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

By Roger B. Manning | Go to book overview

14
The descent on England

To convince how jealous the king [James VII and II] was of the prince [of
Orange], he considered for some time whether he should demand of the
States General the six British regiments in their pay, which regiments by
stipulation they were obliged to send over on the king’s demand in case of
invasion. The regiments landed, and I saw them march to Hyde Park to a
review, and one seldom saw such a fine body of men, and for experienced
officers the same; but what the king apprehended was the officers all
preferred and raised by the prince of Orange.

Thomas Bruce, 3 earl of Elgin and 2 earl of Ailesbury, Memoirs, 2 vols.,
RC 21 (1890), i. 114 (the date is 1685).

Among the other blessings which we his [William III’s] subjects shall enjoy
from him, this is not one of the least, that as he is a valiant and warlike
monarch, so he will raise again among us the ancient genius of true British
valour, which was so very much decayed to our great dishonour under the
luxury and easiness of the last two reigns.

William Sawle, An Impartial relation of… Last Summer’s Campaign in
Flanders
(1691), 20.

William Sawle, a chaplain with the English army in Flanders during the Nine Years War, was not fond of the Dutch, but he praised William III as ‘a valiant and warlike monarch’, who had come to the throne following a long period of military decay which he believed characterized the reigns of Charles II and James VII and II. As a result of three years of war in Ireland and Flanders, Sawle thought that the English army was well furnished with experienced officers, and that an ancient martial tradition had been revived. This profound alteration in the military and foreign policies of England and, subsequently, the kingdoms of Ireland and Scotland as well, led Great Britain and Ireland into a long century of global wars with France that ended only in 1815 at Waterloo. This reorientation of British priorities was accomplished not by the Glorious or bloodless Revolution of Whig mythology, but by the invasion of England resulting from the largest and most successful joint military and naval amphibious operation ever launched in early modern Europe. The decision to declare the throne of England vacant and to offer

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