The Military and Society in Russia: 1450-1917

By Eric Lohr; Marshall Poe | Go to book overview

THE RUSSIAN ARMY IN THE SEVEN YEARS WAR
John L. H. Keep

Students of European military affairs in the early modern era have long since lost their taste for the smoke of battle. From strategy and high policy they have turned towards the social aspects of soldiering and warfare. Today the focus is on the experience of men in the ranks, whether on campaign or in peacetime conditions. Historians ask themselves how much soldiers were paid, how adequately supplied with food as well as with military goods, how they reached the field of operations, and what proportion of them deserted, fell victim to disease, died while in the service, or survived to become veterans. Another fruitful field of inquiry is the impact of military endeavors on the civilian sphere, which covers such matters as billeting and plunder as well as, more obviously, the relative share of state expenditure on the armed forces, the changes brought about in government administration, or the first efforts to stem international violence.

All these matters are best considered in comparative international context, but where eastern Europe is concerned many of the basic facts remain to be established. Scholarly research has hitherto centered on the western half of the continent, for which sources are more abundant. However, there are at last welcome signs of change in this regard.1

This paper surveys the Russian army's experience during what contemporaries called the “Prussian War, ” more generally known as the Seven Years War (1756–63), which for Russia lasted not seven

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1
Matthew S. Anderson, War and Society in Europe of the Old Regime 1618–1789 (Leicester, Eng. and New York: Fontana, 1988, 2nd ed., Stroud: Sutton, 1998) devotes more space to eastern Europe than Jeremy Black, ed., European Warfare, 1453–1815 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1999). Bernhard R. Kroener, ed., Krieg und Frieden: Militär und Gesellschaft in der frühen Neuzeit (Paderborn and Zürich: F. Schöningh, 1996) contains an article by H. Carl on foreign invasion and occupation of German territories during the Seven Years War. On the Russian occupation of Finland during the Great Northern War of 1700 see Christer Kuvaja, Försörjning av en ockupationsarm é … (Turku/Abo, 1999; summary in English 335–48), which breaks much new ground. In Russia, unfortunately, study of the armed forces and society is still in its infancy.

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