By Lawson Wood
The Bull and the obstacles
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The Bull and the obstacles
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Extra info for The Bull & the Barrier: The Wrecks of Scapa Flow
2 Therefore, in Roberts's original formulation, the military revolution really a problem of seventeenth-century history (and an achievement of northern and Protestant Europeans). 3 Roberts's concept of an early modern military revolution has been borrowed and transformed by Geoffrey Parker, first in a 1976 essay, and subsequently and much more thoroughly through the two editions of his book The Military Revolution. 4 In his 1976 essay, Parker accepted the broad categories of Roberts's thesis, but Parker challenged Roberts's identification of northern, Protestant armies as the first to be fully or significantly transformed.
Unlike the people of any other world civilisation (with the possible and temporary exception of late sixteenth-century Japan), Europeans were not content to simply retrofit gunpowder weapons to their existing military culture. Even in Europe, this was the tendency through the fifteenth century: hand-gunners stood with crossbowmen, and the cannon War in Sixteenth-Century Europe 37 that replaced the old trebuchets were still used like supercatapults. Outside Europe, in the Ottoman armies - or the Safavid Persian, or the Mughal, or the Ming Chinese - warriors took up gunpowder weapons quickly enough, and appreciated them for their power, but this adoption sparked no basic rethinking of warfare.
It is true that the workshops of the Muslim east never developed the tinkering ingenuity that characterised Western centres of gunfounding and gunsmithery, but it is hard to demonstrate how Europe's frankly more inventive gun-culture provided anything more than a marginal edge in this period: the basic weapons - matchlocks and muzzle-loading artillery - were essentially the same, in both East and West, from the early sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. In terms of sheer numbers of firearms and cannon, the armouries of the East were almost certainly as well stocked as those of the West.