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Friday, 15 May 2015

Gunpowder

Black powder, as gunpowder was originally called is a chemical explosive—the earliest known.

Gunpowder is a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate (saltpeter). The sulfur and charcoal act as fuels, and the saltpeter is an oxidizer.

For centuries, a key ingredient of gunpowder was human urine.

Gunpowder emerged during the early part of the Chinese Song Dynasty (960 -1279) for use in fireworks and rockets.

Early Chinese rocket

One of the first examples of Europeans encountering gunpowder and firearms is at the Battle of Mohi in 1241. During this engagement the Mongols not only used gunpowder in early Chinese firearms but in the earliest grenades as well.

The use of gunpowder was spread from China to Europe by the Mongols. It led to the creation of the cannon in the 13th century, which transformed warfare, greatly boosting the force of medieval armies.

The Siege of Algeciras (1342–44) was one of the first European military engagements where gunpowder was used. It was undertaken during the reconquest of Spain by the Castillian forces of Alfonso XI assisted by the fleets of the Kingdom of Aragon and the Republic of Genoa. The "thunders", as the new gunpowder bombards was called by the Muslims mainly targeted the siege towers and trenches.

The word 'gunpowder' was first used in 1411.




During the conquest of Mexico there was a lack of gunpowder. Several Spanish conquistadors climbed the Popocatépetl volcano (17,802 ft/5,426 m) and hung themselves using ropes into the crater to get sulfur for their cannons. The leader, Montano, survived seven separate sorties into the inferno bringing back a load of sulphur each time. Another soldier then took over and, after six additional trips, they had accumulated some 60lbs of the sulphur. It was the first known ascent of the mountain.

Guy Fawkes was arrested around midnight on November 4, 1605 guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder with the intention of blowing up the Houses of Parliament.

Lightning hit a gunpowder factory in the small country of Luxembourg on June 26, 1807, killing more than 300 people.

For almost 1,000 years, gunpowder was the only known way of creating explosive energy.

Laborers use more gunpowder to rid Central Park of unwanted rocks than soldiers used while fighting the Battle of Gettysburg.

Sources Daily Express, Independent

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