From Spear to Flintlock: A History of War in Europe and the Middle East to the French Revolution

By Frederic J. Baumgartner | Go to book overview

1
Introduction

War has been a permanent part of human history. Whether it is natural to the human race is a debate better left to the anthropologists and philosophers, but certainly it has rarely been absent from Europe since the continent's recorded history began with the Greeks. War can be defined as the state of organized, socially approved, and regulated violence by one clearly defined group of people against another. This definition covers both primitive and civilized societies; it includes civil wars but excludes the opening phases of revolutions (which often become civil wars) and modern terrorism. A society gives a war its approval by defining it as a just war and by continuing to follow the leaders who direct the war effort, although there is often a substantial minority opposed to the war. When a large enough portion of a people become opposed to a war, it will probably end either through a unilateral withdrawal of troops or an overthrow of the leaders responsible.

The violence of war has always been carefully regulated either by codes of conduct or by law. Some armies and eras have been more rigorous than others in limiting what has and has not been permitted in war, but there have always been limits of some sort. Codes of chivalry, religious tenets, and international law have at different times dictated the controls on wartime violence. Those who transgress the limits of their societies have usually been quickly and severely punished, often by summary execution.

Army is the common term for the organized group of men who engage in war. Historically women rarely have participated directly in war, except when their states or societies were in dire emergency. The participants must carry weapons of some sort, have the rudiments of a command system, and have enough of a sense of discipline to act more or less as a unit in battle. In regard to weapons, there have been in history only two types: shock and missile. Shock weapons arc those held in the hand when contact with the enemy's body takes place; their use is known as hand-to-hand combat. Missile weapons involve shooting projectiles of some sort at the enemy. Artillery is simply a special category of missile weaponry that depends on machines or large-caliber guns to launch projectiles heavier than those individual men can propel. Some weapons have functioned as both

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From Spear to Flintlock: A History of War in Europe and the Middle East to the French Revolution
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Maps ix
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - The Greek Phalanx 7
  • 3 - The Roman Legion 25
  • 4 - The Fall of the Roman Empire 43
  • 5 - The Byzantine and the Arab Empires 55
  • 6 - The Early Middle Ages in Western Europe 67
  • 7 - Feudalism 79
  • 8 - Holy War in the Middle East 93
  • 9 - Castles and Siegecraft 111
  • 10 - War in the High Middle Ages 125
  • 11 - The End of the Medieval Military 141
  • 12 - The Fifteenth Century: Pikes and Guns 157
  • 13 - War in the Renaissance 171
  • 14 - Naval War in the Mediterranean 187
  • 15 - The Rise of the Atlantic Fleets 203
  • 16 - The Sixteenth Century 219
  • 17 - The Dutch Revolt 231
  • 18 - The Thirty Years War 245
  • 19 - The New Model Army and Navy 263
  • 20 - The Wars of Louis XIV 275
  • 21 - War in the Early Eighteenth Century 291
  • 22 - The Wars of Frederick the Great 307
  • 23 - The French Revolution 321
  • Suggested Readings 329
  • Index 337
  • About the Author *
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