Timeline of the gunpowder age

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This is a timeline of the history of gunpowder and related topics such as weapons, warfare, and industrial applications. The timeline covers the history of gunpowder from the first hints of its origin as a Taoist alchemical product in China until its replacement by smokeless powder in the late 19th century (from 1884 to the present day).


Pre-gunpowder formula

Major developments: Earliest stage of gunpowder development. Mentions of gunpowder ingredients and their uses in conjunction with each other.

142ChinaA Taoist text known as the Cantong qi , or the Book of the Kinship of Three, by Wei Boyang, who lived in the Eastern Han dynasty, mentions a combination of three powders that fly and dance violently. [1] [2]
318ChinaThe ingredients of gunpowder are recorded in the Baopuzi , also known as The Master Who Embraces Simplicity, by Taoist philosopher Ge Hong, who lived in the Jin dynasty (266–420). It describes experiments to create gold with heated saltpeter, pine resin, and charcoal among other carbon materials, resulting in a purple powder and arsenic vapours. [3] [4]
492ChinaTao Hongjing, a Taoist alchemist, notes that saltpeter burns with a purple flame. [5]
756ChinaThe Taoist Mao Kua reports in his Pinglongren (Recognition of the Recumbent Dragon) that by heating saltpeter, the yin of the air can be obtained, which combines with sulphur, carbon, and metals other than gold. [6]

9th century

Major developments: Earliest definite references to a gunpowder formula and awareness of its danger.

808ChinaThe Taoist priest Qing Xuzi mentions the gunpowder formula in his Taishang Shengzu Jindan Mijue, describing six parts sulfur to six parts saltpeter to one part birthwort herb. [7]
858ChinaThe Taoist text Zhenyuan miaodao yaolüe (Classified Essentials of the Mysterious Way of the True Origin of Things) contains a warning on the dangers of gunpowder: "Some have heated together sulfur, realgar (arsenic disulphide), and saltpeter with honey; smoke [and flames] result, so that their hands and faces have been burnt, and even the whole house burned down." [7]

10th century

Major developments: Gunpowder is utilized in Chinese warfare and an assortment of gunpowder weapons appear. Fire arrows utilizing gunpowder as an incendiary appear in the early 900s and possibly rocket arrows as well by the end of the century. The gunpowder slow match is used for igniting flame throwers. The ancestor of firearms, the fire lance, also appears, but its usage in the 10th century is uncertain and no textual evidence for it exists during this period.

904China Fire arrows utilizing gunpowder are used by Southern Wu troops during the siege of Yuzhang. [8] [9]
919ChinaThe gunpowder slow match appears in China (for igniting flamethrowers). [10]
950China Fire lances appear in China. [11]
969ChinaGunpowder propelled fire arrows, rocket arrows, are invented by Yue Yifang and Feng Jisheng. [12]
975ChinaThe state of Wuyue sends a group of soldiers skilled in the use of fire arrows to the Song dynasty, which uses fire arrows and incendiary bombs in the same year to destroy the fleet of Southern Tang. [13]
994ChinaThe Liao dynasty attacks the Song dynasty and lays siege to Zitong with 100,000 troops, but fails due to the defenders' use of fire arrows. [13]
1000ChinaTang Fu demonstrates gunpowder pots and caltrops to the Song court and is rewarded. [14]

11th century

Major developments: The chemical formula for gunpowder is recorded in the Wujing Zongyao by 1044. Bombs appear in the early 11th century. Gunpowder becomes more common in the Song dynasty and production of gunpowder weapons is systematized. The Song court restricts trade of gunpowder ingredients with the Liao and Western Xia dynasties.

1002ChinaShi Pu demonstrates fireballs utilizing gunpowder to the Song court and blueprints are created for promulgation throughout the realm. [14]
1044ChinaThe chemical formula for gunpowder appears in the military manual Wujing Zongyao , also known as the Complete Essentials for the Military Classics. [16] [17]
China"Thunderclap bombs" are mentioned in the Wujing Zongyao . [18]
ChinaA "triple-bed-crossbow" firing fire arrows is mentioned in the Wujing Zongyao . [19]
1067ChinaPrivate trade of gunpowder ingredients is banned in the Song dynasty. [20]
1075SinosphereVietnam's Lý dynasty used fire arrows and against the Song dynasty during the Lý–Song War (1075–1077). [21]
1076ChinaTrade of gunpowder ingredients with the Liao and Western Xia dynasties is outlawed by the Song court. [14]
1083ChinaThree hundred thousand fire arrows are produced by the Song court and delivered to two garrisons. [14]

12th century

Major developments: Gunpowder fireworks are mentioned. Ships are equipped with trebuchets for hurling bombs. Earliest recorded usage of gunpowder artillery in ship to ship combat, first mention of the fire lance in battle, and the earliest possible depiction of a cannon appears.

1110ChinaThe Song army puts on a firework display for the emperor including a spectacle which opened with "a noise like thunder" and explosives that light up the night. Considered by some to be the first mention of gunpowder fireworks. [22]
1126FebruaryChina Jingkang Incident : Thunderclap bomb as well as fire arrows and fire bombs are used by Song troops during the siege of Kaifeng by the Jin dynasty (1115–1234). [23]
1127DecemberChina"Molten metal bombs", suspected to contain gunpowder, are employed by Song troops when the Jin army returns with fire arrows and gunpowder bombs made by captured Song artisans. Kaifeng is taken. [24]
1128ChinaThe earliest extant depiction of a cannon appears among the Dazu Rock Carvings, one of which is a human figure holding a gourd shaped hand cannon. [25]
1129ChinaGunpowder weapons are applied to naval warfare as Song warships are outfitted with trebuchets and supplies of gunpowder bombs. [26]
1132China Siege of De'an : Fire lances are used by Song troops. [27] [28] [29]
ChinaGunpowder is referred to specifically for its military applications for the first time and is known as "fire bomb medicine" rather than "fire medicine". [26]
ChinaFirecrackers using gunpowder are mentioned for the first time. [30]
1159China Fire arrows are employed by a Song fleet in sinking a Jin fleet off the shore of Shandong peninsula. [31]
116126–27 NovemberChina Battle of Caishi : Thunderclap bombs are employed by Song treadmill boats in sinking a Jin fleet on the Yangtze. [31]
1163China Fire lances are attached to war carts, known as "at-your-desire-war-carts", for defending Song mobile trebuchets. [26]

13th century

Major developments: Bomb shells gain an iron casing. Fire lances are equipped with projectiles and reusable iron barrels. Rockets are used in warfare. "Fire emitting tubes" are produced in the Song dynasty by the mid-13th century and hand cannons are recorded to have been used in battle by the Yuan dynasty in 1287. The earliest extant cannons appear in China. The Mongols spread gunpowder weaponry to Japan, Southeast Asia, and possibly the Middle East as well as Europe. Europe and India both acquire gunpowder by the end of the century, but only in the Middle East are gunpowder weapons mentioned in any detail.

1207ChinaThunderclap bombs are employed by Song forces in a sneak attack on a Jin camp, killing 2000 men and 800 horses. [18]
1221ChinaIron casing bombs are employed by Jin troops in the siege of Qi Prefecture (Hubei). [32]
1227ChinaThe Wuwei Bronze Cannon, excavated in 1980, is dated to the Western Xia (1038–1227) period. It is currently the oldest possible extant cannon, however like the Heilongjiang hand cannon it contains no inscription and dating is based on contextual evidence. [33]
1230ChinaCo-viative projectiles are added to fire lances. [34]
1231China"Thunder crash bombs" are employed by Jin troops in destroying a Mongol warship. [35]
1232ChinaReusable fire lance barrels made of durable paper are employed by Jin troops during the Mongol siege of Kaifeng. [35]
China"Flying fire-lances" with re-usable barrels are used in the defense of Bianjing against Mongols. Some interpret these to be rockets. [36]
1237ChinaLarge bombs requiring several hundred men to hurl using trebuchets are employed by Mongols in the siege of Anfeng (modern Shouxian, Anhui). [37]
1240Middle EastThe Middle East acquires knowledge of gunpowder. [38]
1245China Rockets are used during a military exercise conducted by the Song navy. [39]
1257ChinaThree hundred thirty-three "fire emitting tubes" are produced in a Song arsenal in Jiankang Prefecture (Nanjing, Jiangsu). [40] [41]
1258IndiaIn India, gunpowder is used in pyrotechnics. [42]
1259ChinaThe History of Song describes a "fire-emitting lance" employing a pellet wad projectile which occludes the barrel. Some consider this to be the first bullet. [40] [41]
ChinaThe city of Qingzhou produces one to two thousand iron cased bomb shells a month and sends them in deliveries of ten to twenty thousand at a time to Xiangyang and Yingzhou. [43]
1264ChinaA display of miniature rockets frightens the Song empress. [44]
1267WestIn Europe gunpowder in the form of a firecracker is mentioned in textual sources by Roger Bacon, in his Opus Majus . [45] [46]
1272China Battle of Xiangyang : Fire lances are used by a Song riverine relief force to repel boarders. [47]
1276ChinaReusable fire lance barrels made of metal are employed by the Song army. [48]
China Fire lances are used by Song cavalry in combating Mongols. [47]
1277ChinaA suicide bombing occurs in China when Song garrisons set off a large bomb, killing themselves. [49] [50]
1280China"Eruptors," cannons firing co-viative projectiles, are employed in the Yuan dynasty. [51]
ChinaA major accidental explosion occurs in China when a Yuan gunpowder storehouse at Weiyang, Yangzhou catches fire and explodes, killing 100 guards and hurling building materials over 5 km away. [52]
Middle EastThe Middle East acquires fire lances and rockets. [53] Hasan al-Rammah writes, in Arabic, recipes for gunpowder, instructions for the purification of saltpeter, and descriptions of gunpowder incendiaries. [38] He also provides a description and illustration of the world's first torpedo. [54]
WestEurope acquires the gunpowder formula. [55]
1281SinosphereBombs are employed by Mongols in the Mongol invasions of Japan. [56]
1287China Hand cannons are employed by the troops of Yuan Jurchen commander Li Ting in putting down a rebellion by Mongol prince Nayan. [57]
1288ChinaThe Heilongjiang hand cannon is dated to this year based on contextual evidence and its proximity to the rebellion by Mongol prince Nayan, although it contains no inscription. [58] [59]
1293Southeast AsiaMongol troops of Yuan dynasty carried Chinese cannons to Java in 1293. [60]
1298ChinaThe Xanadu Gun, the oldest confirmed extant hand cannon, is dated to this year based on its inscription and contextual evidence. [61]
1299Middle East Fire lances are used in battles between the Mongols and Muslims [62]
1300IndiaIn India Mongol mercenaries deploy fire arrows during a siege. [63]

14th century

Major developments: Chinese gunpowder weaponry continues to advance with the development of one-piece cast iron cannons, accompanying carriages, and the addition of land mines, naval mines and rocket launchers. Earliest recorded instance of volley fire with gunpowder weaponry, by the Ming dynasty. The rest of the world catches up quickly and most of Eurasia acquires gunpowder weapons by the second half of the 14th century. Cannon development in Europe progresses rapidly and by 1374, cannons in Europe are able to breach a city wall for the first time. Breech loading cannons appear in Europe.

1307WestThe Armenian monk Hetoum writes about a powerful weapon having been invented in China. [64]
1325ChinaBronze "thousand-ball thunder-cannons" on four wheeled carriages appear in the Yuan dynasty. [65]
1326WestIn Europe the depiction of a cannon appears. [66] [67]
1330WestIn Andalusia cannons are mentioned in textual sources. [68]
WestEurope's oldest extant firearm, the Loshult gun, is dated to this year. [69]
1331IberiaThe Nasrid army besieging Elche makes use of "iron pellets shot with fire." [70]
1333WestEarliest extant cannon arrow projectile is dated to this year. Now kept in the Eltz Castle. [71]
1338WestAn organ gun and three pounds of gunpowder are recorded to have been in the possession of a raiding party that sacked Southampton. [66]
1339WestThe word "cannon", derived from the Greek kanun and Latin canna, meaning "tube," is used for the first time in Europe. [72]
WestThe word "gun" is used to describe a firearm in English for the first time. [72]
1340ChinaA "watermelon bomb" containing miniature rockets known as "ground rats" is employed by Liu Bowen against rebels and pirates in Zhejiang. [73]
1344WestWooden cannons appear in Europe. [74]
134626 AugustWest Battle of Crécy : Organ guns are used. [75]
WestThe term "bombard" is used to refer to guns of any kind. [76]
1350China Cast iron technology becomes reliable enough to make one-piece iron cannons in China. [77]
ChinaFlint and wheel mechanisms are employed in igniting land mines and naval mines in China. [78]
ChinaIn China organ guns appear. [79]
ChinaTwo wheeled gun carriages appear in China. [80]
India India acquires rockets. [81]
1352Southeast AsiaCannons are mentioned to have been used by the Ayutthaya Kingdom in their invasion of the Khmer Empire [82]
1358ChinaDefending garrisons fire cannons en masse at the siege of Shaoxing and defeat a Ming army. [83]
1360Middle EastIn the middle east metal-barrel guns start appearing in textual sources. [68]
Southeast Asia Gunpowder barrels aboard a Khmer ship explode. [82]
136330 August – 4 OctoberChina Battle of Lake Poyang : Cannons are used in ship combat and a new weapon called the "No Alternative" also appears. It consists of a reed mat bundled together with gunpowder and iron pellets hung on a pole from the foremast of a ship. When an enemy ship is within range, the fuse is lit, and the bundle falls onto the enemy ship spitting iron pellets and burning their men and sails. [84]
1364West Breech loading cannons start appearing in Europe. [85]
1366ChinaTwo thousand four hundred large and small cannons are deployed by the Ming army at the siege of Suzhou. [83]
IndiaThe Vijayanagara Empire acquires firearms. [86]
1368China Crouching-tiger cannons are employed by the Ming army. [87]
1370ChinaGunpowder is corned to strengthen the explosive power of land mines in the Ming dynasty. [88]
China Cannon projectiles transition from stone to iron ammunition in the Ming dynasty. [89]
1372China Cannons made specifically for naval usage appear in the Ming dynasty. [90]
1373WestThe term "hand gun", also known as handgonne, gunnies, vasam scolpi, pot, capita, and testes, appears in European texts for the first time. [91]
1374Sinosphere Goryeo starts producing gunpowder. [92]
West Cannons breach a city wall for the first time in Europe. [64]
1375West"Basilisk" cannons appear. [93]
WestA 900 kg large-calibre gun is produced in Europe. [94]
Worldwide Flash pans are added to hand cannons. [95]
WestEuropean gunsmiths begin testing barrels for structural integrity, improving quality. [96]
1377Sinosphere Goryeo starts producing cannons and rockets. [97] [98]
1380China"Wasp nest" rocket launchers are manufactured for the Ming army. [73]
24 JuneWest Battle of Chioggia : In Europe rockets are used in battle. [99]
WestEuropeans develop the means to produce saltpeter for themselves. [74]
1382WestEuropean sailing ships are equipped with cannons. [100]
3 MayWest Battle of Beverhoutsveld : The first military conflict in Europe where cannons play a decisive role. [101]
1388China Ming–Mong Mao War : Volley fire is implemented with cannons by the Ming artillery corps in the anti-insurrection war waged against the Mong Mao. [102]
WestSaltpeter plantations start appearing in Europe. [103]
1390Southeast Asia Đại Việt soldiers kill the king of Champa, Che Bong Nga, using hand cannons. [104]
1396WestIn Europe mounted knights start employing fire lances. [105]
139817 DecemberIndia Delhi Sultanate uses bombs against Tamerlane. [106]
1399West Germany's oldest extant firearm is dated to this year. [107]

15th century

Major developments: Large-calibre artillery weighing several thousand kg are produced in Europe during the early 15th century and spread to the Ottoman Empire. Modifiable two wheeled gun carts known as limbers and caissons appear, greatly improving the mobility of artillery. The matchlock arquebus, the first firearm with a trigger mechanism, appears in Europe by 1475. Rifled barrels also appear in the late 15th century. The term musket is used for the first time in 1499. Rocket launchers are used in battle by the Ming dynasty and the Korean kingdom of Joseon develops a mobile rocket launcher vehicle called the hwacha. Chinese style bombs are used in Japan by 1468 at the latest.

1400WestIn Europe the gunpowder slow match appears. [108]
China Li Jinglong uses rocket launchers against the army of the Yongle Emperor. [73]
West Springalds are entirely replaced by gunpowder weapons [109]
1405WestEurope acquires bombs. [51]
1407China Ironwood wadding is added to Ming cannons, increasing their effectiveness. [110]
1409SinosphereBattle carts armed with cannons firing iron fletched darts are produced in Joseon. [111]
1410Sinosphere Joseon ships are equipped with cannons. [112]
West"Culverins" are mentioned for the first time. [93]
West"Saker" cannons appear. [93]
1411WestA "serpentine" lever is added to the stocks of hand cannons in Europe to hold matches. The resulting firearm, the hook gun, becomes known as the arquebus. [113]
1412China Shells are used as ammunition in the Ming dynasty. [114]
1413Sinosphere Joseon mortars capable of firing 500 meter iron shots and 600 meter stone shots are mentioned. [115]
Southeast AsiaThe customs of firing cannons and pole gun is mentioned as part of Javanese marriage ceremony. [116] [117] :245
1415Sinosphere10,000 guns are deployed throughout Joseon [115]
1419ChinaDuring the Lantern Festival, the Ming imperial palace puts on a display of pyrotechnics involving rockets running along wires which light up lanterns, illuminating the palace. [99]
1420WestIn Europe war wagons are used as mobile firearm platforms during the Hussite Wars. [31]
1420SinosphereIron shot replaces stone as the standard ammunition in Joseon [115]
1421Southeast AsiaA Chinese pole cannon found in Java is dated from this year, bearing the name of Yongle Emperor. [118] [119]
1425WestIn Europe gunpowder corning is practiced. [120]
1429ChinaMounted infantry carrying hand cannons are employed by the Ming army. [121]
1431WestA 12,000 kg wrought iron large-calibre gun capable of firing 300 kg projectiles, called Dulle Griet, is produced in Europe. [122]
WestEuropean cannon projectiles transition from stone to iron ammunition. [123]
1437WestIn Europe shells are used as ammunition. [124]
WestA master gunner in Europe is forced to make a pilgrimage to Rome after scaring his fellow soldiers, who accused him of satanic devilry, with an astounding rate of fire of three rounds in one day. [125]
1447Sinosphere Sejong the Great of Joseon decrees that all fire-squads should carry standardized firearms. [126]
1450WestEuropean walls become lower and thicker in response to cannons. [127]
West Trunnions appear in Europe. [128]
15 AprilWest Battle of Formigny : Marks the rapid decline of the English longbow as they prove to be inferior to cannons in both range and rate of fire. [129]
1451SinosphereA type of multiple arrow rocket launcher known as the "Munjong Hwacha" is produced in Joseon. [130]
1453WestModifiable two wheeled gun carts known as limbers appear, greatly improving cannon maneuverability and mobility. [131] [128]
1456India Malwa Sultanate uses cannons as siege weapons to demolish ramparts: In India cannons become widespread. [132] [133]
14603 AugustWest James II of Scotland is killed by one of his own guns, which exploded while he was standing close to it. [96]
West"Mortars" are mentioned for the first time. [93]
1464Middle EastA 16,800 kg cast bronze large-calibre gun known as the Great Turkish Bombard is created in the Ottoman Empire. [134]
1468SinosphereA Chinese "thunderbomb" made of paper and bamboo wrapping two pounds of gunpowder and iron filings is mentioned to have been in use in Japan; Chinese style bombs are used as trebuchet shots until at least 1500 [132]
1470WestA shoulder stock is added to hand cannons in Europe. [91]
1471Southeast Asia Cham–Annamese War : Lê dynasty troops use cannons to blast a breach in Vijaya's fortifications prior to capturing the city [135]
1472IndiaIn India land mines appear; Bahmani Sultanate utilizes them in siege warfare. [136]
1475WestThe matchlock mechanism is added to the arquebus, making it the first firearm with a trigger. [137]
1479WestA four layer artillery tower is built at Querfurth in Saxony. [138]
1480WestGuns reach their classic form in Europe. [139]
West"Falconets" are mentioned for the first time. [140]
West"Minion" cannons appear. [140]
1486WestEuropean oar ships start carrying cannons. [141]
1488West Henry VII of England's ships, the Regent and Sovereign, are among the first to carry enough cannons to deliver a 'ship killing' blow at a distance. [142]
1498WestSpecialized hunting firearms with rifled barrels appear in Europe. [143]
149925 AugustWest Battle of Zonchio : Breech-loading iron cannons are used in naval warfare. [144]
WestThe term musket or moschetto is used for the first time in Europe. [91]

16th century

Major developments: Matchlock firearms spread throughout Eurasia, reaching China and Japan by the mid-16th century. The volley fire technique is implemented using matchlock firearms by the Ottomans, Ming dynasty, and Dutch Republic by the end of the century. The arquebus is replaced by its heavier variant called the musket to combat heavily armoured troops. "Musket" becomes the dominant term for all shoulder arms fireweapons until the mid-19th century. The wheellock and flintlock trigger mechanisms are invented. Pistols and revolvers both appear during this period. Ottoman troops attach bayonets to their firearms. Both Europe and China develop handheld breech loading firearms. The star fort spreads across Europe in response to increasing effectiveness of siege artillery. The Ming dynasty uses gunpowder for hydraulic engineering.

1500India India acquires matchlocks. [145]
WestThe term "artillery" solidifies as a general term for cannons, their ammunition, support equipment, and operating personnel. [72]
150328 AprilWest Battle of Cerignola : Marks the first military conflict where arquebusiers played a decisive role. [146]
1505WestThe wheellock appears in Europe as an expensive alternative to the matchlock. [91]
1508India India acquires Portuguese cannons. [147]
WestThe earliest extant rifles are dated to this year. [91]
1510SinosphereJapan acquires cannons. [148]
ChinaPortuguese "Frankish" cannons are used on Guangdong's coastline by Chinese pirates. [149]
1515WestA man in (Germany) accidentally shoots a prostitute in the chin with a pistol. Considered to be the earliest recorded firearm accident. [150]
1516Southeast Asia Đại Việt and Lê dynasty produce matchlocks. [151]
1521WestA larger arquebus capable of penetrating plate armor known as the musket appears in Europe. [152]
1523ChinaThe Ming dynasty produces breech-loading swivel guns based on Portuguese designs. [149]
152621 AprilIndia Mughal Emperor Babur use firearms against Sultan Ibrahim Lodi, therefore winning the First Battle of Panipat.
29 AugustWest Battle of Mohács : Volley fire is implemented with matchlocks by Ottoman Janissaries. [153]
1527West"Ordnance" is used to describe artillery for the first time. [154]
1530WestThe star fort becomes the dominant type of defensive structure in Italy. [155]
WestEarliest dated "carbine" made in Augsburg. [91]
1533China Composite metal cannons are produced in the Ming dynasty. [156] [157] [158]
1537WestHandheld breech-loading firearms start appearing in Europe. [159]
West Niccolò Fontana Tartaglia applies mathematical applications to artillery trajectories in his Nova Scientia. [160]
1540West Cast iron cannons in Europe become reliable enough to arm sailing ships with two full broadsides. [161]
Southeast AsiaIn Southeast Asia matchlocks start seeing widespread use. [162]
WestCavalry in Europe start abandoning the lance and adopt the wheellock pistol. [163]
1541China Gunpowder is used for hydraulic engineering in the Ming dynasty. [164]
1543SinosphereJapan acquires knowledge of matchlocks. [162]
154427 JanuarySinosphereIn Japan Tanegashima Tokitaka employs matchlocks in the invasion of Yakushima. [165]
WestWooden cannons are used for the last time in Europe. [166]
West Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor attempts to standardize gun types. [167]
1545India Gujarat experiments with composite metal cannons. [158]
West Niccolò Fontana Tartaglia invents the gunner's quadrant, an instrument which calculates trajectory. [160]
1548ChinaThe Ming army starts fielding matchlocks. [168]
1550WestThe large arquebus known as the musket becomes obsolete due to lack of armor, but continues as the most widely used term for similar firearms in Europe. [169]
WestThe snaphance flintlock mechanism appears in Europe. [170]
WestThe 'flask trail' carriage replaces solid stock trail carriages in Europe. [171]
1560China Qi Jiguang publishes his Jixiao Xinshu describing the musket volley fire technique and his experience training the Ming army in its use. [172]
1561ChinaThe Ming dynasty starts producing handheld breech-loading firearms. [173] [174]
1563Sinosphere Joseon starts producing breech-loading swivel guns. [175]
1568WestCalivers are mentioned for the first time in Europe. [91]
1573WestIn Europe explosive mines are implemented by Samuel Zimmermann of Augsburg. [176]
1574WestIn Europe designs for naval mines are completed. [177]
157528 JuneSinosphere Battle of Nagashino : In Japan Oda Nobunaga's tanegashima troops employ volley fire. [162]
West Trigger guards start appearing on European firearms. [169]
1580West Revolvers appear in Europe. [178]
15948 DecemberWest William Louis, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg describes the countermarch volley fire technique in a letter to his cousin Maurice, Prince of Orange, and starts training the Dutch army in volley fire. [179]
1598China Ming cavalry experiments with firing a three-barreled matchlock before using it as a shield while they attack with a saber using their other hand. [180]
Middle EastThe first mention of a bayonet occurs in the Shenqipu describing a knife attached to an Ottoman musket. [181]
1600Middle East Ottoman cavalry starts carrying pistols. [182]
WestThe term "howitzer" comes to refer to the weapon. [183]

17th century

Major developments: Bayonets spread across Eurasia. A paper cartridge is introduced by Gustavus Adolphus. Rifles are used for war by Denmark. A ship of the line carrying 60 to 120 cannons appears in Europe. Samuel Pepys' diary mentions a machine gun like pistol. The "true" flintlock replaces the snaphance flintlock in Europe by the end of the 17th century. Both China and Japan reject the flintlock and the Mughal Empire only uses it in limited quantities. Gunpowder is used for mining in Europe.

1606China Ming muskets are attached with plug bayonets. [184]
1607Sinosphere Joseon musketeers are trained in the volley fire technique. [185]
1611West Paper cartridges are introduced by Gustavus Adolphus. [186]
West Rifles are used in warfare by Denmark. [91]
1613SinosphereIn Japan Date Masamune orders the construction of the Date Maru, a ship built in the style of a Spanish galleon, capable of carrying large cannons. [187]
161914–18 AprilSinosphere Battle of Sarhu : Later Jin cavalry defeats Ming and Joseon musketeers. [188]
1620China Ming foundries start producing Hongyipao. [156]
1627West Gunpowder is used for mining in Europe. [189]
1629West Holland experiments with composite metal cannons. [158]
1632China Ming defensive planners build some star forts but they don't catch on in China. [190]
1633China Ming dockyards start construction of multidecked broadside sailing ships capable of holding large cannons under the supervision of Zheng Zhilong. [191]
1635China Telescopes are used for aiming artillery in the Ming dynasty. [192]
1636SinosphereThe Dutch attempt to trade flintlock firearms with the Japanese but the new firing mechanism doesn't catch on in Japan. [78]
1637Sinosphere Shimabara Rebellion : In Japan the last major military engagement involving muskets, before firearm suppression policies are enacted, is conducted against an uprising of peasant-farmers and landless samurai. [193]
164220 JanuaryChina Li Zicheng's rebels manage to create a two zhang breach in Ming fortifications using cannons. [194]
164326 JulyWest Storming of Bristol : In Europe fire lances are used for the last time. [195]
1650West Ship of the line carrying 60 to 120 cannons in broadside batteries appear in Europe. [196]
16623 JulyWest Samuel Pepys' diary mentions a mechanic who claimed to be able to make a machine-gun like pistol. [197] [198]
1671WestEuropean forces attach bayonets to their firearms. [181]
1680WestThe snaphance goes out of fashion in favor of the "true" flintlock in Europe. [169]
1694IndiaIndia acquires flintlocks; Mughal Empire uses them in limited quantities. [199]

18th century

Major developments: Flintlocks completely displace matchlock firearms in Europe both on land and at sea. Sir William Congreve, 1st Baronet discovers "cylinder powder", gunpowder produced using charcoal in iron cylinders, which is twice as powerful as traditional gunpowder and less likely to spoil. He also invents block trail carriages, the most advanced artillery transport of the time. James Puckle invents a breechloader flintlock capable of firing 63 shots in seven minutes. The Kingdom of Mysore deploys iron cased rockets known as Mysorean rockets.

1702WestIn Europe telescopes are used to aid in the aiming of artillery. [200]
1715West Jean Maritz introduces the horizontal drilling technique for casting cannons, increasing their reliability and accuracy while reducing the amount of metal needed for the barrel. [201]
1718West James Puckle invents the Puckle gun, a breech loading flintlock with a revolving set of chambers capable of firing 63 shots in seven minutes. [198]
1720WestFrance establishes Europe's first national artillery school. [202]
1725West Flintlock firearms completely displace matchlocks in Europe. [170]
1742West Benjamin Robins invents the ballistic pendulum, which provides the first way to accurately measure the velocity of a bullet. [203]
1750Worldwide Firearms overtake the composite bow in cost, ease of use, range, and rate of fire, making mounted horse archers completely obsolete. [204]
WestA detent is added to flintlocks to prevent the sear from catching in the half-cock notch. [91]
1755West Naval guns are outfitted with flintlocks [205]
1759West"Carronades" appear. [206]
1770WestA roller bearing is added to flintlocks to reduce friction and produce more sparks. [91]
1780WestA waterproof pan is added to flintlocks. [91]
1783West Sir William Congreve, 1st Baronet improves gunpowder production by constructing dedicated testing ranges, new saltpeter refineries, and special proving houses. He also discovers "cylinder powder", gunpowder produced using charcoal sealed in iron cylinders, which is twice as powerful as traditional gunpowder and less likely to spoil, giving British gunpowder a reputation as best in the world. [207]
1790WestEngland begins fielding block trail carriages, invented by Sir William Congreve, 1st Baronet, the most advanced artillery transport of the time. [208]
179922 AprilIndiaIron-cased Mysorean rockets are deployed by the Kingdom of Mysore against the East India Company. [209]

19th century

Major developments: Sir William Congreve, 2nd Baronet develops the Congreve rockets based on Mysorean rockets and British forces successfully deploy them against Copenhagen. Joshua Shaw invents percussion caps which replace the flintlock trigger mechanism. Claude-Étienne Minié invents the Minié ball, making rifles a viable military firearm, ending the era of smoothbore muskets. Subsequently rifles are deployed in the Crimean War with resounding success. Benjamin Tyler Henry invents the Henry rifle, the first reliable repeating rifle. Richard Jordan Gatling invents the Gatling gun, capable of firing 200 cartridges in a minute. Hiram Maxim invents the Maxim gun, the first single-barreled machine gun. Both China and Europe start using cast iron molds for casting cannons. Alfred Nobel invents dynamite, the first stable explosive stronger than gunpowder. Smokeless powder is invented and replaces the traditional "black powder" in Europe by the end of the century.

1803WestEngland starts producing shrapnel shells. [210]
1804West Sir William Congreve, 2nd Baronet starts experimenting extensively with rockets based on Mysorean rockets. [209]
1805West Congreve rockets are produced in Britain. [211]
1807WestBritish forces successfully deploy 40,000 rockets and ignite devastating fires in Copenhagen [212]
1812West Jean Samuel Pauly invents a cartridge containing a primer, making it the first self-contained cartridge. [213]
West Joseph Manton patents the gravitating lock, which prevents muzzle loaders from accidentally firing while the muzzle is held upward. [91]
1815West Joshua Shaw invents percussion caps. [214]
1820West British guns are manufactured with bouched vents. [215]
1825WestThe percussion cap mechanism starts replacing flintlocks in Europe. [216]
1829West Rocket programs in continental Europe fizzle out as poor performance lead to their rejection until the 20th century. [217]
1830WestThe percussion cap becomes the most widely accepted firing mechanism in Europe. [214]
1831West William Bickford invents the safety fuse. [218]
1835West Casimir Lefaucheux invents the first practical breech loading firearm with a cartridge. [219]
1836West Johann Nicolaus von Dreyse invents the Dreyse needle gun, a breech loading rifle, increasing the rate of fire to six times that of muzzle loading weapons. [219]
1837West Edward Alfred Cowper uses gunpowder explosions as railway fog-signals to alert the locomotive crew of danger. [220]
1841China Wei Yuan recommends the incorporation of flintlock firearms into the Qing army but matchlocks continue to be used. [216]
1845ChinaGong Zhenlin invents cast iron molds for the casting of iron cannons. [192]
1849West Claude-Étienne Minié invents the Minié ball and makes the rifle a viable military firearm, ending the smoothbore musket era. [221]
1854WestRifles are deployed during the Crimean War with resounding success, proving to be vastly superior to smoothbore muskets. [221]
West Volcanic Repeating Arms produces a rifle with a self-contained cartridge. [213]
1855WestThe Elswick Ordnance Company starts producing the Armstrong Gun. [157]
West Edward Boxer uses rockets for throwing life-lines to shipwrecked sailors. [220]
1860West Benjamin Tyler Henry invents the Henry rifle, the first reliable repeating rifle. [222]
1861West Richard Jordan Gatling invents the Gatling gun, capable of firing 200 gunpowder cartridges in a minute. [223]
1862ChinaThe Qing dynasty starts production of percussion caps for rifles. [224]
China Li Xiucheng of the Taiping army equips his army with foreign rifles. [78]
1863West Alfred Nobel invents dynamite, the first stable explosive stronger than gunpowder. [218]
1864China Li Hongzhang of the Qing dynasty equips his army with 15,000 foreign rifles. [78]
1873West Winchester Repeating Arms Company introduces the Model 1873 Winchester rifle. [222]
WestIn Europe cast iron molds are utilized in casting cannons. [192]
187720 July – 10 DecemberWest Siege of Plevna : The first time metallic cartridge repeating rifles have a large impact in battle. [222]
1880West Smokeless powder is invented and starts replacing gunpowder, also known as black powder. [225]
1884West Hiram Maxim invents the Maxim gun, the first single-barreled machine gun. [223]
1886WestA safer and more stable form of smokeless powder is invented in France. [223]
1890West European countries transition to smokeless powder, which is referred to as "gunpowder", whereas the old mixture is known as "black powder". [226]

20th century

Major developments: Smokeless powder replaces traditional "black powder" across the globe, ending the gunpowder age.

1902Worldwide Smokeless powder is adopted nearly everywhere in the world and "black powder" is relegated to hobbyist usage. So ends the Gunpowder Age. [225]

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Gunpowder weapons in the Song dynasty included fire arrows, gunpowder lit flamethrowers, soft shell bombs, hard shell iron bombs, fire lances, and possibly early cannons known as "eruptors". The eruptors, such as the "multiple bullets magazine eruptors", consisting of a tube of bronze or cast iron that was filled with about 100 lead balls, and the "flying-cloud thunderclap eruptor", were early cast-iron proto-cannons that did not include single shots that occluded the barrel. The use of proto-cannon, and other gunpowder weapons, enabled the Song dynasty to ward off its generally militarily superior enemies—the Khitan led Liao, Tangut led Western Xia, and Jurchen led Jin—until its final collapse under the onslaught of the Mongol forces of Kublai Khan and his Yuan dynasty in the late 13th century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Huo Che</span>

Huo Che or rocket carts are several types of Chinese multiple rocket launcher developed for firing multiple fire arrows. The name Huo Che first appears in Feng Tian Jing Nan Ji, a historical text covering the Jingnan War of Ming dynasty.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hu dun pao</span> Classical Chinese missile weapon

Hu dun pao (虎蹲砲) is the name of two different missile weapons in Chinese history. In the Song dynasty (960–1279), it was a trebuchet and its name is translated into English as Crouching Tiger Trebuchet; in the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), the name was given to a type of bombard and it is known in English as Crouching Tiger Cannon.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gunpowder weapons in the Ming dynasty</span>

The Ming dynasty continued to improve on gunpowder weapons from the Yuan and Song dynasties. During the early Ming period larger and more cannons were used in warfare. In the early 16th century Turkish and Portuguese breech-loading swivel guns and matchlock firearms were incorporated into the Ming arsenal. In the 17th century Dutch culverin were incorporated as well and became known as hongyipao. At the very end of the Ming dynasty, around 1642, Chinese combined European cannon designs with indigenous casting methods to create composite metal cannons that exemplified the best attributes of both iron and bronze cannons. While firearms never completely displaced the bow and arrow, by the end of the 16th century more firearms than bows were being ordered for production by the government, and no crossbows were mentioned at all.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Historiography of gunpowder and gun transmission</span>

In the history of gunpowder there are a range of theories about the transmission of the knowledge of gunpowder and guns from Imperial China to the rest of the world following the Song, Jin and Yuan dynasties. The earliest bronze guns found in China date back to the 13th century, with archaeological and textual evidence for previous nascent gunpowder technology developed beforehand. Scholars note the scarcity of records for firearms in the Middle East prior to the mid-14th century, and in Russia before the late 14th century, yet cannons already appeared in Europe by the early 14th century. Less accepted theories include gunpowder as being independently invented in the Middle East or South Asia.