In the political history of England, the Georgian Era starts in 1714 and ends in 1830. It is the time period when the four King Georges- I, II, III and IV ruled the throne of the country and has been named after them. The era marks a shift from the traditional nature of the English society to a modern one because of the tremendous improvements in technology that were made during these years.
The developments made in technology during the Georgian Era are not limited to the industrial revolution. This time period was very volatile as war was a constant phenomenon that was taking place in the backdrop. As a result of this, there were many steps that were taken to strengthen the armed forces of the country.
Developing weapons for the military and navy was an important part of this process, which means that the weapons of the Georgian Era are unique in a number of ways.
Major Weapons used by the Georgians
The Georgian Era was a time period when violence and crime in England were at its peak. As a result, weapons became a part of almost every Georgian household, especially that of the upper classes. For them, having a weapon was not only a means of self protection, but the weapon that a gentleman kept also acted as a status symbol for them.
To meet the demands of people who wanted to keep a personal weapon, pistols became extremely common during the Georgian Era. One of the most popular one among them was the Lady Muff pistol. It was a compact gun which had a unique feature called the safety slide. This prevented the pistol from blowing off by accident which increased the safety. However, the shots fired from this one were forceful and often resulted in serious injuries or even death.
Even though they were popular, these guns were risky and highly expensive. The biggest development in pistol making was the patenting of his pistol by Joseph Manton in 1777. This weapon became highly popular and provided Manton enough funds to set up his weapon shop. Once that was done, he started experimenting with the various techniques of gun manufacture available.
The efforts of Manton and a number of other craftsmen also improved the rifle that was being used in the Georgian Era. The rifle of that era can be called a precursor to the modern day shotgun and went through a number of changes within the course of the 18th century.
The Romney Marsh Mystery is one of the earliest rifles that the Georgians used. Most people of the upper classes owned it and used it for shooting rabbits and birds. However, when duels started to become a common affair of the Georgians, the need for improvement in the standard rifle was felt.
This resulted in a series of experiments that were conducted in both Germany and Britain in order to develop a better rifle that had an improved accuracy as well as a larger range. The concluding point of these experiments was the birth of the Baker rifle which later became the most popular weapon in the coming years.
Weapons of the Georgian Armed Forces
Apart from the technology of the arms, the Georgians felt a need for improving the ammunition to deliver better results with their weapons. To improve the quality of gunpowder, many people worked on the existing muskets. In the 1760s, a revolution came in this direction when a watchmaker decided to eliminate gunpowder.
He developed a gun that was powered by air. The interior of the gun was designed in such a way that it used compressed air to fire a shot. This was a highly improved version of the French air guns because of its improved accuracy and fast loading speed.
With the new air gun, it was possible to fire 20 shots in one minute. Besides, the reloading speed was much less and the new musket was not as loud as the earlier ones. This record breaking achievement impressed the officials of the army of the country and an order of a thousand guns placed for the same.
The Puckle gun also became a very important part of the military, even though it was one of the strangest guns of those times. The gun was extremely large in size and had to be mounted on a tripod in order to be used. It was preferred because it could fire eleven shots without any need of reloading. However, it soon evolved to the Gatling Gun and only a few of them remained in use.
However, pistols and rifles were the most important weapons that were used in the Georgian Era, it was not uncommon to see a person carrying a sword. The number of weapons that people had increased so much during this time that illegal duels became a very common affair. Finally, regulations were passed on the controlled use of weapons, which helped in reducing such incidents.