Why didn't large shields make a comeback in the early gunpowder era?

Dec 2009
6,857
#11
That shields we're not used with muskets for several reasons:

1. Shield could still not be made cannon proof, it would be impractically heavy. For a shield heavy enough to.stop a musket ball would send flying splinters that could cause more and wider damage when a cannon ball hit.

2. You can't hold your musket and the shield at the same time, plus shields would get in the way of counter marching , and firing the muskets.

3. Your own shields would get in the way when you charge at your enemy with bayonets

3. A shield heavy enough to be any use would be too heavy to lug around on a long march. Soldiers would end up jettisoning them on long marches. It also.ehy armor was abandoned, the soldiers could carry more ammo and supplies if they didn't have to also.lug around the armor.as well, and on a long march, every pound adds up.
 
#12
So where are all the firearms in that illustration? It is pretty simple; a shield can't stop a gun so they stopped using them. They switched to mantlets, earthworks, and new tactics.
iirc that illustration was from the weisskunig but overall yeah, for the most part during the 15th guns were still being used alongside bows and crossbows, they were less numerous, and were much more experimental. So it may have been a bit easier to stop bullets at a distance or ricochets.

Placing ranged soldiers behind a wall of troops with shields certainly wasn't a new tactic during the middle ages going back, for example, to the crusader army at the battle of Arsuf. What I'm saying though is that during the 1400s when handguns first start becoming a common feature there does seem to have been a period where the response was to start using thicker, heavier, more specialized shields until eventually gunpowder technology reached the point that it started making this tactic nonfeasible.