Elizabethan Era Weaponry by Alan T

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Elizabethan Era Weaponry

War during the Elizabethan era, as well as in any other period of time, was almost inevitable. Battles will always be fought and people will always fall as a result of this. It's axiomatic that the side with the more advanced weapons will easily crush their enemies. During the Elizabethan era weapons could determine whether a country would remain free or fall to a country with more military power. The need for a stronger military led to the invention of new weapons which would farther increase the complexity of warfare. The structure, use, and importance of cannons and guns would change dramatically; they evolved into what would be the most important part of warfare.

The word cannon is, nowadays, used to describe all large artillery, but in the sixteenth century a "cannon" was a gun of definite size and type (Tunis 75). Cannons were first fired with finely ground "meal"; power made of charcoal, saltpeter, and sulfur (75).

"This mixture resulted into a very weak and smoky explosive" (75). Its fineness caused it to pack so that, instead of going off instantaneously when it was ignited, it caught fire and burned through to the other end, finally generating enough pressure to push the projectile (76). In the early 1500's a discovery added punch to gunpowder without changing the ingredients. Instead of a fine consistency, "powder was corned into coarse grains so that even after it was rammed, little air spaces remained in it" (76). Fire could travel through the air and ignite the charge quickly. From this point on, cannons ceased being substitutes for siege engines and became artillery. There were also improvements in the art of casting large guns. The early cast cannons were made of bronze because it was easy to work with and...