World History























Gunpowder Empires

The Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal empires all came to power by using gunpowder weapons.

After the Chinese invented gunpowder, firearms began to play a major role in world history. Gunpowderweapons helped new rulers take control in Tokugawa Japan, Mughal India, the steppes of Russia, and elsewhere. With the help of gunpowder weapons, European nations created huge trading empires.

The Portuguese were probably first to place cannons on ocean-going ships. Europeans had acquired much of their sailing technology from the East including the compass, astrolabe, rudder, and lateen sails for sailing into the wind. The Europeans added their own improvements including better cannons and faster ships that were built strong enough to withstand the recoil of cannon fire without being shaken apart. With shipboard cannons, Europeans pushed into the waters of Asia and Africa and came to dominate the world’s oceans. Kings in Europe always had to be ready to adopt the latest in weapons technology to survive the endless conflicts among Europe’s competing powers. In the next century, the 1800s, Europe’s advanced weaponry would extend Western European dominance from the oceans to the land.

Gunpowder Empires = a nickname for the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal empires; can also refer to any empire formed by conquerors through their mastery of firearms.