Early modern warfare

"Attack of the Prussian infantry", 1913 historical painting by Carl Röchling depicting the battle of Hohenfriedeberg of 1745

Early modern warfare is associated with the start of the widespread use of gunpowder and the development of suitable weapons to use the explosive, including artillery and firearms; for this reason the era is also referred to as the age of gunpowder warfare (a concept introduced by Michael Roberts in the 1950s).

This entire period is contained within the Age of Sail, which characteristic dominated the era's naval tactics, including the use of gunpowder in naval artillery.

All of the Great Powers of Europe and the Middle East were actively fighting numerous wars throughout this period, grouped in rough geographical and chronological terms as

Use of gunpowder before the 16th century

A Mongol bomb thrown against a charging Japanese samurai during the Mongol invasions of Japan after founding the Yuan Dynasty, 1281.

The earliest existent Chinese formula for gunpowder is recorded in the Wujing Zongyao manuscript published by 1044,[1][2] while the fire lance, an early firearm, was used by Song Chinese forces against the Jin during the Siege of De'an in 1132.[3][4][5] The earliest surviving bronze hand cannon, dates to 1288, during the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty of China.[6][7] Gunpowder warfare was used in the Mongol invasions of Japan in 1274 and 1281, specifically in the form of explosive bombs[8] fired from catapults against enemy soldiers. Japanese scrolls contain illustrations of bombs used by the Yuan-Mongol forces against mounted samurai. Archaeological evidence of the use of gunpowder include the discovery of multiple shells of the explosive bombs in an underwater shipwreck off the shore of Japan, with X-rays providing proof that they contained gunpowder.[9]

An early depiction of artillery, in an illustration of the Siege of Orleans of 1429, by Martial d'Auvergne (1493).

In 1326 the earliest known European picture of a gun appeared in a manuscript by Walter de Milemete.[10] In 1350, Petrarch wrote that the presence of cannons on the battlefield was 'as common and familiar as other kinds of arms'.[11]

Early artillery played a limited role in the 100 Years' War, and it became indispensable in the Italian Wars of 1494–1559. Charles VIII, during his invasion of Italy, brought with him the first truly mobile siege train: culverins and bombards mounted on wheeled carriages, which could be deployed against an enemy stronghold immediately after arrival.