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Furies: War in Europe, 1450-1700

3.62  ·  Rating Details  ·  179 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
During the European Renaissance, an age marked equally by revolutionary thought and constant warfare, it was armies, rather than philosophers, who shaped the modern European nation state. "Mobile cities" of mercenaries and other paid soldiers-made up of astonishingly diverse aggregations of ethnicities and nationalities-marched across the land, looting and savaging enemy t ...more
ebook, 336 pages
Published January 1st 2013 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
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(showing 1-30 of 844)
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Myke Cole
Martines is to be commended for deliberately breaking with the tradition of focusing on everything but the hardships and horrible impact of war and military machines. This is the first book I have ever read that focuses exclusively on the ills of armed conflict, both on the civilizations they ravage, and on the military members themselves.

But the book ultimately failed for me on two counts: Reader expectations and lack of a cohesive narrative. This book could have been more accurately titled: th
Peter Mcloughlin
Military history and warfare are neglected topics in the peace and justice crowd on the left (of which I consider myself a card carrying member.) This is too bad a lot can be learned from the history of warfare. Just like a surgeon has to know a lot about cancer to treat it someone who cares about peace should know about the history of war. This book is a mosaic of the face of war in the early modern period. Why would anyone care about long forgotten conflicts like the thirty years war, France's ...more
Donald Luther
May 17, 2013 Donald Luther rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In my very first class in my very first college course in History (Western Civ at the University of Hartford), Professor Brayfield said this: 'History is the imaginative re-creation of the past.' I have never forgotten that definition, and it's always been behind what I tried to do in any class I taught.

Lauro Martines has written a study that allows one to add significant elements to that re-creation: when treating wars in the early modern period, his book gives striking and memorable details ab
Sep 29, 2014 Krishna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A clear-eyed look at the way early modern states in Europe waged war in the late medieval period. Driven by the overweening ambitions of kings and princes and under the cover of deepening religious schisms, war was a hugely disorganized, wasteful, cruel and destructive affair. Weak tax bases, creaky logistics, rampant disease, and the "total war" mentality engendered by religious bigotry created a chaotic environment in which the outcome of any battlefield encounter was as much a result of chanc ...more
Jan 27, 2013 Loren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book, It gives alot of insight to the world and things in history that have been skipped over or not examined very closely. I do not even have a passion for history and this book sucked me in and kept me from my family for three days haha! it was just so good! I never thought I would enjoy history so much!
Margaret Skea
Jan 28, 2014 Margaret Skea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buffs
5.0 out of 5 stars
Real stories behind the history,

This review is from: Furies: War in Europe, 1450-1700 (Hardcover)

Having been looking for a while for particular information on France in the 16th century, not dates and political records, but rather the human angle on historical events, I was delighted to find this book. Here are the stories behind the 'headlines', what it was like for ordinary people to be caught up in the wars that raged across Europe at this period. It isn't the most comforta
Ron Nurmi
Jan 18, 2016 Ron Nurmi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How "total war" affected the life of everyone during the Renaissance. From the author "to write a history from the standpoint of the common soldier, or villagers, and of the inhabitants of cities under the battering of merciless sieges. I was also driven to fix attention on the sight of starving armies, on famine, cannibalism, the massive plundering of food and livestock, and on churches pillaged, children and women violated, farms laid waste, houses torn apart for firewood, and men butchered. T ...more
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An oddly moralistic and incoherent book. It's more or less a broad-stoke denunciation of how brutal warfare in the early modern period could be (FWIW, there's no indication of why the dates 1450-1700 were chosen or what exactly those temporal boundaries signify.) The emphasis is on how savage armies could be to the civilian population in general and the peasantry in particular, and it also talks about how military service was likewise an imposition on the lower classes of the ruling elite. The b ...more
Jun 07, 2013 Christopher rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
In the broad context of early modern Europe, the most transformative sequence of events behind the renaissance was the 30 Years War. While the early wars of religion in Luther’s own time plagued cities and towns with religious discord and violence, it paled in comparison to the pure destructive brutality that awaited society in the middle of the seventeenth century.
Into this particularly destructive locus of time in history enters Lauro Martines, a scholar of renaissance Italy and Europe. Martin
Apr 24, 2013 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really didn't think I would get through it since it was not assigned by my History 437 professor, but I decided to give it a go after reading about it in the Wall Street Journal which gave it a good review. It's an amazing perspective on how war affected not the territories or coffers of warlords, but on how it affected the common farmer or villager, on what it was like to be a soldier or city dweller during a siege. It's pretty grim and a great reminder of how horrible war is for everyone. So ...more
Feb 10, 2013 Daniel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a social history of war in Early Modern Europe, a time in which the continent was ravaged in succession by the Italian Wars, the French Wars of religion, the Eighty Years' War, the Thirty Years War, the Franco-Dutch War and the Nine Years' War, among others. However, the organization of the book is not chronological but thematic.

The focus is not in high-minded diplomacy or in battle tactics. In fact, the author maintains that too much emphasis has been traditionally given to these aspect
Oct 27, 2013 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn't finish this history of medieval warfare. It's not that I'm not interested in the subject; indeed, some of the anecdotes included were fascinating. The author is respected and has written other work. But I just couldn't get into the author's writing style or the way he jumped from century to century, decade to decade, country to country, overlapping times and places in a way that seemed jumbled. I understood that he was giving us an overview of the average soldier's experience. But way t ...more
This is a history of a crucial period in European history and the emergence of the modern state. The author however is more interested in finding a new angle on an old story and has elected to focus on the violence rather than on the broader sweep of history. Nothing wrong with this, but for those new to the history this may not be the book for you. Furies is a work for the jaded and the informed.

In the end, though, the book wasn't all that enlightening or informative.

3 out of 5 stars.
Frank Kelly
Good God. The horror and inhumanity of this period is almost unspeakable. Martines offers it in snapshots, almost easy enough for us to read and try and understand. But it was as if a madness of war, pillage, rape and murder descended on Europe during this time. And we must read it and understand it in order to understand modern day Europr as well as ourselves.
Sandra Strange
You have to be a hard core history buff to read this book, but if you are, you will really like it. It covers war in Europe between 1450 and 1700, but not as a review of wars and battles (though specific battles in real wars are used as specific examples of what the book does cover). This history presents what war was like from the social and economic point of view: how much did it cost? Who paid and how? How did war impact peasants? Who made up the armies, and how were they recruited or impress ...more
Britton Grier
A thorough retort to every textbook and movie that romanticizes Absolutism and the wars led my princes and kings during the Early Modern period in Europe. The name of the book is quite apropos in that the "moving cities" which waged war during this time period were starved, unpaid, and relentless. This invariably led to the destruction of whole communities and explains why civilians, not soldiers, were those most likely to die in war.
Bill Lenoir
Jun 07, 2014 Bill Lenoir rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good look at warfare during this period. The author is not a fan of conventional military history. I agree that it sometimes too narrowly focuses a work, but this guy gets all up in arms over this. Still, a good read.
Carl Johnson
Mar 02, 2016 Carl Johnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-history
This is not an account of motives, strategies, and tactics in the Middle Ages, but rather a history of the logistics of war during that period:
- How are tens of thousands of troops and horses provisioned?
- What impact does the passage of a large army have on any countryside?
- What logistical disadvantages handicap the besiegers of a walled city?
- How many tons of excrement does a modestly fed army produce every day?
- How do mostly unpaid soldiers convert war booty into money?
- What functions do
Jan 31, 2013 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be informative. It is easy to appreciate the amount of research Lauro Martines put into this book on the history of Wars from 1450-1700. The descriptions of the horrors experienced by both those forced into military service and civilians of the times; What life was really like is detailed in this book more so than any other book I have read on War and Wartime about the lives of those who lived during these horrific and tyrannical times. A good read for in depth description o ...more
The era of the Renaissance was not all Michelangelo and Shakespeare, unfortunately. As Lauro Martines makes clear in this book, the convergence of new technologies, religious division, and the growth of centralized authority and power in what would become the modern European nations contributed to the incessant, destructive wars of these two and a half centuries. Above all, "Furies" showcases conflict from the view of the grunt and the civilian, and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that in all ...more
Clark Maddux
Jul 11, 2013 Clark Maddux rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An exceptional, and exceptionally lucid, study of the cost--financial, cultural, and human--of war in the 16th and 17th centuries. Through carefully selected representative stories of the conduct of war in this brutal period of European history, Martines makes the case that the civil governments that followed were not so much an outcome of the Renaissance or the early Enlightenment, but of the necessity of sovereigns to feed and maintain large standing armies.
Jun 08, 2013 Eliz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are interested in the early modern period you'll want to read this book, but I really think the format, and the slant of the author make this book a disappointment. I thought he contradicted himself several times, and I have some serious issues with a historian who will say a source exaggerates but then goes on to say but what the source says can't all be wrong. There is a term for that - cherry picking.
Pedro García
Oct 19, 2014 Pedro García rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Una visión interesante de las guerras en la primera parte de la Edad Moderna, desde una perspectiva social y económica.
Mary Paulin
Sep 11, 2013 Mary Paulin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found it a very challenging read because I am not a "history buff" and am not familiar with the wars covered in the book--had to do a lot of Googling to bring myself up to "start", let alone speed, on the issues. But well worth it to highlight the savagery of war, politics, religion, and the financial system and the fiendish disregard of the powerful for the weak, undiminished 350 years later.
Kristen Walker
May 20, 2014 Kristen Walker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Very detailed and informative about a difficult period in European history. Showed me the Renaissance in a new light.
Jun 03, 2013 Darren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting format. It's arranged in small chapters dealing with aspects of the 30 Years war from the point-of-view of the average soldier and peasant. It was amazing the suffering inflicted on these poor people. It makes me very thankful for the time and place I live.
Dec 21, 2013 Greg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, history
Good but not brilliant, Martines's work requires a bit closer editing, but it is a good introduction to the nature of fighting war in the early modern period.
Theodros marked it as to-read
Jul 24, 2016
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From Oxford Press:

Lauro Martines , former Professor of European History at the University of California, Los Angeles, is renowned for his books on the Italian Renaissance. The author of Power and Imagination: City-States in Renaissance Italy , and most recently of Strong Words: Writing and Social Strain in the Italian Renaissance , he reviews for The Times Literary Supplement and lives in London w
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“An army of twenty thousand men, even without camp followers, exceeded the population of most European cities; and when that winding horde of soldiers, with ten to fifteen thousand horses, set out on campaign, it could easily eat up, in a few days, all the food and fodder in the adjacent villages and countryside for many miles around. Such an army could not stay put; it had to move; it had to go on seeking new pastures and more stocks of food.” 0 likes
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