Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Military Revolution and Political Change

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Military Revolution and Political Change

Article excerpt

Brian M. Downing, The Military Revolution and Political Change (Princeton, New Jersey, and Chichester: Princeton University Press, 1992). xii + 308 pp. ISBN 0-691-

07886-6, $29.95 (hard covers); ISBN 0-691-02475-8, S 16.95 (p/b). James Campbell has recently pointed out that no grand narrative of English state-growth which includes the Middle Ages offers an account significandy different from that of Stubbs. Brian M. Downing's is no exception: he argues that 'medieval constitutionalism* was only able to survive the 'military revolution' (and so to pave the way to 'liberal democracy') in those countries which were able to meet the spiralling costs of early modern warfare without recourse to damaging levels of'domestic resource mobilisation' (taxation and military obligation). England, according to Downing, was lucky in this respect: while other countries succumbed, almost overnight in some cases, to the grip of 'military-bureaucratic absolutism', she coasted away on a cocktail of light military engagement and commercial sophistication. …

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