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domingo, 26 de abril de 2009

Teppou Ashigaru (Gun Footmen, or Musketeers)



Teppou Ashigaru (Gun Footmen, or Musketeers) Muskets brought into Japan for the first time in 1543 were named tanegashima after the island where they were introduced. They were also called hinawa-juu (matchlock guns) because himawa (a fuse cord) was used to kindle the gunpowder. In the course of time Kunitomo in Omi, Negoro in Ku, and Sakai in Izumi saw a period of prosperity as the three major cities in gun-manufacturing, while muskets gradually spread across the country. At first, muskets were considered no more than substitutes for bows and arrows, hut no longer after 1575 when Oda Nobunaga made strategic use of them during the Battle of Nagashino. From that time on they became the main weapon in battlefields. The battle of Nagashino brought about a marked change in strategy where muskets now took the leading role. That is, the musketeers composing the front corps would launch a frontal attack on the enemy line and throw it into confusion, then the lancers follow them as the second corps to make a charge. For all that, using firearms struck as unfair those who sought to make much of achieving deeds and fame for their yari-bataraki (spear works). Valiant warriors, therefore, would never use muskets; only ashigaru (footmen) handled them in those days.

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