Bastion and Star Fort

Ming Dynasty Bastion
Drawings of angled bastions, from 'Cheng Shou Chou Lue (《城守籌略》)'.
Star fort or trace italienne is one of the great inventions that truly put the Europeans ahead from the rest of the world militarily. Star fort, along with sailing ship and great cannon, are what make the colonial era possible, as it allows the Europeans to hold and defend occupied territory with relatively few manpower.

Late Ming Dynasty Chinese Catholics such as Xu Guang Qi (徐光啟), Sun Yuan Hua (孫元化), Han Yun (韓雲), Han Lin (韓霖) brothers, and Ma Wei Cheng (馬維城), many of whom were advocates of the adoption of western cannon, also realised the danger possessed by these powerful weapons if they fall into the wrong hands. They tried to introduce star fort as a safeguard measure, even (partially) translated western fortification treatises such as Della Fortificatione delle Città with helps from Jesuit missionaries.

The Chinese experimented with, and implemented western fortification technologies on a limited scale. These new fortifications, called Rui Jiao Tai (銳角台, lit. 'Pointed tower', i.e. bastion) often proved effective, however the blessings of western technologies came too little too late. The Manchus, armed with western-style cannons they learned from the Chinese (they even surpassed the Chinese in gun casting technology with the application of lost-wax process), simply bypassed these defenses and attacked the now vulnerable traditional Chinese fortifications, and soon conquered China.


  1. Did the Manchus refurbish or rebuild Ming style fortifications later?

    1. Doesn't seems to be the case, at least to my knowledge.

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  2. Then what did they build? They did not build any western style improved city walls did they? If not, do you know why?

    Sorry. Corrected several things in the previous post.