Timeline of the gunpowder age

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This is a timeline of the history of gunpowder and related topics such as weapons, warfare, and industrial applications. The timeline covers the history of gunpowder from the first hints of its origin as a Taoist alchemical product in China until its replacement by smokeless powder in the late 19th century.

2nd century[edit]

Year Date Event
142 Earliest possible reference to gunpowder appears in the Cantong qi, otherwise known as the Book of the Kinship of Three, a Taoist text on the subject of alchemy by Wei Boyang, who lived in the Eastern Han dynasty.[1][2]

4th century[edit]

Year Date Event
300 The ingredients of gunpowder are recorded in the Baopuzi, also known as The Master Who Embraces Simplicity, by Taoist philosopher Ge Hong, who lived in the Jin dynasty (265–420).[2][3]

5th century[edit]

Year Date Event
492 Tao Hongjing, a Taoist alchemist, notes that saltpeter burns with a purple flame.[4]

8th century[edit]

Year Date Event
756 The Taoist Mao Kua reports in his Pinglongren (Recognition of the Recumbent Dragon) that by heating saltpeter, the yin of the air can be obtained, which combines with sulphur, carbon, and metals other than gold.[5]

9th century[edit]

Year Date Event
808 The Taoist priest Qing Xuzi mentions the gunpowder formula in his Taishang Shengzu Jindan Mijue, describing six parts sulfur to six parts saltpeter to one part birthwort herb.[6]
858 The Taoist text Zhenyuan miaodao yaolüe (Classified Essentials of the Mysterious Way of the True Origin of Things) contains a warning on the dangers of gunpowder: "Some have heated together sulfur, realgar (arsenic disulphide), and saltpeter with honey; smoke [and flames] result, so that their hands and faces have been burnt, and even the whole house burned down."[6]

10th century[edit]

Year Date Event
904 Fire arrows utilizing gunpowder are used by Southern Wu troops during the siege of Yuzhang.[7][8]
919 The gunpowder slow match appears in China (for igniting flamethrowers).[9]
950 Fire lances appear in China.[10]
969 Gunpowder propelled fire arrows, rocket arrows, are invented by Yue Yifang and Feng Jisheng.[11]
975 The state of Wuyue sends a group of soldiers skilled in the use of fire arrows to the Song dynasty, which uses fire arrows and incendiary bombs in the same year to destroy the fleet of Southern Tang.[12]
994 The Liao dynasty attacks the Song dynasty and lays siege to Zitong with 100,000 troops, but fails due to the defenders' use of fire arrows.[12]
1000 Tang Fu demonstrates gunpowder pots and caltrops to the Song court and is rewarded.[13]

11th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1002 Shi Pu demonstrates fireballs utilizing gunpowder to the Song court and blueprints are created for promulgation throughout the realm.[13]
1044 The chemical formula for gunpowder appears in the military manual Wujing Zongyao, also known as the Complete Essentials for the Military Classics.[14][15]
"Thunderclap bombs" are mentioned in the Wujing Zongyao.[16]
A "triple-bed-crossbow" firing fire arrows is mentioned in the Wujing Zongyao.[17]
1067 Private trade of gunpowder ingredients is banned in the Song dynasty.[18]
1076 Trade of gunpowder ingredients with the Liao and Western Xia dynasties is outlawed by the Song court.[13]
1083 Three hundred thousand fire arrows are produced by the Song court and delivered to two garrisons.[13]

12th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1110 The Song army puts on a firework display for the emperor including a spectacle which opened with "a noise like thunder" and explosives that light up the night. Considered by some to be the first mention of gunpowder fireworks.[19]
1126 February Jingkang Incident: Thunderclap bomb as well as fire arrows and fire bombs are used by Song troops during the siege of Kaifeng by the Jin dynasty (1115–1234).[20]
1127 December "Molten metal bombs", suspected to contain gunpowder, are employed by Song troops when the Jin army returns with fire arrows and gunpowder bombs made by captured Song artisans. Kaifeng is taken. [21]
1128 The earliest extant depiction of a cannon appears among the Dazu Rock Carvings, one of which is a human figure holding a gourd shaped hand cannon.[22]
1129 Gunpowder weapons are applied to naval warfare as Song warships are outfitted with trebuchets and supplies of gunpowder bombs.[23]
1132 Siege of De'an: Fire lances are used by Song troops.[24][25][26]
Gunpowder is referred to specifically for its military applications for the first time and is known as "fire bomb medicine" rather than "fire medicine".[23]
Firecrackers using gunpowder are mentioned for the first time.[27]
1159 Fire arrows are employed by a Song fleet in sinking a Jin fleet off the shore of Shandong peninsula.[28]
1161 26–27 November Battle of Caishi: Thunderclap bombs are employed by Song treadmill boats in sinking a Jin fleet on the Yangtze.[28]
1163 Fire lances are attached to war carts, known as "at-your-desire-war-carts", for defending Song mobile trebuchets.[23]

13th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1207 Thunderclap bombs are employed by Song forces in a sneak attack on a Jin camp, killing 2000 men and 800 horses.[16]
1221 Iron casing bombs are employed by Jin troops in the siege of Qi Prefecture (Hubei).[29]
1227 The Wuwei Bronze Cannon, excavated in 1980, is dated to the Western Xia (1038–1227) period. It is currently the oldest possible extant cannon, however like the Heilongjiang hand cannon it contains no inscription and dating is based on contextual evidence.[30]
1230 Co-viative projectiles are added to fire lances.[31]
1231 "Thunder crash bombs" are employed by Jin troops in destroying a Mongol warship.[32]
1232 Reusable fire lance barrels made of durable paper are employed by Jin troops during the Mongol siege of Kaifeng.[32]
1237 Large bombs requiring several hundred men to hurl using trebuchets are employed by Mongols in the siege of Anfeng (modern Shouxian, Anhui).[33]
1240 The Middle East acquires knowledge of gunpowder.[34]
1245 Rockets are used during a military exercise conducted by the Song navy.[35]
1257 Three-hundred thirty-three "fire emitting tubes" are produced in a Song arsenal in Jiankang Prefecture (Nanjing, Jiangsu).[36][37]
1258 In India, gunpowder is used in pyrotechnics.[38]
1259 The History of Song describes a "fire-emitting lance" employing a pellet wad projectile which occludes the barrel. Some consider this to be the first bullet.[36][37]
The city of Qingzhou produces one to two thousand iron cased bomb shells a month and sends them in deliveries of ten to twenty thousand at a time to Xiangyang and Yingzhou.[39]
1264 A display of miniature rockets frightens the Song empress.[40]
1267 In Europe gunpowder is mentioned in textual sources by Roger Bacon, in his Opus Majus.[41][42]
1272 Battle of Xiangyang: Fire lances are used by a Song riverine relief force to repel boarders.[43]
1276 Reusable fire lance barrels made of metal are employed by the Song army.[44]
Fire lances are used by Song cavalry in combating Mongols.[43]
1277 A suicide bombing occurs in China when Song garrisons set off a large bomb, killing themselves.[45][46]
1280 "Eruptors," cannons firing co-viative projectiles, are employed in the Yuan dynasty.[47]
A major accidental explosion occurs in China when a Yuan gunpowder storehouse at Weiyang, Yangzhou catches fire and explodes, killing 100 guards and hurling building materials over 5 km away.[48]
The Middle East acquires fire lances and rockets.[49] Hasan al-Rammah writes, in Arabic, recipes for gunpowder, instructions for the purification of saltpeter, and descriptions of gunpowder incendiaries.[34]
Europe acquires the gunpowder formula.[50]
1281 Bombs are employed by Mongols in the Mongol invasions of Japan.[51]
1287 Hand cannons are employed by the troops of Yuan Jurchen commander Li Ting in putting down a rebellion by Mongol prince Nayan.[52]
1288 The Heilongjiang hand cannon is dated to this year based on contextual evidence and its proximity to the rebellion by Mongol prince Nayan, although it contains no inscription.[53][54]
1293 Cannons (pao) are used during the Mongol invasion of Java.[55][56]
1298 The Xanadu Gun, the oldest confirmed extant hand cannon, is dated to this year based on its inscription and contextual evidence.[57]
1300 In India Mongol mercenaries deploy fire arrows during a siege.[58]

14th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1307 The Armenian monk Hetoum writes about a powerful weapon having been invented in China.[59]
1325 Bronze "thousand-ball thunder-cannons" on four wheeled carriages appear in the Yuan dynasty.[60]
1326 In Europe the depiction of a cannon appears.[61][62]
1330 In Andalusia cannons are mentioned in textual sources.[63]
Europe's oldest extant firearm, the Loshult gun, is dated to this year.[64]
1333 Earliest extant cannon arrow projectile is dated to this year. Now kept in the Eltz Castle.[65]
1338 An organ gun and three pounds of gunpowder are recorded to have been in the possession of a raiding party that sacked Southampton.[61]
1339 The word "cannon", derived from the Greek kanun and Latin canna, meaning "tube," is used for the first time in Europe.[66]
The word "gun" is used to describe a firearm in English for the first time.[66]
1340 A "watermelon bomb" containing miniature rockets known as "ground rats" is employed by Liu Bowen against rebels and pirates in Zhejiang.[67]
1344 Wooden cannons appear in Europe.[68]
1346 26 August Battle of Crécy: Organ guns are used.[69]
The term "bombard" is used to refer to guns of any kind.[70]
1350 Cast iron technology becomes reliable enough to make one-piece iron cannons in China.[71]
Flintlock and wheellock mechanisms are employed in igniting land mines and naval mines in China.[72]
In China organ guns appear.[73]
Two wheeled gun carriages appear in China.[74]
India acquires rockets.[75]
Majapahit conquest of Nusantara reached its greatest extent. Guns called cetbang are used in the campaign.[55][76]
1352 Cannons are mentioned to have been used by the Ayutthaya Kingdom in their invasion of the Khmer Empire[77]
1358 Defending garrisons fire cannons en masse at the siege of Shaoxing and defeat a Ming army.[78]
1360 In the middle east guns start appearing in textual sources.[63]
In Southeast Asia the presence of gunpowder is attested to.[77]
Gunpowder barrels aboard a Khmer ship explode.[77]
1363 30 August – 4 October Battle of Lake Poyang: Cannons are used in ship combat and a new weapon called the "No Alternative" also appears. It consists of a reed mat bundled together with gunpowder and iron pellets hung on a pole from the foremast of a ship. When an enemy ship is within range, the fuse is lit, and the bundle falls onto the enemy ship spitting iron pellets and burning their men and sails.[79]
1364 Breech loading cannons start appearing in Europe.[80]
1366 Vijayanagara Empire acquires firearms.[81]
1366 Two-thousand four-hundred large and small cannons are deployed by the Ming army at the siege of Suzhou.[78]
India acquires firearms.[81]
1368 Crouching-tiger cannons are employed by the Ming army.[82]
1370 Gunpowder is corned to strengthen the explosive power of land mines in the Ming dynasty.[83]
Cannon projectiles transition from stone to iron ammunition in the Ming dynasty.[84]
1372 Cannons made specifically for naval usage appear in the Ming dynasty.[85]
1373 The term "hand gun", also known as handgonne, gunnies, vasam scolpi, pot, capita, and testes, appears in European texts for the first time.[86]
1374 Goryeo starts producing gunpowder.[87]
Cannons breach a city wall for the first time in Europe.[59]
1375 "Basilisk" cannons appear.[88]
A 900 kg large-calibre gun is produced in Europe.[89]
Flash pans are added to hand cannons.[90]
European gunsmiths begin testing barrels for structural integrity, improving quality.[91]
1377 Goryeo starts producing cannons and rockets.[92][93]
1380 "Wasp nest" rocket launchers are manufactured for the Ming army.[67]
24 June Battle of Chioggia: In Europe rockets are used in battle.[94]
Europeans develop the means to produce saltpeter for themselves.[68]
1382 European sailing ships are equipped with cannons.[95]
3 May Battle of Beverhoutsveld: The first military conflict in Europe where cannons play a decisive role.[96]
1388 Ming–Mong Mao War: Volley fire is implemented with cannons by the Ming artillery corps in the anti-insurrection war waged against the Mong Mao.[97]
Saltpeter plantations start appearing in Europe.[98]
1390 Đại Việt soldiers kill the king of Champa, Che Bong Nga, using hand cannons.[99]
1396 In Europe mounted knights start employing fire lances.[100]
1398 17 December Delhi Sultanate uses bombs against Tamerlane.[101]
1399 (Germany)'s oldest extant firearm is dated to this year.[102]

15th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1400 In Europe the gunpowder slow match appears.[103]
Li Jinglong uses rocket launchers against the army of the Yongle Emperor.[67]
Springalds are entirely replaced by gunpowder weapons[104]
1405 Europe acquires bombs.[47]
1407 Ironwood wadding is added to Ming cannons, increasing their effectiveness.[105]
1409 Battle carts armed with cannons firing iron fletched darts are produced in Joseon.[106]
1410 Joseon ships are equipped with cannons.[107]
"Culverins" are mentioned for the first time.[88]
"Saker" cannons appear.[88]
1411 A "serpentine" lever is added to the stocks of hand cannons in Europe to hold matches. The resulting firearm, the hook gun, would come to be known as the arquebus.[108]
1412 Shells are used as ammunition in the Ming dynasty.[109]
1413 Joseon mortars capable of firing 500 meter iron shots and 600 meter stone shots are mentioned[110]
1415 10,000 guns are deployed throughout Joseon[110]
1419 During the Lantern Festival, the Ming imperial palace puts on a display of pyrotechnics involving rockets running along wires which light up lanterns, illuminating the palace.[94]
1420 In Europe war wagons are used as mobile firearm platforms during the Hussite Wars.[28]
1420 Iron shot replaces stone as the standard ammunition in Joseon[110]
1425 In Europe gunpowder corning is practiced.[111]
1429 Mounted infantry carrying hand cannons are employed by the Ming army.[112]
1431 A 12,000 kg wrought iron large-calibre gun capable of firing 300 kg projectiles, called Dulle Griet, is produced in Europe.[113]
European cannon projectiles transition from stone to iron ammunition.[114]
1437 In Europe shells are used as ammunition.[115]
A master gunner in Europe is forced to make a pilgrimage to Rome after scaring his fellow soldiers, who accused him of satanic devilry, with an astounding rate of fire of three rounds in one day.[116]
1447 Sejong the Great of Joseon decrees that all fire-squads should carry standardized firearms.[117]
1450 European walls become lower and thicker in response to cannons.[118]
Trunnions appear in Europe.[119]
15 April Battle of Formigny: Marks the rapid decline of the English longbow as they prove to be inferior to cannons in both range and rate of fire.[120]
1451 A type of multiple arrow rocket launcher known as the "Munjong Hwacha" is produced in Joseon.[121]
1453 Modifiable two wheeled gun carts known as limbers appear, greatly improving cannon maneuverability and mobility.[122][119]
1456 In India cannons become widespread.[123]
1456 Malwa Sultanate uses cannons as siege weapons to demolish ramparts.[124][123]
1460 3 August James II of Scotland is killed by one of his own guns, which exploded while he was standing close to it.[91]
"Mortars" are mentioned for the first time.[88]
1464 A 16,800 kg cast bronze large-calibre gun known as the Great Turkish Bombard is created in the Ottoman Empire.[125]
1468 A Chinese "thunderbomb" made of paper and bamboo wrapping two pounds of gunpowder and iron filings is mentioned to have been in use in Japan; Chinese style bombs are used as trebuchet shots until at least 1500[124]
1470 A shoulder stock is added to hand cannons in Europe.[86]
1471 Cham–Annamese War: Lê dynasty troops use cannons to blast a breach in Vijaya's fortifications prior to capturing the city[126]
1472 In India land mines appear; Bahmani Sultanate utilizes them in siege warfare.[127]
1475 The matchlock mechanism is added to the arquebus, making it the first firearm with a trigger.[128]
1479 A four layer artillery tower is built at Querfurth in Saxony.[129]
1480 Guns reach their classic form in Europe.[130]
"Falconets" are mentioned for the first time.[131]
"Minion" cannons appear.[131]
1486 European oar ships start carrying cannons.[132]
1488 Henry VII of England's ships, the Regent and Sovereign, are among the first to carry enough cannons to deliver a 'ship killing' blow at a distance.[133]
1498 Specialized hunting firearms with rifled barrels appear in Europe.[134]
1499 25 August Battle of Zonchio: Breech-loading iron cannons are used in naval warfare.[135]
The term musket or moschetto is used for the first time in Europe.[86]
1500 India acquires matchlocks.[136]

16th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1500 India acquires matchlocks.[136]
The term "artillery" solidifies as a general term for cannons, their ammunition, support equipment, and operating personnel.[66]
1503 28 April Battle of Cerignola: Marks the first military conflict where arquebusiers played a decisive role.[137]
1505 The wheellock appears in Europe as an expensive alternative to the matchlock.[86]
1508 India acquires Portuguese cannons.[138]
The earliest extant rifles are dated to this year.[86]
1510 Japan acquires cannons.[139]
Portuguese "Frankish" cannons are used on Guangdong's coastline by Chinese pirates.[140]
1515 A man in (Germany) accidentally shoots a prostitute in the chin with a pistol. Considered to be the earliest recorded firearm accident.[141]
1516 Đại Việt and Lê dynasty produce matchlocks.[142]
1521 A larger arquebus capable of penetrating plate armor known as the musket appears in Europe.[143]
1523 The Ming dynasty produces breech-loading swivel guns based on Portuguese designs.[140]
1526 29 August Battle of Mohács: Volley fire is implemented with matchlocks by Ottoman Janissaries.[144]
1527 "Ordnance" is used to describe artillery for the first time.[145]
1530 The star fort becomes the dominant type of defensive structure in Italy.[146]
Earliest dated "carbine" made in Augsburg.[86]
1533 Composite metal cannons are produced in the Ming dynasty.[147][148][149]
1537 Handheld breech-loading firearms start appearing in Europe.[150]
Niccolò Fontana Tartaglia applies mathematical applications to artillery trajectories in his Nova Scientia.[151]
1540 Cast iron cannons in Europe become reliable enough to arm sailing ships with two full broadsides.[152]
In Southeast Asia matchlocks start seeing widespread use.[153]
Cavalry in Europe start abandoning the lance and adopt the wheellock pistol.[154]
1541 Gunpowder is used for hydraulic engineering in the Ming dynasty.[155]
1543 Japan acquires knowledge of matchlocks.[153]
1544 27 January In Japan Tanegashima Tokitaka employs matchlocks in the invasion of Yakushima.[156]
Wooden cannons are used for the last time in Europe.[157]
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor attempts to standardize gun types.[158]
1545 Gujarat experiments with composite metal cannons.[149]
Niccolò Fontana Tartaglia invents the gunner's quadrant, an instrument which calculates trajectory.[151]
1548 The Ming army starts fielding matchlocks.[159]
1550 The large arquebus known as the musket becomes obsolete due to lack of armor, but continues as the most widely used term for similar firearms in Europe.[160]
The snaphance flintlock mechanism appears in Europe.[161]
The 'flask trail' carriage replaces solid stock trail carriages in Europe.[162]
1560 Qi Jiguang publishes his Jixiao Xinshu describing the musket volley fire technique and his experience training the Ming army in its use.[163]
1561 The Ming dynasty starts producing handheld breech-loading firearms.[164][165]
1563 Joseon starts producing breech-loading swivel guns.[166]
1568 Calivers are mentioned for the first time in Europe.[86]
1573 In Europe explosive mines are implemented by Samuel Zimmermann of Augsburg.[167]
1574 In Europe designs for naval mines are completed.[168]
1575 28 June Battle of Nagashino: In Japan Oda Nobunaga's tanegashima troops employ volley fire.[153]
Trigger guards start appearing on European firearms.[160]
1580 Revolvers appear in Europe.[169]
1594 8 December William Louis, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg describes the countermarch volley fire technique in a letter to his cousin Maurice, Prince of Orange, and starts training the Dutch army in volley fire.[170]
1598 Ming cavalry experiments with firing a three-barreled matchlock before using it as a shield while they attack with a saber using their other hand.[171]
Bayonets are attached to Ottoman firearms.[172]

17th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1600 Ottoman cavalry starts carrying pistols.[173]
The term "howitzer" comes to refer to the weapon.[174]
1606 Ming muskets are attached with plug bayonets.[175]
1607 Joseon musketeers are trained in the volley fire technique.[176]
1611 Paper cartridges are introduced by Gustavus Adolphus.[177]
Rifles are used in warfare by Denmark.[86]
1613 In Japan Date Masamune orders the construction of the Date Maru, a ship built in the style of a Spanish galleon, capable of carrying large cannons.[178]
1619 14–18 April Battle of Sarhu: Later Jin cavalry defeats Ming and Joseon musketeers.[179]
1620 Ming foundries start producing Hongyipao.[147]
1627 Gunpowder is used for mining in Europe.[180]
1629 Holland experiments with composite metal cannons.[149]
1632 Ming defensive planners build some star forts but they don't catch on in China.[181]
1633 Ming dockyards start construction of multidecked broadside sailing ships capable of holding large cannons under the supervision of Zheng Zhilong.[182]
1635 Telescopes are used for aiming artillery in the Ming dynasty.[183]
1636 The Dutch attempt to trade flintlock firearms with the Japanese but the new firing mechanism doesn't catch on in Japan.[72]
1637 Shimabara Rebellion: In Japan the last major military engagement involving muskets, before firearm suppression policies are enacted, is conducted against an uprising of peasant-farmers and landless samurai.[184]
1642 20 January Li Zicheng's rebels manage to create a two zhang breach in Ming fortifications using cannons.[185]
1643 26 July Storming of Bristol: In Europe fire lances are used for the last time.[186]
1650 Battleships carrying 60 to 120 cannons in broadside batteries appear in Europe.[187]
1662 3 July Samuel Pepys' diary mentions a mechanic who claimed to be able to make a machine-gun like pistol.[188][189]
1671 European forces attach bayonets to their firearms.[172]
1680 The snaphance goes out of fashion in favor of the "true" flintlock in Europe.[160]
1694 India acquires flintlocks; Mughal Empire uses them in limited quantities.[190]

18th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1702 In Europe telescopes are used to aid in the aiming of artillery.[191]
1715 Jean Maritz introduces the horizontal drilling technique for casting cannons, increasing their reliability and accuracy while reducing the amount of metal needed for the barrel.[192]
1718 James Puckle invents the Puckle gun, a breech loading flintlock with a revolving set of chambers capable of firing 63 shots in seven minutes.[189]
1720 France establishes Europe's first national artillery school.[193]
1725 Flintlock firearms completely displace matchlocks in Europe.[161]
1742 Benjamin Robins invents the ballistic pendulum, which provides the first way to accurately measure the velocity of a bullet.[194]
1750 Firearms overtake the composite bow in cost, ease of use, range, and rate of fire, making mounted horse archers completely obsolete.[195]
A detent is added to flintlocks to prevent the sear from catching in the half-cock notch.[86]
1755 Naval guns are outfitted with flintlocks[196]
1759 "Carronades" appear.[197]
1770 A roller bearing is added to flintlocks to reduce friction and produce more sparks.[86]
1780 A waterproof pan is added to flintlocks.[86]
1783 Sir William Congreve, 1st Baronet improves gunpowder production by constructing dedicated testing ranges, new saltpeter refineries, and special proving houses. He also discovers "cylinder powder", gunpowder produced using charcoal sealed in iron cylinders, which is twice as powerful as traditional gunpowder and less likely to spoil, giving British gunpowder a reputation as best in the world.[198]
1790 England begins fielding block trail carriages, invented by Sir William Congreve, 1st Baronet, the most advanced artillery transport of the time.[199]
1799 22 April Iron-cased Mysorean rockets are deployed by the Kingdom of Mysore against the East India Company.[200]

19th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1803 England starts producing shrapnel shells.[201]
1804 Sir William Congreve, 2nd Baronet starts experimenting extensively with rockets based on Mysorean rockets.[200]
1805 Congreve rockets are produced in Britain.[202]
1807 British forces successfully deploy 40,000 rockets and ignite devastating fires in Copenhagen[203]
1812 Jean Samuel Pauly invents a cartridge containing a primer, making it the first self-contained cartridge.[204]
Joseph Manton patents the gravitating lock, which prevents muzzle loaders from accidentally firing while the muzzle is held upward.[86]
1815 Joshua Shaw invents percussion caps.[205]
1820 British guns are manufactured with bouched vents.[206]
1825 The percussion cap mechanism starts replacing flintlocks in Europe.[207]
1829 Rocket programs in continental Europe fizzle out as poor performance lead to their rejection until the 20th century.[208]
1830 The percussion cap becomes the most widely accepted firing mechanism in Europe.[205]
1831 William Bickford invents the safety fuse.[209]
1835 Casimir Lefaucheux invents the first practical breech loading firearm with a cartridge.[210]
1836 Johann Nicolaus von Dreyse invents the Dreyse needle gun, a breech loading rifle, increasing the rate of fire to six times that of muzzle loading weapons.[210]
1837 Edward Alfred Cowper uses gunpowder explosions as railway fog-signals to alert the locomotive crew of danger.[211]
1841 Wei Yuan recommends the incorporation of flintlock firearms into the Qing army but matchlocks continue to be used.[207]
1845 Gong Zhenlin invents cast iron molds for the casting of iron cannons.[183]
1849 Claude-Étienne Minié invents the Minié ball and makes the rifle a viable military firearm, ending the smoothbore musket era.[212]
1854 Rifles are deployed during the Crimean War with resounding success, proving to be vastly superior to smoothbore muskets.[212]
Volcanic Repeating Arms produces a rifle with a self-contained cartridge.[204]
1855 The Elswick Ordnance Company starts producing the Armstrong Gun.[148]
Edward Boxer uses rockets for throwing life-lines to shipwrecked sailors.[211]
1860 Benjamin Tyler Henry invents the Henry rifle, the first reliable repeating rifle.[213]
1861 Richard Jordan Gatling invents the Gatling gun, capable of firing 200 gunpowder cartridges in a minute.[214]
1862 The Qing dynasty starts production of percussion caps for rifles.[215]
Li Xiucheng of the Taiping army equips his army with foreign rifles.[72]
1863 Alfred Nobel invents dynamite, the first stable explosive stronger than gunpowder.[209]
1864 Li Hongzhang of the Qing dynasty equips his army with 15,000 foreign rifles.[72]
1873 Winchester Repeating Arms Company introduces the Model 1873 Winchester rifle.[213]
In Europe cast iron molds are utilized in casting cannons.[183]
1877 20 July – 10 December Siege of Plevna: The first time metallic cartridge repeating rifles have a large impact in battle.[213]
1880 Smokeless powder is invented and starts replacing gunpowder, also known as black powder.[216]
1884 Hiram Maxim invents the Maxim gun, the first single-barreled machine gun.[214]
1886 A safer and more stable form of smokeless powder is invented in France.[214]
1890 European countries transition to smokeless powder, which is referred to as "gunpowder", whereas the old mixture is known as "black powder".[217]

20th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1902 Smokeless powder is adopted nearly everywhere in the world and "black powder" is relegated to hobbyist usage. So ends the Gunpowder Age.[216]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "History of Gunpowder". Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  2. ^ a b Acosta, Oscar. "American Firearms Gun History". americanfirearms.org. americanfirearms.org. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
  3. ^ "The Explosive Quest for Immortality". Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  4. ^ Needham 1986, p. 97.
  5. ^ Partington 1960, p. 286.
  6. ^ a b Lorge 2008, p. 32.
  7. ^ 天佑初,王茂章征安仁义于润州,洎城陷,中十余创,以功迁左先锋都尉。从攻豫章,(郑)璠以所部发机「飞火」,烧龙沙门,率壮士突火先登入城,焦灼被体,以功授检校司徒。(Rough Translation: During the beginning of Tianyou Era (904–907), Zheng Fan followed Wang Maozhang in a campaign against Runzhou, which was guarded by rebel An Renyi. He was severely injured in the process and as the result he was promoted to Junior General of Left Vanguard. At the campaign of Yuchang, he ordered his troops to shoot off a machine to let fire fly and burn the Longsha Gate, after which he led his troops over the fire and entered the city. His body was scorched, for which he was appointed Prime Minister Inspectorate.) Records of Nine Kingdoms ch. 2
  8. ^ Andrade 2016, p. 31.
  9. ^ Needham 1986, p. 85.
  10. ^ Andrade 2016, p. 35.
  11. ^ Liang 2006.
  12. ^ a b Needham 1986, p. 148.
  13. ^ a b c d Andrade 2016, p. 32.
  14. ^ Needham 1986, p. 118-124.
  15. ^ Ebrey 1999, p. 138.
  16. ^ a b Andrade 2016, p. 41.
  17. ^ Needham 1986, p. 154.
  18. ^ Kelly 2004, p. 4.
  19. ^ Kelly 2004, p. 2.
  20. ^ Andrade 2016, p. 34.
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