Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Noob question #2: was West technologically advanced ? (XIII) Reply to topic
This is a standard topic Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next 
Author Message
Gene Green





Joined: 13 Mar 2007

Posts: 62

PostPosted: Thu 31 May, 2012 1:53 pm    Post subject: Noob question #2: was West technologically advanced ? (XIII)         Reply with quote

Another question that I was always interested in, is when did West become technologically superior to the Eastern world, enough to tilt the playing field in its favor ? At least in terms of the military and related technology (steel production, fortifications, naval shipbuilding) ?

E.g. definitely by the XIX century the Western Europe was well ahead of anyone else, and the Eastern Europe mostly tagged along. Probably XVIII century as well. XVI century - pretty much ahead, although the Turks were still going strong, but everyone else was probably not on par. Pre-Renaissance - that's where things are becoming interesting.

Now, what about the times of Mongol conquests, or before that ? Was Western / Central Europe a technologically advanced society ? Were they more advanced than the Chinese, for instance - not in some individual discoveries, but the overall state of practical technology ? And if so, then in what areas ? Or were they somewhat second-rate ? At what time did Europe start getting ahead of the rest of the world in military and naval technology ?
View user's profile Send private message
Elling Polden




Location: Bergen, Norway
Joined: 19 Feb 2004
Likes: 1 page

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,576

PostPosted: Thu 31 May, 2012 3:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The germanic peoples of western europe lagged behind the eastern Roman empire after the fall of the western empire. The muslims did a mutch better job at maintaining the technology level of their east roman predecessors.
Thus, it was kind of a surprise when they suddenly showed up in the middle east in the 1st crusade. (Where the shaitan did all those franks come from?!?)

Throughout the middle ages, the west made steady progress alongside the rest of the world. It was not untill the renaisance, however, that the europeans began to develop a real edge.
A lot of this can be atributet to mindsett.

For most of history, development has been a result of necessity.
No need to have livestock if you can hunt.
No need to farm if you have livestock.
No need to irrigate if you can slash and burn.
and so on.

During the renaisance, however, the europeans developed a sense that drastic development was posible, and desirable. They had a quite clear notion that the world could be better. It HAD been better, once, in antiquity.
Thus, through effort, one could reach that mythical level of civilistation once more.

This led to a burst of invention and development, that would take the europeans nations to technological exelence. By the 17th century, they where the leaders in naval and military technology, and their designs where imitated all over the world, by Ottomans, Indians and Japanese.
But when the industrial revolution startet in earnest in the late 18th century, the europeans pulled ahead in earnest, producing things the rest of the world didn't even have the technology to replicate.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website MSN Messenger
D. Phillip Caron




Location: Arcadia, FL
Joined: 28 Dec 2011
Likes: 2 pages

Posts: 115

PostPosted: Thu 31 May, 2012 5:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are no short answers to your question. Look at it's length. Perhaps, one day, it could be a post grad study area. If you broke your question up into ten questions you would probably have better luck in gaining some understanding of what you want to know, and how to ask.
The first casualty of battle is bravado, the second is macho.
View user's profile Send private message
Jojo Zerach





Joined: 26 Dec 2009

Posts: 288

PostPosted: Fri 01 Jun, 2012 8:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

During the 12th century in the West, you start to see the definite and steady trend of technological advancement that has continued to this day.
I would say by the 14th century, the West started to pull ahead of the rest of the world technology wise.
Here is a list of Medieval Western technology.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_technology

Granted, some of the things on that list filtered over from the east, but they became western technology, along with the many native European inventions, such as mechanical clocks, spectacles, and universities.
View user's profile Send private message
Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
Joined: 07 Jun 2006
Reading list: 5 books

Posts: 2,094

PostPosted: Fri 01 Jun, 2012 1:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For much of Europe these are high medieval and late medieval changes but by the 8-10th they are having major agricultural advances as well.

Part of the issue with this is every one wants their civilization, nation, etc. the spot as most advanced and use different playing fields to prove it. They are all different and have various facets of development.

RPM
View user's profile Send private message
Gene Green





Joined: 13 Mar 2007

Posts: 62

PostPosted: Fri 01 Jun, 2012 2:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Moffett wrote:
For much of Europe these are high medieval and late medieval changes but by the 8-10th they are having major agricultural advances as well.

Part of the issue with this is every one wants their civilization, nation, etc. the spot as most advanced and use different playing fields to prove it. They are all different and have various facets of development.

RPM


OK, here's why I ask.

I've read a bit lately on the history of Mongol conquest. Nothing really in depth or scientific. I was interested, primarily, in possible Mongol conquest of the entire Europe, and what would the world look like if it happened. Of course it's hard to avoid the multiple "what-if" threads scattered about the net.

When I read the posts of those who argue that the conquest of Western Europe would've been very hard or overall impossible, there seems to be a strong underlying sense of western technological superiority - basically, "west was more developed, had better castles, etc". Which made me think, was the West really superior, or was that sentiment largely based on the idea that West was technologically ahead for last 500 years, so many people just assume that it was always that way ? E.g. it's obvious that Mongols wouldn't be very advanced in masonry, for obvious reasons, but they defeated the Chinese with their stone fortifications. Perhaps West was not a first-rate technological society by the standards of the time.
View user's profile Send private message
Robin Smith




Location: Louisiana
Joined: 23 Dec 2006
Likes: 4 pages
Reading list: 17 books

Posts: 746

PostPosted: Fri 01 Jun, 2012 2:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gene Green wrote:
Randall Moffett wrote:
For much of Europe these are high medieval and late medieval changes but by the 8-10th they are having major agricultural advances as well.

Part of the issue with this is every one wants their civilization, nation, etc. the spot as most advanced and use different playing fields to prove it. They are all different and have various facets of development.

RPM


OK, here's why I ask.

I've read a bit lately on the history of Mongol conquest. Nothing really in depth or scientific. I was interested, primarily, in possible Mongol conquest of the entire Europe, and what would the world look like if it happened. Of course it's hard to avoid the multiple "what-if" threads scattered about the net.

When I read the posts of those who argue that the conquest of Western Europe would've been very hard or overall impossible, there seems to be a strong underlying sense of western technological superiority - basically, "west was more developed, had better castles, etc". Which made me think, was the West really superior, or was that sentiment largely based on the idea that West was technologically ahead for last 500 years, so many people just assume that it was always that way ? E.g. it's obvious that Mongols wouldn't be very advanced in masonry, for obvious reasons, but they defeated the Chinese with their stone fortifications. Perhaps West was not a first-rate technological society by the standards of the time.

For me its more a matter of supply lines and logistics. The Mongols were already spreading themselves thin. Even if they had managed to move through and do some sacking, there is no way they could have held it long term.. And that's a big "IF" which I am not sure I would grant

Battles are won by strategy and tactics, but wars are won by logistics...

A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine
View user's profile Send private message Yahoo Messenger
Gene Green





Joined: 13 Mar 2007

Posts: 62

PostPosted: Fri 01 Jun, 2012 2:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Robin Smith wrote:

For me its more a matter of supply lines and logistics. The Mongols were already spreading themselves thin. Even if they had managed to move through and do some sacking, there is no way they could have held it long term.. And that's a big "IF" which I am not sure I would grant

Battles are won by strategy and tactics, but wars are won by logistics...


They held Rus, which was so far removed from Mongolia, that Western Europe would seem just a stone throw away, by comparison. According to Google, it's about 6,800 km from Ulan Bator to Kiev, but only 1,300 km from Kiev to Berlin. So if they held Kiev (in their sphere of influence, anyway, if not by direct permanent presence), why they wouldn't be able to hold Berlin ? And there were plenty of forests in Rus. (Now, mountains may be a different thing).
View user's profile Send private message
Robin Smith




Location: Louisiana
Joined: 23 Dec 2006
Likes: 4 pages
Reading list: 17 books

Posts: 746

PostPosted: Fri 01 Jun, 2012 2:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gene Green wrote:
Robin Smith wrote:

For me its more a matter of supply lines and logistics. The Mongols were already spreading themselves thin. Even if they had managed to move through and do some sacking, there is no way they could have held it long term.. And that's a big "IF" which I am not sure I would grant

Battles are won by strategy and tactics, but wars are won by logistics...


They held Rus, which was so far removed from Mongolia, that Western Europe would seem just a stone throw away, by comparison. According to Google, it's about 6,800 km from Ulan Bator to Kiev, but only 1,300 km from Kiev to Berlin. So if they held Kiev (in their sphere of influence, anyway, if not by direct permanent presence), why they wouldn't be able to hold Berlin ? And there were plenty of forests in Rus. (Now, mountains may be a different thing).

Because as I said, they were already spread pretty thin by the time the reached Kiev or the Mohi. I just don't see them maintaining a supply line across the mountains of central Europe. Germany and France are entirely different propositions than Hungary. More castles, more densely populated, more mountains. Wetter (I've read this was seriously affecting their bows).

I just think the Mongols were spread thin. It happens to every military in history. Its not a matter of once we get to Kiev the counter resets and then we can stretch out to Berlin. Ever mile that stretches from their origin and seat of power is harder than the last and increases the difficulty of the campaign. I just don't see them being able to take Germany, France, Italy, and Spain (to say nothing of crossing the channel).

A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine
View user's profile Send private message Yahoo Messenger
Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
Joined: 07 Jun 2006
Reading list: 5 books

Posts: 2,094

PostPosted: Fri 01 Jun, 2012 6:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Keep in mind the Mongols have very little advances that are truly their own. They tended to "borrow" technology as they went around adding lands to their empire. That said they had access to it but if you are comparing civilizations you have to account for change over time as well. I love when these topics love to discredit "borrowed" technologies in the west but ignore the same from the compared region, sadly this is largely how things work. I am not convinced the Mongols brought everything many claim they did as for hundreds of years before they arrived in the Middle East and Europe items were traded with China so these were not all that uncommon in Europe.

I myself do not think the Mongols could have taken over Europe for many reasons. Much is based on evidence but I admit no one could be sure.

First, Russia is a poor example of a European state in most respects as by the 13th century they had largely fallen apart to personal lands owned by various princes. Much of Europe was not that decentralized or fragmented. Hungary put up much more of a fight even though Belas had little home or outside help, with internal and external issues in the balance, the Hungarian response is pretty good all and all. If they had to deal with a unified and powerful kingdom I think the fight would have been even more out of favor for the Mongols.

It is hard to gauge the Mongol casualties at Mohi but many accounts seem fairly clear the hungarians killed off a large amount of the Mongol force. Considering the small size of Belas army once again a fairly good job. If Batu's guard suffered the high deaths many accounts indicate this would be a very pyrrhic victory and would have slowed down their progress.

And of course the Mongols never are able to really take over Hungary. The local peasants and nobles wage a bloody and relentless war against them. When Ogadei died I suspect Batu was relieved to get out of Hungary. Supposedly he was planning to return later in the 1250s but I sort of wonder if this is not a way to make his lack of success look like he had planned to finish it later.

As well attacks into Poland, the HRE and others are repelled by various European groups. Hard to say from this the Mongols would have had much success there.

Going back to Russia. It is indeed likely the Mongols had been worn to thin by this point and we have several large indicators of this. One is they recruited largely local nomadic and semi-nomadic groups of western asia for much of their long term activity there. Then this mixed groups never actually moves in to Russia but simply demand tribute so not really a full conquest, the Russian Princes are largely left in charge of their own lands.

Those who love Mongols just find it easier to say "if Ogadei had not died then it would have been over for Europe", which to me seems based more on wistful musings than actual evidence. Sure the Mongols were awesome but around the time of Mohi and shortly after the Mongols are being slammed all over from Korea to Palestine.

Now doubt internal fighting was a major issue of the Mongols after Ghengis died..... even in Ogadei's time there were major fractures-though he keeps things together- but this is hardly limited to the Mongols. Internal issues are one of the most common weaknesses of many civilizations. We could say the same thing about why the Europeans had such a hard time uniting to fight the Mongols or Ottomans later.

So short answer, perhaps but I think there is much evidence to point to a strong European defense.

RPM
View user's profile Send private message
William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

Posts: 1,423

PostPosted: Fri 01 Jun, 2012 10:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

to me, the more probable what if scenario of eastern domination of the west wasnt the mongols, but the ottomans.

those guys were seriously powerful and very advanced, if i remember correctly these guys got as far as vienna.
theres also a quote, i remember
the renaissance that furthered the arts and sciences also furthered the dark arts of war, as a result, europe was ppoised to take over the world.
and it says it all really

one other thing which improved european adoption of new iems was because europe was fiercely internally competattive, with individual burghers fighting and postering to show they were the best, we had the hundred years war, and not the least the threat of the ottomans..

systems like that combined with a new mentality, mean that things can develop very fast


as for the death of invading forces, while logistics plays a part, quite often single batles have beeen enough to completely tip the balance of an entire campaign, for example if edward III had lost at crecy, it may very well have completely ruined english momentum in france..

and the fact that, despiote the fact henry V's army was if i remember correctly suffering quite badly from the attrition of hunger and disease.. the victory a agincourt allowed hery to press forward again and completely reverse the situation..
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Ryan S.





Joined: 04 May 2012

Posts: 132

PostPosted: Sat 02 Jun, 2012 6:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It seems to me that the big determining factor in a nation's resistance to conquest is its unity. Also, there are certain cultural factors that made Europe hard to conquer. Also, it is not all technology of war that matters. Logistics as it has been said is important. Technological advancement in industry allows a nation to equip and feed a larger army. Systems of government are also important.

As far as distance, Berlin well now the capital of Germany, was then barely part of it, being part of the Northern or Brandenburg March (a march is a border region).
View user's profile Send private message
Luka Borscak




Location: Croatia
Joined: 11 Jun 2007
Likes: 7 pages

Posts: 2,218

PostPosted: Sat 02 Jun, 2012 11:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mongols never managed to take even one walled city in Croatia and they spent 6 months here and tried besieging several towns. They only managed to burn towns not walled with stone. Mountains, stone walls and hard fighting locals stoped them. And they lost a naval battle when they tried to pursue Bela IV to island of Rab. It's quite brave to build an improvised navy very fast to pursue Hungarian king, but they just couldn't be equal to Croatian navy which was famous since 9th century.
So if you ask me, China and Russia lost because they underestimated Mongols and their strength and moral was fresh and unhurt. Until they reached Hungary and Croatia, they were not that superior any more...
View user's profile Send private message
Gary Teuscher





Joined: 19 Nov 2008

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 704

PostPosted: Mon 04 Jun, 2012 9:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
E.g. it's obvious that Mongols wouldn't be very advanced in masonry, for obvious reasons, but they defeated the Chinese with their stone fortifications. Perhaps West was not a first-rate technological society by the standards of the time.


It's not technology that wins wars. It can be an advantage, but one that is balanced with other advantages and disadvantages.

For instance ROme was more technologically advanced than the germanic nations, but these germanics pretty well destroyed the western empire. One could say their level of technology had raised through the centuries by living in lcose proximity to Rome, or by being mercenaries for Rome, but Rome still I would think had the technological advantage.

A very technologically advanced culture for it's time, Mycenae, fell to Doric tribes that were not nearly as advanced, though we do not have the specifics on mush of this.

The Proto Roman culture of 6th century England fell to invading Early Saxons.

Byzantine lost much of it's land, first to the Arabic tribes, the to Turkish tribes.

History is full of more advanced cultures losing wars.
View user's profile Send private message
Ryan S.





Joined: 04 May 2012

Posts: 132

PostPosted: Mon 04 Jun, 2012 1:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I really don't know much about Chinese fortifications, I mean they have the one famous one, but that didn't surround a town. The advantages barbarians had were in mobility. Vast empires can not protect their whole territory, and people aren't always content with the local authorities.
View user's profile Send private message
Nathan Quarantillo




Location: Eastern Panhandle WV, USA
Joined: 14 Aug 2009

Posts: 279

PostPosted: Mon 04 Jun, 2012 9:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Even then, the Great Wall of China wasn't the large stone fortification it is today. In some parts of the wall in the 13th century, there wasn't anything but a wooden palisade and ditch. Either way it didn't do a terribly good job Wink
"Id rather be historically accurate than politically correct"
View user's profile Send private message
Mikael Ranelius




Location: Sweden
Joined: 06 Mar 2007

Posts: 252

PostPosted: Tue 05 Jun, 2012 1:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So far I have seen no evidence of the mongols being stopped by European armies, neither have I seen any evidence to suggest that they suffered crippling losses as often claimed. On the contrary, the Mongols pretty much cut a swathe of destruction across eastern Europa and crushed all opposition on their way. At least three times were feudal European armies heavily defeated at Chmielnik, Liegnitz/Legnica and Mohi, and several cities including Lublin, Sandomierz, Krįkow, Wrocław, Hermannstadt, and Pest were taken and sacked.

The notion that the Mongols supposedly won phyrric victories and were on the brink of defeat in Europe seems to be a later, European attempt of rationalizing the defeat of western armies at the hands of an Asian opponent, a disgrace that was painfully embarrassing to 19th and 20th century scholars who sought to compose a grand history in support of western superiority over eastern "barbarians".

Randall Moffett wrote:
And of course the Mongols never are able to really take over Hungary. The local peasants and nobles wage a bloody and relentless war against them.


According to period chronicles, the kingdom of Hungary had "ceased to exist due to the Tatar onslaught". Other sources of that time estimated that half of the Hungarian population perished during the Mongol invasion, and that the survivors were reduced to slaves "reaping and sowing" for their new overlords. I have looked to the sources available to me, but I haven't found anything about a Hungarian war of resistance against the invaders. When the Mongols left in 1242, the only place in Hungary that successfully had resisted was the keep at Esztergom (Gran).


Quote:
As well attacks into Poland, the HRE and others are repelled by various European groups. Hard to say from this the Mongols would have had much success there.


Which ones? I know of no such instance where the mongols were beaten by Polish or German forces during the 1241 invasion.

Quote:

Sure the Mongols were awesome but around the time of Mohi and shortly after the Mongols are being slammed all over from Korea to Palestine.


In 1243 the Mongols conquered Anatolia and Trebizond, between 1251-59 the rest of Persia and Mesopotamia including the Assassins and Abbasid Caliphate was subdued, at the same time the last Korean resistance was broken and still future conquests were to be made in Song China and Burma. To me it's clear that the Mongols were still in the game by 1241.
View user's profile Send private message
Gary Teuscher





Joined: 19 Nov 2008

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 704

PostPosted: Tue 05 Jun, 2012 2:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
In 1243 the Mongols conquered Anatolia and Trebizond, between 1251-59 the rest of Persia and Mesopotamia including the Assassins and Abbasid Caliphate was subdued, at the same time the last Korean resistance was broken and still future conquests were to be made in Song China and Burma. To me it's clear that the Mongols were still in the game by 1241.


Here I could see where the Mongols would have had trouble. Not due to inferiority of their forces, or because of determined european defense - but merely due to the extent of the empire and the manpower needed to hold it. It's often easier to conquer a territory than to hold one.

And I would think at some point the manpower drain on native mongolians would have been tremendous, and they would have had to use subject people's or "allies" to suppplemtn their forces. And when this happens, the fighting ability of a nation's armies usually see a decline.
View user's profile Send private message
Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
Joined: 07 Jun 2006
Reading list: 5 books

Posts: 2,094

PostPosted: Tue 05 Jun, 2012 3:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mikael,

And in 1258 they take Baghdad..... that does not change anything. Within a few years that same Khanate will be chewed up and spit out by the mamluks. The issue is that before this they have few to no defeats. After this they are fighting wars that are very often balanced by severe losses to their victories. The greatest period of Mongol expansion was the first four decades of the 13th. After this things slow down greatly.

You must be careful in such uncritical use of primary sources. Some writers claimed the world had/was died/dying during the black death but here we are. Looks like they, like us, exaggerate. Clearly Hungary is still here.... The best real estimates of actual land taken by the Mongols of Hungary is right around 1/3 from what I have read. Many are figure much less. And several 13th and 14th century chronicles from all over Europe indicate the heavy Mongol losses as do surrounding areas. So might want to broaden the amount of sources you are looking at or regions, that is the best answer I can give. Mongol accounts themselves such as the Yuan Histories give credit to Hungarians killing many of the Mongol army. They inflate Hungarian forces to larger than Mongol but since they won a very empty victory they had to save face. I doubt very much this is a later occurence as many 13th and 14th century authors seem to hold this idea. There are several doom and gloom type gents but they do the same thing for the Hussites and Ottomans in the 15th centuries and neither ended up taking Europe either or ending the world.

There are many examples of Mongols being halted by European forces. One easy one is Poland. Poland is fighting for nearly four decades and the Mongols fail to take them. Nogai Khan is defeated by them during this period. In the end one of their kings decides it is easier to pay tribute but that is more tied to weakening of Poland internally than the Mongols as Poland then uses Mongol troops to aid it. Sure stuff gets trashed but the Poles burn plenty on Mongol lands out as well.

I never said they had stopped by the 1240s but that this was the start of their decline. It is almost never the case that a single year or decade ends a major power. So not sure what else to say. Break out the books and start looking and you will find quite a few examples of Mongol defeats by Europeans.

Further by Ogadei they are no longer the Empire of Ghengis and the separation between them will only grow till they spend much of their time killing each other. Shortly after they will devolve further to petty mongol kingdoms.

I think much of what people state as Mongol accomplishments is blurred by Mongol Myth. Ghengis became a larger than life character in life and in many ways some what akin to King Arthur by his people.

RPM
View user's profile Send private message
William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

Posts: 1,423

PostPosted: Wed 06 Jun, 2012 1:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

and interestingly,edward the 1st, before he was king, actually made a temporary allianc with the mongols and convinced them to attack the mamluks in the holy land to distract the mamlukes enough to allow he french and english forces to reinforce cities in the holy land in 1271

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franco-Mongol_alliance
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Noob question #2: was West technologically advanced ? (XIII)
Page 1 of 3 Reply to topic
Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2018 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum