IMC 2009: Sessions

Session 1303: Origins of Firepower: European Warfare in Transition, 1450-1550

Wednesday 15 July 2009, 16.30-18.00

Sponsor:Leverhulme Trust / English Heritage Project 'Fields of Conflict', Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds
Organisers:Axel E. W. Müller, Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds
Steven A. Walton, Science, Technology & Society Program, Pennsylvania State University / Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds
Moderator/Chair:Richard Morris, Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds / School of Music, Humanities & Media, University of Huddersfield
Paper 1303-aModern Science Meets Medieval Guns: Technical Understanding of Early Modern Artillery
(Language: English)
Steven A. Walton, Science, Technology & Society Program, Pennsylvania State University / Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds
Index terms: Military History, Science, Technology
Paper 1303-bCapabilities and Limits of Early Gunpowder Weapons: Documentary Evidence
(Language: English)
Kelly DeVries, Department of History, Loyola College, Maryland / Royal Armouries, Leeds
Index terms: Archaeology - General, Military History, Technology
Paper 1303-cTowton (1461) to Pinkie (1547): Battlefield Investigation of Warfare in Transition
(Language: English)
Glenn Foard, Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds
Index terms: Archaeology - Artefacts, Military History, Technology
Abstract

Battlefields of the late 15th and 16th century have a high research potential because of the contribution that they might make to the understanding of the introduction of firearms. The introduction of lead ammunition for small arms and some artillery in the early modern transition had a major impact on what kinds of evidence for battle archaeology actually survive. From the work at Flodden and Pinkie in 2005-2007, lead and composite lead/iron bullets for hand held weapons and round shot for artillery would appear to be the main classes of finds from 16th-century battlefields. This is important not only in its own right, but also because it might contribute to the study of earlier warfare. If distribution patterns can be recovered where both lead bullet and iron arrow were used in significant numbers then the survival of the former may assist us in understanding the survival potential and significance of distribution patterns of the latter.

This session aims to bring together experts from both sides of the Atlantic to discuss the important changes taking place during this period and how it was part of an evolutionary shift. Some of the participants will be part of the Institute for Medieval Studies’ main research focus on ‘Fields of Conflict’ – a project (funded by English Heritage and the Leeds Humanities Research Institute) which examines how material evidence for military action and the landscape in which it took place can transform our understanding of warfare. ‘Fields of Conflict’ seeks to integrate archaeology with military history as an interdisciplinary study, supported by other specialist disciplines such as ballistics, and aims to resolve many problems of battlefield investigation through innovative research on physical and written evidence for military engagement.

In this session we look at what we know about early artillery performance, what we know we don’t know, and also the future research questions to be addressed beginning in the second half of 2009 as part of a Leverhulme-funded initiative on the topic. This paper will focus on what previous studies have shown (and have presumed) about how medieval gunpowder worked and projectiles flew.