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China's Tang Dynasty

In: Historical Events

Submitted By nghitran267
Words 2747
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In this section (weeks 5-8) we have traced the evolution of military institutions and technologies in the Non-Western world (primarily East Asia) and how they pertained to broader social and political developments. Can you discern any particular patterns in how various states responded to particular types of military challenges? Choose a particular place and time (for example, Tang dynasty China) and discuss the relationship between social and institutional developments and the use of specific military tactics and technologies.

Nathan Wells

While it has long been realized that military challenges were key to the development of Western society; the Non-Western world by comparison has often received short shrift in relation to this subject. This is best illustrated by Kenneth Chase, who begins his work Firearms: A Global History to 1700 with this query: “Why was it the Europeans who perfected firearms when it was the Chinese who invented them?” (1) The underlying message of the statement therefore is that while the region (East Asia) might produce the occasional interesting moment for military history, the real determinants for military theory were occurring elsewhere. Chase’s complete thesis is a bit more pragmatic; hinging on the observation that constant emphasis on steppe warfare led East Asian powers to neglect the increasingly important gunpowder revolution. This seems a bit heavy-handed, however and fails to address the fact that firearms and the gunpowder revolution were not always one and the same; or the fact that firearms were of limited use on the steppe until well into the nineteenth century. Yet the steppe was certainly a source of military challenge to the region, whether directly or indirectly. It might be enlightening to study how a steppe military challenge influenced the social and institutional developments of a particular East Asian...

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