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The Arquebus Volley Technique in China, c. 1560: Evidence from the Writings of Qi Jiguang

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Military historians have argued that the emergence in Europe of the musketry volley fire technique and the concurrent development of systematic infantry drill was of epochal importance for world history, a key part of the famous “military revolution” that underlay Europeans’ purported military advantage over other peoples. This article shows that the arquebus volley technique was described in the writings of the famous Chinese military thinker Qi Jiguang by 1560, well before the most commonly accepted date for the technique’s introduction in Europe. Qi Jiguang’s drilling techniques were part of a long and unbroken military tradition stretching back to China’s Tang dynasty and beyond, in which drill—and the volley technique itself—played a central role. The implications for our understanding of global military history are profound. As we learn more about Asian military history we will increasingly question standard narratives of our global military past.

Affiliations: 1: Emory University


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