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

By Clifford J. Rogers | Go to book overview

a decisive advantage. Even comparatively minor states could (temporarily) raise armies of 20,000 to 30,000. If the Spanish monarchy possessed greater resources than its rivals, it possessed greater liabilities and greater commitments. The essentially defensive strategy described here as the Spanish school was the product of the political concerns of the house of Austria. Yet the scale of resources it demanded when employed in the Netherlands (let alone the combination of the Netherlands and Germany) was too great even for Spain to provide, and effective concentration of force proved impossible. Political frustration on the part of the minor powers led to the repudiation of this strategy. The return to the offensive in the Thirty Years' War was a political rather than a military imperative. Yet even the victory of one minor power (like Bavaria) over another (the Palatinate) was insufficient to sway the wider balance. Nor did the adoption of an offensive strategy by the major powers produce a short decisive war. No state of the period possessed the ability to raise armies of the size it considered necessary. To Geoffrey Parker's observation that the states of early modern Europe had not discovered how to lead armies to victory, we can add the suggestion that behind the failure of armies in this period lay the fact that much more was expected of them than they could provide.


Notes
1.
S. R. Gardiner, The Thirty Years' War, 1618-1648 ( London, 1881), 139-40.
2.
Michael Roberts, Gustavus Adolphus ( London, 1958), 2:182. "The Military Revolution" is explored more directly in his essays The Military Revolution, 1560-1660, (above, ch. 1) and "Gustavus Adolphus and the Art of War", reprinted in Essays in Swedish History ( London , 1967).
3.
Geoffrey Parker, "The 'Military Revolution, 1560-1660' -- A Myth"?," Journal of Modern History 48 ( 1976):195-214, reprinted above, ch. 2, from Spain and the Netherlands, 1559-1659 ( London, 1979), 86-103, with significant revisions from the 1976 version. All further references are made to the later version, in this volume.
4.
Quoted from The Military Revolution: Military Innovation and the Rise of the West, 1500-1800 ( Cambridge, 1988), 80.
5.
Robert Barret, The Theorike and Practike of Moderne Warres ( London, 1598), 75, 77, recommends its use, though with experienced men. See also John A. Lynn, "Tactical Evolution in the French Army, 1550-1660", French Historical Studies 14 ( 1985), 179-80, and David Parrott , "Strategy and Tactics in the Thirty Years' War: The 'Military Revolution",' Militärgeschichtliche Mitteilungen 18 ( 1985): 8-9 (reprinted above, Ch. 9, pp. 228-230). I am most grateful to Professor Lynn and Dr. Parrott for bringing these articles to my attention, and to Dr. Parrott for permission to use his excellent dissertation "The Administration of the French Army during the Ministry of Cardinal Richelieu," D.Phil. diss., Oxford University, 1985.
6.
Martin van Creveld, Supplying War: Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton ( Cambridge, 1977), 4.
7.
Roberts, "The Military Revolution", p. 19.
8.
Parker, "Military Revolution -- A Myth"?, pp. 43-44.

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