The Military Revolution Debate: Readings on the Military Transformation of Early Modern Europe

By Clifford J. Rogers | Go to book overview

Roberts's 'military revolution' has lasted well. Hitherto unchallenged, even this extended examination has failed to dent the basic thesis: the scale of warfare in early modern Europe was revolutionized, and this had important and wide-ranging consequences. One can only conclude by wishing the theory and its author many more years of undiminished historical life.


Notes
1.
Michael Roberts, The Military Revolution, 1560-1660 Belfast, 1956); reprinted in a slightly amended form in M. Roberts, Essays in Swedish History ( London, 1967), pp. 195- 225 (and above, Ch. 1), with some additional material on pp. 56-81. For examples of how the 'military revolution' has been accepted by other scholars cf G. N. Clark, War and Society in the Seventeenth Century ( Cambridge, 1958), and again in New Cambridge Modern History, V ( Cambridge, 1964), ch. 8. Compare the approach of C. W. C. Oman, A History of the Art of War in the Sixteenth Century ( London, 1937). I am grateful to the following for their helpful suggestions concerning the preparation of this chapter: Mr Brian Bond, Dr Peter Burke, Professor John Hale, Professor H. G. Koenigsberger, Mrs Angela Parker, Dr Ian Roy and Professor John Shy. I would also like to thank the 'subject' of this paper, Professor Michael Roberts, for his help over many years and for his encouragement to publish.
2.
Roberts, Military Revolution, p. 29, above.
3.
On the whole, troops did not dress alike in most armies until the later seventeenth century. It was the 1650s before the English and Swedish armies adopted uniform; the French did not do so until the 1660s. Before that, the troops dressed as they (or their commander) wished, carrying only distinguishing marks such as a feather, a scarf or a sash of the same colour to mark them out from the enemy. Not surprisingly there were a fair number of cases of units from the same army attacking each other in the confusion of battle. Cf., for the introduction of uniforms, C. Nordmann, 'L'armée suédoise au XVIIe siécle', Revue du Nord, LIV ( 1972), pp. 133-47 (at p. 137); L. André', Michel le Tellier et l;organization de l'armée monarchique ( Paris, 1906), pp. 339-42; and Geoffrey Parker, The Army of Flanders and the Spanish Road, 1567-1659. The logistics of Spanish victory and defeat in the Low Countries' Wars ( Cambridge, 1972), pp. 164-5.
4.
On the reorganization of the Dutch army by Prince Maurice and his cousin, WilliamLouis , cf. W. Hahlweg, "Aspekte und Probleme der Reform des niederländischen Kriegswesen unter Prinz Moritz von Oranien", Bijdragen en Mededelingen betreffende de Geschiedenis der Nederlanden, LXXXVI ( 1971), pp. 161-77; and Feld M. D., "Middle-class society and the rise of military professionalism. The Dutch Army, 1589-1609", Armed Forces and Society, I ( Aug. 1975), pp. 419-42. Both authors stress that, although classical precedents were closely studied by the Nassau cousins (especially outstanding successes like the battle of Cannae in 216 BC), their relevance to military conditions in the Netherlands was also carefully evaluated.
5.
There were a few centres of instruction like the 'academia militaris' of John of Nassau at Siegen ( 1617-23), and courses of obvious military utility such as mathematics and fencing were added to the curricula of a number of colleges and schools; but when one remembers the central place of war in seventeenth century society the lack of more formal education in military matters is somewhat surprising.

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