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Julian Reynolds




Location: United Kingdom
Joined: 30 Mar 2008

Posts: 271

PostPosted: Sun 01 Apr, 2012 1:28 am    Post subject: Handgonnes         Reply with quote

Over here in the UK, live-firing guns (even copies of historical guns) have to be locked away in steel cabinets, and can only really be handled by their owner.

So if, like me, you want to display them or have people handle them, you have to compromise.

For a recent 'show and tell' event and to hang on my wall, I've made myself a couple of medieval handgonnes. The 'barrels' are dummy (ie. turned hardwood with a steel liner for weight/strength), but other than that they are made as if real. Stocks are beech, and all the metalware is forged steel.

The long 'pole' handgonne is copied from an original artifact (see below) but I have slightly scaled it up to a 24" barrel (around 13mm bore). It is around four and a half feet long, and beautifully balanced (I will be getting a live-firing version of this made up, hopefully later in the year). I have also made a 'hot wire' to fire it, with a pear wood handle. It would date from around the turn of the 15thC.

The hackbut would date from the mid 15thC. As it's name implies (hakenbusche or hook gun), it has a fearsome steel spike, used as a recoil/steadying device, and also a weapon of last resort! It is a little over two and a half feet long, with a12" barrel (around 17mm bore) held by forged steel hoops. It sits nicely either on the shoulder (like a crossbow) or under the arm. I carved a serpent linstock for it, from oak.

I hope this shows others in the more restrictive nations out there that it is possible to make near-identical reproductions of these weapons without the associated law enforcement headaches.....

Julian



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JosÚ-Manuel Benito




Location: Medina del Campo, Spain
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PostPosted: Sun 01 Apr, 2012 3:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi

I want to have one of those for some time, for events of Late Middle Ages. I don't want it to shoot bullets, only to make noise. But in Spain is hard to find good reproductions and, also, it's need to have a firearm licence.

IMO, your idea of ​​making the barrels with turned hardwood is excellent. The result is magnificent. The details are very well kept and the blued is very realistic. It's like the work of a Luthier.

Congratulations.
JosÚ-Manuel

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Ecce, iam meam gentem totam ab initio video
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

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PostPosted: Sun 01 Apr, 2012 6:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

hmm in reference to the hook guns spike beng a last ditch weapon,

wouldnt it be possible to use the other kind of handgonne, i.e the tube-on-top-of-a-pole, ones n a similar fashion
be be a fairly good mprovised cudgel, especially since some consst of a nearly 3 foot pole, and a 1 foot i wonder how much they weigh but beng hit in the face with a metal pole thats scalding hot from having just fired a few rounds, would be unpleasent to say the least.
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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Sun 01 Apr, 2012 10:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think there was a reason for handgunners being armoured and pushing crossbowmen in the same direction in mixed units. They did close combat fighting and a big heavy club wielded with both hands has always been useful for that sort of thing. Even more so if you are well protected by armour and have a weapon that scares the crap out of your opponent with a bang and a projectile that moves so fast that there's no chance to deflect it(Thalhofer suggests defensive postures against crossbows with the lance on horseback) before you club him.
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Julian Reynolds




Location: United Kingdom
Joined: 30 Mar 2008

Posts: 271

PostPosted: Sun 01 Apr, 2012 11:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I guess you could use a pole handgonne as a club: it certainly has the heft to do some concussive damage. But I doubt you could kill with it used as such. That's where you would draw your sidearm (a falchion, perhaps?) much as you would if you were a crossbowman coming into close order with your opponent. It would make a great parry weapon, however.

The hackbut is a different thing altogether. You can do some serious damage with that spike (possibly pierce maille or plate, certainly if you hit your opponent's head, it's like an oversize war hammer). It's a really nasty weapon with a lot of momentum and force in the swing.

I can see it being used with a pavise shield: it's short enough to be reloaded whilst crouching behind one, and the hook is designed to steady the weapon on a stable support, and transfer some of the recoil.

Julian
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Johan Gemvik




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PostPosted: Mon 02 Apr, 2012 3:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is a great initiative!

I've been tossing around another similar idea on making sword-in-scabbard replicas with high attention to detail that look real but can't be drawn. For use as wall ornamentation in historical pubs and feast halls where you don't want anyone prying loose a real sword off the wall to swing around when drunk.
Or for kids schools and kindergardens (little kids love knights and swords, but it's just not a good idea for them to be too close to real ones). Or ren faires or festivals in places where law enforcement gets upset over knife laws and such.

All this goes for handgonnes too of course.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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Julian Reynolds




Location: United Kingdom
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PostPosted: Mon 02 Apr, 2012 2:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I did a 'Guns through History' demonstration over the weekend and the kids (and adults) at the demo got to play with them. You really can't tell them apart from the real thing, except the pole gun is a little lighter at the business end. The hackbut, however, has a substantial weight to it due to all that metalwork.

The pole gun is pretty long for a kid to handle, and you have to keep an eye on where they swing the barrel/butt. But it was the hackbut that got me a little concerned, because of that spike and the weight.

But nothing bad happened and they were very well received - the general public hardly ever get to see, let alone handle, such early weapons, so they are more than a little curious about how they are held and used.

The more 'modern' stuff (matchlocks, flintlocks and percussion locks) that I brought along were, I suppose, a little more familiar and so seemed a bit less interesting. Besides, kids nowadays have it drummed into them not to 'play' with guns, so I think they may have been more open to 'play' with something that doesn't seem so much like a conventional gun......just a theory, anyway.

Julian
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
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PostPosted: Thu 05 Apr, 2012 8:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhiPCWMdilw&am...JcN7k80%3D

an interesting assertion about the development of early longarms,
this guys claims, the model of one of his guns dates to the 12th century.... he hasnt yet dug up the book that he uses to source that claim.
but he says " Yes the early wall gun made of brass or iron was used at around 1189 AD in France I have three sources let me know if you want themů (this one is a modern rep that was made several years ago) "

umm forgive me for going what the F....

12th century.. is there ANYTHING that might possibly support his claim.. since ive seen or heard nothing of such a statement ever, before this..
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Romulus Stoica




Location: Hunedoara, Transylvania, Romania
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PostPosted: Thu 05 Apr, 2012 10:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
... he says " Yes the early wall gun made of brass or iron was used at around 1189 AD in France I have three sources let me know if you want themů (this one is a modern rep that was made several years ago) " ...


That is a XV century Hackenbuchse or hakbut. The first gunpowder recipes in Europe are found in the late 13th century. Roger Bacon gave a formula for gunpowder in the year 1267 or a little earlier, so I doubt that any gun could have been made in Europe before someone could know how to make gunpowder.
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
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PostPosted: Thu 05 Apr, 2012 10:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

thats what i thought as well...

IIRC the chinese themselves only just started using gunpowder for weapons in the 11th century, and apparently one of the earliest references to the use of fire lances is around 1132 or so.
according to wikipedia anyway..
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Julian Reynolds




Location: United Kingdom
Joined: 30 Mar 2008

Posts: 271

PostPosted: Fri 06 Apr, 2012 12:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Back to the history books.....

Although there is an Arabic claim to the title, it is generally accepted that gunpowder was first discovered by the Chinese around the eighth century AD. It was certainly used by 908AD to 'scare the horses' and blow up buildings.

The first recorded use of a gun (not a fire-lance but a bamboo gun firing a solid projectile) is in 1132AD, under the auspices of General Ch'en Gui, commander of the garrison at Anlu, Hopei Province, China.

It is completely unbelievable that a metal gun could have been developed, used, or even conceived a mere 50-odd years, in France, after this first recorded use.

After all, it took another 200 years for the Chinese to fully develop a metal version of these early bamboo guns.

The gun that is being demonstrated is, indeed, a hackbut, which post-dates the 'pole' handgonne style of gun.

I, too, would also like to see the references for an 1189 date (as, I am sure, would many others interested in early handgonnes.....).

Julian
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Kurt Scholz





Joined: 09 Dec 2008

Posts: 390

PostPosted: Fri 06 Apr, 2012 1:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Julian Reynolds wrote:
Back to the history books.....

Although there is an Arabic claim to the title, it is generally accepted that gunpowder was first discovered by the Chinese around the eighth century AD. It was certainly used by 908AD to 'scare the horses' and blow up buildings.

The first recorded use of a gun (not a fire-lance but a bamboo gun firing a solid projectile) is in 1132AD, under the auspices of General Ch'en Gui, commander of the garrison at Anlu, Hopei Province, China.

It is completely unbelievable that a metal gun could have been developed, used, or even conceived a mere 50-odd years, in France, after this first recorded use.

After all, it took another 200 years for the Chinese to fully develop a metal version of these early bamboo guns.

The gun that is being demonstrated is, indeed, a hackbut, which post-dates the 'pole' handgonne style of gun.

I, too, would also like to see the references for an 1189 date (as, I am sure, would many others interested in early handgonnes.....).

Julian


Sorry, but this Chinese claim is very doubtful and not really accepted by anyone who did a deeper research of the issue. The Chinese sources are later editions of books published at that date. The problem is that the editions have been modified and updated, so there is no Chinese source that establishes any claim of having invented or even used gunpowder before the Muslims and Europeans. Arabic is very specific by referring to salpeter also as Chinese snow. It was a medicine, often mixed with sulfur and heated (a medicine that can explode)..The Chinese exported this medicine without restrictions. If the Chinese had realized the military potential before sources such as Ibn al Baitar (who likely knew of military applications because of the characteristics of information withheld in his text), their normal procedure would have been to ban the export in order to have a cutting edge in military affairs. In the countries outside China it's difficult to establish who had the oldest recipes for black powder, but because of the many similarities it likely was a development through mutual influence by Muslim and European experiments. The Muslim idea of combing it with naphta however was not adopted in Europe. Such a use of salts to enhance burning materials has old roots in Greece with salts changing the color of the flames (and different colors were associated with different heats), so it is possible that the Arabian scientists had a theory and application that favoured experiments with salpeter that was not yet suitable for blackpowder or even gunpowder applications. In Eastern Asia and Southern Asia (with a little known and much neglected role in that affair) there are depictions of flaming lances that are likely derived by mixing burning materials with salpeter as internal oxygen storage that are still far away from having cheap and pure ingredients for explosive large scale applications.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Fri 06 Apr, 2012 2:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

We see reports of iron Chinese guns being used in 1232 (in the Song/Jin/Mongol wars). Not a contemporary source (the source we have is apparently published 1581), but still a report of an iron gun. The oldest surviving (Chinese) guns are metal, and date to about 1300 (bronze or iron, I don't recall).

Perhaps 200 years from the first use of guns to go from bamboo to iron and bronze, but not 200 years from the oldest surviving record of the use of guns.

We can find (at least) four lines of argument about the invention of guns:

(a) The gun was invented in Europe, by Europeans. I haven't seen any good justification of this argument.

(b) The gun was invented in China, with early development driven by the wars between Song, Jin, Mongols, and others for the control of China. This leads to two paths for spread to the West: Mongol armies, and trade. The "The Mongols made the modern world" school of thought usually favours the former, but the extent of trade westwards from China makes an earlier spread of the technology likely.

(c) The gun was invented by Arabs. (See preceding discussion of possible invention of gunpowder by Arabs.)

(d) The gun was invented by Indians in antiquity. I don't know what this is based on, but it doesn't seem to be supported by archaeology.

The problems are that the key events happened when our sources are scanty, that the same words were sometimes used for firearms and earlier mechanical (non-gunpowder) artillery, and the difficulty of distinguishing between guns and various incendiary weapons (and catapults, and catapult launched incendiaries). So it's easy for partisans of one school of thought to ignore the evidence that supports the others.

In addition, the spread of gunpowder might have been earlier and independent of the spread of guns. We have a relatively large number of mentions/recipes/descriptions of gunpowder in the 13th century, so if gunpowder didn't arrive before guns, it was written about a lot, and quickly.

The transmission of guns from Arab/Islamic users to European users seems to have been rapid. Also rapid spread from Mongol use to SE Asia (if they didn't get it earlier from the Chinese).

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Fri 06 Apr, 2012 6:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I honestly have a hard time with much of what is often said about gunpowder weapons and their development in general whether in China or Europe. People want so bad to have something earlier than some one else that something that with one eye closed and the other mostly closed looks gun like passes. Evidence is 'stretched' and critical vetting of the proof is watered down.

I spent a few months looking at all the evidence I could find that people are using for early Chinese guns for the 13th and earlier to get familiar with most of the current academics on it. I kept a few of the better articles from ILL office but most really were somewhat fluffy I saw little need to keep them. Those I kept I think are relatively useful whether as good research or wishful thinking. Many are based on artwork which is high speculative. Some of the artwork looks like it could be a range of things from martial to non-martial, but they simply assume it must be a gun or cannon. That said I am limited to translations to the languages I can read but that said most of the more recent ones incorporate sections of work from all over the world from the last hundreds of years. The use of documents from 50 or 100 is sometimes needed but dangerous, in the 100s of years or later seems even more so, rather curious and highly suspect, just as it is with western development. How did someone in the late 16th century witness or have solid information of what was happening in the early to mid 13th?

The idea gunpowder and certain weapons that used it spread through the 12th and 13th centuries westward seems plausible and likely. I tend to think the development was even slower than in Europe for them to begin widespread use of any gunpowder weapons from gunpowders inception over anywhere it was and as Bert Hall points out the formulas in use during this period were not optimal for projection. This would have had a major effect on development and use and a plethora of alternative uses outside of guns and cannons. I think the Mongol concept makes some sense but considering the lack of hard evidence I think is pushed further than I would go as many accounts of 'proof' seem just as likely if not more so to be traditional weapons. Sort of Like Edward I's use of 'firearms', where a real examination of the account seems to be some type of flammable projectile- which is not a cannon.

The fact that even into relatively modern times in many of these places used traditional weapons and for battle and siege primarily is another factor to consider for practicality and commonality.

RPM
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Julian Reynolds




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PostPosted: Fri 06 Apr, 2012 7:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I wish I had your certainty, Kurt, that the use of gunpowder as an explosive was an Arabic invention. That they used the component parts of gunpowder, in varying quantities and combinations for various uses is undoubted. But as a weapon in war, call me old fashioned, I still subscribe to the theory that the Chinese invented it, used it (maybe not in 'guns' but in projectiles and for shock effect) against the Mongols, who in turn used it against the Eastern Europeans, who in turn used it amongst themselves.

I don't doubt that the Arabs, astute as ever about these things, picked it up along the way (or may even have come up with it independently), undoubtedly before it arrived in Europe, but I don't believe they were the true originators.

Whatever you (or I) believe, one thing is certain; an 1189 French handgonne is unlikely.....

Julian
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
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PostPosted: Fri 06 Apr, 2012 9:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

well just in time hes responded and listed one of the books he uses as a source on early firearms
L'Armeria Del Museo Civico Medievale Di Bolonga Coppyright 1911 Busto Arizio good luck everybody who wants to find the passage indicating a 12th century wall gun >.>;
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JosÚ-Manuel Benito




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PostPosted: Fri 06 Apr, 2012 11:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello

I'd like to know about primary sources showing that the gunpowder was used as a weapon in Europe before the 1300s.

thanks

Ecce, iam meum patrem video
Ecce, iam meam matrem video
Ecce, iam meas sorores ac meos fratres video
Ecce, iam meam gentem totam ab initio video
Ecce illi me iam vocant
Et illi me rogant meum locum inter se accipere
Apud Averni portas sunt
Ubi viri fortes Šterne vivant
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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Fri 06 Apr, 2012 1:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Julian Reynolds wrote:
I wish I had your certainty, Kurt, that the use of gunpowder as an explosive was an Arabic invention. That they used the component parts of gunpowder, in varying quantities and combinations for various uses is undoubted. But as a weapon in war, call me old fashioned, I still subscribe to the theory that the Chinese invented it, used it (maybe not in 'guns' but in projectiles and for shock effect) against the Mongols, who in turn used it against the Eastern Europeans, who in turn used it amongst themselves.

I don't doubt that the Arabs, astute as ever about these things, picked it up along the way (or may even have come up with it independently), undoubtedly before it arrived in Europe, but I don't believe they were the true originators.

Whatever you (or I) believe, one thing is certain; an 1189 French handgonne is unlikely.....

Julian


I researched the gunpowder issue as a sidenote on the development of jet force engines almost two decades ago. There was the idea of publishing it, but this went nowhere and today I most certainly would have to update my research.
I wanted to point out some general problems with Chinese sources because many people don't understand how Chinese sources date. They are continuations of older sources published in later editions. So instead of claiming something is written in a source from some kind of date when the compilation started, you have to write when the edition it's written in was made in order to date things properly. That's just basics for anyone researching the great achievements of China.
As I pointed out, there's little to really make a clear cut difference between Muslim and European gunpowder development, so I'm rather sceptic on making any claim on who was first in this. India does have some own gunpowder and rocketry traditions that quite date back and they were part of the Muslim world with good connections to China, but a very bad source situation from my European point of view. Perhaps this will change in the future.
The big problem was most certainly not creating an explosive with salpeter. That issue had been solved centuries before any gunpowder applications. Salpeter was a medicine that got weaponized. In comparison it would be like terrorists building a bomb from cough sirup bought in pharmacies. Chinese made salpeter and sulfur a medicine they exported (gunpowder was always used as medicine for these properties). They did early on not consider this thing capable of having a meaningful military application because it was rather expensive and difficult to produce in quantity. The medical recipe does clearly contain mixing salpeter and sulfur and heating it with fire, so the explosive properties must have appeared to them. It must have seemed negligible for warfare to them, perhaps considering the idea of fighting with spoons of exploding sirup as plain crazy.
The steps towards weaponization are lowered costs and increased quantity in production of this thing with known explosive and fire enhancing capabilities. The question should be not who depicts a gun, but what are the recipes on winning and purifying this ingredient and how expensive and useful made these ideas the products as oxidizer? Current research in my opinion is looking away from the real thing at rather doubtful sources of tubes with fire coming out of them.
Ibn al Baitar is the first known source that implies that salpeter has some secret to it and this seems rather strange for a medicine that until then was freely distributed all over the world and of which everyone knew it was explosive. As soon as there was a rumour about someone building a weapon with salpeter everyone else in the world could prove that he was capable of doing just the same as a no brainer. That doesn't mean that it was a good idea because you wasted precious medical ingredients for a militarily insignificant effect until the production costs had been lowered and the quantity for repeated use increased.

Does this make my position clear:
There is possibly some early use among the many salts put into naphta and other applications in order to create hot colourful fires by the Muslims and Byzantines (with some research on residue in the clay pots used for this, but I don't know the final results). But i really think dating something like the origin of gunpowder is futile because everyone knew about gunpowder before it existed in a way because the whole world knew about sulfur and salpeter mixed and heated into a good explosive medicine coming from China. Just thinking of these spoonfuls as mighty weapons must have seemed ridiculous for centuries.
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Eric S




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PostPosted: Fri 06 Apr, 2012 4:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I ran into this ten shot pole handgonne awhile back, I have no idea were it originated but its interesting.

Here is an quote on the subject from Firearms: A Global History to 1700, Kenneth Warren Chase http://books.google.com/books?id=esnWJkYRCJ4C...mp;f=false

Quote:
The earliest known formula for gunpowder can be found in a Chinese work dating probably from the 800s. The Chinese wasted little time in applying it to warfare, and they produced a variety of gunpowder weapons including flamethrowers, rockets, bombs, and mines, before inventing firearms. "Firearms" (or "guns") for purposes of this book means gunpowder weapons that use the explosive force of the gunpowder to propel a projectile from a tube:cannons, muskets, and pistols are typical examples.


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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Sat 07 Apr, 2012 12:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eric S wrote:
I ran into this ten shot pole handgonne awhile back, I have no idea were it originated but its interesting.

Here is an quote on the subject from Firearms: A Global History to 1700, Kenneth Warren Chase http://books.google.com/books?id=esnWJkYRCJ4C...mp;f=false

Quote:
The earliest known formula for gunpowder can be found in a Chinese work dating probably from the 800s. The Chinese wasted little time in applying it to warfare, and they produced a variety of gunpowder weapons including flamethrowers, rockets, bombs, and mines, before inventing firearms. "Firearms" (or "guns") for purposes of this book means gunpowder weapons that use the explosive force of the gunpowder to propel a projectile from a tube:cannons, muskets, and pistols are typical examples.




Dear Eric that is one of the many wrong conclusions because "scientists" didn't understand how Chinese literature worked and how it dates.
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