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J. Lee





Joined: 07 Aug 2007

Posts: 18

PostPosted: Sat 26 Apr, 2008 10:35 pm    Post subject: How effective was field artillery in 16th century Europe?         Reply with quote

While recently studying(although depending on only few sources) about the European
field artillery of sixteenth century, I was confounded by the sources that are seemingly contradictory to
each other.

While many sources indicate that the field artillery(especially after the French innovation in late 15th century)
played significant role in battles such as in Marignano, Ravenna, etc., other sources claim that
their sheer weight and immature period logistics strictly limited their use in field.
Below is one of the latter claims.
(The text is from JOHN FRANCIS GUILMARTIN JR., "Gunpowder and galleys".
A part is posted at http://www.angelfire.com/ga4/guilmartin.com/Weapons.html)

"Consequently, long-range artillery fire played a very small part in sixteenth-century warfare. Like his successors for the next two and a half centuries, the sixteenth-century gunner did the overwhelming majority of his work well within musket range......Nor were effective gunnery ranges much longer on land. For ‘battery’, the breaching of fortress walls by cannon-fire — by far the most important role played by artillery through the middle of the sixteenth century at least — about 60 yards was considered the optimum range.53 Good heavy artillery was rare and massed counterbattery fire was seldom encountered, so it made good sense to go straight at the main fortress walls from less than a hundred yards out for maximum destructive impact. These tactics, expensive in casualties and cheap in material and munitions, stand in direct contrast to siege tactics in the days of Vauban when cannon were relatively plentiful and manpower expensive."

I wonder whether I could get rid of this confusion. Are there any recommendable sources for the period artillery?
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Gordon Frye




Location: Kingston, Washington
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PostPosted: Sun 27 Apr, 2008 5:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd strongly recommend "Weapons and Warfare in Renaissance Europe" by Bert Hall. It's got excellent information in it on both the tactics of the day, as well as a very well researched section on black-powder ballistics for both small-arms and artillery. Though primarily a survey of the late-Medaeval through the early-18th Century, there is a lot of meat in there.

Cheers!

Gordon

"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
Gonsalo Jimenez de Quesada
http://www.renaissancesoldier.com/
http://historypundit.blogspot.com/
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Mrak E.Smith





Joined: 30 Sep 2006

Posts: 55

PostPosted: Mon 28 Apr, 2008 8:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lee,the bookGUNPOWDER AND GALLEYS:CHANGING TECHNOLOGY AND MEDITERRANEAN WARFARE AT SEA IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURYis a famous and long-be-admired(at least by me) literature about Renaissance military history,unfortunately the 2nd-hand copies on the Amazon.com are to expensive for me to have one,so thank you for your link,but I can't see the pics,so will you please post them here?thanks!

Btw,if anyone knows where I can get a cheap copy of this book,just inform me!


Marc
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J. Lee





Joined: 07 Aug 2007

Posts: 18

PostPosted: Mon 28 Apr, 2008 6:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sure, Mr. Smith. Below are the pictures.


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Mrak E.Smith





Joined: 30 Sep 2006

Posts: 55

PostPosted: Mon 28 Apr, 2008 7:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lee,thank you very much! These pics make me more eager to get the whole book WTF?!

About your topic,I can recall a paper on it,mainly focuses on Machiavelli's assertings of the inferior efficiency of the contemporary artillery,Can you access to the Database Jstor? Here's the title:

Machiavelli and the Ideology of the Offensive: Gunpowder Weapons in "The Art of War"Machiavelli and the Ideology of the Offensive: Gunpowder Weapons in "The Art of War"
Ben Cassidy
The Journal of Military History, Vol. 67, No. 2 (Apr., 2003), pp. 381-404

Hope it's helpful!

Marc
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Mon 28 Apr, 2008 8:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh, just a comments about the matchlock that has the match going through a tube over the rear breach of the gun: I think that this is an error in interpretation as the tube is most probably an early primitive peep sight.

I think this drawing was shown here before on some topic thread and that was the conclusion at the time.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Fri 02 May, 2008 12:19 am    Post subject: Re: How effective was field artillery in 16th century Europe         Reply with quote

Actually, I don't think there's any confusion. Let's take a closer look at the passage you quoted from Guilmartin:

Quote:
Consequently, long-range artillery fire played a very small part in sixteenth-century warfare. Like his successors for the next two and a half centuries, the sixteenth-century gunner did the overwhelming majority of his work well within musket range......Nor were effective gunnery ranges much longer on land.


See? It only argues against the effectiveness of long-range artillery fire. It does not deny the effectiveness of short-range artillery fire delivered from "well within musket range," which was arguably the most dominant mode of operation for European field artillery until the late 18th century or so.
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Daniel Staberg




Location: Gothenburg/Sweden
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PostPosted: Sat 03 May, 2008 3:46 pm    Post subject: Re: How effective was field artillery in 16th century Europe         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Actually, I don't think there's any confusion. Let's take a closer look at the passage you quoted from Guilmartin:

Quote:
Consequently, long-range artillery fire played a very small part in sixteenth-century warfare. Like his successors for the next two and a half centuries, the sixteenth-century gunner did the overwhelming majority of his work well within musket range......Nor were effective gunnery ranges much longer on land.


See? It only argues against the effectiveness of long-range artillery fire. It does not deny the effectiveness of short-range artillery fire delivered from "well within musket range," which was arguably the most dominant mode of operation for European field artillery until the late 18th century or so.

Guilmartain is talking about naval gunnery, the entire quote in the intial post is a bit of context. Guilmartain's more than 30 years old work is an excellent for those interested in galley warfare but as source for land warfare in the 16th Century it is very limited. Guilmartin essentialy cherry-picks a single quote from a land artillery manual to support his notion that artillery ranges on land were just as limited as at sea. And breaching walls is done at completly diffrent ranges than firing at troops in a battle.

A less biased look at the artillery manuals reveal a rather diffrent picture.
According to Dambach the logn barreled Culverines had effective ranges in battle of 1200-1950 meters (I'm providing the converted ranges calcualted by the General staff). The short barreled artillery such as the Cannon (Cartaunen)had ranges out to 750 meters.

Wallhausen provides ranges of 1000 (750m) to 650 (490m) paces for his short Cannon.

Diego Uffano who prefered long barreld guns in the culverine style quotes ranges of 1429 to 558 paces dependign on the weight of the shot. (That's 972 to 439 meters)

Against the deep formations used in the 16th Century even long range artillery fire coudl be highly lethal, at Ravenna 1512 a single shot killed 33 men-at-arms and the intense artillery fire all but broke the Gascon foot .

However gunnery was and is a high specialised skill which is easily lost if not kept alive with money and training. Hence the French artillery which was a highly skilled force well ahead of it's time for the three first decades of the 16th Century had decayed into a force little diffrent from the other european artillery by the 1560's. Hence the varyign performance of the French artillery throughout the period.

Cheers
Daniel
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