July 10, 2013 by Amelia Weaponry Can you recommend a good reference book or website for weapons that were in regular use between about 1500-1800AD? Post it in the comments, please! Thanks! Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading... Related
Depends — what regions? Are you looking for Europe, East Asia, the Americas? Even by the 1800s there are significant differences in those areas and more.
It’s a fantasy world/alternate reality, so I need the kinds of weapons that would be in regular use right around the advent of hand cannons and early matchlock rifles.
You’ll first want to review this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_gunpowder#Early_Modern_Europe — Not weaponry, but (as you probably know from being a Correia fan) you’ll need background knowledge and there are many historical and modern-use types of gunpowder. And never, ever refer to “the smell of cordite” unless you know your characters are using that kind of gunpowder.
Some of this will help too: http://library.med.utah.edu/WebPath/TUTORIAL/GUNS/GUNHIST.html
More perspective: http://www.medievality.com/gunpowder.html (the links will help as well).
That’s the appetizer. Here’s the meat: http://mysite.du.edu/~jcalvert/tech/cannon.htm You’ll find referenced books at the end.
I’ll also add that you’ll find that the world you’re developing will greatly influence what, where, and when gunpowder tactics take hold. Terrain, culture, magic level, alliances, and trade routes all matter when determining dominant military tactics, and vice versa.
One example I often bring up on the subject of worldbuilding is that were it not for gunpowder, Protestantism may not have arisen. Cannon brought down Constantinople, which meant the Eastern Roman Empire fell to the Turks, which meant Charles V had to divert troops to contain the Turkish advance into Europe and due to the unique political nature of the Holy Roman Empire he could not bring either military or political force on the Elector of Saxony and other supporters of Martin Luther. Things connect and intertwine; change breeds more change.
One of the biggest mistakes I find in worldbuilding is to either 1) assume everything before the story starts happens in a vacuum, or 2) base things too closely on real history, which gets boring. Unfortunately, the first requires you to keep everything about your world in your head while making it, while the second . . . well, we’ve only got one history to base stories on, so how do you keep from getting too “historical”?
My standard suggestion for both is to take two cultures from real history and combine them with an eye to geography — because geography is one of the biggest influences on worldbuilding. Combining the Roman Republic at its height with Japanese culture is excellent fodder for real-life basis while still being original; but an island nation (Japan) versus one in an inland sea (the Mediterranean) will wind up being very different from each other.
Then you start looking at their culture to find out what they want to do. Classic Japanese culture is feudal; the Roman Republic and Empire alike are built on military districts. Medieval Japan is designed around honor groups and (to varying degrees across the centuries) a caste system. Roman society before its decline is based on citizenship, citizen armies, voluntary-but-peer-pressured civic duty, and slaves. Medieval (and even modern) Japan is famed for being xenophobic and self-superior, while the Romans steal ideas, culture, gods, and inventions from anyone as long as they work.
I could go on and on about this sort of thing, but that’s what being an historian/editor will do. It’s also why I get paid the big (not really) bucks as a freelancer.
Wow! That is a lot to take in. I will definitely look at those links, so I can properly describe the guns and their usage. I’m not getting too deep into any history other than that of my world, and I prefer to focus more on the current plot than giving extensive back story. But I certainly need the help so that even though it is sort of an alternate history, I won’t get history buffs bitching at me over the improper use of guns and swords. Thank you!
Well, if you need more help, you’ve got my contact information. If I have spare time (and it’s interesting) I’ll give you what help I can before having to bring up annoying phrases like “let’s look at my rates.”