Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2013
  • Online publication date: October 2013

11 - French and English Acceptance of Medieval Gunpowder Weaponry


In 1966, John R. Hale, following up an earlier essay, which had addressed in general the subject of warfare and public opinion during the fifteenth and sixteenth century, published an article focusing on the question of that same society's acceptance of early gunpowder weaponry. In this article, “Gunpowder and the Renaissance: An Essay in the History of Ideas,” Professor Hale concluded that although there were historical examples of societal acceptance of early guns, on the whole, the people of the fourteenth through the sixteenth centuries had rejected this new military technology. In a time of scholarly protest against the war in Vietnam and a growing concern over the arms race of the Cold War, Hale found some solace in the fact that substantial literary evidence showed that the period of his research also had a large number of intelligentsia who criticized their kingdoms' weapons policies. And while, as he concludes, “by the early seventeenth century, ideals had given ground to the arguments of fact,” yielding to an increased use of and, equally, a growing complacency towards, gunpowder weapons, that period of intellectual fervor known as the Renaissance had at least held out a disdain for the killing power of the new weapons.