An Apprenticeship in Arms: The Origins of the British Army 1585-1702

By Roger B. Manning | Go to book overview

3
British manpower and the States’ Army

At Holland’s Leaguer1 there I fought,
But there the service prov’d too hot,
Then from the League[r] returned I,
Naked, hungry, cold and dry.2

‘The Joviall Broome Man’ (broadside ballad, c. 1640), The Roxburghe
Ballads
, ed. W. Chapell, 9 vols. in 8 (1869; repr. 1966), i. 503.

In the nature and discipline of a private soldier, there are three parts generally
required: courage, strength and obedience. Courage is the foundation of war,
is the soul of strength and by obedience [he] becomes a reasonable soul.

Sir Edward Cecil, Lord Wimbledon, ‘The duty of a Private Soldier’,
BL, Harley MS. 3638, fo. 159.

Pay well and hang well, makes a good soldier.

Anon., Advice to a Soldier (1680), in HM, ed. T Park,
10 vols. (1808–13), i. 480.

Although allowed by the Union of Utrecht, citizens of the Republic were rarely conscripted into the Dutch army. Limited conscription was permitted in Holland in 1629 under threat of Spanish invasion, but burghers could hire substitutes to take their places. Service in the army was not only divorced from patriotism and religious sentiment, it was incompatible with Dutch political culture. Service in the Dutch navy was more acceptable to the peoples of maritime Holland and Zeeland, but even the navy was dependent upon mariners from Scandinavia and England.3 Because of reasonably regular pay and strong discipline, mutinies became rare, although not unheard of, in the States’ Army. There had been a mutiny over lack of pay among the English troops defending Ostend as late as

1 Military camp, from the Dutch word leger.

2 Devoid of payment or satisfaction.

3 Although soldiers in the States’ Army were better paid than in other armies (when they were paid in full), sailors in the Dutch navy were paid even more, and mariners in the merchant fleet could earn considerably more than naval personnel. Wages in the Netherlands—especially in Holland and Zeeland—were the highest in Europe (J. Israel, The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness and Fall, 1477–1806(1995), 352).

-41-

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