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Did Europeans have a military advantage over other peoples of the world during the early modern period (1500-1800)? Scholars of the “military revolution” school have argued that European guns, tactics, fortification techniques, and ships conferred significant benefits on European forces, whereas other scholars suggest that the European military edge was slight at best. This article examines the first armed conflict in history between European and Chinese forces: the so-called Sino-Portuguese War of 1521 and 1522. Scholars on both sides of the military effectiveness argument have adduced this conflict to buttress their positions, but there are few studies of it in either western or East Asian languages. This article suggests that during the first set of engagements, which occurred in 1521, Portuguese artillery was markedly superior, but that in the second set of engagements, in 1522, Chinese artillery played a significant role, causing significant damage to the Portuguese. If there was still a gap in 1522, it was much smaller. Thus, the Sino-Portuguese conflict is less interesting for what it tells us about the “military balance” than for what it tells us about military change. When we discuss military balances, we tend to forget how swiftly they could shift, how rapidly adaptations could take hold. Indeed, historians should take a wider perspective on the military revolution: it was not a process that simply occurred in Europe and provided an edge to Europeans abroad. It was, rather, a global process of intermixture and adaptation. In the case of China, the rapid adoption of western artillery may have started around the time of the Sino-Portuguese Conflict, but it continued through the ensuing decades, as the Ming redesigned Portuguese-style guns and adapted them to their own needs until the only thing western about them was their name: Frankish guns.
Geoffrey Parker“The Challenge-and-Response Dynamic,” in The Cambridge Illustrated History of Warfareed. Geoffrey Parker (Cambridgeuk 2008) 5-8; and Geoffrey Parker “In Defense of The Military Revolution” in The Military Revolution Debate: Readings on the Military Transformation of Early Modern Europe ed. Clifford Rogers (Boulder 1995) 337-366.
Geoffrey Parker, “The Challenge-and-Response Dynamic,” in The Cambridge Illustrated History of Warfare, ed. Geoffrey Parker (Cambridge,uk, 2008), 5-8; and Geoffrey Parker, “In Defense of The Military Revolution,” in The Military Revolution Debate: Readings on the Military Transformation of Early Modern Europe, ed. Clifford Rogers (Boulder, 1995), 337-366.)| false
Peng Quanmin“Wo guo”66. Peng Quanmin has made it his personal mission to raise the profile of Wang Hong. See for example Peng Quanmin 彭全民 “Wang Hong yu Folangji zhi yuan” 汪鋐與佛朗機之緣 In Shenzhen bo wu guan kai guan shi zhou nian ji nian wen ji 深圳博物館開館十周年紀念文集 (Beijing 1998) 191-205. Peng Quanmin 彭全民 “Ming kang Pu ming chen Wang Hong mu zhi kao shi” 明抗葡名臣汪鋐墓志考釋 Nan fang wen wu 南方文物 2000 volume no. 3 114-120.
Peng Quanmin, “Wo guo,” 66. Peng Quanmin has made it his personal mission to raise the profile of Wang Hong. See, for example, Peng Quanmin 彭全民, “Wang Hong yu Folangji zhi yuan” 汪鋐與佛朗機之緣, In Shenzhen bo wu guan kai guan shi zhou nian ji nian wen ji 深圳博物館開館十周年紀念文集 (Beijing, 1998), 191-205. Peng Quanmin 彭全民, “Ming kang Pu ming chen Wang Hong mu zhi kao shi” 明抗葡名臣汪鋐墓志考釋, Nan fang wen wu 南方文物, 2000 volume, no. 3, 114-120.)| false