The History of Gunpowder Essay

The History of Gunpowder Essay

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The History of Gunpowder

It could easily be argued that one of the most important inventions or discoveries
in history has been gunpowder. And there are many things that can be argued about
gunpowder itself. Such as where was it originated, when was it originated, and how did it
spread across the world. These are three questions I will be looking at in this paper.
However the purpose of this paper is to prove that gunpowder gave rise to the powerful
western world while it inevitably left the China and the Eastern World behind.
It is generally determined that the discoverers of gunpowder were the Chinese. As
early as in the T'ang dynasty (AD 618-906) there seem to have existed what were called
"fire trees" and "silver flowers." Chinese legend has it that some herdsmen who were
trying to keep warm saw their campfire leap and fizzle around like a torch. They soon
discovered that the fire pit was built on sulfur with a rock containing potassium
perchlorate, the ingredients of gunpowder. This soon became a common mixture to make
fire. To transport the mixture with so much firepower, the herdsman used a hollow
bamboo stick with mud at both ends. The stick, accidentally fell into a fire and exploded
with a bang. Thus the “fire trees” and “silver flowers” were born.
Later on in the year 1161, when the Chinese were suffering invasion from the Chin
Tatars from the north some historical documents state that they successfully used
explosives to defeat their attackers. This seems to be definite proof of a knowledge of
gunpowder among the Chinese at this period. However there has been considerable
argument as to whether these references to explosives indicate that the Chinese knew
about the use of a cannon and also i...

... middle of paper ...

... large iron pots, and as it was
heated, scum consisting of common salt, rose to the top and was skimmed off. After the
maximum amount of salt had been removed, a quantity of vinegar was added to the
mixture and then the mixture was boiled for a further period until it was concentrated
enough to crystallize. It was then poured into shallow pans which, as the liquid evaporated
became filled with saltpetre.
This was all important in history, because it was not possible for an average person
to collect saltpetre and refine it into a usuable source. Therefore gunpowder and it’s
weapons were left to the kings, making the rule even stronger over the commons. Also
adding to the value of gunpowder was the fact that, in the beginning, the total “recipe” for
gunpowder was not common knowledge, and only a few special weapon-makers knew
how to make gunpowder at all.

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