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Weapons and warfare shakespeare
Transcript of Weapons and warfare shakespeare
During much of Shakespeare's life, England was at war with Spain. Philip II, the ruler of Spain at the time, had two main goals. The first was to expand the Spanish empire, and the second was to spread Catholicism to everywhere he could. England, as a large military power and a Protestant country, stood in his way. War erupted in 1585.
William Shakespeare lived during one of the most important turning points in the history of warfare. During his lifetime, he witnessed the transition from swords, shields, and spears to firearms and cannons. Although muskets had been invented in 1520, the English were still using many of the weapons from the medieval times.
Towards the end of the 16th century, soldiers and knights were casting their heavy broadswords and battle axes aside for something much lighter, faster, and in most cases more practical. It was called the rapier.
When gunpowder became commonly used, it was suddenly possible to create an artillery weapon unlike any the world had ever seen. Replacing the trebuchets and ballistas of the medieval era, was the cannon. The immense power that a cannon could produce combined with the fact that they could be used at sea as well as on land, left little reason for the old artillery to remain in use. Although the first English cannons were used in battle in 1327, they were not commonly used until Shakespeare's time.
The axe was a butchers tool and a woodsman's tool. But it was much more than that at the time. Many people used the axe in battle and skirmishes. The handles of the axe was usually five to six feet long which allowed for great wing span for attack.
After muskets were invented, they became more frequently used. The most popular musket was the matchlock.
WEAPONS AND WARFARE
In Shakespeare plays
In Shakespeare's writing and plays, all of his characters were always heavily armed. Most of his characters were soldiers, guards, pirates, and kings. Many people think of a sword as the common weapon in Shakespeare's era, that is very true. The majority of people back then had swords.
Matchlocks worked by using a slow match. A slow match is similiar to a fuse. When the trigger was pulled, a clamp called the serpentine pressed the lit end of a slow match to a pan of priming powder. The priming powder ignited and set off the main charge in the barrel. There were several problems with that system, but the biggest one was that it was hard to keep the match lit.
Despite these problems, the matchlock continued to gain popularity. In 1595, all bows and arrows in the military were swapped out for firearms.
The cannon completely revolutionized warfare. It could crush the heavy stone walls that formerly repelled invaders and cause a mass destruction to anything it it's path. Cannons brought about the end to the grand and majestic castles of the medieval era.
The most famous battle of the war was the battle with the Spanish Armada. Spain sent a fleet of 132 ships to attempt to control the seas around England. At the time, this was a nearly invincible force. England could only meet their force with 34 war ships. To increase their numbers, England recruited 163 merchant ships and armed them. The battle lasted ten days. Despite having the odds against them, the English defeated the Armada on August 8, 1588.
Shakespeare was not extremely influenced on how he wrote. The only things he did was pay attention to what people would wear and and what people would have attached to them. Usually when skirmishes broke out, he would write of swords, maces, long weapons princes had, and lances
Maces were cavalry weapons only. They were dangerous weapons with a medium length handle. At the end of the handle was a ball with spikes that could pierce easily through skin. Many men had dules or tournaments and this was the most common weapon of choice for that combat
This was the weapon of choice in big charges. Horsed men did use this often along with a mace.
Shakespeare did include a reference to how a lance is held in the story of
Romeo and Juliet .
The Spain vs. Britain battle was really the only battle that was extremely important going on in Shakespeare's life. The only thing he had other than the war was duels and fights that would break out which he would write about in his writings frequently.
Thank you for watching!