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Tumbling walls: Fortifications in .NET
Tumbling walls: Fortifications
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The medieval walls of castles and cities were far more vulnerable to cannon fire than they had been to the old stone-throwing siege engines, and they were rarely suitable for defence by artillery As we see in s 6 and 7, in the seventeenth century fortifications went underground and relied on artillery for their defence Henry VIII proved himself to be a little ahead of his time (the sixteenth century) by building a series of 19 coast defence forts from Gravesend on the Thames around the south coast to Pendennis in Cornwall These forts were revolutionary because they were designed primarily with all-round defence by artillery in mind The best examples consisted of a circular central keep with small semi-circular bastions attached, surrounding the same number of much larger, inter-connected semi-circular bastions Each of these elements provided a gun platform with the powder magazines under cover A wide ditch ringed the fort with a bare glacis (a gentle slope) beyond Many remain in an excellent state of preservation today
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Part II: The Arrival of Gunpowder
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Gustavus Adolphus rationalised Renaissance cavalry tactics (see the previous section for his development of infantrymen) He returned to the principle that one of the cavalry s most important functions was shock action (charging into the enemy mass to engage in hand-to-hand combat) His cavalry attacked in four ranks at a fast trot, later reduced to three Having fired their pistols, the two leading ranks closed at once with the sword, followed by the remainder, who reserved their fire for the subsequent melee The effect of this on the recipients, long used to the formalities of the caracole, was devastating Like the infantry, the cavalry abandoned much of its armour as superfluous A few regiments, designated cuirassiers, retained a version of full armour as late as the 1640s, but by then most cavalrymen had reduced their protection to an open, lobster-tailed helmet, and breast and back plates only
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Little action took place between British armies and continental European ones during this era The English lost Calais, their last remaining possession in mainland France, and Elizabeth I sent volunteers to fight alongside the Protestant Dutch in their struggle against Spain in the continental Wars of Religion The aims of the Tudor monarchs throughout the sixteenth century were to provide strong central government, internal security, and continuity; despite this, violent religious disturbances occurred during the Reformation and a rebellion took place in Ulster during the last years of Elizabeth I s reign With the possible exception of artillery, England s virtual withdrawal from direct continental involvement meant that the country fell steadily behind in military methods, a process that continued well into the seventeenth century Coupled with this, new weapons and tactics were not universally popular many soldiers hated the new weapons and did not understand how they could be applied to battlefield tactics
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The Battle of Flodden, 1513
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In 1513 King James IV of Scotland invaded England with a 25,000-strong army and 17 guns (remember, at this time the two countries were still very much separate) The Earl of Surrey met him with 20,000 men and 22 light guns Surrey manoeuvred the Scots out of a strong position on Flodden Edge (in northeast England) by interposing his troops between them and the Scottish border In the circumstances, James had little alternative but to mount an attack
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5: With Pike and Shot: Renaissance Warfare
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Flodden began with an artillery duel The English served their guns the better and the Scots had the worst of the exchange This was a bad beginning, but worse was to follow The Scottish left wing defeated its opposite numbers, but was cut to pieces by the English cavalry when the Scots paused to plunder the dead The Scottish centre and right wing also advanced to engage in a general melee The right wing was defeated and as a result the Scottish centre was surrounded In close-quarter fighting, the English had a distinct advantage as they had recently adopted the halberd (see the section, Upgrading the Infantry earlier in this chapter for more on this) The Scots, on the other hand, retained their traditional pikes, which were ineffective against the halberd The majority of Scots fighting stubbornly around their king were killed, as was King James himself, eight Scottish earls, and thirteen Scottish barons Almost every one of Scotland s noble families sustained the loss of one or more of its members Total Scottish casualties amounted to 10,000 soldiers and all their artillery Surrey s army had 4000 men killed The pipe lament Flowers of the Forest was composed to commemorate Scotland s national tragedy, and remains in use with some Scottish regiments to this day
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The Spanish Armada, 1588
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Philip II of Spain, angered by the piratical activities of such English sea captains as Francis Drake as well as Elizabeth s support for the Dutch protestants, assembled a huge invasion force to convey an army of Spanish veterans from the Low Countries to England The Spanish Armada (fleet) contained some 90 fighting ships and a large number of transports, against which the English could oppose approximately 50 warships Although it was a naval battle, the defeat of the Spanish Armada was significant in that the English admirals and captains had long been of the opinion that their warships should fight as floating gun platforms, whereas the Spaniards continued to regard theirs as transport for boarding parties Against this, if the Armada had managed to ferry the Duke of Parma s veterans from the Low Countries to England, it is unlikely that, with the best will in the world, the English levies hastily assembled at Tilbury would have been able to stand against them for long
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