Changes in technology

Changes in technology

Early Medieval Warfare

  • In the early Medieval period, the main technological development that affected warfare was the stirrup, which allowed knights to fight more effectively on horseback.
  • The composite bow was another significant advance, offering superior range and power to earlier designs. It was widely used by the Mongols.

Late Medieval Warfare

  • The late medieval period saw major technological changes such as the advent of gunpowder and firearms. Initially seen in the form of cannons, these allowed for the breaching of once impregnable fortifications, revolutionising siege warfare.
  • The longbow also became a significant weapon in this period, notably used by the English in the Hundred Years’ War.

Early Modern Warfare

  • The early modern period was characterised by the further development and widespread use of firearms, with the flintlock musket becoming the dominant battlefield weapon.
  • By the end of this period, the ‘Napoleonic Wars’ saw the development of the use of massed infantry tactics, a marked shift from earlier, more fluid, forms of warfare.

Industrial Warfare

  • The Industrial Revolution had a profound impact on warfare, leading to the development of more powerful and accurate guns, as well as the use of railways and steamships for rapid deployment of troops.
  • Artillery also improved significantly, with the adoption of rifled barrels greatly increasing accuracy and destructive power.

Twentieth Century Warfare

  • The twentieth century saw the advent of mechanised warfare, with the introduction of tanks, planes, and submarines altering the nature of both land and naval warfare.
  • The development and use of nuclear weapons represented a pivotal point in the history of warfare, radically increasing its destructive potential and introducing the concept of mutually assured destruction.

Modern Warfare

  • Modern warfare is characterised by precision-guided munitions, drones, satellite reconnaissance, and cyber warfare, demonstrating the growing importance of technology in all facets of conflict.
  • The emergence of ‘asymmetric warfare’, in which state and non-state actors utilise different methods and tools, is another significant development linked to technological change.