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Warfare in Pre-Industrial Societies

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History 2173
Barbara Murison

Sept, 06, 2012 Warfare in Pre-Industrial Societies Plato’s Views: -For every state war is incessant and life long against all other states and peace is only a name and states by nature are involved in an informal war against one another and it is a very pervasive thing in society (modern and ancient) -Agriculture and warfare are the two main occupations and warfare is dependant on food production and farming -Can’t understand how they fought if you don’t know how they live -Wanted protection so they built fortifications and barriers such as Iron Age Hill Forts (in Britain and Europe), Hadrian’s Wall that was built by the Romans under Hadrian as a barrier across the North of England looking over the Barbarian population, and Mediaeval Castles -Had to think about armour and training for the troops as well as the logistics necessary and your man power -Romans had legionaries with a high degree of training and in Greece there is the notion that every male had the responsibility of defending the state but no state in these times went into passivism -The Mayans from Mesoamerica are sometimes presented as peaceful but the archaeological evidence shows otherwise because they were very keen on warfare and conquest -The only way to have successful armies was to have an agricultural surplus so you can supply the army who will be removed from agricultural production (ex: Egypt’s irrigation system was a way of getting this surplus) -Sometimes you go outside of your cultural realm to get warriors (ex: Greece with an already small population) -We have to look at rural settlement, fertility of the soil, etc to see how an army will be recruited and maintained -Political and social organization is also key in our understanding and war is not just a matter of killing many enemies as we see with the Greeks because they were governed by assemblies and centered warfare on phalanxes -Motivation for war can be very mixed and could happen because you want food, territory, slaves, or social mobility (make a statement of superiority) and it can also be after non-material things like prestige (in the Roman Republican Period with Caesar against Pompey was a war over prestige) -In the Ancient East military powers were blurred with politics because for example the pharaoh was the representative of politics as well as warfare -Much ceremony was associated with war and in the New Kingdom a new ruler would have to organize a campaign to conquer Nubia (was for show because it was already conquered and it was more to just show who was boss) -Roman empire was converted to Christianity with the conversion of Constantine before a battle because in a dream he saw a Christian sign “You will conquer with this sign” and he thought this was a promise of victory -Christian rulers needed to show their god was just as affective at bringing victory as the pagan gods -There are restraints on warfare such as religion, geography, weather conditions and climate because they impede the creation of large aggressive armies but climate can be helpful like in Egypt because their flat ground made their campaigns easier as well as their constant weather patterns (could fight all year long) -Natural resources are significant because they determine military specialties (ex: Japan lacked iron, South America had no horses limiting their conquest) but these however cannot explain away variations in armies th th -5 -4 centuries AD the distinction was made between ways of fighting between Eastern and non-Eastern armies -There were nomadic tribes where permanent agriculture was non-existent and private property was rare so early Asiatic war was confined to castes of people -In the East too technology was limited because of political and religious concerns (ex: in Japan they used crossbows but later it fell out of use and one suggestion is because it could do great harm to the Samurai class and they had to protect their honour) -War in the Orient and Muslim world was hedged on restraints that were not present in the West because it impeded advancement -Strategy is the big overarching plan and tactics are small scale things used to complete the strategy -States with planned and centralized economies are very different than those with land owning citizens because they could feed massive armies but they were not flexible armies and were vulnerable to outside stimulus (ex: Mexico versus Spaniards) -Citizen soldiers can exercise a great deal of freedom when dealing with localized defence Sept, 06, 2012 -We have to think about the sources we have on warfare as with Egypt sources include many written records because there was a huge bureaucracy but all these records only reflect the ideas of the elite and they were officially sanctioned records of war -Sources can be subject to political and religious influences and there is too much political influence over warfare for things to move forward in a technological way -In these times there were writers that were experts on certain wars a
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