Western influences on China's military

Discussion in 'Military History' started by BLUEJACKET, Feb 7, 2007.

  1. BLUEJACKET
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    BLUEJACKET Banned Idiot

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    Rome vs Han tread is closed, but today I came across this article-
    Riddle of the `Roman' villagers.
    I wonder if the Western mercanaries/POWs really had any significant lessons to teach to the ancient Chinese generals?
     
  2. Jiang
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    Jiang Banned Idiot

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    Well, I think China has great tatics, what China need is Weastern Hardwares, and training systems. :china:
     
  3. BLUEJACKET
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    BLUEJACKET Banned Idiot

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    On this tread, I mean to focus on ancient military history.
    There were, for instance, Greek mercenaries in Persian Empire who fought Alexander the Great. Undoubtedly they came in contact with the nomads and merchants of Central Asia and through them, with the Chinese. The later Turks probably borrowed sword designs from them. Compare these Greek examples with this Turkish one
    The Chinese had crossbows for very long time, and so did the Greeks. Where they first developed independently from each other? Why the Greeks didn't use them as much as the Chinese had?
    Is this statement true?
     
  4. lyhx
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    lyhx Just Hatched
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    sorry ,i think there is not any influence of the wstern on the ancient chinese militrary !
    first , just i had recognized that the ancient china did not communicate much with the western empire as persain and turkish etc. chinese emperor considered that the china was the central of the world ,so they did not need assilimilate other dependency's culture and military etc. all other country in the world were the dependency of china !!

    second , china was surrounded mostly by the mountain and ocean ,in their north ,it was awesome llano where did not established a longtime empire .
    so the western may did not have any onfluence on the china!!
     
  5. szbd
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    szbd Junior Member

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    I think this is not true. In 5 century BC, both China and Persains have maturely developed "hyperbolic compound bow" (双曲复合弓). But the two kinds of bows are different. Chinese one is more flexible, that is, one can reach a long range with a smaller bow. A very strong evidence is in ancient Chinese books, like <考工记> (may be can be translated as "technology catalog"), all the materials to produce Chinese bows were recorded, and they just don't exist in central asia or europe. Crossbows are developed based on bows.
     
  6. adeptitus
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    adeptitus Captain
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    IMO most people today don't realize how extensive our ancestor's "reach" and trading network was. For example, many assume the tribes of Amazons are just primitive villages in the jungle, until they found this:
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3077413/
    http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/stories/s949687.htm

    If some jungle villagers in Brazil could build towns connected by roads up to 50m width w/curbs, I have to think our ancestors probably travelled extensively and traded with people pretty far away. It's not impossible to assume products from the "western world" made its way to China via traders long before Alexander ever set foot in Persia.
     
  7. fishhead
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    fishhead Banned Idiot

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    I think it's the other way around. Western military had too small scale compared with the size of Chinese terrain, see the Alexander the Great in China thread.

    Chinese influence to the west:

    1. compound bow, its strength is equal to the British long bow, but much smaller to carry and fight on a horse, both Chinese and nomades contributed to its development

    2. cross bow, Chinese original. With that Qin united the whole China and the following dynasty defeated Huns again and again. It's the machine gun before the real machine gun invented.

    3. horse stirrup, Chinese original. This changes the whole concept of calvary warfare, since you have something to support your feet when on the horse back fighting. And Mogoles benefited greatest from this invention.

    4. gun powder, needless to say about it.

    The 3 and 4 made Mongol waring-machine more deadly than Huns.
     
  8. szbd
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    szbd Junior Member

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    Crossbow is not the machine gun, it's a long range/sniper rifle. The fire speed of crossbow is far below a compound bow, just the crossbow can shoot can arrow with high energy anytime you want. But after the shooting, the reloading take much time. For a heavy crossbow, one has to lay down and use the strength of his legs to reload.

    I don't think Mongolians used gun powerder a lot. Ancient hot weapons were not reliable in quality and created a have logistic burden. Mongolians were successful because of a good military system and a large amount of PROFESSIONAL soldiers.
     
  9. crobato
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    crobato Colonel
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    I dont know if compound bows are a Chinese invention; they are more likely from the steepes, and its around even in the middle east ancient world. The Egyptians acquired them from foreigners for example, before learning to make them on their own.

    This is not to say that the compound bow is regarded as the most prized weapon in the ancient world. It takes 1.5 to 2 years to properly glue one together, and as the glue requires maturing. As such, compound bows are only made by the finest craftsmen. One Egyptian pharoah was said to take a personal interest on compound bows and would so often visit the craftsmen to examine the pieces.

    The problem of compound bows is that they tend to get soft and fall apart in humid climates. Hence the English choose to use solid bows instead. The closer compound bow users get to the Meditereanean, the less effective the compound bow becomes. It probably has its effect as Atilla got closer to Rome, or during the Persian invasion of Greece.

    I think in Japan, the Yumis were mainly solid as well. Humid climates in Japan and in Vietnam would have contributed to the lack of success the Mongol compound bow would have there.

    The Chinese bow uses lacquer to help preserve the bow. Compared to other compound bows, it adds a new material to the equation---bamboo. Even though compound bows are widespread from central Russia to Korea, it is in the Far East, like in China or Korea where we see the big extreme 160lb plus draw strength bows. Most composite bows are small, intended for the horse rider. But when sedentary peoples use composite bows on foot soldiers, these bows tend to be big and powerful.

    While compound recurve bows are from the north, the crossbow originated in the south. The crossbow is more of a southern chinese invention, and the concept may have originated from tribes south of the Yangtze. Unlike the compound bow, the bow on the crossbow tends to be solid, so it was easy to manufacture. What put it all together was the invention of the blast furnace, which allowed mass manufacture of the precise brass made trigger mechanism. Later these furnaces are instrumental in the widespread manufacture of metal stirrups.

    The crossbow isn't a weapon made by artisans and craftsman, it was the first weapon in the world mass manufactured by a semi-industrial manufacturing infrastructure, the first military-industrial complex in the world. The result of this, you can pound out more crossbows than compound bows. And since it is a lot easier to train peasants to use crossbows than archers, you are producing a lot more soldiers. Professional archers like northern horseriders had a lifetime of proficiency to develop their skills, which is not available to sedentary agricultural peoples who main skills in life are to grow veggies. Chinese armies in general tend to use mercenary, allied or recruited northern horsemen as their archery component, but their crossbow troops are mainly from their main populations.

    There is also a reason why China never developed a strong feudal structure. Feudal lords can afford their companies of blacksmiths to make weapons for them, and they can afford stable to grow horses. But they cannot afford the "factories" of blast furnaces---a monopoly by the imperial dynasty---that are needed to mass manufacture the trigger mechanisms for crossbows.

    With the crossbow also came the end of the "romantic age" in China in swordmanship. it is because a simple peasant with a crossbow can kill mounted skilled warriors with their lifetime of training, their lavish armor and horses, their beautifully crafted swords, just with a simple press of the trigger. The crossbow is the great equalizer that lets the farmer kill the warrior and the knights. It meant the democratization of warfare and at the same time, the consolidation of power to those who control the industry.
     
  10. szbd
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    szbd Junior Member

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    Bow was more important than crossbow in Chinese ancient military history.

    According to 太白阴经, a military doctrine book in Tang Dynasty, a corps with 12500 soldiors has 12500 bows and 2500 crossbows.

    In 宋史:志第一百五十 兵十一(part of official history of Song Dynasty) said, 弓弩院岁造角弝弓等凡千六百五十余万,诸州岁造黄桦、黑漆弓弩等凡六百二十余万. This sentence is the bow-crossbow complex of central government produce 16,500,000 bows or so a year and local complexes produce bows and crossbows of other kinds 6,200,000 or so a year. But I seriously doubt these numbers, I think it should be arrows.

    In 武经总要, doctrine of Song dynasty, a platoon with 50 soldiors has 5 crossbows and 10 bows.

    In 武备志, doctrine of Ming Dynasty, said, 弓者,器之首也, means bow is the top weapon. Also the sequence of 十八般兵器----18 types of weapons is 一弓、二弩、三枪......, means 1 bow 2 crossbow 3 spear.....
    Also, the earliest compound bow discovered in China is 500 years older than the earlist crossbow discovered in China, 11th BC in Shang Dynasty vs. 6 BC in Chun Qiu (Spring Autumn) period, then about 200 years later for brass trigger.

    Chinese compound bows were more reliable in humid weather because China had good paint.
     
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