Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Victor Davis Hanson and the "harquebus" Reply to topic
This is a standard topic  
Author Message
Chris Friede




Location: Austin
Joined: 15 Mar 2014

Posts: 39

PostPosted: Mon 20 Oct, 2014 9:23 pm    Post subject: Victor Davis Hanson and the "harquebus"         Reply with quote

Reading Culture and Carnage...got hung up on a couple of points, though. In two separate places, he refers to the range of the harquebus as several hundred meters...in the chapter on Cortez and the Aztecs, and again in his chapter on the Battle of Lepanto.

Really? I would have thought the range somewhat less than 100 meters.

Maybe it is because I the events he is describing, it would be hard to miss anything considering the numbers, but I find his claim for accurate fire somewhat doubtful. Any one with more authority on the subject?
View user's profile Send private message
Mart Shearer




Location: Jackson, MS, USA
Joined: 18 Aug 2012

Posts: 1,290

PostPosted: Mon 20 Oct, 2014 10:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Why do you think range means accurate fire?
ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
View user's profile Send private message
Chris Friede




Location: Austin
Joined: 15 Mar 2014

Posts: 39

PostPosted: Mon 20 Oct, 2014 11:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mart Shearer wrote:
Why do you think range means accurate fire?


Good point...I left the book at work today...something about how the harquebus was more accurate than the crossbows of the Ottomans led me to think he meant accurate fire at that range. At the very least, he implies the gun had an effect at that two hundred + meters.
View user's profile Send private message
Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 3,332

PostPosted: Tue 21 Oct, 2014 6:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In battle individual accuracy doesn't mean much. The idea was to put as much ammunition down range as possible, This was true both with archery and firearms. So you line up thousands of men and train them to all shoot at the same time in volleys.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
View user's profile Send private message
Chris Friede




Location: Austin
Joined: 15 Mar 2014

Posts: 39

PostPosted: Fri 24 Oct, 2014 11:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am aware of volley tactics...but at least in dealing with the Mexia (Aztecs), Cortez did not have thousands of men. Yes, his arbelast and arquebus soldiers would have used volley tactics...what I am concerned about is the "hundreds of meters" claim. Arquebus fired heavy, low-velocity rounds. What would an effective range be? On Conquest ( yes, I know...not the most authoritative source) Early Firearms, the actors hit 25% of the time at 50 feet
View user's profile Send private message
Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 3,332

PostPosted: Fri 24 Oct, 2014 1:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It seems that the question can't be answered until you get more specific. What do you mean by "effective range"? How many men are in the battle? Whose tactics are being adopted?
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
View user's profile Send private message
Timo Nieminen




Location: Brisbane, Australia
Joined: 08 May 2009
Likes: 1 page
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 1,501

PostPosted: Fri 24 Oct, 2014 2:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not that low velocity - supersonic, about 400m/s is typical. That speed drops quickly, and the shot will have lost a lot of energy at 100m. Against armoured opponents, you could say that 100m is the maximum effective range (not worrying about accuracy). Still dangerous against unarmoured opponents (if you can hit them), but significantly less so than at close range.

Into the Napoleonic Wars, people would say that musket fire was ineffective past 200m. So fair to say that maximum range is 100-200m for smoothbore muskets. Without even worrying about accuracy,

Hanson finds information that supports his preconceived ideas, and presents that (and ignores everything that doesn't (except sometimes by accident), such as widespread avoidance of battle in Medieval Europe). This isn't conducive to accuracy. Don't worry about this; it's just another Hansonism - disregard of accuracy and objectivity in the interests of rhetoric.

For more accurate info about early firearms, just go to better books than Hanson. E.g., Bert Hall, http://myArmoury.com/books/item.0801869943.html

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Ruel A. Macaraeg





Joined: 25 Aug 2003

Posts: 306

PostPosted: Fri 24 Oct, 2014 2:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:
Hanson finds information that supports his preconceived ideas, and presents that (and ignores everything that doesn't (except sometimes by accident)

Thank you for saying this Timo -- it needs to be said more often. Hanson gets much more attention and respect than his arguments entitle him to.

http://ForensicFashion.com/CostumeStudies.html
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Timo Nieminen




Location: Brisbane, Australia
Joined: 08 May 2009
Likes: 1 page
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 1,501

PostPosted: Fri 24 Oct, 2014 3:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hanson is dealt with quite savagely in many reviews in the academic history journals. Some of that is reflected in online reviews and discussion. Sometimes, the criticism is represented (by pro-Hanson writers) as a knee-jerk reaction against perceived racism in Hanson's work, but most of it is based rather solidly on fact, or rather on criticism of Hanson's highly selective treatment of fact.
"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Ruel A. Macaraeg





Joined: 25 Aug 2003

Posts: 306

PostPosted: Fri 24 Oct, 2014 3:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Savagely and deservedly so, yet Hanson continues to enjoy popularity among non-academic historical enthusiasts, including many in the sword and WMA communities. John Clements of ARMA has been a vocal advocate of Hanson's "Western Way of War." Rebuffed by academia, he increasingly seeks a popular audience to vent his ideology. When you read Hanson's contemporary political writings, you can really see how his politics color his historical (mis)interpretations to produce a skewed worldview.

When I lectured at the Higgins Armory in 2011 and brought up the "Western Way of War," a history professor with similar political views tried to derail my talk by arguing Hanson's "civic militarism" concept. That idea, like much else of Hanson's, has already been thoroughly debunked -- eg. here: http://www.forensicfashion.com/PositionStatem...OfWar.html -- so I was disappointed that a supposed professional historian would try to advocate it. We always have to be on guard...

http://ForensicFashion.com/CostumeStudies.html
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Timo Nieminen




Location: Brisbane, Australia
Joined: 08 May 2009
Likes: 1 page
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 1,501

PostPosted: Fri 24 Oct, 2014 4:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For every one of Hanson's examples, it's easy to come up with a Western example that doesn't follow his "Western way of warfare", and a non-Western example that does. However, that takes some familiarity with history (especially non-Western history), and actually doing so. Readers who just read what he says can find his arguments very convincing - after all, all of the evidence he gives supports his thesis.

One reason why many readers are easily convinced is that a lot of modern warfare supports his ideas on decisive battle (ignoring his ideas about deception in warfare). But rather than arguing that seeking decisive battle is "Western", one could better argue that the stronger side, the side that can deliver more combat power to the battlefield, typically seeks decisive battle, and the weaker side avoids it. Post-Industrial Revolution, Western armies have often had a large advantage in combat power, and the rest follows.

The role of deception is letting the weaker side think they are stronger means that deception is often essential to obtaining that sought-for decisive battle.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Chris Friede




Location: Austin
Joined: 15 Mar 2014

Posts: 39

PostPosted: Sun 26 Oct, 2014 11:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Your take on Hanson reflects what I felt after reading Carnage and Culture...it left me with a vaguely bad taste in my mouth...but my application essay for graduate school in military history was to compare Carnage to Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel".

I think my favorite part was when Hanson accuses Diamond of being racist for Diamond's tongue-in-cheek comment about how New Guinean IQ could be higher since they had to solve more problems on a daily level.

Or how the Mongols barely rated a footnote...

Ah, well. At least it was easy to come up with a thesis for this...hell. Hanson even points out the advantages smallpox and horses gave the Spanish at Tenochtitlan.
View user's profile Send private message
Timo Nieminen




Location: Brisbane, Australia
Joined: 08 May 2009
Likes: 1 page
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 1,501

PostPosted: Mon 27 Oct, 2014 2:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Another big advantage that the Spanish had in their conquest of Mexico was that the Aztecs had many enemies, who were happy to help.

(I've seen people say that one of the best armies to field in pike-and-shot wargames is Conquistador. You get a core of well-equipped soldiers, and a vast number of very colourful allies, which makes a spectacular impression on the table. Also much fun to paint, if you like that.)

Similar thing even on the First Crusade. Local states saw opportunities to ally with Crusaders to defeat their local enemies. Wasn't long before there were battles with Saracens + Crusaders on one side, and Saracens + Crusaders on the other.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Chris Friede




Location: Austin
Joined: 15 Mar 2014

Posts: 39

PostPosted: Tue 28 Oct, 2014 2:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:
Another big advantage that the Spanish had in their conquest of Mexico was that the Aztecs had many enemies, who were happy to help.


Yeah...sacrificing your neighbors and wearing their skin probably doesn't win you many friends.

The darn thing is that because Hanson picks and chooses his points well, his logic is consistent...I feel somewhat hamstrung in that my essay requires me to evaluate the two authors solely on the merits of their works without outside references. It is an interesting academic exercise to restrain myself and argue the logic more than the external facts.
View user's profile Send private message
Timo Nieminen




Location: Brisbane, Australia
Joined: 08 May 2009
Likes: 1 page
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 1,501

PostPosted: Tue 28 Oct, 2014 2:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hanson's logic is fine. It's the cherry-picking of the evidence that's the problem. But surely you are allowed to comment on the correctness and representativeness of the facts both authors present. ("Surely"? Maybe not, but at least "hopefully.) If internal logic were the only thing that mattered, it would be very easy to simply make up a bunch of "facts", and argue based on them.
"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Victor Davis Hanson and the "harquebus"
Page 1 of 1 Reply to topic
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 2003-2019 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum