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-   -   Comparison of the Ming, Mughal and Japanese militaries in the 1590s (http://historum.com/asian-history/88853-comparison-ming-mughal-japanese-militaries-1590s.html)

ise April 11th, 2015 06:37 PM

Seems like Aetius has a history of using self-own sources.

Please tell us more about how one ship is representative of all European navies at the time.

heavenlykaghan April 11th, 2015 06:41 PM


Originally Posted by Aetius (Post 2151400)
One could give an eloborate answer dealing with all the details you mention or one could make it quick.

Yet all I see is a one line response that is devoid of any details. So please provide them and lets examine them under the light of evidence to test their authenticity.


The Ming soon afterwards lost against a semi-nomadic force whose main battle weapon was still the bow, whereas the weakest large European state, Russia, had been beating similar steppe opponents since the mid-16th century. Shouldn't this comparative approach tell you something?
Your comparative approach is flawed on many accounts. Russian forces have been fighting nothing similar to the Manchu cavalry in organization, size, or tactics. None of the scattered Siberian nomads Russia overwhelmed had state structure and none mobilized beyond a few hundred force at most. The only nomads with actual state structures that the Russian faced, the Zunghars and Kazakhs, were too strong for the Russians to even set foot in their land. Even the Crimean Tatars, with less than 200,000 people, were able to maintain their existence in the steppe for centuries exacting Russian annual payments they call tribute well into the late 17th century.

The same Manchu force that faced the Ming, numbering 60,000 and highly disciplined and mobile, would probably have annihilated any European army several times their size had they fought in the plains of Liaoning. Cannons wouldn't have weighed much in the equation because of their difficulty to transport by the European logistics of the time which rarely campaigned beyond 200 miles from their border, and an army of 150,000 Spaniards as the Ming mobilized might not even have reached their destination in tact, let alone achieve their military objective. The Manchus defeated the Ming because the Ming armies were separated into four routes and were picked apart one by one by the more mobile Manchu cavalry. The Manchus, being outnumbered overall was still able to outnumber the Ming forces by at least 2:1 in every battle because of the superior mobility of their cavalry to concentrate their forces in one location. The Europeans would have fared no better in such scenarios, and in all likelihood worse, as they have even less horsepower than the Ming, and even clumsier cannons to carry hundreds of miles into Manchuria.


Originally Posted by Aetius (Post 2151422)
I have no idea how representative the numbers in these manuals are for the overall state of the Chinese army, probably not much, but again the point is your method is flawed. The existential threat for China came from the north. This is where the large battles were fought, whereas campaigns on the southern frontier against even more underdeveloped opponents rather had the character of police action. And on the northern frontier, bow and arrow remained the decisive weapons of war through the 17th, 18th and perhaps even much of the 19th centuries, not much different from 2000 years before.

Now how can a martial culture relying on bow and arrow, the Chinese one, be considered militarily stronger than the European one relying on the progressive development of firearms?

Considering the Green Standard army, which came from Ming units, all had 50% muskets by the Qing, such figures appear to be pretty standard by the end of the Ming.

The idea that bowmen is inferior to musketeers is also simplistic, as in mountainous or forested terrains, the Qing often found composite bows to be superior to muskets, as they discovered in the Jin Chuan wars and ordered composite bows to be adopted en masse.
Even in open action, composite bows were not clearly inferior in tactical applications in the 16th century as in the battle of Chiksan, 5,000 Chinese soldiers armed mainly with composite bows were able to hold back a 4,000 sized Japanese force armed with arquebuses until the Chinese cavalry was able to threaten to outflank and forced the Japanese to retreat.

HackneyedScribe April 11th, 2015 06:50 PM

People also need to realize that it's worth trading a couple dozen X-wings to take down a Death Star. Latter still loses more men and materials. It's not about size, it's about cost-effectiveness.

Lord Oda Nobunaga April 11th, 2015 07:06 PM

I wouldn't say the Ming lost to this semi-nomadic force. More like the semi-nomadic force managed to get huge chunks of the Ming army to defect to their side and overran the Ming Loyalists and Chinese rebels piecemeal (which were too many factions for a unified front against the Jin Jurchens/Manchus).
But even then the Manchus had focused on recruiting Han Chinese "collaborators" and Mongolian allies to bolster their ranks since the reign of Nurhaci.

Now to say that bows were the main battle weapon of the steppe peoples is somewhat accurate. Many tribes on the Mongolian steppe still had bows as a primary weapon because they did not usually have the means to produce firearms and gunpowder. Of course moving quickly and shooting from horseback was also the safest bet to win on the open steppe. It would be hard for a nomadic people to put so much faith on a weapon which could not be fired from horseback and usually required a slower type of warfare and the use of fortifications (in a region where being bogged down in one place usually meant death by the elements, thirst or starvation). That is not to say that all tribes were without these gunpowder weapons by the 17th and 18th centuries.

However the peoples to the west in Xinjiang and the Altai mountains seem to have placed a higher importance on firearms as was seen during the campaigns carried out by the Qianlong Emperor and the Daoguang Emperor. This might be due to the fact that there was more mountainous terrain as well as forts and cities in that area where defense and production was possible but trade with the Middle East and the Russians could also be conducted.
It is true that the Qing put emphasis on the use of their bows however they did not neglect cannons nor the use of arquebuses and matchlock muskets. The Qing troops put both guns and bows to use in their conquest of Xinjiang in a combined arms approach.

heavenlykaghan April 11th, 2015 07:15 PM



Anyway, the late 16th century Eagle of Lubeck, the flagship of the Hanseatic city of Lubeck, had

  • 8 48 pounders
  • 6 24 pounders
  • 26 10 pounders
  • 4 5 pounders
  • 8 3 pounders
in bronze ordnance alone going by its extant artillery book.

Chinese warships never developed the multiple-deck broadside which made ships effective and seaworthy artillery platforms. This made them invariably much less powerful weapons. This is also why they mostly relied on swarm attacks or fire ships against European ships from their earliest encounters onwards.

I am wasting my time with your credulous and fabricated pseudo-stats which are devoid of understanding of the basics of naval warfare.
Aetius, have you not learned to be a bit more humble by now that there are sources which is beyond your ability to access because of your language limits? Just because you can't read sources does not mean they are fabricated figures when any high school student in China can read these sources that are actually available online. The figures for Ming cannons on a warship directly comes from the early 17th century source Wu Beizhi: “过海防船器械,佛郎机二十门、碗口铳十门、鸟铳一百门、袖铳六十门、藤牌二百面、长枪六十枝、镖枪一千枝 、铁甲一百副、盔一百顶、腰刀三百把。”


Going by your ratio of 1:1000, the Russian army of this period would have been between 2 and 5 million men strong....

As for field artillery, the Europeans invented the two features absolutely crucial to its success: the wheeled carriage and the barrel peg, which allowed for adjustment of height. Both design features were only, if at all, belatedly copied by Asians, particularly the latter not before the direct technology transfer set on.
Weapons in inventories are meaningless as they include mal functioning pieces and it does not reflect the logistical capabilities to transport these to the battlefield.
The Ming army of 40,000 sent to Korea in 1492 had a total of 2,000 cannons of various size transported by carts and draft animals traveling from Liaoning all the way to Pyongyang and beyond. This is 50 cannons per 1,000 men transported at least 300 miles of distance.

Haakbus April 11th, 2015 07:26 PM


Originally Posted by heavenlykaghan (Post 2151656)
The figures for Ming cannons on a warship directly comes from the early 17th century source Wu Beizhi: “过海防船器械,佛郎机二十门、碗口铳十门、鸟铳一百门、袖铳六十门、藤牌二百面、长枪六十枝、镖枪一千枝 、铁甲一百副、盔一百顶、腰刀三百把。”

I hope this translation is accurate: "An ocean-going ship's armement is 20 folangji (breechloaders), 10 wan-kouchong (anti-personnal mortars), 100 muskets, 60 xiuchong, 300 rattan shields, 60 long spears, 1000 dart guns, 100 suits of iron armor, 100 helmets, and 300 yaodao (type of sword)."

What is a xiuchong (袖铳)?

I'm guessing this is probably the ship's equipment, not counting the arms of the men aboard.

heavenlykaghan April 11th, 2015 08:03 PM


Typical Chinese infantries had 10 cannons per 1,000 soldiers in the 17th and 18th century whereas Europeans only had 1 and at most 6 again under the reforms of Gustavus.

I have to correct this a bit as the decree of Yongzheng standardizing such practices in Qing Shilu actually states "every province for every 1,000 soldiers, we originally set 4 Weiyuan jiangjun cannon and 6 Zimu cannons". These only pertains to Weiyuan jiangjun cannon and Zimu cannons but there are far more other types of field artillery.

For example, from volume 20 of the Guandong Haifang Huijian written around the time of the Opium war (the equipment of the Qing army didn't change much and probably even declined over time):

The equipment of the right garrison of Southern Macao (1,200 soldiers) is as follows: muskets: 638, swords: 857, spear: 174...Zimu cannon: 19 (there are also other lesser firearms that I did not bother to translate).
The equipment of the Denghai Xieyou camp (around 800 soldiers); 408 muskets, 5 Zimu cannon and 3 stationary cannons.

The Green standard shown above had roughly 50-60% muskets, and roughly 10+ cannons per every thousand men.

In the Xieshi Piao middle camp of around 1,000 soldiers, there was 10 Zimu cannon and 192 cast iron cannons and 8 wrought iron cannons, 6 Hao cannons, or a total of 216 cannons.

The Chinese armies had comparable amounts of heavy artillery per personnel to the European armies of the time, but it had far more medium and lighter artillery and a more variety of them from the 16th century onwards.


Haakbus April 11th, 2015 08:38 PM

^^ The link doesn't work.

heavenlykaghan April 12th, 2015 05:26 PM


So, with bow and arrow remaining the mainstay of the Chinese armies through Ming and most Qing, and with the artillery following European models since very shortly after the Imjin War, just how could the Chinese military be more "powerful pound by pound" than the Europeans from which they copied the designs wherever they could?
Bows and arrows were never the mainstay of the Qing army. In the Cheng Zhou Fu Zhi, it was recorded that the left batallion had 115 cavalrymen, 368 infantry and 235 musketeers and 32 cannons. The average Qing battalion was 800-1,000 men in Guandong and in the Guandong Haifang Huijian records that in the Chenghai Xieyou batallion, there were 408 muskets and 5 Zimu cannon, in the Xieshi county Biaozhong batallion, there were 492 muskets and 10 Zimu cannon, in the Biaoyou batallion of the same town, there were 486 muskets and 10 Zimu cannon.

In another word 50-60% of the Green standard infantry units were musketeers and only around 20% were bowmen the rest were spearmen and the Chinese had more artillery units than the Europeans.

Firepower aside, the Chinese/steppe army was also vastly superior in the area of mobility and logistics. As I repeatedly quoted Peter Perdue (one of the leading Qing historians at the moment) in the past, I'll quote him again:
"Qing commanders made careful efforts to spare the local population the burdens of military supply, either by having soldiers carry their rations with them, or by giving them money to buy grain at market prices. The real victory of early Qign rulers was their ability to draw off the resources of a rapidly commercializing economy to serve national defense needs without inflicting excessive damage on the rural economy...Rations for Qing troops, by these measures seem small;...Mongolian and Manchu soldiers in the Chinese army could get a substantial caloric supply from steppe products like mare's milk, horse's blood, horsemeat, and marmots. Most important the enoumous grasslands of Mongolia were more than adequate to feed the Qing army's horses. ...In Western Europe seven acres of green fodder could feed one horse for a year, much like North China. In any case, the 1.5 million sq km of mongolian grasslands, which supported 1.15 million horses in 1918, could potentially provide grazing lands for a very large number of horses. Western Europe clearly had no such large pasture lands, and this was the major limitation on its armies' mobility. The Qing in these campaigns achieved an impressive and believable logistical triumph by combining careful exploitation of grassland resources with convoys shipped from the interior.”


In November 1675 the commander of the local army of Shaanui, Wang Fuchen, rose in rebellion, thus menacing Shanxi and Gansu. The Dutch cannons, imported in 1604 from Holland, were much needed to put down Wang's rebellion. Verbiest and his workers had cast twenty of these Dutch cannons within only twenty-eight days. They were the most powerful cannons of that time.

Now how could the Manchu artillery corps, heavenlykaghan, be considered a superior force to the Europeans when they heavily relied on the - often outdated - technical knowledge of the Jesuits?
First, powerful cannons aren't necessarily the best cannons. The strength of the Zimu cannon lies in its portability in protracted campaigns and long distance projection. To cross the Gobi in just two months cannot be done with any other types of cannon in quantity. In 1689 and in 1757, the Qing moved 100,000-150,000 soldiers across the Gobi and the Taklamakan over 1,000 miles in length. The Qing army was able to march from Beijing to Zuunmod in around 70 days marching some 1,200 km or around 17 km/day of speed. On the other hand, Russia's Crimean campaign in 1687-89 was merely campaigning a few hundred km next door, but moved only at 10 km/day and had to turn back both times due to logistic failures.

Second, the fact that Qing adopted Dutch cannons shows that now it possess such technology. Most of the Qing cannons are of the Hong Yi Dutch types and the Qing had various forms of these. Cannon technology didn't change significantly until the very end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century when more scientific gunpowder mixture methods and new methods of casting cannons through industrial methods were invented. The Qing and Europeans simply tampered around with what was essentially the same technology in different terrains. The main problem wasn't power, but logistics; namely how to transport these cannons, and in many ways, the Chinese cannons were actually lighter thanks to cheaper metallurgy. You also seem to hold the idea that the Jesuits in China had outdated European technology when there are no such evidence whatsoever and in fact we have all the evidence to show that these Jesuits were able to produce new innovations to suit Chinese terrains, backed by a state that could impose greater scale of production on these weapons.

Third, the cannon technology was not what made the Qing army more effective, mobility and logistics were. Yet even in firepower, the Chinese armies arguably had an edge in the late 16th and 17th century because of the greater quantity of cannons distributed to each regiment (whereas musket units were roughly comparable) compared to European armies (and logistics again have to do with this) and in the early 18th century the artillery ratio is still the same but the European armies had better muskets in the form of flintlocks so it is a toss up which is hard to speculate because the armies never fought.


How? Both in the defensive and offensive European short weaponry and fighting techniques were very advanced. The katana was effectively a two-hander meaning that the body of the samurai was generally not protected with a shield and thus vulnerable to counter-attacks. But Samurai armour, being over-heavy and antiquated, was no great protection.

By contrast, European fighters also often used-two handers, at least in duels, but because they could rely on the best body armour in history, plate armour. European fencing techniques were highly developed, with a large body of specialist literature (Martial arts manual - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).

A clip on the many weaknesses of the katana:

This clip nicely shows how agile fighters in plate armour were and how it needed special fighting techniques to overcome their armour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hlI...teoD3A&index=3

This armour is so protective that slashing techniques were largely useless. And the overrated katana was a slashing weapon mostly...
You can speculate on your own but I choose to follow what Ming generals themselves noted, that Europeans were inferior in melee to the Chinese on boats because of their short swords and boarding was used to defeat them, whereas the Japanese with their longer swords were clearly noted to be superior to the Chinese in melee both when the Ming fought Japanese pirates and in the Imjin war and the tactic to beat them was to prevent the Japanese from boarding.

Full plate armor was not a common armament among the infantry masses and the most common armor in 16th century European infantry was Corselets and Brigandine, which was comparable to what the Ming soldiers wore (mail and Brigandine) and they still received the worst end of the deal whenever they encountered Japanese units in close handed melee in the Imjin war.
Tercio infantrymen armor:

We are not talking about general melee in relatively open terrains where pole arms were more decisive, but after formations break and also confrontation in rugged terrains where formation were often not properly maintained and hand to hand combat were fought, and in such areas, it appears the average Samurai was the better warrior.

heavenlykaghan April 13th, 2015 02:23 PM


I wrote field artillery. The manufacture of Chinese siege artillery was anyway dominated by European gunfounders (or their pupils) since 1600. Still, the overall importance of siege warfare in China must have remained negligible, otherwise we would have seen changes in Chinese fortifications which we don't.

See this post (http://historum.com/asian-history/88853-comparison-ming-mughal-japanese-militaries-1590s-2.html#post2151475) and get real. You are not even logical, much less correct: The Qing got their technology from the Jesuits who acquired it from European gunfounders, the real experts, who had usually developed their models much further at the time they found their way to the Far East. The Qing were operating with Europe's yesterday artillery technology - if at all.
They are not dominated by European gun founders. The vast majority of Chinese cannons during the Qing were cast by native Chinese.
Also, people are exaggerating the role of Verbiast and his competence compared to other Chinese cannon designers.
The fact is that the Chinese cannon designer Dai Zi outperformed Verbiest on a number of designs and it was his design of Zimu Pao and Wei Yuanjiang Jun pao instead of Verbiest's designed that became the main artillery of the Qing army in the Zunghar wars and later.
"The Chong Tian Pao (mortars) took Verbiast a year and he still haven't completed its design whereas it only took Dai Zi 8 days to complete." Zhongguo Junshi Tongshi v.16 p. 394
Dai Zi's cannons were what the Qing adopted in its war against Zunghars under Galdan.
Bo Yu and Li Wende were other cannon makers who designed explosive shells and various Wei Yuan jiangjun pao and Shengwei Jiangjun pao and improved the original design that Verbiest made in the 1670s.

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