Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

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(1,924 words)

1. Definition and significance

Gunpowder is a mixture of saltpeter, charcoal, and sulfur. The most powerful explosive force is generated by proportions of roughly 75 : 15 : 10. Saltpeter acts as an oxidizer to make the charcoal and sulfur burn rapidly; the easy inflammability of sulfur facilitates ignition. The earliest surviving directions for the manufacture of gunpowder are from 11th-century China…

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Popplow, Marcus, “Gunpowder”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 04 March 2024 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_COM_027081>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20180915

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