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History of gunpowder

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Title: History of gunpowder  
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Subject: Early modern warfare, Gunpowder, Bajōzutsu, Berthold Schwarz, Wei Boyang
Collection: Alchemy, Ammunition, Gunpowder, History of Chemistry, Warfare of the Early Modern Era, Warfare of the Middle Ages, Weapon History
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

History of gunpowder

Earliest known written formula for gunpowder, from the Chinese Wujing Zongyao of 1044 AD.

Gunpowder was the first physical explosive and propellant. Prior to its invention, many incendiary and burning devices had been used, including Greek fire. The invention of gunpowder is usually attributed to Chinese alchemy, and is popularly listed as one of the "Four Great Inventions" of China. It was invented during the Tang Dynasty (9th century), and the earliest record of a written formula appeared in the Song Dynasty (11th century). Knowledge of gunpowder spread throughout the Old World as a result of the Mongol conquests of the 13th century. It was employed in warfare to some effect from at least the 14th century, although the development of effective artillery took place during the 15th century, and firearms came to dominate early modern warfare in Europe by the 17th century.


  • Original development 1
  • Medieval history 2
    • China 2.1
    • Islamic world 2.2
    • India 2.3
    • Europe 2.4
  • Early Modern history 3
    • Mughal India 3.1
    • Early Modern Europe 3.2
      • Military 3.2.1
      • Mining 3.2.2
      • Canals 3.2.3
      • Tunnel construction 3.2.4
      • Later improvements 3.2.5
  • United States of America 4
    • Revolutionary War 4.1
    • Civil War 4.2
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Original development

Hand gun from the Yuan dynasty, circa 1300s.

The prevailing academic consensus is that gunpowder was formulated in the 9th century by Chinese alchemists searching for an elixir of immortality.[1][2] By the time the Song Dynasty treatise, Wujing Zongyao (武经总要), was written by Zeng Gongliang, Ding Du, and Yang Weide in 1044 AD, the various Chinese formulas for gunpowder held levels of nitrate in the range of 27% to 50%.[3]

Medieval history


During the Han Dynasty, in the year 142 a man named Wei Boyang was the first to write about gunpowder. He wrote about a mixture of three powders that would “fly and dance” violently.[4] As early as 492, Chinese alchemists had noted that saltpeter burns with a purple flame, allowing for practical efforts at purifying the substance, one of the most important ingredients in gunpowder. The first reference to gunpowder in China occurs in a work from the mid-9th century, known as the Zhenyuan miaodao yaolüe . However, the earliest surviving chemical formula dates to 1044 in the Wujing Zongyao, a collection of information regarding Chinese weaponry information. At this point the formula contained too little saltpeter (about 50%) to be explosive, but the mixture was highly flammable. A silk banner slightly predating the Wujing Zongyao depicts a gunpowder-fueled flamethrower.[5]

Fireworks were invented in ancient China in the 10th century to scare away evil spirits.

In AD 1280, the bomb store of the large gunpowder arsenal at Weiyang accidentally caught fire, which produced such a massive explosion that a team of Chinese inspectors at the site a week later deduced that some 100 guards had been killed instantly, with wooden beams and pillars blown sky high and landing at a distance of over 10 li (~2 mi. or ~3 km) away from the explosion.[6]

By the time of Jiao Yu and his Huolongjing (a book written by Jiao Yu that describes military applications of gunpowder in great detail) in the mid 14th century, the explosive potential of gunpowder was perfected, as the level of nitrate in gunpowder formulas had risen from a range of 12% to 91%,[7] with at least 6 different formulas in use that are considered to have maximum explosive potential for gunpowder.[7] By that time, the Chinese had discovered how to create explosive round shot by packing their hollow shells with this nitrate-enhanced gunpowder.[8]

A medieval European work describing the powerful weapons that had been built by the Chinese,[9] had been suggested by historian Kenneth Warren Chase to be referring to the Chinese invention of Gunpowder.[10]

According to modern historians genuine firearms appeared to have been invented first in China in the 13th century.[11] Fire arrows were first reported to be used by the Southern Wu in 904 during the siege of Yuzhang.[12]

A gunpowder weapon from China, the huopao, was described in the Song Shi. It was suggested that this huopao was related to a weapon which appeared in 1232, the zhentianlei. Lou Jianxia and his troops used it in 1277. The passage stated that "He lit it and a clap of thunder was heard, the walls crumbled, and smoke covered the sky. Many soldiers outside died of fright. When the fire went out, they went inside and failed to find even the ashes of the 250 defenders; they had disappeared without trace."[13][14][15][16]

The "tuhuo qiang" was a bamboo tube which shot out multiple pellets when fired.[17]

The Mongols used gunpowder during Ogdai Khan's invasion of Europe.[18] "Fire catapults", "pao", and "naphtha-shooters" were used.[19][20][21][22]

Islamic world

The bronze Dardanelles cannon, used by the Ottoman Turks in the siege of Constantinople in 1453, was the first supergun.

The Muslims acquired knowledge of gunpowder some time after 1240, but before 1280, by which time Hasan al-Rammah had written, in Arabic, recipes for gunpowder, instructions for the purification of saltpeter, and descriptions of gunpowder incendiaries. Gunpowder arrived in the Middle East, possibly through India, from China. This is implied by al-Rammah's usage of "terms that suggested he derived his knowledge from Chinese sources" and his references to saltpeter as "Chinese snow" Arabic: ثلج الصينthalj al-ṣīn, fireworks as "Chinese flowers" and rockets as "Chinese arrows".[23] However, because al-Rammah attributes his material to "his father and forefathers", al-Hassan argues that gunpowder became prevalent in Syria and Egypt by "the end of the twelfth century or the beginning of the thirteenth". Persians called saltpeter "Chinese salt"[24][25][26][27][28] or "salt from Chinese salt marshes" (namak shūra chīnī Persian: نمک شوره چيني‎‎).[29][30]

During the invasion of Transoxania in 1219, along with the main Mongol force, Genghis Khan used a Chinese specialist catapult unit in battle, they were used again in 1220 invasion of the Caucasus. The Chinese may have used the catapults to hurl gunpowder bombs, since they already had them by this time.[31] While Genghis Khan was conquering Transoxania and Persia, several Chinese who were familiar with gunpowder were serving with Genghis's army.[32] Historians have suggested that the Mongol invasion had brought Chinese gunpowder weapons to Central Asia. One of these was the huochong, a Chinese mortar.[33]

Al-Baytar, an Arab from Spain who had immigrated to Egypt, wrote in Arabic that "snow of China" Arabic: ثلج الصينthalj al-ṣīn was the name used to describe saltpeter. Al-Baytar died in 1248.[34]

C. F. Temler interprets Peter, Bishop of Leon, as reporting the use of cannon in Seville in 1248.[35] Al-Hassan claims that "the first cannon in history"[36] was used by the Mamluks against the Mongols at the Battle of Ain Jalut in 1260;[37] Khan claims that it was invading Mongols who introduced gunpowder to the Islamic world[38] and cites Mamluk antagonism towards early riflemen in their infantry as an example of how gunpowder weapons were not always met with open acceptance in the Middle East.[39] Similarly, the refusal of their Qizilbash forces to use firearms contributed to the Safavid rout at Chaldiran in 1514.[39]

A picture of a 15th-century Andalusian Arab cannon from the book Al-izz wal rifa'a.

Hasan al-Rammah included 107 gunpowder recipes in his al-furusiyyah wa al-manasib al-harbiyya (The Book of Military Horsemanship and Ingenious War Devices), 22 of which are for rockets. If one takes the median of 17 of these 22 compositions for rockets (75% nitrates, 9.06% sulphur and 15.94% carbon), it is almost identical with the reported ideal recipe (75% potassium nitrate, 10% sulphur, and 15% carbon).[37]

Hasan al-Rammah also describes the purifying of saltpeter using the chemical processes of solution and crystallization. This was the first clear method for the purification of saltpeter.[40] The earliest torpedo was also first described in 1270 by Hasan al-Rammah in The Book of Military Horsemanship and Ingenious War Devices, which illustrated a torpedo running with a rocket system filled with explosive materials and having three firing points.[41][42]

The earliest artistic depiction of a hand cannon is a firearm-wielding figure that was found in twelfth-century Sichuan in China and hand cannon were spread from there to the rest of the world.[43] The earliest surviving documentary evidence for the use of the hand cannon in Islamic world, considered the oldest type of portable firearm and a forerunner of the handgun, are from several Arabic manuscripts dated to the 14th century.[44] Al-Hassan argues that these are based on earlier originals and that they report hand-held cannons being used by the Mamluks at the Battle of Ain Jalut in 1260.[37]

The Islamic Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal empires were called the Gunpowder Empires because each had considerable military success using the newly developed firearms.[45]


Bullocks dragging siege-guns up hill during Akbar's attack on Ranthambhor Fort[46]

Chinese gunpowder technology is believed to have arrived in India by the mid-14th century, but could have been introduced much earlier by the Mongols, who had conquered both China and some borderlands of India, perhaps as early as the mid-13th century. The unification of a large single Mongol Empire resulted in the free transmission of previously top-secret Chinese technology into Mongol conquered parts of India. Regardless, it is believed that the Mongols used Chinese gunpowder weapons during their invasions of India.[47]

It was written in the Tarikh-i Firishta (1606–1607) that the envoy of the Mongol ruler Hulegu Khan was presented with a dazzling pyrotechnics display upon his arrival in Delhi in 1258 AD.[48] As a part of an embassy to India by Timurid leader Shah Rukh (1405–1447), 'Abd al-Razzaq mentioned naphtha-throwers mounted on elephants and a variety of pyrotechnics put on display.[49] Firearms known as top-o-tufak also existed in the Vijayanagara Empire of India by as early as 1366 AD.[48] From then on the employment of gunpowder warfare in India was prevalent, with events such as the siege of Belgaum in 1473 AD by the Sultan Muhammad Shah Bahmani.[50]

Roger Pauly has written that "while gunpowder was primarily a Chinese innovation," the saltpeter that led to the invention of gunpowder may have arrived from India, although it is also likely that it originates indigenously in China.[51]


Earliest picture of a European cannon, "De Nobilitatibus Sapientii Et Prudentiis Regum" Walter de Milemete, 1326.
Recipes for gunpowder (pulveres pixidum) in a manuscript dated c. 1400 (GNM 3227a fol. 6rĎ).
The Hussite tarasnice from 15th century

One theory of how gunpowder came to Europe is that it made its way along the Silk Road through the Middle East; another is that it was brought to Europe during the Mongol invasion in the first half of the 13th century,[52][53] or during the subsequent diplomatic and military contacts (see Franco-Mongol alliance). William of Rubruck, an ambassador to the Mongols in 1254–1255 and a personal friend of Roger Bacon, is also often designated as a possible intermediary in the transmission of gunpowder know-how between the East and the West.[53][54]

Several sources mention Chinese firearms and gunpowder weapons being deployed by the Mongols against European forces at the Battle of Mohi in 1241.[55][56][57] Professor Kenneth Warren Chase credits the Mongols for introducing into Europe gunpowder and its associated weaponry.[58]

One of the earliest European references to gunpowder is found in Roger Bacon's Epistola de secretis operibus artiis et naturae from 1267.[53][59] The oldest written recipes for gunpowder in Europe were recorded under the name Marcus Graecus or Mark the Greek between 1280 and 1300.[60] However, the very first time gunpowder was used in the Western world for military purposes was in 1262, when king Alfonso X of Castile set siege to the city of Niebla in Spain whose Spanish-Arab inhabitants used some sort of primitive gun against the Spaniards.[61]

..The Arabs threw many (iron) balls launched with thunder, the Christians were very afraid of, as any member of the body hit was severed as if with a knife; and the wounded man died afterwards, because no surgery could heal him, in part because the balls were hot as fire, and apart of that, because the powders used were of such nature that any ulcer done meant the death of the injured man... .. and he was hit with a ball of the thunder in the arm, and (the arm) was cut off, and died next day: and the same happened to all of those injured by the thunder. And even now the story is being told amongst the host... ..tiraban [los árabes] muchas pellas [bolas] de hierro que las lanzaban con truenos, de los que los cristianos sentían un gran espanto, ya que cualquier miembro del hombre que fuese alcanzado, era cercenado como si lo cortasen con un cuchillo; y como quisiera que el hombre cayera herido moría después, pues no había cirugía alguna que lo pudiera curar, por un lado porque venían [las pellas] ardiendo como fuego, y por otro, porque los polvos con que las lanzaban eran de tal naturaleza que cualquier llaga que hicieran suponía la muerte del hombre. dieronle con una pella del trueno en el brazo, et cortarongelo, et murió luego otro dia: et eso mismo acesció a los qie del trueno eran feridos. Et aun la estoria va contando de los fechos de la hueste.

In 1326 the earliest known European picture of a gun appeared in a manuscript by Walter de Milemete.[62] On 11 February of that same year, the Signoria of Florence appointed two officers to obtain canones de mettallo and ammunition for the town's defense.[63] A reference from 1331 describes an attack mounted by two Germanic knights on Cividale del Friuli, using gunpowder weapons of some sort.[62] The French raiding party that sacked and burned Southampton in 1338 brought with them a ribaudequin and 48 bolts (but only 3 pounds of gunpowder).[62] The Battle of Crécy in 1346 was one of the first in Europe where cannons were used.[64] In 1350, only four years later, Petrarch wrote that the presence of cannons on the battlefield was 'as common and familiar as other kinds of arms'.[65]

Western European handgun, 1380. 18 cm-long and weighing 1.04 kg, it was fixed to a wooden pole to facilitate manipulation. Musée de l'Armée.

Before the musket were made, arquebus was used in Spanish empire, Ottoman Empire, Portugal and in Japan. References to gunnis cum telar (guns with handles) were recorded in 1350 and by 1411 it was recorded that John the Good, Duke of Burgundy, had 4000 handguns stored in his armory.[66] However, musketeers and musket-wielding infantrymen were despised in society by the traditional feudal knights, even until the time of Cervantes (1547–1616 AD).[39] At first even Christian authorities made vehement remarks against the use of gunpowder weapons, calling them blasphemous and part of the 'Black Arts'.[67] By the mid-14th century, however, even the army of the Pope would be armed with artillery and gunpowder weapons.[67]

Around the late 14th century European powdermakers began adding liquid to the constituents of gunpowder which reduced dust, and with it the risk of explosion during manufacture. The powdermakers would then shape the resulting paste of moistened gunpowder—known as mill cake—into "corns" or granules to allow it to dry. Not only did "corned" powder keep better, because of its reduced surface area, but gunners also found that it was more powerful and easier to load into guns. The main advantage of corning is that the flame lights all the granules when the gunpowder is lit, spreading between them before significant gas expansion has occurred. Without corning much of the powder, away from the initial flame, would be blown out of the barrel before it burnt. The size of the granules varied for different types of gun. Prior to corning, gunpowder would gradually demix into its constitutive components and was too unreliable for effective use in guns.[68] The same granulation process is used nowadays in the pharmaceutical industry to ensure that each tablet contains the same proportion of active ingredient. Before long, powdermakers standardized the process by forcing mill cake through sieves instead of corning powder by hand.[69]

An early depiction of artillery, in a 15th-century illustration of the Siege of Orleans of 1429.

Early Modern history

The 15th through 17th century saw widespread development in gunpowder technology throughout the Old World. During the 15th and 16th centuries, these developments were more advanced in India and Persia than in Europe, but by the 17th century, technological progress in Europe led to application of gunpowder on a scale and to an effect unprecedented anywhere else, both in warfare and in civil engineering. Gunpowder remained of central importance throughout the Early Modern period, and throughout the Napoleonic era, and was only replaced by more advanced explosives beginning in the 1860s.

Mughal India

An illustration from the Akbarnama written by Abu'l-Fazl ibn Mubarak (1551–1602) depicts a gun in Akbar's court (bottom center).

By the 16th century, Indians were manufacturing a diverse variety of firearms; large guns in particular, became visible in Tanjore, Dacca, Bijapur and Murshidabad.[70] Guns made of bronze were recovered from Calicut (1504) and Diu (1533).[71] Gujarāt supplied Europe saltpeter for use in gunpowder warfare during the 17th century.[72] Bengal and Mālwa participated in saltpeter production.[72] The Dutch, French, Portuguese, and English used Chāpra as a center of saltpeter refining.[73]

Fathullah Shirazi (c. 1582), who worked for Akbar the Great as a mechanical engineer, developed an early multi gun shot. As opposed to the polybolos and repeating crossbows used earlier in ancient Greece and China, respectively, Shirazi's rapid-firing gun had multiple gun barrels that fired hand cannons loaded with gunpowder.[74]

In Encyclopædia Britannica (2008), Stephen Oliver Fought & John F. Guilmartin, Jr. describe the gunpowder technology in 18th century India, with reference to the rocket artillery used by the Kingdom of Mysore (as described in the Fathul Mujahidin) and its influence on the Congreve rocket:[75]

Hyder Ali, prince of Mysore, developed war bombs with an important change: the use of metal pipes to contain the combustion powder. Although the hammered soft iron he used was crude, the bursting strength of the container of black powder was much higher than the earlier paper construction. Thus a greater internal pressure was possible, with a resultant greater thrust of the propulsive jet. The rocket body was lashed with leather thongs to a long bamboo stick. Range was perhaps up to three-quarters of a mile (more than a kilometer). Although individually these rockets were not accurate, dispersion error became less important when large numbers were fired rapidly in mass attacks. They were particularly effective against cavalry and were hurled into the air, after lighting, or skimmed along the hard dry ground. Hyder Ali's son, Tippu Sultan, continued to develop and expand the use of rocket weapons, reportedly increasing the number of rocket troops from 1,200 to a corps of 5,000. In battles at Seringapatam in 1792 and 1799 these rockets were used with considerable effect against the British.
The news of the successful use of rockets spread through Europe. In England Sir William Congreve began to experiment privately. First, he experimented with a number of black-powder formulas and set down standard specifications of composition. He also standardized construction details and used improved production techniques. Also, his designs made it possible to choose either an explosive (ball charge) or incendiary warhead.

In A History of Greek Fire and Gunpowder, James Riddick Partington describes Indian rockets, mines and other means of gunpowder warfare:[76]

The Indian war rockets were formidable weapons before such rockets were used in Europe. They had bam-boo rods, a rocket-body lashed to the rod, and iron points. They were directed at the target and fired by lighting the fuse, but the trajectory was rather erratic. The use of mines and counter-mines with explosive charges of gunpowder is mentioned for the times of Akbar and Jahāngir.

Early Modern Europe


18th Century French Cannon

Advances in metallurgy led to portable weapons and the development of hand-held firearms such as muskets. Cannon technology in Europe gradually outpaced that of China and these technological improvements were then transferred back to China through Jesuit missionaries who were put in charge of cannon manufacture by the late Ming and early Qing emperors.

Different shapes of corned gunpowder, each with its own function

Shot and gunpowder for military purposes were made by skilled military tradesmen, who were later called firemakers, who were also required to make fireworks for celebrations of victory or peace. During the Renaissance two European schools of pyrotechnic thought emerged, one in Italy and the other at Nürnberg, Germany. The Italian school of pyrotechnics emphasized elaborate fireworks, the German school stressed scientific advancement. Both schools added significantly to the further development of pyrotechnics and, by the mid-17th century, fireworks were used for entertainment on an unprecedented scale in Europe——being popular even at resorts and public gardens.[77] At the same time some military men were disguising gray in their beards by dusting them with gunpowder, the antiquary John Aubrey noted in his memoranda.[78]


Until the invention of gunpowder, large rocks could only be broken up by hard labor or by heating with large fires followed by rapid quenching. Black powder was used in civil engineering and mining as early as the 15th century.[79] The earliest surviving record for the use of gunpowder in mines comes from Hungary in 1627.[79] It was introduced to Britain in 1638 by German miners, after which records are numerous.[80] Until the invention of the safety fuse by William Bickford in 1831, the practice was extremely dangerous.[81][82] Another reason for danger were the dense fumes given off and the risk of igniting flammable gas when used in coal mines.


The first time gunpowder was used on a large scale in civil engineering was in the construction of the Canal du Midi in Southern France.[82] It was completed in 1681 and linked the Mediterranean sea with the Atlantic with 240 km of canal and 100 locks. Another noteworthy consumer of black powder was the Erie canal in New York, which was 585 km long and took eight years to complete, starting in 1817.[82]

Tunnel construction

Black powder was also extensively used in railway construction. At first railways followed the contours of the land, or crossed low ground by means of bridges and viaducts, but later railways made extensive use of cuttings and tunnels. One 2400-ft stretch of the 5.4 mi Box Tunnel on the Great Western Railway line between London and Bristol consumed a ton of gunpowder per week for over two years.[82] The 12.9 km long Mont Cenis Tunnel was completed in 13 years starting in 1857 but, even with black powder, progress was only 25 cm a day until the invention of pneumatic drills sped up the work.

The latter half of the 19th century saw the invention of nitroglycerin, nitrocellulose and smokeless powders which soon replaced black powder in many applications.

Later improvements

Gunpowder as a gun propellant suffered from several weaknesses inherent to its composition. It was subject to passivation by moisture and was awkward to load and ignite in a weapon. Sulfur oxides and moisture produced corrosion on metal gun components and the smoke gave away the position of the shooter. The development of cartridges and explosive primers were a major improvement in the use of gunpowders in the field.

From the earliest period, gunpowder has been composed of a nitrate salt, sulfur, and carbonaceous matter. The Nitrate component is the Oxidizing agent, Sulfur is a low melting Reducing agent and serves to aid in the transfer of heat through the gunpowder mass, and Carbon is a reducing component producing hot, high pressure gas. The utility of gunpowder lies in its ability to accelerate a projectile by the explosive expansion of gas. The development of new explosive materials in the 19th century naturally led to improvements in the rate and magnitude of pressure rise as well as new means for ignition of the charge.

Nitroester[83] compositions nitrocellulose and nitroglycerin were developed by Henri Braconnot in 1832 and Ascanio Sobrero in 1846, respectively. The development of smokeless powder stemmed from efforts by numerous workers to produce an improved gun propellant providing better resistance to moisture, greater muzzle velocity, and generally greater reliability. By the end of the 19th century, nitroester compositions Poudre B, Ballistite, and Cordite were the major smokeless propellants. Significantly, many nitroesters were capable of detonation without confinement. The classic gunpowder composition was only capable of Deflagration in the open.

The process of aromatic nitration to afford picric acid from the trinitration of phenol was performed in the early 19th century, though it is possible that Johann Rudolf Glauber may have reported it much earlier. Nitroesters would find use in gun propellant formulation. Nitroaromatics like picric acid eventually found use in explosive cannon shells owing to their ability to withstand the severe shock of firing.

United States of America

Revolutionary War

During the American Revolutionary War, a number of caves were mined for saltpeter to make gunpowder when supplies from Europe were embargoed. Abigail Adams, reputedly also made gunpowder at her family farm in Massachusetts.[84]

The New York Committee of Safety (American Revolution) produced some essays on making gunpowder that were printed in 1776.[85]

Civil War

During the American Civil War, British India was the main source for saltpeter for the manufacture of gunpowder for the Union armies. This supply was threatened by the British government during the Trent Affair, when Union naval forces stopped a British ship, the RMS Trent, and removed two Confederate diplomats. The British government responded in part by halting all exports of saltpeter to the United States, threatening their gunpowder manufacturing resources. Shortly thereafter, the situation was resolved and the Confederate diplomats were released.[86]

The Union Navy blockaded the southern Confederate States, which reduced the amount of gunpowder that could be imported from overseas. The Confederate Nitre and Mining Bureau was formed to produce gunpowder for the army and the navy from domestic resources. Nitre[87] is the English spelling of "Niter". While carbon and sulfur were readily available throughout the south, potassium nitrate was often produced from the Calcium nitrate found in cave dirt, tobacco barn floors and barn stalls other places. A number of caves were mined, and the men and boys who worked in the caves were called "peter monkey", somewhat in imitation of the naval term "powder monkey" that was used for the boys who brought up charges of gunpowder on gunboats.[88]

See also


  1. ^ Buchanan (2006), p. 42.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Needham, V 7
  4. ^ Acosta, Oscar. "American Firearms Gun History". Retrieved 30 October 2015. 
  5. ^ Chase, Kenneth (2003). Firearms : A Global History to 1700 (1. publ. ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 32–33.  
  6. ^ Needham, V 7, pp. 209–210.
  7. ^ a b Needham, V 7, pp. 345.
  8. ^ Needham, V 7, pp. 264.
  9. ^ (the University of Michigan)Hayton, (Frère); Burger, Glenn (1988). Glenn Burger, Richard Pynson, ed. A lytell cronycle: Richard Pynson's translation (c 1520) of La fleur des histoires de la terre d'Orient. Volume 6 of Toronto medieval texts and translations (illustrated ed.). University of Toronto Press. p. 8.  
  10. ^ Chase, Kenneth Warren (2003). Firearms: a global history to 1700 (illustrated ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 59.  
  11. ^ (the University of Michigan)Patrick, John Merton (1961). Artillery and warfare during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Volume 8, Issue 3 of Monograph series. Utah State University Press. p. 6. Retrieved 28 November 2011. Despite the conclusions drawn to the contrary by somem 19th century historians, there now appears to be valid evidence for the development in the 13th century of real firearms in China where gunpowder may have been known as early as the 
  12. ^ 天佑初,王茂章征安仁义于润州,洎城陷,中十余创,以功迁左先锋都尉。从攻豫章,(郑)璠以所部发机「飞火」,烧龙沙门,率壮士突火先登入城,焦灼被体,以功授检校司徒。(Rough Translation: During the beginning of Tianyou Era (904-907), Zheng Fan followed Wang Maozhang under a campaign of Runzhou, which was guarded by rebel An Renyi, he was severely injured by the time it was captured, as the result he was promoted as the Junior General of Left Vanguard. At the campaign of Yuchang, he ordered his troops to propel the "flying fire" on the besieged city, after the city-gate of Longsha was burnt, he led his troops dashed over the fire and entered the city, his body was scorched, as the result he was promoted as the Prime Minister of Inspectorate.) Records of Nine Kingdoms ch. 2
  13. ^ Partington, James Riddick (1960). A history of Greek fire and gunpowder (reprint, illustrated ed.). JHU Press. p. 250.  
  14. ^ Bodde, Derk (1987). Charles Le Blanc, Susan Blader, ed. Chinese ideas about nature and society: studies in honour of Derk Bodde. Hong Kong University Press. p. 304.  
  15. ^ Turnbull, Stephen; McBride, Angus (1980). Angus McBride, ed. The Mongols (illustrated, reprint ed.). Osprey Publishing. p. 31.  
  16. ^ Saunders, John Joseph (2001). The history of the Mongol conquestse (illustrated, reprint ed.). University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 198.  
  17. ^ Partington, James Riddick (1960). A history of Greek fire and gunpowder (reprint, illustrated ed.). JHU Press. p. 246.  
  18. ^ Mende, Tibor (1944). Hungary. Macdonald & Co. Ltd. p. 34. Retrieved 28 November 2011. Jengis Khan's successor, Ogdai Khan, continued his dazzling conquests. The Mongols brought with them a Chinese invention, gunpowder, at that time totally unknown to Europe. After the destruction of Kiev (1240) Poland and Silesia shared its fate, and in 1241 they crossed the Carpathians 
  19. ^ (the University of Michigan)Patrick, John Merton (1961). Artillery and warfare during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Volume 8, Issue 3 of Monograph series. Utah State University Press. p. 13. Retrieved 28 November 2011. 33 D'Ohsson's European account of these events credits the Mongols with using catapults and ballistae only in the battle of Mohi, but several Chinese sources speak of p'ao and "fire-catapults" as present. The Meng Wu Er Shih Chi states, for instance, that the Mongols attacked with the p'ao for five days before taking the city of Strigonie to which many Hungarians had fled: "On the sixth day the city was taken. The powerful soldiers threw the Huo Kuan Vets (fire-pot) and rushed into the city, crying and shouting.34 Whether or not Batu actually used explosive powder on the Sayo, only twelve years later Mangu was requesting "naphtha-shooters" in large numbers for his invasion of Persia, according to Yule 
  20. ^ Partington, James Riddick (1960). A history of Greek fire and gunpowder (reprint, illustrated ed.). JHU Press. p. 250.  
  21. ^ (the University of Michigan)Patrick, John Merton (1961). Artillery and warfare during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Volume 8, Issue 3 of Monograph series. Utah State University Press. p. 13. Retrieved 28 November 2011. (along, it seems, with explosive charges of gunpowder) on the massed Hungarians trapped within their defensive ring of wagons. King Bela escaped, though 70,000 Hungarians died in the massacre that resulted – a slaughter that extended over several days of the retreat from Mohi. 
  22. ^ (the University of Michigan)Patrick, John Merton (1961). Artillery and warfare during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Volume 8, Issue 3 of Monograph series. Utah State University Press. p. 13. Retrieved 28 November 2011. superior mobility and combination of shock and missile tactics again won the day. As the battle developed, the Mongols broke up western cavalry charges, and placed a heavy fire of flaming arrows and naphtha fire-bombs 
  23. ^ Kelly 2004:22 'Around 1240 the Arabs acquired knowledge of saltpeter ("Chinese snow") from the East, perhaps through India. They knew of gunpowder soon afterward. They also learned about fireworks ("Chinese flowers") and rockets ("Chinese arrows"). Arab warriors had acquired fire lances before 1280. Around that same year, a Syrian named Hasan al-Rammah wrote a book that, as he put it, "treats of machines of fire to be used for amusement or for useful purposes." He talked of rockets, fireworks, fire lances, and other incendiaries, using terms that suggested he derived his knowledge from Chinese sources. He gave instructions for the purification of saltpeter and recipes for making different types of gunpowder.'
  24. ^ Peter Watson (2006). Ideas: A History of Thought and Invention, from Fire to Freud. HarperCollins. p. 304.  
  25. ^ Cathal J. Nolan (2006). The age of wars of religion, 1000–1650: an encyclopedia of global warfare and civilization. Volume 1 of Greenwood encyclopedias of modern world wars. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 365.  
  26. ^ Oliver Frederick Gillilan Hogg (1970). Artillery: its origin, heyday, and decline. Archon Books. p. 123. The Chinese were certainly acquainted with saltpetre, the essential ingredient of gunpowder. They called it Chinese Snow and employed it early in the Christian era in the manufacture of fireworks and rockets. 
  27. ^ Oliver Frederick Gillilan Hogg (1963). English artillery, 1326–1716: being the history of artillery in this country prior to the formation of the Royal Regiment of Artillery. Royal Artillery Institution. p. 42. The Chinese were certainly acquainted with saltpetre, the essential ingredient of gunpowder. They called it Chinese Snow and employed it early in the Christian era in the manufacture of fireworks and rockets. 
  28. ^ Oliver Frederick Gillilan Hogg (1993). Clubs to cannon: warfare and weapons before the introduction of gunpowder (reprint ed.). Barnes & Noble Books. p. 216.  
  29. ^ Partington, J. R. (1960). A History of Greek Fire and Gunpowder (illustrated, reprint ed.). JHU Press. p. 335.  
  30. ^ Needham, Joseph; Yu, Ping-Yu (1980). Needham, Joseph, ed. Science and Civilisation in China: Volume 5, Chemistry and Chemical Technology, Part 4, Spagyrical Discovery and Invention: Apparatus, Theories and Gifts. Volume 5 (Issue 4 of Science and Civilisation in China). Contributors Joseph Needham, Lu Gwei-Djen, Nathan Sivin (illustrated, reprint ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 194.  
  31. ^ Kenneth Warren Chase (2003). Firearms: a global history to 1700 (illustrated ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 58.  
  32. ^ David Nicolle, Richard Hook (1998). The Mongol Warlords: Genghis Khan, Kublai Khan, Hulegu, Tamerlane (illustrated ed.). Brockhampton Press. p. 86.  
  33. ^ Chahryar Adle, Irfan Habib (2003). Ahmad Hasan Dani, Chahryar Adle, Irfan Habib, ed. History of Civilizations of Central Asia: Development in contrast : from the sixteenth to the mid-nineteenth century. Volume 5 of History of Civilizations of Central Asia (illustrated ed.). UNESCO. p. 474.  
  34. ^ James Riddick Partington (1960). A history of Greek fire and gunpowder (reprint, illustrated ed.). JHU Press. p. 22.  
  35. ^ C. F. Temler, Historische Abhandlungen der Lichen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Kopenhagen . . . ubersetzt . . . von V. A. Heinze, Kiel, Dresden and Leipzig, 1782, i, 168, as cited in Partington, p. 228, footnote 6.
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  37. ^ a b c al-Hassan
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  40. ^  
  41. ^  
  42. ^ Demonstrated in What the Ancients Did for Us, "Episode one: The Islamic World".
  43. ^ Chase, Kenneth Warren (2003). Firearms: a global history to 1700. Cambridge University Press.  
  44. ^   (Part 4 and Part 5)
  45. ^ Charles T. Evans. "The Gunpowder Empires". Northern Virginia Community College. Retrieved December 28, 2010. 
  46. ^ Unknown (1590–95). "Bullocks dragging siege-guns up hill during Akbar's attack on Ranthambhor Fort". the Akbarnama. 
  47. ^ Chase 2003:130
  48. ^ a b Khan 2004:9–10
  49. ^ Partington (Johns Hopkins University Press edition, 1999), 217.
  50. ^ Khan 2004:10
  51. ^ Firearms: the life story of a technology, Chapter 1 Ancestors: The Ancient Origins of Fireams Technology. Greenwood Publishing group. Retrieved 20 July 2008. , from the Roger Pauly.
  52. ^ Norris 2003:11
  53. ^ a b c Chase 2003:58
  54. ^ "The Eastern Origins of Western Civilization", John M.Hobson, p186, ISBN 0-521-54724-5.
  55. ^ William H. McNeill (1992), The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community, University of Chicago Press, p. 492,  
  56. ^ Michael Kohn (2006), Dateline Mongolia: An American Journalist in Nomad's Land, RDR Books, p. 28,  
  57. ^ Robert Cowley (1993), Robert Cowley, ed., Experience of War (reprint ed.), Random House Inc, p. 86,  
  58. ^ Kenneth Warren Chase (2003), Firearms: a global history to 1700 (illustrated ed.), Cambridge University Press, p. 58,  
  59. ^ Kelly 2004:25
  60. ^ Kelly 2004:23
  61. ^ Colección de las crónicas y memórias de los reyes de Castilla|
  62. ^ a b c Kelly 2004:29
  63. ^ Crosby 2002:120
  64. ^ Kelly 2004:19–37
  65. ^ Norris 2003:19
  66. ^ Norris 2003:8
  67. ^ a b Norris 2003:12
  68. ^ Molerus, Otto. "History of Civilization in the Western Hemisphere from the Point of View of Particulate Technology, Part 2," Advanced Powder Technology 7 (1996): 161–66.
  69. ^ Kelly 2004:60–63
  70. ^ Partington (Johns Hopkins University Press edition, 1999), 225.
  71. ^ Partington (Johns Hopkins University Press edition, 1999), 226.
  72. ^ a b "India." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica 2008 Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2008.
  73. ^ "Chāpra." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica 2008 Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2008.
  74. ^ A. K. Bag (2005), "Fathullah Shirazi: Cannon, Multi-barrel Gun and Yarghu", Indian Journal of History of Science 40 (3), pp. 431–436.
  75. ^ "rocket and missile system." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica 2008 Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2008.
  76. ^ Partington, 226 (Johns Hopkins University Press edition, 1999)
  77. ^ "Fireworks," Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2007 1997–2007 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Archived 1 November 2009.
  78. ^ "Dr. John Owen, the deane of Christ Church, when Vice-Chancellor, had as much powder in his hair that would discharg eight cannons," as well as other fashionable attire that gave the lie to his Puritan "prelaticall cutt." Oliver Lawson Dick, ed. Aubrey's Brief Lives. Edited from the Original Manuscripts, 1949, p. xxxvii.
  79. ^ a b Urbanski (1967). Chapter III: Blackpowder.
  80. ^ Earl 1978, Chapter 2: The Development of Gunpowder
  81. ^ Earl, (1978). Chapter 1: Introduction.
  82. ^ a b c d Brown (1998), Chapter 6: Mining and Civil Engineering.
  83. ^ The term nitroester is meant to delineate one of several possible organo-nitro functional groups. A nitroester is the result of the nitrification of an alcohol group, C-O-H, by Nitronium ion, O=N=O+, resulting in an unstable C-O-N(O)-O linkage. The other relevant "nitro" composition developed in the 19th century was the nitroaromatic functionality with its Ar-N(O)-O linkage, where Ar stands for a Benzene ring. Trinitrotoluene and picric acid are examples of nitroaromatics.
  84. ^
  85. ^ New York (State). Committee of Safety, 1775-1776. Essays upon the making of salt-petre and gunpowder. New York: Printed by Samuel London, 1776. 39 pages. Published by order of the Committee of Safety of the Colony of New York.
  86. ^ Resolution (December 17, 1861 – January 14, 1862)
  87. ^ Wiktionary spells the word "niter"
  88. ^ Hadden, R. Lee. 2005. "Confederate Boys and Peter Monkeys." Armchair General. January 2005. Adapted from a talk given to the Geological Society of America on March 25, 2004.


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External links

  • "A Guide to Geometry, Surveying, the Launching of Missiles, and the Planting of Mines" from 1791, in Arabic, discusses the storing of gunpowder and related subjects in the 18th-century Muslim world.
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