England and the Dutch Republic fought three wars in the seventeenth century. The English Commonwealth and the United Provinces engaged in the First An...moreEngland and the Dutch Republic fought three wars in the seventeenth century. The English Commonwealth and the United Provinces engaged in the First Anglo-Dutch War (1652-54) and England under Charles II fought the Dutch Republic in the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-67) and Third Anglo-Dutch War (1672-74). Several studies have examined the three wars as a whole. But, Dr Gijs Rommelse, currently a history teacher at Haarlemmermeer Lyceum in Hoofddorp, The Netherlands, focuses on the origins and conduct of the Second Anglo-Dutch War in his published doctoral dissertation (Leiden University, 2006). Rommelse’s most recent works include (as co-author with Roger Downing) A Fearful Gentleman: Sir George Downing in The Hague, 1658-1677 (2011) and (as co-editor with David Onnekink) Ideology and Foreign Policy in Early Modern Europe (1650-1750) (2011).
In this study, Rommelse places the origins and conduct of the war in context of international politics and alliance systems. He fully explores the domestic politics of England and the United Provinces, along with the maritime and commercial rivalry between the two states that resulted in the Second Anglo-Dutch War. The author examines how the economic rivalry, including the struggle for colonial and European markets, influenced English and Dutch political decision-making that led to war.
Rommelse depicts the maritime conflict, including privateering and naval battles. In the conflict Charles II of England had support from his ally Christoph Bernhard von Galen, the Bishop of Münster, while the United Provinces maintained an alliance with Louis XIV of France and Frederick III of Denmark. During the course of the war, the English defeated the Dutch fleet at the Battle of Lowestoft (June 1665). Rommelse states that the Four Days’ Battle was “the biggest, longest and bloodiest confrontation in the age of sail” (p.195). The Dutch then defeated the English fleet in the Four Days’ Battle (June 1666) and St James’s Day Battle (July 1666), followed by the English carrying out the Holmes’s Raid (August 1666) on a Dutch merchant fleet in the Vlie estuary and the town of West-Terschelling in Friesland. Meanwhile, however, the plague and the Great Fire of London financially weakened England, forcing Charles II to lay up most of his fleet. As such, the Dutch Republic controlled the English Channel and North Sea, and, led by Grand Pensionary John de Witt, conducted a raid up the Medway River and destroyed or captured a significant portion of the English fleet in June 1667. Rommelse writes that the “result of the naval raid was disastrous to English military and political prestige” (p.181). The war was interrupted by Louis XIV’s army invading and overrunning the Spanish Netherlands in the War of Devolution (1667-68). The Dutch Republic lacked a sufficiently strong army to adequately support Spain against France. As such, both England and the United Provinces sought a peace settlement (Peace of Breda in July 1667) to focus diplomatic and military efforts against Louis XIV.
This is a valuable examination of the Second Anglo-Dutch War. It is a solid addition to other studies on the Anglo-Dutch Wars, including Charles Wilson, Profit and Power: A Study of England and the Dutch Wars (1957); J.R. Jones, The Anglo-Dutch Wars of the Seventeenth Century (1996); and Roger Hainesworth and Christine Churches. The Anglo-Dutch Wars, 1652-1674 (1998). Studies that specifically focus on the second conflict are Richard Ollard, Man of War: Sir Robert Holmes and the Restoration Navy (1969); Frank L. Fox, Distant Storm: The Four Days Battle of 1666 (1996, reprinted as The Four Days Battle of 1666: The Greatest Sea Fight of the Age of Sail) (2009); and P.G. Rogers, The Dutch in the Medway (1970). An important recent study is De Ruyter, Dutch Admiral (2011), edited by Jaap R. Bruijn, Ronald Prud’homme van Reine, and Rolof van Hövell tot Westerflier. One should also consult Angus Konstam, Warships of the Anglo-Dutch Wars, 1652-1674 (2011). (less)
The battle of Poltava (1709) fought in the Ukraine between the forces of Peter I of Russia (ruled 1682-1725) and Charles XII of Sweden (ruled 1697-171...moreThe battle of Poltava (1709) fought in the Ukraine between the forces of Peter I of Russia (ruled 1682-1725) and Charles XII of Sweden (ruled 1697-1718) is viewed as a decisive event in the Great Northern War (1700-1721). Charles XII had temporarily defeated a coalition of Denmark, Russia, and Poland-Saxony at the start of this long conflict. However, after mopping up in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Swedish monarch turned his attention once again towards Russia. The Swedish invasion was stopped by the Russians at Poltava in 1709, and Charles XII was forced to retreat with the remnants of his army into Ottoman territory. Russia would be recognized as a Great Power in the Baltic Region. The defeat at Poltava was a factor in decline of Sweden as a Great Power. And, Hetman Ivan Mazepa’s unfortunate backing of Charles XII against the Tsar resulted in a major setback to Ukrainian independence.
A group of international scholars met at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute to present papers on the 300th anniversary of the battle of Poltava in 2009. Scholars from various fields, including history, literature, music, art history, philology, and linguistics, examine the battle and its importance in Russian and Ukrainian history and culture. I have focused this review on the papers concerning the military and geopolitical importance of Poltava.
In discussing the battle of Poltava, Dr Donald Ostrowski, Lecturer at Harvard University’s Extension School, challenges the traditional view that Peter I took an out-of-date army, brought it up to the standards of a western army, and defeated Charles XII in battle. Instead, Ostrowski suggests that the Tsar inherited a military that was already undergoing westernization since the reign of his father, Tsar Aleksei (ruled 1645-1676). But, at the start of the Great Northern War, Charles XII defeated the Russian troops besieging the Swedish fortress at Narva (1700). The Tsar believed his army was defeated because his cavalry retreated leaving his infantry to face the brunt of the Swedish attack. He chalked it up to inexperience (p.92). What changed in the next nine years was Peter I’s recruitment and training of a large number of dragoon (mounted infantry) regiments. He needed the dragoons to counter the high number of mounted troops employed in the Swedish army. The author shows that Sweden differed from western armies with nearly fifty percent of Charles XII’s army consisting of mounted forces (p.90).
In 1708, Charles XII’s army invaded Russian territory. The Russians dropped back and employed the steppe tactic of a scorched-earth policy to cause logistical problems and weaken the Swedish army. Charles XII was forced into turning his army south to the Ukraine to search for support and supplies. In June 1709, the Swedish army advanced against the fortified positions of a much larger Russian army. Ostrowski shows that Peter I employed twenty-six dragoon regiments and four dragoon squadrons at Poltava (p.89). These regiments, as Ostrowski points out, “proved a match for the Swedish dragoon and cavalry regiments on which Charles XII relied” (p.82). The dragoons, about 30,000 out of the 70,000 Russian troops at Poltava, served as both cavalry and infantry giving the Russians a highly mobile force to counter any Swedish moves in the battle (p.95). The dragoons allowed the Russia infantry and artillery to win the day.
Dr Peter B. Brown, Professor in the Department of Russian and Eastern European Studies at Rhode Island College in Providence, suggests that Peter I’s victory at Poltava was the result the long evolution of Russian army involvement in the so-called Military Revolution or what he likes to call the “early modern European arms race.” This military arms transformation began with Tsar Ivan III in the late 1480s, was evident in Tsar Aleksei’s war against Poland-Lithuania in the Thirteen Years War (1654-1667), Russian wars against the Ottomans in the late seventeenth century, and culminated in Peter I’s success against Sweden at Poltava.
In his essay, Dr Paul Bushkovitch, Professor of History at Yale University, addresses the impact of the Russian victory in the Great Northern War on the question of local autonomy during the reign of Peter I. He focuses on the Ukrainian Hetmanate and the Baltic provinces of Estland and Livonia. In the first case, the Russian victory was a disaster for the Ukrainian Hetmanate as an autonomous political unit within the Russian state. The Tsar did not forget or forgive Hetman Ivan Mazepa’s support for Charles XII of Sweden. The Russian victory resulted in a major reduction of political autonomy. On the other hand, Russian success freed the Baltic provinces from Sweden and led to the reestablishment of political autonomy in the region.
On a similar note, Dr Robert I. Frost, Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, brings to our attention the impact of the Russian victory on the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. King Stanisław I Leszczyński, backed by Charles XII since 1704, lost his throne, and Augustus II of Saxony was restored as the monarch of Poland-Lithuania. Historians have traditionally pointed to this period as the beginning of Russian domination over the Commonwealth and the decline in the international position of Poland-Lithuania. But, Frost shows that recent historical views disagree with this interpretation, arguing that Russia was not yet in a position to dominate the Commonwealth. Even so, Frost believes that there is not enough evidence to prove that the victory at Poltava led to the Polish-Lithuanian spiral into dependence on Russia.
“Contrary to popular opinion, the victory at Poltava did not bring Russia into the ranks of the European powers” (p.188). Focusing on the geopolitics of Western Eurasia, Dr John LeDonne of Harvard University’s Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies and the Ukrainian Research Institute, explains the full geopolitical significance of the battle of Poltava. The core powers of Western Eurasia at that time consisted of Russia, Sweden, Poland-Lithuania, and the Ottoman Empire. Peter I’s forward policy was directed against Sweden, Poland-Lithuania, and the Ottoman Empire. Russia defeated Sweden at Poltava, with the result of weakening Sweden and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. ”In the long run,” according to LeDonne, “the victory at Poltava transformed Russia into the greatest power in Western Eurasia and laid the foundation for a long-term offensive policy against the Turks to achieve hegemony in the Black Sea basin” (p.187).
The essays in Poltava 1709: The Battle and the Myth provide a wide-range of views regarding Russia, the Ukraine, and others. The study is well worth reading. Other important studies regarding Poltava are Peter Englund’s The Battle of Poltava: The Birth of the Russian Empire (1992; reprinted as The Battle That Shook Europe: Poltava and the Birth of the Russian Empire ), Angus Konstam’s Poltava 1709: Russia Comes of Age (1994), Ragnhild M. Hatton’s Charles XII of Sweden (1969), and Lindsey Hughes’ Russia in the Age of Peter the Great (1998). (less)
Dr Jeremy Black, Professor of History at the University of Exeter in England, is known as a military and diplomatic historian. His numerous studies in...moreDr Jeremy Black, Professor of History at the University of Exeter in England, is known as a military and diplomatic historian. His numerous studies include European Warfare, 1494-1660 (2002), the bibliography War in European History, 1494-1660 (2006), European Warfare, 1660-1815 (1994), and European Warfare in a Global Context, 1660-1815 (2007). In War in European History, 1660-1792, Jeremy Black begins by stating that warfare in this period “suffers from relative historical neglect” (p.1). It is located between the age of the so-called “Military Revolution” and the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Black, however, believes that this era is very important in military history, and that recent research has shown this to be true. As such, his analysis and historiographical essays (and bibliography) focus on recent specialist studies. This reviewer is disappointed that Black suggests that one should consult the footnotes and bibliographies of the studies that he mentions for the “earlier thinking” of conventional studies (p.1). Nevertheless, Black provides valuable essays on war in the world, war and the state, struggles for dominance on land and sea in the European theater as well as outside Europe, the nature of conflict, the question of limited and indecisive warfare during this era, as well as the American War of Independence. Black gives an author’s last name and year of publication when dropping a name in his essays, and the works are (most of the time) properly cited in the relevant sections of the thirty page bibliography at the back of the book. The essays are informative despite the lack of a true historiographical discussion. Black does make note of many areas needing further research. The bibliography is select, but it indicates the most current studies that touch upon Black’s essays.(less)
Dr Frederick C. Schneid, Professor of History and Chair of the Department of History at High Point University, presents a collection of essays from th...moreDr Frederick C. Schneid, Professor of History and Chair of the Department of History at High Point University, presents a collection of essays from the Gunther E. Rothenberg Seminars in Military History held at High Point University in North Carolina. Schneid is a historian of the Napoleonic Wars and Wars of Italian Independence. His studies include Soldiers of Napoleon’s Kingdom of Italy: Army, State and Society, 1800-1815 (1995), Napoleon’s Italian Campaigns, 1805-1815 (2002), and Napoleon’s Conquest of Europe: The War of the Third Coalition (2005), Napoleonic Wars (2012), and The Second War of Italian Unification, 1859-1861 (2012).
This collection of essays explores the common issue of projection and limitations of imperial powers by European states and the United States from the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) to First War of Italian Independence (1848-1849). As such, there are several essays that deal with the seventeenth century. In his essay, Peter H. Wilson explores and reevaluates the character of the Thirty Years War. He points out that the several phases of the conflict severely strained the imperial power of the Austrian Habsburgs and Holy Roman Empire. Even so, the German Empire did not collapse, and “it was the challengers [to the German constitution] who went under.” Wilson argues that, “Both the Empire and its components emerged stronger from the war” (p.33). Jeremy Black addresses colonial expansion and global military history during the reign of Louis XIV of France (ruled 1643-1715). John A. Lynn investigates the practice of taking prisoners in relation to the conduct of military campaigns and the laws of war during the Wars of Louis XIV.
Other historians tackle issues concerning the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Ciro Paoletti argues that Italy was an important theater of operations for French strategy from the Nine Years War (1688-1697) through the War of Austrian Succession (1740-1748). In his essay, Dennis Showalter stresses the strength and operational performance of the Prussian army from the Seven Years War (1756-1763) through the French Revolutionary Wars (1792-1802). Prussia was able to regenerate its military might after the defeats at the battles of Jena and Auerstädt (1806) in the War of the Fourth Coalition (1806-1807), and play a key role in the defeat of Napoleon. Janet M. Hartley examines Russia as a great military power from the Seven Years War to the end of the Napoleonic Wars and beyond, seeking to discover if Russia’s reputation as a great military power during the reigns of Catherine II to Alexander I is justified. Hartley notes the great success that Russia had in warfare during this period, including territorial acquisition, growth of the military establishment, and predominance at the end of this era. However, she determines that “Russia’s military and international prestige was built on insecure foundations” that would be exposed in the Crimean War (1853-1856) (p.105). Robert M. Epstein contributes an essay that explores the decline in effectiveness of Napoleon’s army because of attrition during his numerous campaigns. The loss of experienced French forces affected the quality of his army and its operational capabilities. Epstein goes on to show how the quality of Russian, Prussian, and Austrian armies steadily improved after the War of the Fourth Coalition. Napoleon had lost the qualitative advantage. The quality of the coalition armies now matched the quality of the French army. Epstein stresses that by the War of the Sixth Coalition (1812-1814), “Napoleon could no longer expect decisive battlefield victories from equally matched armies” (p.146).
Global military history during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars is handled by Jeremy Black. In his essay Black questions the immediate impact of the advancements in European armies, strategy, and state power developed during 1792 to 1815 on military systems outside of Europe. Paul W. Schroeder addresses the unrestrained expansion of the United States during the nineteenth century. He professes that the European international system after the Napoleonic Wars, including the Concert of Europe, Pax Britannica, and Holy Alliance, sought to avoid major confrontations, allowing the United States the opportunity to grow without foreign interference (p.191). In the final essay, Frederick C. Schneid tackles the military origins and course of the Risorgimento from 1815 to 1849. He shows that Piedmont-Sardinia lacked the resources and manpower to defeat the Austrian Empire in the First War of Italian Independence, and would need the backing of a Great Power to achieve national aspirations in a future conflict. (less)
This is a collection of essays from the international conference on the Peace of Passarowitz (1718) held at Požarevac (Passarowitz), Serbia, in 2008....moreThis is a collection of essays from the international conference on the Peace of Passarowitz (1718) held at Požarevac (Passarowitz), Serbia, in 2008. The conference covered the history of war and peace in Southeast Europe from the Great Turkish War (also known as the War of the Holy League) (1683-1699) and the Peace of Karlowitz (Sremski Karlovci) (1699), to the Austro-Turkish War of 1716-1718 and the Peace of Passarowitz (1718), to the end of the Russo-Turkish War of 1736-1739 and Austro-Turkish War of 1737-1739 and the Peace of Belgrade (1739). Military action, diplomatic talks, and peace settlements, as Nikola Samardžić states, “helped shape modern international relations, international law, and international borders that replaced what were then only mythical frontiers” (p.vii).
The collection of eighteen essays is grouped into four sections, including The General Outlook; International Relations, Diplomacy and Warfare; Society, Economy, and Trade; along with Ideas, Arts, and Culture. The first two sections will be the most appealing for those readers interested in international history.
In the first section, Charles Ingrao, Professor of History at Purdue University (United States), provides a brief overview of the Habsburg-Ottoman wars. Nikola Samardžić, Professor of History at the University of Belgrade (Serbia), delivers an introduction to international relations and conflict from the Peace of Karlowitz (1699) to the Peace of Belgrade (1739).
For those readers interested in war and diplomacy, the second section is the most important. In the first essay, Harald Heppner, Associate Professor in History at the University of Gratz (Austria) and Daniela Schanes, a doctoral candidate in history at the University of Gratz, discuss the impact of the Peace of Passarowitz on the Austrian Habsburg monarchy. They note that Austria’s power base increased in both the 1699 and 1718 treaties. Egidio Ivetic, Lecturer in East European history at the University of Padua (Italy), examines three Venetian-Ottoman conflicts (the War of Candia, 1645-1669; War of the Morea, 1684-1699; and the Ottoman-Venetian War of 1714-1718) and the importance of the Peace of Passarowitz in Venice’s Balkan policy. Rhoads Murphey, Reader in Ottoman Studies at the University of Birmingham (England), explores the diplomatic negotiations, mediated by British and Dutch diplomats, between Austrian, Venetian, and Ottoman diplomats that resulted in the Peace of Passarowitz. Gábor Ágoston, Associate Professor of History at Georgetown University (United States), explores the changing military balance of power between Austria and the Ottoman Empire from the War of the Holy League to the Austro-Turkish War of 1716-1718. He writes that by “1716-17, the Habsburgs not only matched the Ottomans numerically and logistically, but thanks to Eugene of Savoy’s military leadership and reforms under his three-decade-long tenure as president of the Court War Council (1703-36), Habsburg armies were also better trained and possessed superior leadership” (p.105).
The section titled Society, Economy and Trade contains two valuable essays. Enes Pelidija, Professor of History at the University of Sarajevo (Bosnia), discusses the influence of the Peace of Passarowitz on Bosnia. Dan D.Y. Shapira, Professor of Ottoman Studies at Bar-Ilan University (Israel), explores the involvement of the Crimean Tatars in the Austro-Ottoman wars.
This is an fascinating collection of essays that consider war and diplomacy in Southeast Europe, focusing on conflicts involving Austria and the Ottoman Empire. Although the title gives one the impression that the work is solely about the Austro-Turkish War of 1716-1718 and the Peace of Passarowitz, many of the essays cover military and diplomatic action from the 1680s (if not before) to the end of the Austro-Turkish War of 1737-1739. The discussions explore the conflicts and impact of the Peace of Karlowitz (1699) and Peace of Passarowitz (1718) that favored the Austrian Habsburgs. Austrian victories at Petrovaradin (Peterwardein) (August 1716), Temesvár (October 1716), and Belgrade (August 1717) led to the greatest expansion of Austrian power in Southeast Europe. Austrian power reached to the Banat of Temesvár (the last important Ottoman stronghold in Hungary), Belgrade and parts of northern Serbia, northern Bosnia, and Lesser Wallachia (Oltenia). However, Austria would lose northern Bosnia, Habsburg Serbia (including Belgrade), and the southern parts of the Banat of Temesvár and Lesser Wallachia in the Peace of Belgrade (1739) that ended the Austro-Turkish War of 1737-1739. All in all, this is a valuable study. (less)
Is it necessary for one state to formally declare war against another state? This is one of the questions that Dr Frederic J. Baumgartner, Professor o...moreIs it necessary for one state to formally declare war against another state? This is one of the questions that Dr Frederic J. Baumgartner, Professor of History at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, examines in this interesting study. His purpose is to understand the historical background concerning the theory and practice in the declaration of wars in Early Modern Europe, and its influence on the development and practice of war-making powers in the United States. The author is well-known for his studies Change and Continuity in the French Episcopate: The Bishops and the Wars of Religion, 1547-1610 (1986), Henry II: King of France, 1547-1559 (1988), From Spear to Flintlock: A History of War in Europe and the Middle East to the French Revolution (1991), Louis XII (1994), France in the Sixteenth Century (1995), and Behind Locked Doors: A History of the Papal Elections (2003).
To set up his discussion, Baumgartner begins by examining Greek, Roman, and medieval precedents concerning the declaration of war in Early Modern Europe. The author discusses the concept of the just war, who could declare war, as well as how wars were declared. He shows the evolution of the practice that led to the employment of heralds being the standard procedure of declaring war in western Europe during the fifteenth century (p.29).
Baumgartner devotes two chapters to the practice and theory of declaring war in the sixteenth century. The author sees the sixteenth century as the key period of transformation in both the practice and theory of the act of declaring war. He believes that the question of who had the authority to declare war was mostly settled. The use of resident ambassadors had largely replaced the use of heralds in the declaration of war. A written declaration of war was handed over by the resident ambassador to the enemy court. As for theory, humanists wrote about and advocated the return of Roman practices dealing with just wars and the declaration of war. Baumgartner shows in his discussion of theory that “there was a serious disconnect between what the humanists wrote and what the rulers did” (p.55).
The ideas and procedures involving the declaration of war were further refined during the seventeenth century. Writers began to pay closer attention to the actual practices of the rulers of the age. Baumgartner, himself, examines exactly how (if at all) wars — from the conflicts of the Thirty Years War to the Wars of Louis XIV — were declared during this century. The author argues that it was agreed that only true sovereigns could declare war but there was no agreement on what format was needed for a declaration of war during this period.
In the eighteenth century, theorists began to regulate a new set of rules — the so-called law of nations — that outlined a more civilized way of declaring and conducting war. However, as the author points out, rulers “were less convinced of its necessity, and a broadening gap developed during the century between what theory dictated and what monarchs actually did” (p.115). The century began with a large number of formal declarations of war in the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714) and the Great Northern War (1700-1721). But, Frederick II of Prussia began of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748) without a formal declaration of war. The French and Indian War (1754-1763) broke out without a declaration of war between Britain and France. Even so, the American War of Independence (1775-1783) saw formal declarations of war between Britain and France in 1778.
In his chapter on the Age of Revolutions, Baumgartner depicts historical and contemporary practices and theory that influenced the making of the United States’ constitution and the granting of power for formal declarations of war to the United States Congress in the late 1780s. The writers of the constitution sought to limit the war-making power of the President. The author also discusses how the National Assembly of France ordered King Louis XVI to formally declare war against Austria, beginning the War of the First Coalition (1792-1797). Another example of the formal declaration of war was the United States Congress declaring war against Britain in the War of 1812 (1812-1815). The author stresses that the Declaration of 1812 established the formal procedure for the United States’ declarations of war against Mexico in 1846, Spain in 1898, Germany in 1917, as well as Japan, Germany, and Italy in 1941.
Baumgartner provides a valuable overview of the theory and practice of declaring war, especially in western Europe, during the Early Modern era. Theory and practice seemed to rarely coincide. This valuable study contributes to the increasing number of studies that explore diplomatic issues in Early Modern and Modern Europe. Other recent studies include M.S. Anderson, The Rise of Modern Diplomacy, 1450-1919 (1993), Keith Hamilton and Richard Langhorne, The Practice of Diplomacy: Its Evolution, Theory, and Administration (1995), Linda S. Frey and Marsha L. Frey, The History of Diplomatic Immunity (1999), and Jeremy Black, A History of Diplomacy (2010). (less)
Dr David Parrott, a Fellow and Lecturer at New College, University of Oxford, provides a revisionist study concerning private contractors or military...moreDr David Parrott, a Fellow and Lecturer at New College, University of Oxford, provides a revisionist study concerning private contractors or military enterprisers and their role in early modern warfare. He is known for articles on the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), the Military Revolution in Early Modern Europe, and his outstanding study Richelieu’s Army: War, Government and Society in France, 1624-1642 (2001).
Early modern historians have traditionally stressed the transition from rulers and warlords relying on military contractors and mercenaries in the fifteenth century to the establishment of state-recruited and state-administered standing armies in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This has been seen as part of the Military Revolution in early modern Europe. Parrott, however, challenges this accepted viewpoint. He shows through meticulous research that rulers and warlords in western Europe continuously relied on military enterprisers (private contractors that organized and waged warfare) throughout the early modern era. Military enterprisers played a major role in the recruitment, organization, and deployment of military forces. Rulers and warlords, however, kept control of the military might to meet their ultimate aims and objectives.
Parrott breaks down this analytical study into two parts. In the first part, the author examines the foundations and expansion of military enterprise. He begins by looking at military resources for hire, including the Italian condottieri, Swiss infantry, as well as German Landsknechte and Reiters from 1450 to the end of the Habsburg-Valois Wars (1559). The author then focuses on military contracting in the galley squadrons of the Mediterranean, the French Wars of Religion (1562-1598), Dutch Revolt (1568-1609), and the Long Turkish War (1593-1606), before concentrating on the Thirty Years War. This long-lasting conflict, fought by numerous belligerents, over a large geographic area focused mainly on Germany, was the proving ground for the further development of military enterprise. Parrott discusses the military enterprising of Bernhard von Saxe-Weimar, Albrecht von Wallenstein, and others. The author clearly shows that there was no single model for the organization of military might. He proves that there was no inevitable development towards a state-run, state-controlled army during the Thirty Years War. States, by themselves, lacked the financial resources and organization to create a large army and sustain it in the field.
In the second part of this study, Parrott explores the operations of military contractors at war. He shows, contrary to what many historians believe, that contracted armies were experienced and effective in the field. They were the quality forces that were usually the focal point of one’s military capability. The author goes on to show the importance and effectiveness of private contractors that equipped and supplied armies and navies in the early modern era. Parrott professes that military enterprisers were usually highly motivated in wartime to receive rewards, including lands, titles, and money.
Parrott stresses the long-lasting influence of the military enterpriser. The author disagrees with Fritz Redlich’s German Military Enterpriser and His Work Force (1964-65) and stresses the importance military enterprise past the Thirty Years War to the Wars of Louis XIV and beyond. He calls for historians to examine more closely the role of military enterprisers in future studies. Parrott believes: “The devolution of military organization and control into the hands of private contractors was hugely more diverse, effective and adaptable as a means to organize and deploy military force than previous historical accounts have indicated. Far from being a marginal and transient phenomenon in the history of European warfare, it was a lasting and successful set of mechanisms which, in various relations with rulers and their authority, lay at the heart of war-waging for centuries” (p.308). (less)
Historians in Central and Eastern European have produced a rich literature on the military history of Eastern Europe. Few studies on the topic, until...moreHistorians in Central and Eastern European have produced a rich literature on the military history of Eastern Europe. Few studies on the topic, until recently, were available in the English language. Dr Brian L. Davies, a Professor of History at the University of Texas at San Antonio, presents eleven essays that address current research in the military history of Eastern Europe. Davies, himself, is known for his studies State Power and Community in Early Modern Russia: The Case of Kozlov, 1635-1649 (2004), Warfare, State and Society on the Black Sea Steppe, 1500-1700 (2007), and Empire and Military Revolution in Eastern Europe: Russia’s Turkish Wars in the Eighteenth Century (2011).
Davies points out that there were two great military theaters in Eastern Europe. Warfare in Eastern Europe reflected the type of terrain, length of campaign seasons, population densities, and alliances of warring parties. The Baltic Theater of War stretched across northern Eastern Europe. This theater had a higher population density; urban commercial development; larger port cities; a dense network of rivers, forests, and marshlands; more availability of supplies; and colder winter weather (which resulted in the demobilization of armies or armies going into winter quarters) than the other region. The cavalry played a major role in combat operations. But, siege warfare was more common than field battles.
The Danubian-Pontic Theater of War stretched from Croatia through the Ukraine and southern Russia to the north Caucasus. The Danubian-Pontic theatre was the military frontier between the Ottoman Empire and the Christian powers of Central and Eastern Europe. Fortified defensive lines played a major strategic role, with small standing garrison forces of military colonists conducting constant border defense duty. Field armies, brought up to the lines for military operations, would launch military offensives from these lines deep into enemy territory. Compared to the northern theater of operations, the Danubian-Pontic theater ran through sparsely populated territory in forest-steppe and steppe terrain. The employment of military formations, arms, and tactics was influenced by the military challenge of the Ottoman Empire. Military units had to march over great distances to besiege enemy fortifications.
The essays in this volume cover a wide range of themes in early modern military history. Several essays look at military affairs in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Janet Martin examines the Muscovite pomest’e system of military service. Géza Pálffy looks at the defense system in the Hungarian theater of war that defended Habsburg lands against the Ottoman Turks. Dariusz Kupisz explores the organization, type of troops, armaments, tactics, and success of the Polish-Lithuanian army during the reign of Stefan Bathory. Brian Davies addresses the Muscovite use of guliai-gorod (prefabricated wooden panels) used as mobile defensive shields, the tabor or wagenburg (wagons) employed as protective shields, and tabor military tactics. Oleg A. Nozdrin investigates the use of Western European mercenaries in Eastern European militaries. Carol Belkin Stevens takes a look at logistics in the Muscovite army. Victor Ostapchuk examines the long-range invasion capabilities of the Crimean Tatars. Brian J. Boeck brings to light the events of the Don Cossack defense of the fortress at Azov against an Ottoman siege in 1641. Erik A. Lund addresses the growth of technicalism in the officer corps of the Habsburg army. Peter B. Brown discusses the range of command-control practices in the Muscovite army in the seventeenth century. And, Virginia Aksan looks at the Ottoman Empire and wars with Russia in the late eighteenth century, focusing on fiscal problems, manpower, military leadership, and supply.
This is a fascinating collection of essays on early modern military history in Eastern Europe. The varied essays indicate the current trends in research, and are a must read for students and scholars interested in military history during this period. For those interested, this reviewer also recommends several recent studies that concern the military history of Eastern Europe, including Carol Belkin Stevens, Russia’s Wars of Emergence, 1460-1730 (2007), Rhoads Murphey, Ottoman Warfare, 1500-1700 (1999), Virginia Aksan, Ottoman Wars, 1700-1870 (2007), Brian L. Davies, Warfare, State and Society on the Black Sea Steppe, 1500-1700 (2007), Michael Hochedlinger, Austria’s Wars of Emergence: War, State and Society in the Habsburg Monarchy, 1683-1797 (2003), Peter H. Wilson, German Armies: War and German Politics, 1648-1806 (1998), as well as Robert I. Frost, The Northern Wars: War, State and Society in Northeastern Europe, 1558-1721 (2000). (less)