War and Culture





War and Culture

Comparison of White, Hanson and Esper

According to Lynn White, the stirrup was a vital element for a shock combat and the emergence of the feudal system in the medieval era. A stirrup is a metal piece that is ring-shaped to hold the foot of the horse rider and it is affixed to the saddle. He proposes that the metal piece brought about magnificent change in the battle and social premise for a very long time. White claims that the social system was characterized by the nobility of the land who availed the land to the knight as a means of support. This knighthood became a distinct culture among the Europeans and it cultivated their recognition in warfare. Stirrup and feudalism changed the understanding of the precision and succession of warfare in Europe.

Victor Hanson is a historian writer who outstandingly narrates different military wars in history between the west and its non-western adversaries and the reasons behind the consistent victory of the west in his book Carnage and Culture. Hanson demonstrates the prowess of the western militia based on political, social and cultural grounds as he denotes that such organization produced an advanced strategy that gave them an advantage helping to thwart their enemies in the battles. According to Hanson, this explains the global dominion of western culture. Modernization through western culture extrapolated across the world because of the superiority of the west in classical antiquity.

According to Thomas Esper, the longbow was replaced by the harquebus and the musket because both proved to be superior to the longbow. Archery became the less efficient as compared to the firearms, which provided an added advantage in a battle with armored equestrians. The longbow was a great mechanism all through the different wars the Europeans indulged in, however, as years passed , a new military organization was necessary. All the three writers have a common avenue of analyzing the development of techniques and weapons for the realization of a trained and effective military army.

Contrast in shock combat and cavalry

White claims that the stirrup acted as a shock absorber for the warrior on the horse after having charged with a couched lance. Hanson depicts a mixture of shock and culture used by the western armies in the medieval period. Hanson implies that the armies were unique because of the inclusion of their political, social and intellectual aspect. He attributes the lethality and victory of the western soldiers to the armies’ uniqueness. On the other hand, white’s ideology is entirely based on feudalism and knighthood and he proposes the stirrup as a major invention that reconstructed warfare, making it worthwhile. Hanson does no credit the success of shock combat and rivalry to the stirrup as white proposes but instead bases the success to the prowess of a well organized military army. He points out that the western success outdoes the performance of the non-western armies and the same pattern was adopted by them. His style of culture introduction in the military era, according to him, has contributed to the emulation by other marginalized territory across the continent.

Esper’s View on the Long Bow

Esper views the long bow as an important archery weapon that enabled bloodshed during war but its effectiveness cannot be compared with the muskets and harquebus. The harquebus is very accurate and its combination with the muskets can lead to the loss of lives of majority of the adversary soldiers. Due to their rustiness, arrowheads could not penetrate the helmet of the equestrian and this gave the mounted warriors an advantage. However, Esper still attributes the decay of the longbow to the diminished culture in archery. He points out that if longbows could still be efficient in recent England if soldiers were trained. Earlier own the magnificent results from war for the use of longbows were mainly because of the sharpened practice of archery among soldiers. He maintains that the longbow could not have been faced out in England if archery remained a sport. Arrows caused more damage on the wound of the victim than bullets did. The English developed a new culture through a different set of weaponry.

Criteria for a Superior Technology to replace an Inferior Technology

The inferior technology would be replaced after the army does a crosscheck and evaluates the intensity of the warfare. For example, the number of soldiers lost to the opponent while using the type of weapon would determine whether to reinforce it or abort it. Another aspect to ponder on is weapon’s penetrating power and its velocity over a wide range. Once the superior weapon was introduced, training was important for the soldiers to grasp their strengths and overcome their weaknesses. Without training, the soldiers would be mediocre in the battlefield and they would lose confidence in the weapons, hence they had to explore the opportunity. This would help the soldiers to strategize in the attack or defense and subsequently emerge victors. Training nourished the expertise in accuracy and defense.

How the West Westernized “Missile Weapons”

The non-western soldiers employed “missile weaponry” in their battles. Their so-called “missile weapons” were mostly slings, arrows and spears that were thrown with great impact towards the opponent soldier. They were useful in breaking the formation of the troops so that the fighters firing them could advance forward; hence, they were means of tactic. Thereafter, the missile weapons underwent civilization, courtesy of the west. They became electronically powered. The non-western missiles were propelled by human beings. Bows and slings reduced human energy and reached a wider range as compared to spears and javelins. For an effective change, the west incorporated gunpowder in missiles to propel them; therefore replacing human energy. Modernization paved way for aircraft and ballistic missiles that use liquid fuel and engines to operate. The westernized missile weapons have more impetus and human energy is conserved.

Why Hanson Included the Chapter on Cannae as a Defeat

Hanson included the chapter on Cannae because he wanted to balance his thesis that the western way of war is supreme in all battles. However, Hanson seems completely hands-off I the mentioning of the defeat of the Romans. He presumes that the reason for the defeat was the adolescent nature of the roman soldier at the time and the fact that he deems the Carthaginian army had veterans. He appears to be escaping his contradiction since only justifies the loss with absurd assumptions. The west’s infantry shock battle does not hold ground at this point of the book and Hanson intelligently manages to get away with when he bends the outcome of the event to a one-sided ordeal despite the fact that it negates his thesis. He asserts that the roman soldiers were poorly trained attempting to erase the reader’s questioning on the validity of his thesis and at the same time trying to create a facade that he captured both sides of the divide. In the chapter, the Romans were overpowered by non-westerners in the shock battle.

Work Cited

Hanson, Victor D. Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power. New York: Doubleday, 2001. Print.

Schweikart, Larry. Technology and the Culture of War. Boston, MA: Pearson Custom Pub, 2003. Print.