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While a time of great advancement in philosophy, science and art, the Renaissance also marked the beginning of a period of rapid development in artillery. Prior to the Renaissance, cannons were essentially thickened pots into which gunpowder and a heavy object were dropped and then fired and - if lucky - hit a target in the general direction the cannon was aimed. (If unlucky, the cannon simply exploded.) Developments from tactical innovators like King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden turned artillery from uncertain weapons of war into dangerous, highly-trained instruments of destruction deployed on all the major battlefields of Europe. Artillery units in the 18th century were often the elite of any European army, as artillerymen needed a significant amount of knowledge to successfully perform their duties, including training in geometry, chemistry, and physics. At the command of these elite soldiers were a plethora of machines of destruction, ranging from light "swivel" guns that could be fired by a single artilleryman to guns that could fire enormous projectiles over miles, all capable of dealing crushing damage to an enemy.