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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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Military Capital: Oars, Sails, Walls, and Guns

Military Capital: Oars, Sails, Walls, and Guns

(p.176) Chapter Eight Military Capital: Oars, Sails, Walls, and Guns
The Field and the Forge

John Landers (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Military equipment of any kind represents a certain commitment of capital, but fortifications and warships stand out from other categories because they were potentially much more expensive and required specialised skills to construct and maintain. Fortifications were static and ships were mobile by their very nature, but both siege and naval operations were tightly constrained by logistical considerations and the capacities of both forms of military capital were restricted by the limitations of muscle-powered military technology. The operation of mobile forces was supported or obstructed by fortifications, and manoeuvre warfare was complemented by siege and assault. Naval and land warfare differed in their strategic and operational principles, but the pursuit of both was constrained by the restricted availability of energy. Fighting at sea was a very different matter and its tactical imperatives meant that warship design diverged from that of merchant vessels both before and after the gunpowder revolution.

Keywords:   military equipment, fortifications, warship, siege, naval operations, military capital, naval warfare, land warfare

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