The History of Gunpowder
by Dr Brenda Buchanan

Date: Tuesday 13 October 2015

A wide-ranging illustrated talk from the editor of the two-volume collection of articles Gunpowder: The History of an International Technology

The History of Gunpowder

So many eyewitness accounts speak of the smoke of battle, well illustrated in this painting of the Battle of Waterloo. The source was the gunpowder used in every battlefield from the Middle Ages onwards. But as this extract from the foreword of Dr Buchanan’s book explains:

 “Gunpowder is anything but a simple commodity product. Between the thirteenth and the sixteenth centuries, what was once a Chinese alchemical curiosity grew in significance until it became central to war making around the globe albeit in very different ways and in different societies. In time it came to play a key role in mining and civil engineering projects as well and it would serve to increase the economic fortunes and political power of its manufacturing families.”  

Brenda Buchanan is a Research Fellow at the Centre for the History of Technology at the University of Bath, a Trustee of the Waltham Abbey Royal Gunpowder Mills and Chair of the UK Gunpowder and Explosives Group. 

Back to the previous page