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The Field and the ForgePopulation, Production, and Power in the Pre-industrial West$
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John Landers

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199279579

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199279579.001.0001

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Battlefields before Gunpowder

Battlefields before Gunpowder

(p.127) Chapter Six Battlefields before Gunpowder
The Field and the Forge

John Landers (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Military technology incorporated the elements of hardware, procedure, and personnel in the same way as the technology of civilian production, and before the coming of gunpowder it was equally reliant on muscle power as an energy source. The fundamental problem of pre-gunpowder field and siege combat was the same as it was in the sphere of production: how to make the most effective use of muscle power. There were three possible solutions to the problem: the use of hardware to store and transmit energy, specialisation allied to the division of labour, and the exploitation of animal power. The rise and fall of tactical systems depended ultimately on their success or failure in winning battles. Siege or manoeuvre, rather than open-field battle, often decided the outcome of campaigns.

Keywords:   military technology, civilian production, gunpowder, muscle power, energy source, siege combat, animal power, tactical systems

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