Chinese Crossbow and other Inventions (3/4)

August 1, 2010

The first firearm was invented in China about one thousand years ago. It was made of bamboo, fired pebbles and had a range of about thirty yards.

Bamboo is strong, flexible and hollow in the center. It was perfect for the first crude gunpowder weapons.  Over time, bamboo was replaced with bronze, and the pebbles became cast-iron chips or pellets. In fact, the first bronze handgun dates to 12th century AD. It was about a foot long and weighed eight pounds.

From these early weapons came cannons.  Long before the rest of the world knew anything about heavy artillery, the Chinese were making strong, mobile cannons from bronze. Since the Chinese already had repeating crossbows, the next step was repeating cannons along with exploding artillery shells.

During the Ming Dynasty, in the 14th century, the Great Wall was equipped with more than 3,000 cannons. In Europe, the first cannons were still being developed. The Chinese also invented the hand grenade about a thousand years ago along with grenade launchers—the bow powered grenade.

A computer analysis demonstrated that China’s largest cannons could fire more than a third of a mile.  It would take centuries before Europeans could match the weaponry of China.

Go to  hinese Crossbow and Other Inventions – Part 4 or return to the Chinese Crossbow and other Inventions Part 2

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you ove a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love tory Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.

Advertisements

Chinese Crossbow and other Inventions (1/4)

July 31, 2010

The Chinese invented the forerunner to the modern machine gun—a repeating crossbow. If you watch the video, you will see that firing the repeating crossbow takes the pull of one lever.  The arrows are in a clip above the firing mechanism.

Then the Chinese invented the stirrup. Prior to that, all of the ancient people on earth rode horses without stirrups and staying on horseback and fighting was difficult without the stirrup.

Thanks to stirrups, the horse became a more stable platform for war. Prior to the stirrup, it was common for a man to ride about seven miles a day. After the stirrup, that distance was extended to as much as 70 miles a day.

The invention of the stirrup along with the repeating crossbow created a powerful weapon. The Chinese could also manufacture items in mass, quickly and efficiently. The Chinese used pottery molds to accomplish this—even to build the advanced trigger mechanism for the crossbow. When it came to cast iron, the Chinese were a thousand years ahead of the world.

However, by the time of the Sung Dynasty, the world was catching up—meaning China’s enemies were stealing their technology.  It’s ironic that today, many in the West accuse the Chinese of stealing innovations. If so, China is only doing what was done to them centuries ago.

Go to Chinese Crossbow and other Inventions – Part 2 or learn more about The Accidental Discovery of Gunpowder

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China