Europe vs Asia in 1500: Military and Technology comparison

Jan 2019
98
Southeast Asia
#1
From what I found there are several comparison of European and Asian military during the 16th century, however most of the military compared appear mostly in the later part of the 16th century like Japan and the Mughal Empire.


Comparison of the Ming, Mughal and Japanese militaries in the 1590s

Spanish Conquset of Ming China

Who was 16th century leading world power?


So far I have never seen a comparison of both in the late 15th century-early 16th century.

The early 15th century show strong Asian powers like the Timurid, Ottoman and Ming dynasty having large advantage over European military. However by the late 15th century, most of these powers seems to decline and the European develop newer, more effective tactics and weaponry.

Most of the comparison show that Asian powers could even the odds in the later 16th century with muskets and artillery adopted from Europe in addition to large number, but how about in 1500, when muskets and other European weaponry had not yet been introduced to a large part of Asia?
 
Mar 2012
4,324
#2
I'm not sure if you are comparing army quality or military size as well, because no European military was comparable in size to the Ming at this time. If it's about quality, firearms were hardly a game changer and Mongol and Manchu cavalries were routing Ming and Korean armies throughout the 16th and 17th century with inferior numbers and no firearms. Similarly, the Persians performed well against the Ottomans with inferior numbers and no firearms. In Europe, mounted lancers such as the Winged Hussar was arguably the most elite unit; with or without firearms.
 
Jan 2019
98
Southeast Asia
#3
Comparing quality is more interesting, if we want to compare size we need to use the entirety of Europe and compare it to only China, even then it may not be enough. However I would still want to know the total number can muster at this time.

In those thread I linked, most of the advantage of European forces is reduced because the Asian forces can produce European tech, improve it on their own and produce it on greater number.

The late 16th century European military also wear far less armor compared to the beginning of the century, which mean in a melee fight, things are more equal than in 1500.

The early 16th century European military still have 15th century armor style and here we can see that arquebusier could be fully armored, unlike in later decades.

Armor Europe 16th century 1505-1508 Germany Altars in St Nicholas in Kalkar by Jan Joest van C...jpg

Armor Europe 15th century Arquebusier armor 3.jpg

and these guys seems like normal soldiers, not knights.

Armor Europe 15th century 1490 Arrival of the Pilgrims at Cologne by Vittore Carpaccio 3 small.JPG


From your comment on those thread, you said that firearms alone cannot stop cavalry charge, so if firearms are not game changer, it will come down to close quarter combat.

I'm curious about how the various famous 15th century infantry like the Swiss pikeman or English longbowman would fare in a fight with Ming or Ottoman military.

My current opinion is that the late 15th-early 16th century have probably the biggest military tech gap between Europe and Asia until it is mostly equalized again in the late 16th century.
 
Apr 2018
258
Italy
#4
I'm not sure if you are comparing army quality or military size as well, because no European military was comparable in size to the Ming at this time. If it's about quality, firearms were hardly a game changer and Mongol and Manchu cavalries were routing Ming and Korean armies throughout the 16th and 17th century with inferior numbers and no firearms. Similarly, the Persians performed well against the Ottomans with inferior numbers and no firearms. In Europe, mounted lancers such as the Winged Hussar was arguably the most elite unit; with or without firearms.
About the performance of steppe people and persians against fire arms i have some doubt: Russian between 1584 and 1639 with few men submitted all Siberia. In the battle of Chaldiran in 1514 firearms were decisive for Ottoman victory, also during wars in XVI century Ottomans took Iraq, Caucasus and part of Iran with the capital Tabriz.
 
Mar 2012
4,324
#5
About the performance of steppe people and persians against fire arms i have some doubt: Russian between 1584 and 1639 with few men submitted all Siberia. In the battle of Chaldiran in 1514 firearms were decisive for Ottoman victory, also during wars in XVI century Ottomans took Iraq, Caucasus and part of Iran with the capital Tabriz.
The Russians never faced large nomadic polities in Siberia (Khanates such as Sibir long ceased to be nomadic and were small in population). They've never penetrated deep into any large steppe polities such as the Khazakhs, Khalkh Mongols, Zunghars, or even the Nogai until well into the 18th or 19th century. The Russians paid annual sums to Crimean Tartars until the late 17th century and their attempted campaign in 1687 against the Crimean Tartar was abandoned half way because they couldn't find enough foraging for their horse. In the east, their garrison at Yamishebo with 3000-4000 soldiers was taken by a Zunghar force of around 8,000 in 1716.


As for the battle of Chaldiran, firearms were hardly "decisive". According to Kenneth Chase, the Safavid only had around 20,000 against 70,000 Ottoman forces. Even with vastly inferior numbers, the Safavid cavalry charge almost won the day, and both sides suffered heavy losses, the Ottoman cavalry almost wiped out, and the Safavid only "lost" by withdrawing. This is also considering the fact that Ismail listened to his right wing Qizilbash commander to wait after the Ottomans deployed their cannons. Had Ismail listened to his left wing Qizilbash commander who urged him to attack before the cannons were deployed, he might have won the battle. In the subsequent battles, the Safavid often gained the upper hand against the Ottomans.

"Because of the Ottomans’ supply vulnerability, the smaller Safavid force consisting of some 30,000 warriors from diverse tribal origins were able to keep an Ottoman army of 80,000 men, organized in permanent regiments and provincial contingents of timariot troops, effectively immobilized over the full extent of the spring-summer campaigning season of 1586."

Murphey, p.94

Other than 30,000 Safavid cavalry outmaneuvering 80,000 Ottoman soldiers in 1586, in 1603, 6,000 Safavid cavalry routed 5,000 Ottomans even though the later also deployed a wagon laager and manned it with musketeers and artillery.
 
Jan 2019
98
Southeast Asia
#7
I think it's because of the unfamiliarity of the Muslim forces at that area against European forces.

Capture of Malacca (1511) - Wikipedia

The Portuguese invasion of Malacca really show how soldiers in full plate armor fare against numerically superior, but lightly or unarmored forces.

The early 1500s European forces in my opinion have 2 advantage: Fortress design and ships.


If firearms are not decisive, why did many battle are won with firearms by European forces against heavy cavalry charges and the early Ming against the Mongol?