The Military Revolution Debate: Readings on the Military Transformation of Early Modern Europe

By Clifford J. Rogers | Go to book overview

enna in 1683, it must be remembered that it was the Turks at the gates of Vienna and not the Europeans at the gates of Istanbul. 83

This perception brings us back to the true significance of the "Military Revolution" of early modern Europe. The sixteenth century saw a strong phase of Islamic expansion, with the Mughals gaining control of some 1.25 million square miles of India, and the Ottomans creating an empire of roughly 1 million square miles which stretched from Morocco, through Egypt and Iraq, to the Balkans and Hungary. So many states and societies were overwhelmed that the resistance of the West to this Islamic tide stands out as unusual. And it was a close-run thing: at Mohacs ( 1526) and Mezokeresztes ( 1596) in Hungary the Turks triumphed; and if they were routed at Lepanto in the Mediterranean in 1571, they nevertheless conquered Cyprus in 1570 and Tunis in 1574. Only military resilience and technological innovation -- especially the capital ship, infantry firepower and the artillery fortress: the three vital components of The Military Revolution of the sixteenth century -- allowed the West to make the most of its smaller resources in order to resist and, eventually, to expand to global dominance.


Notes
1. My thanks go to Paul Allen, Thomas Arnold, B. Cox, Paul Dover, Fernando González de Leün, John E. Guilmartin, John Lynn, Jane Ohlmeyer, Keith Roberts, Jon Sumida and, above all, Clifford J. Rogers for many helpful comments and references.
2.
A good overview of the connection between fortifications, army size and state formation in Japan is offered by G. Moréchand, "'Taiko Kenchi': le cadastre de Hideyoshi Toyotomi", Bulletin de l'Ecole française de l'Extrême Orient, 53.1 ( 1966) 7-69. See also the revised edition of Hora Tomio, Tanegashima-ju. Denrai to sono eikyo ( Tokyo, 1990).
3.
See the useful review articles of I. A. Lynn, "Clio in arms: the role of the military variable in shaping history", Journal of Military History, 55 ( 1991): 83-95; D. A. Parrott, "The military revolution of early modern Europe", History Today, 42.12 ( December 1992): 21-7; A. Espino Lüpez, "La historia militar entre la renovaciün y la tradiciün", Manuscrits, 11 ( 1993)215-42; A. Roland, "Technology and war: the historiographical revolution of the 1980s", Technology and culture, 34 ( 1993): 117-34; and R. A. Stradling, "A 'Military Revolution': the fall-out from the fall-in", European History Quarterly, 24 ( 1994): 271-8.
4.
Perwez Shafi in Crescent, March 1990.
5.
B. S. Hall and K. R. DeVries, "Essay review -- the 'military revolution' revisited", Technology and culture, 31 ( 1990): 500-7. They take 35 lines to show that an early reference to a ship carrying iron guns dated from 1410-12 and not 1338, even though "Parker's blunder is not, to be sure, fatal to his main line of argument" (page 503.)
6.
Parker can be rather cavalier with mere facts, Hall and DeVries announce on p. 503, having devoted 26 lines to refuting my statement that a musket "could throw a 2-ounce lead shot with sufficient force to penetrate even plate armour 100 meters away", an error that they claim "can be traced back (possibly through intermediaries) to Robert Held The Age of Firearms ( 2d ed., Northfield, Ill., 1970)", a work they then dismiss ("Held's readers are unlikely to confuse his work with scholarship"). In fact, I have never read Held's book, in any edition; but I have perused several tracts from the 1590s which made strong claims

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