Modern European Weaponry: Shaping Changes in Warfare The human being has always found a way to inflict harm in the name of defense or simple destruction, for survival, or for the annihilation of the enemy. All within the realm of warfare, we have found a way to make sticks and stones break bones, and everything between simple technologies to the advent of gunpowder, has changed civilization and the way we live. Throughout this essay we will look at the simple truths that come from an evolution in weaponry. How it affected the social connections of those times, and the way society was forced to wage war with each other. By the time men had figured out that a piece of rock can mean the difference between life and death, weapons became an important part of human kind.
Dating back to prehistoric times, men could only use the tools they could find within their means of symbiotic existence with their surroundings. It wouldn't take long, relatively speaking, until we would figure out how to sophisticate our means of defense and battle. After the Neolithic Age, men were able to ascertain the effectiveness of metal versus the effectiveness of such crude weapons like those made of wood and / or stone. People realized that it was easier to attack the enemy with precision with such advances as a dagger that would pierce through skin as opposed to smashing the enemy with larger chunks of weapons. According to the Bible, the Israelite youth David opposed the Philistine hero Goliath with sling and stone.
"Am I a dog," Goliath sneered, "that you come to me with sticks (Rogers, p. 126)." A fighter is only as good as his weapon. Weapons are developed based on the threat of the enemy. The development of the helmet for instance, made the mace obsolete, then a sharpened axe was developed to defeat the helmet. The evolution of metals from bronze to iron was a huge leap in the art of war and still remains an important factor in modern weapons. Although the accuracy and reliability has changed, the idea of killing the enemy without exposing friendliness is the main focus of all modern weapons.
The Archers of Rome are today's artillerymen. The better-armed soldier is sure to be the winner. Weapons became so sophisticated that they also became a symbol of status. By the time knights began to battle, the distinctions were made according to the amount of metals that they possessed. This also was true for the royalty. It seemed that weapons reached an amazing level of excellence when it came down to the weapons made of metal or stone, but nobody would be prepared for the advent of gunpowder.
Gunpowder would ultimately define the way we do warfare to this day. A radical change came from the use of guns in battle, drastically changing the rankings of men put forth of battle. There was also a shift in the importance of jobs created by the specific needs of a war situation. Iron became an important tool and so did the ironworkers whom had the responsibility to provide the means to create successful canons, fortifications, etc. etc. for the war cause.
The movement of troops and supplies had changed from movements of thousands over hundreds of miles, like the Sumerians through Mesopotamia to massive movements of tens of thousands over thousands of miles by the Romans. The coordinated movement of soldiers and supplies by land and sea that was utilized by the Romans, is still very much the same techniques we use today to push far into territories and maintain footholds. The movement of armies to the battlefield was only part of the evolution of warfare and movement. The tactics that followed after the development of the Chariot in warfare by Sargon the Great changed the face of war forever (Guertner, p. 6-7). The use of quick strikes for shock value and decisive strikes are still being perceived today with modern cavalry and tank crews.
These concepts date back to the Summ arians but are just as effective today. The development of logistics along with movements remains the backbone of success. As we have seen, civilization will always be in a constant search for more destructive weapons, and this is something that will never end. Ultimately, it will become our undoing when continents disappear in the blink of an eye, and with the touch of a button. In the end it will not be a question of whether it will change or not, it will more than likely be a about the constant race for far more technological weapons, and with recent chemical and biological weapons, it will be hard to discover how far we will go. We can only hope that the balance between defense and destruction is not tipped over to the latter, and this is a distant hope that anyone that has been in contact with warfare and weapons should have.
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Western Civilization: A Social and Cultural History. New Jersey: Calm ann & King Ltd. Rogers, C. J. (1995). The Military Revolution Debate: Readings on the Military Transformation of Early Modern Europe.