployed during these battles to counter the devastating damage of gunpowder guns and cannons, as well as tactics to ensure a swift and decisive victory over the enemies in the shortest amount of time.
Battle of Waterloo
(Picture courtesy of www.war-and-battle.com)
As a result of Napoleon's conquests in Europe, Nationalism was born as city-states, principalities and kingdoms unite based on national culture, origins and ideology. This resulted in the unification of of countries that are known as of today.
The development of the State (of a country) was also created during the wars as massive resources are required to build and maintain the 'modern' armies then. Now that armies were needed to fed and clothed in large numbers, a centralized government had to be erected.
Napoleon implemented various forms of taxation, administration, policing and military organizations during his reign. After Napoleon was defeated, many of the countries retained these practices.
The wars in continental Europe slowed down Industrial Revolution in Europe as all resources were funneled into war efforts. This was contrasted in 'The Impact of the Napoleonic Wars' whereby Great Britain soared ahead of the rest of the countries in terms of technologies.
Napoleon's French Revolution ideals were spread throughout Europe as he conquered countries. Some of these ideals include democracy, personal status and property, etc and they can be found in the Napoleonic Code.
European monarchs were unable to abolish these ideals, which had already been incorporated as customs and laws. Hence, European monarchs had their powers mitigated.