1st Edition

A Global History of Pre-Modern Warfare Before the Rise of the West, 10,000 BCE–1500 CE

By Kaushik Roy Copyright 2022
    278 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    278 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book examines the military histories of the regions beyond Western Europe in the pre-modern era.

    Existing works on global military history mainly focus on the western part of Eurasia after 1500 CE. As regards the ancient period, such works concentrate exclusively on Greece and Rome. So, ‘global’ military history is actually the triumphal story of the West from Classical Greece onwards. This volume focuses not only on the eastern part of Eurasia but also on South America, Africa and Australasia and seeks to explain the history and varied trajectories of warfare in non-Western regions in the pre-modern era. Further, it evaluates whether warfare in non-Western regions should be considered primitive or inferior when compared with Western warfare. The book notes that Western Europe became militarily significant only in the early modern era and argues that the military divergence that occurred during the early modern era is not unique – it had also occurred in the Bronze Age, the Classical era and in the medieval period. This was due to the dynamism and innovativeness of non-Western militaries and the interconnectedness that existed in parts of the Eurasian landmass. Further, those polities which were able to construct a balanced military force by synthesising diverse elements were not only able to survive but also became capable of projecting power across continents.

    This book will be of much interest to students of military history, strategic studies and world history.

    Introduction: Evolution of warfare before the rise of the West

    1. The origins of warfare

    2. Military convergence and the Bronze Age civilisations of Eurasia

    3. Military divergence in Eurasia: Classical Greece against Persia

    4. The era of hybrid military machines: Macedonia, the Hellenistic monarchies, India and China

    5. Military divergence again: Rome, Carthage, Parthia, India and the Far East

    6. Military convergence in medieval Eurasia

    7. Convergence or Divergence? Naval warfare in medieval Eurasia

    8. Evolution of warfare beyond Eurasia



    Kaushik Roy is Guru Nanak Professor in the Department of History, Jadavpur University, India. He is a Global Fellow at the Peace Research Institute Oslo, Norway.

    ‘Focusing on the relationship between Asia and Europe, this is an important and fascinating account of the development of military practice and systems. The concept of convergence and divergence serves Professor Roy well in a study that deserves widespread attention.’--Jeremy Black, University of Exeter, UK

    ‘This outstanding work is a hugely ambitious and scholarly analysis of the diversity of the human experience of war over millennia. Kaushik Roy eschews simplifications and slogans to come to grips with one of the most important – and most horrible – aspects of human behaviour and reveals patterns of change and development across the millennia of human existence.’--John France, Swansea University, UK

    ‘Military historiography has long favored the narrative of Western exceptionalism, rising out of Greece and Rome, and carried forward by knights against Islamdom until European gunpowder armies and navies conquered the world as part of the supposed "Military Revolution." Kaushik Roy's present book is a tour de force in its reassessment of Eurasian military history and its demonstration that many of the elements of war in different periods attributed to a Western lineage beginning with the Romans and the Greeks were actually born in and shared across Eurasia, that there were in fact many military revolutions across Eurasia that marked the rise of Asian military prowess, and that will into the eighteenth century, European armies could still have been outmatched by the Mongol armies of the thirteenth century. This book with its more complex distillation of the findings of the growing literature on nonwestern military developments, its timely relocation of historical military developments to multiple Eurasian nodes, and its erudite analysis of the factors that kept Asian armies competitive with those of Europe is a significant contribution to our understanding of the world of warfare prior to 1500.’--Michael W. Charney, SOAS, University of London, UK

    ‘This sweeping new survey persuasively challenges many of the hoary axioms that have long dominated Western historians’ views on premodern warfare. Kaushik Roy takes aim at earlier analyses that turned on over-simplified notions of "Eastern" and "Western" Ways of War, and the dominance of technological change. In their place, he offers a more textured model of recurring convergence, divergence and amalgamation in the organization of military forces and the conduct of war within and among the diverse civilizations of premodern Eurasia, driven by a matrix of cultural, political, geographic, and technological factors. This is an essential read for all students of world military history.’--Karl Friday, University of Georgia, USA