Military Superiority of the West from 900-1300 AD
This is my second debate about an historical topic. Check out the first one at http://www.debate.org...! This debate is impossible to accept, so write your proposed topic in the comments and I'll invite the person with the best topic to debate. Please include all definitions and assumptions you'd like to use in your comment. Also, no WWII topics - there are thousands of years of history to choose from, please pick something less cliché.
Structure will be as follows:
Round 1: acceptance only, no arguments
Round 2: Opening statements for each side (no rebuttals allowed)
Round 3: Rebuttals and additional arguments
Round 4: Final rebuttals and conclusion (no new arguments)
All sources are encouraged except Wikipedia. Use of Wikipedia or non compliance with the debate structure will result in a 7 point penalty.
Looking for a serious debater who won't troll or forfeit. Burden of proof will be shared. I am slated for Con so you must be in favor of whatever prompt you give. Looking forward to a fun debate!
These 400 years fromn the 10th to 14th century of the Commion era marked the begining of western/european dominance in our world and I will look forward to debating the military strategies,skilsl and hardware of the Western world against that of the Eastern world in this time.
Thanks to my opponent for accepting. The resolution for this debate is that the West (Europe) was militarily superior to the East (Asia) in weapons, strategy, and engineering from 900-1300 AD. I, as Con, will attempt to refute this claim. I propose that we exclude the Middle East because it can be equally claimed by both Europe and Asia. Pro, please let me know if you disagree. I will present my arguments according to weapons, strategy, and engineering.
Gunpowder is undoubtedly one of the most important military technologies of the first millennium. Perhaps it is even the most important. This revolutionary weapon was invented in the East. As early as 800 AD, Taoist alchemists discovered the mixture of charcoal, sulfur, and saltpeter which is the foundation of gunpowder. Over the centuries they developed items comparable to grenades, bombs, and rockets at a time when Europeans had no concept of such weapons .
It is well known that the Chinese never harnessed the true potential of these weapons which were instead perfected in Europe. However, this Western adoption occurred much later. The earliest known depiction of canons in the West was in 1326 AD, and these did not even become practical weapons in Europe until the 15th and 16th Centuries . This is beyond the time period of this debate and therefore cannot be considered.
The East possessed this incredibly revolutionary weapon for centuries while the West was still fighting in ways which became instantly obsolete once gunpowder entered the battlefield. As a result, I propose gunpowder alone gave the East an unprecedented weaponry advantage over the West during this time.
It is difficult to compare strategies between regions that never fought each other. Fortunately however, we do have an instance during this period where East and West clashed and tested their strategies against each other. The Mongols were perhaps the greatest military force of all time and conquered what became one of the largest land empires ever. The Mongols proved their strategic superiority by defeating both fortified and mobile enemies and conquered China, central Asia, and Turkic kingdoms until finally reaching the doorstep of Europe. In 1221 the Mongols got their first chance to demonstrate the superiority of highly mobile and lightly equipped cavalry against the slow, heavily armored, and statically fortified Europeans in the Kingdom of Georgia. The Mongol cavalry lured the Georgian infantry into the open and fatigued their heavily armored forces by forcing a long pursuit, and then destroyed them . After this victory, the Mongols proceeded to defeat the Russians (Muscovites), Hungarians, and moved as far west as Germany and Vienna. The ultimate test of Eastern vs. Western strategy came in 1241 at the Battle of Wahlstatt. Here, Duke Henry II of Silesia led a force of 30,000 knights from Germany and France to meet the Mongols, and they were soundly defeated .
The Mongols also demonstrated superiority in their ability to conduct multiple campaigns across huge distances. In the 13th Century, the Mongols sustained simultaneous campaigns across an area stretching 5,000 miles and 100 degrees in latitude, a feat which was not repeated until the 20th Century! . By comparison, while the Mongols were quickly conquering the known world, European armies during this time often bogged down in slow, static warfare that focused on maneuver and siege while avoiding pitched battles.
As a final proof of the East’s strategic dominance, we must examine the legacy of the world’s greatest strategic philosophers in our modern world. Of these, Jomini, Clausewitz, and Sun Tzu are the most studied. Sun Tzu is an ancient Eastern strategist, whose principles were followed during the 10th and 14th Centuries by Eastern armies. Jomini and Clausewitz did not exist until the 18th Century. As a result, the West was not able to deeply contribute to the historiography of strategic philosophy until well after the time period of this debate, while the Eastern foundation of strategic thought was very much alive.
For engineering, I simply submit that the East was capable of constructing forts and systems equal to anything found in the West at this time. As in Europe, the East also engineered great castles, walls, and palaces. It will be very difficult for my opponent to prove that European engineering was superior to that of the East.
I therefore propose that Eastern weapons were far superior to those of the West due to knowledge of gunpowder. Eastern strategy was championed by Sun Tzu long before Western strategy was triumphed during the Napoleonic period, and the Mongol defeat of multiple Western armies during this time displays the East’s strategic dominance. Even if we assume Western engineering equality to that in the East, the first two categories clearly tip the scales in favor of Asia.
I look forward to Pro’s opening arguments.
 Arnold, Thomas. The Renaissance at War (HarperCollins, 2006), 14.
 Ibid., 30.
 Weatherford, Jack. Ghengis Khan and the Making of the Modern World (Crown, 2004), 138
. Ibid. 152
. Ibid., 144
I apoligize to con, My health isn't great and I am having a difficult time focusing enough to put this together. I will have to concede the debate for now But I would be interested in taking it up with you again when I am feeling better. My apologies again for backing out.
I am sorry you are feeling under the weather. I wish you a speedy recovery, I would welcome the chance to debate you in the future.
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