Which technological breakthrough of the Middle Ages has had the most lasting impact on human society?

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While the initial stages of creating gunpowder can be traced back to the second century in China, the understanding of how to use and apply gunpowder in weapons was not solidified until about 900 AD in China. This discovery by the Chinese did not take long at all to spread across Eurasia, and by the 1300s AD, the shape of battlefields began to drastically change as cannons, rockets, and some firearms became integral parts of the ways people fought wars.

The creation of gunpowder and subsequent use of gunpowder in weaponry completely altered how wars are fought and has had an immensely significant effect on our world today. The technologically advanced firearms and explosive weaponry of today would not exist without the invention of gunpowder. Today, high tech bombs that fall from the planes of powerful nations, such as the US, destroy entire cities and end thousands upon thousands of lives. These bombs are direct descendants from bombs detonated via black powder (gunpowder).

The invention of gunpowder also drastically changed the ways that individuals can defend themselves via the invention and use of firearms such as semiautomatic handguns and rifles. Conversely, the invention of gunpowder has drastically changed the way that individuals can attack people, such as the rise of mass shootings by white supremacists across the United States.

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