Aircraft, Bombs, and Guidance Systems

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Aircraft possess great mobility and firepower, which enable them to affect tactical or strategic situations decisively. Nature and Use Aircraft possess great mobility and firepower, which enable them to affect tactical or strategic situations decisively. They can circumvent both enemy and environmental obstructions to army and naval movement. Their speed and range can render any […]

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Tanks and Armored Vehicles

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Although primitive designs for horse-powered, armored combat vehicles date back to the fifteenth century, it was not until the nineteenth century that they actually took a cohesive shape. Nature and Use Although primitive designs for horse-powered, armored combat vehicles date back to the fifteenth century, it was not until the nineteenth century that they actually […]

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Artillery

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Broadly defined, the term “artillery” refers to machines designed to propel missiles or projectiles of any kind. Nature and Use Broadly defined, the term “artillery” refers to machines designed to propel missiles or Projectilesprojectiles of any kind. Since the Middle Ages, however, the term has described crew-served weapons using the combustion of a propellant charge […]

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Small Arms and Machine Guns

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Small arms are firearms that are designed to be carried and fired by individual soldiers. Nature and Use Small arms are firearms that are designed to be carried and fired by individual soldiers. A machine gun is a firearm that continues to fire automatically as long as the operator keeps the trigger depressed. Medium and […]

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Gunpowder and Explosives

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

An explosive is a stable substance or device that upon detonation produces a volume of rapidly expanding gas that exerts sudden pressure on its surroundings. Nature and Use An explosive is a stable substance or device that upon detonation produces a volume of rapidly expanding gas that exerts sudden pressure on its surroundings. In general, […]

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Pole Arms

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The generic term for any type of thrusting or cutting weapon mounted on a long handle is pole arm. Nature and Use The generic term for any type of thrusting or cutting weapon mounted on a long handle is pole arm. These weapons have been in use since the time of primitive humankind, and they […]

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Swords, Daggers, and Bayonets

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Edged weapons, such as swords, daggers, and bayonets, are the oldest and most basic instruments of warfare in continuous use since prehistoric times. Nature and Use Edged weapons, such as swords, daggers, and bayonets, are the oldest and most basic instruments of warfare in continuous use since prehistoric times. The use of edged weapons, such […]

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Galleys to Galleons

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The history of medieval naval warfare is the history of the galley. The Medieval Galley The Galleyshistory of medieval naval warfare is the history of the galley. Since ancient times, battles at sea have taken place largely on the decks of ships and were fought much like land battles, with hand-to-hand combat. Medieval naval battles […]

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Knights to Cavalry

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Although the roles of knights and cavalrymen are often confused, the two are actually different. Knights Although the roles of knights and cavalrymen are often confused, the two are actually different. Knights were mounted warriors who fought as an aggregate of individuals; cavalry were tactical bodies of horsemen who fought as a cohesive unit. Knights, […]

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Handarms to Firearms

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Firearms are a Chinese invention for which the earliest evidence dates to 1130. Nature and Use Firearms are a China;firearmsChinese invention for which the earliest evidence dates to 1130. By that time the Chinese were using Gunpowder;Chinagunpowder in primitive Flamethrowers;Chineseflamethrowers made of bamboo, wood, or metal tubes. Within another century they had developed gunpowder Projectiles;Chineseprojectile […]

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North American Indigenous Nations

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Among the southeastern and southern North American chiefdoms of the Mississippian period (900-1540 c.e.), there were cities designated as “peace towns” and “war towns,” which were occupied alternately during times of peace and war. Political Considerations Among the southeastern and southern North American chiefdoms of the Mississippian cultureMississippian period (900-1540 c.e.), there were cities designated […]

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The Incas

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Incas were one of many South American tribes engaged in a power struggle in the Andean highlands from the thirteenth century through the middle of the fifteenth century. Political Considerations The Incas were one of many South American tribes engaged in a power struggle in the Andean highlands from the thirteenth century through the […]

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The Maya and Aztecs

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Warfare in Mesoamerica can be reconstructed only from the cultural remains that have been left behind in the portable art, sculpture, architecture, and documents of the ancient Maya and Aztecs. Political Considerations Warfare in Mesoamerica can be reconstructed only from the cultural remains that have been left behind in the portable art, sculpture, architecture, and […]

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Southeast Asia

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Although little is known about the early history of the Southeast Asian region and the origins of its peoples are unclear, the neighboring civilizations of both China and India had major influences upon Southeast Asian history. Political Considerations Although little is known about the early history of the Southeast Asian region and the origins of […]

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India and South Asia: Medieval

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

India’s long history, with the exception of Aśoka’s (c. 302-c. 232 b.c.e.) Mauryan rule between 269 and 232 b.c.e., has been one of constant internal strife and defensive warfare. Political Considerations India’s long history, with the exception of Aśoka’s (c. 302-c. 232 b.c.e.) Mauryan rule between 269 and 232 b.c.e., has been one of constant […]

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The Mongols

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Numerous steppe nomad empires existed in Eurasia throughout the medieval period. Political Considerations Numerous steppe Steppe nomads;Mongolsnomad empires existed in Eurasia throughout the medieval period. Prior to 1200 the Mongols had been merely one of many tribes in the steppes of Mongolia. Mongolia had long been a training ground for the horse archers that formed […]

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Japan: Medieval

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Two outstanding political institutions dominate most of Japanese history until 1867: the samurai warrior class and the shogun military dictators. Political Considerations Two outstanding political institutions dominate most of Japanese history until 1867: the samurai warrior class and the Shogunsshogun military dictators. It is not exactly clear when the first Japanese state appeared, but Chinese […]

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China: Medieval

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

After the collapse of the Han Dynasty in 220 c.e., China drifted into a period of political chaos during which it was controlled by a number of rival regional kingdoms. Political Considerations After the collapse of the Han Dynasty in 220 c.e., China drifted into a period of political chaos during which it was controlled […]

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Ethiopia

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The military history of Ethiopia is closely tied to political and commercial relations of the highland regions to those in the surrounding lowlands. Political Considerations The military history of Ethiopia is closely tied to political and commercial relations of the highland regions to those in the surrounding lowlands. It is also tied to the caravan […]

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West African Empires

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

In the period from 400 to 1591, West Africa saw the rise and fall of the indigenous kingdoms and empires of Ghana, medieval Mali, and Songhai. Political Considerations In the period from 400 to 1591, West Africa saw the rise and fall of the indigenous kingdoms and empires of Ghana, medieval Mali, and Songhai. Although […]

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The Ottoman Armies

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Anatolia was a politically diverse crossroads in the thirteenth century. Political Considerations Anatolia Anatoliawas a politically diverse crossroads in the thirteenth century. The IlkhansIlkhans, the descendants of the Mongols;Turkic descendantsMongols, lost their grip on power in Iran; the Byzantine Empire;fall ofByzantine Empire was besieged by the Franks from the west and the Turks from the […]

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Armies of the Seljuk Turks

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

In 750 the ՙAbbāsid Dynasty had succeeded the Umayyad Dynasty as rulers of the Muslim world. Political Considerations In 750 the ՙAbbāsids[Abbasids]ՙAbbāsid Dynasty had succeeded the UmayyadsUmayyad Dynasty as rulers of the Muslim world. However, by 1050 ՙAbbāsid authority was greatly reduced; this decline further splintered the followers of Islam. Into this leadership void stepped […]

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Armies of Muḥammad and the Caliphate

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The armies inspired by Islam unified the fractious Arabian Peninsula in the Riddah Wars (Wars of Apostasy) during the eight years before Muḥammad’s death in 632 and the subsequent rule of his father-in-law, Abū Bakr, the first khalīfat rasul al-Lah (successor to the messenger of God, often rendered as “caliph”). Political Considerations The armies inspired […]

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Crusading Armies of the West

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The engine driving the Crusades began with Pope Urban II (1042-1099) in 1095 at the Council of Clermont, when he called for Christendom to rise in defense of the Holy Land. Political Considerations The engine driving the Crusades began with Pope Urban IIUrban II (pope)[Urban 02]Urban II (1042-1099) in 1095 at the Council of Clermont […]

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Armies of Christendom and the Age of Chivalry

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Most historians agree that warfare in the Middle Ages cannot be studied in isolation. By its very definition, war–organized violence by groups against other groups–reflects the societies involved and, in turn, shapes them. Political Considerations Most historians agree that warfare in the Middle Ages cannot be studied in isolation. By its very definition, war–organized violence […]

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The Vikings

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Vikings were Swedish and Danish/Norwegian. Political Considerations The Vikings were Swedish and Danish/Norwegian. Viking homelands were made up of kingdoms divided into districts. Farmers, merchants, the rich, and the king all theoretically had equal voices in the thing, a political assembly, and in the hearing of land disputes and criminal cases. In reality, wealth […]

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The Magyars

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

During the period from 500 to 1100, the Magyars, or Hungarians, underwent immense political and social transformations. Political Considerations During the period from 500 to 1100, the Magyars, or Hungarians, underwent immense political and social transformations. Prior to their settlement in the CarpathiaCarpathian basin in 895 or 896, the Magyars lived a nomadic lifestyle on […]

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The Lombards

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Taking their name from the Latin, Langobardi, the Lombards included a series of Germanic tribes that originated in northern Europe and moved south, invading Italy in 568 and establishing the kingdom of Italy from 568 until 774, when they were overwhelmed by the Franks. Political Considerations Taking their name from the Latin, Langobardi, the Lombards […]

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The Anglo-Saxons

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

With the end of Roman rule over the British Isles occurring with the withdrawal of the remaining legions by order of Emperor Constantine in 410 c.e., the local populations of Britain were left to govern themselves until the Angles and Saxons arrived forty years later. Political Considerations With the end of Roman rule over the […]

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The Franks and the Holy Roman Empire

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

During the last days of the Roman Empire, the Western European landscape was divided among various Germanic tribes, remaining bastions of Roman administrative rule, and surviving Roman military settlements, or laeti. Political Considerations During the last days of the Roman Empire, the Western European landscape was divided among various Germanic tribes, remaining bastions of Roman […]

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Byzantium

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The early Byzantine Empire still regarded itself as part of the Roman Empire, and its legions were formed in the Roman way. Political Considerations In 312 c.e. Constantine the Constantine the GreatConstantine the Great (Byzantine emperor)Great (c. 272 to 285-337) won a key battle at the Milvian Milvian Bridge, Battle of (312 c.e.)bridge outside Rome […]

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India and South Asia: Ancient

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Compared with those of other ancient civilizations, the interstate relations and warfare of India were the weakest aspects of Indian political affairs. Political Considerations Compared with those of other ancient civilizations, the interstate relations and warfare of India were the weakest aspects of Indian political affairs. Much of the role of fighting was traditionally assigned […]

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Nomadic Warriors of the Steppe

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The most significant of the steppe warrior societies included the Scythian, Xiongnu (Hsiung-nu), Yuezhi (Yüeh-chih), Śaka, Sarmatian, Avar, Hun, and White Hun. Military Achievement The most significant of the steppe warrior societies included the Scythian, Xiongnu (Hsiung-nu), Yuezhi (Yüeh-chih), Śaka, Sarmatian, Avar, Hun, and White Hun. Some, such as the Yuezhi, were Indo-European peoples, and […]

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China: Ancient

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Chinese tradition holds that throughout most of its history, China has relegated warfare and military matters to a secondary role within society. Military Achievement Chinese tradition holds that throughout most of its history, China has relegated warfare and military matters to a secondary role within society. From the earliest dynastic records onward, the Chinese have […]

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Tribal Warfare in Central and Eastern Europe

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The tribes in central and eastern Europe that fought against the Roman Empire for the most part preserved their independence, and from the fifth century c.e., the combined effect of these tribes was to bring about the destruction of the Roman Empire of the West and also to weaken severely the Roman Empire of the […]

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Berber Warfare

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The term “Berber” was first coined by foreign conquerors in an attempt to classify a large population who resided in the Maghreb region of North Africa. Political Considerations The term “Berber” was first coined by foreign conquerors in an attempt to classify a large population who resided in the Maghreb region of North Africa. Some […]

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Celtic Warfare

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

If any word is symbolic of the Celtic culture, it is “periphery.” By the fifth century b.c.e., while civilizations battled for position along the Mediterranean basin, the Celts stood apart. Political Considerations If any word is symbolic of the Celtic culture, it is “periphery.” By the fifth century b.c.e., while civilizations battled for position along […]

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Roman Warfare During the Empire

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The imperial Roman army was arguably one of the most impressive fighting forces the world has ever known. Military Achievement The imperial Roman army was arguably one of the most impressive fighting forces the world has ever known. Its military campaigns greatly expanded the territory of the Roman Empire. In the first century c.e., Rome […]

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Roman Warfare During the Republic

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

According to tradition, the city of Rome was founded on the banks of the Tiber River in 753 b.c.e. by Romulus, one of the twin sons of Mars, the Roman god of war. Military Achievement According to tradition, the city of Rome;founding ofRome was founded on the banks of the Tiber River in 753 b.c.e. […]

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Carthaginian Warfare

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Carthage, a historic city on the north coast of Africa, traditionally was founded in 814 b.c.e. by Phoenicians. Military Achievement Carthage, a historic city on the north coast of Africa, traditionally was founded in 814 b.c.e. by PhoeniciaPhoenicians. Historically, the military achievements of Carthage, a maritime trading power, have been measured by its naval and […]

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Greek and Hellenistic Warfare from Alexander to Rome

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

In the early fourth century b.c.e., Greece did not exist as a unified nation but as a number of separate, often hostile, city-states struggling among themselves for power. Political Considerations In the early fourth century b.c.e., Greece did not exist as a unified nation but as a number of separate, often hostile, City-states[city states];Greekcity-states struggling […]

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Greek Warfare to Alexander

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The period from 1600 to 336 b.c.e. saw the emergence in Greece of four distinct ways of war. Military Achievement The period from 1600 to 336 b.c.e. saw the emergence in Greece of four distinct ways of war. The first of these, Mycenaean Chariots;Mycenaeanchariot warfare, did not survive past about 1100 b.c.e. It was succeeded […]

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The Persians

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Persians were an Iranian-speaking, Indo-European people. Military Achievement The Persians were an Iranian-speaking, Indo-European people. As described in both the Rigveda (Hindu sacred text) Rigveda and the Avesta (Zoroastrian text) Avesta, the sacred texts of Hinduism and Zoroastrianism respectively, warriors played an important part in Persian society. The warrior class, from which chiefs and […]

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The Egyptians

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Egyptian Empire was one of the longest-lasting in the ancient world, and it was largely kept together by military force rather than diplomacy. Military Achievement The Egyptian Empire was one of the longest-lasting in the ancient world, and it was largely kept together by military force rather than diplomacy. Its great wealth encouraged invasions […]

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The Hebrews

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The history of the Hebrew people contains a large number of military campaigns and battles. Political Considerations The history of the Hebrew people contains a large number of military campaigns and battles. The biblical stories of the walls of Jericho falling down and of David standing against Goliath with a slingshot are familiar ones to […]

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The Chaldeans

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Chaldeans, or Neo-Babylonians, are credited with destroying the Assyrian Empire and establishing a new one in the Near East that was responsible for sacking Jerusalem, razing the Jewish temple located there, and destroying and deporting the kingdom of Judah in 586 b.c.e. Military Achievement The Chaldeans, or Neo-Babylonians, are credited with destroying the Assyrian […]

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The Assyrians

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Assyria was the ancient name of the area surrounding the upper Tigris River and its principal tributaries, the Greater Zab and the Lesser Zab, in northern Iraq. Political Considerations Assyria was the ancient name of the area surrounding the upper Tigris River and its principal tributaries, the Greater Zab and the Lesser Zab, in northern […]

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The Hittites

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Hittites ruled a powerful empire in Asia Minor and northern Syria during the seventeenth to twelfth centuriesb.c.e. One of their primary military achievements was in establishing a sphere of political influence in the Near East. Military Achievement The Hittites ruled a powerful empire in Asia Minor and northern Syria during the seventeenth to twelfth […]

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City-States and Empires Through Old Babylon

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The evolution of warfare in ancient Mesopotamia led to the creation of large and powerful empires in the Near East, the weapons and formations of which influenced classical civilization. Military Achievement The evolution of warfare in ancient Mesopotamia led to the creation of large and powerful empires in the Near East, the weapons and formations […]

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Violence in the Precivilized World

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Traditionally, historians distinguish between violence perpetrated by individuals against other individuals and group violence perpetrated against other individuals or groups. Overview Traditionally, historians distinguish between violence perpetrated by individuals against other individuals and group violence perpetrated against other individuals or groups. Organized, lethal group violence among social groups is “warfare,” as in the modern “gang […]

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Warships and Naval Warfare

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

From ancient times, the principal warship of the Mediterranean Sea was the oared galley, which was used to ram and sink opposing ships. Nature and Use From ancient times, the principal warship of the Mediterranean Sea was the oared Galleys;oaredgalley, which was used to ram and sink opposing ships. The galley typically had fore and […]

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Cavalry: Ancient and Medieval

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Historically, cavalries were military forces that traveled and fought on horseback, unlike mounted infantrymen, who traveled on horseback but fought on foot, and charioteers, who fought from carts pulled by horses. Nature and Use Historically, cavalries were military forces that traveled and fought on horseback, unlike mounted infantrymen, who traveled on horseback but fought on […]

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Armies and Infantry: Ancient and Medieval

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Infantry is that part or those parts of an army trained and organized to fight on foot with handheld weapons. Nature and Use Infantry Infantry;definedInfantry;ancientArmies;ancientis that part or those parts of an army trained and organized to fight on foot with handheld weapons. Foot soldiers have formed the largest component of most armies throughout history. […]

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Sieges and Siegecraft: Ancient and Medieval

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Siege warfare is the art of taking a fort or fortified city. Nature and Use Siege warfare is the art of taking a fort or fortified city. In a passive siege, the besiegers attempted to starve the defenders by sealing off the Walled citiescity or fort from the outside world by Circumvallationcircumvallation, which means encircling […]

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Medieval Fortifications

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

In even the earliest and most primitive societies, the need to stave off attackers led to the construction of defensive physical structures. Nature and Use In even the earliest and most primitive societies, the need to stave off attackers led to the construction of defensive physical structures. The variety of such responses naturally became ever […]

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Ancient Fortifications

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Fortifications are structures built by human beings for the purpose of warding off attacks by hostile animals or humans. Nature and Use Fortifications are structures built by human beings for the purpose of warding off attacks by hostile animals or humans. In the broadest sense, fortifications can be forms of protection, such as armor, inoculation, […]

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Firearms and Cannon

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The first precise recipe for gunpowder, a Chinese invention dating to before 1000 c.e., is found in a work from 1044. Nature and Use The first precise recipe for gunpowder, a China;gunpowderChinese invention dating to before 1000 c.e., is found in a work from 1044. Long before it gained any military significance, gunpowder was used […]

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Chariots

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The chariot derived from the four-wheeled wagon, and was replaced by a two-wheeled vehicle after the original wagon was found to be too cumbersome for combat. Nature and Use The chariot derived from the four-wheeled wagon, and was replaced by a two-wheeled vehicle after the original wagon was found to be too cumbersome for combat. […]

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Spears and Pole Arms

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The spear is among the simplest and most universal of early weapons: a simple penetrating point secured to a shaft that adds either aerodynamic qualities or leverage and distance from the target. Nature and Use The spear is among the simplest and most universal of early weapons: a simple penetrating point secured to a shaft […]

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Knives, Swords, and Daggers

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Almost every human culture and civilization in the world has used knives and daggers. Nature and Use Almost every human culture and civilization in the world has used Knivesknives and Daggersdaggers. A knife is one of the most basic tools, used for cutting any number of materials, from food to fibers. Knives were also used […]

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Crossbows

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The crossbow was a handheld weapon consisting of a short bow made of either composite materials such as wood and horn, or iron, mounted on a stock, generally of wood. Nature and Use The crossbow was a handheld weapon consisting of a short bow made of either composite materials such as wood and horn, or […]

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Bows and Arrows

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Bows and arrows are among the oldest and most popular weapons of all time. Nature and Use Bows and arrows are among the oldest and most popular weapons of all time. Although simple in design, their invention represented one of the most important technological innovations of primitive humans, one that allowed individuals to attack both […]

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Picks, Axes, and War Hammers

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Picks, axes, and war hammers are shock weapons. Nature and Use Picks, axes, and war hammers are shock weapons. Like all members of this weaponry class, they are designed to be held rather than thrown and to multiply the amount of force that can be brought to bear upon an opponent, while also extending the […]

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Clubs, Maces, and Slings

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Clubs, maces, and slings, originally appearing in primitive times, are alike in their antiquity and concussive effect. Nature and Use Clubs, maces, and slings, originally appearing in primitive times, are alike in their antiquity and concussive effect. Clubs are stout sticks, weighted at the striking end and usually made of hardwood, although bone, horn, and […]

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Table of Contents: Weapons and Warfare

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Table of Contents of Weapons and Warfare. VOLUME 1: ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL WEAPONS AND WARFARE TO C. 1500 Weapons and Forces Clubs, Maces, and Slings Picks, Axes, and War Hammers Bows and Arrows Crossbows Knives, Swords, and Daggers Spears and Pole Arms Chariots Firearms and Cannon Ancient Fortifications Medieval Fortifications Sieges and Siegecraft: Ancient […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Continuing a permissive trend in the use of tax money for parochial schools, the Supreme Court approved an Ohio program of providing low-income families with tax-subsidized vouchers to pay for tuition at private schools. As part of plan to increase educational opportunity, the legislature of Ohio enacted a statute with a Pilot Scholarship Program that […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court ruled that the subjective motivations of police officers were irrelevant when stopping a car based on probable cause of a traffic violation, however minor. Plainclothes District of Columbia officers working in a “high drug area” in an unmarked vehicle noticed a truck occupied by two young African Americans waiting at a stop […]

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War and civil liberties

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

During periods of armed conflict and fear of war, the U.S. government has often restricted and even curtailed the liberties and rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. The civil liberties contained in the U.S. Constitution were designed to protect citizens against abuses of power by government. The Bill of Rights sets limits on the government’s […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

In holding that government may not punish a person for burning a cross unless there is sufficient evidence of an intent to intimidate or threaten, the Supreme Court helped clarify what kind of hate speech may be proscribed. Before Virginia v. Black, the Supreme Court’s rulings on First Amendment protection of unpopular and dangerous ideas […]

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Thomas, Clarence

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The second African American to become a justice of the Supreme Court, Thomas has been one of the most consistently conservative justices to serve on the Court since the New Deal era. A descendant of Georgia slaves, Clarence Thomas grew up speaking the Geechee dialect, a mixture of English and several West African languages. At […]

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Stevens, John Paul

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

A justice known for independence and skepticism toward established doctrines, Stevens has demonstrated a strong commitment to civil liberties and the protection of the least powerful persons in society. Raised in a prominent Hyde Park, Chicago, family, John Paul Stephens attended the University of Chicago, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1941. During World War II, […]

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Souter, David H.

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

As a replacement for William J. Brennan, Jr., the Supreme Court’s leading liberal, Republican Souter was expected to move the Court in a more conservative direction. Although he voted with the conservative bloc during his freshman term, he later moderated his views, becoming more liberal than most Court observers had predicted. An only child, David […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

In these cases, the Supreme Court made a narrow interpretation of the privileges or immunities clause (P or I clause) of the Fourteenth Amendment, with the result that none of the first eight amendments have been applied to the states by way of that clause. The Slaughterhouse Cases combined three suits challenging a Louisiana law […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

As the only criminal trial ever conducted by the Supreme Court, this trial of a local sheriff for contempt demonstrated the Court’s authority and raised the question of whether the Sixth Amendment applied to the states. The trial, however, did not appear to establish any precedents. On January 23, 1906, a violent rape occurred in […]

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Scalia, Antonin

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The first Italian American justice on the Supreme Court, Scalia has been committed to conservative values and has advocated constitutional interpretations based on textual analysis and original understanding. He has endeavored to constrain congressional delegation of power to the federal bureaucracy and to promote moral order through restrictions on expressive liberties, criminal defendants’ rights, and […]

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and

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

While reaffirming that obscene material is not protected by the First Amendment in these two simultaneous rulings, the Supreme Court for the first time defined obscenity narrowly and put strict limits on the kinds of obscenity that may be proscribed by either federal or state laws. A man named Samuel Roth conducted a New York […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court decided that it is unconstitutional to execute any person who is younger than eighteen at the time of committing a capital offense. Since the 1950’s, the Supreme Court has recognized that the meaning of “cruel and unusual punishment” is determined by “evolving standards” of decency that reflect societal values. In Stanford v. […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court reaffirmed that criminal defendants have a right to effective assistance of counsel and also provided additional clarification about practices that constitute ineffectiveness. Rompilla v. Beard expanded and clarified the principles of Strickland v. Washington[c]Strickland v. Washington (1984), recognizing that the Sixth Amendment’s right to counselSixth Amendment;right to counsel can be infringed by […]

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Roberts, John

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

When he replaced William H. Rehnquist as chief justice, Roberts was expected be a conservative force but more moderate and conciliatory that his predecessor. The son of a steel executive, John Glover Roberts, Jr., was born in Buffalo, New York. When he was at a young age, his family moved to the affluent town of […]

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Rehnquist, William H.

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Presiding over a conservative shift in the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence, Rehnquist participated in the overturning or undermining of many liberal precedents, even though he frequently continued to find himself on the side of the minority. Born in Wisconsin in 1924, William H. Rehnquist proved to be a formidable presence and an intellectual force before reaching […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court recognized the federal government’s authority to enforce federal laws outlawing marijuana in all circumstances, even in those states that have legalized the substance for some medical purposes. In 1996, California legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes in the so-called Compassionate Use Act, which was similar to the statutes in ten […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

When the Supreme Court refrained from incorporating the Fifth Amendment’s protection against double jeopardy into the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, Justice Benjamin Cardozo’s opinion for the Court articulated the influential “fundamental fairness” standard of selective incorporation. The state of Connecticut indicted a man named Palko for the capital offense of first-degree murder, […]

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O’Connor, Sandra Day

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The first woman to serve on the Supreme Court, O’Connor was a moderate justice who sometimes sided with the more conservative and sometimes with the more liberal justices, depending on specific issues. Born Sandra Day, O’Connor grew up on a cattle ranch in southeastern Arizona. She described her early experiences of living in a desert […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

In this case, the Supreme Court held that erotic and sexually explicit depictions of children, whether obscene or indecent, have no protection under the First Amendment. The state of New York, like nineteen other states, had a statute that criminalized the dissemination of materials depicting the sexual conduct of children under the age of sixteen, […]

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Native American treaties

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Native Americans’ rights under U.S. law are primarily defined by treaties, which are, in turn, usually defined in international law as formal contracts between nations. Article III of the U.S. ConstitutionConstitution, U.S.;and treaties[treaties] specifies that the judicial power of the Supreme Court extends to all cases involving the Constitution, federal laws, and treaties. Article VI […]

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Native American sovereignty

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Within the context of the American constitutional system, Native American sovereignty constitutes the retained rights of Native American nations to self-determination not extinguished by treaty or by congressional statute. The U.S. ConstitutionConstitution, U.S.;and Native American sovereignty[Native American sovereignty] does not specifically mention Native American sovereignty, and it offers relatively little guidance regarding the relationships among […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court upheld a drug-testing program in the U.S. Customs Service that required urinalysis tests for employees who sought promotions to positions that involve drug interdiction, the carrying of firearms, or the handling of classified information. A union of federal employees challenged the program as a violation of the Fourth AmendmentFourth Amendment;urine samples because […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

In this landmark decision, the Supreme Court held that the exclusionary rule was binding on the states whenever evidence was obtained in an unreasonable search and seizure, thereby completing the “incorporation” of the Fourth Amendment into the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In an earlier landmark case, Weeks v. United States[c]Weeks v. United […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

In this, one of its most significant decisions, the Supreme Court broadly interpreted the elastic clause to uphold Congress’s authority in establishing the Bank of the United States, thereby providing a foundation for federal involvement in the economy. Chief Justice John MarshallMarshall, John;McCulloch v. Maryland[Macculloch v. Maryland] was at his most eloquent in writing the […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

In what was a review of the Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the act’s limits on contributions to political parties. In 1974, Congress amended federal election campaign laws by limiting the amount that citizens could contribute to political candidates. In Buckley v. Valeo[c]Buckley v. Valeo (1976), the […]

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Loyalty oaths

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Formal pledges or affirmations to support and defend one’s country or a particular regime. Throughout recorded history, governments and leaders have utilized loyalty oaths as a means of consolidating power and punishing nonconformists. In England, after the Reformation, such oaths had the effect of restricting the legal rights of Roman Catholics and other religious dissidents. […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

In overturning a Texas statute that had outlawed homosexual conduct, the Supreme Court extended the constitution’s protection of “liberty interests” to gays and lesbians. After the watershed case of Griswold v. Connecticut[c]Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), the Court emphasized that the due process clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments protected a substantive right of generic […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

In a decision that limited the use of modern privacy-threatening technology, the Supreme Court held that police much have a search warrant in order to use a thermal imager to detect patterns of heat coming from a private home. In 1992, federal agents aimed a sensitive heat detector, the Agema Thernovision 210, at Danny Kyllo’s […]

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Kennedy, Anthony M.

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

A moderately conservative justice with distinct libertarian tendencies, Kennedy has often provided the swing vote on important issues before the Supreme Court. The son of a prominent lawyer, Anthony M. Kennedy earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Stanford University and a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1961. After his graduation, he […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court held that government may use its power of eminent domain to seize private property against an owner’s will for the purpose of transferring the property to private developers to promote economic development and increase the tax base. Whe the city government of New London, Connecticut, became alarmed that the tax base was […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Overturning an important precedent that had endured for almost forty years, this Supreme Court ruling significantly expanded Fourth Amendment rights in ruling that police must obtain warrants before wiretapping private conversations, even inside public telephone booths. In Olmstead v. United States[c]Olmstead v. United States a 5-4 decision in 1928, the Supreme Court held that conversations […]

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Incorporation, inverse

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Supreme Court’s gradually arrived-at conclusion that the equal protection requirement of the Fourteenth Amendment is binding on the federal government through the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. In contrast to the Declaration of Independence of 1776,Declaration of Independence (1776) neither the original Constitution nor the Bill of Rights explicitly mentioned a right to […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

In a major departure from previous rulings on the exclusionary rule, the Supreme Court allowed the use of criminal evidence that was the fruit of a search conducted contrary to the “knock-and-announce” rule. From colonial times, American courts have subscribed to the common law requirement that police, before using force to enter a private home, […]

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Hate speech

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Communications intended to insult, degrade, intimidate, or create animosity against a person or persons belonging to a particular race, ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, or sexual orientation. The Supreme Court has long accepted the principle that a number of narrowly defined categories of communication are not protected by the First Amendment. In Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire[c]Chaplinsky […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

In this ruling, the Supreme Court held that the president did not have the authority to establish military commissions to try foreign nationals without congressional authorization. In addition, the Court held that foreign detainees had the rights guaranteed by the Geneva Conventions on Prisoners of War. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the […]

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