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Author Topic: Discussion on the ancient asian armies  (Read 2072 times)

Lorenzo

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Discussion on the ancient asian armies
« on: July 30, 2013, 02:07:39 pm »
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Lorenzo

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Re: Discussion on the ancient asian armies
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2013, 02:09:53 pm »
I would like to first discuss about the armies of Ancient China, the most glorious Chinese Dynasty was the Han Dynasty, which flourished for over 400 years. Under the Han, China "Zhongguo" experienced unprecedented cultural, economic, political and military growth.



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Lorenzo

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Re: Discussion on the ancient asian armies
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2013, 02:14:36 pm »
The non-professional conscripted soldiers who served a one-year term under the Minister of the Guards belonged to the Southern Army (Nanjun 南軍).

Non-conscripted, professional soldiers belonged to a standing army known as the Northern Army (Beijun 北軍) The Northern Army's main purpose was to defend the capital, but it was sometimes required to repel foreign invasions.

During peacetime and war, the command structure of the Northern Army remained the same. However, during times of great conflict and crisis, the raising of large militias required the appointment of many new officers with various titles, which were often bestowed as honorary titles to officials during times of peace. Large divisions were led by a General (Jiangjun 將軍) whose rank depended on status; divisions were divided into a number of regiments commanded by a Colonel, and sometimes by a Major.

It its zenith, the Han Imperial Army had some 250,000 soldiers mobilized.




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Lorenzo

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Re: Discussion on the ancient asian armies
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2013, 02:15:58 pm »

Western Han light cavalry with Ji-weapon (above)

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Re: Discussion on the ancient asian armies
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2013, 02:18:18 pm »

Western Han medium cavalry with Spear (above)

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Lorenzo

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Re: Discussion on the ancient asian armies
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2013, 02:20:14 pm »

Eastern Han heavy cavalry with Spear (Above)

Note there are no stirrups in Han cavalry.  8)

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Re: Discussion on the ancient asian armies
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2013, 02:27:26 pm »
The Deployment of a Han Army:



Note: Cavalry was positioned on the flank of the main army body. Note the archers were positioned in the front.



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Lorenzo

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Re: Discussion on the ancient asian armies
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2013, 09:09:29 am »
Ancient Chinese Military & Warfare

China had a great need for a powerful military. Not only were armies needed to control the vast territories of China and to defeat internal rivals, but ancient China was also surrounded by potential enemies. Different Ethnic groups within ancient China such as the Qiang and Di vied for power. The settled nations around China resented the subordination, or outright annexation, that the Chinese attempted to thrust on them causing wars with groups like the Vietnamese and the Koreans. However it was the nomadic tribes to the West and North of China that caused the most problems.

A seemingly endless stream of tribal confederations and ethnic tribal groups invaded china from the heart of Asia since the founding of the civilization. At first the Chinese considered these “dog people” to be poor and week barbarians, using their dogs to trek meager supplies around a vast, endless wilderness. This all changed when Aryan invaders arrived on spoke wheeled chariots from the Eurasian Steppes (c 1700 BC). The strange warriors carried with them bronze weapons and a new form of mobility. The early settled Chinese Empires became proficient with the chariot; however, the nomads had dumped the humble dog for the new form of transportation. The horse and the steppe nomads would form a close, symbiotic bond. Once the nomadic tribes learned to ride the horses their mobility and martial powers would give the Emperors of China nightmares. The steppe tribes consisted of a variety of ethnicities, Caucasian, Asian, Turkic and countless mixtures of them. They frequently warred against themselves, but occasionally a great confederation was formed and they would turn their horses towards the settled world. From the West came the Tibetans, Göktürks and Xionites. From the North and Northeast came the Xianbei, Donghu, Xiongnu, Jie, Khitan, Mongols, and later the Jurchens (manchu).


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Re: Discussion on the ancient asian armies
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2013, 09:10:21 am »
Early Chinese Armies & Xia Dynasty Warfare

Earliest Chinese armies consisted of conscripted peasants armed with simple bows, spears and stone maces. Eventually, a single family was able to dominate a portion of the Yellow River Valley. The history of the first of these dynasties, the Xia (2200 BCE-1600 BCE) is largely unknown and wrapped in mythology. In fact their existence is disputed by some, considered to be nothing more than a traditional legend. The regardless, the Chinese of the first steps of what would be a great civilization. Militarily they were the first in the Far East to use chariots and copper weapons, ideas brought by the steppe nomads from the Near East and Eurasian Steppes.

The Xia, and the following Shang and Zhou dynasties ruled territories that were much smaller than China today, equivalent to the size of a state in modern China. The armies created by these dynasties were comparatively small and unprofessional. A core of warrior elites dominated battles from their Chariots; however, the early Chinese dynastic armies were poorly equipped and couldn’t manage long campaigns.

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Re: Discussion on the ancient asian armies
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2013, 09:11:20 am »
The Military of Imperial China


The Qin, under Qin Shi Huan, ushered in the Imperial Era of Chinese history. Although the Qin dynasty only ruled for only 15 years it set the stage for a centralized Chinese government. The institutions Qin established would last over a thousand years, serving many dynasties.

The Qin created China’s first professional army, replacing the unreliable peasants with career soldiers and replacing the aristocratic military leaders with proven professional generals. Taking this a step further, Qin actually stripped the lands of these aristocrats, making the fiefs loyal directly to him. Qin’s centralized, authoritarian state become the norm for China. Under the Qin and following Han Dynasties, troops conquered territories in all directions and established China's frontiers near their locations today. China was now unified and entered the golden age for Chinese history.[

Qin army formations and tactics can be gleaned from the Terracotta Army of Qin Shi Huang found in the tomb of the First Emperor. Apparently, Qin wanted to take an army with him to the afterworld and settled on having a life size army reproduced for him out of terracotta. The formations revealed that light infantry were first deployed as shock troops and skirmishers. They were followed by the main body of the army, consisting of heavy infantry. Cavalry and chariots are positioned behind the heavy infantry, but they were probably used for flanking or charging the weakened armies of the other warring states.

The Qin and Han militaries used the most advanced weapons of the time. The sword, first introduced during the chaos of the Warring States Period became a favorite weapon. The Qin began producing stronger iron swords. Crossbows were also improved, becoming more powerful and accurate then even the compound bow. Another Chinese innovation allowed a crossbow to be rendered useless simply by removing two pins, preventing enemies from capturing a working model. The stirrup was adopted at this time, a seemingly simple but very useful invention was also implemented. Stirrups gave cavalry men greater balance and crucially allowed them to leverage the weight of the horse in a charge, without being knocked off.

During the Qin Dynasty and the succeeding, Han Dynasty, an old threat returned with a vengeance. The “Horse Barbarians” to the North had formed new confederations, such as the Xiongnu . The warriors grew up in the saddle and were unmatched in their skill with the powerful compound bow, able to consistently shoot a man in the eye at a full gallop. These nomadic warriors used their mobile mounted archers in large, quick raids into the settled lands of China. They would then retreat after creating much devastation and taking all to the loot they could carry back into the steppes before the infantry heavy Chinese military was unable to react.

In order to counter the threat from the nomadic invaders the Qin began construction of the Great Wall. The idea of creating a long static barrier to prevent incursions was revisited by Chinese rulers and construction continued up to the Ming Dynasty (1368 AD- 1662 AD). The walls and fortification would be an astonishing 5,500 miles long, when counting all of its branches. However, the wall ultimately failed in its goal to keep the barbarians at bay.

The Qin and succeeding dynasties had more success using a combination of bribes and diplomacy. This strategy focused on keeping the nomads divided, the Chinese would bribe a faction to fight another and even assist one faction in its war against an enemy tribe or coalition. However, the Han took a more aggressive approach. They used massive cavalry armies, a new development in Chinese warfare to crush the tribes on their home territory. The cavalry armies proved to be formidable, conquering large areas of Mongolia, Korea and Central Asia.

The Chinese conquest of Central Asia had put an end to the harassment by nomadic tribes in the area. This allowed for the linking Chinese and Persian trade routes. In a 79 AD ribbon cutting ceremony at Chang'an Emperor Wu cut a silk ribbon with a pair of gold scissors to officially open the Silk Road. (Note, this is the only place in the world that the ceremony has ever been so much as mentioned and that no other evidence for it exists). Products could now move from China to the Roman Empire and the ruling Chinese dynasties profited greatly from the silk trade.

The Han had broken the Xiongnu, sending them fleeing to the West. It is theorized that their ancestors emerged as the Huns on the other side of central Asia four hundred years later. However, other nomadic tribes were quick to fill the power vacuum. The victorious Chinese armies now had to hold the conquered territories and there were frequent revolts against Chinese rule.

Despite suffering occasional defeats, the Chinese maintained a strong military throughout most of their imperial history. After the fall of the Han Dynasty the army became increasingly feudal, this process was accelerated during the invasions of the Wu Hu during the 4th century as the central government became more dependent on the provinces for military power. Wu Hu, meaning ‘five barbarian tribes’ took control of Northern china and feudalism continued through the following Southern and Northern Dynasties period (420–589). During the following Sui and Tang dynasties ((589 AD - 907 AD) Chinese forces were able to reunite the country and restore the frontiers to where they where during the Han dynasty, ushering in a second imperial golden age. The military success of Sui and Tang, like the earlier Han, was the use of large cavalry forces. The powerful cavalry units combined with the defensive capabilities of their heavy infantry and firepower of their crossbowmen resulted in the Chinese army dominating its opposition during this period. The professionalism of the military was also restored and China created its first military academies during this period. However, during the following Song Dynasty the military again weekend as the ruling dynasty felt threatened by the military establishment. Despite this military advancements continued and the Chinese pioneered the next generation of weapons, developing gunpowder weapons such as the fire-lance and grenades. China’s military power eroded under the Song Dynasty, particularly in the critical area of cavalry. Chinese armies soon suffered disastrous defeats at the hands of the Mongols under Kublai Khan (1215–1294 AD). The Mongols were the premiere fighting force of the day, their conquests spanned from China to Europe and the Middle East.

China was then ruled by the Great Khan, Kublai, who foundf the Yuan Dynasty. The Yuan incorporated Chinese gunpowder units into their military, which bring us to the age of fire arms and the end of ancient Chinese warfare. It is worth noting however that Chinese culture was able to do what the military couldn’t, the Yuan Dynasty became Chinese in almost every way.


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