The Business of War: Military Enterprise and Military Revolution in Early Modern Europe 0521514835, 9780521514835, 0521735580, 9780521735582

This is a major new approach to the military revolution and the relationship between warfare and the power of the state

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The Business of War: Military Enterprise and Military Revolution in Early Modern Europe
 0521514835, 9780521514835, 0521735580, 9780521735582

Table of contents :
List of figures viii
List of maps xii
Acknowledgements xiii
List of abbreviations xvi
Currencies xvii
Introduction 1
Part I. Foundations and expansion 25
1. Military resources for hire, 1450–1560 27
2. The expansion of military enterprise, 1560–1620 71
3. Diversity and adaptation: military enterprise during the Thirty Years War 101
Part II. Operations and structures 137
4. The military contractor at war 139
5. The business of war 196
6. Continuity, transformation and rhetoric in European warfare after 1650 260
7. Conclusion 307
Notes 328
Bibliography 393
Index 419

Citation preview

The Business of War

This is a major new approach to the military revolution and the relationship between warfare and the power of the state in early modern Europe. Whereas previous accounts have emphasized the growth of state-run armies during this period, David Parrott argues instead that the delegation of military responsibility to sophisticated and extensive networks of private enterprise reached unprecedented levels. This included not only the hiring of troops but the provision of equipment, the supply of food and munitions, and the financing of their operations. The book reveals the extraordinary prevalence and capability of private networks of commanders, suppliers, merchants and financiers who managed the conduct of war on land and at sea, challenging the traditional assumption that reliance on mercenaries and the private sector results in corrupt and inefficient military force. In so doing, the book provides essential historical context to contemporary debates about the role of the private sector in warfare. david parrott is a fellow and lecturer at New College, University of Oxford. His previous books include Richelieu’s Army. War, Government and Society in France 1624–1642 (Cambridge, 2001).

The Business of War Military Enterprise and Military Revolution in Early Modern Europe David Parrott

cambridge university press Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo, Delhi, Mexico City Cambridge University Press The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UK Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York Information on this title: © David Parrott 2012 This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. First published 2012 Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication data Parrott, David. The business of war : military enterprise and military revolution in early modern Europe / David Parrott. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-521-51483-5 (hardback) – ISBN 978-0-521-73558-2 (paperback) 1. Europe – History, Military – 1492–1648 – Economic aspects. 2. Mercenary troops – Europe – History. 3. Europe – Commerce – History. 4. War – Economic aspects – Europe – History. I. Title. D214.P39 2012 355.00940 09031–dc23 2011031556 ISBN 978-0-521-51483-5 Hardback ISBN 978-0-521-73558-2 Paperback Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

To Robert Oresko, 2 January 1947–15 February 2010


List of figures List of maps Acknowledgements List of abbreviations Currencies Introduction Part I Foundations and expansion

page viii xii xiii xvi xvii 1 25


Military resources for hire, 1450–1560



The expansion of military enterprise, 1560–1620



Diversity and adaptation: military enterprise during the Thirty Years War

Part II Operations and structures

101 137


The military contractor at war



The business of war



Continuity, transformation and rhetoric in European warfare after 1650




Notes Bibliography Index

328 393 419




1.1 A pirate sloop operating in coastal waters. ‘Brigantin donnant chasse a une felouque.’ Claude Randon, engraving and etching. Published Marseilles 1700. George Clarke Collection, Volume LIX: 36. Courtesy of the Provost and Fellows of Worcester College, Oxford. page 34 1.2 A contemporary visualization of Swiss and German pike-squares clashing outside the walls of a city. BM 1867,0713.157 ‘Battle Outside the Gates of a City’, Illustration to Leonhart Fronsperger, Kriegsrechte, Frankfurt am Main, 1567. Etching, Jost Amman, 1564. Courtesy of the ©Trustees of the British Museum. 56 1.3 a. The Rottmeister; ‘Der Rottmeister’, Leonard Fronsperger, Kriegssbuch, erster (dritter) Theil. Jetzt von neuwem vbersehen. Franckfurt, 1596 [T 7.6 Jur, LXIII verso]. ©Bodleian Library, University of Oxford; b. The Hurenwaibel; ‘Der Hurenwaibel’, Leonard Fronsperger, Kriegssbuch, erster (dritter) Theil. Jetzt von neuwem vbersehen. Franckfurt, 1596 [T7.6 Jur, LXV recto]. ©Bodleian Library, University of Oxford; c. the Brandmeister; ‘Der Brandmeister’, Leonard Fronsperger, Kriegssbuch, erster (dritter) Theil. Jetzt von neuwem vbersehen. Franckfurt, 1596 [T 7.6 Jur, LI verso]. ©Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. 63 1.4 Landsknecht dress, an attractive subject for artists and engravers through the sixteenth century. BM 1845, 0809.1709. Landsknechte Playing Dice. Woodcut: block cut by Jost de Negker; print by Jorg Breu, published, c.1580–5. Courtesy of the ©Trustees of the British Museum. 68 2.1 Andrea Doria. BM O, 2.210 Portrait of Admiral Andrea Doria (1466–1560), etching and engraving, Crispijin de Passe the Elder c.1590–1637. Courtesy of the ©Trustees of the British Museum. 81 viii

List of figures


2.2 Merchant ship from Furtenbach – Dutch merchant/ warship.‘Von dem Schiffgebäw auf dem Meer und Seekusten Zugebrauchen’, Joseph Furtenbach, Architectura Navalis, Ulm, 1629 [fol. THETA 681, Plate 10]. ©Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. 84 3.1 Johan Banér. Portrait of Johan Banér (1596–1641). Artist unknown, c.1800–38. Courtesy of Militärhögskolan Karlberg. 132 4.1 Gottfried Heinrich von Pappenheim. BM R, 1a.240 Portrait of Gottfried Heinrich, Count of Pappenheim (1594–1632), Engraving, Cornelis Galle II after Van Dyck, c.1630–50. Courtesy of the ©Trustees of the British Museum. 141 4.2 Jacques Colaert. Musée des Beaux Arts, Dunkerque, BA. P. 224 Portrait of Admiral Jacques Colaërt. Unknown Flemish painter, seventeenth-century, oil painting on canvas. Courtesy of the Direction des Musées de Dunkerque, MBA (photo: Jacques Quecq d’Henriprêt). 144 4.3 A typical small-scale cavalry engagement of the type which dominated much fighting in the Thirty Years War. BM V, 9.60 Cavalry engagement, print from a series of eight entitled ‘Scènes Militaires’, Etching, Giacomo Cortese, c.1635–60. Courtesy of the ©Trustees of the British Museum. 147 4.4 The surprise and defeat of the French Army of Germany at Tuttlingen, 24 November 1643. Ambush at Tuttlingen (November 1643), Theatrum Europaeum (21 vol.), Vol. V, Franckfurt am Main, 1643–1738 [fol. Delta 330–350, p. 191]. ©Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. 155 4.5 Ordinary soldiers of the Thirty Years War in a sketch by Stefano della Bella. BM 1871, 0513.409 Ordinary soldiers of the seventeenth century, print from a series entitled ‘Receuil de diverses pieces nessessaire a la fortification’, Etching, Stefano della Bella, c.1641. Courtesy of the ©Trustees of the British Museum. 166 4.6 Banér as master of operational flexibility: the Swedish retreat from Bohemia at Preßnitz, March 1641. Retreat of the Swedish Army at Preßnitz (March, 1641) from Theatrum Europeaeum (21 vol.), IV, Franckfurt au Main, 1643–1738 [fol. Delta 330–350, p. 620]. ©Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. 185 4.7 The small cavalry-dominated army of the later Thirty Years War: the battle of Mergentheim, 5 May 1645. Battle at Mergentheim (5 May 1645), from Theatrum Europaeum (21 vol.),


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V, Franckfurt au Main, 1643–1738 [fol. Delta 330–350, p. 768]. ©Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. 186 The diversity of military production: seventeenthcentury artillery, munitions and supporting equipment. BM 1893, 0331.75 Detail from ‘Les elemens de l’art militaire’, etching, Claude Roussel, c.1683–1735. Courtesy of the ©Trustees of the British Museum. 202 Female sutler and companion. BM 1850, 0612.478, Sutler and her Assistant, etching and engraving, Virgil Solis, c.1530–1555. Courtesy of the ©Trustees of the British Museum. 205 Supplying war: the mercantile interconnections between key production centres and traders – copied with permission from J. Zunckel, Rüstungsgeschäfte im Dreißigjährigen Krieg, p. 76 215 Louis de Geer. BM 0, 6.126 Portrait of Louis de Geer (1587–1652), Engraving, Jeremias Falck after David Beck, 1649. Courtesy of the ©Trustees of the British Museum. 235 Cannon foundry at Julitha Bruk. Detail from the painting ‘Hendrick Trip’s Cannon Foundry at Julitha Bruk, Södermanland, Sweden’, Allart Van Everdingen c.1646–1675, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Inventory No. SK – A – 1510. Courtesy of the Rijksmuseum. 238 Equestrian portrait of Karl Gustaf Wrangel (1613–76), by David K. Ehrenstrahl, 1652. Courtesy of Skokloster Slott, Sweden. 242 Tomb of Melchior von Hatzfeld (1593–1658), Church of St Jacob, Prusice, Lower Silesia, Poland, c.1659–63. Courtesy of ©Marcin Mazurkiewicz. 255 Engraving of Wrangel’s newly built palace at Skokloster. ‘Arx Skogloster Illustriss. Et. Excellmi. Dni. Comtis Caroli Gustavi Wrangelii’, Print from Sveica Antiqua et Hodierna, 1723, engraving after a drawing by Erik Dahlberg, George Clarke Collection, Vol. LI: 108. Courtesy of the Provost and Fellows of Worcester College, Oxford. 256 Jan de Werth in retirement as a country nobleman. Portrait of Jan de Werth, Anonymous, mid-seventeenth century. Inventory No. RBA 214 285. Courtesy of the Rheinishes Bildarchiv, Cologne. 257 The painted ceiling of the main salon of the Trip House, Amsterdam. Panel from the Ceiling of the Great Room, Trippenhuis, Amsterdam, Nicolaas de Heldt Stockade, c.1662.

List of figures


Courtesy of Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen. 258 6.1 Johann Friedrich von Braunschweig-Lüneburg. Portrait of Johann Friedrich (1625–79), duke of BrunswickLüneburg, after Jean Michelin, 1670. Courtesy of Historisches Museum, Hanover. 282 6.2 A custom-built third-rate warship; contrast this with Figure 2.2. Engraving of third-rate warship, from Paul Hoste, L’art des armées navales, ou Traité des évolutions navales . . . (Lyon, 1727). New College Library NB. 108.14. Courtesy of Warden and Fellows of New College. 292 7.1 Dutch East India Company magazine and dockyard. BM 1870, 0514.2129, T’t Oostindische Magazyn en Scheeps Timmer-Werf, etching, Joseph Mulder, c.1680. Courtesy of the ©Trustees of the British Museum. 322


This book originates from an invitation by the Master and Fellows of Trinity College Cambridge to give the Lees Knowles lectures in autumn 2004. The lecture series, founded by Sir Lees Knowles in 1912, was intended for the promotion of ‘military science’. Seeking a topic that might be wide-ranging enough to appeal to a broad audience of military, political and social historians, and could also meet the Founder’s intention to provide historical lectures with relevance to the practice of war, I chose to develop my interest in early modern military outsourcing and the organization of war through private enterprise. Having given me the motive to explore this subject, the Master and Fellows of Trinity provided me with generous hospitality during the weeks while I was producing and delivering the Lees Knowles lectures. I am extremely grateful not just for this generosity, but for the support and friendship that was offered while I was giving the lectures, in particular by my ever-considerate host at Trinity, Boyd Hilton, and through numerous engaging and helpful conversations with Peter Sarris, William St Clair and many others amongst the Fellowship. Other debts have been amassed in the course of turning the lectures into the present book. I particularly wish to thank the Arts and Humanities Research Council for their generous three-month award under the Research Leave Scheme from January to March 2009, which provided me with an extra research term in addition to the one granted to me by New College/Oxford University. Together they gave me the opportunity in 2008/9 to draw together my reading and thinking on military enterprise into the present book. This AHRC funding was invaluable in permitting me a lengthy and untrammelled opportunity to achieve this complete draft. Thanks are also due to the Warden and Fellows of New College, who granted me an initial research term, and in particular to my colleagues Ruth Harris and Christopher Tyerman, who filled in for many of my normal duties, and provided much support, discussion and encouragement. I should also thank these particular colleagues, the wider Governing Body of New College and the Oxford History Faculty, for xiii



having supported a previous term of leave when I was giving the lectures themselves. A further and particular debt is owed to a benefactor of New College, Eugene Ludwig, whose support for the Humanities within the College has been marked both by extraordinary generosity and by his personal interest and encouragement for our various research projects. I and all my colleagues in the Humanities disciplines are immensely grateful for his support. In the present case, I thank the Ludwig Fund for providing generous coverage for the costs of researching images and acquiring reproduction rights for the illustrations in the present volume. In a project of this nature and scope, I have necessarily acquired many intellectual debts to colleagues in the UK and abroad who have provided vital advice, feedback and criticism. Amongst so many who have offered their assistance in the course of this project, I should like to single out Geoffrey Parker, who spent a term in Oxford as Distinguished Visiting Professor in Trinity 2004, and whose enthusiasm and deft and knowledgeable engagement with the project were invaluable at this early stage, and have been no less valued in his later communications and discussions. I would also single out Hamish Scott, to whom I am obliged beyond measure for unstinting help and advice throughout the gestation and completion of the project. Michael Howard, whose chapter ‘The Wars of the Merchants’ in his War in European History first encouraged my interest in military contracting, has been a source of encouragement and inspiration throughout this project, as he has with all my previous writing on military history. Many others have contributed to my understanding of the parameters and problems of the subject, and to the final shape of the present work, and to all of them I owe my warmest thanks. In Oxford I am especially grateful to Robin Briggs, Cliff Davies, Robert Evans, Steven Gunn, Clive Holmes, Sarah Percy, Nicholas Rodger, Lyndal Roper, Hew Strachan, Penry Williams amongst numerous other colleagues, while in the wider academic world, especially Sydney Anglo, Rainer Babel, Joseph Bergin, Jeremy Black, Tim Blanning, Olivier Chaline, Luc Duerloo, Jack Dunn, Robert Frost, Lothar Höbelt, Bernhard Kroener, Jan Lindegren, Davide Maffi, Simon Pepper, Guy Rowlands, Frank Tallett, Tony Thompson, David Trim and Phillip Williams. In the composition of the book I must thank particularly my picture researcher, Julie Farguson, for all of her own suggestions and input in assembling lists of images, for tireless reminders about obtaining permissions, and for her willingness to go to extraordinary lengths to obtain some of the illustrations in the volume. I am most grateful to my father, Fred Parrott, for his time and expertise in reading through and removing many



errors of substance and style from the manuscript, and to my editor, Michael Watson, for all of his encouragement, help and patience in seeing the project through to publication. Roger Clark and William Massey have provided me with their support and companionship throughout the years of work on this project, and I thank both of them most warmly for their encouragement, intelligent questioning and tolerance throughout the years of its research and writing. In the course of writing this book I have lost two friends whose untimely deaths have left historical scholarship much poorer. Jan Glete, whose own work paralleled many of the preoccupations and topics discussed here, was a source of the most generous encouragement, advice and feedback over a decade of correspondence and meetings. I owe my greatest debt of all to Robert Oresko, my partner for more than twenty-two years, who encouraged me to look beyond French history, taught me the importance of acquiring a broad range of languages and persuaded me, like many others, to think about socio-political elites in their own terms and to see the fundamental importance of concepts such as dynasticism, informal networks of power and the political significance of material culture. The present book deals with subjects that were not especially close to Robert’s own historical interests, but is dedicated to him with love and respect.



Gindely, Waldstein I/II

Krebs, Hatzfeld I

Krebs, Hatzfeld II

Redlich, I/II


Documenta Bohemica Bellum Tricennale Illustrantia, eds. G. Cechová, J. Janácek, J. Kocí and J. Polišenský (7 vols., Prague, 1971–81). A. Gindely, Waldstein während seines ersten Generalats, im Lichte der gleichzeitigen Quellen, 1625–1630 (2 vols., Prague and Leipzig, 1886). J. Krebs, Aus dem Leben des kaiserlichen Feldmarschalls Grafen Melzior von Hatzfeld, 1593–1631 (Breslau, 1910). J. Krebs, Aus dem Leben des kaiserlichen Feldmarschalls Grafen Melchior von Hatzfeld, 1632–36. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Dreißigjährigen Krieges (Breslau, 1926). F. Redlich, The German Military Enterpriser and his Work Force, 14th to 18th Centuries. Vierteljahrschrift für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte 47 and 48 (2 vols., Wiesbaden, 1964).


The principal currencies used in the book are Imperial talers and florins (Rhenish), Swedish and Danish riksdalers, Dutch florins, Spanish ducats and escudos, and French livres and écus. Rough conversion rates in the first half of the seventeenth century: 1 Imperial taler = 1.5 German (Rhenish) florins 1 Rhenish florin = 1.7 Dutch florins 2.5 Dutch florins = 1 Imperial taler 1 Spanish escudo = 1.1 Spanish ducats 1.5 Rhenish florins = 1 Spanish escudo 3 French livres = 1 French écu 1 Rhenish florin = 2 French livres (from later 1630s) 3 French livres = 1 Spanish escudo 1 riksdaler (Swedish/Danish) = between 0.7 and 1 Imperial taler



The aim of this book is to examine the rise, success and transformations of military enterprise – warfare organized and waged by private contractors – in early modern Europe (c.1500–1700). Military enterprise as it is discussed here amounts to a lot more than hiring mercenaries to serve in the ranks of a state-run army or using privateers to supplement or stand in for the state’s navy. Enterprise includes a more extensive delegation of responsibility and authority to include the supply of food, clothes and equipment to troops, and the manufacturing and distribution of munitions and weapons. Warship and fortress building were outsourced, as were entire naval operations. Garrisoning and siege-works were put out to contract. A large part of this process did involve the hiring and maintenance of soldiers or sailors, but the terms of many of the recruitment contracts drawn up with the field and unit commanders reveal significant differences from those before or after this period. Moreover the way in which these commanders interpreted their authority and autonomy in waging war on behalf of their employers was significantly changed. They acted through their own creditors to raise the funds required for recruitment and military operations, and they drew on networks of private manufacturers, merchants and transport operatives to ensure that their troops were fed and equipped. Some fundamental aspects of the financing of war were placed in the hands of private military contractors or their agents, who also ensured that their credit and costs were recovered, by force if necessary, even when the army was on the territory of its notional employer. To anyone familiar with the historical debate about early modern military change, it will be significant that the key decades of this ‘military devolution’ lie between c.1560 and 1660, the same period identified by Michael Roberts in his seminal article for the chronology of an early modern European ‘military revolution’.1 From its inception in the mid1950s, this thesis that military change could be linked to wider processes of political and social transformation has been the key organizing principle for analysis and discussion of early modern war and society.2 Although 1


The Business of War

mercenaries, military enterprise and private contracting are mentioned in many discussions of early modern military revolution, their significance seems rarely to have been fully accepted or appreciated. Whatever its scale and however central it may have been to early modern military activity, privatization remains in most of these accounts a peripheral issue or a historical dead-end. A central aim of the present study is to present a much more extensive and forceful case for the significance of military privatization, and to subject the concept of military revolution, indeed the whole case for early modern military discontinuity and change, to scrutiny from a different perspective. How does the ‘business of war’ fit with arguments that have explicitly or implicitly assumed that war should be the business of the state? Underpinning the argument of this book is a simple proposition: the maintenance of wholly state-recruited and state-administered military force is an anomalous development over the broader course of European history. An explicit drive to establish fully state-controlled armies and navies, and the maintenance of a closely controlled monopoly of force, is a particular preoccupation of European states from roughly 1760 to 1960. It emerged as a result of a distinctive set of political and industrial developments which altered both the character and scale of warfare, and demanded a level of military participation and economic commitment which could no longer be met through adjusting and developing the traditional mechanisms of organizing and waging war. A contentious account of this development might suggest that it began with the early writings of Jacques de Guibert, wrestling with the implications of the radically increased killing power of mid-eighteenth-century warfare for traditional, long-service, highly drilled ancien régime armies.3 Its ending was marked in western states with the recognition during the 1950s and 1960s that nuclear weapons had profoundly changed the patterns of future warfare, and that the creation of mass, conscripted armies via national service was militarily redundant – even if political imperatives led to its retention in many states for a few decades longer. The characteristic pattern of European warfare from the world of the Greek city-states to the ancien régime of the eighteenth century, and once again during the past half-century down to the present day, is military organization on the basis of contracts with private suppliers, whether these are for the recruitment and maintenance of fighting soldiers, for the provision of military hardware and munitions, or for military support systems. This rarely means total military devolution, more often what could be described as varying forms of public–private partnership, in which often very substantial elements of private contracting, finance and administration are present. Most European (and very many



non-European) military organizations have been built on, or were at least substantially underpinned by, arrangements which delegated or transferred military responsibilities from the aegis of the state into the hands of private individuals, groups or organizations, some of whom were subjects of the state, some outsiders. On a bare overview of the evidence, this contention is hardly controversial. From Xenophon and the ten thousand Greek mercenaries who entered Persian service in 401 BC,4 through to the auxiliaries who dominated the military system of the later Roman Empire,5 to the ‘great companies’ who shaped the military and political environment of the later fourteenth century,6 through to Executive Outcomes, Kellogg, Brown & Root, and Blackwater,7 the ubiquity of contracted, privately organized military force and support services is not in doubt. In most societies and states the deployment and maintenance of military force occupies a large space, a part of which can be filled by private military contracting. At issue though, and fundamental to the concerns of this study, is the way in which this military reality has been perceived, both by contemporary commentators in these societies and by historians, and in particular by historians of early modern Europe. For the most part, the western military tradition has been interpreted in ways which downplay or deny this basic reality. Ever-increasing state control of military force, building towards a ‘monopoly of violence’, is treated as the essential long-term historical process; the use of private military initiatives, organization and finance – for the most part lumped together as war fought by ‘mercenaries’ – is treated as a historical dead-end.8 A narrative is established in which, if the existence, and sometimes even the expansion, of a private role in military organization is conceded, this is nonetheless seen as marginal, largely irrelevant to an understanding of the real path of military-political relations in early modern and modern Europe. It is noteworthy that in contrast to the vast literature generated by historians and social scientists on military force and the rise of the state, the only general and chronologically wide-ranging studies of privatized warfare are intended for a broad, popular readership.9 It was easy to maintain such an emphasis when the final outcome of the historical process appeared so visibly to be the establishment of national armed forces, fully and comprehensively controlled by the state. Up to the mid-twentieth century it was possible – focusing always on the western military tradition, of course – to postulate an ‘end of military history’ in which the defining characteristic of modern military force was its structural integration with the state’s administration, a process that seemed both complete and irreversible. However, military developments over the


The Business of War

past few decades have called this seemingly inexorable process into question. The relationship between military force and the demands and aspirations of states and their governments no longer seems so one-directional. Awareness that the outsourcing of military functions, and dependence on private companies to fulfil vital ancillary and support services, is an increasing part of most western military organizations has taken a while to grow among non-specialists.10 More attention was focused on the resurgence of private military companies and their operations on the fringes of the military system, whether this was the comprehensive small armies fielded by companies like Executive Outcomes and Sandline in south-central Africa in the 1980s and early 1990s, or the growth from the 1990s of private security companies in zones of crisis, whose activities may well extend to proactive behaviour replicating or replacing the work of state-run armed forces.11 The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have provided further evidence of the growing activities of private security companies whose remit to provide military support services can on occasions shade into de facto combat roles: during the past decade Blackwater has become a virtual household name thanks to its massive presence in Iraq and the involvement of its operatives in combat zones.12 The scale and the media profile of military outsourcing in these last two wars has finally brought home to a wider public how radical the transformation has been over the past few decades. While in the West, what could be defined as the ‘core activities’ of the armed forces have so far remained directly under state control, this is not the case elsewhere in the world, and it is certainly arguable that in the West the ability to perform these core activities has already become dependent upon support services which are in large part put out to contract.13 So thinking about the organization of military force in the early twentyfirst century and beyond renders more controversial the notion that there was a single historical path leading to the creation of a monopoly of military force in the hands of the state (indeed, that the historical process had reached that point by the late nineteenth century in even the most backward of western nations). But it was never the case that this paradigm for the understanding of European military history rested purely and simply on an assumption of historical inevitability. Other no less problematic assumptions play their part in shaping views of the development of military force in early modern Europe. If historians of early modern Europe have interpreted changing patterns of warfare from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century in terms of the growth and elaboration of state control, a significant element of this is based on what is taken to be the axiomatic inferiority of private military organization. Two sets of interlocking negative assumptions are at work here. The first of these is a generalized, but well-established, moral and



legal preoccupation with the use of soldiers whose activities seem to have no justification other than the pursuit of personal gain. In some cases this is made evident because the soldiers or sailors had taken service with a foreign state, and had no obvious interest or engagement in the quarrels of the contracting power. Against the obvious argument that many native soldiers have a demonstrably limited commitment to the causes for which they are fighting, the counter-argument is made that these native soldiers were at least recruited within a societal context in which this cause was considered an appropriate justification for war. Mercenaries, on the other hand, choose their military service entirely freely and individually, and for their own motives; they were neither conscripted by the state to service in a cause judged appropriate, nor were they responding collectively to a wider perception of that cause. Underlying these rather clumsy definitional arguments is a widely shared assumption about the fundamental wrongness of ‘killing for hire’: mercenaries have less plausible justifications for their activities than a national army. Even where one side in a dispute might reasonably assert that they possessed a just cause in defending their interests through war, that cause would be demeaned by relying on hired mercenaries to wage a struggle on their behalf since these would be unable to provide a plausible justification for their own part in any consequent violence. The free and inappropriate choice of soldiering for profit will consistently trump any evidence that the mercenary, as individual, may sympathize with the ideals, beliefs or cause of the party for whom he is fighting and that this may in part have motivated the decision to offer his services.14 In the West from the early nineteenth century this moral sense of the wrongness of fighting for profit has combined on occasions with a political interest in the containment of private force, to produce a legal framework for restrictions on hiring ‘mercenaries’ and enforceable international agreements to stamp out piracy or to restrict privateering.15 But such attempted legal restraints, highly problematic in terms of definitions and possibilities of enforcement, are a recent development. Sarah Percy in her latest book points to the less substantial but more pervasive notion of a shared, historical ‘norm’ against mercenary use. Starting with the reactions to the unconstrained looting and violence of the private mercenary companies of the fourteenth century, and enduring concern about violence outside the legitimate control of constituted authorities, she traces a developing consensus, established well before an eighteenth-century Enlightenment, that the hiring of military forces was inappropriate to a civilized society.16 Whether seen through the eyes of theorists who worried about the moral impact of depriving the citizenry of the need to serve in their own defence, or through the eyes of political and social elites,


The Business of War

concerned at the potential disorders that would result from allowing adult males to seek their living by fighting for hire outside their own homeland, a shared thread of hostility to and constraint in the use of mercenaries is a persistent characteristic of western societies down to the present day. Both humanist and Enlightenment discourses lay stress on the importance of citizen participation in military service, and identify this as a mark of civility and progress. Abandoning reliance on mercenaries (which, of course, can easily encompass the whole structure of privatized warfare) is part of a civilizing process; the state-controlled army reflects the achievement of moral and political maturity. Of course, the practical problem of who constitutes a mercenary remains: the graveyard of most anti-mercenary legislation has been the difficulty of finding any kind of workable definition; neither being nonnative in the country of employment nor offering military service exclusively for financial reward proves very effective. Private forces standing totally outside the control of the state identify only a minuscule subset of activity which might broadly be considered mercenary. In this context, the advantage of understanding the hostility to mercenary use as a ‘norm’ rather than an evolving body of international legislation is precisely that it bypasses these issues and argues for a much longer-term, collective aversion at a political and cultural level. Indeed Percy argues that it is the very strength of the anti-mercenary norm which makes it virtually impossible to legislate effectively against mercenarism.17 But this legislative failure does not weaken a widely shared set of beliefs and assumptions, generating a consensus that in practice leads to restrictions on the hiring of military force, or which reinforces moral hostility to its use. The obvious point about the anti-mercenary norm is that it is enduring and pervasive, but not susceptible to objective cost-benefit analysis: the hiring of mercenaries is always wrong and undesirable, even when the military alternatives will prove less effective in saving the state from external defeat or internal fragmentation.18 States seeking to use the services of external military forces betray their own organizational weakness by such use, and by challenging the norm will reinforce an external perception of their lack of civility, and the low level of their political and social organization. If this moral disapproval of the use of mercenaries forms one part of the picture, it is reinforced by an equally powerful but pragmatic conviction that the contracting-out of warfare is militarily self-defeating. The application of military force should only be entrusted to those whose loyalty can be ensured by shared national identity and allegiance. The ‘citizen army’ idealized by Machiavelli and cohorts of humanist and then nationalist thinkers is contrasted with its apparent obverse, the mercenary soldier



who serves only for money and outside territorial and ideological affiliations. The national soldier, fighting for country and family, has everything to lose by showing limited military commitment; the mercenary has only a service contract, on which he can renege with no more than financial consequences. As such, it is assumed he must be unreliable in his allegiance and half-hearted in his motivation. If a better financial offer were to be made by the enemy, the logical behaviour for the mercenary would be to accept it; the adoption of a decisive strategy involving hardfought battles with heavy casualties would be entirely contrary to the interests of mercenary soldiers and their captains, whose own interests would dictate drawn-out, expensive but indecisive conflict which would keep them in employment for as long as possible. Both explicitly and implicitly much writing about warfare picks up on these assumptions; even if it is granted that mercenaries may, through length of service or organizational expertise, have acquired particular military strengths and skills, these will be counterbalanced by the deliberately limited nature of their service and commitment. When mercenaries are hired en masse, it is no less axiomatic that their captains, who have entered into military activity for profit rather than for honour or duty, will seek to hire at the lowest cost compatible with keeping the unit in being. In some medieval and early modern cases of poor, resource-limited territories like Switzerland or Scotland this pressure for cheapness may matter less: the soldiers will still be raised on the basis of landed ties and other local connections which may give them a high level of cohesion. But elsewhere mercenary recruitment could easily mean acquiring soldiers or sailors who were the social detritus of urban and rural life, lacking in resilience as well as group identity, and unmotivated by any military objective except plunder. No amount of contrary evidence about the fighting commitment and effectiveness of mercenaries in particular military circumstances will change what seems, from one perspective, a set of logical assumptions about their limitations as military operators. This in turn reinforces a view of mercenaries as a worst option, to be adopted only by states for which no better alternative exists, whether because of fiscal or administrative incapacity, or through the weakness and corruption of a central regime. No rational state or its ruler would choose such an ineffectual and unreliable military system if other options were available. The elision of these two negative arguments against private military force makes a powerful rhetorical case. Indeed the combination of moral repugnance with a ‘common-sense’ conviction that mercenaries make bad and disloyal troops has been repeated so frequently that the counterproductiveness of relying on private contractors can appear self-evident: a


The Business of War

genuine discussion about the merits and demerits of relying on private sources of military force goes by default. And although the original assertions were about the hiring and use of mercenary soldiers, the same strictures can be projected on to areas like maritime privateering, and ancillary services such as the contracted provision of weaponry, munitions and food supplies to military forces. However, a negative assessment of the morality and practice of military privatization is not the sole nor the most important reason for the marginal role that it is allocated in accounts of war and society in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Various positive modes of thinking seem no less incompatible with the idea that states might consistently and deliberately have relied upon or even expanded the outsourcing of military functions into the hands of private enterprisers. The most important of these is the extended body of writing on state-formation and the building of the modern state, and the various ways in which this is linked to warfare and the pressures of war. It is fundamental to the argument of the present book that there is no necessary incompatibility between the growth of the power of the state and the development of a substantial sphere of private military activity; indeed, the latter made possible a robustness and organizational ‘reach’ that would otherwise have been unattainable to government authorities. This argument will be developed in the ensuing chapters. But it is no less important to note that public and private authority have frequently been seen as directly opposed, and to have existed in a zero-sum game where a gain to one must represent an equivalent loss to the other.19 If one of the defining characteristics of the modern state is the possession of a monopoly of legitimate violence over all those subjects residing under its authority, it is easily assumed that the monopoly can only be exercised directly through the state’s agents, duly organized and sustained by resources controlled by the state. The origins of this definition of state-formation as achieving a narrowly defined monopoly of force, rather than, say, the successful co-option of both internal and outside resources and skills to create a multi-faceted system of authority, is deeply entrenched in a series of implicit assumptions about state competition and the growth of state power.20 These assumptions date back to the nineteenth century, but continue to cast a long shadow over many areas of early modern political and institutional history, and ensure that the use of military force raised outside the direct control of the state is treated as marginal, and essentially irrelevant to the account of the rise of the state. The link between military power, the growth of the state and the establishment of national identity was one of the great themes of nineteenth-century history. It was above all characteristic of an entire



school of nationalist German historians, for whom the history of the rise of Brandenburg-Prussia was axiomatically the history of Germany, and, from the 1860s, no less axiomatically the history of Europe. For a historian like Johann Gustav Droysen, the Prussian experience demonstrated that war was both the test and the catalyst of the growth of the state and the achievement of nationhood: Brandenburg-Prussia had risen from being a minor power and military victim during the Thirty Years War, to a state which was to become the arbiter of German and European politics. It had done so, although a small and under-resourced group of territories, by systematically building up military force over a century from the 1640s to 1740s. Unwilling to submit to the political humiliations and economic depredations that would stem from renewed military dependence on the major powers, a sequence of Electors, then kings, in Prussia, focused their attentions and the resources of their territories on creating a permanent military force of a size and capability comparable with European powers who possessed hugely superior resources. The story of the rise of Prussia could be turned into the account of how, by eschewing the courtly and cultural indulgence of other German rulers and by squeezing every fiscal resource through unprecedented administrative efficiency, a permanent army of 80,000 troops could be created by 1740, and could in turn be expanded in a succession of mid-eighteenth-century wars which firmly established Prussia as a great power in its own right.21 The centrality of the army as the purpose and justification for every aspect of governmental policy and every administrative initiative was undisputed: the very structure of society was organized around the militarization of the landowning nobility and the organization of a large proportion of the male labouring population in an annual cycle which alternated agricultural and military service. In fact a permanent army on this scale was only viable on the basis of hiring at least some of its troops from outside Prussian borders: Frederick the Great sardonically referred to his grandfather, Frederick I, as the ‘mercenary king’ for his willingness both to contract foreign troops and then to hire them out to the Emperor. But for the historians of the Prussian state, this was a necessary evil, justified, as it was at the time, since it protected the economic capacity of the native population.22 Moreover such mercenary units were tamed and fully integrated by the Prussian military model of drill, discipline and control, easily reduced to component parts in the clockwork of a smoothly running military organization. They did nothing to detract from the military model which saw an ideal synthesis of state, administration and army, so that even the desire to spare some subjects from military service was, paradoxically, simply to harness better the resources needed to sustain the army.


The Business of War

Prussian historians who saw the rise of the state and the rise of the statecontrolled army as synonymous were especially strident: relating military prowess and the mobilization of military resources to survival and national success in war produced a crude – modernization or extinction – mantra which fitted well with the triumphalist assumptions of a post-1870 Germany. Its emulators, amongst whom were historians of other German states, and, for example, nineteenth-century French administrative historians, were no less prepared to see in military force the rationale for the growth of the state. If historians of seventeenth-century France did not present Cardinal Richelieu or Louis XIV as single-mindedly obsessed with the building of a powerful, effective army, this nonetheless figures extensively in most accounts of the ‘rise of absolutism’ via which the history of French state-building was cast.23 Moreover the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars saw the French citizen army not merely as the product of a second stage of state-formation, but as a triumphant embodiment of the nation in arms.24 Much of this celebration of armies and state-building might seem overly specific, above all, shaped by the particular case of Brandenburg-Prussia, and the circumstances of the creation of the Second Reich in 1871. But crucially for its enduring success, this relationship between military power and the rise of the state was analysed from early on through more comprehensive and nuanced studies, which crossed the borders between history and the social sciences. Max Weber’s analysis of the rise of bureaucracy as a stage in state-formation devoted much attention to the Prussian experience of a militarized administration in which the bureaucratic model could be developed within a disciplined context of contiguous civil and military hierarchies. Military necessity – the requirements of creating and sustaining military force – is the strongest factor in the evolution of bureaucratic process and the development of state power through rational administration.25 Even more than Weber, Otto Hintze’s essays, again in many cases concerned with the history of BrandenburgPrussia, examine much wider conceptual questions relating to European political and constitutional change from the seventeenth into the eighteenth century.26 For Hintze, the requirement to create and maintain a permanent army was the key to determining the construction and character of the state, providing a detailed explanation of its structure and functioning.27 The political identity of the state developed under external military pressure, pressure which forced the hands of governments and their administrators in ways which would challenge existing political structures and consensus. Where Hintze moved the discussion beyond the Prussian school was in refusing to see this process in terms of historical specificities – the particular geopolitics of Brandenburg; the ambitions or



prescience of the Great Elector; Louis XIV’s disposition towards ‘absolutism’. Instead Hintze offered a structural model of the evolution of state power under the simultaneous pressures of external military threat and the need to establish military force adequate to ensure defence, which has retained much of its conceptual potency ever since.28 The basic assumptions of this state-building thesis are straightforward and familiar to most early modern historians. Medieval rulers rarely managed to mobilize adequate financial or material resources, manpower or military technology because they were constrained by the weakness and underdevelopment of central authority, and their lack of administrative reach into outlying territories. Practical authority was fragmented into the hands of multiple provincial and local power-brokers; rulers confronted an array of powerful and wealthy institutions, some of which acknowledged their primary accountability to external authorities; politics was negotiated within an entrenched patchwork of provincial, local and individual privileges and autonomy. Some medieval rulers were more powerful and more capable of extracting resources from this sort of system than others, but they achieved this through personality and short-term, personal expedients rather than the structural transformation of their states. Huge constraints stood in the way of eliminating such systems of decentralized power, not least the absence of any independent force that a ruler who might have wanted to enhance his direct authority could mobilize against the vested interests of his subjects. But in fact few rulers sought to change systems which were validated by tradition and a part of their own mental world, and were characterized by practical working arrangements with subjects that, however conditional, offered some form of practical authority at provincial and local level.29 The changing character and scale of war was the one force capable of forcing rulers and their administrations out of this acquiescence in existing political arrangements, confronting them with the realities of a struggle for military survival. When waged for sufficiently high stakes, war could break down the conservative consensus – in both practical and psychological terms – and open the way to change in specific areas of government which were vital to achieving military success. And cumulatively these changes could contribute to reshaping the entire structure of power in European states in the direction of centralized monarchies underpinned by effective coercive power and run by professional administrators. War was the primary force creating the modern state, sweeping away decentralized administration, local and institutional autonomy and privilege, and replacing them with powerful, centralized institutions with a strong reach into the provinces, the potential to apply coercion through independent force, and a fundamental transformation – via bureaucracy – of the relationship between rulers and subjects.


The Business of War

All of this seems familiar, not least because it has been reiterated in so many subsequent historical and social-science accounts of the construction of the modern state: warfare and its demands and burdens exercise the direct pressure without which rulers and their administrations would continue to acquiesce in systems of government which could provide a barely adequate level of central control, a modest share of the resources of their subjects, and a respectful relationship with socio-political elites with whom rulers generally shared a world view.30 In practice, much of their response to these new problems and challenges can better be characterized as desperate expedients to fund or organize a hand-to-mouth military struggle, rather than as a carefully planned strategy to extend the power of central government, but the long-term effect is no less considerable in shifting political authority in favour of the ruler and his administration. War is not seen as the only force at work in this process of concentrating and institutionalizing power and administrative competence. Attention has been given to the impact of religious reformations and the consequent drive of rulers to impose norms of behaviour and belief on their populations. Another plausible factor in this drive towards early modern statebuilding has been identified as the great economic shift in early modern Europe – population rise, inflationary pressures, economic polarization – generating intense social conflict and a strong preoccupation with social discipline and authority amongst elites. Yet another would identify the self-interest of an administration itself, passing a critical threshold of scale, competence and professional identity, and linking its own collective and individual goals to the extension of government and the elimination of alternative focuses of power and authority.31 Yet the primacy of the ‘military’ explanation for the growth of the European state, and indeed for a competition between states in which survival, expansion and the remodelling of the international system towards powerful, autonomous nation-states will be achieved by those who best organize and deploy their military resources, remains integral to most interpretations of the period.32 The empirical evidence for the pressure of war seems persuasive. Tables showing the increase in the size of armies and navies indicate that the scale of military activity increases dramatically. If France could maintain armies of approximately 30,000 in 1515 which had risen to 340,000 troops by 1692, while England’s naval tonnage increased from around 30,000–40,000 tonnes in 1588 to 196,000 tonnes in 1700, it would seem logical that the administrative burdens of financing, administration, control and deployment of these armed forces should have increased proportionately. The military history of early modern Europe can be presented as a sustained arms-race in which new military technology, geographical scale and numbers of



those engaged in war impose a remorseless, upward pressure on the resources of state and society.33 That these were pressures which could only be met through the direct intervention of the ruler and his administration in the organization and deployment of military force is more often assumed than discussed explicitly, but the typical thrust of such discussion is strongly evident, and no alternatives are considered. Yet successive interpretations and revisions of the relationship between early modern war and political change have drawn attention to a diversity of political outcomes. The simple equation that military pressure will, if the state survives, generate a powerful, centralized Machtstaat governed by the authoritarian will of a ruler backed by a quasi-bureaucratic administration can be shown to be just one of a number of possible results. In contrast, there has been considerable interest in exploring north-west European exceptionalism, differences in the state-systems of eastern Europe, and the various ways in which the pre-existing powers of representative institutions or other power-sharing bodies may shape the ultimate result of these tensions.34 The political trajectory of the Electorate of Saxony in the later seventeenth and the eighteenth century looks very different from that of Brandenburg-Prussia, but it would be hard to deny that the rulers of Saxony were insulated from major military challenges in this period, or did not have to face similar dilemmas of sustaining military force on a base of limited resources. But considerably less attention in these studies has been devoted to the mechanisms by which the state might seek to create and maintain those military forces which are the raison d’être of political and administrative change. This is partly a problem of semantic assumptions: state-building implicitly presupposes that the state is raising and controlling its own troops, and that the multiple burdens of this lead, in turn, to the greater elaboration and development of the centralizing and bureaucratic state. Yet, given that ‘the pressure of war’ in most traditional discussions of the rise of the state is simply presented in terms of an increase in the scale and expense of military operations and forces, this assumption could reasonably be challenged. The state’s answer to the pressure of external warfare might be a resort to massive levels of military decentralization, placing military responsibility into the hands of some of its powerful subjects. Or it might involve raising unprecedented armies by resort to an international mercenary market (as was indeed the case in the first half of the sixteenth century). Both would still require the state to raise immense resources, to confront consequent opposition, and to extend the remit and functions of aspects of its administration; in some cases it might involve drawing upon these military resources, however raised, to provide coercion or support. There is nothing inherently fanciful about such ideas of state support for largely private


The Business of War

military force, especially if the most likely response were to be a typical mixture of some state-raised and organized troops supplemented by large bodies of hired forces raised by contractors. Outside Europe it is not seen as strange, for example, that the Mughal emperors established their military power on the basis of their control of a vast north Indian mercenary market, dwarfing any independent military force that was ever available to European rulers.35 Yet the classic work on military enterprise, Fritz Redlich’s German Military Enterpriser and his Work Force, which provides an unsurpassed range of illustrative detail on the costs, mechanisms and hazards of hiring troops, and about the daily life of those involved in the ‘soldier trade’, is an illuminating instance of traditional thinking in this respect. For all the detail, the picture is of a long-running military expedient which is inevitably subsumed within the much larger and more important historical process, the rise and growth of the state army as part of the political and constitutional formation of the European nation-state. Why then is the implicit assumption behind almost all state-building theory and analysis that the political objective was not just the raising and maintenance of unprecedented military forces, but doing so within a framework of direct state control of those armed forces? A crucial element in this structure of assumptions was provided in the 1950s and early 1960s via two articles and an important section of the major biography of Gustavus Adolphus, king of Sweden from 1611 to 1632, all written by Michael Roberts, which launched a protracted debate about the reality, timing and significance of a ‘military revolution’ in early modern Europe.36 The ‘military revolution’ thesis was the child of ‘war and stateformation’ arguments developed from Hintze onwards. Where Roberts’ own thesis considerably sharpened this argument was in providing an interpretation of the military factors that underpinned the intensification of warfare and the growth in armies. Neither Hintze nor earlier political historians, still less the social scientists, had shown much interest in the fine detail of military change, simply identifying the general shift from feudal host to a large standing army as a catalyst of political transformation. They had not asked why warfare had forced the pace of political change more dramatically in the seventeenth century compared, say, with the fifteenth. The detailed interpretation of military change that was offered by Roberts was in fact an equally familiar, but hitherto unintegrated, account of the tactical transformation of European armies based on the battlefield reforms of the Orange-Nassau Stadholders of the Dutch Republic and Gustavus Adolphus. Printed works about the military implications of infantry firearms, artillery, cavalry roles and tactics, and the new science of fortification,



had been popular throughout the sixteenth century, many of them seemingly intended to provide practical guidance for officers in subjects like ballistics, troop deployment and the military duties of different grades of officer. Many such works, and notoriously Machiavelli’s Arte della guerra, cast their discussion in terms of parallels between the ancient and modern styles of warfare, frequently using an idealized conception of the military customs and organization of Antiquity, and especially the armies of Republican Rome, as a stick with which to beat the supposed failures and deficiencies of modern armies, the most egregious of which, for Machiavelli and many of his contemporaries, was of course the reliance on morally objectionable and militarily deficient mercenaries.37 The case for a radical ‘transformation’ of modern warfare grew out of this fertile soil of theoretical tracts and ancient–modern comparisons, and represents its logical evolution. For instead of joining the general chorus lamenting the extent to which modern warfare fell short of the standards of organization, discipline and training of the Romans, the novelty of the Orange-Nassau theorists of the later sixteenth and early seventeenth century, notably Maurice (Stadholder from 1587/9 to 1625) and his nephew Johann von Nassau-Dillemberg, was to argue that the successful adoption of classical Roman discipline and tactical deployment was the secret of their own armies’ military success.38 The recently established United Provinces had every reason to wish to present its military capabilities in the best possible light. A new republic, struggling for recognition and legitimacy in a world of monarchies for which inheritance and dynastic rights were the currency of international relations and territorial legitimacy, saved from extinction at the hands of Alexander Farnese’s Army of Flanders only by a shift in Philip II’s international priorities in the 1580s: all of this would make it an uphill struggle to persuade other European states, even Protestant powers, that the fledgling republic was worth the risk of recognizing and supporting. The ability to persuade other powers that the United Provinces had both the will and the capability to defend itself against Spanish reconquest and other potential aggressors would be an important element in winning support. Hence the widely publicized, and widely believed, assertions that the army of the States General had been transformed by a rigorous and systematic adoption of the military prescriptions of Aelian, Vegetius and various other classical military writers, so that it transcended the typical indiscipline, poorly articulated command and control, and crude tactics of contemporary armies to become ‘perhaps the most efficient and certainly the most widely imitated force of its age’.39 Above all, typical, loosely focused fighting prowess had been transformed through the development and imposition of formalized drill into collective, mechanical order and obedience.40


The Business of War

The problem with the reformed Dutch army, as many contemporaries noted, was that its main campaigning activity lay in siege warfare, whether the capture of a sequence of Spanish fortresses in the 1590s, or the protracted defence of their own fortified cities in the 1600s.41 It was certainly not evident from the one pitched battle, Nieuwpoort in 1600, which constituted an indubitable Dutch victory, that the nature of war had been permanently transformed. If the tactical advantage was held by the Dutch – though contemporary accounts appear to regard the Dutch cavalry as having played as important a role as the disciplined volley-fire of the infantry – its strategic consequences were negligible and, if anything, positively damaging for the Dutch in terms of military overextension and the opening of deep rifts between the military commanders and their political masters.42 There is little evidence here that warfare had been transformed in a way that would force the pace on every other major military power, even if their military authorities had paid more than token attention to the rhetoric of Kriegskunst-manuals and short-lived military academies.43 The one obvious lesson to be derived from the Dutch style of warfare was the traditional one that troops engaged in siege warfare required adequate logistical support, and were a great deal more likely than troops on campaign to fail if they did not receive supplies and pay. Roberts’ achievement was to shift the focus of attention to phase two of a ‘military revolution’, the application of these ideas about the imposition of regular drill and discipline, the deployment of troops in more flexible units with better systems of command and control, to the battle-hardened army of Gustavus Adolphus as it fought its way through Lithuania and into Polish Prussia, and thence on to the battlefields of the Thirty Years War. Roberts argued that Gustavus achieved a judicious combination of the tactical innovations of the Dutch reformers and the advantages of weight and cohesion offered by the traditional Spanish-style formations. The success of his forces in battle against traditionally organized armies would appear convincing proof of a military transformation, a new battle-winning formula. Subsequent historians’ scepticism about some of these claims for a military transformation will be considered later (see pp. 145–9). As they stand, however, they allowed Roberts to associate this transformation of battlefield tactics and organization with the larger process of war and stateformation as a single, cohesive ‘revolution’. Tactical and organizational transformation on the battlefield opened the possibility, long lost in European warfare, of pursuing a strategy of annihilation, subjecting enemies to a sequence of defeats so devastating that they would have no choice but to sue for peace on the victor’s terms. But to make this strategy effective required vastly larger armies, capable of underpinning a whole new



dimension of strategic thinking. Moreover the risk of such crushing defeats would itself stimulate states to raise many more troops in order to avoid the consequences of heavy losses in battles now fought with better combinations of weaponry and new tactics. So from a historically specific set of military changes and developments, Roberts’ argument returns to the traditional path. The early modern state, faced with the imperative of establishing ever-larger armies (and navies), is thus forced to demand more of the resources of its subjects to pay for these, to organize more effective administrative mechanisms to raise and control the newly enlarged military, and to regulate the consequences of the heavy-handed imposition of taxes and military burdens. The logic of military demands would lead ultimately to the ‘well-ordered police state’ in which codified and ubiquitous regulation of all aspects of civil society through an evermore elaborated bureaucracy would transform the relationship of the individual to authority. Roberts’ aim was to explain how the military revolution had generated the ‘great divide separating medieval society from the modern world’.44 Contested, redefined and subject to outright challenge, the military revolution thesis has nonetheless exercised a pervasive impact on the understanding of early modern history. It revived and reshaped the arguments about war and state-building, and generated a host of books and articles which specifically address the relationship between the military revolution and the growth of the modern state.45 Especially significant for the marginalization of military enterprise from this debate is the starting point of the revolution thesis, the anti-mercenary rhetoric of early modern military reformers, who claimed to have transformed the art of war and to have borrowed and adapted the military practices of Republican Rome to make good the failure of contemporary armies. The Orange-Nassau reforms, and those of their emulators, required a clean sweep of the corrupt practices, individualism and military feebleness which had apparently characterized war since the advent of the hired Italian mercenaries, the condottiere. The establishment of true discipline, obedience and military order could only develop from a different kind of soldier, ideally one who would internalize the moral ideals of this new style of collective discipline.46 This change in fighting style to emphasize collective discipline, the systematic drilling of the individual soldier and the more sophisticated articulation of tactical units within the army is treated as incompatible with military organization established on the basis of mercenaries serving for individual gain, and raised under private contracts by officers who owned these units as property. At one level this is a strange opinion. The Dutch army of the early seventeenth century, as is well known but little


The Business of War

studied, was a force at least 50 per cent composed of hired foreign mercenaries.47 The Swedish army serving under Gustavus Adolphus in Germany peaked at around 90 per cent mercenaries – predominantly Germans and Scots – in 1632. Mercenaries might, at a shift, be improved by these new practices of drill and exact discipline; Gustavus held up the Scottish mercenaries in his army as more apt than any other nation to absorb and practise his new tactical and organizational instructions.48 But intrinsic to the rhetorical underpinnings of these reformist ideas was the notion that effective discipline, the achievement of the well-ordered military machine, required a long-term permanent army, uniformly placed under a single source of authority and control. For those looking at the military revolution from a longer-term national as well as state-building perspective, the case seems even stronger: the ideal ‘national’ army was one based on either volunteers or conscripts upon whom military service and its demands would deliberately seek to impose a strong sense of collective identity, not just within units but across the entire army. If the army is seen as representing the values of the nation, then the notion that it can be recruited and maintained through the investment of private enterprisers seems even more inappropriate. Even without the argument for transformation via a military revolution, the private organization and provision of military force was seen as anomalous and marginal to the process of state-formation. Military revolution would seem to render it even more redundant by its central preoccupation with tactical and organizational change, which was deliberately envisaged as the antithesis of what is characterized as a mercenary tradition of loosely integrated, undisciplined fighting potential, incapable of achieving decisive military results and dominated by the short-term pursuit of selfinterest. The conclusion seems obvious: the ‘business of war’ has to be cleared off the historical stage before the real work of military revolution and political transformation can begin. In the words of one writer, the military enterpriser Albrecht Wallenstein was simply ‘an anachronism . . . merely one of a long line of German military enterprisers whose art . . . was rapidly being outmoded by permanent military establishments under state administration’.49 The ‘great divide’ which separates the medieval from the modern military world would leave privatized military force firmly on the medieval side. The present book attempts to offer an overview of early modern military contracting. It does so in terms which seek to understand contracting in its own terms, both as a set of multi-faceted and evolving structures for the organization and deployment of military force, and as a phenomenon which was far from marginal to the military and political processes at work in early modern European states. Reliance on private organization



and capital in raising and maintaining armies and navies was neither synonymous with military ineffectiveness, nor an obscure historical culde-sac, a system which had no future amongst the rulers and administrators of early modern states. This is a short book on a very large subject, and as such it focuses attention on western and central Europe. Military enterprise and contracting are a significant presence in eastern and south-eastern European states, but would require a considerably more extensive range of linguistic expertise to treat with any sophistication, and such elements play a less clear-cut role in an existing historiographical debate about war, military organization and state-formation. Nor does the book examine in more than cursory fashion what was perhaps the greatest of all European military enterprises, the creation of joint-stock trading companies and their colonial military activities. Once again, the excuse for this omission is both space and the basic recognition that the activities of the companies are shaped by military developments and possibilities within Europe and not vice versa. The book is divided into two parts. The first, ‘Foundations and Expansion’, examines the emergence and elaboration of systems of military enterprise through the sixteenth century down to the end of the Thirty Years War. The second part, ‘Operations and Structures’, shows how contracting worked from military and organizational perspectives, and examines changes in emphasis and role in the century after 1660. Within Part I, Chapter 1 looks at various types of private military force and organization available to European states in the period before the midsixteenth century. It focuses attention on the Swiss, and the German Landsknecht infantry, not just as substantial contributors to the market in hired soldiers, but because understanding the reasons for the effectiveness of these two military systems has lasting implications for a wider grasp of the qualities and strengths of early modern armies. The second chapter begins with an account of the mid-sixteenth-century crisis faced by states which had relied heavily for their military forces on a traditional market in international mercenaries. It suggests that the primary reason for this crisis was the unfolding of conflict over much longer periods of continuous campaigning, a process which was to culminate in the Thirty Years War, but had begun in the 1550s. This challenge of sustaining military force over long sequences of campaigns pushed existing mechanisms of state-controlled war finance to breaking point, but also offered the opportunity systematically to deploy the credit of military contractors: the role and character of private military organization was to be transformed by the rise of the enterpriser, offering his credit as well as organization and military skills in raising troops for the state. The high-point of this development was reached in the Thirty Years War, but this conflict was characterized by the flourishing and development


The Business of War

of a wide variety of different systems of what could broadly be termed ‘public–private partnerships’ in the deployment of military force. As Chapter 3 shows, these could range from the almost entirely traditional, state-dominated models, in which mercenaries were hired and deployed under contracts from which they received substantial up-front funding to cover recruitment and initial costs, right through to a few examples of full armies being raised entirely at the cost and risk of the military enterprisers themselves. It was the middle ground of contractors investing in their units and the infrastructure of the army, but doing so under the aegis of some element of agreed state provision or state-sanctioned funding, and often in conjunction with some central administrative oversight of the military system, which was most common and would prove most resilient. Opening the discussion in Part II, Chapter 4 presents a detailed challenge to the assertions that enterprise was an ineffective, wasteful and destructive means to wage war: it draws on the earlier discussion of Landsknecht fighting traditions, and emphasizes the adaptability and operational effectiveness of forces maintained by commanders who were themselves proprietors of military units and worked closely with their colonel-proprietors to combine military effectiveness with the sustainability of their investment in troops and matériel. The most crucial aspect of maintaining strike-power and the capacity to sustain forces in ambitious and extended campaigning was ensuring adequate supplies of arms, equipment, food and munitions to the troops. Chapter 5 discusses the wide range of options for the provisioning and equipping of armies under contract, and the practical benefits of tying these into international production, mercantile and financial networks that were considerably more sophisticated and extensive than anything available to an individual state administration seeking to provide for the logistical needs of its armies and navies. When military contractors themselves established close working links with financial and mercantile agents who had direct access to resources, technical expertise and a wide range of contacts, it proved possible to overcome many of the apparently insuperable logistical barriers to military effectiveness. The second half of the chapter examines the rewards of military enterprise. Some of these rewards were straightforwardly financial, but war fought by contractors did not diminish the possibilities of acquiring social and cultural prestige from military service, and the section shows that this incentive could further explain the levels of sustained commitment shown by many of those whose motives might be dismissed as simply pursuing the business of war. Military contracting during the Thirty Years War was not a selfevidently destructive failure, and unsurprisingly many of the structures established as part of ‘private–public partnerships’ for organizing and



deploying military force were retained in the second half of the seventeenth century and beyond. There was no dramatic break, no abandonment of a discredited past associated with ‘medieval’ decentralization and devolved power. The language of military authority changed to emphasize the direct control of the ruler over his armed forces and to counteract any implication of authority mediated through military proprietorship. In many cases rulers used the experience of war taxes imposed during the Thirty Years War as a bargaining counter to obtain permanent tax grants from their subjects that would allow them to establish small permanent armies. But the wartime enlargement of these armies, and often a significant part of the running costs of maintaining even small numbers of permanent troops, depended upon retaining or creating mechanisms to co-opt the financial resources of the officers. Whether this came through the marketing of officerships via official or unofficial venality, or through the maintenance of regimental or company proprietorship, the aim was entirely traditional: to maintain a strong financial interest amongst the officers in the operational effectiveness of their units. Beyond the units themselves, the entire structure of logistical support, equipping and arming of the troops was almost without exception put out to contract in the hands of private enterprisers. Even the building of warships and the establishment of dockyards, often seen as a preserve of state administration and direct funding after 1650, still depended in large part on outsourcing to private contractors. Instead of assuming that the Thirty Years War tested to destruction a fundamentally flawed mechanism for the raising and maintenance of military force, and then treating the subsequent period as the decisive move towards the achievement of a state-controlled ‘monopoly of violence’, there is much to be said for stressing the strong elements of continuity in state/military relations, and the deliberate maintenance of systems that drew heavily on private capital, expertise and organization. Rulers now asserted explicitly and directly their claim to the command of armed forces within their jurisdiction and to all decisions about their use. One consequence of this was that the subtle means–ends balance that had characterized the deployment of military force during the later Thirty Years War was broken; armies and navies grew inexorably larger and more expensive under the aegis of rulers who saw them as an extension of their dynastic self-perception and ambitions. Paradoxically, of course, this made the role of private capital and private organizational input into recruiting, equipping and mobilizing troops all the more vital. Historical thinking about war and the state in the later seventeenth and eighteenth century needs to accommodate itself to a different set of assumptions where, writing of the eighteenth-century French army, Jean


The Business of War

Chagniot could assert that it was the War of the Spanish Succession (1702–13) which saw the apogee of military enterprise in France.50 Nomenclature Some of the terminology used in discussing early modern military organization and military enterprise can be confusing. Throughout the book I employ the useful concept, derived from Fritz Redlich, of the ‘warlord’ as the party contracting with the military enterpriser for the raising of troops. Warlords will tend to be territorial rulers, but this would not exclude the town council of a wealthy city raising troops for their own defence, or potentially an aristocrat raising troops on his own account. Although contemporary titles for the commander of a regiment-sized unit vary from state to state – maestre de campo in Spain, maître de camp in France, for example – I use ‘colonel’ consistently to designate the commander of such units, the typical building-blocks of armies raised by enterprisers. In the case of infantry this unit itself could vary from a theoretical strength of 1,200–1,500 men up to the 4,000 of a full Landsknecht regiment. Cavalry regiments were smaller, largely because the costs of equipping them and providing the horses were so considerable. In both cases theoretical full strength could be substantially larger than the real, operational strength. The earlier Swiss equivalent of a regiment, the Haufe, or Gevierthaufe, could be of varying size, and was usually made up of a number of exceptionally large ‘companies’ whose main characteristic was that the men would be drawn from a particular canton. But Swiss troops serving under ‘free’ commanders – troops provided for a warlord without cantonal authority – would also be divided into companies under a captainproprietor (Hauptmann). By the seventeenth century the Swiss would be hired out to warlords in more typical regiment-sized units. Where appropriate I use the Spanish term tercio rather than regiment, especially as the Spanish army would include tercios of Castilian troops and also contracted regiments of Landsknechte or Walloons. Regiments are in all cases subdivided into companies, and the commanders of these companies, the captains, may be the clients or appointees of the colonel-proprietor, serving at his expense, or may be subcontractors, who have themselves committed funds to raising troops. Free companies are no less an important part of this military world, in which the captain levies and maintains a freestanding company, perhaps as the basis of a garrison. I use the term ‘mercenary’ sparingly, and reserve it for a unit commander who raised troops under a traditional contract in which the costs of recruitment and a substantial advance of wages are paid up front, and as a precondition of the contract taking effect. In contrast to the



mercenary captain or colonel, the ‘military enterpriser’ provided the organization and the military skill, but also advanced his financial credit to the warlord. Colonels, but also more senior commanders, and captains of free companies, can all be military enterprisers, as can all of their equivalents at sea. I refer to those senior officers who command an army made up of enterpriser-colonels, which may well include themselves as owner of one or more regiments, simply as commanders – or sometimes as generals. The concept of the ‘general contractor’, though frequently used, is a slippery term. Strictly, it should refer to a commander who has raised an entire army on his own account and risk, or has shared that risk with his subcontracting colonels, and offers the army to the service of potential warlords. On this basis Ernst von Mansfeld in the early 1620s would be a general contractor, but Wallenstein, whose army was always dependent on resources made available by the Emperor, never enjoyed this status. Moreover, even Mansfeld and others like Bernard von Saxe-Weimar could be regarded as moving in and out of being general contractors depending on the terms they had negotiated with a particular warlord. With stylistic rather than contemporary justification, I use the concept of the ‘colonel-proprietor’ more for the period after 1650, and to describe the holder of a regiment in an established, permanent army. As a term for a colonel who possesses a property in his regiment through his own investment there is in fact no reason for not using it in the earlier period.

Part 1

Foundations and expansion


Military resources for hire, 1450–1560

This battle of Anghiari (1440) lasted two hours, during which first Niccolò [Piccinino] and then the Florentine troops were masters of the bridge . . . Niccolò’s troops won the bridge many times, and always they were repelled by the fresh troops of their adversaries. But when the bridge was won by the Florentines, so that their troops gained the road, Niccolò did not have time, because of the fury of those who came and the inconvenience of the site, to relieve his men . . . the whole army was compelled to turn round and everyone fled toward Borgo without any hesitation. The Florentine soldiers attended to the spoil, which was very great in prisoners, harnesses and horses . . . Nor were there ever times when war waged in these countries or others was less dangerous for whoever waged it than these. In such a defeat . . . only one man died, and he not from wounds or any virtuous blow, but falling off his horse, he was trampled on and expired.1

On 31 August 1515 the recently crowned king of France, François I, at the head of an army which had just crossed down into Italy, halted at Bufalora, 50 kilometres south of Milan. Standing between the king and his objective was the ruler of the Duchy, Massimiliano Sforza, and an army whose core was made up of 12,000–15,000 Swiss infantry. François had not neglected diplomatic efforts to gain Milan, and his agents had been in negotiations with the leaders of the Swiss since late August. Already 5,000 Swiss from Fribourg and Berne had accepted French terms and marched out of the Milanese.2 On 9 September a treaty was agreed by which the rest of the Swiss troops would accept 1 million écus to abandon the territories they occupied in the Milanese and their military contract with Sforza. Expecting merely to settle the details of the treaty, François and his army of around 30,000 men, together with the best artillery in Europe, moved to Marignano, where they established a well-fortified encampment. While this was going on, the Swiss debated what to do next. Half those present voted to accept the French offer and return home, but others 27


Military resources for hire, 1450–1560

from the eastern cantons argued that they were bound to honour their contract with Sforza. The arrival of a further 10,000 Swiss helped to tip the balance in favour of maintaining loyalty to the duke and upholding their contract. On 13 September around 21,000 Swiss infantry moved out of Milan in three great blocks, intent on a direct confrontation with the French. The French superiority in numbers and firepower was overwhelming, and the troops had used the opportunity to construct gun emplacements and maximize the advantages of the terrain.3 The Swiss had no illusions about the fact that they were fighting in almost impossible conditions and would suffer terrible casualties. Signifying this awareness, the captain of the Zug contingent enacted a short, moving ritual before the assault commenced: picking up three clods of earth in front of the first square of infantry, he threw them over the heads of the troops with the words: ‘in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, this will be our churchyard, my good, faithful compatriots’.4 The battle was fought over two days, brought the Swiss close to victory at crucial moments, but was ultimately won by the endurance of the French forces – some 23,000 of whom were German mercenary Landsknechte – and the arrival of 9,000–10,000 Venetian troops on the morning of the second day. The remaining Swiss troops withdrew in good order, but the available sources suggest that some 8,000–9,000 were killed on the battlefield or died subsequently of their wounds in Milan.5 These two accounts illustrate diametrically opposed views of private enterprise warfare. Machiavelli’s account of Anghiari is fictitious: it was far from being a bloodless struggle, and the battle and the campaign of 1440 were crucial to the survival of Florentine independence.6 Yet Machiavelli’s animus was real even if his facts were not, and points to a debate about the use of mercenary companies that has dominated discussion of the military history of Renaissance Italy. In Machiavelli’s eyes, the real crime of mercenaries was not just that they were feeble combat troops, but that they commercialized war: they turned it from a crucible for forging republican virtù amongst citizen-soldiers into a cost–benefit calculation in which service, fighting, flight and booty were simply negotiable commodities. On the other side, the account of Marignano illustrates the hybrid character of the mercenary system and the perils either of romanticizing the events, given the large number of contingents bought off before the battle, or of dismissing such troops in general as motivated only by pay and plunder – which cannot explain the behaviour of the rest in a situation where the odds on victory were slight, the certainty of massive slaughter overwhelming. Historians’ accounts of Marignano frequently betray an exasperation with the Swiss troops: an already anachronistic system,

Military resources for hire, 1450–1560


dependent on pikes, blood and guts, being irrationally deployed in a battle which was as much to do with honour as strategy. Most accounts of Marignano assert that the vulnerability of the Swiss pike-square to French cannon and cavalry inaugurated five centuries of Swiss neutrality, and drastically curtailed the hiring out of mercenaries by the cantons. It is often, incorrectly, assumed that the Swiss were subsequently drawn into an exclusive treaty to provide troops for the French. Few of these histories indicate that, far from denting their reputation, Marignano ensured that Swiss troops were more sought after than ever, reinforcing their central role in European armies for more than a century. What both these accounts point to is the centrality of mercenaries both in early modern armies and in debate about the nature of warfare. But who exactly was a mercenary in early modern armies or navies? Who was a ‘hired’ soldier and who was ‘serving’ a military master? Contemporary critics of mercenaries rarely had difficulty defining their target: for them, a mercenary was straightforwardly a foreign soldier brought into service by a ruler and serving for pay.7 The obvious problem is that service for pay no more defined a mercenary in the sixteenth or seventeenth century than it does in the twenty-first. Any army which is more than a local defence force, mustered at need and usually for a fixed number of days, will require payment in some form and from some source. No amount of humanist-inspired enthusiasm for an idealized republic in which a propertied class of citizens express their civic virtue through unpaid military service would turn this into a military reality in early modern Europe. A slightly more realistic approach distinguishes the soldier, simply provided with subsistence while serving a higher ideological or collective motive, from the mercenary, whose entire concern was the maximization of personal gain. But such distinctions inevitably crumble under scrutiny. Is the career soldier in the sixteenth or the twenty-first century, whose progress in service will be accompanied by increases in pay, a mercenary? Most early modern soldiers were paid wages which frequently fell to the level of basic subsistence – food rations, munitions and occasional clothing. Does this imply that they cease to be mercenaries, although their commanding officers, who continued to benefit to some extent from the ‘business of the regiment’, presumably still fall into the category? Defining the mercenary as a foreigner, lacking any identity with the state which has hired him, is no less problematic. The states and territories of early modern Europe were as much defined by the dynastic claims of their rulers as any shared geographical, linguistic or cultural identity. If military service to the ruler of your own state removed the charge of being a mercenary, then it could reasonably be argued that Charles V, ruler of the Habsburg dynastic conglomerate, and Holy Roman Emperor of the


Military resources for hire, 1450–1560

German lands and of Reichsitalien, never hired a mercenary during his reign; or certainly he never knowingly did so, since he had more than sufficient military potential amongst his diverse subjects. Even for rulers whose dynastic claims extended less widely, such a definition of ‘foreigner’, though congenial to the republican-minded citizen of an Italian city-state, would not do much to identify a discrete class of early modern soldier. Some mercenaries – Scots in Danish service, for example – were clearly foreign; but were regiments raised in the north German territories of the king of Denmark also foreign when serving on Danish territory? Or Finnish regiments of conscripts serving in garrisons on Swedish territory? The concept of a mercenary as it is usually understood, and as it was used by its detractors in early modern Europe, is both an overly specific and in many cases irrelevant means to define the character of much military organization. Behind it of course is the moralizing potential for identifying troops whose service is justified as crudely monetary – literally mercenary – and unredeemed by any higher loyalty to country, home or natural ruler. Yet if French contracts to hire Swiss troops in the sixteenth century and later might come close to such a definition of ‘mercenary’, the great bulk of European military activity would fall wide of this target. It is no less clear, however, that this other military activity cannot be described as state-controlled, or as direct ‘service to the state’. ‘Standing’ forces, which are traditionally seen as the creation of absolute monarchs in the later seventeenth century and are easily linked to the development of the nation-state and its ‘monopoly of violence’, had existed, as a small proportion of the ruler’s potential armed strength, throughout the middle ages. With rare exceptions, these forces remained comparatively small – from a few hundred men, scarcely more than a bodyguard, to a few thousand. The permanent forces of the king of France from the mid-fifteenth century numbered around 6,000 men,8 but no European ruler possessed the financial resources of an Ottoman sultan or Mughal emperor, and none could hope to maintain a permanent, fullsized campaign army of even 10,000–20,000 men from ordinary income. In some cases these small, standing forces did offer the possibility of establishing what might be identified as a state-controlled military establishment: soldiers recruited through state administration, officered by the ruler’s direct appointments and supervised by his agents.9 But just as often these forces were hired from territories outside the ruler’s jurisdiction, notably, for example, the use of units of Swiss troops serving in many rulers’ households by the sixteenth century. And some of the ruler’s own subject troops in these forces might serve under contracts made with colonels and captains, who would themselves provide the junior officers, soldiers, and sometimes the equipment.10

Irregulars and privateers


The practice of contracting-out was equally typical when much larger armies and navies needed to be created. The usual form of early modern military force was provided by soldiers and sailors whose recruitment and terms of service were not directly controlled by the public military administration of the state. The ruler, or one of his agents, would have issued a commission devolving responsibility to an individual commander for raising the troops, probably for equipping and arming them, and taking control of their mustering and rendezvous with the army at a stipulated time and place. Though the unit’s service after this time might be under the direct control of the military authorities, the strong element of private organization and input, the direct recruitment of junior officers and NCOs, and the continuing proprietary interest of the commanding officer who conducted the levy, all defined the terms of engagement. This would be the same with naval forces: a contract granting the rights to construct, crew and equip a warship (or to convert a merchant ship in this way) involved a level of private involvement in the raising of a navy which would remain even if the warships were subsequently to serve under direct state control and pay. Many of these troops serving a ruler under contract in this way would not be regarded as ‘mercenaries’ in the narrow, pejorative sense used by their critics. The terms ‘non-state violence’ and ‘non-state actors’ would be one way of broadening the frames of reference, but given that much of the discussion in the present book seeks to blur the lines between military activity which is clearly of the ‘state’ and that which is ‘private’, this seems overly prescriptive.11 Yet from the very outset of the early modern period, the variety of military forces serving under contract raises important and wide-ranging issues about the nature of military organization and the relationship between rulers, states and the availability and use of military resources. The rest of this chapter will examine some of the different forms in which military force was available under contract to rulers at the beginning of the early modern period. Chapters 2 and 3 will then examine the way in which the nature of these contracts started to evolve towards fully fledged military enterprise by the first half of the seventeenth century. Irregulars and privateers One of the oldest and most traditional means to supplement the military resources of a state was simply to form a loose association of political interests with groups, whether these were subjects or independent peoples, who shared common enemies or faced a common threat. Unsurprisingly these associations were most common in frontier regions and borderlands,


Military resources for hire, 1450–1560

or areas where control of the seas was under dispute. The ability of the Cossack communities in Ukraine, for example, to provide defence in depth against the Ottomans, albeit on their own terms, made recognition and association with the Cossacks attractive at different times to both Polish and the Muscovite rulers.12 But the problem posed by the security of borders is perhaps epitomized by the extended frontier stretching from the Adriatic and along the line which separated the Habsburg and Ottoman parts of Hungary after the Ottoman victory at Mohacs in 1526. This was a long, sinuous and contested frontier, stretching through open and underpopulated territory which even in settled circumstances would have possessed limited agricultural potential to maintain large garrisons, let alone field armies. For the Habsburgs, struggling with multiple European commitments and continuous demands on their financial resources, a solution needed to be found for the Ottoman frontier which would provide some level of security at sustainable expense. The key element of the defence system was based upon a few imposing fortresses supplemented by lesser garrisons and local defence works, requiring a permanent military force of around 15,000–20,000 men.13 Part of the costs of the troops and the fortifications was covered by taxes levied within the Holy Roman Empire, and part was funded from Habsburg resources. But this was inadequate as a means to secure a frontier which stretched from Croatia to Transylvania. Elsewhere, the solution was dependence on local communities, either already in existence or established as colonies in or just behind the frontier zone.14 These groups would supplement a basic living from agriculture with banditry and raiding carried out across the frontiers, and a willingness to defend their own territories against incursions by equivalent cross-frontier communities, or against larger-scale military activity. For the Habsburg central state and notional ruler of such territories, they provided a vital buffer: they prevented enemy forces or enemy communities encroaching into Habsburg territory and potentially threatening more important bases and centres; they unsettled civilian and garrison life on the other side of the frontiers by their raids and attacks; they may have lacked regular military organization, but they were able to harass and slow the advance of regular forces, giving the Habsburg armies time to concentrate and confront the danger posed by the invasion. A classic case on this frontier of such an alliance by loose association was the Hapsburg reliance on the Uskok communities in Croatia, based round the strategic seaport of Senj.15 The Habsburgs guaranteed the local political and commercial privileges of the Uskok communities in return for their willingness to defend the city of Senj itself and to act as a military force in the region.16 The garrison duties were shared with a small force of

Irregulars and privateers


contracted German soldiers. Both the Germans and the majority of Uskoks in the garrison were paid wages that were almost inevitably in arrears, even when the payment had been commuted to grain deliveries – in theory to be allocated as local taxes in kind.17 The combination of a proportion of the male Uskok population performing virtually unpaid service in garrison, and the rest of the community dependent on land with limited agricultural potential, turned banditry and piracy from activities connected with the defence of the frontier into a modus vivendi, with its own economic and social dynamics. The Uskoks engaged in both cross-border raiding on land, with bands financed and assembled by local nobles, and a form of seaborne, coastal piracy. This latter was characteristic of a large part of pirate activity in the early modern period: small ships, part-oared, part-sails, and more likely to prey on vessels which had put into the coast or into a small harbour, than trying to take prizes on the open sea. The typical Uskok shipborne pirate force would be of ten to thirty men, with wages and the costs of the ship paid by a leader whose claim to the status was essentially that of having the money or the credit to finance a piracy expedition.18 The political limitations in deploying these ‘associated’ forces were very apparent; in times of war with the Ottoman Empire, Vienna found the low-cost land and naval activities of the Uskoks a useful element in the system of frontier defence. But periods of truce or deliberately scaleddown conflict would not necessarily be accompanied by any comparable scaling-down on the part of the Uskoks, for whom raiding and piracy were not a military strategy but an economic necessity. Moreover Uskok piracy not only targeted Ottoman shipping in the Adriatic, but preyed fairly indiscriminately on Venetian ships and any others they could lay hands on. Habsburg sponsorship of Uskok communities, which the Venetians saw as grave threats to their own mercantile activity, ultimately led to an expensive and unsuccessful war in 1616–17 between Archduke Ferdinand of Styria, the future Emperor Ferdinand II, and the Venetians. But long before this dénouement the relationship had provoked numerous unwanted diplomatic incidents and military clashes.19 Only by paying the Uskok communities regularly for their military services could the Austrian Habsburgs have exercised control over their military activities, turning indiscriminate piracy into controlled and directed privateering. But as the main purpose of forming these loose military associations was to avoid paying anything approaching the full military costs of their activities, it was no less necessary to live with the consequences of a force that was undoubtedly useful when war with the Ottomans was going through one of its hot phases, but a diplomatic embarrassment at other times.20

Fig. 1.1 A pirate sloop operating in coastal waters

Hiring private naval forces


The Uskoks raise a larger question about entirely private military activity. They were a refugee population drawn to this part of the Adriatic coast by the possibility of taking part in profitable military operations, and would seem to have been remarkably well placed to combine raiding and piracy from their bases. The economy of Senj revolved round the purchase and disposal of captured booty, but the beneficiaries of this were in general prosperous middlemen, who advanced the funds to purchase ships, hire crews or fund and provision land operations, and would expect to reclaim a high proportion of all the profits of the expedition.21 Moreover, as in so many other centres of pirate activity, goods often needed to be sold at knock-down prices if they were perishable, or in less than perfect markets if they were rare and valuable. An obvious question throughout the early modern period is whether freelance military operations, even on the relatively small scale of Uskok raiding parties and pirate sloops with crews of ten or twenty men, were financially and organizationally viable? Hiring private naval forces Private naval activity operated at a number of levels.22 At the lowest level it could be seen in the individual warship, financed and often captained by an individual with some capital or access to credit, pursuing piracy as a high-risk, high-reward alternative to mercantile activity. In some cases, the obvious examples being colonial piracy, a number of these independently established and financed ships might associate themselves together informally, or even as a formal chartered company, in order to pursue a larger objective. The ruler of the state where these ships were raised could offer two important supports to this type of activity, which might also coopt it under his political and military control. He, or in the best-known English cases, she, could become involved as a shareholder-investor in the expedition: either fitting out entire ships, or investing capital in those already being brought together.23 Most importantly, it was the ruler’s sovereignty which legitimized such activities. Criminal acts of piracy, once the ships were formally incorporated into the military activities of the ruler in his pursuit of war against another power, could be turned into legitimate acts of privateering. Even in cases where formal war had not been declared, rulers could still offer the sanction of ‘letters of marque’, agreeing that acts of violence or pillage had been committed against one of their own seafaring subjects, that formal redress had not been received, and authorizing them to seek compensation against the offending power.24 The advantages of legitimate status as privateers could prove legally and financially important to those involved in the activity in


Military resources for hire, 1450–1560

numerous ways, especially when dealing with third-party seafaring powers. The ruler’s sanction over the activities of the privateers may still seem weak, and in many cases the advantage of using such forces to pursue low-level warfare remained the potential to deny responsibility for their actions at a diplomatic level.25 But as Walter Raleigh discovered in 1618, there were occasions when this association with the ruler and his policies had implications which went further than simply a coincidence of commercial and political interests. At the next level of private seapower, loose associations of privately owned vessels might group themselves together in certain ports, or cooperate regularly to achieve shared objectives such as intercepting merchant convoys. From the 1560s French Protestant shipowners along the western coasts of France turned to piracy in large numbers, and combined together both to pursue immediate gain, and to reinforce the Protestants’ political position in France and abroad by intercepting Spanish ships en route for the Netherlands and disrupting communications and supplies that might serve the Catholic policies of the crown.26 Spanish privateers in the following century pursued a similar, partindependent and part-collective campaign against Dutch, then French ships during the Thirty Years War.27 In these and numerous other cases the military associations between the ships were informal, but at the same time a regular feature of their activities.28 The fact that these ships also operated out of a limited number of ports, and that they shared the dock facilities and the markets for disposal of plunder and prizes, and may well have collaborated in the distribution of money from joint captures, all served to bring them into a closer association and collective identity than the small-scale privateering expedition, in which one or a handful of ships undertakes a single, limited assignment.29 Controlling the activities of these seagoing collectives and co-opting them into a particular military role required rulers to recognize that the bottom line for the participants and the backers was gaining sufficient prizes and booty to make the operations self-financing and profitable.30 In the case of the Protestant pirates, the French monarchy of course had no control over their activities at all, while the extent to which the Protestant leadership could hope to coordinate their activities with the land-based operations of Protestant armies was limited: the leadership was in no position to contribute funds or to dictate policies which would involve direct loss to the shipowners. Their obvious appeal was to a shared sense of Protestant solidarity and the common fight for survival.31 In the case of the large-scale Spanish privateering operations, the Spanish crown had some control over operations, given that the essential requirement for privateering was free access to secure and well-defended ports. The

Hiring private naval forces


defences at La Coruña, Vigo and San Sebastián, and the similarly wellmaintained fortifications at Dunkirk for the Flanders privateers, were essential to the viability of their operations: the safe havens behind which the ships could be repaired and provisioned, and prizes and booty could be secured and ultimately auctioned.32 Given that the privateers were dependent on state-maintained, fortified bases, they were obliged to work within the framework of crown military policy or face expulsion and a hazardous existence as truly independent pirates. In the case of the Dunkirk privateers, the Spanish crown took the integration of private and state-coordinated military activity a great deal further. The activities of the sixty to seventy privateering ships operating out of Dunkirk in the 1620s and 1630s were supplemented by a squadron of directly controlled and funded royal frigates. Larger, custom-built and better-armed than the ordinary privateering ships, they could take the initiative in launching privateering operations, attack far larger and better-armed ships or convoys, and facilitate policies that were both more profitable and served the interests of the Spanish crown better than would have been possible via forces of entirely independent privateers.33 The frigates provided the cutting edge to naval operations in which the privateers were the numerous auxiliaries, submitting to campaign plans and leadership from which they would expect to make larger profits than their own smaller-scale guerre de course could achieve. Above the level of individual and collective privateering could be placed more formal associations of ships, still privately owned and financed, but more effectively and permanently coordinated within a formal hierarchy of leadership. The line here can be difficult to establish, but the Barbary corsairs, for at least the first half of the sixteenth century, were subordinated and expected to participate in larger military projects directed by the Ottoman government from Constantinople, albeit that these policies involved capturing prizes, looting and plundering Christian coasts and generating income for the individual shipowners.34 The Knights of St John could be placed at the next level: a tighter structure and organization than the corsairs, and though the Order as an institution was selffinancing through landed endowments and through the capture and sale of prizes, the role of the individual galley commander was much less prominent.35 The Knights and their half-dozen galleys were outnumbered in Malta by privateers, many of whom were ex-members of the Order who had taken up private operations after ‘retiring’.36 As Malta was a fief of the Spanish monarchy, and Charles V had granted the Order the right to establish themselves there when they were driven from Rhodes in 1522, the extent that they could escape becoming an adjunct to the Spanish galley fleet was limited.37 They were expected to sail in support


Military resources for hire, 1450–1560

of Spanish naval campaigns against Ottoman forces, and to act more generally as adjuncts to Spanish naval strategy. Other fleets enjoyed a similar position of organizational semiautonomy. If the Order of Santo Stefano was created by the initiative of Cosimo I, Grand Duke of Tuscany, the organization and constitution of what was an institution to raise and manage a squadron of galleys was kept formally independent of the official naval forces of the Grand Duke.38 The Order was intended to be self-financing through successful, large-scale privateering against the Moors and the enemies of Tuscany. Over the period 1562–87 it owned and operated ten full-sized war galleys, ensuring that self-financing military operations based on prize-taking would need to enjoy considerable success to cover costs.39 In practice the Order’s financial viability depended on becoming an adjunct to the Tuscan galley squadron, or being entered into the service of the Spanish Mediterranean fleet.40 A similar, even closer relationship between the establishment of a fleet of first-rank war galleys and the assumption that their costs would be recovered through leasing them to the major powers can be seen in the case of Genoa. A weak Republican government was dominated by a group of powerful families, who owned not simply the great bulk of Genoese financial resources but the great majority of the military resources as well. Aware that operating fully crewed galleys was a costly financial venture, and that the risk of failing to cover their costs through prize-taking was high, Genoese galley-owning families like the Spinola and the Centurión established links with the French and Spanish governments, assuming that the principal source of funding for the squadrons and profit for the investors would be these contracts.41 (See pp. 80–3.) Outside the control of any particular state, Charles de GonzagueNevers, a minor sovereign prince most of whose territories were in France, managed to establish a short-lived but entirely private navy. Obsessed with his Gonzaga family lineage linking him to the Byzantine Paleologus dynasty, Charles travelled the courts of Europe in the 1610s and early 1620s, trying to sell the idea of a crusade in the Morea to the Catholic powers. As a result of various pensions and contributions, Charles was able to commission five galleons from Amsterdam shipbuilders in 1619 on behalf of his own, newly founded, crusading order of the ‘Christian Militia’.42 To be built at the cost of 147,000 livres, additional provisions of artillery, sailors, 6,000 soldiers and gunners, equipment, provisions and wages for six months would raise the costs to 1.3 million livres.43 Unfortunately the creation of his fleet coincided with the political uncertainty and military build-up at the start of the Thirty Years War. The galleons were an obvious target. Impounded first by the king of France

Hiring private naval forces


and subject to compulsory purchase, the ships were then seized at Port Louis by the duc de Soubise at the beginning of the French Protestant rebellion of 1625.44 Nevers’ crusading fleet became the core of a Protestant naval squadron maintained at La Rochelle until the end of the revolt.45 Early modern societies could sustain a considerable diversity of private naval activity from individual privateering vessels, small-scale privateering fleets, up to first-rank galley and galleon squadrons. If a ruler wished to make direct use of these resources there were a variety of means at his disposal from co-option based on legitimization of activities and control of facilities, through to the outright hiring under contract of individual ships or entire naval squadrons. At the same time, the owners of such private naval force were aware of their limitations: privateers’ remuneration depended upon the unpredictable capture of prizes or plunder; the financial risks of this made any



Amsterdam Middelberg Ostende Flushing Kinsale Bristol Poole Nieuwpoort Plymouth Dunkirk Wexford


Channel Islands St Malo Nantes

San Sebastián


La Rochelle

Venice Genoa

Senj Zara Piombino Ragusa Vigo La Coruña Guetaria Toulon Orbetello Tarragona Ponza Gaeta Durazzo Naples Minorca Calliari Mallorca Ustica Smyrna Messina Cartagena Cartagena Bizerta Cadiz Tunis Tunis Candia Cadiz Algiers Bougie Malta Oran Oran Djerba Bayonne




Map 1.1 Major privateering bases in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe


Military resources for hire, 1450–1560

military operation other than straightforward attacks on enemy merchant shipping potentially unattractive; disputes about the allocation of prizes and booty could discourage collective activity among privateers.46 The running expenses of ships were relatively inflexible. It was difficult and expensive simply to lay up a ship so that it was serviceable at a later date; maintaining seaworthiness anyway required expensive repairs, replacement of timber and careening, and skilled crews were not easily reassembled once dispersed. One option for a privateer captain was to divide an operational career between occasional military ventures and frequent, more-or-less legitimate, trading activities. It is certainly arguable that a majority of privateers would have preferred the more secure, if lower, profits of conventional mercantile activity.47 We shall see in later chapters how the financial viability of private naval activity in association with the needs of the state may have changed over this period. Defining a contract: the Italian condottieri How did this experience compare with that of land forces? Although the raising and hire of mercenaries long preceded their use in the Renaissance Italian states, issues about the nature of mercenary activity and the various ways in which it could be co-opted or incorporated into the military power of the state are clearly demonstrated in this Italian context.48 The most notorious operations of mercenaries in fourteenth-century Italy exemplify familiar issues about the sustainability and viability of independent military force discussed in a naval context. The great companies from the late 1330s onwards were the creation of a series of capable, discharged mercenary captains, who were reluctant to abandon the opportunities for profit that military service offered, and sought independent means to maintain their units of effective and experienced troops. The early internationalization of the mercenary market had already meant that German, French and English troops had been serving in Italy, and Italians in France and the Empire. A captain like Werner von Urslingen could assemble a large international force of mercenaries in 1342 from companies and individual troops disbanded from the war between Florence and Pisa. The straightforward aim of the companies – essentially loose associations with little hierarchy or structure – like that of Urslingen, and later Fra Moriale, was profit through pillage.49 They were not offering themselves as a military force for hire to a territorial ruler, and any alliances were short-term and usually more akin to the provision of ‘protection’. The leaders of the companies had simply grasped that in the politically fragmented, small-state context of central Italy, a cohesive force of a few thousand mercenaries could extort and plunder enough to ensure

Defining a contract: the Italian condottieri


their provisions, pay and, ideally, substantial booty.50 Until the largest company, led by Fra Moriale, passed to Conrad of Landau in 1354, these companies rarely enjoyed any permanent existence: having achieved the purpose of enriching the participants, they would dissolve, to be created anew a few years later when the ending of another war threw large numbers of experienced veterans out of service. Yet by the later 1350s the familiar patterns of extortion and localized conquest were encountering stiffer resistance; the great company under Landau was defeated in battle by Florence in both 1358 and 1359, and the search for softer targets was also starting to yield more meagre results. A loose association of self-seeking mercenaries was intensely vulnerable to military setbacks: these would encourage wider resistance to their demands, while the cohesion and logistical support of the company depended on a regular supply of extorted money and goods. Despite operating within some of the most sophisticated economies in Europe, there was no easy access to credit for forces which were international, transient and lacked leaders who could present themselves as a good financial risk. Without this, an apparently terrifying force of thousands of battle-hardened mercenaries could simply melt away in a few weeks. The next generation of captains were more aware of this vulnerability, and had a longer-term perspective on the raising and deployment of the forces under their command.51 The best known of this new generation, John Hawkwood, seems early on to have envisaged his primary role as a contractor in the service of territorial powers. It certainly helped that the force that Hawkwood took command over, the famous White Company made up of soldiers who had fought in France down to the Peace of Bretigny in 1360, could offer local rulers an attractive combination of skilled military manpower and new technology/tactics. Drawing on English fighting methods in France, the company made use of both the dismounted man-at-arms and the longbow, and supplemented this new style of fighting with powerful group cohesion and high levels of military experience. Italian rulers were hiring not merely veteran soldiers, but a proven and effective weapon system which still held the tactical edge over any comparable-sized force serving in Italy.52 Over a thirty-year career, Hawkwood and the White Company served Pisa, Milan and the Papacy, finally settling into Florentine service from 1377 to 1394.53 The foreign mercenary company was a particular phenomenon associated most obviously with a few decades in the mid-fourteenth century. The resumption of conflict in France, the military demands of the transalpine powers for experienced troops, and the readiness of Italian captains to offer a variety of sizes and combinations of military forces under contract, all started to change the pattern of military service in the Italian states.


Military resources for hire, 1450–1560

Despite a burgeoning humanist rhetoric of civic obligation and all the assumed benefits of creating a conscript militia, the rulers of cities and states continued to favour the hiring of military professionals under contract. Although for Machiavelli and others the failure to develop militias was testimony to the prevailing moral corruption of rulers and citizens, the reasons were actually more practical. Italian states had little choice but to adopt what was the proven fourteenth- to fifteenth-century style of warfare, dominated by heavy cavalry deployed in ‘lances’ in which the manat-arms would be supported by mounted archers and squires. The art of war depended on an elite of highly trained warriors whose skills could only be achieved through intensive, specialized training and heavy capital investment.54 Military effectiveness of this sort could not be created at short notice through some intermittently trained citizen militia, or the casual qualities of horsemanship and command provided by a local nobility. Of course there was a need for infantry to act as garrison troops and for urban defence, and even to play an auxiliary role on the battlefield. These provisionati could be hired cheaply by the larger Italian states and then paid a provisione, or regular wage, from the treasury.55 But for fighting and winning offensive wars, the brutal choice was between creating a permanent, specialized military force directly under the authority of the ruler, or hiring mercenary companies. For most medium-rank Italian states it posed an obvious dilemma: the expense of a permanent military force dominated by three- to six-man ‘lances’ of heavy cavalry was so great that the affordable force would prove too small to be militarily effective against rivals who chose another method of raising troops. For the other method was to hire large forces of mercenaries on short-term contracts to meet an immediate military challenge with overwhelming force. The unit costs of hiring the mercenaries would almost certainly be higher, but a contract for a campaign of six months, if it finished the war successfully, would be far more sustainable than a permanent military establishment of specialized troops.56 The financial logic of relying on hired condottieri seems obvious, but the military and political reality was rather different. Experienced, veteran troops with a strong esprit de corps gained from serving under a particular captain for many campaigns were a finite commodity. The Italian states of the fifteenth century would not be the only example of warlords who would face this dilemma in early modern Europe, but the frequency and, crucially, the shortness of most wars in Italy intensified the problem. If the advantage of mercenaries was that they could apparently be hired for a single campaign, or even a few months, the difficulty was ensuring that they were available at the moment required, could be brought into service quickly and with a full complement of troops, and that captains

Defining a contract: the Italian condottieri


who had served well on the basis of past contracts could be hired again when required. Part of the relationship between warlords and condottieri was about trying to come to terms with this issue of demand and supply, and indeed goes to the heart of what in these circumstances is entailed by a condotta, or contract. The starting point was that there was no single, generic condottiere company. The highest-profile figures in the mid-fourteenth century had been the foreign military veterans, who had initially simply sought to establish short-term protection rackets, but had come to see the benefits of offering longer-term military service to established rulers. But from the outset and throughout this period, there had been far larger numbers of Italian condottieri.57 By the later century the field had become dominated by Italians: the Malatesta, Gattamelata, Attendoli/Sforza families proved a far more prominent and lasting presence than Hawkwood, Albrecht Sterz, Hannekin Bongarten and the other foreign captains. But in this field dominated by Italian captains, there was an almost infinite variety of military organization, from companies of several thousand armoured cavalry, commanded by captains with a princely title in their own right, down to the smallest independent contractors, offering the service of a few dozen soldiers.58 The style and terms of contracts varied considerably in relation to the status, scale and reputation of the condottiere. Early on, however, the condotte were evolving to recognize the respective strengths and weaknesses of the positions of the condottiere and the warlord. The key clauses concerned the length of service and the immediate payment to the captain. The typical fifteenth-century condotta would be for six months – in an earlier period they had been for two to three months only – and usually included a clause for an optional additional period – di rispetto – of the same length. This additional period would be at the discretion of the warlord, but he would be obliged to provide notice some weeks ahead of the expiry of the first half of the contract.59 If this discretion seemed to serve the interests of the contracting warlord, the financial arrangements emphatically reflected the ‘seller’s market’ in which many troops would be hired. All condotte stipulated an advance, the prestanza, which was to be paid immediately to the condottieri to allow them to recruit their companies up to strength, provide equipment and move the troops to the agreed rendezvous. The sum amounted to between a third and a half of the total sum agreed for the contract. Payment of this was in theory non-negotiable: receipt of the cash activated the condotta.60 The advance was the vital element in the financing of the military system, and went some way to ensuring that the condottiere had the resources to raise the specified numbers of troops, and to provide some safeguards were the warlord to seek to dissolve the unit early on grounds of


Military resources for hire, 1450–1560

disobedience, insufficient strength, or simply a rapid resolution to the military situation. However, the basic question remained: in the immediate circumstances of a military crisis, would it be possible to obtain the military assistance of established condottieri, and would they, even in receipt of a full prestanza, be able to raise troops of requisite quality in the time available?61 The problem was of course compounded, in that it was the most sought-after condottieri with the best reputations amongst potential soldiers who would find it easiest to recruit troops. One solution to this problem, which fell short of keeping condottieri in permanent military service, was to make use of a condotta in aspetto, an agreement to pay a modest proportion of the full costs of military service to a condottiere as a retainer, in return for which he would agree to hold his troops in readiness and, obviously, not commit to military service with any other warlord.62 The difficulty with these arrangements was twofold. In the first place they were the response of rulers in circumstances where it looked as though military action might be required in the near future. They were not a permanent retainer, which the condottiere could count on as a regular source of income. Moreover, even if the condotta in aspetto had been a permanent payment, for most ordinary condottiere it would be insufficient to meet the costs of maintaining his full, specified military forces, while for these forces the reduced pay would be no substitute for seeking fully paid employment elsewhere. At best the aspetto could be seen as an early warning that the condottiere might be asked to raise his unit to full strength and a formal contract in a matter of months, though of course there was no guarantee that this would be the case. This practical challenge of having the resources at short notice either to raise or to retain troops to meet the full terms of a contract with a warlord had the inevitable effect in much of Italy of pushing the business of a condottiere up the social scale. The individuals most able to ensure a supply of experienced soldiers on demand were major noble landholders, or princely rulers in their own right, whose experienced soldiers were subjects, or at least tenants, and could shift their activities between war and acting as tenant farmers or household servants. The condottiere who simply offered his military skills would find it increasingly difficult to sustain himself for any length of time in this military market, whereas a figure like Musio Attendolo Sforza was able to act both as a ruler of a state deploying military force on his own behalf, and as a condottiere on a large scale, prepared to lend military force to other powers. Venetian enthusiasm in the 1530s for contracting and retaining Francesco Maria della Rovere, duke of Urbino, was underpinned by knowledge that he had access to a supply of his own subjects as soldiers.63 It was also the case

Defining a contract: the Italian condottieri


that a princely condottiere, or one with substantial landholdings, was more likely to be able to tap into the massive networks of financial credit available in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italy, giving him some potential flexibility while waiting for money paid under the terms of his condotte. In 1443 an earlier ruler of Urbino, Federigo de Montefeltro, could make use of his creditworthiness with bankers in Viterbo to finance the arming and equipping of his troops.64 On the other side, the states themselves grew more accustomed to financing mercenaries over the longer term. The Republic of Venice, engaged in intermittent conflicts with other Italian states but also fighting a permanent defensive war on land and sea against the advancing forces of the Ottoman Empire, was the first Italian state to move towards a permanent force of garrison troops provided by mercenary companies, going considerably beyond the condotte in aspetto to a formalized system of regular, renewable contracts. This required good management, and in particular the appointment of a senior condottiere commander to coordinate a potentially factious group of company commanders brought together under separate contracts.65 However, if Venice was driven along a sharp learning curve in developing and coordinating contracts with the condottiere, and balancing the need to maintain professional armed force with the initial desire to avoid a permanent and inflexible military establishment, other Italian states were not far behind. The Sforza duchy of Milan stood at the cutting edge of attempts to stiffen local militia forces with a substantial body of mercenaries either permanently in service or integrated into the larger structure of the Sforza armies.66 Florence, frequently used as the foil for an apparently more realistic and long-term attitude to permanent mercenary contracts demonstrated by Venice, was in fact not far behind in recognizing the need to compete for good quality, experienced mercenaries and their commanders.67 This would require taking at least some mercenary companies into permanent, fully paid service, although this might seem to negate one of the primary justifications for drawing on their services.68 All of this served to institutionalize the role of the condottiere as armed force within the larger Italian states. At the same time the opportunities for a condottiere captain to keep his company in permanent employment were hugely enhanced by the regular and substantial intervention of the major European powers in the peninsula from the 1490s onwards. The benefits of such military service were not merely financial. In the case of dynasties fragmented by generations of partible inheritance, personal military service supported by ready access to experienced troops from their own territories could be the key to substantial political advancement. Members of both the Sabbioneta


Military resources for hire, 1450–1560

and Guastalla cadet branches of the Gonzaga of Mantua made hugely successful careers in the military and political service of the Emperor and the Spanish monarchy in the sixteenth and early seventeenth century by starting out as princely condottiere, reliable sources of local troops in the face of military threats. In the case of Vespasiano Gonzaga, prince of Sabbioneta, military service to Philip II brought a ducal title, the viceroyalty of Valencia and a sequence of important military commands.69 However, the beginnings of his career, like those of so many other cadet lines of the Gonzaga, had been based on condottiere contracts with the Habsburgs. Nor were these Gonzaga arrangements to provide troops made invariably with the Habsburgs. The younger brother of Duke Guglielmo of Mantua, Ludovico Gonzaga, built his early career at the French court on his ability to raise and command Italian troops for the service of Henri II.70 The ‘mercenary market’ of the sixteenth century might appear to be dominated by the Swiss and the Landsknechte discussed below, but Italian cavalry and infantry raised under contract continued throughout the period to provide a high proportion of the mercenaries in European service. For those members of minor princely or cadet families, or for lesser captains with accumulated military experience and the ability to raise and maintain a company, the opportunities for service in French, Imperial or Spanish armies transformed earlier military possibilities. The Swiss infantry A very different path led to the emergence of the Swiss as a major contributor to the mercenary market, and offered other models and lessons for the later emergence of military enterprise. Under pressure from predatory outsiders, three of the central Swiss cantons joined together in a military alliance in 1291. Enjoying its first great success against Austrian Habsburg ambitions at Morgarten in 1315, the Eidgenossenschaft continued to evolve militarily through to the shattering defeat of another Habsburg army by the cantons’ infantry at Sempach in 1386. By the time of the latter battle the Swiss had turned improvised local resistance under the direction of some experienced military leadership into a formidable battle-winning military system based on mobilizing the adult male population into the Gevierthaufen, units of 4,000–8,000 men that were to be the hallmark of Swiss tactics for the next hundred and fifty years.71 Moreover the original group of central cantons composing the first Eidgenossenschaft had been joined in the course of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries by numbers of additional cantons and by the powerful Drei Bünde bordering the Tyrol.72

The Swiss infantry


Between Sempach and the spectacular victories of 1476–7 at Grandson, Murten and Nancy, which led to the destruction of the kingdom of Burgundy, the Swiss military reputation grew impressively.73 After the defeat of the Burgundian armies, despite their state-of-the-art armoured cavalry, good-quality infantry and substantial, modern artillery, the reputation of the Swiss shifted: from being regarded as useful forceenhancers added to other European armies, they were seen as an entire weapons system in their own right.74 In practice, and as early as the battles against the duke of Burgundy it was clear that an army based purely on Swiss infantry had significant limitations. While the Swiss squares, with their fringe of pikemen and deep central block of soldiers with halberds and other hacking weapons, could sweep aside forces of armoured cavalry or less cohesive infantry with ease, they had limited capacity to follow up the defeat of an enemy on the battlefield. Without cavalry to harass and drive retreating troops into a disorderly rout, the enemy forces, though mauled by the Swiss, would probably live to fight another day – as the Burgundians managed after their first encounter at Grandson.75 More significantly for the future, Swiss confidence in the invulnerability of their infantry led them to neglect artillery. In the early fifteenth century they had field artillery that was equal to that of their enemies in numbers and quality, but by the early sixteenth century they had fallen substantially behind in terms of both technology and tactical thinking about the uses of firepower.76 Ultimately even the superiority of the Swiss infantry on the battlefield was to be brought into question. If one response to the crushing defeats of the Burgundian armies was to try to hire the Swiss en masse, another was to try to forge similar infantry units from local material. Earliest and most successful in imitating the style of the Swiss infantry were the German Landsknechte, who had developed a military tradition as formidable as the Swiss by the 1520s.77 A further challenge to the Swiss was to be posed by the Spanish creation of their own elite infantry, the tercios, who combined the cohesion and offensive mass of a Swiss square with tactical flexibility, and a more coherent role for infantry firearms in combat.78 In the long term the Swiss would lose their position to rivals who both imitated their military methods and gradually improved upon them, but the Swiss system of raising and deploying soldiers offers some important pointers towards the evolution of more elaborate systems of military enterprise. In comparison with the condottiere and their straightforward marketing of specialized military resources, the paradox of the Swiss system was that local citizen defence, based on the general obligation to military service and organized by the cantons, became an efficient mechanism for hiring out soldiers to foreign powers. The oft-made point about


Military resources for hire, 1450–1560

the propensity of agriculturally poor, mountainous regions in Europe to export a proportion of their men to make a living as soldiers certainly holds good for the cantons, as it did for the Tyrol, Croatia or Scotland. But the process was not without its conflicting pressures, as the authorities sought to balance what they considered to be the fundamental defensive needs of the Confederation and its constituent cantons, with the temptations and opportunities to send able-bodied men for service abroad. The attraction of such military service for the soldiers was straightforward: contracts for service abroad paid wages of 4½ gulden per month. This was the pay of a skilled craftsman in the early sixteenth century, and at least twice that of an agricultural labourer. Those who were nominated as double-pay soldiers received substantial increments, while company captains would be paid up to ten times the ordinary wage.79 Moreover duties involving unusual danger – fighting pitched battles and storming fortifications, for example – were considered to merit additional payments from the warlord, while there was hope of making much larger sums from looting, booty and ransoming prisoners.80 The cantonal authorities sought to regulate this service, frequently asserting that they were the only legitimate channel through which foreign powers could negotiate.81 This of course allowed the authorities themselves to make substantial profits on the contracts, and also to benefit from the pensions which major military recruiters such as France and the Emperor paid to ensure goodwill and cooperation in meeting requests for the hire of soldiers.82 Cantonal control had some public benefits as well: given the fragmentary nature of Swiss society, local control of military service could prevent price-lowering inter-cantonal competition, and avoided the political – and military – difficulties of either finding that Swiss troops were contracted to fight against each other in opposing foreign armies, or running the risk of antagonizing powerful allies by an inability to prevent Swiss soldiers entering service with their enemies.83 Moreover, the cantonal authorities would occasionally come together to agree on military policy at the level of the Confederation, with decisions to raise a large part of the available fighting force – potentially up to 70,000 men by the time of the Burgundian Wars84 – for common defence or the pursuit of shared military interests. The authority to decide on when and for whom the Swiss soldiers should be raised was combined with direct involvement of the cantons in the process of recruiting and organizing the troops for war. A decision by a canton to raise troops on its own behalf, or to levy a specified number in accordance with a collective decision of the Confederation, would be followed by a mass summons for all the able-bodied males between sixteen and sixty to assemble so that the local officials could make a

The Swiss infantry


selection to achieve the agreed total of the levy. All those eligible for service were obliged to provide their own weapons and appropriate armour: breastplates and iron helms for the pikemen, in some cases partial armour for the halberdiers. Those called for service, but unable to afford weapons and armour, would be helped either from the town armoury or by loans of equipment from neighbours who were not summoned for military duty.85 Much of the support system for the troops – food supplies to be purchased at least while the troops were passing through the Confederation, transport for artillery, baggage and potentially for captured booty – was provided by the authorities.86 Though elements of the local elites, especially wealthy merchants, could buy exemption from military service via provision of arms, equipment and the hiring of substitutes, it would still be true that a higher proportion of the Swiss population took an active part in military activity than in other contemporary states.87 But if this appeared to some contemporaries and in subsequent accounts as an apparently utopian model of collective, democratic civil defence,88 the reality was rather different. What made the Swiss military system work so effectively? Conscripting and equipping the troops might be a collective exercise, but the tactical effectiveness of the great Swiss infantry squares depended on military professionalism and experience at two levels. The forces needed to be led by men who knew how to deploy their troops effectively in very different conditions and against different types of enemy – from French and Burgundian heavy cavalry to Landsknechte who mirrored Swiss battle tactics. This kind of tactical and operational skill had to be combined with distinct leadership qualities. The cooperation of leaders of cantonal contingents needed to be won by consultation and active involvement in decision-making, while the ordinary soldiers had a strong sense of their fighting identity and needed to be handled with respect and restraint.89 While such leaders were part of the cantonal elites and were involved in decision-making in that context, they were also marked out by their lengthy military service and experience.90 In general they came from a tight-knit group of noble families with an extensive tradition of military leadership, who looked on military command as a career rather than an occasional act of patriotic duty.91 A noble family like the Stockalper from Brig held a succession of military commands from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century, with a representative figure like Peter von Stockalper leading a large contingent of the Swiss troops in the French army at Pavia in 1525.92 Another noble family, the Courten von Siders, dominated recruitment and led troops from the Wallis through the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, combining this with a succession of influential cantonal offices.93 Service abroad was the obvious means to acquire and


Military resources for hire, 1450–1560

develop military experience, while it also provided the opportunity not available at home to make a career and acquire wealth.94 The nobles and other military professionals composing the high command were not the only element pushing for more extensive and flexible military service. While the military effectiveness of the Gevierthaufen appears in much earlier Swiss history as a spontaneous expression of the military spirit of the nation, in reality the striking-power and cohesiveness of the great squares depended on the elite of pikemen, the ‘double-pay men’, who occupied the front ranks of each side of the square. It was their steadfastness and experience in combat that was vital to harness the crude violence and energy of the mass of the soldiers: keeping the square tight, but not dangerously over-compressed, by their own positioning and sticking-power, while moving it forward to a collision with enemy defenders where the survival chances of these front ranks would depend on their skill with the pike and confidence that they would break the enemy. Serving in this ‘double-pay’ role demanded extraordinary qualities, not least physical strength and training to wield and then manoeuvre an unwieldy, iron-tipped 5½ metre pike, while wearing heavy breast and back armour.95 Absolutely crucial to the cohesion of the unit, it demanded a level of self-discipline and smallgroup identity which set them apart from the mass of less-experienced ordinary soldiers in the unit. As with the senior officers, the double-pay men were a group who were committed to military service and prepared to regard it, if not as a life-time career, certainly as a choice for a significant period of their early/middle life. The effectiveness of the Swiss military system depended on groups of men who could not easily be reabsorbed into civilian life and for whom military professionalism was both a choice and a necessity. Originally it represented a choice: the Mats were a combination of young and middle-aged unmarried men from within local communities, who would be the obvious group called up in any recruitment. Many of them enjoyed this role, volunteering for successive mercenary units being raised by local commanders, and were reluctant to return to the stable peasant community of their elder, married brothers where they would probably occupy a marginal role. 96 In many cases this service abroad would eventually detach them from any sense of identity with their original community, and they would become Kriegsgurgeln, unsettled and rootless ex-veterans, habituated to risk-taking violence and casual opportunities for military service, never properly reintegrated into civilian life after the end of campaigns.97 For them, and for those who wanted to control their disruptive impact on settled civil society, military service was now a necessity, the only alternative to begging or crime. They formed a large group outside the

The Swiss infantry


normal cantonal recruitment system, but a natural pool of recruits for officers assembling units to take up mercenary contracts. From 1476 until 1515 the Confederation’s military reputation stood at its height, and so, briefly, did its own territorial ambitions. The foreign invasions of Italy from 1494 opened up a new period of threat from potentially powerful neighbours in Lombardy, but also provided opportunities to extend Swiss influence and power southwards, most notably and ultimately disastrously in the decision to sell their services and support to Massimiliano Sforza, duke of Milan, against France from 1512 to 1515. The Confederation also sought to assert itself politically and territorially against the Empire and the Habsburg Tyrol, fighting the Swabian War in 1499, a struggle of which the legacy was a hardening of the hatred between Swiss and Landsknechte into what became a merciless vendetta through the next century.98 But as this period came to an end, as the Confederation stepped back from heavy – and profoundly divisive – commitments outside its own territory, space opened for larger and more diverse contracts with foreign powers. So long as the Confederation had been pursuing its own political interests via the deployment of military force, the growing desire of the warring great powers to hire Swiss troops en masse had been hard to satisfy.99 The figure of 6,000 troops recurs regularly in contract negotiations throughout this period, implying the upper limit of the forces that the authorities were prepared to see committed abroad while their own military needs were still potentially in play.100 With changing priorities the financial, and on occasions political, benefits of responding to these requests for Swiss soldiers became more tempting to the cantonal authorities.101 In 1511 those seemingly perpetual enemies, the Confederation and the House of Habsburg, negotiated a ‘hereditary treaty’, offering mutual support in case of attack by a third party, and for the Habsburgs the right to hire Swiss troops to assist their own military defence.102 The Swiss defeat at Marignano in 1515 was followed by an agreement to a ‘perpetual peace’ with France, though it was not until 1521 that the French king managed to negotiate an agreement for the levy of Swiss troops. The hesitation of the cantons in agreeing to these levies was unsurprising, given that any such agreement would stand in direct contravention of the agreements with the Habsburgs.103 The open and multi-theatred conflict between Habsburg and Valois down to 1559 conflicted with clauses in both sets of treaties which stipulated that the Swiss were to be hired only for defensive warfare, and made a mockery of the apparently exclusive nature of the agreements, but at the same time also strengthened the cantons’ hands in a ‘bidding war’ for their services. When in 1553 Henri II wanted to increase the number of troops to be raised from the previously agreed 10,000 to 16,000, the terms included a


Military resources for hire, 1450–1560

substantial reduction in rights of French supervision over the recruitment and selection process and over the subsequent autonomy of the regiments, and formalized the agreement that in addition to recruitment and transportation money the Swiss soldiers would receive a full, nonrefundable three months’ worth of wages at the time of the levy.104 In reality these incompatible agreements with different warlords should be seen not so much as a product of greed and duplicity, but as a symptom of the acutely divided and fragmentary nature of federal authority. Any agreement between the various cantons on common policy or action was never more than temporary and contingent, and the individual cantons were themselves often strongly divided about the profits and potential hazards of military policy. The 1521 treaty with François I to provide soldiers for France’s defensive needs was not signed by Zurich, and as the reformation spread to other cantons, notably Berne, so they also started to hedge their commitment and refused to provide troops for France.105 Protestant cantons’ reluctance to support a common line when it came to requests for troops from Catholic powers was paralleled by the refusal of the eastern territories – the Drei Bünde – to accept limitations on their provision of troops for Habsburg service, making a particular treaty in 1518 to renew their formal military agreements with the Austrian lands.106 A few decades later in 1567, it was the Catholic cantons who broke ranks, agreeing against the wishes of the Protestants to send 6,000 troops to support Charles IX against the Huguenots, troops placed under the command of the militantly Catholic Ludwig Pfyffer von Altishofen.107 Even as the cantons were divided about which of the major, and possibly which of the second-rank, powers should have their requests to hire troops met, an additional factor came into play. The military experience of the senior officers might express itself in service to the Confederation or its chosen foreign warlords, but it was also attractive for them to offer military service at the head of a ‘free’ company of soldiers.108 The right to offer service to external powers as opportunity and reputation permitted – the principle of Reislaufen – was strongly asserted by its advocates, and not just for the obvious personal advantages of lucrative private contracts with foreign powers.109 It was argued that such service ensured that the range and level of military expertise was maintained amongst those who might later be called to serve under the authority of the canton or the Confederation; moreover the cantons’ own policies with regard to hiring and not hiring soldiers to external warlords were anything but coherent, and ‘informal’ service could prove a useful means to satisfy demands unofficially.110 Above all, military service via these informal channels served the obvious economic and social function of drawing more effectively on both the marginal, militarized population – the

The Swiss infantry


Kriegsgurgeln – and the Mats who were still part of the community but were under pressure as younger sons or unmarried relatives to draw their subsistence from outside that local community. The numbers prepared to volunteer for military service, either when authorized by the canton or simply organized by officers for foreign service, were impressive: of the 30,000 men raised by the Confederation to attack Dijon in 1513, some 14,000 had come forward as simple volunteers, offering their military experience in the hope of gain from pay and plunder.111 In a striking prefiguration of the activities of later military enterprisers, it was thus possible for some of these ‘free’ commanders to raise large numbers of troops, drawing simply on their ability to raise Swiss volunteers without recourse to any cantonal conscription or selection. The precise number is not given, but in 1486–7 the eldest son of Count Jörg von Werdenberg-Sargans was able to attract ‘around fifty companies’ of volunteer soldiers for a war against Milan, against the explicit wishes of the authorities in the Drei Bünde.112 The capacity of these private captains to raise large numbers of troops was recognized by foreign warlords: in 1499 the French sought to recruit 12,000 Swiss soldiers on the basis that they would negotiate with forty independent captains, prepared to raise soldiers outside of cantonal organization.113 Moreover, as Swiss troops after 1515 again started to be hired less often as a free-standing, battle-winning force, and more as a powerful addition to a mixture of other units raised by a warlord, so the range of opportunities for independent captains grew. There were large numbers of experienced captains who, in return for financial advances on their contract, could raise one or several infantry companies of 100–300 men each, and even a regiment at its later sixteenth-century strength of 1,000–3,000 men. The captains would receive funds from the warlord, and would then use their reputation, local influence or social position to seek out volunteers, who would arrive for service equipped and armed at their own expense. Without the involvement of the cantonal officials, there was no official mechanism to loan arms and armour to those selected for service who lacked money to buy them. Instead there is some evidence of smallscale financial investment in the individual soldier: money being lent him for the purchase of halberd or breastplate against hopes of a good return on a successful campaign.114 Some of this may have been more systematic: the captains who raised 6,000 troops for Ludovico Sforza’s service in 1500, Wilhelm von Diesbach, Jean Matter, Gutmann Zoller, George de Riva and Antoine Wider, all contributed some of their own funds for raising and equipping their companies.115 Where real differences opened up between captains offering ‘free’ military service to foreign warlords and those acting as the agents of a


Military resources for hire, 1450–1560

system administered via cantonal authorities was in areas of financial expertise and logistical organization.116 Especially in the latter case, the ‘free’ captains were well aware that moving recruits through the territory of the Confederation without ensuring good order and adequate supplies of food would produce a ferocious reaction from the authorities. The contracts were negotiated with warlords to provide adequate sums of Laufgeld to cover the costs of such troop movements, but much still depended on good planning and reliable support.117 By the sixteenth century most commanders of a group of contracted companies would recruit a regimental staff to manage the finances and to try to ensure that provisions were purchased and stockpiled and that violent incidents with local populations (within the cantons) were avoided as far as possible. Even outside the frontiers of the Confederation it might be the case that the companies could live in part from requisitioning, robbery and plunder, but when food, money and saleable loot were not to hand, it fell to the unit commanders to try to organize provisioning for their men in camp, garrison or on the march, again requiring skills in making contacts with suppliers, organizing transport and advancing money for purchases that could later be recouped from the soldiers’ wages.118 These financial and organizational skills cultivated by the military families of the sixteenth century were to remain strongly in evidence amongst the Swiss military enterprisers of the Thirty Years War such as Hans Ludwig von Erlach or François-Pierre Koenig. The Landsknechte The other group of mercenaries whose contribution to the eventual emergence and flourishing of military enterprise is of central importance are the Landsknechte, to whom might be added the other substantial group of German mercenaries hired by foreign warlords from the 1530s onwards, the pistol-armed cavalry, or Reiter. The Landsknechte appear to have been recruited from the time of Maximilian I, specifically as a response to the Swiss Haufen, with the Germans employing the same weapons, formations and tactics. Maximilian threw his own weight and reputation behind the levying and organization of the Landsknechte, seeking to overcome German noble disdain for infantry service by carrying a pike himself and rewarding successful Landsknecht commanders with honours and titles.119 Rather more rapidly than the Swiss, the Landsknecht regiments started to substitute arquebuses and the heavier muskets for halberds and other short-handled weapons. By 1570 each company (Fähnlein) contained 200 infantry with firearms against the remainder (somewhere between 100 and 200) armed with pikes.120 Like

The Landsknechte


the Swiss Haufen and the Spanish tercios, the size of the combat unit gradually declined: a Landsknecht infantry regiment would be recruited at 4,000 men in the 1560s, but the numbers of effectives would usually be lower than that, with a company of 300 on paper being closer to 220 in practice.121 As with most other European infantry the numbers within a regiment or its equivalents were drifting down towards a typical 1,500– 3,000 troops by the end of the sixteenth century. The system of recruiting and operating the Landsknechte differed from that of the Swiss in the absence of any equivalent of the cantonal structure and authorities to authorize, control, and in many cases administer the levy and deployment of troops. The Landsknechte were raised throughout the constituent territories and jurisdictions which formed the Holy Roman Empire. The initiative to raise infantry on a scale and in formations large enough to match the Swiss on the battlefield probably came from Emperor Maximilian. But Imperial authority was not capable of coercing or demanding a military contribution from the innumerable rulers over whom the Emperor possessed ultimate juridical authority but little practical power. Any equivalent of the cantons’ universal military service was a pipe dream of theorists like the writer, soldier and Imperial councillor Lazarus von Schwendi.122 In the face of a generally perceived common threat, the territories of the Empire might agree to provide financial contributions to the Emperor as defender of the common interest through the regional assemblies of the Reichskreise, the ‘Circles’ or regions of the Empire. The one threat in the sixteenth century which was likely to command some consensus was Ottoman pressure on the Habsburg lands and on southcentral Germany; for this a military tax, the Römermonate, was collected in accordance with the agreement made with Charles V at Worms (Wormser Matrikel) in 1521. A single Römermonat involved the collective levy of 15,371 infantry from the Empire, with a monthly pay and upkeep cost added to this of 88,500 gulden. Depending on the nature of the military emergency, the Diet could vote multiple tax grants which would maintain an Imperial army for an agreed period.123 The Emperor could draw upon the tax revenues to finance the campaign, and the territories within the Circles would undertake or contract the levy of the specified numbers of troops. Römermonate from the Circles might occasionally be available for the pursuit of Habsburg dynastic interests in Italy, or directly against France, but in general this would be funded by direct and indirect tax resources, extraordinary lay and clerical subsidies from the Habsburg lands.124 The actual levy of troops was a local matter, in which the smaller German territorial princes and the subject nobility of medium and larger

Fig. 1.2 A contemporary visualization of Swiss and German pike-squares clashing outside the walls of a city

The Landsknechte


states might play a role as military contractors. But above all it was the activity of the independent (Reichsunmittelbar) Imperial knights (Reichsritter). These latter figure largely in the contracts for the hire of Landsknechte, and include many of the names most closely associated with the military history of the period: Berlichingen, Ems zu der Hohenems, Sickingen, Schertlin von Burtenbach, Fürstenberg, Truchseß von Waldburg. In most cases they were noble landowners for whom the additional financial attractions of successful military service were considerable, and who were unconstrained by the juridical complications of being princely subjects. The extent that this became the knightly métier can be seen from its continuation into the Thirty Years War, with no less resonant military names like Pappenheim and Hatzfeld emerging from this class. Though rather like the social rise of the condottiere in the fifteenth century, the later, larger-scale and more complex military enterprise of the seventeenth-century Empire became the province of the younger sons and brothers of princely families. In contrast, sixteenth-century mercenary activity in the Empire was dominated by the Reichsritter. There were a few exceptions: the most famous of all Landsknecht commanders, Georg von Frundsberg, was from a noble family who were subjects of the Habsburg archdukes of the Tyrol.125 Martin Schwarz, notorious from British history as the captain of 2,000 Landsknechte led against Henry VII at the battle of Stoke in 1487, seems to have been a cobbler before he progressed through the military ranks in the 1470s.126 At the other end of the scale, some of the German princes, like their Italian counterparts, did become directly involved in raising and hiring out bodies of soldiers: Albrecht Alkibiades of Brandenburg provided a notorious example in 1552 when he hired out his army corps to the French for an invasion of the Habsburg Netherlands.127 But the German soldier trade remained dominated by the Imperial knights at least until the second half of the sixteenth century, and their claim to make contracts with any warlord they wished – the principle of Reislaufen – had direct consequences for the capacity to satisfy external requests for the service of Landsknechte or Reiter. The strongest opponent of this claim was the Emperor himself, to whom all of these otherwise Reichsunmittelbar knightly captains owed allegiance. Under Emperor Charles V, contracting to serve the French king meant, more often than not, direct military opposition to the Emperor, so the debate about ‘foreign’ service intensified. The one victim of judicial proceedings to assert this principle was Colonel Sebastian Vogelsberger. Brought to trial for having served François I in the 1530s and having offered to recruit troops for Henri II at the time of the Schmalkaldic War, he was executed in 1548. But Vogelsberger, though enjoying wealth and office from his military service, had been born the son


Military resources for hire, 1450–1560

of a small farmer and schoolmaster in the Rheinpfalz; he had none of the political immunities of the Reichsritter, and his example had no real impact on subsequent willingness to continue contracting abroad.128 If in practice most German mercenary colonels could negotiate contracts without any fear of restraint or prosecution, it was also the case that the military resources of the Empire were incomparably greater than those available to their Swiss counterparts. As contemporaries pointed out, it was not difficult to recruit large numbers of soldiers to serve as Landsknechte and recruiters could in many cases be selective, taking only those who came with their own weapons and armour, and looking for those with previous military experience or good health and physical strength.129 Recruitment in 1555 by Colonel Georg von Holle around Wildeshausen easily generated 5,000–6,000 potential recruits at the assembly point although funding was only sufficient for the contracted 3,000.130 Given the concern of the Swiss authorities to control the overall numbers of Swiss in foreign service, it was largely German Landsknechte who were raised to soak up the extra demand. Moreover a completely new gap in the market was filled by the German Reiters with their pistolier tactics. Recognizing that lancers and cavalry armed with sabres would stand no chance of breaking a well-formed, pikeringed square of Swiss or Landsknechte, ordinary armoured and light cavalry were deployed on the flanks and in reserve to take advantage of weaknesses or breakdown in the infantry centre of an opposing army. But the Reiter, deploying the pistol tactic of the caracole in large, cohesive units, offered the prospect of a more direct role for elite, well-drilled cavalry. Though the caracole has frequently been dismissed as little more than ineffectual choreography, the technique by which successive ranks of a cavalry column rode up to within yards of an enemy formation, discharged their heavy, armour-piercing pistols and wheeled away to allow the next rank to fire, could prove effective – psychologically as much as in terms of casualties inflicted. Pistols repeatedly fired at five to ten paces into a static infantry formation whose own firearms had already been discharged, mostly ineffectively and at greater range, could be highly intimidating, as the collapse of the infantry of the Protestant princes demonstrated at Mühlberg in 1547.131 More consistently decisive was the impact of pistolarmed Reiter on traditional heavy cavalry armed with lances; it was the use of cavalry pistoliers, rather than the infantry pike-square, which ended the battlefield role of fully armoured heavy cavalry.132 The main reason why the caracole and similar cavalry tactics were talked down by many contemporaries was that such tactics would only work in the hands of experienced, disciplined and well-trained units of cavalry.133 Just like the pike-square, the caracole would prove a disaster if deployed by inexperienced troops with

The Landsknechte


no sense of unit identity or cohesion.134 Hiring German units of Reiter who had this practical experience of providing disciplined pistol fire on horseback was the obvious, ready-made means to acquire this military capacity, despite the cost of 12 ducats per month for an ordinary cavalryman.135 The German soldier trade of the sixteenth century was thus able to meet considerable external demand.136 If the first and greatest contracting warlord was the Emperor, as early as 1515 the army of François I which opposed the Swiss at Marignano contained 23,000 Landsknechte.137 By the mid-1530s the French campaigning forces included 6,000 Landsknechte raised by Wilhelm von Fürstenberg and a further 7,000 raised through other colonels.138 In the early 1550s Henri II was regularly campaigning with between 10,000 and 13,500 Landsknechte, while at the well-documented review of Henri’s army conducted at Pierrepont in 1558, as many as 19,000 German infantry were supplemented by 8,200 Reiter (in an army totalling 40,500).139 France was not alone: in 1544 Henry VIII sought to raise 2,000 Landsknechte under Maximilian d’Ysselstein, count of Buren, together with seven independent companies of German cavalry totalling some 1,500 horse.140 He would certainly have raised more, but the difficulties that he encountered were an indication that the contracting activity of both the Emperor and the king of France had come close to draining even the large pool of high-quality German soldiers available for hire.141 The kings of Denmark hired both regiments of Landsknaegtene raised by their own nobility, and contracted German units to supplement these throughout the sixteenth century.142 As early as 1502 German Landsknechte were sent by the margrave of Brandenburg to serve under contracts drawn up by King Hans of Denmark.143 What could turn these Germans with varied and diverse geographical and social backgrounds into units of soldiers whose military reputation was sufficiently impressive that rulers would compete at great expense to hire them in preference to their native soldiers? The Landsknechte could not in general draw upon the obvious strength of the Swiss Haufen, closeknit and homogenous peasant communities which could reinforce group solidarity and cohesion. There was far less sense of community and no distinctive ‘geography of recruitment’ either for the Landsknechte in general, or for the individual units.144 The social and economic backgrounds also varied widely, with townsmen as likely as peasants to volunteer, and with a wide social spectrum of recruits, from lesser nobles enlisting as ‘double-pay men’ down to the urban unemployed.145 If there was no strong regional or social solidarity, neither was there any powerful sense of emergent ‘German-ness’ that could create bonds. Georg von Frundsberg might try to stir up anger amongst his own followers against


Military resources for hire, 1450–1560

the 5,000 Landsknechte in French service at the battle of Pavia, but there was little real sense of cultural identity that could be used to stimulate cohesion.146 Appeals to Imperial service and common duty as the Emperor’s vassals cut little ice when pay was in arrears, as Frundsberg himself discovered in Verona in 1510 and again in 1527 at San Giovanni near Bologna.147 And unlike the Swiss, the German soldiers, infantry and cavalry, had few reservations about fighting each other as hired soldiers of opposing powers, partly of course because recruitment across large and diverse German territories outweighed any strong sense of a common culture. The captain of the Zug contingent who told the soldiers of the leading Swiss Haufe at Marignano that the battlefield would be their churchyard, then appealed to them to ‘be courageous and think of their home’. It is difficult to see that this shared concept of ‘home’ could have an obvious collective German equivalent.148 Nor could religious identity be easily pressed into service by the military authorities. Despite the distinctive piety and popular beliefs of the Landsknechte – similar to those of the Swiss – on the eve of battle or after military successes, soldiers and their officers were remarkably resistant to the currents of evangelical reform unleashed from the 1530s and 1540s.149 Attempts to foster a strong, confessional identity amongst the Landsknechte failed, as did most attempts to demonize enemies in terms of their heterodox religious beliefs. Recent work continues to maintain the judgement of Anton Schindling that armies in the Empire were confessional ‘free states’ in the early modern period, in which religious piety and practice was certainly evident, but strong confessional divisions and antipathies much less so.150 That this was not necessarily the case with all early modern soldiers can be seen through the example of the Spanish soldiers of the tercios, whose behaviour and group indentity was strongly shaped by a powerful, militant Catholicism.151 It is easy to depict the sixteenth-century mercenary as driven straightforwardly by greed or need; whether they were seeking to exploit their military role to extort money from society, or whether they were victims of that society, forced to become soldiers by a harshening economic environment, their motivation was crudely material.152 When his own Landsknechte surrounded Frundsberg at San Giovanni, threatening him with violence over their arrears of pay, shouting ‘Money, Money’, and then declaring that they would undertake no further military action until their arrears were paid, it might seem perverse to question this bottom line of their motivation for service.153 Like the Swiss, the Landsknechte received decent wages: at four Rhenish gulden a month, this was typically half a gulden less than the Swiss, but still double the pay of a farm labourer and more than a skilled journeyman.154 With the appropriate, privately

The Landsknechte


purchased equipment of pike and half-armour, and especially if drawn from a higher social rank, the recruit might qualify as a double-pay soldier (around 10–20 per cent of the company), with what would then be a substantial wage.155 It certainly was not the case that the majority of those volunteering and enlisting as ordinary soldiers were from the lowest economic groups in society. Many were the sons and brothers of middling or prosperous peasant families, others were from urban artisan and journeyman backgrounds, while some were from the urban patrician class seeking adventure or experience.156 In any case, and a point so often missed when discussing these privately raised troops, while financial gain might have explained their enlistment, it would not explain the military qualities of either Swiss or Germans. At the heart of the success of the Landsknechte lay a distinctive, complex and to some extent paradoxical sense of corporate identity. This was also present with the Swiss, though shaped in their case by the demand for military service, so that the military organization – at least when organized cantonally – was a closer reflection of the wider community. For many Landsknecht, and more like the Swiss ‘free companies’, military service was a professional choice for the individual. At the same time Landsknecht professionalism contrasted with that of the Italian condottieri companies, who were separated from their surrounding society, indeed had often been hired in order to ensure that this society had little to do with the practicalities of military activity. It was the concept of the collective ‘Regiment of the Landsknechte’ which systematized a strong sense of corporate identity that was about both belonging and social distance.157 What service as a Landsknecht offered was a defined and collective social status which ranked the soldier amongst the respectable and honourable elements of society. This status was measured not primarily in terms of good wages and other economic benefits – which were decent on paper but in reality frequently failed to come up to expectations – but in terms of honour and ‘freedom’. Military service as a Landsknecht was an honourable career, freely chosen and with a status which was measured by rights and privileges akin to those of members of other corporations in early modern society. Understanding the status of the sixteenth-century Landsknecht requires forgetting entirely the eighteenth-century perception of ordinary soldiers as social detritus, separated as much as possible from direct contact with respectable ranks of society by close confinement to barracks and the drill square.158 One obvious manifestation of the status of the sixteenth-century Landsknechte was simply outward respect. The soldiers were members of a corporation which provided military service, itself a highly regarded activity. The terms in which they were addressed reflected this. Emperor


Military resources for hire, 1450–1560

Maximilian consistently referred to his ‘Liebe Landsknechte’, or his ‘fromme Teutsche’ or ‘ehrliche Kriegsleut’.159 Taking the example from the top, and even more aware of sensibilities in this respect, an effective commander like Frundsberg referred to his ‘lieben Söhn und Brüder’, while respectful adjectives like fromm, tapfer and ehrlich were regularly used in collective address.160 Civil society took its cue to some extent from this respectful tone within the corporation: ambiguities in attitudes to the soldiery did not challenge the idea that the profession was honourable and accepted its evaluation of itself. The fascination with the Landsknechte in contemporary painting, copperplate engraving and woodcuts bears powerful witness to an attitude which was certainly not free of moralizing disapproval, but was also accepting of the soldiers’ claim to a distinctive status and role in society.161 A more substantial factor in determining the German and Swiss soldiers’ sense of self-worth was an element of democracy and selfdetermination in the military organization. Each company in a unit of Landsknechte had a complement of ‘Gemeinämter’, officers who were directly elected by the collectivity (Gemein) of the soldiers to represent their interests, namely a Führer, two Waibel (Gemeinwaibel) and a Fourrier per company.162 These officers shared between them the administrative oversight of troop movements and lodgings, divided up the allocations of supplies and munitions, allocated watches and other responsibilities, and represented the interests of the soldiers to the captain in all areas of duties, discipline and rights. To these duties the Führer added the all-important function of acting as advocate and adviser for the common soldiers in matters of justice. The existence of the Gemeinämter was a reflection of the rights of the ordinary Landsknecht or Swiss soldier,163 but so was the manner of their election. The entire company would assemble in a large circle and the names of candidates for these posts would be shouted by soldiers to the scribe, who would note them down in preparation for voting by simple majority. Moreover the company drawn up in their circle was a crucial element in other areas of decision-making: the forum for negotiation with the senior officers, the mechanism for taking collective decisions, and the context in which the trial and punishment of members of the company took place. Beneath this structure of company and regimental office-holders, all the men in a German or Swiss mercenary company were divided into small, self-selected groups of eight to ten ordinary soldiers, or six double-pay men, the Rotte. This was militarily important in its own right, a classic example of those small-group dynamics which twentieth-century military theorists have regarded as the key to understanding the military effectiveness of larger bodies of soldiers.164 Its significance was certainly understood by

The Landsknechte


Fig. 1.3 Three images of particular ranks of Landsknechte: a. the Rottmeister, the elected representative of a small group of eight to ten soldiers; b. the Hurenwaibel, the officer with overall authority for the regulation of the baggage train and its accompanying non-combatants, especially the whores; c. the Brandmeister, the officer charged with collecting money and food from local populations under threat of military enforcement.

contemporaries, being readily adopted by the Spanish tercios, with their divisions of the companies into small groups of camaradas.165 Each Rotte informally elected one of its number as the Rottmeister, who would distribute food and munitions, allocate accommodation within the Rotte, fix watches, resolve disputes and generally act as group leader.166 Representation was important, and so were its practical implications. Above all the Landsknechte and their Swiss contemporaries served under


Military resources for hire, 1450–1560

Fig. 1.3 (cont.) b. The Hurenwaibel.

systems of justice which emphasized collective responsibility for hearing cases and deciding verdicts and punishments. Though the regimental colonel possessed supreme judicial authority and had the right to overrule the collective will of the soldiers, such direct confrontation would normally be avoided. In general the regimental judicial officers, headed by the Schultheiß, would initiate legal proceedings against offending soldiers, and the case itself would be heard within the circle of the assembled soldiers, the defendant having the right to call upon his Rottmeister, the Führer or one of the Waibel, or any other of the soldiers to speak for him in the public context of the trial.167 While a trial would follow formal procedures and the verdict would be reached by a panel or ‘jury’ which was dominated by officers appointed by the colonel, the rest of the soldiers were present and

The Landsknechte


Fig. 1.3 (cont.) c. The Brandmeister.

could either act as a legitimizing force for the verdict and sentence, or might register their disapproval or dissatisfaction with proceedings.168 In some cases of crimes against fellow soldiers, the company would also act as collective executioner, forcing the condemned to pass along two lines of spear-armed soldiers who would beat and stab him to death.169 This again was a recognition of the condemned soldier’s status; he would not be humiliated by being handed over to the ‘dishonourable’ charge of a regimental executioner.170 The obvious result of this popular participation in regimental justice was to weaken the disciplinary sanctions of the senior officers over their troops. It was difficult and sometimes dangerous to seek to prosecute


Military resources for hire, 1450–1560

soldiers who were considered by their fellows to have behaved within acceptable norms, and on some occasions even when they had acted well beyond them.171 Rather than formal codifications imposed through a military hierarchy, discipline appears more as a collective consensus which might vary markedly in different contexts, for example between the battlefield, the army on the march or in quarters. A capital sentence for insubordination on the battlefield would probably command general approval from the soldiers, while a similar sentence imposed on soldiers who had fallen out of a march might provoke a riot.172 The consensual model was more widely reflected in the relationship of officers to men: while the contracting colonel would appoint his officers, they would then be ‘acclaimed’ by the assembled circle of soldiers; this was ostensibly so that they would be recognizable in a military community where there were no external marks of rank, but of course also carried some implications of popular election. Moreover, officers led from the front and by example, which often meant in the front ranks of the Haufen; their authority was demonstrative and repeatedly affirmed by active leadership, rather than established and hierarchical.173 Unable to deter their Swiss soldiers from a frustrated collective decision to storm the welldefended fortress of Morbegno in northern Italy in 1531, the commanding officers unhesitatingly placed themselves in the front ranks, so that both Dietegen von Salis and Hans von Marmels were killed in the first assault.174 As this example also shows, it was not always the case, and especially when pay was in arrears, that the commanding officers would take all military decisions. If the Landsknechte by the sixteenth century had largely abandoned the Swiss model of decision-making by the collective body of the senior officers – the Kriegsrat – both the decisions and orders of Swiss and German commanders could be swept aside on occasions by popular pressure or resistance from their men.175 All of this would appear to challenge most ideas of what constitutes military command and functional discipline in modern armies, though it is easily recognizable from earlier European and non-European societies, where military forces maintained an edge over neighbouring powers through the combination of their soldiers’ high self-esteem and their cohesiveness and fighting power based on each individual’s sense of participation and responsibility.176 Such organizational traits, even if they challenge conventional ideas of military hierarchy, could foster military results that certainly impressed contemporaries. Some other aspects of this strong collective identity excited less favourable reactions. There was a profound ambiguity at the heart of Landsknecht self-identity in society. They wished to be a respectable and honoured part of that society, but at the same time their

The Landsknechte


extremely strong group bonding and the nature of military life gave them a sense of assertive separateness, of being outside the norms of a settled, ‘respectable’ society.177 If a powerful motivation for enlistment and service was a heightening of social status through the rights and freedoms enjoyed as members of a prestigious corporation, an equally powerful force was the cohesiveness gained from standing as a close-knit group outside of, or hostile to, society. This latter tendency is characteristic of many armies and navies, but it has rarely been carried to such conspicuous extremes as by the Landsknechte, and certainly explains much of the particular antagonism towards this style of mercenary warfare expressed by many of the moralizing writers of the sixteenth century. Much has been written on Swiss and Landsknecht dress and appearance, and depictions of individuals and groups, whether from life or as caricatures, fascinated contemporary artists, supplying what was evidently a large market for engravings.178 It is easy to imagine the impact of a group of Landsknechte arriving in some small town or community in central Germany, with their extraordinary, multi-coloured and extravagant costumes, highly individualized, flamboyant in their use of slashing (to reveal other, expensive fabrics beneath the top layer), elaborate stitching and ruffles, feathers, plumes and other decorations, in many cases inspired by lively and colourful Italian styles of dress. Landsknecht costume was about conspicuous consumption: the soldiers had access to cash paid as a monthly sum, intended to cover costs of food, lodging and upkeep, but readily spent on gambling, drinking and the purchase of provocatively expensive clothing. The dress was also unmistakeably about assertive masculinity and sexuality: brightly coloured fabrics and deliberately conspicuous codpieces, puffed and padded jackets which emphasized shoulders and chest, tight leggings, fabric slashing to reveal bare skin on legs, arms and chest. In a communal culture where the disruptive effects of unconstrained sexuality were a strong source of anxiety to religious and civil authorities, the dress and swaggering, aggressively masculine behaviour of the Swiss or the Landsknecht were an open provocation, an incitement to fornication, adultery, and illegitimate children.179 That they would readily impress non-military young males and encourage them to try to imitate clothing and behaviour, even if they did not seek to enlist, was a further reason for concern.180 ‘I likewise require modestie in apparell’, thundered the predictably puritanical Justus Lipsius, in a comment that might otherwise appear a low priority in a work on military discipline.181 Dress though was only one part of a more systematic rejection of the norms of civil society in the social and cultural behaviour of the Landsknechte and their Swiss counterparts. Their detachment from the settled life of town

Fig. 1.4 Landsknecht dress, an attractive subject for artists and engravers through the sixteenth century .

The Landsknechte


and country was also embodied in the Troß, a great extended and mobile camp of wagons, carts, porters, draught and pack animals, food and merchandise vendors, servants, women, children and animals that accompanied the regiments of troops to provide a combination of support services, shops and social environment. The Troß was where the soldier stored his possessions and might establish his wife, children or servants, where he bought his food and drink, sold his booty, and could buy the services of tailors, cobblers, barbers, surgeons, notaries and whores.182 This last service provided by the Troß was notorious amongst moralists and critics of this military system. While they might grudgingly have accepted the practical, physical necessity for the presence of whores with the army – ‘no whores, no war’ was a popular saying from this period183 – the openness with which the trade was plied and the lack of censoriousness from the senior ranks of the unit presented a sharp contrast with the often tortuous hypocrisy of settled civil society. The open tolerance of the presence and role of whores within the army camp was embodied in the office of the Hurenwaibel. Although this man in fact had a wider responsibility for the general good order of all of the services, marketing and other activities within the camp, he was specifically identified for his role as the overseer and supervisor of the prostitutes, a post which involved resolving disputes, preventing violence and ensuring that the women were kept in the camp and were separated from the troops when they were directly engaged in military activities. Far from being a modest, low-key position, the Hurenwaibel in a large army enjoyed a status equivalent to a company captain and had a team of assistants.184 The frequent subject of engravings and descriptions of the various ranks and duties of military officers, the Hurenwaibel was the public face of an army organization which was increasingly at odds with those urgent attempts at moral reformation and discipline that were being launched by spiritual and civil authorities through the sixteenth century. If the enforcement of discipline amongst the Landsknechte may have reflected collective consensus as much as top-down enforcement of formal regulation, there is little doubt that the consensus was least likely to support the punishment of soldiers who pillaged, stole or perpetrated violence against civil populations, even those within the territory of the warlord who had hired the soldiers. Though many of the senior officers did recognize both a prudential and a moral duty to try to protect civilians from their soldiers, the cultural and social assumptions of the soldiers themselves did little to restrain lawless behaviour against those who were outside the bounds of internal loyalty and recognition.185


Military resources for hire, 1450–1560

The roles of both Swiss troops and Landsknechte illustrate the ambiguity of a widespread acceptance of the military qualities of the professional soldiers of the sixteenth century, and yet an unease about the extent to which they were able to define their own relationship to surrounding society. This ambiguity forms one of the most important contexts in which the developing role of military enterprise in the later sixteenth and seventeenth centuries should be seen.


The expansion of military enterprise, 1560–1620

As troops across western Europe dispersed into winter quarters, ports and garrisons in late 1555, the fifth continuous campaign fought between the Emperor Charles V and his rival, Henri II of France, came to an inconclusive end. Both rulers and their governments were well aware of the fiscal stresses that this uninterrupted warfare was generating. In 1553 French military expenses, not including fortification works, were conservatively estimated at 13.2 million livres, and with similar expenditure in prospect for each successive year of war, it was impossible to meet military expenses without a dramatic increase in borrowing.1 In 1555 the French crown sought to reorganize its financial dealing through what became known as the Grand Parti, based on a consortium of Lyon-based bankers who raised the ever-larger sums required by the crown via the international financial community which transacted business at the threemonthly Lyon money fairs.2 Charles V and his son Philip were no less aware of the fiscal pressures of warfare. In February 1555 it was estimated that more than a million ducats would be required simply to maintain Spain’s defensive positions on the frontiers of the Milanese, while a serious offensive would cost vastly more.3 The situation in the Netherlands was even worse, with a state debt of 7 million florins by the end of 1555, and an annual deficit of 3 million ducats.4 The traditional instinct of rulers in this situation was to look for a peace settlement that would preserve reputation but would allow for the drastic curtailment of borrowing and some consolidation of existing debts. This had been the case after the last round of the Habsburg–Valois struggle, fought from 1542 down to the 1544 Peace of Crépy.5 The negotiation of the truce of Vaucelles in February 1556 came as no great surprise therefore; but its collapse later in the year, as the new Carafa pope, Paul IV, provoked a conflict with the Spanish over control of Naples and drew the French back into Italy to provide military support, was an alarming new development.6 War broke out again in northern France and was to reach its climax in August 1557 with the crushing French defeat at St Quentin. French attempts to redress the military balance led to a last series of 71


The expansion of military enterprise, 1560–1620

campaigns in 1558, including a double invasion of Flanders and the duke of Guise’s early success in taking Calais from the English, whose queen, Mary Tudor, was now married to Charles’ son and successor, Philip II. The financial consequences of this renewed round of warfare were catastrophic. The French government ministers, already under acute fiscal pressure, negotiated new and much larger loans on Lyon’s Grand Parti in 1556 and 1557.7 Finally the system collapsed with massive defaults on interest payments and what became an undeclared crown bankruptcy in 1558–9, destroying the crown’s credit and ruining many of the merchant bankers involved in the Parti.8 The destruction of the institutional structure for Henri II’s borrowing hugely worsened the financial crisis of the monarchy, and forced the crown far more urgently towards a peace in 1559 than had been the case in 1556.9 The Habsburg monarchia, now divided between Philip II and Charles’ brother Ferdinand, was in no better shape as a result of these additional campaigns. By 1556 all Spanish revenues (including anticipated silver shipments from the New World) had been mortgaged in advance up to 1560 in order to service the debt. It was estimated that the costs of war in 1557 would require an additional 4.5 million ducats, and the financial situation of the other Habsburg territories was, if anything, more precarious than that of Castile. Even the most optimistic government estimates left a yawning gap between potential resources and the costs of war, and the result was, as predictably as for the French monarchy, a drastic rescheduling of debt – a state ‘bankruptcy’ – which was declared in July 1557.10 Although the consequences of this rescheduling were mitigated for a number of powerful interests, notably the Genoese financier community, the disruptive impact on the ability of Spain to continue financing the war was clear to the king and his advisers.11 It would be easy to dismiss these problems as just another financial crisis, one of so many in early modern Europe. The immediate result was a settlement – Cateau-Cambrésis – in 1559 which maintained peace between France and Spain for nearly three decades, but more as a result of France’s collapse into civil war than a real shift in the structure of international relations. Yet the significance of the crisis for military-state relations should not be underestimated. The protracted and uninterrupted conflict from 1551 placed vast pressures on fiscal systems that in their borrowing potential, credit-worthiness, capacity for tax extraction and ability to mobilize extraordinary revenues were poorly adapted to cope with heavy and long-term fiscal demands of this order.12 These pressures moreover were a direct consequence of the way in which the patterns of European warfare had been developing and changing since the early sixteenth century.

The expansion of military enterprise, 1560–1620


From a modern perspective, to suggest that waging war will become evermore costly is such a truism that it is easy to forget long periods of history when either the scale of warfare and the levels of military technology remained stable, or the costs of technological progress – improvements in the quality of armour or the breeding of superior warhorses, for example – were largely borne by individual warriors. But from the end of the fifteenth century, European states moved into a period when both the scale and expense of waging war increased exponentially, and, equally importantly, when the possibility that this warfare would last for a series of continuous campaigns also became far greater. The decades from 1500 to 1550 saw the largest percentage increase in the military establishments of European states before the second half of the seventeenth century.13 It is tempting to offer a structural explanation for this military expansion, pointing to the widespread and rapid European population growth from the later fifteenth century as the means by which larger numbers of troops could be recruited at lower cost. However, if surplus population might facilitate the raising of larger armies or navies, the second stage of this determinist argument, that the greater economic activity that accompanied population growth provided states and their rulers with larger revenues to pay for these additional troops, looks less convincing. Seemingly substantial increases in state revenues need to be offset against the underlying rates of sixteenthcentury price inflation.14 The absolute increase in revenues was in most cases modest; at best, what rulers gained was greater access to forms of credit which they lacked the fiscal organization or the solid and assured revenues and other resources to consolidate into stable, long-term debt.15 The ability to realize substantial, permanent increases in taxation revenues was generally limited by a combination of constitutional and prudential restraints on rulers.16 In fact the key precipitant of military growth in these decades was a series of contingent political developments. From the 1520s the Ottoman Empire brought unprecedented armies and navies to bear on central Europe and the Mediterranean. The major role in resisting Ottoman expansion fell to the Habsburg ruler Charles V, whose stupendous dynastic inheritance and elective title of Holy Roman Emperor provided a resource base not seen in the West since the fall of the Roman Empire. This unanticipated windfall of inheritances gave him the ability to call upon resources and troops from well over half the states of western and central Europe, mobilizing military forces both to confront Ottoman expansion and, more immediately, to rebuff France, whose Valois monarchs deployed the resources of the most populous state in Christendom to wage a series of wars with the aim of fragmenting and undermining the Habsburg monarchia. The result of


The expansion of military enterprise, 1560–1620

Table 2.1 Growth in army size in the first half of the sixteenth century: France, the Habsburg lands and England 1494 France


20,000– 32,000 28,000 Emperor Charles V 28,000 Spain of Philip II England 14,000 30,000 (1492) (1513)





33,100– 34,000– 52,000 46,000 45,000 38,000 35,000 50,000 45,000 85,000 48,000 6,500

Sources: Figures from Lot, Recherches; J. R. Hale, War and Society, pp. 62–3; J. J. Scarisbrick, Henry VIII (London, 1968); C. S. L. Davies, ‘England and the French War, 1557–9’, in J. Loach and R. Tittler (eds.), The Mid-Tudor Polity, c.1450–1560 (London, 1980), pp. 159–85.

these political developments was a decisive ratcheting-up of European armies and the scale of warfare. Both France and the Habsburgs sought to create a military establishment sufficient to wage war in two, sometimes three, separate campaign theatres – including war at sea – from the 1530s. Charles VIII of France invaded Italy in 1494 with around 20,000–28,000 troops, and French effectives in the 1525 Italian campaign probably numbered around 32,000. By the wars of the mid-1550s France and the Habsburg monarchia both appear to have maintained 50,000–55,000 troops as the basis of their campaign armies.17 This military inflation was no less marked in Mediterranean warfare, where the size and especially the numbers of galleys climbed progressively, and with them the extremely large numbers of soldiers, sailors and oarsmen. The battle of Lepanto in 1571 brought together more combatants, some 140,000 in total, than any battle before the later reign of Louis XIV. Second-rank states were caught up in the slipstream of inflationary war. Venice had successfully dominated the Levantine trade routes through the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries with a galley fleet that could vary between fifteen and thirty operational war galleys. In 1525 the ‘reserve’ of galleys available for military operations was increased to fifty, and in 1545 to a hundred.18 Likewise, Henry VIII of England invaded French territory in alliance with Charles V at the head of a campaign army of 48,000 troops in 1544.19 Political factors may have been the primary motor in transforming the scale of warfare, but technological changes also played a role. The evolution of new styles of artillery-resistant fortification had an immense impact on the cost, duration and character of military campaigning in these decades. Traditional, high medieval castle walls were replaced by low-lying, massively thick walls surrounded by a wide glacis of ditches,

The expansion of military enterprise, 1560–1620


open land and outworks. The walls were themselves defended against direct assault or mining by large, projecting bastions, able to provide stable platforms for the defenders’ artillery and allowing them to rake the exposed approaches to the fortifications with gunshot. This development, the so-called trace italienne, was gradually to transform the military landscape of whole areas of west-central Europe, and in the cases of powers with colonial interests and territories, their overseas holdings as well.20 Building such fortifications was expensive, and a relatively slow and labour-intensive process; it was not possible to wait for an imminent threat before embarking on such defensive programmes. Between 1529 and 1572 some 43 kilometres of trace italienne were constructed in the Southern Netherlands at a cost of around 10 million florins.21 While European navies and naval warfare did not reach a similar crisispoint in the 1550s, a sixteenth-century pattern of substantial growth in numbers of ships, their size and cost is also evident. Shipboard artillery was developed along a number of divergent lines as designers and builders of high-sided sailing ships sought to come to terms with the new threat posed by extremely heavy guns mounted in the prows of galleys.22 The problems of matching the low-mounted, forward-firing guns of the galleys ultimately produced the solution of a new generation of ships, the ‘racebuilt’ galleon design, with lower forecastles into which heavy forwardfiring artillery could be set. In this context broadside guns mounted more deeply in the ships were initially a secondary development, but became increasingly important as it was recognized that a broadside battery could follow on from the fire of the ‘ship-smashing’ heavy guns in bow and stern. This overall concern to maximize the heavy firepower of sailing ships was itself a catalyst for subsequent changes in shipbuilding and tactics, and the tonnage of newly built warships steadily increased in the last decades of the sixteenth century, matched by a growing complement of heavy artillery.23 Until cast-iron cannon became more widespread and available, this hugely increased the costs of fitting out a warship, or an armed merchantman, with an appropriate armament. Moreover, sailing ships were built to progressively higher specifications in order to survive direct hits from cannon shot, to absorb the recoil shock of their own cannon fire, and to stand up to sea and weather conditions.24 Although it was not until the 1650s and the development of the line of battle that the purpose-built warship all but eliminated the traditional use of armed merchantmen as a major element of battle fleets, there had been a steady increase in the numbers of ships built and crewed primarily as naval vessels during the preceding century. A bigger proportion of navies was being made up of large, specialized warships which were unsuited to playing a dual role as merchantmen, and the costs of which, even if maintained under contract,


The expansion of military enterprise, 1560–1620

fell heavily on the resources of the state.25 This, for the Mediterranean powers, would be coupled with the continued need to maintain fleets of heavier, better-armed and larger-crewed galleys, further increasing the costs of the state’s seaborne strategies.26 So to an unprecedented, politically driven increase in the size of armed forces could be added the implications of some new military technology, notably the trace italienne and the heavy-gunned warship. All contributed to making military growth harder to reverse, and to ensuring that the financial costs of such expansion, measured in terms not just of soldiers hired, but of cubic metres of earth shifted and bronze cannon expensively purchased, consistently outpaced states’ revenues. When, from the middle decades of the sixteenth century, one final factor was added, the entire edifice became unsustainable. Though the costs of war were steadily increasing through the earlier part of the century, the worst fiscal and organizational effects of this pressure were mitigated by the shortness – one or two continuous campaigns, for the most part – of the periods of large-scale conflict. The significance of the war that in the 1550s finally broke the bounds of this characteristic stop-start rhythm of European warfare is central to our understanding of both the particular crisis of the mid-century and later military developments – above all, the shift towards a privatization of war. There is no reason to think that either Charles V and Philip II or Henri II of France consciously planned to extend the war of the 1550s beyond any previous period of large-scale continuous conflict. Both parties had been anxious to secure the Peace of Vaucelles in early 1556 before another year of campaigning had to be funded from their already dangerously overextended credit networks. But the failure to bring the various interlocking conflicts of the 1550s to an end had the potential to change the terms of warfare. A readiness to keep on fighting could be adopted as a deliberate act of military policy. Much more than technological or tactical developments, it is arguable that the lengthening of periods of continuous warfare – a process which started in the 1550s, progressed through the later sixteenth century and culminated in the Thirty Years War – was the key early modern ‘revolution in military affairs’, the single transformative factor which had a major impact on the entire conduct of warfare. For it was now clear that one way of achieving direct strategic and military advantage became simply to wage war over multiple, continuous campaigns to the point of exhausting an enemy whose resources were smaller or less well organized. The bankruptcy of an enemy state, or the desertion of its unpaid and unfed soldiers and sailors, was as effective a way of forcing that state to terms as winning battles or conquering cities. The ‘revolution in military affairs’ was essentially about the rise of

Towards military enterprise


attritional war, in which sustainability and robust military effectiveness counted for more than pinning hopes on a decisive battle or the outcome of a single campaign. The pressure exerted by the ability to sustain armies year after year could break the will and capacity of the enemy more surely than the chance of battle or siege. Towards military enterprise All of these challenges faced by the mid-sixteenth-century state in financing and sustaining war were compounded by the steady growth in the number and scale of contracts for raising mercenaries.27 The principal attraction of mercenaries reflected an understanding of their tactical role: they were seen as a battle-winning weapon; their use was based on the assumption that war would be short and decisive. The specialized mercenaries who had achieved a military result could quickly be demobilized, and recruited again only when required for another military confrontation. But the reality of warfare was now likely to be different and if, for example, the campaign turned out to be focused on a major siege, then the financial and organizational logic of deploying mercenaries made less sense. There were certainly dangerous and specialist activities involved in conducting siege warfare, but they did not require the group cohesion and particular fighting skills of an expensive Landsknecht pike-square.28 In practice, mercenaries continued to be raised even when the campaign turned into a series of sieges or an extended campaign of manoeuvre; this type of resource dilemma could not easily be predicted, and rulers and their state administrations simply lacked the flexibility to operate a discriminating hiring policy which would reflect the type of campaign they envisaged. A more fundamental issue was raised by the chronic financial weakness of most early modern rulers, almost without exception heavily burdened with both short- and long-term debts, and desperate for new sources of credit. One means to circumvent these fiscal problems was to draw elite subjects into active financial partnership in the state’s activities, whether through the sale of administrative and judicial offices, extensive patronage networks which could trade political and social favour for financial and administrative support, or direct participation in state institutions like armies and navies.29 But if this could potentially alleviate the problems of mobilizing money or credit to finance policy, then the hiring of foreign mercenaries was doubly problematic. Unlike military activity organized through a ruler’s subjects, the financial conventions for raising mercenary troops were clear and not easily evaded. The formalization of a contract to hire mercenaries would be


The expansion of military enterprise, 1560–1620

accompanied by payment for the recruitment, equipping and assembly of the unit, a sum would be provided for its relocation to the campaign theatre or other place cited in the contract, and a substantial advance paid on wages for the forthcoming campaign.30 Since the mercenary commander recognized that his bargaining power would grow progressively weaker as the campaign progressed, it made sense to extract as much as possible early in the campaign to reduce the risks of possible later default by the ruler/warlord, and to maximize cash in hand which could gradually be trickled down to the serving soldiers. This was not simply the exploitative behaviour of rapacious Swiss and German colonels, living in a comfortable sellers’ market. The traditional French adage ‘point d’argent, point de Suisse’ might be understood in a different way: for without the advances provided by the rulers’ revenues or his access to credit, very few of the mercenary commanders could have afforded to recruit and equip their own units. In the light of later developments, where the very identity of the military enterpriser was linked to his provision of troops and credit to the warlord, the difference is striking. But the modest opportunities for making big financial gains during a single campaign and the narrow profit margin so long as contracts were short and fixed-term, both discouraged the unit commanders from making a heavy financial commitment from their own resources, and made it difficult for them to raise credit in their own names to fund these costs. The small-scale condottiere might have held a renewable condotta from the Republic of Venice or the Papacy which offered the possibility of regular and predictable remuneration for his company over a number of years, but it was precisely the small scale of this which made it possible. A similar practice had developed for the potential commanders of Swiss and German mercenaries, who would be paid a Wartegeld so that they would hold themselves in readiness for possible military service.31 But the sums involved were modest compared with the costs of keeping the full unit in being. Once under arms, the Swiss or Landsknecht colonel himself, and any potential private investors in his contract, would be well aware of the limited employment span of the unit, its uncertain fate at the end of the campaign, the dangers of default by the warlord and the limited legal or other recourse held by the colonel in that situation. Heavy personal investments in the initial costs of recruiting and equipping a unit, or large advances to keep it in pay and supplies, were simply not financially sensible. Such economic factors within the complex culture of sixteenthcentury military elites are by no means the whole story, but they do seem to have played their part in keeping down the level of personal investment in raising and maintaining mercenary units.32

Towards military enterprise


If mercenary colonels were unable or unwilling to advance their own credit to maintain their units, they may also have contributed to making it more difficult to encourage local elites to participate in military service where they suspected that they would be treated as second-rank elements in their ruler’s armies compared with the mercenaries, and given lower priority in matters of pay, working conditions and recognition of status. The vast scale of mercenary hire alienated and exasperated a potential cadre of officers who saw prestigious military service as their right and one which, if they were carefully handled, they might have been prepared to subsidize with their own resources. Swiss military qualities were grudgingly conceded by French military commentators, but the latter were unanimous in deploring the Swiss refusal to fight unless fully paid and fed, all too frequently at the expense of the French troops in the army.33 Ill-feeling about the privileged status of the Swiss or the Landsknechte was shared amongst most native troops, and may have been encouraged by their officers. In the 1550s tensions and violence between Landsknechte and Spanish troops ran high, leading to fatal clashes in the army besieging St Quentin, and forcing Philip II to keep his German mercenaries separate from the rest of his soldiers.34 Paradoxically the crisis arising from military developments and the lengthening of continuous warfare also provided the possibility for a solution based on that same reliance on hiring troops under contract. For once the possibility had been established, these longer periods of continuous war made viable the raising of troops under private contracts in which the initial burdens of recruiting and equipping the units, and possibly some of their maintenance and wages, could be shared between the contracting commander and the warlord. Longer periods of continuous warfare presented a solution to the age-old dilemma of the potential military enterpriser. Moreover, when it became recognized that continuous military activity was likely to last significantly longer, then a crucial ‘chicken-and-egg’ corollary arose. The very willingness of colonels, commanders of warships, arms manufacturers or munitions contractors to advance rulers and their governments new sources of credit for military purposes might itself make it possible for rulers to wage war on a larger scale and for longer. Putting aside here the larger issues of social and cultural motivation amongst military enterprisers, which will be discussed in Chapter 5, there were two motives for the willingness of mercenary colonels to take on this new and riskier role as contractors and creditors. One, obviously, was the larger profit margins that would come from the long-term military contract in which the contracting colonel had invested his capital; the second was the greater leverage, whether personal or political, that this


The expansion of military enterprise, 1560–1620

willingness to meet the initial costs of recruitment provided with the warlord at the point of negotiation and afterwards. Long before the 1550s this had become more than a hypothetical discussion about the possible balance between state and private input into military organization. Although the shape of large-scale land campaigning had been determined to this point by the stop-start rhythms of short campaigns and the rapid settlements of disputes, not all military activity was subject to these patterns. In cases where, for many decades, the ruler had been forced to envisage military structures that were more permanent than campaign armies needed to be, more sophisticated systems of private enterprise had already been flourishing. An early case-study in military contracting: the Mediterranean galley squadrons The building, running and maintenance of the Mediterranean galley squadrons offer an excellent example of early military enterprise. Galleys and their crews could not easily be assembled, disbanded and reassembled on a short-term basis.35 This was both for military reasons – the persistent threat posed by the Barbary corsairs to trade, communications and the security of the Mediterranean coasts – and for practical organizational reasons: a navy that is demobilized and laid up will rapidly lose its operational capacity; sailors will seek other employment and abandoned vessels rot away.36 Training and maintaining effective oarsmen, whether slaves or volunteers, required regular practice, and it took around two years of experience for a crew of oarsmen to reach an optimum level of effectiveness in which their physical strength could combine with properly disciplined rowing. Disbanding the galley fleet even over a single winter threatened this process.37 For the Republic of Venice, the direct involvement of the patrician governing class in Levantine trade and the naval defence of the Empire had led to the creation of a state-run and state-financed galley fleet, so that in 1500 Venice was the only European state with a large permanent navy.38 In contrast, both the Habsburg monarchia of Charles V and the French crown proved much more prepared to meet their naval requirements through the negotiation of lump-sum, long-term contracts for the upkeep of galley squadrons. And from the outset, private entrepreneurs were prepared to meet the initial costs of building, crewing and maintaining not just individual galleys, but entire galley squadrons under contract in state service.39 They could make this capital investment in the knowledge that their services would be required over the long term, and would be rewarded by contracts which took into account their initial investment in

An early case study: Mediterranean galley squadrons


Fig. 2.1 Andrea Doria

fitting out the squadron and ensuring that it was ready for service.40 Political success and failure in controlling the Italian peninsula during the struggles of the 1520s in fact hinged on one such contract, that with the private galley squadron of the Genoese patrician and entrepreneur,


The expansion of military enterprise, 1560–1620

Andrea Doria, who in 1528 transferred his private squadron of twelve galleys from France to Charles V in return for a contract worth rather more than 80,000 ducats per annum: an increase to 6,700 ducats from 4,750 ducats per galley on his French contract.41 By 1530 the number of Doria’s galleys contracted out to Charles V had risen to fifteen, for an annual payment of 90,000 ducats. By 1533 there were twenty-seven Genoese galleys in the service of Spain. By 1538 and the battle of Prevesa, twenty-eight privately-contracted Genoese galleys were involved, twenty-two from Andrea Doria and six belonging to his kinsman Antonio Doria. By the 1550s Andrea held an established contract for twenty galleys, and his annual remuneration for maintaining the fleet in the service of Spain had climbed to 126,000 ducats. Besides the Doria, a significant number of other Genoese families were also involved in hiring galleys to the Spanish and to other powers; Marco Centurión, for example, let out five galleys to the Grand Duke of Tuscany.42 Increases in the size and sophistication of the galleys themselves and the impact of the price revolution had more than doubled the annual cost of hiring a galley from around 6,500 ducats in the 1550s to more than 13,200 by the 1620s.43 This steadily rising cost of galley contracts briefly tempted the government of Philip II to experiment in the 1570s with running the galleys under direct administration by royal agents, so that around 100 of the 146 galleys in the Spanish fleet came to be owned and directly administered by the crown. But this direct administration proved a disaster, costing almost twice as much per galley as the Genoese contracts, and reducing the military effectiveness of the squadrons as a result of failures to find enough experienced oarsmen and the bad management of provisioning and equipment. By the mid-1580s the policy had been reversed and the role of the Genoese, and in particular, Andrea Doria’s nephew, Gian Andrea, was once again established at the centre of Spanish Mediterranean naval policy.44 For the Genoese contractors there were various attractive supplementary financial advantages over and above the fixed payment for the management of the galley (see below pp. 207–8). Moreover much of the time, whether directly under Spanish orders or carrying out a corso on their own initiative, the galleys were engaged in privateering which itself offered the possibility of additional financial rewards over and above the smaller but predictable returns to be made from good management of the contract.45 Given the high capital investment, not in the galley itself, but in building up both an effective crew and team of oarsmen, and the costs of regular replacements, the additional, unpredictable financial benefits may well have ensured that the contracts remained attractive. The profits from successful privateering certainly provided a large incentive to the captains

Hiring naval capacity


and financial backers to ensure that they were maintained at a level of military effectiveness and kept at sea. Hiring naval capacity Mediterranean galley warfare provided an early example of the military enterpriser benefiting from a particular set of circumstances, principally the calculation of the squadron owner that the warlord hiring the galleys would need to maintain them for a continuous period. It might prove possible to fund the galleys for brief periods outside the contracts: much discussion in the Genoese Senate about establishing a fleet of ‘state’ galleys for direct military protection was based on the assumption that the galleys could be self-financing by doubling as merchant vessels carrying high-value cargoes, especially raw silk brought from Messina to Genoa.46 This seems in practice to have been a dubious prospect for the owners of high-cost, low-capacity galleys, but it was certainly the case that sailing ships could alternate between mercantile and naval purposes. It was unsurprising to see, both in the Mediterranean and elsewhere, the development of contracts in which owners of individual ships or entire fleets would be willing to hire these out, usually fully crewed and equipped, to the service of a major power wishing to create or expand a naval fleet, whether for a single campaign or a longer period.47 The expansion of oceanic trading networks was of considerable importance here; since the early sixteenth century ships were being built of a size and capacity to withstand heavy seas, to remain at sea for months, and carry enough cargo to make lengthy trans-oceanic voyages financially viable. This generally meant the abandonment of ships of more than a thousand tonnes, which could carry huge quantities of cargo but were unwieldy in handling, required large crews and concentrated the potential loss from storm or piracy. Development based on the evolution of the galleon, with its relatively high ratio of length to breadth, its weight of around 300–600 tonnes and its excellent handling qualities, came to dominate the oceanic mercantile and naval fleets of the European powers. Constructed for specifically mercantile purposes, these ships would be equipped with highly sophisticated systems of rigging, allowing a small crew to control three masts and their several thousand square metres of sail. Such ships could carry artillery, and indeed some armament would be considered essential for defence against pirates or the ships of hostile powers. They could also be built as warships, with at least one gundeck down towards the waterline, heavy guns mounted fore and aft, and some lighter pieces on the main decks. A full complement of artillery on a late sixteenthcentury, 500–600-tonne galleon would amount to forty to fifty guns.


The expansion of military enterprise, 1560–1620

Fig. 2.2 Merchant ship from Furtenbach – Dutch merchant/warship

A merchant ship would carry considerably fewer guns, but it could easily be adapted to carry more if intended to serve, permanently or for a single campaign, as a warship.48 It was thus possible for a ship’s master, using a ship constructed on a single template, to pursue activity as an ocean-going merchant, a privateer at own risk, or a contracted naval warship; only the temporary balance of artillery to cargo, crew numbers and the provisioning of the ship would vary. Ships operating out of the Adriatic free port of Ragusa (Dubrovnik) exemplify this development. With a long tradition of large-scale mercantile activity based on a concentration of skilled sailors in the city, combined with an equally robust piratical and privateering background, the Ragusans were well placed to sell their services as additional naval ships to the Spanish crown.49 The numbers of Ragusan ships in Spanish service have been exaggerated in some accounts, but contracts with Ragusan shipowners were one of the key components in a sixteenth-century Spanish naval policy which drew the largest part of its capability from armed merchant ships contracted into service.50 At least three ships were contracted to serve in the 1588 Spanish Armada, including one of the largest ships in the fleet, the San Niccolo, of 834 tonnes, armed with 26 guns and carrying 68 sailors and 226 soldiers.51 The Armada itself made explicit the central role of the armed merchantman in early modern

Hiring naval capacity


navies: the fleet totalled around 15,000 tonnes of purpose-built Spanish, Portuguese and Neapolitan warships, against around 45,000 tonnes of hired merchantmen.52 The Armada had been assembled as an oceanic fleet, but it was clear by the early seventeenth century that the greater control and seaworthiness of the evolving galleon gave it no less of an operational edge in Mediterranean trade and warfare. Hitherto the flexibility of the galley’s sail/oar combination, its shallow draught and its stability as a gun platform had made it the weapon system of choice for the major powers. Although fashion and prestige ensured that the major Mediterranean powers continued to maintain galley fleets into the later seventeenth century, for practical purposes galleon-design sailing ships were now regarded as superior and a necessary part of the fleet. Recognition of this by powers that had only previously built galleys or modest sailing ships in their Mediterranean shipyards gave considerable advantages to private contractors in other parts of Europe who had the established expertise in building such ships to high specifications. Dutch shipyards benefited from contracts to build ships for both the French and the Venetians; the Genoese, who had taken some initiatives in trade outside the Mediterranean, were able to contract to build eighteen Spanish sail warships between 1617 and 1623, though in an example of early modern outsourcing, nine of these were built by the Fieschi family, who subcontracted the work to Catalan dockyards.53 The greatest commercial opportunities, however, came with the option, just as with the galleys, to lease out fully crewed and equipped sailing ships for contracted periods, after which they could either pass to another contract or, potentially, return to being merchant craft. If the Genoese nobility specialized in hiring privately owned galley squadrons, the great Dutch mercantile consortia recognized the financial benefits from building, crewing and leasing out warships. As early as 1617 the Amsterdam munitions magnate Elias Trip had leased two fully equipped warships to the Venetian Republic to assist in its war with the Uskoks, and Trip provided another ship as part of a 1618 contract in which Dutch shipowners leased twelve heavily armed merchantmen to Venice for ten months in return for a lump sum of 840,000 florins. From the outset Trip, like many of the other business enterprisers who dealt in ships for military hire, specialized in large, heavily armed vessels of the sort that might also have been built to serve the East India Company.54 The Venetian reliance on these full-service contracts to provide them with military capability in heavy-armed warships continued throughout the seventeenth century, especially following the outbreak of war against the Ottomans over Crete from 1645.55 Venice was by no means the only state


The expansion of military enterprise, 1560–1620

interested in buying private naval capacity ‘off the shelf’, and Elias Trip’s shipping company alone also dealt with the Portuguese government during the twelve-year truce, and then with Cardinal Richelieu of France who wanted to negotiate a contract for six fully crewed Dutch ships to be brought into French service in the 1620s.56 The Trips’ position as the leading armaments family in seventeenth-century Europe was cemented by their links to the De Geer family.57 The latter’s activities as arms dealers had been closely linked to Sweden from the 1620s, above all as developers of copper and iron works, and the manufacture of cannon. Their ties to the Trip family expanded the range of their armaments activities to include the contracting of warships. In 1644 in the midst of the Thirty Years War, the Swedish field marshal Lennart Torstensson decided on a pre-emptive strike against an apparently resurgent Denmark. Torstensson and his troops would look after the land war, but Jacob de Geer was approached to raise a fleet of thirty-two fully crewed and armed Dutch ships, mostly converted merchantmen, which would supplement Sweden’s navy and ensure an overwhelming naval superiority for the period of the lightning campaign.58 The total cost of hiring these ships for the forthcoming campaign was calculated by de Geer in December 1644 at 460,550 talers.59 These naval examples provide evidence that members of the military and political elites had been prepared to involve themselves as creditors in contracting to meet some of the military needs of the crown. Similar initiatives can be seen in the upkeep of frontier and other strategically important garrisons, where again military commanders or entrepreneurs had been prepared to contract with the government for the payment and maintenance of troops.60 The critical factor in all these developments had been the perception that they were areas of longer-term military activity and demand, where advancing credit brought a lower risk of default, or other political or social benefits from longer-term involvement in the military system could become a significant, compensatory inducement. But this of itself would not necessarily have led to a widespread shift in existing military organization on land to one also based on devolved power and private credit. More was needed to tip a political and military balance towards private enterprise, a balance which at a rhetorical level was still influenced by hostility to the use of mercenaries, added to which at a practical level there was no reason to assume that the move to longer wars was a permanent feature of European military development. In the event, this transformation from hired mercenaries to military enterprise was driven by a number of evolutionary initiatives, development of which was largely a result of contingency: the character of a series of major European wars in the later sixteenth century. Yet the cumulative effect

The French Wars of Religion


had brought about a major transformation of military systems by the eve of the Thirty Years War.

The French Wars of Religion With the death of Henri II following his jousting accident while celebrating the conclusion of the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis in 1559, France entered a forty-year period in which the authority of the crown and its agents suffered progressive erosion before reaching a nadir during the 1580s. Eight large-scale civil wars were fought between Protestants, Catholics and the remaining forces of the crown, and these grew longer and fused into one another as the struggle entered its worst phase in the 1580s. These large-scale wars were set against a provincial backdrop of deteriorating central authority and endemic and permanent localized and guerrilla warfare between rival factions, institutions and interests. All of this set the scene for the first major example of the interlinking of lengthier wars with the assumption of financial responsibility and direct control by those whose soldiers were waging them. For the French crown under Charles IX, civil war and the attempt to reassert the young king’s authority began as the usual military business. The crown in the later 1560s once again borrowed heavily against its tax revenues and extraordinary sources of revenue to levy Swiss and German mercenaries as the core of its campaign armies.61 Only as the tax revenues dried up in the 1570s did the burden of fighting the crown’s wars via mercenaries grow unsustainable, also revealing how little real ability the crown had after these decades to call upon military support from amongst its subjects.62 In contrast, for the French Protestant minority, and from the 1570s for the forces of radical Catholicism, the waging of civil war forced the issue of finding ways to support units of soldiers, potentially whole armies, without any recourse to the financial and administrative support of the royal government. The growth of protestantism in the years around 1560 meant that for many Protestant communities, buying the military protection of a local nobleman with military experience and his retainers or ex-soldiers offered the means of protection against Catholic violence.63 When this local violence escalated into the first civil war in 1562, this required the Protestant military leadership to forge these local companies into a series of regional armies. The costs of these expanded military operations were met initially by forced loans and extortion from wealthy Catholics in towns controlled by the Protestants, as well as by voluntary subscription amongst the Protestants themselves.64


The expansion of military enterprise, 1560–1620

As the enemy came to be identified initially with a faction of Catholics who dominated the crown and, after 1572, with the crown itself, the Protestants both financed their own war effort and sought to deprive the centre of funds, by appropriating the tax revenues from the areas that they dominated.65 These funds were distributed to the locally raised Protestant forces and on occasions used to buy the services of foreign mercenaries.66 Similarly, after the rejection of Henri III’s policies by the extremists of the Catholic League, the process of appropriating royal tax revenues at source continued apace. By the late 1580s almost all the territory north of a line from Nantes to Lyon was paying taxes to the Catholic League rather than the crown.67 Not only did the warring factions have the experience of collecting military finance directly from appropriation of local tax revenues, it seems clear that they even managed to increase those revenues over the levels achieved by the unified state of the earlier sixteenth century.68 In some cases they defied one of the crown’s most fundamental marks of sovereignty by minting their own coins in order to pay the soldiers under their command.69 Anticipating both revenues and lucrative peace settlements, both Protestant and Catholic grandees were prepared to raise credit on their own estates, wealth and possessions to fund recruitment and the operations of their armies.70 Successful appropriation of tax revenues and the advance of private credit was accompanied by personal enrichment for many of those raising and leading troops in these decades, by profits from pillage, ransoms and protection. Monluc regarded these opportunities as a normal and very significant opportunity for personal profit, and openly discussed his profits from successful pillage.71 Henri IV’s austere future finance minister, Sully, admitted that he had made some 60,000 livres from military operations between 1575 and 1591.72 Less fortunate were those foreign military contractors who had been prepared to raise units on their own credit either for the crown or for the Protestants. Payments once within France were patchy and fell far short of agreements, while the long-term debts were largely repudiated by the new fiscal regime of Henri IV after 1598.73 This, of course, was very largely – and for kings of France, very worryingly – a system of contracted-out warfare that flourished despite the wishes and authorization of the crown. It was to have immense consequences in the next century in setting the crown and its ministers resolutely against any military contracts which granted French subjects command of troops in return for up-front payment of costs and a proprietary interest in the units they had raised. But the concern that this military devolution seemed to have unleashed in the 1580s and 1590s does not change the fact that it offered instructive lessons in the operation of privatized military systems on a scale and operating for a duration not seen before in Europe.

The Army of Flanders and the Dutch revolt


The Army of Flanders and the Dutch revolt A movement towards contract warfare which integrated more obviously the aims of government and the interests of a group of military providers was supplied by the Netherlands revolt. After the failure by 1572 to gain a quick settlement under Alva, and a period of uncertain policy under the new governor, Don Luis de Requesens, the Spanish settled down to a war fought as a struggle to occupy and steadily reclaim the whole of the Netherlands. If the military pressure was taken off the Dutch rebels for a few of these years, it was because of Spanish decisions to concentrate the military resources of the Army of Flanders against England or France. The army that Alva originally marched north from Italy in 1567, along what was to become known as the ‘Spanish Road’, consisted of just 8,795 Spanish and Italian infantry veterans, drawn from the standing troops of the Spanish monarchy, deployed in the tercios viejos.74 These were gradually increased as Alva put pressure on the Estates to fund an additional 13,000 troops as a permanent military establishment in the Netherlands. In 1572 in response to the renewed threats of revolt and French intervention, Alva increased the army to around 67,000 men.75 Though the immediate threat in 1572 was contained, the military/political crisis continued, and there was no substantial demobilization until 1577. The Spanish crown believed that it could fund the army from enhanced revenues: in the first instance these were to come from the Netherlanders and then, as hostility to Alva’s new taxes mounted, from increasing credit available to the Castilian crown thanks to silver receipts from the New World. In practice, the direct financing of the Army of Flanders by the Spanish crown was a haphazard, partial business – exactly as it had been in the 1550s. Indeed in 1575 the crown declared another ‘bankruptcy’ or debt rescheduling, lost control of its unpaid military forces, and briefly unified the Netherlands in opposition to Spanish rule.76 But this led neither to the abandonment of the struggle in the Netherlands, nor to any permanent reduction in the Army of Flanders: in the 1580s the military establishment again stood at 60,000 troops. However, the mechanisms by which the troops were raised and financed had been evolving through the 1570s and continued through the next few decades. Throughout the Low Countries’ wars the portion of the army composed of Spanish veteran troops remained relatively small – usually between 10 and 15 per cent of the total force in the 1570s and 1580s. These were and remained the elite of the army, but they were also raised under the most inflexible terms: a permanent force, recruited by royal administrators as a direct charge to the crown, with officers appointed as salaried employees.77 A far larger proportion of the troops were recruited


The expansion of military enterprise, 1560–1620

from amongst the Walloon population and the lands just across the borders – the German principalities and the bishopric of Liège.78 Though these troops could be raised under what looked like ‘typical’ Landsknecht contracts – cash advances payable by the warlord for a contract that was assumed to last only for a short period of service – it soon became clear that these were no longer short-term, single-campaign agreements. The German examples here are telling. Some 25,000 German infantry were recruited under contract to serve in the crisis of 1572, and the great majority of these regiments remained in service without interruption until the general demobilization of 1576/7. Most of those officially dismissed were contracted back into service in the next few years, and some much sooner: Jakob Hannibal von Hohenems had seen the original 1574 contract for his infantry regiment abrogated in the crisis of 1576, yet renewed again as early as December 1577.79 In 1580 the governor of the Netherlands, Alexander Farnese, duke of Parma, proceeded to disband a number of German regiments which, despite the hiatus following the sack of Antwerp, were considered to have been in continual service for the eight years since 1572.80 What is clear as the struggle continued was that contracts were being either explicitly drawn up, or implicitly understood, as open-ended agreements, in which the regiments would continue in service for as long as they could remain militarily effective, or until the crown finally reached a political settlement with its enemies. In this case the settlement was the Twelve Years’ Truce of 1609, though even this by no means led to total demobilization of the army. German regimental contractors who now recognized that they were raising troops for longer periods of paid service were prepared to absorb some of the costs of recruiting, equipping and moving troops to the Netherlands. Hohenems, who had contracted in 1574 to raise a regiment of 4,500 infantry in Tyrol and Upper Germany, had spent 46,844 florins on the costs of recruitment by November 1574, money raised via family funds and his own credit.81 His own subsequent stipend of 400 florins per month was sufficiently high to indicate his position as a creditor of his warlord, the king of Spain. In comparison the maestre de campo (colonel) of a royal tercio received 40 escudos (approximately 60 florins) per month, together with a further 40 from the captaincy of the leading company.82 It was equally clear that Count Florens von Berlaymont had committed his own funds to the recruitment of his regiment of eleven companies of German infantry, and that he and his captains had continued to meet some of the costs of the wages of these troops throughout the period of military service. The total sum owed to Berlaymont in 1580 when the regiment was disbanded was 717,329 florins, while we know that one of

The Army of Flanders and the Dutch revolt


his captains, Ruprecht von Eggenberg, had a share in this overall debt acknowledged at 23,715 florins.83 A similar process is notable for the Irish troops serving in Flanders, where captains raised troops in Ireland at their own expense and regarded their companies, once in service in the army, as an investment that would provide for their subsequent livelihood.84 Seen at face value, financial commitments at this level by the colonelsproprietor seem extraordinarily ill-judged. The Spanish crown was both reluctant, and in many cases unable, to pay its debts to military contractors in full, and in the case of Berlaymont’s regiment the immediate payoff in 1580, albeit accompanied by promises of further instalments in future, was a mere 55,000 florins in cash.85 Yet not merely did the colonels apparently tolerate these funding shortfalls, remaining in service despite apparently mounting arrears, but like the Genoese owners of the galley squadrons, they seem to have been positively enthusiastic to draw up new contracts with the crown. In December 1577, Hohenems accepted a contract to raise another infantry regiment, this time of twenty companies, to be recruited in the Tyrol and also to be armed and equipped at his own expense.86 As with the management of the galley squadrons, it is necessary to keep the bigger picture in mind when looking at the attraction of these contracts. The major factor in the Netherlands is the development of what was to become the key fiscal feature of the Thirty Years War, the contributions system. From 1574 the military administration in the Low Countries bypassed the existing regular tax system in the majority of provinces, and allocated a fixed monthly sum to each community within the provinces to pay directly for the upkeep of the troops garrisoned or stationed in the area. The contributions were administered by special commissioners, but the money was paid directly to the regiments, and the system was gradually refined over the next decade. In 1591 it became possible to adopt a variation that would become familiar enough throughout the seventeenth century: provincial authorities in Flanders and Brabant proved willing to agree a lump sum which they would collect themselves on behalf of the troops, rather than submitting to the exactions of commissioners with their explicit threat of military enforcement.87 As the war settled into its character as one of territorial occupation and garrisoning, the officers of the contracted regiments were able to claim these local contributions on behalf of their units. Much of this payment would be in kind, and food and quartering would be distributed to the troops in lieu of pay, ensuring that immediate concerns about breakdown or mutiny could be contained. Later official calculations take the provision of food and quartering for the soldiers as the equivalent of at least 50 per cent of their wages. Officers were given the opportunity to meet part of


The expansion of military enterprise, 1560–1620

the needs of their soldiers from a local tax which was not to be offset against their final receipt of monies intended to pay their soldiers in full.88 The contributions were in effect a form of interest against the initial capital invested by the colonel, and the running costs of the regiment and its companies forced upon him and his captains by the delays and shortfalls in payment from the central treasury. The military contractors by the later sixteenth century had achieved a sufficiently strong position with major sources of credit that these would not merely make loans to the enterprisers themselves, but guarantee loans that the enterprisers had negotiated with third parties to provide supplies or provisions.89 Typically in 1575 the banking house of Fugger agreed to guarantee a payment of 4,000 florins which Colonel Hohenems owed on account for the purchase of weapons and armour for his unit.90 This in turn linked the enterprisers into a world in which ultimate access to financial resources was more than a simple question of what the crown’s administrators might or might not pay of monies outstanding at a particular moment. Ruprecht von Eggenberg, a captain in Florens von Berlaymont’s regiment, was owed an outstanding sum of 23,000 florins in 1580, and in that year received a modest instalment of 5,500 florins towards this from the Spanish crown. Yet instead of being ruined by the tardy repayment, he managed to sell the remainder of the acknowledged debt to the House of Fugger for the discounted price of 15,000 florins.91 Eggenberg went on to become an enterpriser-colonel in his own right, in May 1587 receiving a patent from the Duke of Parma to recruit and command a new regiment of twelve companies of German infantry.92 Such individual experiences may simply be exceptions to the general experience of the military enterprisers, but it seems more likely that, in the same way that the advantages of running a galley squadron need to be seen in a broader financial context, the ability to collect local contributions as a form of ‘bottom line’ guarantee of subsistence, and the more complex financial arrangements brought into play by longer-running contracts, may have transformed the financial realities of this activity. Without taking such factors into account the behaviour of German colonels is, by any historical standards, incomprehensible. In other cases of local Spanish commanders it led to accusations of substantial private profiteering: Colonel Francesco Verdugo, appointed governor of Friesland, produced an account of the campaigns of the early 1590s which is an indignant denial of the accusation that he was siphoning off for his personal gain 40,000–50,000 talers per month from the province’s contributions.93 Verdugo is at pains to point out that the exaction of local contributions represented the one means of maintaining the remaining troops in Friesland, otherwise completely ignored by the central financing

The ‘Long Turkish War’, 1593–1606


machinery, and that far from profiteering from these, they were the one factor keeping the troops operational.94 All of this was further transformed in the early seventeenth century by the transfer of the Army of Flanders into the Genoese financial system. In 1603, the archducal government gave control of the army to the Genoese noble and financier Ambrogio Spinola; Spinola possessed no previous military experience but had organizational ability and massive personal credit through his family banking connections.95 He controlled the command, pay and supply of the entire Army of Flanders, including those Walloon and German colonels who were automatically thereby his subcontractors, as well as the tercios, for whose pay and supplies he was now directly responsible.96 Spinola’s own financial resources and networks gave him the opportunity, not seen again until Albrecht Wallenstein, to run a large army on the basis of government receipts, but mediated through his own access to credit: henceforth the payment of the army, the establishment of provisioning and munitions contracts, the running costs of campaigns, could draw upon his own and his family’s credit rather than that of the Spanish crown.97 This certainly meant that he was able to defuse crises by borrowing on his own credit to meet military costs; but in return, he either assumed direct control of the collection of local revenues through the army, or ensured the assignation of customs and other revenues to his creditors. The system did not prevent the Spanish crown declaring a further bankruptcy in 1607, which blocked the external funds required for any attempt to take the offensive against the United Provinces. But the ability to tie the funding of the army into the Genoese financial system by means other than the loans contracted to the Spanish crown did create a new element in the financial management of the army in the Netherlands, which had not been achieved in an earlier period of direct state administration. The ‘Long Turkish War’, 1593–1606 Further steps towards the development of military enterprise can be seen during the ‘Long Turkish War’, from 1593 to 1606. Easily dismissed as a protracted series of border skirmishes little different from the history of the Hungarian frontier throughout the sixteenth century, in fact it was the costliest and largest-scale war fought by the Austrian Habsburgs before the Thirty Years War itself. The process by which funds for the waging of this war were accessed from the international community by the supposedly detached and disfunctional government of Emperor Rudolf II stands in impressive contrast to the activities of Charles V.98 The Hungarian


The expansion of military enterprise, 1560–1620

borderlands could not even support the ordinary garrisons from local revenues. Fighting a major war in this theatre required that the vast bulk of military expenditure be assigned against incoming subsidy and external tax revenue. Systems by which subsidies collected in Spain, Portugal, the Papal Lands and elsewhere were realized as cash payments in Hungary involved tiers of international financiers and bankers operating largely outside the direct control of the Habsburg administration but in conjunction with the commanders in the field. Above all, thanks to a forthright interpretation of the terms of the 1570 Speyer Reichsabschied which stipulated that the Imperial German territories in case of war were to provide quarters and subsistence for an army engaged in common defence, the Long Turkish War saw the imposition of agreed military contributions across the Empire.99 Imperial taxes and international subsidies on this scale transformed the management of the war. The Hungarian conflict was not just the ‘military school’ of Europe – though it could claim that title more readily than could the Netherlands in the first years of the seventeenth century; it was also the ‘military market’ of Europe. A cosmopolitan army, made up of regiments from almost every nation, including many Protestants, was drawn in by the opportunism or ambitions of existing or potential unit commanders. The practical problem for military organization was straightforward: very little of this money was raised in or near the Hungarian campaign theatre, and not much of it could be matched to precise areas or locations where troops were being enlisted. Raising troops for the Army of Flanders had already demonstrated to German would-be colonels that a willingness to deploy some of their own credit in raising troops many hundreds of miles away from the Flanders’ military treasury would expedite, or in many cases simply make possible, a recruitment process. This was even more evident when raising regiments for service in Hungary.100 But no less important was the working assumption that these regiments were, like their Flanders counterparts, being raised not for a single campaign but on a more open-ended contract. Within the unit, this allowed an early version of the business of the regiment/company to develop. From their own funds or credit, colonels or captains provided weapons, clothing, food and munitions to take the troops to the campaign theatre, and might continue to issue these on campaign.101 All of these would be provided against regular deductions from the soldiers’ wages when these were paid to the unit commanders from the contributions and subsidies sent to the army. Credit advanced in this way became a large-scale financial element in the funding of the armies, and the commanding officers were increasingly expected to fall in with this new pattern of funding on credit. A period in which large numbers of the Landsknechte

An alternative to military enterprise?


had been under-equipped, lacking armour and full weapons, had ended by the second half of the century.102 Another distinctive factor in the conflict was that the agrarian and population base of Hungary, and even the immediately adjoining lands, was wholly inadequate to support the provisioning needs of Habsburg and allied field armies whose numbers had climbed to around 30,000 in the later 1590s.103 From the outset it proved impossible to sustain operations using solely the local economy. Initially this meant the negotiation of contracts with suppliers in Bohemia and Upper Germany, but competition for grain surpluses from these regions was already stiff and the burden of sustaining armies in Hungary overwhelmed their capacity to provide sufficient foodstuffs.104 Food had to be acquired and shipped from much further afield, as did munitions and additional arms and equipment. The food and munitions supply of the military operations was handled under contract by a wide range of contractors from Genoa to Amsterdam.105 This system could successfully mobilize the credit of a mass of unit officers, suppliers and munitions contractors who were all confident that the war would continue long enough to see the repayment of their financial commitments. A figure like Maximilian von Liechtenstein invested not merely as proprietor of a cavalry regiment but in acquiring and managing artillery on behalf of the Habsburg war effort.106

An alternative to military enterprise? All these later sixteenth-century conflicts point in the same direction, towards a steady growth in the opportunities for unit commanders, or those who wished to assume such command, to acquire a financial stake in the raising and operations of their units, which they hoped to see reimbursed with profit. This direct financial involvement in the raising of military force would have large implications for the manner in which military operations, at all levels, were subsequently conducted. But was there a viable alternative to this development? How directly were rulers aware of this shift to reliance on military enterprise? While it would solve some of their immediate problems of financing the recruitment and operations of troops, it also involved a substantial delegation of authority over the control of these units, and to some extent over the control and operational priorities of the armies. In some cases, of course, rulers were very conscious of this process: as we have seen, the French crown recognized that the civil wars had been linked to a massive devolution of military authority, which had reduced its own authority to little more than a façade and had brought the country to


The expansion of military enterprise, 1560–1620

the brink of fragmentation by the 1580s. In other states rulers were aware that they were making a choice, and no less aware of why they were doing so. In at least one case where the government’s discussion of the merits of state control versus military contracting was explicit, Habsburg Spain, Philip III could go on record to his Council of State in 1607 that ‘no one would be more eager than I to dispense with [military] contracts if that were possible’.107 Clearly neither the king nor his councillors considered that this was a possibility. One plausible-sounding solution to reducing the costs of recruiting and maintaining armies was the creation of local and national militias of conscripted soldiers. This had been warmly espoused by theorists since at least the fifteenth century, and very explicitly as a classicizing counterpoint to a reliance on mercenaries. The rhetoric was typically humanist: Machiavelli’s critique of the unreliable, self-interested and venal mercenary was followed by the equally formulaic espousal of the virtues of a citizen militia, as a means both to inculcate civic virtù into populations and to produce effective combat troops, whose fierceness and resilience would reflect their commitment to the defence of patria and identification with a glorious common cause.108 Though Machiavelli’s own experiment with the raising of a militia for the Florentine Republic, the conscription of the reluctant contadini of the Tuscan countryside, had come to an inglorious end in 1512 with the rout of his hastily assembled militia by Spanish regulars, followed by the sack of Prato and the Spanish restoration of the Medici in Florence, such projects merely went into abeyance. By the later sixteenth century, under the rigorous and persuasive spokesmanship of Justus Lipsius and numerous contemporaries, the project for creating citizen – or subject – militias gathered new momentum. Lipsius’ Politics had run through more than eighty editions and translations by 1650; his writings had a large impact on an international political and administrative elite.109 The traditional, negative assessment of the military qualities and reliability of mercenaries was supplemented by a shrill note of complaint against the contemporary version of the phenomenon. The extravagant, self-constructed identity of the sixteenthcentury mercenary, or of professional soldiers like those in the Spanish tercios, was seen more and more as standing in provocative opposition to the moral and social norms of wider society, itself the target of broader attempts to enforce tighter social and religious discipline on the masses. The individualism and self-assertiveness of the Landsknecht, Swiss, even Spanish or Italian soldiers was measured in clothing, behaviour and their double-edged position in relation to society – both claiming status and self-consciously standing outside its norms.110 In a moral and confessional climate that was increasingly intolerant of any kind of

An alternative to military enterprise?


nonconformity ‘from below’, the obvious appeal to early modern elites of a conscripted, modestly paid and firmly controlled militia was its potential to replace the extravagant display, self-assertion and hierarchychallenging attitudes of traditional mercenaries. Yet it is important to bear in mind that these moralizing concerns were merely an attractive additional inducement in establishing a militia: the strongest selling point was its comparative cheapness. If the main issue in raising an army was not the remoralizing of the corrupted citizenry, but cutting costs, then rulers had all the more reason to return to past models, and especially the model of Republican Rome, to create armies based upon the selective conscription of the native population.111 Most of these conscripts would be what Lipsius called ‘souldiers of ayde . . ., who do rarely goe to warre, . . . and are [otherwise] occupied with other matters’. Lipsius distrusted the idea of a professional, ‘standing’ soldiery. He grudgingly conceded that it might be necessary to raise a skeleton force of permanent soldiers to perform guard duties and other local functions, ‘but I thinke it not needfull, that he [the Prince] entertaine any great number of them’. The main reliance should be placed on the conscripted ‘souldiers of ayde’ both to supplement the small number of professionals in battle, and to assume control of garrisons, recent experience having made Lipsius aware of the capacity of unpaid mercenaries in garrisons to take subsistence and payment into their own hands.112 Lipsius was forthright on this subject, but an entire generation of military theorists from Guillaume du Bellay in the 1550s to Jacobi von Wallhausen in the 1610s all emphasized the advantages of creating a citizen militia.113 The argument found a receptive audience amongst rulers and their governments, since for a second- or third-rank power a militia seemed the only practical means to maintain more than a handful of soldiers under arms.114 Militias were undoubtedly cheaper than hiring soldiers under contract. A Swedish calculation for an army to be raised in the 1620s indicates that taking into account equipping, transporting, feeding and paying the militia troops on active service, the costs were still some 45 per cent lower than those of Scottish or German hired infantry if these were serving directly at the charge of the crown.115 If conscripting a militia offered the prospect of raising troops at a fraction of the costs of hiring mercenaries, the question of military effectiveness remained. Hiring troops cheaply was of little use if they had no capacity to stand up to the regiments of mercenaries with their cohesion and fighting effectiveness based on slowly achieved group identity. The recognition that the elite regiments of Swiss and Landsknechte were simply better troops than their rivals in the military marketplace had been precisely what influenced the decisions of rulers to adopt this more expensive


The expansion of military enterprise, 1560–1620

option, even when demand meant that the best mercenary troops had already been acquired by other warlords.116 In the eyes of both the militia theorists and some military practitioners, this situation might be transformed by subjecting conscripted troops to rigorous, externally imposed training and drill, until they could master tactical and weapons manoeuvres with such precision that they could rival any traditional, cohesive and organically developed unit. Though Lipsius was an eloquent spokesman for the wholesale adoption of citizen militias by European princes, in fact his central contribution to a debate about military organization and society was a set of precepts about order, obedience and discipline. His neostoic doctrine of ‘true discipline’ imposed his moral and philosophical concerns upon military life; his recipe for a disciplined and effective army was to demand ‘a severe conforming of the souldier to value and virtue’.117 It was with the ‘exercises’, or drill, of his military disciples like Maurice of Nassau, Stadholder or military commander of the Dutch armies, and of Johann, prince of Nassau-Dillemberg, that this discipline assumed a more concrete form. The Nassau reformers took the Lipsian precepts of restraint and selfdiscipline, and connected them to a specific set of classical tactical and organizational prescriptions, based on the legionary drills demonstrated in Aelian and Vegetius. As was claimed at the time by Maurice of Nassau, and has been echoed ever since, not least by those historians who identify a military revolution in this period, it was this new discipline and drill which made possible a transformation of armies and of the seventeenth-century battlefield.118 More prosaically, it was argued that the new system of collective, regularized drill, by the repeated practice of precise routines for using weapons and deploying units, could match that slow accumulation of collective identity and martial values within the traditional elite military unit.119 Regardless of whether they were to be applied to citizen militias composed of part-time ‘souldiers of ayde’ or to conscript troops like the Swedish levies, these systems of externally imposed drill promised to turn inexperienced troops with little corporate identity or military tradition into disciplined, professional soldiers, responsive to the commands and direction of their NCOs and officers.120 As an apparently quick and cheap means to raise forces that would be militarily effective, it had great appeal, and its dissemination came at a critical moment. Late sixteenthcentury rulers throughout the Holy Roman Empire and beyond its frontiers noted with concern the destabilizing political effects of confessional tensions; an established territorial defence seemed an essential safeguard against this more threatening environment.121 Thus in a spasm of administrative activity, militias were introduced in a short period across a remarkable number of states, the administrations of which set about establishing liability of subjects for military service, selecting suitable

An alternative to military enterprise?


militiamen, and organizing the all-important training on the principles of regular drill and rigorous discipline.122 For historians seeking to create a narrative shaped by the ultimate rise of the state-controlled permanent army, these militias of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century offered an ideal evolutionary model.123 Created by direct government intervention and (modest) funding, organized and commanded by the appointment from the centre of members of the local ruling elites, and based on ideals of service to the ruler and strict and externally regulated discipline, they seemed to offer a convincing ‘path to modernity’ in terms of military institutions and the relationship between military and political power.124 There was just one problem: the project of establishing militias was an almost unmitigated failure wherever it was attempted, both organizationally and in any situation which involved actual combat.125 The one obvious and much-cited exception was the kingdom of Sweden, where a lastingly effective ‘militia’ was created, strongly identified with training through drill and formal discipline and the adoption of more complex tactics and deployment that this facilitated.126 But the crucial point here was that the Swedish Estates had conceded to the crown the principle of long-term service abroad for those conscripted from the Swedish population. This was not a militia in the way that it would have been understood by Machiavelli, Lipsius or any of the other rulers trying to establish such bodies in their territories in the same period. The Swedish militia was more properly a recruitment system for an army whose demands for soldiers far exceeded any possibility of voluntary recruitment in the crown’s territories. Near-constant Baltic wars turned Swedish conscripts into a virtually permanent force during the first decades of the seventeenth century, and provide a strong practical reason for their military quality.127 In contrast to the Swedish success, the comment of the Danish king, Christian IV, that the Danish militiamen ‘ate as much as cattle and fought like them too’, epitomized the more general experience.128 Obligations to service restricted and narrowed by a mass of privileges, buy-out clauses and exemptions, half-hearted training and widespread evasion by all except the most vulnerable, reduced the training, still more the operations, of most such forces to little more than farce. An early disaster in this respect had been the experiment in France in the mid-1530s with the creation of infantry ‘legions’ based upon provincial levies and relying upon the cooperation of the local elites to raise and command them.129 The legions failed both to produce an effective infantry and to mobilize the enthusiastic support of elites for a shared military initiative.130 A warning about the problems of relying on militias was given by Karl von Liechtenstein, Landeshauptmann and Feldherr of Moravia, who


The expansion of military enterprise, 1560–1620

complained that the militia, assembled in 1605 to face the threat of invasion by Stefan Bocskai, were no better than disorderly peasants.131 The German states that deployed their territorial militias, mostly in last-ditch defence against invading armies such as the German Catholic Liga in the 1620s or the Swedes in 1631–2, saw these forces systematically, and usually brutally, annihilated by the invaders.132 If there were some serious possibility of producing group cohesion and collective identity through the rigorous inculcation of drill, it would require more than a few initiatives with reluctant, part-time militiamen. Speaking admittedly of the later seventeenth century, when the ‘science of drill’ had reached altogether new heights of rigour and relentless day-on-day practice, Jacques-Louis Bolé, marquis de Chamlay, commented that whereas it was possible to have good cavalry troopers within a year of their enlistment, it took a minimum of five to six years to produce infantry who grasped the rudiments of disciplined fire and cohesiveness.133 Not surprisingly the militia experiments of the later sixteenth century fell dramatically short of such a demanding preparation.134 Theories of drill and related ideas of tactical and organizational redeployment were not irrelevant to military success in the seventeenth century, though it is necessary to maintain a sense of proportion about just how important they were, even when, as was the case with Gustavus Adolphus, they were applied to military professionals in a well-conceived tactical system. But it was simple delusion to believe that they could transform a part-time, reluctantly recruited militia, and could offer military effectiveness on a par with motivated, long-serving troops raised under contract. The crushing defeats and collapse of the German militias at the beginning of the Thirty Years War, and the incorporation of most of the willing soldiers from the Catholic Landesdefension units into the contractor-forces later in the war, put paid to this as a serious and viable solution to the problem of raising troops.135 In the context of the early seventeenth century, this left little option for states seeking to raise military force: a state-recruited, permanent army was a financial and organizational impossibility, and the apparent panacea of conscripted militias drilled up supposedly to professional standards had been an embarrassing and tragic failure. To adapt slightly the final sentence of Michael Roberts’ essay on the ‘Military Revolution’: the way lay open, wide and straight, to the triumph of military contracting. The next great war would see its fullest and most extensive evolution.


Diversity and adaptation: military enterprise during the Thirty Years War

The previous chapter illustrated how the shift by European states towards reliance on mechanisms of military enterprise was an evolutionary process, shaped by a variety of pressures and problem-solving needs from the early sixteenth century onwards. Whether military enterprise would subsequently have expanded and flourished so extensively without the particular factor of the Thirty Years War is a matter for speculation; hardpressed governments had certainly discovered before 1619 that the contracting-out of military functions and the mobilizing of subjects’ resources which it permitted offered a practical solution to some of the constraints on mobilizing military force. Yet the Thirty Years War, through its unprecedented length, geographical scale and number of belligerents, offered a vital forcing-house for the development of military enterprise. At one level this has been noted by historians: the war is strongly identified with the hiring and use of mercenaries, whose selfserving and strategically sterile military activities are considered in part responsible for the brutality, destructiveness and length of the struggle. The career of the Imperial Generalissimo Albrecht Wallenstein, the greatest of all condottiere, whose absolute authority over an army of more than 100,000 men raised and maintained through his own networks and resources, is offered as the epitome of an age of military enterprise. Whether seen as an extraordinary project launched by an organizer and administrator of precocious talent, or the last gasp of a system of warfare dominated by over-powerful and unreliable aristocratic power-broking, Wallenstein’s army is placed at the apex of a process by which a longrunning form of military enterprise finally reaches its high-water mark in the context of Imperial politics in the 1620s. After Wallenstein the military world changes: fighting wars through private enterprise is everywhere acknowledged as dangerous and unviable, even if many states were unable to act upon that recognition until after the end of the Thirty Years War. The present chapter seeks to take issue with this interpretation on two levels. The Thirty Years War made military demands upon the belligerents that were met through a range of different forms of military 101


Military enterprise during the Thirty Years War

organization and control. There was no simple choice to be made between forces administered, financed and controlled by the state, or outright delegation of military organization and authority to a Wallenstein or some lesser ‘general contractor’ like Ernst von Mansfeld or Bernhard von Saxe-Weimar. The examples from the half-century before 1618 have already made clear both the variety and extent of private involvement in all aspects of warfare, and the choices that rulers, their governments and sometimes other groups within society made in combining elements of public and private resources in particular military partnerships. The process was pushed forward by the pressures of the Thirty Years War, which catalyzed further diversity and adaptation in developing mechanisms under which the great majority of armies were raised and run as varied forms of private–public partnership. The result was the emergence of a spectrum of possible military systems which can be grouped under three broad headings. In the first category were those systems in which the enterpriser-colonels or the ‘general contractor’ in control of the army were indeed operating more or less at their own risk and profit, and independently of any particular state authority. These armies might be hired into service by one or more powers, and in some cases longer-term contracts might entail a more substantial state interest in their operations and organization. But the forces remained fundamentally the property and responsibility of the commanders and their unit commanders. At the other end of the spectrum stood those military systems in which a state administration played a predominant role in running the armed forces, but nonetheless encouraged various forms of limited private involvement in military organization and financing. Between the two extremes stood an impressive array of armies and navies in which very substantial levels of private involvement and decisionmaking were nonetheless incorporated within a partial framework of state authority and support. Within these categories there are both considerable variations between the various military forces established, and much evidence of developments and evolution within particular armies over the course of an unprecedented period of hostilities. One conclusion from this investigation of varieties of public–private military partnership is that the army raised by Wallenstein, and taken to be the high point of warfare by private enterprise, is not in fact a model for the wholly privatized army. Wallenstein was never strictly speaking a ‘general contractor’ independent of the financial support of his master, the Emperor, even if the army may have approached fiscal and administrative independence at a few points during his first generalship. Above all, moreover, Wallenstein’s army should not be seen as some definitive summit or terminus in the process of military contracting. The military

Military enterprise during the Thirty Years War








O F N D A L P O K .


Elb e

Bremen Osnabrück


Amsterdam Magdeburg Halle Nordhausen Erfurt

Cologne Aachen

Kottbus Breslou Breslau



Cambrai Frankfurt

Prugue Prague

MAR. OF Brünn Brunn



Rh ine















R E P.

Milan Turin




Buda Ofen





D. O Lyons












K .












ine Rh

Münster Cassel




Brussels Liège

er Od





Rhon õne








THE IMPERIAL CIRCLES, c. 1512 Boundary of the Holy Roman Empire

Scale 1:10,000,000 (160 miles = 1 inch) 0 50 100 150 200 Miles 0



Boundaries of the German Circles

300 km.

Austrian Circle

Rhenish Palatinate Circle

Bavarian Circle

Upper Rhine Circle

Upper Saxon Circle

Burgundian Circle

Franconian Circle

Swabian Circle

Lower Rhine Westphalian Circle

Lower Saxon Circle Districts not included in the Circles

Map 3.1 The territorial Circles of the Holy Roman Empire.


Military enterprise during the Thirty Years War

system set up by Wallenstein, though providing impressive results for three to four years, was established on a basis that proved in practice unsustainable. The similar system on which the army of Gustavus Adolphus in Germany was built was no more able to achieve long-term viability. But in both cases the failure was not a definitive verdict on military enterprise, the point at which the state-run and state-controlled army supposedly became the inevitable and only option. The principal effect of their failure was to trigger a series of changes that streamlined and rationalized armies which remained preponderantly privately raised and sustained. The result, seen in the last decade of the Thirty Years War, was the creation and operation of what were arguably some of the most successful and cost-effective military forces of the early modern period. A further important point which emerges from the overview is the underlying consistency of activity at the subcontractual level. At the top of these military systems are elaborate and differentiated structures for procuring supplies and equipment, for financing military operations and defining issues of authority and control between the military enterpriser and the ruler or government officials. Yet beneath these are long-standing mechanisms by which colonels and other unit proprietors raise troops, organize and equip their units, keep their troops operational and try to maximize military capability. This continuity is one of the central factors in the argument that will be made in Chapter 4 for the military effectiveness of armies raised under contract, but in the present overview it also points to the potential of these systems to operate across national, linguistic or religious-cultural frontiers. Military enterprise at private risk: opportunism and exploitation In its scale, duration and, above all, the possibility of fighting across a patchwork of small and medium-sized states that possessed limited capacity to resist even a modest army intent upon financing itself at local expense, the Thirty Years War might seem to open up large possibilities for military commanders seeking to establish and operate independent military forces. In these circumstances a few armies did come close to being fully privately financed and privately run institutions, perhaps for the first time in Europe since the ‘great companies’ of the fourteenth century. But what had destroyed the original great companies was their lack of any strategic goal beyond the immediate aim of self-enrichment through plunder: they lacked durability and were acutely vulnerable to any setback inflicted by concerted resistance from the territories on which they preyed. The emergence and longevity of the ‘second wave’ of

Military enterprise at private risk


companies under the leadership of Hawkwood, Bongarten and others was marked by recognition that the military forces they could raise and maintain had to be integrated into the political environment through service contracts with established territorial powers. Renaissance Italy offered an extensive market for the provision of private military force which would permit initially independent captains to obtain some level of funding for their troops, at least for the duration of the local conflict. This was of course still more evident in the vast international market for force that characterized the Thirty Years War. Both in fifteenth-century Italy and the Holy Roman Empire after 1620 it became clear that such service contracts were vital to the survival of military force initially raised and operated at private risk. No more than in Renaissance Italy was it possible to survive for long as an independent, self-sustaining and predatory military force without the sponsorship of one of the belligerent powers. Yet even under these conditions, and although the ‘general contractor’, the military commander bringing his private army into conditional state service, is an iconic figure in histories of the Thirty Years War, the experience of such independent forces, dependent on the hiring decisions and the fiscal and political priorities of a range of belligerent states, was extremely chequered. Despite the apparently favourable context of the war, independent military force rarely proved effective or sustainable when set against forms of military organization in which the links between private enterprise and a particular state were much stronger. Only the most pessimistic or millenarian commentators in 1619 would have predicted that the issues surrounding the religious and political revolt of the Bohemian Estates against their uncompromisingly Catholic king, soon to become the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II, would ignite a conflict that would last, uninterrupted, for thirty years. Yet even with no assurance that the war would be a lasting one, nobles, military professionals and wealthy commoners still came forward prepared to act as military enterprisers in return for contracts and commissions, as they had done earlier in the ‘Long Turkish War’. For many of those who brought troops into service in the Imperial army, and notably a rising star amongst the Bohemian nobility, Albrecht Wallenstein, the calculation – or gamble – was personal and political: Wallenstein raised a thousand cuirassiers in Flanders at his own expense and almost certainly with the aim not of making profits from the running of the regiment, but of showing political solidarity and support for the Emperor with the expectation of obtaining much larger rewards in the aftermath of military success.1 However, as the war spread out into the Empire and drew in an increasing circle of international powers, the prospects for those prepared to raise military force also grew more extensive.


Military enterprise during the Thirty Years War

Ernst von Mansfeld These activities were by no means restricted to those who offered to raise troops for the Habsburg cause. Count Ernst von Mansfeld, illegitimate son of a minor ruler who would provide him with no financial or territorial inheritance, was already an experienced military enterpriser, who had raised and maintained regiments for the service of Duke Carlo Emanuele of Savoy since 1614.2 Sent to Germany with his troops as part of the Duke’s commitment to the Bohemian revolt, Mansfeld shifted his contract across to the army of Frederick V, the Palatine Elector, who was shortly to be acclaimed king of Bohemia by the rebel Estates.3 The hopes for substantial rewards from a grateful new sovereign collapsed with the defeat of the White Mountain in November 1620. Although Mansfeld himself and most of his army corps were not present, the battle destroyed the core of Protestant resistance and left him little choice but to move out of Bohemia before being caught by the Catholic victors.4 Drawing together his own troops and joining with various other colonels who had been in Bohemian service to form an army of around 15,000 men, Mansfeld still found it useful to claim legitimacy from serving an established ruler; indeed he now held the formal title of Lieutenant General of the Palatine Elector’s army.5 However, thanks to the Bavarian and Spanish occupation of the Electoral territories, Frederick had no resources to meet the financial and supply needs of his contracted troops. While in theory serving the Elector’s political and military interests, in practice Mansfeld and his colonels behaved in the manner of one of the great companies in Italy during the fourteenth century, moving their troops through north-western Germany, trying to avoid the Spanish and Liga forces established across these areas, and collecting local extortion money to keep the army in being. In mid-1622, while Mansfeld’s troops were looting their way through Alsace, Frederick decided to ‘disband’ Mansfeld’s army, which he manifestly did not control, in the hope of gaining an Imperial settlement that would restore him to his territories.6 This dismissal merely formalized what was already reality, that the troops and officers looked exclusively to their enterpriser-commander who was running the army on his own account, or increasingly as director of a shareholder company whose membership comprised his colonelproprietors. For beyond a little money invested from earlier military activity, Mansfeld had no personal resources from which he could pay his troops or keep them fed and equipped.7 If the army was to survive, he needed either another formal contract with a new warlord, or a collective decision to treat the army as a self-financing institution, living from plunder and extortion. In the short term, political circumstances allowed

Bernhard von Saxe-Weimar and the Weimarian colonels


him to negotiate new contracts: shortly after being dismissed by Frederick he entered Dutch service and remained until the Dutch ended the contract in the winter of 1622/3.8 In 1624 he was commissioned by the English crown to raise an army to fight on behalf of the Palatine Elector, and in 1625 he was hired by Christian IV of Denmark to provide an army to support Christian’s own military intervention in the Empire.9 This pattern of an army that might initially have been raised under contract with a warlord, but which was maintained for periods between these contracts by the commander himself, pooling resources with his colonels and relying on casual plunder and, where possible, the extraction of more regular contributions or protection money, became typical of many enterprisers in the Protestant cause during the war.10 Running the army as a private and independent force in this manner would rarely have been the choice of commander or his colonel-proprietors, but it is striking that in the unsettled political climate of the 1620s a figure like Mansfeld, partly dependent on his own and his colonels’ risk capital, could maintain an army that regularly achieved a full strength of 25,000 men. The setbacks and failures that beset the Protestant cause in this decade left Mansfeld and his shareholder-colonels with little choice between disbanding the army altogether and losing their invested capital, or seeking to support its costs by whatever hand-to-mouth means were available between formal contracts. Like the extortion of the fourteenth-century great companies, the brutality and rapacity of the troops as they passed through territory which they would not be able to occupy proved selfdefeating, leading to indiscipline, starvation and disbandment amongst the troops. The lack of any kind of anchor of financial stability was to prove a fatal liability, and the defeat of the army by Wallenstein at the Dessau bridge delivered the coup de grâce to an already ailing military machine. Bernhard von Saxe-Weimar and the Weimarian colonels Despite his ducal title, Bernhard von Saxe-Weimar was the fourth son of a minor princely dynasty. He had made a military career as a colonel in the service of Mansfeld, the Dutch and, briefly, Christian IV of Denmark.11 By the time he joined Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden in 1630 he had acquired extensive military experience and an impressive reputation. Rapidly promoted into the Swedish high command, he was placed in a powerful position after Gustavus’ death as the trusted link between the embattled Swedish government of Axel Oxenstierna and the German colonels in the army.12 The Swedish defeat at Nördlingen (1634) changed


Military enterprise during the Thirty Years War

the direction of Saxe-Weimar’s career.13 He controlled what remained of his own regiments, and had a reputation as a capable military leader.14 He could still attract enterpriser-colonels to his command, but the elaborate structure of contributions, confiscations and plunder which had sustained the growth of the Swedish army was in ruins.15 One means to keep his own and his followers’ troops operational was military enterprise on his own account – relying on occupying territory, extracting contributions and fighting off attempts to challenge his military base. But in the situation of late 1634, with its shift in the balance of military power towards the Emperor, this was extremely risky. The other option, conveniently dangled by the French crown’s awareness that war with the Habsburgs was now unavoidable, would be to accept the status of general contractor in French service, operating an army which remained directly under his own control in return for a large subsidy. Both sides agreed that the army should be sizeable enough to act independently: in 1635 the lowest strength that Saxe-Weimar would consider was 12,000 infantry and 6,000 cavalry. For this he requested 4 million livres per annum from the French crown. Initially the French were only prepared to offer one million, arguing that this was merely a subsidy for an army which was not directly under French control or policy, and that the rest of the costs could be made up from contributions, looting and occupation.16 For the French, the army was envisaged as largely operating at the risk of its colonel-proprietors. The French crown held out for much of 1635 until Saxe-Weimar’s own deteriorating military position threatened the various toe-holds and protectorates occupied by French forces in Alsace and the Rhineland. In October, and much against the wishes of the French finance minister, Claude Bullion, a contract to bring Saxe-Weimar’s army into French service was formally agreed, in which Saxe-Weimar received his 4 million livres a year to support the army, albeit with per capita deductions in the event that the army fell beneath its target strength of 18,000 troops.17 On the positive side, the French gained a remarkably effective commander, with considerable operational vision and the ability to lead a group of experienced, tough, but difficult and prickly enterpriser-colonels who had a strong sense of being shareholders under a commander who always needed to take their interests into account. Saxe-Weimar, in turn, was independent of French ministerial interference in the day-to-day management of his army, able to decide upon operations in accordance with his own judgement of the militarily and logistically feasible. But the failure of the French to pay anything approaching the promised subsidy, while demanding, almost always in vain, that Saxe-Weimar collaborate

Bernhard von Saxe-Weimar and the Weimarian colonels


more closely with French military policies and armies, caused tensions and resentments that were unresolved at Saxe-Weimar’s death in 1639.18 Saxe-Weimar recognized that the subsidy treaty with France, however inadequately maintained, offered some stability and the possibility of maintaining lines of credit, even if it narrowed his overall freedom of military action.19 Many of his colonels remained unconvinced, unhappy to have abandoned close cooperation with the Swedes and dissatisfied with a zone of military operations so far to the west of the Empire, where subsistence from a ravaged countryside was difficult. But Saxe-Weimar’s army itself had evolved a great deal since Mansfeld’s time; it was smaller, and better adapted to the fast-moving war of surprise, manoeuvre and rapidly seized opportunities which was typical of Saxe-Weimar’s operational style. Even when his army was reduced to 11,000–12,000, the troops were of high quality, serving in regiments that had already been some of the best in the Swedish army back in 1634.20 Speed and compactness greatly assisted occasions when the army had to rely on foraging and local requisitioning of supplies, and in general facilitated the logistical underpinning of Saxe-Weimar’s operations. The army was a flagship of the new face of military enterprise as it was evolving through the 1630s and 1640s. Many of Saxe-Weimar’s shareholder-colonels were dissatisfied with the French alliance and the cooperation with French forces in the Rhineland that this required, and after his death in 1639 the colonels who inherited the army and became its directors were well aware of their bargaining power.21 Though the French government saw the death of Saxe-Weimar as a timely opportunity to place the leaderless army under a French commander and more directly within French service, the four coloneldirectors who became the spokesmen for the army’s own interests thought differently. A number were now of the opinion that they should return to Swedish service, and were able to use this as a lever in hard bargaining with the French authorities and the acting French commander, JeanBaptiste Budes, comte de Guébriant. A deal was finally hammered out between October 1639 and August 1640, by which the army agreed to stay in French service on terms which respected their proprietary status and virtual independence.22 The agreement held together, despite considerable tensions in the early 1640s, largely through the tactful and respectful generalship of Guébriant and then Turenne, and was only finally broken in 1647 when Cardinal Mazarin misguidedly ordered that the army of Germany, largely made up of these regiments or their successors, should move into Flanders in support of the French war effort against the Spanish. The subsequent mutiny saw the departure of all but three of the regiments into Swedish service for what remained of the war.23


Military enterprise during the Thirty Years War

Varieties of state-dominated contracting At the other extreme from armies where the commander and the contractor-colonels enjoyed a high degree of independence and autonomy were those in which the ruler and his administrators continued to exercise a dominant role in the military partnership. In some cases this reflected a simple failure to move away from the traditional mechanisms for hiring troops, in others a subtler blend of political and military motivations. In two cases to be considered here, Denmark and the Dutch Republic, it is hardly necessary to point out that state control over the army was fully compatible with the substantial use of mercenaries, albeit mercenaries hired under the traditional contractual system of fully paid advances and subsequent wages, and incorporated into a force clearly seen as the army of the ruler. Neither power wished to relinquish control of payment and ultimate supervision of the troops, even if at the level of unit organization, discipline and appointment they conceded authority to the mercenary colonels and captains. The Danish army of Christian IV Amongst this group can be placed the Danish army in the first part of the seventeenth century. Denmark’s wealth on the eve of the Thirty Years War, and especially the personal resources of the king, Christian IV, retarded the development of military enterprise, and supported a system which had much more in common with the hire of Landsknechte in the sixteenth century than with the military enterprise of the seventeenth. The basic defence of the realm depended from 1614 on a militia of conscripts, a system riddled with exemptions that was able to produce about 4,000 men in 1614 rising to perhaps 5,000 in the 1620s.24 Neither Christian nor his Council believed that these could provide anything beyond local defence.25 The response to more extensive military needs was the traditional one of hiring mercenaries on short-term contracts. These could be raised from within the Empire: Christian’s duchy of Royal Holstein, which gave him the titular headship of the Lower Saxon Circle, provided fully legitimate access, as a prince of the Empire, to a wide network of recruiting grounds.26 Given good seaborne communications and traditional political bonds, Danish rulers had also been strongly drawn to recruiting mercenaries in Scotland.27 Though Christian failed to obtain the consent of the Rigsrad for his intervention in Germany in 1626, and organized the military expedition as duke of Holstein, a combination of his personal financial reserves and his access to credit ensured that the customary system of mercenary hire was

The Dutch army


deployed to raise his army. Able to borrow 430,000 talers on the Kiel money market at a comfortable interest rate of 5 per cent, and not anticipating problems with obtaining further loans against tolls and revenues, Christian saw no reason to deal with mercenary colonels on anything other than the traditional basis of the payment of full advances, with the corresponding subordination of the mercenaries to the king and his military commanders.28 In addition the administrators acting directly in the name of the king took on a significantly larger share of the supply arrangements, whether this was to meet demands – via the sea – when the troops were on the Jutland peninsula, or to try to ensure that they were adequately supplied in Germany. In the summer of 1626 the royal commissioner for war, Aksel Arenfeld, was making extensive contracts to obtain supplies from merchants in Hamburg and Bremen who would ship them along the Elbe to supply the king’s army.29 The decisive military failure of Christian’s German expedition can conceal the equally dismal impact on the royal finances, brought to the point of breakdown from where, grudgingly and temporarily, they were salvaged by the tax grants of the Estates.30 The belief that large-scale war could be sustained by traditional hired mercenaries and supported exclusively from royal revenues and loans was as impractical for Denmark in the 1620s as it had been for France and Spain in the 1550s. Had Christian managed to establish a permanent military presence in Germany, some form of military enterprise might have evolved in negotiations with German colonels. His failure to move in this direction earlier in the campaign was a lesson learnt by Gustavus Adolphus four years later. It was only with the attack on Denmark by Swedish forces in 1643–4 that Christian’s policy towards mercenaries started to change. Simply because of the crown’s lack of financial resources, some effort was now made to recruit military enterprisers, prepared to absorb the initial costs of recruitment and operations.31 This trend towards military enterprisers, principally drawn from the German market, was even more evident as Denmark prepared for war with Sweden in 1657–8.32 The Dutch army The Dutch provinces pioneered an extensive variety of private involvement in naval activity. This was seen in the effectively autonomous, self-regulating world of the East and West India Companies; the encouragement of private investment and organization in the ‘directory ships’ intended to protect Dutch merchant shipping and carry out privateering activity against the Spanish and Flemish; and in the mobilization of the captains’ financial resources in the Admiralty fleets via supply and


Military enterprise during the Thirty Years War

equipment contracts (see p. 208). It seems surprising that, in contrast, the management of the army should draw heavily upon traditional mercenary contracts, though the reasons for this may be different from those in the Danish case. That said, it is a well-entrenched myth that the Dutch Republic drew entirely on hired foreign mercenaries to provide its military capacity. In 1635 the infantry lists indicate fifteen foreign regiments and eleven native regiments, to which were added another 3,500 Netherlandish soldiers in free-standing guards companies.33 All the troops, foreign and Dutch, were nonetheless raised under what was a traditional style of mercenary contract, in which the various provincial Estates paid for the levy of an agreed number of troops, raised by colonels who were treated and paid as employees, and not as proprietors given the opportunity to invest their own capital in the military project.34 The reasons for avoiding in their land forces what was normal practice in Dutch naval warfare were practical and political. The political majority in the States General of the Republic decided early after the resumption of struggle with the Spanish in 1621 that they would seek to fight a defensive and positional land war, recognizing the proliferation of substantial frontier fortifications and the extent to which cities and towns were now also strongly fortified. A war of conquest would be slow and expensive, while defence in depth was likely to block most enemy offensives.35 Given that their own troops spent most of their time garrisoning fortifications within the United Provinces, developing a system in which colonels were encouraged to reimburse themselves for their own advances of credit via contributions exacted on the localities would not be politically or economically desirable. The States General, with its commitment to a limited, defensive war, was primarily concerned to minimize the economic and social impact of an army that was effectively a permanent state garrison.36 It could more or less afford to do so, though a certain amount of flexibility was provided to deal with delayed and late payments to the colonels from provincial funds by making use of financial contractors, the solliciteurs-militair, who undertook to advance money to the officers in return for a percentage from the sums ultimately paid over to the armies.37 Another motive may be suspected for retaining a policy of hiring mercenaries with up-front recruitment pay and wages/salaries which reflected their status as employees. The ambiguous political relationship between the States General and the House of Orange, sovereign princes outside the Netherlands yet employed as military commanders by the States General within, might threaten to take on a military dimension if enterpriser-colonels linked personal investment in their units too closely with the policies and actions of the Stadholders, Maurice of Nassau and Frederick Henry. Not only did the States feel under less pressure to make

The army of the Catholic Liga and the Bavarian army


use of the credit of the colonels they hired, they saw clear political advantages in keeping them dependent on the provinces as paymasters.38 The army of the Catholic Liga and the Bavarian army If neither the Danes nor the Dutch made use of what could properly be seen as military enterprisers, developments in the Liga/Bavarian army led to a very different relationship between state power and private capital and organization. The army of the League of Catholic German states (the Liga) had been formed in 1610 through the direct initiative of Duke Maximilian of Bavaria, whose duchy also provided the majority of the troops and funding.39 This imported into the army Maximilian’s characteristic concern with direct control and accountability, which he was as anxious to apply to an expensive army as he had been to the financial and legal institutions of his duchy.40 In this concern he was abetted by his close working relationship with his lieutenant general, Jean T’Serclaes de Tilly.41 Tilly shared decision-making about all aspects of military policy with Maximilian in person, and with the duke’s senior military commissioners, who stood at the head of an elaborate pyramid of administrators, which reached down to the level of the individual regiments and handled issues connected with food and munitions supply and aspects of civil-military discipline.42 In the early 1620s the resources of Maximilian’s Bavaria and the wealthy Rhineland territories that made up the other key Liga states were sufficient to meet a high proportion of the costs of the army via selfimposed military taxes.43 It might seem then that the Liga army was a straightforward precursor of the state-financed, state-directed military force, in which both officers and men were paid employees of the ruler and his state administration, where control and accountability was maintained by salaried state officials on commission, and the commanding officer himself was a willing servant of a ruler who considered that all major military decisions should fall under his purview. But underlying all of this, the essential character of the Bavarian army remained that of a force composed of enterprisercolonels. Although they might be vetted for their Catholic credentials, and although Maximilian took a strong personal interest in the military capacities of his senior officers, the terms of the Bestallung, or recruitment contract, are recognizably those made with military enterprisers.44 The parallels with the Bavarian military system are not those of a modern, state-run army, but more closely those of the contemporary Venetian armies and galley fleets, based on hired mercenaries and contracted service, but supervised by state officials – the proveditore – and with a


Military enterprise during the Thirty Years War

substantial element of state oversight and control over military policymaking and execution. The colonel in the Liga army received full discretion to appoint junior officers, allowing these officers in turn to recruit as they saw fit to produce good-quality recruits, a process which could well include paying above the specified recruitment sums to attract better soldiers. The colonel also held full administrative and judicial rights over his men, and had responsibility for the provision of their weapons, equipment, clothing and, in the case of cavalry, horses, much of which he would recover from their subsequent wages. Above all, although it was masked by the military successes and the relatively easy access to funds from various forms of taxes and contributions in the 1620s, the enterpriser-colonel was still entering into a financial agreement with Maximilian and the Liga in which he would, if required, advance his own capital to raise more troops, to maintain his existing forces or to meet other shortfalls. What the Liga achieved in the financially ‘good years’ of the 1620s was control over the growth of military enterprise and the extent to which capital could be invested in the army. This was seen most clearly in the decision that none of the colonels in the Liga army should be allowed to acquire command of more than a single regiment.45 Such a stipulation could not be more different from the case with the armies of Wallenstein or the Swedes, where multiple contracting was the norm and colonels regularly invested in units whose actual command was placed in the hands of the lieutenant colonel. The Liga army did not wholly forbid multiple proprietorship: the cavalry general Jan de Werth, for example, held three regiments. The restriction was more concerned with the practicalities of military administration, with preventing the development of powerful interests and too much financial exposure amongst the senior officers.46 In a similar spirit, the Liga army stipulated at ten the maximum number of companies in a regiment.47 Both these policies had the same basic aims: to ensure that the colonels were present in person with the army and controlled their units directly, and that the force that they commanded and might need to finance was of a manageable size – both adminstratively and financially.48 The weekly salary for a colonel in the army of the Liga in 1629 was 62 talers (approximately 85 florins), while in the same period Wallenstein’s colonels were receiving 400 florins a week, rising to 500.49 There were certainly opportunities for the Bavarian colonels to recover some of their investment and to meet the costs of making their units up to strength; even in the difficult winter of 1632/3, the ordinance for winter-quartering accorded the Bavarian colonels billeted on Liga

The army of the Catholic Liga and the Bavarian army


territories 400 florins per month.50 Most of this was intended to assist with the recruitment and reconstruction of the regiments, but doubtless allowed the colonels some element of reimbursement for previous expenditure. This financial structure based on moderate but regular pay was subject to slippage, above all as the Bavarian and other Liga territories suffered the blows of invasion, devastation and occupation by the Swedes in 1631–4 and again later in the war. But the major army reforms following on the Peace of Prague (1635), which abolished the Catholic Liga army but permitted the Bavarians to retain an independent army under the overall authority of the Emperor, reiterated the principles of restricted investment and a strong administrative-supervisory presence with the army.51 The advantages of this may have been less apparent in the campaigns of the late 1620s and early 1630s when the armies of Wallenstein, the combined forces of Christian of Denmark and the armies of Gustavus Adolphus were briefly pushing totals of troops under arms into the hundreds of thousands, but in the longer run the Liga/Bavarian model of a small and high-quality army was to prove the optimal solution to the challenges of waging the Thirty Years War, with its logistical constraints and the need to promote sustainability of financial commitments both at the level of exactions from territory and populations and from the military enterprisers themselves.52 Over the period 1635 to 1648 by far the largest proportion of the financing of the army came from agreed military contributions levied by local authorities on the Bavarian and Swabian Circles.53 This was not a system that depended on conquest, occupation and near-confiscatory contribution demands to meet its own military costs. Between 1635 and 1648 the contributions and other local taxes levied across the two Kreise amounted to 11.7 million florins, a huge amount by the standards of prewar taxation, but spread out across relatively prosperous territories and imposed over fifteen years, it was a sustainable burden.54 State-sanctioned financial support, coupled with an administrative presence within the armies, permitted the maintenance of the Bavarian system of ‘restricted enterprise’, encouraging the colonels to invest in their units, but at a sustainable level compared with the central sources of funding.55 This had a particularly significant consequence in maintaining the long-term existence of a significant number of Bavarian regiments.56 While the Bavarian army was not unique in its capacity to maintain a strong core of experienced career soldiers under arms, it was certainly one of the most successful of the armies of the Thirty Years War in this respect (see below, pp. 171–2). Contemporaries largely agreed that the numbers and quality


Military enterprise during the Thirty Years War

of veteran soldiers were the key to military effectiveness, and it was unsurprising to them that the Bavarian army, despite its small numbers, had an impressive military reputation. The limits of military enterprise The Liga/Bavarian army, with its state-funded and ultimately statedirected military organization which nonetheless recognized distinct financial and organizational benefits in encouraging regimental proprietorship and regulated private interest, is an important model in the evolution of early modern military institutions. However, its emergence depended on the particular circumstances of leadership from the ruler of the one financially robust major state in the Holy Roman Empire, on substantial financial support from other relatively wealthy fellow members of the Catholic Liga, and a political context which for the most part allowed the Liga army more initiative and latitude in deciding on its military commitments and the military scale of its responses than other powers in the war. Other states were in less favourable positions, and the temptation to establish a very different balance between the public and private elements of their military organization was correspondingly greater. The two obvious belligerents pursuing an expansionist approach to the involvement of military enterprise in their war effort were the Habsburg Imperial army and the Swedish forces operating in Germany. The Imperial armies from Wallenstein to Hatzfeld In 1618/19 the Habsburg monarchy confronted the separatist revolt of its Bohemian subjects with an empty treasury: Habsburg finances had been drained and the long-term debt further increased by an expensive and unnecessary war against Venice, fought on behalf of the Uskok pirates in 1615–17. The Imperial army depended on those, like Colonel Wallenstein, prepared to gamble on an Imperial victory over the Bohemian rebels as the means to recoup their military investment.57 The gamble paid off. After a second campaign in 1620, the decision to force the issue rather than risk a further campaign led to the battle of the White Mountain, the destruction of the Protestant army, the reconquest of Prague and the collapse of the revolt. The orgy of confiscations and financial rewards which followed set a pattern for the operations of the Imperial army for the next decade. Those who had actively fought for the Imperial cause were on the inside track for territorial grants, civil office and involvement in highly lucrative financial

The Imperial armies from Wallenstein to Hatzfeld


activities – most notably the debasement of the Bohemian currency.58 The Bohemian episode was important in forming the military and financial thinking, not just of Wallenstein when he became the Emperor’s greatest military contractor from 1625, but of many of those who had been or became involved in military enterprise on behalf of the Imperial cause. The two key assumptions were that, firstly, while the Emperor was likely to encounter substantial military threats and challenges in the future, he would never be able to command the resources to raise and maintain an army without very substantial financial support from his military contractors. The second assumption was that, given a willingness to accept a high level of risk, it was possible to expect huge returns on raising troops for Imperial service if the ‘Bohemian model’ of sweeping away traditional constraints on tax burdens and seeking other means of financial exploitation were to be applied more widely. Albrecht Wallenstein’s initial proposal in April 1625 that he raise an entire army on the basis of personal advances and the credit of his colonels-to-be initially received a lukewarm reception at the Imperial court. Authorization was finally given to Wallenstein to raise his proposed new army, but the intention was to keep the force as small as possible – an envisaged 24,000 troops – and to rely heavily on existing troops to form the nucleus of this new army.59 Wallenstein, shaped by his Bohemian experiences, had no intention of accepting these restrictions. By early 1626 Wallenstein’s army had a theoretical strength of 13,400 cavalry and 54,000 infantry, and he calculated its actual strength at 58,000 men.60 Those colonels chosen to hold commissions under Wallenstein were expected to demonstrate both substantial capital resources and the organizational ability or territorial connections to raise and equip large numbers of troops quickly and effectively. ‘The recent recruitment of both horse and infantry is entirely carried out on the basis of advances of money made by the officers, and up to this point (27 September 1625) they have received not a penny from the Emperor.’61 Wallenstein’s attitude to proprietorship was diametrically opposed to that of Maximilian of Bavaria. If colonels had the resources and the proven administrative ability to raise multiple regiments, then they were the best men to hold the extra commissions. Far from wishing to spread the financial risk, Wallenstein was prepared to concentrate his army in the hands of a smaller group of those with known credit and – so far as possible – military competence.62 The issue, though, from the very outset of Wallenstein’s negotiations and the establishment of the army was repayment. This was not to be an all-or-nothing speculative venture like the suppression of the Bohemian revolt, but a process in which high capital investment received substantial and structured rewards.63


Military enterprise during the Thirty Years War

The terms of the original recruitment agreement and patent of command emphasized the extent to which this was not a private army serving at its own risk in return for some temporary subsidy. The Emperor agreed that Wallenstein would be allowed to collect contributions under Imperial authority, and that the costs of paying the army would be charged directly against these contributions.64 Initially the target area for the collection was to be the Lower Saxon Circle, which was to contribute 2 million florins to the recruitment costs, exacted from the populations by the troops themselves in the event that the Circle did not agree voluntarily to these demands.65 The quartering ordinance promulgated immediately following the arrival of the army set the weekly maintenance of a regiment of twelve companies of cavalry at 6,000 florins, from which the colonel was to receive 500 florins – clearly taking into account his level of previous investment in the regiment. Wallenstein’s officers recovered their investment and grew prosperous on the additional takings from the contributions; there was no shortage of qualified volunteers competing to advance cash to raise further regiments.66 If this policy caused a storm of protest – ignored by both Wallenstein and the Emperor – from the Protestant territorial rulers in the Circle, this was nothing compared with the impact through the winter of 1626/7 when, ostensibly to guard against the threat posed by Ernst von Mansfeld and his army, Imperial troops were stationed in Habsburg Silesia and Bohemia, and subjected them to the same financial treatment. The impositions were as heavy and as discretionary as those imposed on the Lower Saxon Circle.67 As time went on personal valuables, textiles, leather, household objects, furniture, clothing and animals were added to keep the payments flowing.68 Despite hostility, it would certainly appear that the contributions regime had proved remarkably successful in allowing Wallenstein’s colonels to recruit and equip their regiments. Morale and commitment amongst the men and the officers was high: Rombaldo Collalto commented to the Venetian Ambassador in Vienna that in his twenty-seven years of military service he had never seen or commanded a finer army.69 A more ambiguous indication of the success of this policy were the 300 or more officers from the Liga army who Tilly reported had defected to the Imperial forces by early 1627.70 Moreover the exaction of contributions was much more than just a local means to feed and pay the troops, and to reimburse the colonels for their expenses in recruiting and equipping their units. A large part of the operating costs of the army, the purchase of artillery and artillery munitions, transport, the costs of the high command, the amassing of munitions over and above the provision specifically made by the colonels, part-supply of food while conducting particular

The Imperial armies from Wallenstein to Hatzfeld


campaigns, the reimbursement of Wallenstein himself and entire networks of financiers for earlier advances to help set the army in being, were all also direct calls on the contribution funds.71 On the basis of anticipated contributions, Wallenstein’s financial agent, Hans de Witte, negotiated a mountain of loans from an international network of creditors – money which paid for almost all aspects of the army over and above the basic regimental costs.72 The problem was quite simply that this level of financial support – and therefore an army assembled on this scale – was not sustainable. Complaints about the levels of contributions and the burden of military exactions are so much part of the common rhetoric of military–civil relations in the seventeenth century that it is tempting to dismiss them as the all-too predictable hostility to a tax system which actually managed to extend the fiscal burden on to those who would normally expect either to escape the net altogether or make token payment.73 But the evidence of non-payment and of rising levels of resistance, and of increasingly empty threats in the face of the inability to sustain these regular exactions, all suggest that the burden was genuinely excessive across many regions of the Empire. If the halcyon years of Wallenstein’s experiment in military enterprise were from 1626 to 1628, by 1629 the problems were reaching a critical level.74 At the end of 1628, Silesia, assessed for an annual contribution of 600,000 talers, had paid only 150,000, and even that had been badly delayed.75 For all the size and military effectiveness of the army, it was extremely vulnerable: de Witte’s edifice of revenue anticipation was probably matched by the personal debts of the colonel-proprietors, who might profit extravagantly from contributions for a few months, but had incurred heavy liabilities in setting up their regiments.76 If colonels of individual regiments in Wallenstein’s service in the 1620s claimed debts of 20,000–30,000 florins, a multiple proprietor like Adolf von HolsteinGottorp had debts of 300,000 florins for raising and maintaining his troops, while Hans Georg von Arnim, who had risen from colonel to field marshal, left Imperial service with debts recognized – but not paid – of 264,000 florins.77 The contrast with the Catholic Liga army is striking: the vast bulk of the pay of the officers and soldiers of the Liga army was met from the Bundeskasse, the agreed, assessed and regular payments of the Catholic princes of the Liga.78 When such territories found themselves exposed instead to Wallenstein’s army as it sought ever-wider territories over which it could extend its demands, their response was obstruction and resistance to what seemed ludicrously heavy demands. The contrast between the sustainable, regular burdens of the Liga in a territory like


Military enterprise during the Thirty Years War

Swabia, and the heavy, and to a large extent arbitrary, burdens of the Imperial contributions was summed up by the Abbess Katharina von Spaur, when in June 1628 she wished heartily for Tilly’s Liga army to move back into Swabia in order to drive out ‘Wallenstein’s grasping rabble’.79 The only way in which the long-term sustainability of Wallenstein’s army could have been secured would have been – as the generalissimo himself recognized – through a wholesale reshaping of the political map of Germany. Just as the reconquest of Bohemia had created vast opportunities in an atmosphere of feverish financial speculation, so a settlement in the Empire which carried through substantial territorial confiscations and adjustments, and permanently alienated resources into the hands of officer-proprietors, might offer a solution. Wallenstein set himself on the road to such a territorial reconstruction with his Imperial investiture as duke of Mecklenburg in 1628. This was halted by the disintegration of his political position in 1629 and the political and military crisis of 1630 which led to Wallenstein’s dismissal. The dismissal brought down the entire edifice of Imperial war finance, crippling the contributions system and freezing access to further credit. The impact was felt directly by the Imperial colonels and other proprietors. From having been better funded and possessing better-maintained troops than any other force in the Empire, supplies of food and munitions dried up, wages could no longer be paid and the officers’ burden of unsecured debt hamstrung their ability to meet further financial demands for the support of their troops, who grew increasingly mutinous and insubordinate.80 The operational efficiency of the Imperial army collapsed; troops billeted in Pomerania and Mecklenburg surrendered towns and fortresses without resistance to the Swedish army in early 1631.81 Against the odds, Gustavus Adolphus was able to sustain his position on the Baltic, recruit substantial numbers of German units on his own account, and conduct a campaign which strengthened his prestige, brought his forces deep into central Germany and ultimately, in September 1631, to Breitenfeld, just outside Leipzig, where he won his greatest victory. A major reason why Wallenstein could make good his promise to the Emperor in October 1631, that he would be able in only three months to reconstruct a still larger army than the one he had commanded in the 1620s, was the proprietary interests of the existing Imperial colonels.82 The period from Wallenstein’s dismissal through to Breitenfeld had been ruinous for many of those colonels who had continued to serve in the joint Imperial-Liga army. Wallenstein’s reputation for managerial and financial skills could work its previous magic, but still more important was the

The Imperial armies from Wallenstein to Hatzfeld


largest single concession he squeezed from the Imperial Privy Council.83 Instead of leaving ambiguous the question of where the contributions were to be collected to fund the army, the terms of the patent reappointing Wallenstein as Generalissimo were explicit that the army was to be recruited in the Habsburg lands of Bohemia, Silesia and Austria, and the army was to be supported, at the first level, on the basis of stipulated contributions payments from all of these territories.84 In the dismal situation in which the fortunes of the Habsburgs now stood, Wallenstein also benefited from both a fixed Spanish subsidy paid directly to the army, and the service of a certain number of regiments raised and maintained at Spanish expense.85 None of this would fully meet the costs of the army, but it would provide a basic structure on which revenue anticipations and payments could be built with some degree of year-on-year certainty. It certainly offered the colonel-proprietors the prospect that they could resume their military activities, re-recruit their units and advance wages and supplies to their men, with some likelihood that they would once again see a return on these investments. Most of the familiar names of well-established colonels from the regimental lists of 1627–9 reappear on those of 1632 and 1633.86 The principle that Wallenstein’s new army would be supported from regular contributions levied from the Habsburg lands for the duration of the war, and that these charges might be mitigated but certainly would not be abandoned when the army was able to occupy territory elsewhere in the Empire, was a realistic step towards achieving sustainability on the basis of assured revenues. No less important was the acceptance that the winter quartering, with its opportunities for re-recruiting and re-equipping the troops, should also take place on Habsburg or allied territory. It was the apparent challenge to this principle in the winter of 1633/4, via the demand from the Imperial court that the troops should decamp into quarters in the adjoining German territories and therefore engage in a winter campaign against the Swedish troops already occupying these areas, which led to a key moment in the drama that culminated in Wallenstein’s assassination.87 On 13 January forty-seven of the senior officers and colonels-proprietor, assembled at Wallenstein’s winter headquarters at Pilsen in Bohemia, rejected the demand to move the army into the Empire. After this, and in a move of which the significance has been widely debated, each officer signed five copies of a document in which they subscribed to an oath of unconditional obedience to Wallenstein.88 Whether or not this document should be interpreted as outright treason against the Emperor, as Wallenstein’s enemies chose to see it, the explicit refusal of the colonels and senior officers to countenance military action over the winter months, which would jeopardize access to finance and


Military enterprise during the Thirty Years War

supplies essential for the recruitment and re-equipping of the army, is highly significant.89 It points to the change from Wallenstein’s first generalship, bringing with it the recognition that the financial base of the army was fragile and could only be neglected at high risk. The Habsburg lands were the vital resource on which the ability to raise credit and repay outstanding debts rested; military proprietors and Imperial authority were locked together in a mutual, high-maintenance dependence whose inevitable tensions bred suspicion, and ultimately complete breakdown. Large armies depended on a heavy commitment of borrowed capital for their creation and maintenance, and were trapped in a vicious circle in which overly heavy contributions (most consistently levied on home territory) required large numbers of troops to enforce, which in turn kept the army larger than immediate military aims dictated, and consequently inflexible over issues like winter campaigning, the long-term ability to occupy hostile territory and the dependence on a steady flow of credit.90 An army which could break out of this iron circle of dependence would enjoy considerable operational advantages. The next stage in the evolution of the Imperial army saw exactly this development: a further change in the relationship between the Emperor, the military commanders and the colonel-proprietors, aptly symbolized by the change in style from the generalship of Wallenstein to that of Field Marshal Melchior von Hatzfeld. Ironically the precipitant for this was not military defeat or political disaster, but events which seemed to bring outright victory within grasp. Despite the assassination of Wallenstein on instructions from the Emperor on the night of 25 February, the army, now in the hands of his subordinates, Matthias Gallas and Ottavio Piccolomini, operated with coherence and decisiveness in the campaign of 1634. The Imperial army joined with the Spanish forces of the Cardinal Infante to annihilate the Swedish and German Protestant campaign armies at Nördlingen on 6 September, opening the way to the Prague settlement between the Emperor and the great majority of German rulers. But the Peace of Prague did not resolve the problem of external involvement in the war: the Swedes remained a stubborn, unwanted presence in the north of Germany; Richelieu’s France, caught out by the unexpected turn of events at Nördlingen, entered the war in an attempt to preserve French gains in northern Italy and along the Rhine which had been accumulated since 1631. An Imperial army thus had to be maintained, or recreated, but the circumstances of 1635 allowed an opportunity to reflect on the basis on which it should be established and how it should be run. Prior to 1635 the Imperial army had existed in an often uneasy relationship with the independent Bavarian/Liga army, while the vast majority of

The Imperial armies from Wallenstein to Hatzfeld


the Imperial troops had been concentrated under the direct authority of Wallenstein.91 After Prague, the Emperor was able both to require the disbandment of all pre-existing leagues and other associations in the Empire, including the Catholic Liga, and to draw the forces of Brandenburg, Saxony, the Rhineland electorates and Bavaria into a direct military alliance. But recognizing the impossibility of creating a genuinely joint army, the Bavarian, Saxon and Brandenburg armies were permitted to retain their own structures and organization, as ‘mediate’ forces under the authority of the Emperor.92 Military victory followed by a German peace on Habsburg terms was to have paradoxical consequences for the maintenance of Imperial armies over the ensuing decade. The great majority of Protestant rulers in the Empire had now submitted to Imperial authority and had joined a general military alliance. Those rulers who were now fielding their own ‘mediate’ armies could legitimately claim that they were making their military contribution directly and that they and neighbouring states within the central and north German Circles should be exempted from additional pressures to sustain the troops of the primary Imperial army. Even if there were not already good reasons for rethinking Wallenstein’s approach to raising and funding an Imperial army, the dramatic shrinkage of the areas over which Imperial troops could now be billeted and contributions exacted would in any case have forced the issue.93 The directly controlled Imperial forces were divided into two: the main Imperial field army, largely sustained from regular contributions exacted from the Habsburg lands and on the basis of Spanish and other subsidies to the Emperor, and an army based in the Westphalian Circle, or that part of it which was free of remaining Swedish garrisons.94 The Westphalian Circle was to become the financial mainstay, after Bohemia and Silesia, of the Imperial military system. It supported an army that was directly under Imperial authority (unmediated), provided local protection within the Circle against Swedish and Hessian incursions, but was also expected to participate in wider military operations. Westphalian troops were used to reinforce the main Imperial army time and again in the 1640s, whether to make good the effects of defeats such as Breitenfeld II and Jankow, or to provide additional troops for campaigns such as Gallas’ ill-fated advance into Holstein in 1644. At the same time the basic lesson had been learnt that the apparent availability of resources should not encourage military inflation: the number of troops retained within the Circle remained limited and multiple recruitment contracts were not drawn up on the basis of the colonels’ credit, necessitating an ever-higher burden of contributions to meet start-up costs and the maintenance of large numbers of these new regiments. The army was kept relatively small – fewer than


Military enterprise during the Thirty Years War

20,000 men including the contingents provided by the prince-bishopric of Cologne and other territories in the Circle – the financial demands on the territories were regular and predictable, and the surplus was used to finance the supply, logistical support and occasionally pay and recruitment of the other, main Imperial field army.95 Though a considerable proportion of the contributions could be collected in kind and distributed locally, some part still needed to be paid in cash. This could be used to reimburse the merchants, manufacturers and suppliers for provisions supplied to both the Westphalian and main Imperial campaign armies to sustain their operations.96 Contributions were now regular, and they were efficiently collected by local agents without excessive wastage. The accounts for the Westphalian Circle in the 1640s bring together the costs of the collection of contributions with the costs of the general staff, but the costs of both range between 4 and 8 per cent of the total sums collected – the expenses involved in collecting the revenues were certainly less than 50 per cent of this. The great bulk of the contributions went straight to the regiments or to the military administration.97 All of this, partly deliberate planning, partly a contingent response to circumstances, signalled a change in thinking about the scale of military forces and the overwhelming problems of trying to find sustainable means to feed, pay and operate armies. The apparently vast returns of a limitlessly exploitable contribution system had proved an illusion which had left too many colonels and senior officers crippled with heavy debts which drove them out of military service.98 The overly large armies, which were both a cause of heavy contribution demands and the only means by which they could be enforced, were threatened on all sides with the collapse of credit and consequent failures of supply, equipment and the ability to provide basic pay. A sustainable burden of contributions, preferably conceded and collected by local authorities, could provide the basis for the upkeep of regiments and a regular, albeit more modest, level of financial return for the colonels. Successful military operations might still supplement this and offer the possibility of reimbursement of the initial investment, but most colonels were not now dependent on such windfalls to claw back a mountain of accumulated debt. The Imperial armies commanded by Melchior von Hatzfeld first in the Westphalian Circle and then the main army operating out of the Habsburg lands in the mid-1640s were different in numerous respects from Wallenstein’s armies. The control of the Habsburg authorities was undoubtedly tighter: regular funding depended on the legitimacy of Imperial authorization. The establishment of the future Ferdinand III, then, after 1636, the Archduke Leopold Wilhelm, as commander-in-chief of the Imperial forces may not have added much to the sum of military

The Swedish army


talent, but it did make it more difficult for any of the Imperial lieutenant generals to lay outright claim to supreme command. The new generation of commanders anyway lacked willingness or ability to engage in Wallenstein’s vast speculative enterprises, mobilizing military and financial resources that had seemed to give the army a high degree of independence, but had actually proved an illusion. Long gone was the situation in 1626 when Wallenstein’s father-in-law, Karl von Harrach, could coolly inform the Emperor that His Majesty would only be able to dictate the policy of Wallenstein’s army if he himself paid for its running costs.99 By the 1640s, Imperial authorization to collect contributions, and even the provision of direct funding from the Habsburgs’ own lands, was the essential financial anchor of the armies. Wallenstein’s drive to dominate and control a vast and expansionary military system was abandoned, and command was divided; cooperation was still possible and desirable on occasions, but the logic of sustaining troops and military operations on a day-by-day basis dictated much smaller forces able to operate independently.100 Hatzfeld worked within these constraints, as did his equally competent successor from 1645, Peter Melander, Reichsgraf von Holzapfel. This meant acting on military orders from the Imperial court which might be misguided, partisan or based on an inadequate operational picture, and accommodating at least some of those demands for military appointments and exemptions from contributions and quartering based on courtly petitions which Wallenstein had been so effective at refusing.101 Yet their overall success in pursuing the war effort in a more sustained, regulated and strategically coherent manner, thanks to more manageably sized forces and known, if not always adequate, sources of funding, offers a striking contrast with the earlier period. It is equally the case that the regimental proprietors, now much closer to their Bavarian counterparts, could still accumulate profits from the business of war and remained very clearly shareholders in military enterprise, but with neither the huge capital risks nor the short-term windfall profits of the Wallenstein epoch. As with the Bavarian armies, it is striking that the Imperial forces in the later 1630s and 1640s consisted of a smaller number of longer-serving regiments, with similar effects of accumulating long-serving, experienced officers and men.102 The Swedish army Sweden began the seventeenth century under the shadow of Denmark. The disastrous Danish–Swedish War which had ended the reign of Charles IX and brought the young Gustavus Adolphus to the throne in


Military enterprise during the Thirty Years War

1611 had revealed Sweden’s military weakness, principally its financial incapacity to sustain the Danish ‘Landsknecht’ solution of hiring large numbers of mercenaries on short-term contracts to undertake military operations. The Swedish crown saw its primary military/defensive requirement from the mid-sixteenth century as strengthening and maintaining the state-run navy. Like Denmark, Sweden possessed no large, pre-existing merchant marine, so co-opting merchant vessels as privateers or medium-sized warships to form the largest element of a navy was not a significant option. Despite the very limited financial resources available to the monarchy, Sweden was committed from the outset to a state-built and state-financed navy.103 This merely compounded the financial problems of supporting a land-based defence force. The only escape from military impotence was to improve the size and quality of the conscript peasant militia, a path seized upon by many second-rank rulers in the early seventeenth century, but as was shown in Chapter 2, rarely producing worthwhile results. In contrast, the transformation of the Swedish militia is seen as the great success story of the reign of Gustavus Adolphus (see above, pp. 98–9). Involved in the constant military activity of Gustavus’ campaigns in Livonia, Lithuania and ultimately Poland and Polish Prussia, the Swedish militia took on most of the characteristics of a permanent force of long-serving military veterans. The harshness of rural life in most of Sweden inured the conscripts to wages that were far lower than those paid to military professionals elsewhere in Europe, while territorial conquests and plunder around the Baltic may have offered some compensation for conditions of service far below those of a German Landsknecht.104 Yet despite the military qualities of the conscripts, the numbers were insufficient to sustain the ambitious territorial designs of Gustavus Adolphus. If the militia could generate a native Swedish (and Finnish) army of around 30,000 infantry and 8,000 cavalry, high rates of attrition through battle and sickness, the need to establish garrisons and hold territory, all took their toll. By 1629 and the campaigns in Poland, Gustavus had taken some 16,000 mercenaries into his army, some hired after the collapse of the Danish intervention in the Empire, others contracted from Scottish or German colonels.105 Much of this hiring was sustained on the basis of an unprecedented opening-up of Swedish copper and iron mines, armaments manufacturing and shipbuilding through Dutch entrepreneurs and capital. By the 1620s Dutch penetration into the Swedish economy was hugely profitable and netted large revenues for the crown in vital European specie as well as providing letters of exchange and related financial facilities in Amsterdam, Hamburg and other European financial centres. This provided the mechanisms by which

The Swedish army


these initial contracts to recruit mercenaries could be negotiated.106 Like those for the mercenaries hired by the Danes, these were initially based on typical contracts specifying advances for the costs of recruitment and regular pay from the warlord.107 Some of these were to continue into the period of the German war, though gradually they started to overlap with a whole new generation of enterpriser-colonels brought into service in Germany, providing credit in their own right against expectations of larger financial rewards.108 When Gustavus landed at Peenemunde in 1630 to begin his campaign in Germany, it was certainly not his intention to fight a limited war on the basis of a small army of Swedish conscripts. Long before Gustavus and Oxenstierna proclaimed the maxim bellum se ipsum alet (war should pay for itself), the king intended to fight the war in Germany with the additional resources of both mercenaries raised under traditional contracts already in Swedish service and a new generation of military enterprisers. In both cases wages were to be paid and large-scale credit reimbursed through contributions imposed on conquered or occupied territory in the Empire.109 Before he landed in Germany his agents had already been at work: Dietrich von Falkenberg and Dodo von Kniephausen acted as coordinators of this recruitment drive in anticipation of Gustavus’ arrival, and ensured that a further 36,000 German soldiers were added to the Swedish forces of around 43,000 at the beginning of 1631.110 Despite this emphasis on new German contracts, Scottish recruitment for the next couple of years ran a close second within the Swedish army, with six generals, thirty colonels and 10,000 soldiers raised from Scotland.111 Thus the huge expansion of the enterpriser component of the Swedish army was not some unanticipated consequence of victory at Breitenfeld in September 1631; it had been planned by Gustavus from the outset of his invasion as the means to match the armies of Wallenstein and the Catholic Liga, and to avoid the fate of Christian IV, whose armies were assembled too slowly and whose hiring of military enterprisers amounted to one poorly coordinated contract with an independent army under Ernst von Mansfeld. There were, however, large implications to Gustavus Adolphus’ decision to expand the number of troops under his command. Given the Swedish king’s limited financial resources and access to credit, it was a foregone conclusion that he would seek to match the scale of his opponents’ forces by drawing heavily on the personal credit of aspiring colonels. Native soldiers from the Swedish conscription system became a smaller and smaller proportion of the total Swedish campaign armies, so that while in 1633 the total strength of all the Swedish forces stood at around 85,000 men, the native Swedes in these forces numbered no more


Military enterprise during the Thirty Years War

than 3,000.112 The largest proportion of the Swedes who were raised and deployed were not in the campaign armies, but were garrisoned across fortifications in the Baltic territories. Wallenstein had pioneered the principle of exacting massive contributions, not just from enemy but from allied and home territory, in order to reimburse colonels and other senior officers who had engaged in substantial financial speculation; Gustavus quickly adopted the same policy in recruiting his army from amongst willing German enterprisers. Paul Khevenhüller, in religious exile from his native Carinthia, joined Gustavus’ army as a cavalry colonel at the head of a unit which he had recruited at his own expense, while in addition he and his brother Hans also lent the king a further 70,000 talers at 6 per cent interest per annum.113 After 1631 it seemed that enthusiasm to invest in the Swedish king’s military activities was even greater than it had been for Wallenstein.114 Underpinning this enthusiasm for massive capital investment in the Swedish army, even after the death of Gustavus Adolphus, was the Swedes’ ability to occupy great swathes of western and southern Germany, mostly Catholic lands subjected to contributions in the form of direct confiscations or war indemnities which were massive even by the standards of Wallenstein’s system.115 As with Wallenstein, however, the aim of imposing these extremely heavy burdens was not simply to provide a one-off levy which could meet some of the outstanding debts of his numerous subcontractors and investors; despite near-confiscatory exactions, it was still conceived as means to a regular, substantial income flow. This could finance a stream of new borrowing and financial investment, one part of which was to pay for the expansion of an army that was required to occupy the territories from which the burden of contributions was to be extracted. After opening its gates to the Swedes in April 1632, Augsburg was subjected to a regular and crushing burden of taxation and requisitioning until the final collapse of Sweden’s position in the south in early 1635. The Catholic bishop and the Fugger family alone were assessed for an initial payment of 700,000 gulden, and as both had fled the burden was laid upon the city, which received in return highly dubious rights to the property of both parties. The inhabitants of the city were assessed for contributions, both in cash and in kind, intended to support the immediate costs of five regiments of Swedish troops, to indemnify the officers for earlier costs, and to make a further payment to the overall costs of the army.116 Resistance, backsliding and evasion were as much a part of Augsburg’s relationship with the Swedish military as they had been against the rather lower demands of Wallenstein’s army.117 Contributions extracted at this level, even from a city as wealthy and well-placed as Augsburg, proved unsustainable.118 The result can be seen in the rapid

The Swedish army


collapse of the population of the city under this pressure, from 80,000 in 1632 down to 18,000 in 1635.119 If the burden on what was perceived as a major hostile city was massive, the contributions burden even on territories that were nominally allied with the Swedes from 1631 represented a dramatic break with any previous taxation regime. The extraordinary Protokoll drawn up in late 1634 after the departure of the Swedes from the Ober-Barnim Circle of the Margraviat of Brandenburg provides a striking picture of the detailed contributions imposed over the preceding four years of Swedish occupation, and the costs of this in terms of depopulation, ruined villages and destitute peasant communities. The modest community of NeustadtEberswalde, with 216 hearths in 1630, claimed to have paid the total sum of 43,987 talers over the four-year period, but at the cost of a 50 per cent fall in population and 106 houses abandoned.120 Thus, in the heady days of Gustavus’ victories it looked as though the Swedes were plunging straight into the same trap of unsustainability on the back of massive self-financed recruitment as the Imperialists under Wallenstein had done. And even after Lützen and the king’s death, the appetite for further and heavier investment by enterprisers within the Swedish army seemed undimininished. In 1633 an unprecedented agreement was made by which the Swedish enterpriser-colonels formally took over the debts owed by the crown to the subalterns, non-commissioned officers and men of their regiments. Added to their own advances and other payments, this produced individual claims by some of the colonels against the Swedish government of 200,000–300,000 talers.121 In the same year and in the face of mounting protests and non-compliance by the territories subjected to contributions, a series of negotiations took place at Heilbronn between the Swedish government of Oxenstierna, the army commanders and the states allied with the Swedes, to try to establish a formal and agreed level of support.122 These Heilbronn negotiations established that the Swedish campaign army, taken at a minimum of 45,000 men, would require regular financial support of 8.5–9.5 million florins per year.123 This simply could not be paid through further regular, heavy war taxes on the back of the already unprecedented exactions on occupied territory. The proposed resolution to this impasse had similarities with Wallenstein’s plans in the late 1620s, involving a massive transfer of confiscated lands into the hands of the officers as a ‘once-and-for-all’ means to cover their debts and allow them to meet their own obligations to junior officers and men.124 But not only did this raise serious constitutional concerns about the extent of Sweden’s rights of conquest within the Empire, it also created a mass of practical problems. Passed into the hands


Military enterprise during the Thirty Years War

of colonels who wanted to sell the property to realize capital to meet their own debts, the market was rapidly flooded. Colonel Claus Dietrich Sperreuth received as his payment for debts incurred the town of Wembdingen, valued at 100,000 talers, and the monastic lands of Kirchheim. He would have been prepared to sell them for cash for a fraction of this value, but the one potential buyer, the count of Hohenlohe, would only purchase these lands via long-term annual instalments, rejected by Sperreuth.125 With the battle of Nördlingen in September 1634 the matter of the colonels’ debts was settled more dramatically, with the complete collapse of the Swedish position in southern and central Germany. The areas that could support the Swedish army were reduced to the Baltic coastal territories of Pomerania and Mecklenburg. This was itself problematic, since these were territories envisaged by the Swedes as part of a lasting territorial satisfactio in a forthcoming peace settlement, and not therefore to be ravaged by punitive contributions. Nördlingen and the ensuing Prague settlement between the Emperor and the German princes forced Sweden to carry through the same kind of radical reconstruction of army organization and support that the Imperial war council and the army commanders undertook after the assassination of Wallenstein.126 In part this task was simplified for the Swedes both by the heavy losses and subsequent desertion of troops following Nördlingen, and by Bernhard von Saxe-Weimar’s decision to lead off a substantial group of German regiments as an independent corps, which from 1635 would receive a subsidy from France and operate in the west of the Empire. All of this reduced the Swedes from a vast military presence to a single campaign army and the garrison forces on the Baltic coast. Virtually overnight, the army had been transformed from a large, cantankerous coalition of enterpriser-colonels to a relatively compact force, no longer able to draw support from large-scale contributions except by a laborious process of re-establishing a permanent military presence deeper in the Empire. In the meantime it would be forced to subsist on a minimal contributions base in Mecklenburg and Pomerania, on subsidies from allied powers and on a willingness to put up with limited resources and to rely on hand-to-mouth credit.127 As with the thinking behind the support structure for the Imperial army in the aftermath of Prague, the key issue now facing the Swedish high command was to establish a system that could ensure military sustainability through balancing secure occupation of territory and realistic contributions with providing enough additional resources to support the operations of a campaign army – albeit one that would be much more modest than hitherto. When the Swedish military position improved from the late 1630s a larger area could be brought

The Swedish army


under permanent occupation. The generals Wrangel and Königsmarck now held and garrisoned Holstein and lower Saxony which greatly increased the permanent resource base from which regular, sustainable contributions could be exacted.128 The most obvious difference in the operations of the Swedish campaign army compared with its Imperial rival in the years after 1636 was that it was unconstrained by the Emperor’s commitment to respect the financial integrity of the states and Circles contributing their own armies to the post-Prague military settlement, principally Saxony and Brandenburg. The Swedes felt no obligations to the Protestant German states that had abandoned them at Prague. Though some of the basic costs of the support of the main campaign army would be met from the Baltic territories, the high command were determined after 1635 that the costs of campaigning should very largely be met via contributions, requisitioning and confiscations levelled on Sweden’s earlier allies, now enemies. Contributions, especially under Banér, were a great deal more like Brandschatzen – oneoff demands for financial indemnities to avoid the spoliation of territory or the sacking of towns and cities. Local authorities were aware that the only chance of negotiating these heavy claims downwards was to offer to collect a significant but lesser amount quickly and without making any difficulties.129 Moreover Torstensson, operating this system after the clear upturn in Swedish military fortunes from 1642, saw the advantages of not squeezing local resources completely dry; these were not territories that would necessarily pass back under Imperial control, and it made sense to preserve some of their capacity for payment in the future.130 The Swedish modus operandi was succinctly identified by the eighteenthcentury historian Père Henri Griffet, who recounts how on 1 February 1639 Banér’s campaign army of 18,000 crossed the Elbe with limited provisions and no more than 5,000–6,000 écus in its war-chest. The general terror of Swedish arms ensured that the duke of BraunschweigLüneburg was prepared to supply and pay them all they required for the campaign.131 By keeping the campaign army small, fast-moving and with an intimidating reputation for professionalism and military effectiveness, its survival could be ensured in large part through extorting local resources.132 The late 1630s were marked by an impressive series of campaigns in which Banér with a small army and his back to the Baltic coast managed to avoid being crushed by numerically superior, better-supported Imperial forces.133 By the early 1640s the tide was turning, as Swedish survival changed into military consolidation in the north, growth in the military establishment and its capacity to take the initiative once again. The aggressive, territorially assertive campaigns of Torstensson from 1642


Military enterprise during the Thirty Years War

Fig. 3.1 Johan Banér

successively pushed Brandenburg (1641) and Saxony (1646) into neutrality, which was secured by the agreement to pay the Swedish army regular contributions.134 The success of the Swedish armies in campaigning deep into German territory and the Habsburg lands in the years from 1642 brought additional large gains from the policy of ruthless extortion, a process which finally culminated in the sack of the old quarter of Prague in summer 1648, which netted around 7 million talers in spoil for the

The Swedish army


Swedish forces of Königsmarck and Avid Wittenberg.135 The Swedish commanders still relied upon the settled resource base in the north, which could provide basic funding for both the garrisons and the campaign army and additional financial resources to underwrite munitions and equipment contracts via Hamburg and Amsterdam merchants. But they combined this with a ruthless determination to plunder and extort resources from territories across southern and central Germany as part of their larger strategy of forcing the war to a favourable conclusion that would meet one of the most intractable of Swedish war aims: the payment of a financial satisfactio large enough to meet the accumulated debts and outstanding sums owed to the officers and men of the army. While directed towards a coherent strategic purpose, this extortion in the course of successive operations also ensured that the commanders, senior officers and colonels in Swedish service enjoyed a more consistent and lengthier period of enrichment than any other single group of military enterprisers during the war.136 The Imperial army in the later years of the war had become more dependent on central and local authority to negotiate and administer the collection of sustainable contributions, and the commanders had much less access to extraordinary funds that they could collect independently. The Swedish campaign army and its commanders still enjoyed a high degree of autonomy, given that the largest part of its financial support was extorted by direct military action on territory which almost without exception could be regarded as hostile.137 Military decision-making was still closely tied to the relationship between the commanders and their colonels. Banér and Torstensson were both employees of the Swedish crown, commanding some units of Swedish soldiers paid by the state, and receiving a portion of their military funding from contributions collected under the authority of the Swedish crown in north Germany. But they were also colonels-proprietor themselves and held authority within an army which was largely composed of German colonels-proprietor.138 They were thoroughly integrated, linguistically and culturally, into a German military world. Banér wrote to the Swedish court in German, and a series of senior commanders – for example, Königsmarck and General-Major Kurt von Pfuel (Banér’s brother-in-law) – were Germans who had passed from being colonel-proprietors to the high command.139 The one large group of colonels who might have provided a counterweight to the Germans, the Scots, largely disappeared in the 1640s as ‘Britain’s Troubles’ drew them back across the North Sea to fight for crown or Covenanters.140 Swedish commanders negotiated with their mostly German colonels as shareholders, fully conscious of their status as proprietors and respecting their financial interest in the army.


Military enterprise during the Thirty Years War

Torstensson formulated his military policy independently from the government in Stockholm, merely reporting most of his decisions to the Regency Council for ratification.141 But he was careful to win over the army colonels when he took over the command in 1641, reassuring them that their financial commitments were noted, and providing two months’ pay for each company to meet previous expenses.142 The contribution demands and other financial burdens levelled on German territory were elaborately broken down into funding for different purposes – subsistence, recruitment, purchase of weapons and equipment, artillery and munitions, fodder – making it very clear that the funding needs of the colonels underpinned the entire financial system.143 Nowhere is Torstensson’s direct control of military operations clearer than in the 1644 lightning campaign against Denmark, itself granted the almost unique accolade of being known to posterity as ‘Torstensson’s War’. Apart from the initial decision to launch a pre-emptive strike against Denmark, every aspect of the campaign that was launched by the Swedish forces in Germany was managed and coordinated by their commander. Above all, cumulative success in the 1640s did not create the temptation massively to expand the military establishment again. Though a number of smaller campaigning forces were created to conduct subsidiary operations, the bulk of the veteran troops were concentrated in the army of Torstensson and his successor, Wrangel.144 As with the Bavarian and Imperial armies, the effect was to maintain a number of long-serving units containing a very high proportion of veteran troops. Although the Swedish crown disbanded all its German regiments in 1649–50, the mechanisms for recruiting German troops from the same group of enterprisers were simply left in abeyance (see below, p. 280). Conclusion These examples of armies with a substantial component of private financial and organizational involvement by no means represent a comprehensive list of enterprise-based armies in the Thirty Years War. Numerous smaller Protestant forces subsisted largely through an element of private enterprise. At least one, the army established by Wilhelm von HessenKassel, had a lengthy and successful history throughout the war, and achieved something of the permanence and professionalism of the Bavarian army, while never enjoying a comparable resource base.145 Another force made up of long-serving regimental proprietors, initially raised as the army of a ruling prince and funded in part from his own ducal resources, were the Lorraine troops of Duke Charles IV. The French



occupation of his duchy from the 1630s turned Charles into a general contractor in the style of Mansfeld or Saxe-Weimar, except that his own dynastic imperative of ultimately recovering his duchy constrained his ability to negotiate contracts and pursue military activity with the potential freedom of a Saxe-Weimar.146 This chapter has given little attention to the huge Spanish military establishment of this period. This is in part because the lineaments of the system were set out in the previous chapter: the Spanish crown brought together a core of troops – the tercios viejos – which were directly organized and funded by the state, surrounded by a much larger military establishment made up of military contractors – whether these were German colonels serving in the Netherlands, or Genoese nobles running the Mediterranean galley squadrons. The demands of warfare for the Spanish in the later sixteenth century had been uniquely intense and large scale, and the development of the military system had already taken on a settled form by the beginning of the Thirty Years War, one in which a massive presence of military contracting played its role in keeping the organizational and fiscal pressures of the military machine just in check.147 There was no evolution comparable with that seen in the Austrian Habsburg forces or the Swedish army, and the Spanish military system occupies its own important niche in the spectrum of private–public military partnerships as they evolved in this period. The French monarchy’s unique experience in establishing an initially highly problematic public–private military partnership will be considered in more detail in Chapter 6. Nor has the diversity of naval organization been fully examined. This is again partly because many of the developments in combining state-owned and state-built warships with privately contracted elements of navies, and in outsourcing aspects of naval activity to private contractors, had already occurred during the sixteenth century, and there was less distinctive evolution in the period of the Thirty Years War. What this chapter has sought to show is that there was no single model for the organization of military force in this period; still less was there any inexorable process towards a state-run, state-controlled army. No state had the resources or the organization to create a significant army directly under its own funding and control, and the only issue was what level of private enterprise would be encouraged or allowed. Equally though, Mansfeld’s and a number of other armies raised by so-called general contractors demonstrate that the independent contract army raised entirely at the risk of the colonel-proprietors lacked even medium-term durability during the Thirty Years War. What is evident from the given examples is that different political and military pressures can lead to very different emphases in the relationship between central authority – most


Military enterprise during the Thirty Years War

often seen in the continued ability to finance, or facilitate financing, of a part of the army – and the organizational and financial role played by private contractors in raising and maintaining an army. These then demonstrate a range of partnerships between state and private enterprise, some of which failed spectacularly, in the manner of Wallenstein’s system, others of which offer more constructive possibilities for combining military sustainability and adaptability. This will become more evident in the next chapter when the relative military effectiveness of these armies will be considered. Private involvement in military activity may make sense from a financial and organizational perspective, but can it produce armies and navies capable of achieving military objectives and operating as effective instruments of strategy? Much conventional wisdom assumes that the involvement of a private ‘mercenary’ element in warfare is tantamount to adopting a wasteful and ineffective military system, the only justification for which must have been short-term financial expediency.

Part II

Operations and structures


The military contractor at war

It was an age of great generals, commanding small armies and achieving great things . . . Jacques de Guibert, writing of the Thirty Years War after the death of Gustavus Adolphus in his Essai général de tactique of 1772.1

Interpreting early modern warfare In the aftermath of Gustavus Adolphus’ victory at Breitenfeld in September 1631, Imperial and Bavarian forces were fragmented across the Empire and faced a large, confident army divided into powerful field forces which were rapidly consolidating a Swedish grip across central and western Germany. Elector Maximilian of Bavaria, whose main priority was preparing for the imminent Swedish assault on Bavaria, appointed Gottfried Heinrich von Pappenheim to command the remnants of Bavarian and Imperial forces spread in garrisons across the Westphalian Circle, with instructions to attempt a diversion which might take military pressure off the south. Pappenheim had no financial resources, and calculated that raising an army adequate to conduct this operation would cost 300,000 talers.2 Neither Maximilian nor the Emperor would spare troops and money from what they anticipated would be the main struggle to decide the fate of southern Germany and the Habsburg lands. Nevertheless, by stripping troops from the Westphalian garrisons and drawing upon his reputation to encourage enterpriser-colonels to advance some capital to raise or reconstruct units, Pappenheim put together a modest force of some 4,000–5,000 troops, though these were, in his own words ‘experienced men, hardened and eager to fight’.3 Pappenheim’s operational instinct was to take the campaign deep into enemy-held territory, and in early January he broke out of Westphalia towards Magdeburg in the Lower Saxon Circle, where an Imperial garrison was blockaded by Swedish forces of 10,000 men commanded by the relatively inexperienced Johan Banér. Successfully misleading Banér 139


The military contractor at war

about the strength of his own troops, Pappenheim drew him off and entered Magdeburg on 14 January 1632.4 Notoriously, of course, Magdeburg had been sacked and virtually destroyed by the Imperial army eight months previously; but it remained a prestigious and strategically important centre, and the military assumption was that such strongpoints should be held. Pappenheim simply incorporated the garrison into his army, destroyed the artillery which he could not take with him, and abandoned the city. Between February and October he conducted a remarkable, extended campaign across enemy-held territory in Lower Saxony and the borders of the Westphalian Circle, reliant on food and provisions that he could organize through his own resources, and obtain or seize locally. Plundering territory in a ruthless campaign of manoeuvre and surprise, he wrong-footed Swedish and Hessian forces which totalled almost four times his own 8,000 men, blocked a Swedish operation against the major Westphalian city of Paderborn, in turn captured smaller places such as Höxter and Einbeck, while defeating Swedish and Hessian forces in detail. The campaign was a masterpiece of surprise, disinformation and rapid responses to evolving circumstances. While tying down throughout the summer of 1632 substantial Swedish forces which might otherwise have given Gustavus more flexibility in dealing with Wallenstein, Pappenheim was able to use interior lines to defend Westphalian territories against any Swedish counter-incursion. Moreover in the midst of a campaign that covered hundreds of miles of rapid troop movements and involved more than a dozen engagements with enemy forces, he managed to ensure adequate food supplies for his troops and even organized the purchase of new equipment and clothing from merchants in Cologne, having them shipped to Paderborn for distribution.5 As a matter of operational priorities, Pappenheim had avoided sieges of major places which might draw him into an unsought battle with larger Swedish forces. However, he rounded off the campaign with the remarkable capture of Hildesheim on 9 October, again by a combination of bluff, surprise and intimidation. Most immediately important for Pappenheim was the huge contribution of 200,000 talers imposed on the city, a vital means to provide his officers with the wherewithal to pay arrears of wages to their troops and reimburse themselves for their expenses in the campaign. A few days after this, Pappenheim responded to the ever-more insistent orders from Wallenstein that he move east to reinforce the main Imperial army, and was to meet his own death at Lützen a few weeks later.6 Three years later, in August 1635, a mixed force of ships set out from Dunkirk on a raiding expedition of the type that had been characteristic of the previous decade. The fleet comprised six frigates from the royal

Interpreting early modern warfare


Fig. 4.1 Gottfried Heinrich von Pappenheim

squadron, built and manned under the direction of the Spanish crown, and fourteen other privateering ships independently owned by Dunkirk armateurs, who paid their captains and crews but hoped to cover costs and make profits from successful prize-taking and booty. Some of these privateering vessels, like those constructed for the Van der Walle family of armateurs, were built to the same specifications as the royal frigates: fast, well-armed, low-lying vessels of 150–200 tonnes, designed to catch and

Stade 26 April – 7 May




17 April Verden United Provinces


10–16 Oct. Hildesheim Magdeburg 14–17 Jan. 1632

(3) 31 May. 1632



7–9 Sept. Rohrort

26 July 18–20 Sept. Dortmund


Hameln (1) 29 Dec. 1631 4–12 April (2) 28 Jan.–17 Jan. – 17Feb. Feb.’32 ’32 Einbeck 21 Oct (4) 6–8 July

18 July 27 Sept. Paderborn

15 Nov. Halle

Völksmarsen 27 June ’32

Höxter (16 Mar.) Höxter II 29 Sept.

19/20 Aug. Vicinity Vicinity Of of Maastricht Maastricht

Hesse Cologne 22 Dec. 1631 Spanism Netherlands

Thuringia Frankfuat am Main

Map 4.1 Pappenheim’s campaign in 1632


1 July Warburg Munden 9–16 June

28 Oct. Mühlhausen

Leipzig 16 Nov. Battle of Lützen

Interpreting early modern warfare


overwhelm the typical merchant ships, the fluyts, operated by the Dutch, but potentially a match for heavier, slower warships.7 Others, drawn from the pool of sixty or seventy privateering ships operating out of Dunkirk on a year-on-year basis, were lighter, but still well armed and crewed. The fleet was under the experienced leadership of the admiral of the Dunkirk royal squadron, Jacques Colaert, who began his career as a privateering captain employed by an armateur consortium of magistrates from Bergues.8 Setting out into the North Sea, Colaert’s ships encountered the Dutch fishing fleet operating out of the port of Enkhuizen: the fleet sank more than half of the 140 fishing ships, capturing more stragglers the following day. A few days later they intercepted the Maas fishing fleet, overwhelmed their naval guard and destroyed another twenty vessels. En route back to Dunkirk, laden with prisoners and booty, the fleet ran into a Dutch battle squadron of twentytwo ships and worsted them in the engagement, reaching security without the loss of a single ship.9 The quantity of plunder was overwhelming, together with 800 prisoners and the prize of a major Dutch warship. They had managed to sink in the region of 8,000 tonnes of enemy shipping in just over two weeks of operations.10 Earlier in the year, and following the French declaration of war in April, another Dunkirk-based combination of royal frigates and privateers had intercepted the French Dieppe fishing fleet, capturing forty-two vessels from a fleet of fifty-two, together with one of the largest French warships, the La Rochelle, captained by the father of the later French admiral Abraham Duquesne, who was mortally wounded in the combat.11 A month after his return to Dunkirk, Colaert and his fleet set out again, and this time managed to intercept a large convoy of the Dutch West India Company, capturing amongst other vessels the flagship of the escorting warships.12 The impact of these losses on the Dutch economy was severe and demoralizing: it was felt in the herring fisheries and in trade with the Baltic and the Mediterranean, and had a significant impact on levels of maritime insurance. Taken over the successive campaigns and losses across the 1620s and 1630s it did a great deal more to disillusion the Dutch with the conduct of the war than conventional military means ever achieved.13 These accounts of two very different military operations during the Thirty Years War highlight the involvement of military enterprisers prepared to finance and organize warfare on their own account, and give an indication of the extent to which this involvement might determine the methods and focus of the campaigning. Pappenheim himself articulated a theory of aggressive, destabilizing and fast-moving operations as a deliberate approach to war which, rather than relying on a single major encounter, sought to make best use of limited resources and to exploit enemy weaknesses in detail.14 Colaert was invited to the court at Madrid, where he proposed a coherent theory of intensified economic warfare based on a fleet


The military contractor at war

Fig. 4.2 Jacques Colaert

that included heavier galleons as well as the frigates, and further fortification and harbour work on Dunkirk.15 Yet neither of these operations occupies a significant role in most traditional accounts of the Thirty Years War. Overviews of the century of European warfare from 1560 to 1660 have been sharply divided. On one side, the period has been presented as an age of dramatic tactical, organizational and strategic progress both on land and at sea. It has been linked on land with the birth – or rebirth – of the ‘decisive battle’, and at sea with the triumph of firepower and line-ofbattle tactics. The period has been identified with great commanders,

Interpreting early modern warfare


whose military genius shaped and directed their armed forces in new directions, and whose leadership and military achievements personify the transformation of warfare: Maurice of Nassau, Gustavus Adolphus, Maarten Tromp, Turenne, Blake, all occupy an assured place in accounts of the changing character of early modern warfare and in the history of military and strategic thinking. Perceptions of the period as one of progress and transformation were reinforced by widespread acceptance of the ‘military revolution’ thesis, first advanced as an integrated theory of military change by Michael Roberts in 1955 (see above, pp. 14–17). Though Roberts himself was measured in his assessments, subsequent accounts of early modern warfare seized on the thesis, casting Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden as the creator of modern warfare following a Dutch prologue in which the basic foundations are laid by the military reforms of Maurice of Nassau. Gustavus’ victories, most notably at Breitenfeld in 1631, signalled the birth of a ‘strategy of annihilation’, aimed via overwhelming victories on the battlefield at ending wars quickly by the destruction of the enemy’s will to resist.16 A very different view of this century of warfare, and above all of land warfare, is not hard to find. Starting from accounts written at or just after the time of the Thirty Years War, hugely reinforced by later eighteenthand nineteenth-century German romantic writers and in particular by Schiller’s great trilogy of Wallenstein plays and his own history of the Thirty Years War, the period was presented as one of all-destructive, indecisive struggle, in which political aims and ambitions were totally at odds with the military resources and strategy needed to achieve these. The Thirty Years War shares with the first World War the dubious accolade of being regarded as the pre-eminent example of a futile and meaningless conflict.17 If the argument for an early modern ‘military revolution’ might seem to have revived an interpretation of the period as one of tactical and strategic progress, paradoxically much of the subsequent discussion and criticism of the thesis has reinforced the trend towards a thoroughly negative picture of wasteful, destructive and strategically sterile warfare. The argument for a transformation of the battlefield through tactical and organizational innovations had always owed more to the a priori claims of reformers than to empirical validation through events on the battlefield. There was nothing especially distinctive, let alone revolutionary, about the redeployment of troops in shallower, linear formations which would allow more infantry the opportunity to fire their muskets or arquebuses. A wide range of tactical manuals published in the second half of the sixteenth and in the early seventeenth century in Spain, Italy and France indicate that there was a general evolution towards shallower, therefore


The military contractor at war

smaller, units of infantry on the battlefield.18 The enduring problem faced by both theorists and military practitioners was not how to maximize infantry firepower, which, given the limited range, slowness of loading and chronic inaccuracy of handguns, might in any case seem an objective of questionable value. The real issue was the trade-off between an infantry formation that could optimize its weaponry but still retain the mass and cohesion in defence and attack that would come from close-order, deep formations.19 The same basic concerns shaped the deployment of cavalry on the battlefield: horsemen armed with pistols as their principal weapon might suggest relatively shallow, linear units, organized in small formations with plenty of flexibility in deployment; but cavalry deployed as assault troops would be better in deep columns that could punch through enemy units with their weight and momentum.20 There was no single right answer to battlefield deployment, because there was in fact no ‘revolutionary’ solution to winning battles. Although the 1631 battle of Breitenfeld is typically presented as the triumph of new linear tactics and infantry firepower by the Swedes, what saved the day for Gustavus Adolphus after the collapse of the Saxon army on his left wing was his deployment of the Swedish squadrons of 300–400 men in solid, wedge-shaped brigades of 1,200–1,500, dominated by their pikemen.21 They were the primary military units on the battlefield, robust enough to confront the full-sized regiments of the Catholic Liga and the Imperialists. It was this cohesion, coupled with experience and good leadership, which allowed the (mostly Scottish) regiments of the second line to wheel round after the collapse of the Saxon army and prevent Tilly’s forces rolling up the entire Swedish army from the flank. After withstanding this threat, the Swedes were in a position to launch their massive, cavalry-dominated counter-attacks into the weakened centre of Tilly’s army.22 Doubts that it is possible to draw simple and tactically significant distinctions between ‘old’ and ‘new’ styles of troop deployment can be extended well beyond the particular encounter at Breitenfeld.23 Historians’ stress on the importance of linear formations and drilling infantry in counter-march and salvo, as if these could make or break battlefield outcomes, has been misleading.24 At best, they are an anachronistic prefiguration of developments which would only begin to come into their own in the later seventeenth century when infantry were armed with superior flintlock muskets, and pikemen could be phased out in favour of entire units of musketeers equipped with ring-bayonets.25 In an era when infantry firearms had limited killing power, most infantry fighting took the form of ferocious hand-to-hand engagements, and experienced pikemen at the centre of units could present a virtually

Interpreting early modern warfare


Fig. 4.3 A typical small-scale cavalry engagement of the type which dominated much fighting in the Thirty Years War

impenetrable barrier to an attacking force, it was the cavalry who more often than not played the decisive role in determining battlefield outcomes. Investment in raising the quality and the numbers of cavalry, and keeping experienced troopers in service and well mounted, was crucial to military success.26 The crucial element of firepower on the battlefield was provided by artillery. But in comparison with the massive increase in the numbers of field guns deployed by armies between 1660 and 1760, the numbers of cannon deployed on the battlefields of the Thirty Years War remained modest, though as capable as their sixteenth-century counterparts had been of inflicting heavy casualties on close-packed formations at considerable distances.27 The real possibility for a dramatic breakthrough in the use of artillery on the battlefield would depend upon the development of much lighter, specifically anti-personnel, field guns. Yet throughout this period the problems of trading off lightness against reliability remained: a three-pound cannon produced to a standard quality of casting still had a heavy barrel and could not easily be manoeuvred, but lighter castings threatened to overheat, crack or explode far more easily.28 Whereas the Swedes persisted with their lighter guns and did achieve a significant


The military contractor at war

enhancement of firepower through distributing these as regimental field pieces, the Imperial army used guns with lighter shot (usually three pounds), but without making much attempt to reduce the barrel weight.29 The French army in contrast seems to have abandoned all attempts to put lighter guns on the battlefield in this period.30 The evidence for specific and clear-cut advantage to be extracted from new weaponry, tactics and organization is hard to find amidst accounts of battles in which both sides deployed troops in largely similar ways, used similar combinations of arms and possessed a shared awareness of the tactical potential and limitations of their troops once on the battlefield.31 Pitched battles, it would seem, lost little of their traditional character as unpredictable encounters in which numbers, morale, terrain and leadership would blend in an uncertain mixture to produce uncertain outcomes. If the new model Swedish army apparently vindicated its tactical qualities at Breitenfeld, it went on to suffer a phyrric victory at Lützen and virtual annihilation at Nördlingen in 1634. One response to what might appear the unchanging and unpredictable context of the battlefield and its failure to offer any kind of guarantee of decisive military outcomes was to return to the opinion of contemporaries, revealed both in their direct writings and in the multitude of printed manuals and guides to the art of war in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Here historians can be left in no doubt at all that the principal form of early modern land warfare had become the siege. Manuals are filled with details about ballistics, siege encampments and the steps to be taken to construct or reinforce fortifications and to deploy artillery in defence or amongst the besieging army. While siege warfare had not by any means achieved the quasi-scientific precision it reached in the age of Vauban, when the course and length of a particular siege could be predicted as a carefully choreographed military performance, it still had a clear objective and, one way or the other, a clear outcome that could stand in marked contrast to the chance and indecision of battle.32 In his interpretation of early modern military change, Geoffrey Parker argued that not merely did the siege predominate over the battle as the key military event in early modern land warfare, but the technological changes brought about by the development of artillery-resistant fortifications were themselves the precipitant of a military revolution. The financial burdens imposed by the new style of fortification were discussed in Chapter 2, but the military impact of these extended defence systems was no less significant. With fortifications that were resistant to reduction by anything other than blockade and starvation or systematic artillery bombardment, sieges transformed the scale of warfare by their demands for manpower: not just the number of troops on the ground to man the siege-works, but the

Interpreting early modern warfare


additional troops required to make good wastage from disease and desertion in the siege camp, to convoy supplies to the encampment and to provide one or more additional army corps to repel relief attempts. Sieges could come to dictate the character of entire military campaigns. If some commanders regarded a fortified city as a prize and bargaining counter worth consuming an entire campaign to capture, other commanders who might have sought a field engagement recognized that to leave heavily garrisoned and well-defended fortified places in the rear of their army would pose obvious dangers for the maintenance of lines of communication and supply. And as Parker points out, the development of siege warfare was more or less shadowed by a similar technological shift in the nature of naval warfare, with its emphasis on more and heavier shipboard artillery and the tactical shift to a style of combat based on firepower that was akin to the use of batteries of artillery in sieges. The result was the same: more expense, greater technological sophistication and higher demands for manpower.33 Historically convincing though the argument for the dominance of the siege remains, it has a major consequence for the perception of warfare in this period. If Michael Roberts argued that adopting new organization and tactics on the battlefield restored military decisiveness, the great majority of sieges, and the process of siege warfare itself, reinforce exactly the opposite conclusion. Sieges were expensive, resource intensive in both materials and the lives of military personnel and civilians, and achieving the final surrender or conquest of a place stood a good chance of dominating any given campaign to the exclusion of other operational objectives. The French armies on the Flanders frontier between 1638 and 1646 poured resources into military campaigns that averaged just less than one successful major siege per year, and in some cases that gain was offset by a corresponding failure to hold a place elsewhere on the frontier.34 The same could be said about naval warfare in the Thirty Years War. Both large-scale attacks on fortified coastal positions and set-piece sea battles were costly, resource-consuming operations, which would consume an entire campaign and offered only a small chance of decisive results. The English failures at Cadiz (1626) and the Isle de Ré (1627) were matched by the Spanish attempt to dislodge the Dutch from the Brazilian coast (1639).35 Even Tromp’s encounter with the Spanish fleet at the Downs had limited strategic impact, while the large-scale Danish–Swedish engagement off Kolberger Heide (1644) was entirely indecisive.36 Outright victories at sea usually reflected either substantial numerical superiority or the ability to surprise a fleet in port or on the coast before it could deploy for battle. All of these factors appear to point in the same direction, confirming a traditional picture of warfare as indecisive, destructive and futile. And


The military contractor at war

behind this stands another issue, widely seen as no less fundamental to explaining the strategic stagnation of this warfare and what is taken to be its particular, institutionalized brutality and savage treatment of civilians throughout this period. For these conflicts were very largely fought by mercenaries, with all the consequences that this was assumed to entail. Officers providing troops for the belligerents under mercenary contracts had naturally exploited the surrounding misery of a war-torn Europe to recruit soldiers as cheaply as possible, regardless of military suitability. The officers’ aim was to increase their profits from paying little or nothing to their – disposable – soldiers, while making still larger gains from systematic plunder and looting of the areas in which their troops were stationed or which they occupied. Serving for gain, and in command of soldiers of the lowest quality, such mercenary commanders would naturally be averse to any kind of campaign strategy that demanded resolute military qualities from their troops, or might require moving away from territory where subsistence and profit could be derived with minimal risk. Battles and extended sieges would threaten to damage or destroy their investment and place the whole process of personal reimbursement into the hands of chance. In the same way, naval war in which a large proportion of ships were in private ownership is assumed simply to be an aggregation of private interests whose main aim must be the pursuit of plunder and prizes, and will be completely resistant to incorporation within any serious maritime strategy. In sum, the problems of fighting war by mercenaries would be all of those which Machiavelli and other writers in the antimercenary tradition portrayed as the evils of relying on condottiere captains. The objective of this chapter is to challenge some of these assumptions. Far from being one of the main problems standing in the way of waging effective war in the period down to 1660, military contracting offered a partial solution to the challenges that were described above. Appreciating some of the strengths and the resilience of military enterprise provides a more realistic understanding of the waging of war in this period than the typical preoccupations with supposedly progressive and conservative approaches to tactical and organizational reforms, or simplistic assumptions equating direct state control of armies with military effectiveness and ‘mercenaries’ with the selfish pursuit of immediate financial interests. A central issue in the present examination is the recognition, emphasized in the previous chapters, that ‘state administration’ and ‘private enterprise’ cannot be neatly divided into separate spheres. There were good reasons why rulers and their governments had encouraged wider and more permanent private involvement in warfare. The results of this movement towards public–private military partnerships had resulted in a diversity

The military enterpriser in his military context


of models, from the almost entirely autonomous contract army to those in which the ruler and his administrators continued to play a substantial role in determining policy and providing heavy financial and organizational support, and where the colonel-proprietors were best seen as minority shareholders. Similarly diverse mixtures of state and private enterprise had characterized naval warfare from an earlier period, and continued to develop in these decades. But in all these cases, it may be suggested, the presence of a private military interest, far from being disruptive and weakening, was a significant reason why these armies performed more effectively and with more strategic coherence than superficial accounts of the war and typical prejudice would suggest.

The military enterpriser in his military context: thinking operationally One curious and largely unremarked aspect of warfare in this period is that major field battles were fought with ferocity and commitment by both officers and soldiers in all the major armies. As we have seen, the significance of battles has been downplayed both in consequence of revisionist thinking about the character of a military revolution, and because of traditional assumptions about the reluctance of mercenary contractors and their men to fight if they could avoid it. Yet pitched battles do not disappear from the campaigns of the Thirty Years War, nor were they fought with ever-diminishing zeal by unmotivated and reluctant soldiers as the implications of their strategic futility became manifest. Indeed as the war continued, battles were harder fought, with still higher proportions of casualties amongst soldiers and officers, and with vicious hand-tohand combat at the heart of each engagement. Some of these battles, notably Rheinfelden (1638), Freiburg (1644) and Jankow (1645), lasted for more than a single day, and most directly involved in combat a high proportion of all those soldiers who were serving in these comparatively small field armies.37 A battle like Jankow, which pitched Torstensson’s Swedish army of German mercenaries against the Imperial army of Hatzfeld, was extraordinarily hard fought by any standards, with around 5,000 dead and wounded on each side from evenly matched armies of around 16,000 men each. Three years earlier the second battle of Breitenfeld had been, by contemporary consensus, the most savage battle in memory, with 50 per cent of the Imperial army dead, wounded or taken prisoner, and 30 per cent dead and wounded amongst the Swedes. A point additionally worth stressing in all these cases is the high numbers of senior officers and colonels amongst the dead and wounded in such


The military contractor at war

engagements: this was not war fought from a distance by commanders who treated their units as cannon-fodder.38 This intensity of combat inevitably raises questions about the morale and motivation of the soldiers, their self-perception and the extent to which they must have possessed some understanding of the broader campaign objectives for which they were fighting. Soldiers are unlikely to fight with sustained commitment in horrific close-quarter engagements during which they sustain 30–50 per cent casualties, if they assume that they have drifted into the combat by accident, and that it has no larger military purpose.39 This seems especially relevant to the Imperial and Spanish armies in this period, so frequently presented as the self-evident losers in a process of military and political transformation, and apparently condemned to an uninterrupted sequence of battlefield defeats and setbacks. It takes two sides to make a hard-fought, intense combat: at Jankow in 1645 or at Lens in 1648 the Imperialists and the Spanish may have suffered from faulty command decisions, but they were clearly not demoralized and panicked from the outset in the face of ‘obviously’ superior Swedish and French armies, and they were prepared to receive and impose casualties on a level remarkable for any period of combat. The ability to maintain high levels of combat commitment amongst the troops of the major armies right down to the very last campaigns of the Thirty Years War says something significant about the military qualities of those involved; it is simply not convincing to adopt the traditional antimercenary paradigm that these troops were simply ‘rabble . . . dredged up from all over Europe and incapable of solidarity’, the inevitable product of recruitment by colonels anxious to raise their units as cheaply as possible.40 The military qualities that ensured that these soldiers and their junior officers fought with commitment and tenacity when called upon to do so in battle should, however, be seen as only one part of a larger story. When discussing the waging of war, historians tend to focus attention on the immediate tactical level of combat – how a particular battle or siege was won – or they have examined the highest, strategic plane of warfare, where the military meets the political in the formulation of military objectives, in decisions about where and how war should be fought, and the matching of resources, military outcomes and political will in negotiating peace settlements. More frequently neglected is the operational level of combat, standing between the tactical and this highest, strategic level. It is relatively easy to focus on the individual battle and the tactical skills that may have produced a victory in the field, or the specific organizational and resource-deployment decisions that bring a siege to a successful conclusion. But an effective commander needs to be capable of managing

The military enterpriser in his military context


his army through an entire campaign, or sequence of campaigns, and of adopting a coherent military plan capable of integrating individual military encounters, whether this is to break into enemy territory or to deny an opponent his lines of communication or access to resources. To do this means holding an army together, keeping it supplied and maintaining reasonable strength, and either moving it in accordance with an original campaign plan or making pragmatic changes to that plan as military circumstances alter. The achievement and maintenance of this operational capability is the real determinant of military effectiveness, the means by which local advantage can be transformed, over successive campaigns, into strategic opportunity. Without this larger operational capability, individual battles won or lost, sieges undertaken or abandoned, can easily prove irrelevant – little more than the product of good or bad fortune. The victory at Rocroi in April 1643 was not systematically followed up by the victorious French army during the rest of that campaign, and it is clear that neither the young duc d’Enghien nor the king’s council in Paris had any coherent plan to exploit the victory beyond securing Rocroi itself, with Enghien belatedly laying siege to Thionville, which fell on 10 August.41 In contrast Lennart Torstensson, an experienced, capable professional soldier, knew precisely how he would exploit the opportunity provided by his victory at Jankow in early March 1645, and conducted a fast-moving, hard-hitting campaign which took his army to within one day’s march of Vienna by 6 April.42 This stress on operational capability should also be seen as part of a larger issue, that of the underlying transformation of European warfare. In Chapter 2 it was argued that the real ‘revolution in military affairs’ in early modern Europe was about developing the means to meet the challenge of ever-more protracted warfare, and about sustaining armies and combat effectiveness for as long or longer than rival powers. The emergence of continuous war fought over multiple campaigns was the most fundamental change in the character of European conflict, and it was the need to keep armies in being for decades, not a handful of campaigns, which both encouraged states to turn to the military contractor and had made his role financially and organizationally viable. The ‘core competence’ of an army had become the ability to sustain continuous campaigning, replenish losses and remain militarily effective – in effect to develop operational skills in the longer term, and to adapt them to changing circumstances and the cumulative outcome of events. As Monro, Scots colonel in the service of Sweden, said of the Catholic Liga, ‘once every year setting up ever new Armies . . . their wisdom and constancy were so great, that presently the next Spring, through their power and diligence, they had ever another new Army afoote, which in th’end made their enemies, the Evangelists


The military contractor at war

weary’.43 The problem with this stress on the operational level of military activity is of course summed up in Clausewitz’s familiar remark: ‘everything in war is very simple, but the simplest thing is difficult’. Seventeenth-century commanders encountered external challenges to achieving operational effectiveness: constraints in meeting the demand for both food and munitions; problems of communication and transportation; the impact of seasons, climate and disease on numbers of military effectives, on physical resilience and troop mobility. They also encountered limits from within the military structure: the quality and staying power of their troops; adequacy of equipment and logistical support; effectiveness of command and control. These constraints could only be surmounted by adaption, flexibility and a pragmatic willingness to adjust methods and approaches without losing sight of overall objectives. But within the limitations of the period, and with variations in effectiveness that reflected individual military skill, organization, adaptabilty and leadership, it is possible to say that the armies and navies of this period managed to achieve a more impressive level of operational effectiveness than they are usually credited with. Moreover they achieved this not despite the involvement of military enterprisers and their activities, but to a significant extent because of them. At the root of the effective management of armies at an operational level were two fundamentals, both of which reflect the preoccupations of the military enterprisers who dominated the unit commands and through this, the senior posts in the military hierarchy. The first was a strong personal and financial interest, expressed collectively, in ensuring the sustainability of the army. If the constituent colonel-proprietors in an army had been prepared to invest money and credit to recruit and equip units of combateffective troops, now that these forces were raised they were concerned to keep them in being. They had no wish to see their investment squandered through ill-planned, unrealistic or badly supported military ventures. This might of course suggest the typical anti-mercenary paradigm: unit and army commanders would inevitably prove risk-averse in combat and campaigning, acting, for example, simply to batten on to home or neutral territory which could then be ransacked for military contributions to recover their initial investment. But actual campaigning was usually less straightforward than such easy calculations. In a few territories during the Thirty Years War rival armies did manage to agree contribution treaties which allowed the peaceful collection of war taxes by troops in adjoining territories, or might involve protection money being paid by each side to the other’s army to prevent military raids and plunder on their territory. The best-known cases were on the borders between the Spanish Netherlands and the United Provinces, where the armies from the later

The military enterpriser in his military context


Fig. 4.4 The surprise and defeat of the French Army of Germany at Tuttlingen, 24 November 1643

1630s were reluctant to initiate new military activity, and both central governments tacitly encouraged the maintenance of a locally financed status quo.44 But contemporary commanders were aware that such agreements usually depended on an extremely volatile military calculation. The moment that an enemy field army could see both strategic and material advantage in advancing into territory that was occupied by an army dispersed in an extensive, passive operation to garrison and collect contributions, the fate of the latter would be sealed.45 Dispersed forces were acutely vulnerable to a campaign army, graphically demonstrated for example by the disaster that overwhelmed the French Army of Germany as it dispersed into winter quarters around Tuttlingen in late 1643.46 Prudent military commanders thus had positive strategic and subsistence interests in conducting an active defence of the territory they held and denying control of other territory to the enemy. They had equally strong financial and military incentives for carrying the war into enemyoccupied lands to extend their own resource base and deny its use to the enemy. To secure either goal they needed to maintain and deploy an


The military contractor at war

effective campaign or field army, even if in cases an overall majority of their available troops remained spread out in garrisons. The operations, success and failure of the field army would determine the larger sustainability of the entire force raised by military enterprise. Military enterprisers had an obvious interest in ensuring the sustainability of the army, whether in terms of its internal cohesion, the availability of resources to keep it fed and supplied, or in pursuing military policies that did not needlessly jeopardize its chances of survival. At the same time, they were fully aware that the longer-term chances of recovering their investment, making substantial profits from war and enjoying the long-term social and political benefits of successful army command depended strongly on the military capability of the army, and its capacity to secure and defend its own territorial base and to threaten that of the enemy; in sum, it would depend on the army’s effectiveness at an operational level. The combination of these priorities fed into the construction and operations of these armies at a number of levels, and in ways which reflected the balance of interest and control between the ruler and his administration on one side, and the military enterprisers on the other. Yet the surprising point is the substantial common ground amongst all of these armies and their modus operandi when compared with the priorities and operating assumptions of armies which can be considered more directly under the control of a ruler and administered more obviously as a branch of the government. Operational effectiveness From Landsknechte to Soldateska: maintaining military quality in armies raised under contract Sustaining the army and ensuring operational effectiveness were the twin goals shared by those with a personal and financial stake in the command of the armies of the Thirty Years War, and both came together in the selection and maintenance of the soldiers who would do the fighting. The military contractors – captains and especially colonels – who recruited a large proportion of the soldiers of the Thirty Years War were unlike their Swiss, Scots and Landsknecht predecessors in that from the outset they had taken on the costs of raising all or part of their units at their own expense. As we saw in Chapter 3, in return for this exposure to financial risk the proprietors could expect compensation in the form of disproportionately higher pay or other opportunities for reimbursement once the army began operations. The longer the unit continued in service,

Operational effectiveness


the larger the potential recompense for this initial speculative investment and for any subsequent expenses that the proprietors may have been required to meet to sustain the unit. It is easily assumed that this requirement to provide some or all of the capital to raise the regiment or company would lead to cost-cutting and the levy of the lowest-quality recruits. The temptation certainly existed. Western and central European societies of the earlier sixteenth century had undergone sustained population increase with accompanying economic polarization and mounting social tensions provoked by scarcity of land, rising food prices and downward pressure on wages. From the later sixteenth century whole territories were disrupted by the destruction of warfare, population dislocation, high levels of unemployment and underemployment amongst rural and urban labouring populations, and family and community destabilization caused by relentless waves of epidemic disease. This was the background for an unprecedented growth in impoverished or destitute populations across most of Europe. Given the relatively modest size of military establishments before the later seventeenth century, the potential to recruit from this marginal population was almost unlimited. These were men, often unfit or underage, abandoned by their own communities and regarded as unwelcome vagrants or criminals by urban authorities, who could be acquired for little or no enlistment bonus by recruiting officers. They were available in huge numbers, easy to draw into military service by bribes of drink or food. They were also, as military enterprisers were mostly well aware, the worst material on which to build a militarily effective and sustainable company or regiment.47 This did not of course mean that such men were not recruited, and indeed they probably formed a transient majority of most ordinary regiments serving in the conflicts of the later sixteenth century or the Thirty Years War. There were many cases where colonels would simply opt to prioritize short-term financial interests in forming a regiment predominantly from such recruits. In other cases, despite goodwill, a colonel and his recruiting captains might lack sufficient cash-in-hand or the organizational capacity to find recruits of better quality, often in circumstances where they needed to meet a stringent timetable to ensure that the unit was ready for service by the beginning of a campaign.48 On some occasions, and in the face of multiple, competing demands from different enterprisers and their warlords, it might simply be impossible to find anyone other than raw, underage or unfit recruits to fill the ranks. The recruitment of troops after 1618 certainly did not fall into any straightforward, steady pattern of demand, but like everything else required for the war effort was determined by peaks and troughs of demand and supply. But, easy to enlist, these men were no less rapidly lost: often they were


The military contractor at war

physically weak or suffering from debilitating illness, susceptible to disease, or psychologically ill-disposed to permanent service in military units which they had joined through necessity and which had offered them minimal inducement either to enlist or to stay in service. These sort of recruits were described as ‘falling away like flies, whether becoming sick and incapacitated or deserting at the first opportunity’.49 Although some regimental commanders and captains might have read the works of fashionable Calvinist military theorists, with their proposals that formal drill and discipline should be uniformly imposed on recruits via the detailed prescriptions of military manuals, they would have no illusions that this could turn such raw recruits into experienced soldiers between the time of enlistment and the first engagements with the enemy.50 As Sir Roger Williams wrote in the 1590s when these issues of how to establish military effectiveness were intensely debated: ‘It is an errour to think that experimented Souldiers are sodenlie made like glasses, in blowing them with a puffe out of an iron instrument.’51 Colonels and their military superiors were directly brought up in, or influenced by, a military culture determined by the Swiss or Landsknecht tradition of raising and maintaining combat-ready units based on substantial proportions of experienced soldiers. An enterpriser-colonel seeking to ensure that the regiment raised in his name and with his capital would prove resilient, long-lasting and militarily effective recognized the received wisdom that a substantial minority of veterans defined the identity of the unit, gave it cohesion and combat effectiveness, and acted as the ‘master-craftsmen’ in what was effectively an apprenticeship system to guide and train the bulk of inexperienced recruits in gaining a basic grasp of weapon handling, unit manoeuvres and offensive and defensive tactics. In recruiting, the ideal was to achieve a balance between experienced veterans and inexperienced, but good-quality, recruits. Central to the language of recruitment are distinctions like gedient and ungedient, versucht, vieux soldats or bons régiments as opposed to nouvelles recrues, and bisoños, or the redolent concept of prioritizing recruits who were already beschossene.52 As tactics and military deployment in battle remained relatively simple and consistent, similar from army to army and reflecting obvious decisions about the character and potential of soldiers and weapons, then the marketability of those who already knew enough to provide a solid foundation of basic skill and knowledge was considerable. And their value was not just in the professionalism that they brought to the unit in their own right, but in their capacity to set the pace, provide the direction and, at the bottom line, instil the esprit de corps and morale required to hold the unit together in battle.53

Operational effectiveness


None of this would be remotely surprising in a naval context, where captains had always been prepared to pay a premium for experienced crew, vital to maintaining all of the specialized functions involved in managing the ship, from reefing sails, to setting and repairing rigging, to ensuring the proper stowage of cargo and artillery. Many other tasks on board ship could be accomplished by casual labour, simply providing coordinated and mobile muscle-power. But this unskilled labour could not be deployed effectively without the crucial leavening of experienced sailors. No one believed that a warship could operate effectively with a crew made up only of ordinary seamen, and the process of training up ordinary or apprentice seamen was one of the basic activities on board ship. The distinction between the skilled ‘able’ seaman and the ordinary sailor was established early, with differential rates of pay which reflected the much wider marketability of the able seamen on merchant ships and the need to compete for these skills.54 In the case of both navies and armies, however, the numbers of experienced men potentially available for recruitment at any given time will be finite. It is certainly true that a long period of continuous warfare was likely to increase the numbers of experienced troops in circulation, and longserving regiments will of course produce in time their own veterans from initially inexperienced soldiers who have remained in service, as warships engaged in long periods of active operations will do.55 If an army was being created from scratch, as was often the case during the Thirty Years War, one means to acquire veteran soldiers was to poach already established, long-serving regiments from the service of other powers. When Wallenstein was authorized by the Emperor to raise his army for a second time in 1631, the attempts of some of his subordinates to lure experienced colonels from the Bavarian into the (allied) Imperial army caused considerable political bitterness.56 A related practice was to try to incorporate prisoners of war into the captor’s own army. One part of the thinking behind this was simply obtaining a resource of scarce, experienced soldiers, who it was hoped would stay in service, especially if incorporated with their companions. If the raw recruits who had also been captured deserted or melted away, that was a matter of indifference, since they would do little to raise military quality even in the unlikely event that they returned to their original units. Enlisting captured veterans on the other hand also solved the problem of making sure that they did not re-enter the service of their own warlord, which might well be the case if they were simply released.57 On occasions this incorporation seems to have worked. An ordinary soldier, Peter Hagendorf, captured in 1633 after the fall of Straubing to the Swedes, served with a number of his companions until the battle of Nördlingen in 1634, when he alone amongst them seems to


The military contractor at war

have survived the battle. He fell back into the hands of his old Imperial regiment, where he was recognized and re-entered service until the end of the war.58 However, it was unlikely that an army could be formed of entire regiments bribed wholesale out of the service of another power, still less that they could be formed from prisoners of war from enemy units. The majority of experienced troops would need to be recruited piecemeal in the marketplace. In practice, for reasons of both availability and cost, most colonel-proprietors set their sights for the proportions of experienced recruits realistically. Observing the Spanish army in the 1590s Roger Williams suggested that it was enough that one in five of the troops should be an experienced soldier to ensure that the units took on a character defined by these men: ‘though his levied Armie be 50,000, the ten thousand will both discipline them and keep them in order’.59 If somewhere around a minimum one-fifth of the unit might be made up of experienced troops, it was anticipated that a good proportion of the remaining raw recruits should be men who gave the physical and psychological appearance of being capable of sustaining the burdens and demands of campaigning long enough to acquire some of the experience, military skills and esprit de corps that would be passed on to them by the experienced troops. In the Swiss military system, these were the Mats, the young men judged strong, resilient and motivated enough to carry the pikes and to work most closely with the veterans of several campaigns (see p. 50). Military manuals by the late sixteenth century had conventionalized the notion of the suitable recruit for military service, and most of the physical and mental characteristics were predictable enough.60 This proportion of physically resilient recruits were at least as important as the veterans: if the unit was to take on an identity, combat effectiveness and military permanence, the experienced core of troops needed to work amongst and transfer skills to a solid group of soldiers who would not melt away after a few weeks or months in the ranks. Obtaining both experienced veterans and good-quality recruits required first of all a willingness to spread the net of recruitment widely. Nothing demonstrates more clearly the extent to which privatized warfare operated within an international market in which experience would always trump notions of local or linguistic identity. In the process of recruiting his first army in 1626 Wallenstein informed the Emperor that he had just despatched recruiting patents for the levy of two regiments in Milan, which would be made up of a high proportion of experienced veterans, and accepted the delay that bringing them over the Alps and up into Germany would cause.61 This concern to gain experienced troops eroded the distinction, which had been a characteristic of the sixteenth century,

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between armies composed notionally of ‘subjects’ and the foreign mercenaries hired to fight alongside them. The principal concern was to find experienced, good-quality soldiers; where they came from was immaterial. So an Italian colonel-proprietor in Imperial service might maintain a regiment largely made up of experienced German soldiers, perhaps supplemented by some Italians from an earlier recruitment, and a sprinkling of other nationalities who had been subsequently enlisted.62 The increasing internationalism of the soldiers is neatly summed up by the widespread use of the word Soldateska in place of Landsknechte amongst the Imperial, German princely and Swedish armies. The usage, meaning all combatants receiving wages, originated in sixteenth-century Italy and crossed the Alps to become the most typical, and at this point nonpejorative, term for recruited soldiers.63 Finding sources of potential recruits with military experience was one part of the story. Persuading them to enlist, often in competition with other colonels who were trying to raise new units at the same time, was no less important. The bottom line here was pay levels, or rather the combination of enlistment bonus and subsequent promises of high wages. On paper, it certainly appears that the military enterprisers were prepared to put their purses and credit behind their military ambitions when it came to recruiting experienced or good-quality soldiers. In 1621 Ernst von Mansfeld offered to pay his cavalry recruits 28 florins as a recruitment bonus (Handgeld) and then 15 florins per month, considerably more than the standard price for recruiting and paying a cavalry soldier, which in the sixteenth century had stood at around 12 florins a month.64 This was no one-off bribe to lure good recruits into a second-division army; it was the beginning of a decade during which the pay for good recruits underwent significant growth. The highest recruitment bonuses for recruits were paid out by Wallenstein’s colonels, and by the late 1620s there were cases of these reaching the level of 36 florins per infantry soldier.65 Wallenstein’s generalships were notoriously associated with high bonuses and generous pay for his soldiers and officers.66 Even allowing for variations between armies, wages in the 1620s were generally at a level above those paid to recruits in the previous century, when the ordinary Landsknecht had received the good wage of 4 gulden (4 florins) per month.67 From a composite range of evidence, footsoldiers were typically offered 6½–10 florins a month (ordinary versus double-pay men), while the typical pay for heavy cavalry (cuirassiers) in this period was 15–18 florins a month, and for mounted arquebusiers 14–16½.68 There are problems with such calculations. One is late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century inflation and currency debasement, and what is therefore assumed to be a decline in the real purchasing power of soldiers’ wages.


The military contractor at war

But the issue is not straightforward: Peter Burschel argues that soldiers’ wages were more resilient than those of skilled and semi-skilled craftsmen, whose absolute standard of living suffered real erosion in the decades from the 1580s.69 We certainly know that it was not until the later seventeenth century that soldiers’ wages were formally cut across most European states, reducing their pay – and their social and economic status – to the level of a hired day-labourer rather than a skilled craftsman (see p. 286).70 An even more fundamental problem in discussing soldiers’ pay is that in many circumstances wages were not paid at all, or stood heavily in arrears, either because the colonels and captains simply lacked the means to pay them, or more cynically because they calculated that withholding arrears would keep the soldiers in service. More than anything else, what prevented this having explosive consequences was a further characteristic of this period, the substantial shift to provision of food, drink and lodging by the unit commanders in return for deductions from wages. From the perspective of the unit proprietor, this was to become an important element of the ‘business of the regiment’, one of the financial attractions of military command to be discussed in the next chapter (see pp. 209–12). Evidence from soldiers’ sources suggest that this commuting of wages was accepted; the quality of provisions and accommodation concerned them more on a day-to-day basis, and would have a greater effect on their operational efficiency.71 Indeed some evidence suggests that soldiers came positively to resent being given cash for subsistence, preferring to take their allowances in kind, whether for food or accommodation.72 So there is certainly a gap between the wage levels stipulated in documents, whether these are recruitment notices or official ordinances emanating from the high command or central government, and the reality of pay on the ground. And if these generous ‘paper’ sums were actually paid out, most often in the form of a recruitment bonus and the first few pays of the campaign, this would have been targeted towards recruiting experienced, veteran troops. There is certainly plentiful evidence of sums much below these levels being paid to recruit inexperienced but decent-quality troops.73 Nonetheless, any soldier who thought that he would actually receive a regular wage package worth precisely 6 florins per month would have been extremely naïve. In most months his cash and benefits would fall below that level, though it is worth noting that occasionally he might receive substantially more than his basic rate of pay, with wages supplemented by bonuses for storming fortifications or other high-risk actions, the distribution of plunder, or lavish food and lodgings in occupied enemy territory.74 Yet despite the system of wage deductions and payment in kind that was at the heart of the business of a regiment, the status implications and the

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recruitment potential of comparatively high wages should not be underestimated. The myth that all of the soldiers of the Thirty Years War were socially and economically marginal, forced into service or recruited for a pittance, has a life of its own, and as long as soldiers from a later period really do fit the stereotype, it will prove impossible to eliminate.75 In contrast, there is plenty of evidence of recruitment amongst willing craftsmen, journeymen, prosperous or middling farmers, or their sons.76 Cordula Kapser, in her study of the Bavarian army from 1635, is fully aware of the limitations of her sources as a proportion of total recruitment, but shows that fewer than 30 per cent of the recruits were described as unemployed or without occupation in the recruitment lists.77 Those ordinary soldiers who wrote diaries or memoirs are inherently untypical, but they do describe those around them in terms which make it quite clear that they are not identifying an underclass, for whom criminality and soldiering were the only two ways of making a living, and who had no capacity to integrate themselves into any ordinary society.78 An ordinary soldier, Peter Hagendorf, whose diary informs us that he was disbanded with a comrade in Italy in 1625, that both then worked as assistants to a German lutemaker in Parma for twelve months, and who subsequently spent 35 gulden in 1635 on the wedding to his second wife, does not closely fit the stereotype of the brutalized and socially marginalized man so frequently seen as the material of recruitment.79 It was doubtless the case that the prolonged military disruption encouraged men who would never have thought of enlisting in other circumstances to do so, but they were not necessarily opting for the only choice available to them. A significant proportion of recruits were far from being a desperate, demoralized underclass, simply escaping from one marginal existence to another. Kapser’s evidence leads her to the straightforward assertion that ‘recruits (in the later Thirty Years War) simply cannot be classified as “criminals” or branded as the “scum of society”’.80 Moreover enterpriser-colonels were prepared to turn down soldiers they considered of inadequate quality and to encourage selective recruitment.81 Franz Albrecht von SachsenLauenberg was initially dismayed when Wallenstein gave instructions to his colonels that newly levied cavalry regiments were to be of no more than 1,000 men. However, he quickly realized that it provided an ideal opportunity to comb the ranks of his own newly recruited regiment to rid himself of ‘a whole load of useless Croats and other filthy dogs . . .’82 If effort and expense were put into establishing new regiments, it was no less important to ensure that both veterans and the better-quality inexperienced recruits were induced to stay in service, particularly as the latter acquired the experience and skills which gave them veteran status in their turn. The nature of the war, and the likelihood that regiments which were


The military contractor at war

raised and managed by colonels who had a personal interest in keeping them operational would have more than a transient existence, began to change the notion that military service was simply a short-term rite de passage. Soldiering could and did become a permanent career for many of the recruits. And permanence itself, with accompanying prospects of promotion, higher pay and status, could become an inducement to military service that had not hitherto been present. Military service as a permanent career had always existed for a small number of officers and soldiers in elite, permanent units, the vieux régiments in France or the Spanish tercios, for example, and had been characteristic of some of the condottiere and their companies in Italy. But it had remained an anomaly elsewhere. Swiss and Landsknecht veterans had certainly existed, but the absence of long-standing permanent regiments, the regular cycle of recruitment, disbandment and re-recruitment, had given them little sense of a single permanent, institutional base, or a secure, permanent career. The development of an institutionalized, permanent soldiery within the ranks of regiments raised by private contractors might well be regarded as threatening or problematic in a civilian context.83 But setting aside such concerns about militarizing a section of the population, it was on practical grounds that the enterpriser-colonels did as much as possible, through the system of financial rewards and a developing hierarchy of non-commissioned officers (NCOs), to encourage lengthy service and the building of military careers amongst soldiers and junior officers. In this as well, their largest debt was to what could broadly be termed the Landsknecht tradition of regimental organization and culture – though it could as well be applied to the methods and organization of units in the Army of Flanders, to Swiss, Scots or any other units which emphasized a strongly internalized structure of authority and identity. This system was maintained by generations of colonel-proprietors, though modified in ways that took account of the need to recruit far more troops and to reflect shifting assumptions about command structures and hierarchy. Their success in striking this balance reinforced ideas of collective identity, status and career ambitions amongst the recruits which had a decisive impact on the military qualities of these units. The major difference from the Landsknecht regiment was that training and leadership at the vital small-group level was increasingly formalized through financial bonuses paid to the experienced soldiers as ‘double-pay’ men, rather than through the soldiers’ own selection of Rottmeister to preside over the groups of eight to ten soldiers (see pp. 62–3). The double-pay men, associated with heavier armour and skill in handling the pike in the sixteenth century, increasingly became the lowest rank of NCO in these regiments. As leadership of these small groups of men

Operational effectiveness


would suggest, the double-pay men were not an insignificant element in the unit: a rule of thumb would be that ‘double-pay men’ would constitute at least 10 per cent of a good-quality unit, but numerous cases exist where the proportion of those receiving financial recognition for experience or service rises to 30–40 per cent.84 Increasingly, the double-pay men themselves were often divided into groups receiving lower and higher levels of wages, part of a promotional structure based on experience and service.85 This had been the case in the Spanish tercios since the sixteenth century, where the company captain received an additional sum – typically 30 escudos – to distribute as wage bonuses to the veteran soldiers.86 Such a system of progressive rewards within a company hierarchy targeted solid experience and lengthy service. Double-pay status as a recognition of experience could also be seen as the first step into a hierarchy of NCO posts, with considerable increases not merely in (partly notional) wages but in rights to provisions, lodgings and shares of plunder or other military gains.87 This more hierarchical, pay-differentiated system had certainly eroded some aspects of the robust soldier-democracy of the Swiss and Landsknecht regiments. The soldiers’ own justice, the Spießrecht, had largely disappeared, to be replaced by officers’ courts-martial, while the elected representatives of the soldiers – the Führer and the Gemeinweibel – had also died out. Perhaps the clearest visual indication that some of the assertive independence of the Landsknecht tradition had been traded away was in costume. An incidental consequence of the enterpriser-colonels’ concern to pay wages substantially in kind rather than as a lump sum was to address the long-term elite preoccupation with the soldiers’ moral and social non-conformity. Soldiers’ clothing was in many cases now issued by the unit officers against wage deductions, and while only in rare cases could the result be described as a proper uniform, the concern of officer-proprietors to buy in bulk and distribute at profit was unlikely to result in the issue of slashed jackets, brightly coloured silk hose, ruffles and feathered trimmings on hats and coats. The high point of Landsknecht sartorial extravagance in the early sixteenth century had been about opportunity, fashion and soldierly emulation as much as it had been a calculated, subversive social statement. The direct issue by the officers of much cheaper, more utilitarian clothing, less cash in hand for the soldiers and the absence of role models and/or changing fashion all took their toll on the ‘Landsknecht-look’.88 Ordinary seventeenth-century soldiers for the most part lost some of the image of the swaggering, profligate mercenary, and the result was a model of consumption considerably less challenging to the soldiers’ social superiors. Franz Albrecht von Sachsen-Lauenberg proudly described how he had just issued the men of his regiment with a set of light woollen capes,


The military contractor at war

Fig. 4.5 Ordinary soldiers of the Thirty Years War in a sketch by Stefano della Bella

which he describes as making them look like so many Capuchin friars.89 When regimental-proprietors of the later seventeenth century began to think of full uniforms for their soldiers, they were designed in the same way as dress for lackeys or a retinue: clothing and accoutrements were often elaborate and costly, but specifically intended to identify the wearer as the servant or employee of the colonel. Though such uniforms could be ornate and deeply non-functional, they allowed the wearer little scope for self-expression.90 Yet these changes did not alter the fundamentals of regimental life. It is important to maintain a clear distinction between the military organization and lifestyle of this period, and the kind of military regime that was established in the relentlessly disciplined, drilled and socially marginalized armies of the ancien régime. This attractiveness of the military career rested partly on pay levels which implied that the soldier still retained the status of a high-ranking craftsman or artisan, but also on recognition of the soldier’s membership of an institution that still laid claim to an honourable status and marked this by its ability to defend its own privileges and maintain a distinctive relationship to the surrounding society. Despite external pressures to conformity in matters of disciplinary, religious and social norms, the armies and the constituent regiments were still to a large extent run by their own internal rules. If the new mechanisms for paying

Operational effectiveness


wages had eliminated the extravagance of dress and the casual cash-in-hand wealth of the soldier, it was still the case that discipline remained to some extent consensual, and had more to do with shared perceptions of what helped or harmed military effectiveness or cohesion than with the external values of society.91 Some of the army commanders and some of the colonels were determined to impose external disciplinary norms, but many others were prepared to act to maintain the discipline required for military effectiveness while doing little to regulate military/civil relations, and having no interest at all in regulating morality and behaviour amongst the soldiers in camp.92 This was not lethargy or indifference on the part of the officers, but a recognition that what made these units work as cohesive, resilient and effective fighting forces was their internal identity and dynamics, the persistence of informal bonding and the small-group dynamics of the Rott. Few colonels showed any desire to impose rigid confessional standards on their soldiers, and life in the armies was characterized by a remarkable degree of de facto tolerance and religious cohabitation.93 Some men were certainly persuaded to take up military service ‘for the cause of religion’; Robert Monro writes that this was the case for many of the Scots serving with Gustavus Adolphus.94 Yet these were strict Calvinist Scots serving a Lutheran ruler whose personal tolerance was at odds with a Swedish Lutheran establishment which had no sympathy for the beliefs and reforming aspirations of Calvinists.95 But within the army a Protestant common front could be achieved based on respect for soldierly qualities and a pragmatic sense of the need to play down divisive religious quarrels that eluded the wider Protestant cause in Germany.96 Maximilian of Bavaria’s uncompromising insistence on Catholicism, at least amongst his officers, seemed an eccentricity in this military world.97 The communal and social life of the troops continued to focus upon the Troß, with its women, sutlers, servants and the facilities for drinking, eating, playing and socializing. This still provided local opportunities to sell pillaged goods, borrow money, pursue crafts and skills acquired outside military life, and to live domestically with wives, children or the camp women. Again, senior officers recognized the logistical and operational liabilities of this vast ‘tail’ of army followers, their baggage and support services. A few attempts were made to restrict or reduce the size of the baggage column or the number of women and servants, but the centrality of this structure of the Troß to maintaining regimental identity, keeping long-serving soldiers in the ranks by providing them with a focus for their social and emotional lives, was simply too great to risk substantial changes or draconian restrictions.98 All of this contributed, in the soldier’s own eyes at least, to the sense that he was a member of a corporation which continued to enjoy respectable


The military contractor at war

and honourable status. Though the external, civilian perception of the soldiery was increasingly tarnished by violence and pillage, the exaction of contributions, and the gulf between the actions and claims of the military and the impotence and weakness of the civilian authority, this fear and resentment is far removed from the later perception of the soldier as despised and contemptible social flotsam, declassé, segregated into barracks and subject to tight discipline, supervision and surveillance. An example of this change can be found amongst the soldiers raised in Switzerland. Throughout the Thirty Years War there was never any difficulty in recruiting Swiss soldiers under contract to serve in French, Imperial or other German armies. By the eighteenth century when wages were lower yet paid regularly, but Swiss soldiers were subject to the typical discipline of the ancien régime army, recruitment slackened and for the first time Swiss colonels started to negotiate in their contracts to bring numbers of non-Swiss into their regiments.99 Within the army and the individual regiments, the perception of the soldiers’ trade as honourable was boosted by the attitudes of the officers, who continued to lead their men into battle and assaults as they had done in the sixteenth century, in person and from the front. They were aware that their soldiers were not brutalized automata, more frightened of their officers than of the enemy, and that example and explicit participation was the best means to achieve effectiveness. Grimmelshausen, whose writing regularly subverts typical assumptions about the nature of the Thirty Years War, created the fictional figure of the colonel who would not accept any man into his regiment who was not convinced that by his military behaviour he might rise to be a general.100 Such advancement was not impossible: the memoirs of Colonel Augustin von Fritsch are the account of a musketeer who rose to a colonelcy in the Bavarian army around 1644 after twenty-five years of military service and successive promotions.101 More typically, advancement to double-pay and to the ranks immediately above, with considerably higher wages and rewards, was a distinct likelihood if health and good fortune in avoiding death and wounding permitted a long period of service. The great majority of subaltern officers were directly appointed to units as a result of the rights held by the colonel or company captains as unit proprietors. But as with the soldiers and NCOs, further career and promotional possibilities were linked to accumulated experience as much as to favour and patronage. Colonels, especially colonels who were proprietors of a number of units over which they had delegated command, were especially concerned to establish and reward a cadre of long-serving, managerially competent unit officers. Melchior von Hatzfeld’s military career began in 1619 with a lieutenancy in a company of one of the Sachsen-Lauenberg regiments.

Operational effectiveness


Experience and outstanding managerial expertise ensured his rapid promotion within their regiments until in 1625 he was made lieutenantcolonel of Franz Albrecht’s newly levied cuirassier regiment, which Hatzfeld helped to recruit and then managed until he himself became a colonel-proprietor in 1631.102 The value placed on experience at all levels was even more the case in naval warfare, where the possession of seafaring skills, however acquired, or good organizational and leadership abilities would attract the attention both of governments and of those prepared to finance and outfit naval and privateering expeditions. Jacques Colaert had begun his career as a hired captain in the service of a modest financial consortium. Vice-admiral of the West India Company squadron from 1623, Piet Heyn, who captured the Spanish silver flota intact in 1628 at Matanzas Bay, had spent much of his earlier career as a captain in the Dutch East India Company. After his success in 1628 he was promoted to lieutenant admiral of Holland, de facto commander of the navy of the States General.103 Whether the motivation of colonels in raising troops reflected longerterm financial self-interest, military and political ambition, status consciousness and competition, or military self-perception, the results of their concern to recruit good-quality troops and in encouraging their retention are clear. In combat this strengthening of experienced and good-quality troops provided units that were capable of precisely those fighting qualities of unit cohesion, stability and resolution under fire, endurance and tolerance of casualties that we know characterized the battlefields of the Thirty Years War. The evolution of some aspects of the Landsknecht tradition had not detracted from its essentials: the establishment of units with strong internal cohesion, a sense of group identity and the fostering of responsibility by experienced soldiers both to train and to mould the recruits into a coherent tactical and organizational identity. These were confident military forces, dominated by experienced soldiers who would fight tenaciously in both conventional field battles and in skirmishes, sieges or irregular combat, and were able to motivate the recruits and the inexperienced in the ranks to do likewise. It also explains the surprising lack of asymmetry in these engagements: Swedish, Dutch and French armies do not sweep their ‘traditional’ rivals from the field thanks to better command and control, unit cohesion or tactics and deployment. However, it was at the broader, operational level that this establishment of regiments dominated by experienced troops was critically important. The qualities that allowed these units to perform effectively in battle fed directly into the qualities needed to ensure outstanding operational capacity. These armies were dominated by tough, resilient troops, many of whom had been serving for years, even decades, in their units. They


The military contractor at war

would undergo all the incidental hardships of long campaigns, in cases even fought over the winter months. They were used to life in camp, and prepared to march for hundreds of miles in the course of a campaign. They expected food and drink, but not in the form of regular rations delivered to the army camp on a daily basis, and they were attuned to fast-moving campaigns in which supplies came via a mixture of prearranged depots, their own capacity to carry rations and ad hoc dependence on local requisitioning.104 In the face of very different demands, changes of plan, unexpected developments, they showed resource and flexibility in moving rapidly, and adjusting to different levels of support. It is only necessary to think of the campaign that began this chapter, that of Pappenheim in 1632, to see this kind of operational effectiveness in action. His small forces were expected to undertake a series of sieges, hitand-run engagements, massive route marches in which opportunities for recuperation never extended beyond a few days. This was no isolated episode. Time after time the armies, in particular of the 1630s and 1640s, showed themselves capable of the most extraordinary campaign fatigues, whether the sustained pressure of rapid movement, manoeuvre and repeated combats, fighting over winter months and in the face of acute shortages of basic rations, or going from a lengthy forced march straight into hard-fought battle, as Pappenheim’s troops did in mid-November 1632, when the last stage of this eight-month campaign culminated with their arrival in the middle of the battle of Lützen.105 Paradoxically related to this, and usually seen as an indication of the disastrous weakness of this type of military organization, were the incidences of mutiny amongst these units. This issue could apply as aptly to the Spanish Army of Flanders from the 1570s, whose mutinies are notorious, as much as to the less familiar episodes in the armies of the Thirty Years War. While mutiny by individual units, and still more by entire armies, was a critical threat to operational effectiveness, it needs to be seen as a response of elite troops to perceived injustices in the management of the army, whether this was arrears of pay (more commonly a cause of mutiny in the Army of Flanders than in the armies after 1618), operational decisions, or orders that seem to threaten the integrity and cohesion of the army. In these last cases the vast majority of mutinies were stagemanaged, if not actively led, by the unit officers, even the colonels. The 1647 mutiny of the remaining regiments from the army originally created by Saxe-Weimar, which, still in French service, refused to transfer from the German theatre to the Army of Flanders, was a direct response by soldiers and officers to the fear, not just that their back pay would be forgotten, but that the regiments would be diluted amongst the larger French army and would lose both their special status and common

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identity.106 Mutiny was almost always the resort of high-quality troops, well aware that the warlord needed their services and that they had the status and capacity to bargain with him. The likelihood that they were also owed substantial arrears of back pay was a further inducement to bargain rather than simply drop their arms and desert, but the behaviour is at least as much about self-identity and status as simple financial calculation. Large numbers of these troops did not want to leave the regiments that had been the centre of their existence for many years or decades. The Bavarian regiments who refused Jan de Werth’s inducements to enter Imperial service in 1647 after Elector Maximilian had concluded the ceasefire of Ulm with the Swedes and French were as concerned about the dilution of their own military identity and cohesiveness as demonstrating dynastic solidarity with their Bavarian ruler.107 In contrast, desertion was the resort of raw recruits, envisaged by the captains and colonels as little more than short-term ballast for the unit, and recruited in batches at regular intervals. A small proportion of these would be drawn into the companies on a permanent basis, and become experienced veterans in their turn, but most would drift away. The surprising equanimity, or fatalism, with which commanding officers confronted desertion certainly reflects this awareness that a large number of recruits were transient, and sooner rather than later likely to leave the ranks in any circumstances.108 Desertion resolved the issue of outstanding pay in the commander’s favour, and provided him with funds to recruit further new recruits, a portion of which might add to the core of prized permanent soldiers under his command. All of these qualities which made these units combat-effective and resilient under operational stresses can also be seen as dynamic factors in the development of the armies and their military capacity. Unbroken conflict meant that regiments that were formed on the basis of a core of experienced soldiers and good officers remained in being for an unprecedented length of time. Evidence for this is especially rich in the case of the Bavarian army, where we have the lists and details of all the units that were disbanded in 1649. In a relatively small army of around 15,000 troops, six regiments had served continuously through the entire war from 1620, and a further six had been formed and in existence since before 1630.109 Albeit that Wallenstein’s two generalships impose something of a caesura on the regimental proprietors of the Imperial armies, it is impressive that some Imperial regiments had a continuous existence back into the 1620s, and that a large number stayed the course from 1634–5 until and beyond Westphalia.110 There is no reason to doubt Redlich’s statistics that show some (73 versus 139, 67 out of 128) German cavalry and infantry regiments surviving for at least a minimum of six years of campaigning – and


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nearly 50 per cent of these surviving more than ten years – especially as the overall figure takes into account those large number of ‘false starts’, regiments which suffered early disbandment as unviable or badly managed.111 This extension of the life of regiments clearly had its own impact in drawing many veterans into a military lifestyle which became to all intents permanent and attractive in its own right. The well-documented transformation of the Parliamentarian New Model Army from Lipsius’ ‘soldiers of ayde’ during the first English Civil War into a force of permanent career soldiers serves as an excellent example of the process by which individual soldiers were drawn to a permanent military career as an alternative to civilian life.112 Parallels can be found in most of the armies operating on the continent, and in many of the navies which were coming to enjoy a more permanent existence.113 An intriguing, but insufficiently explored, issue is the possibility that lengthy military service may have meant that veteran soldiers built up a considerable level of epidemiological immunity. These soldiers were not only physically resilient in the face of the strains of campaigning, but may well have become biologically resistant as well. If so, and the growing proportions of ‘old soldiers’ in regiments would tend to support it, this would be vital to the effectiveness of the armies. The impact of diseaserelated mortality and sickness on the effective strength of armies is everywhere apparent. The example of the parish of Bygdea has been used by many writers to show the effect of military conscription on a typical small Swedish community. Of the 215 conscripted soldiers who died on active service between 1621 and 1639, 196 fell victim to disease while in garrisons on the eastern or southern shores of the Baltic.114 What was true of garrisons was as true of armies in the field and at sieges, where the proportions of deaths through plague, typhus or dysentery were catastrophically high. The thesis that mortality was far higher amongst newly recruited soldiers who had previously been relatively unexposed to a range of infections would thus further strengthen the continuity provided by the veteran element. Finally, an issue which will be discussed below in more detail was the reduction in the overall size of armies in the second half of the Thirty Years War. Falling overall numbers, especially in the campaigning armies rather than garrison forces, increased the percentage of veterans who had served progressively long periods in the ranks. Whether through lifestyle choice or physical resilience, these experienced men will be disproportionately those who remain in the units as the overall strength of a regiment declines from, say, 900 to 400. If a good regiment might contain 20 per cent veteran troops in the 1620s, it was getting closer to 50–60 per cent

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or more by the last decade of the war.115 Moreover, with smaller armies drawing from a population which had been exposed to several decades of continuous military activity, it was simply easier to enlist troops who had previous military experience. Taking the well-documented case of Bavaria once again, and looking at the decade from 1638 to 1648, the proportions of recruits from Bavaria and nearby recruiting areas with previous military experience reached 58 per cent.116 For all these reasons it seems extremely probable that the military quality, combat effectiveness and operational resilience of the armies of the Thirty Years War improved during its latter stages. This conclusion would not be startling in other military contexts, where it is usually assumed that the experience of warfare leads to a cumulative improvement in military effectiveness. But it directly challenges the usual perceptions of the Thirty Years War, and assumptions about the particular sterility and futility of its second half.

Making the operational context work: intelligent design and effective commanders The military commanders in the Thirty Years War, whether they reported to and acknowledged the decisions of a civil authority and ruler, or whether they held a high degree of independent control over policymaking and military decisions, all faced similar basic problems: the increasing scale of war, both on land and at sea, was compounded by the key development of the later sixteenth century, the lengthening of periods of continuous war from one or two campaigns to conflicts which could last for decades, and where the gains in one campaign needed to be maintained and consolidated if military progress was to be made. Both of these factors heightened those material and logistical demands of warfare which early modern European societies were ill equipped on multiple levels to meet. Low-density agricultural production over much of Europe rendered it difficult and often impossible to extract local surpluses large enough to feed all the additional mouths of a campaigning army and its accompanying baggage train. But attempting to move provisions and war material over longer distances encountered the problems of rudimentary systems of communications and transportation. Since almost no ruler and state administration could raise revenues sufficient to cover the recruitment, equipment and running costs of their armed forces directly, armies especially found themselves in some direct or indirect relationship to coercive tax extraction, in which their role was either to force local and regional authorities to raise much higher levels of revenue for military use,


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or to extract these sums directly.117 Either way, military commanders needed to take into account the requirements of territorial occupation. The previous section sought to show how the basic material of the armies, significant numbers of experienced soldiers, NCOs and subaltern officers, was of considerably higher quality, more resilient and more capable of pursuing extensive military operations, than the sterile and negative picture of campaigning in the Thirty Years War usually allows. But how were the twin demands of sustainability and operational effectiveness to be met, given the limitations of logistics, communications and financial support? How would it be possible for commanders to exploit the potential of these effective military forces, given the limitations within which they had to operate? Whatever the role of the ruler and his administrators, however large a part they played in overseeing military operations and strategy, commanders needed to recognize that a large part of their army was a military investment made by the constituent proprietors. Whether the colonels were major or minor shareholders, they did not wish to see their units exposed to needlessly heavy losses of veteran troops and their resources, and would lose confidence in commanders who failed to grasp this concern, or whose incompetence in providing logistical support or tailoring the campaign to realistic objectives threatened these losses. The two great field marshals of the Bavarian army, Tilly and Franz von Mercy, though they commanded an army in which the colonels held a comparatively limited financial stake, were nonetheless scrupulous in not wasting troops: planning campaigns to try to avoid unnecessary casualties, and to ensure that the army was not forced to move far away from operations based on Bavarian and Swabian internal lines without carefully structured logistical support.118 The most critical factor in determining the success of commanders at the operational level was a determination to prioritize provision of food and munitions for their troops. In this respect it is necessary to treat with scepticism a picture of the Thirty Years War in which all armies seem constantly to be starving, short of munitions and on the verge of mutiny thanks to the neglect or incompetence of their commanders. At the most basic level this is simply incompatible with the military successes and operational capability that are demonstrated by most of these armies much of the time. Sieges could push the ability to maintain supply to the limit, which was one reason why so many commanders of armies operating in the Empire were reluctant to undertake sieges of substantial fortifications, with their unpredictable length and need to concentrate troops in a narrow zone of operations. There are certainly examples when armies, whether through incompetence on the part of the commander or circumstances beyond their

Operational effectiveness


control, are devastated by supply failure. The Holstein campaign of Matthias Gallas in 1644 did not initially neglect the provisioning of the Imperial army advancing northwards to try to catch the Swedish forces of Torstensson in a pincer movement between Imperials and Danes.119 The mistakes started after Gallas hoped that the surprise capture of Kiel would blockade the Swedes in Jutland; but Torstensson simply bypassed Kiel and moved rapidly southwards, threatening to cut off the Imperial forces, who were dangerously outnumbered in cavalry by the Swedes.120 Gallas’ problems came as a result of trying to extricate the army from an unsustainable position in the north, and without adequate supply convoys or other means to supply that retreat. The Swedes meanwhile could sustain their own operations from supplies assembled and despatched from Pomerania. The problem was one all too common in military thinking: the failure to consider a viable alternative option, an exit strategy, if the initial plan failed. In fact, even allowing for this failure, the losses suffered by the Imperial army in its retreat back were lower than the usual catastrophic accounts would suggest – some 11,000–12,000 men reached the Bohemian frontiers from an original force of 14,000–15,000.121 Matthias Gallas was known to contemporaries as the ‘army wrecker’ for this and for an earlier logistical disaster, the invasion of Burgundy which he was ordered by Vienna to undertake against his own better judgement in late summer 1636.122 It is easy to make him representative of some general failure of planning and logistical awareness amongst Thirty Years War commanders. Yet other field commanders of this period, including Imperial generals like Pappenheim, Piccolomini, Hatzfeld and Melander, did not have equivalent supply catastrophes to their names. They might lose battles, but they did not reduce their armies to total starvation and disintegration. So if the armies raised by military enterprisers were sufficiently supplied with food and munitions to carry out military operations that were ambitious and wide ranging and needed to be organized year after year, how should this be explained? Why were the failures of Matthias Gallas not the rule in this period, and what underpinned success in keeping most armies of this period operational? One obvious key to such thinking was in the transport of goods, especially bulky food and munitions, to supply an army that was itself moving across country or pursuing operations away from its own main bases. The war taxes (contributions) were as likely to be collected in goods as in cash, but utilizing, for example, a substantial quantity of grain collected in Styria to feed an army that was operating in Westphalia required careful planning and preparation, and the coordination of a number of separate transport facilities.123 Later, better-documented examples of supplying troops over distances indicate that the transport costs could amount to


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50 per cent of the total costs of the supply contract.124 From Wallenstein to Karl Gustav Wrangel in the very last campaigns of the war, commanders’ guiding principle in negotiating the supply of their armies and therefore in planning their military operations was inland water. Rivers meant cheap and relatively reliable transport of bulky goods like grain and gunpowder, and made it far easier to move heavy artillery and baggage. Much of the conflict of the Thirty Years War was fought along axes determined by the four great rivers of the Danube, the Rhine-Moselle, the Elbe and the Po. Bernhard von Saxe-Weimar was prepared to attempt the siege of Breisach in 1638 with a small army, and well into the campaign season, thanks to his confidence that he could control transport on the Rhine and negotiate the delivery of basic food supplies to his army.125 Throughout the siege his army was fed and supplied with munitions via the efforts of his banker and supply-contractor, Marx Conrad Rehlinger, based at Basle, but with a network of supply contacts spreading into Upper Germany, across to Lyon and down into northern Italy.126 For several months Rehlinger assembled supplies of grain and other foodstuffs at Schaffhausen and arranged their shipment down the Rhine to Breisach.127 The fatal problem for the Imperial commander, Johann Götz, in trying to break the siege was his own inability to gain access to the Rhine and to use it as a supply artery. His troops were forced into ‘hitand-run’ tactics against Saxe-Weimar, as Götz proved unable to sustain his forces long enough in the area around Breisach to pose a decisive threat to the besiegers. On a larger scale, it can be argued that all of Wallenstein’s military operations in both his first and second generalships can be understood with reference to the rough north–south axis of the Elbe, supported by secondary use of the more easterly Oder. A huge proportion of the finance and provisioning of his army was drawn from Moravia, Silesia and Bohemia, not just because they were wealthy subject territories providing – albeit grudgingly – more reliable support than the German Imperial Circles, but because of the easy river transport of goods to Wallenstein’s armies, whether operating in north Germany, disputing control of Saxony or defending the Habsburg lands themselves. Key to Wallenstein’s entire provisioning system was the port of Aussig on the Elbe, the point of despatch by water for foodstuffs, goods and war matériel from Wallenstein’s duchy of Friedland and across Bohemia and Silesia on to the German battlefields.128 The centrality of rivers to logistics was no less clear to the Swedes, who quickly learnt the lesson of Gustavus Adolphus’ 1632 failure before Nuremberg, where the Swedish army had suffered heavy losses through overconcentration and lack of access to river-borne supplies, while Wallenstein’s defenders had been regularly supplied with

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grain from Moravia, transported upstream along the Danube as far as Regensburg.129 The Swedish general, Johan Banér, described the Elbe as the Imperial armies’ first line of defence, with the implication that seizing this line would open the way for decisive incursions into the Habsburg lands.130 Practical operational decisions were made on the basis of facility of communications and the availability of transport by commanders throughout the war. If the Swedes selected Mainz as their operational centre in western Germany from 1631 to 1634, this was a careful choice of a centre which was on both the Rhine and Main. A similar operational decision made the city of Heilbronn, with its position on the Neckar and direct water-borne access to the Rhine, the centre of the Imperial and Bavarian weapons, munitions and supply system from 1637 to 1640.131 But this would only go so far in resolving logistical issues which were as much a reflection of low productivity and population density, and local destruction and depopulation in many war zones, as of incompetent preparation and management of supplies by commanders. Critical to the success of troop supply at all levels and throughout the war is a far more fundamental aspect of Europe-wide ‘military devolution’, one to be considered in the next chapter as part of the general discussion of the ‘business of war’. The essential point is that military enterprisers themselves, or the state authorities behind them, were integrated into much larger networks of producers, suppliers, merchants and distributors, upon whose resources, services, expertise, connections and financial involvement the entire logistical structure of the war effort depended. These networks, with their ability to mobilize and distribute resources fast and competitively over distance and across different territories, their inside access to financial and technical knowledge, and their ability to mobilize transportation and distribution facilities, were the critical factors in allowing the armies enough logistical freedom to pursue military operations with a reasonable chance of success. Yet despite the support made available through these financial and mercantile connections, commanders certainly could not assume that they had unrestricted freedom to conduct their operations in any way that they wished. What was needed, and more and more developed in the second half of the war, was a positive willingness to match the size and shape of armies, tactics and operational decisions to the constraints, but also the possibilities, of fighting under these conditions and gaining military results. If regimental quality improved as the war progressed, so with a few exceptions, did generalship and that crucial strategic appreciation of the most effective ways of using limited means to achieve realistic aims. As the war progressed into its second and third decades, new generations of commanders emerged who had developed different approaches


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Denmark Wallenstein’s Duchies nia


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Map 4.2 Wallenstein’s military system and the campaigns of 1626, 1627 and 1632

to campaigning and to priorities in waging war. Spread between the armies of the Swedish, Imperials, Bavarians, Weimarians, and even the ‘French’ Army of Germany, they can be contrasted with both the traditional thinking of French and Spanish commanders, and with the earlier approaches of ‘large army’ commanders like Wallenstein and Gustavus Adolphus. These differences are strikingly evident, for example, in the different approaches towards the 1636 invasion of north-eastern France by the Cardinal Infante, commander of the Spanish Army of Flanders,

Operational effectiveness


and his subordinate at the head of a force of Bavarian troops, Jan de Werth. The Spanish commander was locked into the habits of slow, attritional advance, spreading his forces out across French territory, carefully besieging each major French fortified town he encountered, although most of them contained only skeleton garrisons and could not have threatened the Spanish lines of communication.132 His operational aim was simply to consolidate large numbers of Spanish troops on French territory and hope that the pressures of contributions and the political humiliation of territorial occupation would force Richelieu to make terms. Werth, with his force of around 5,000 Bavarian troops and 2,000 Cossack and Croat irregulars, operated independently. He had deliberately brought together a highly mobile corps, able to carry much of its own provisions and to seize more supplies once in France. He deployed his force in a lightning strike deep through Champagne and into the Île de France, causing panic in Paris and disrupting the attempts of the French to raise a relief force, before being ordered to pull his troops back to support the Cardinal Infante.133 Whether Werth would have been able to raid Paris itself, the psychological and military impacts of his actions were far greater than those of the ponderous advance of the main Spanish force, and its equally slow withdrawal through the autumn once the French had gained the opportunity and the vital months to raise a large relief force.134 Werth was strongly criticized by Elector Maximilian, his warlord, for having separated his troops from the main Spanish force. But successful military operations were increasingly to resemble those of Werth in subsequent campaigns, and the contrast with the slow, attritional style of warfare fought in Flanders and elsewhere became ever greater. The main French and Spanish armies, whether in Flanders or northern Italy, continued to pursue positional warfare based on lengthy, resourceintensive sieges. As early as 1631 the limitations of this approach were identified by the Bavarian commander, Tilly, who had commented that in ‘waging a campaign in Flanders the commanders have only a single and limited objective’.135 Battlefield victories, whether Honnecourt won by the Spanish on the Flanders frontier in 1642, or Rocroi, won by the French in 1643, led only to the next set-piece siege. Large armies tied down in a single location imposed a logistical stranglehold on such campaigning: supplies had to be shipped to the armies in regular convoys, which themselves required still more troops for escort purposes. Though not constrained by a commitment to siege warfare, the huge armies of Wallenstein and Gustavus Adolphus imposed their own logistical price in terms of mobility and the achievement of campaign goals. Wallenstein revealed a limited grasp of offensive action in both the mid-1620s and the


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early 1630s. What he did best was coordinating the supply and support mechanisms for armies occupying and defending swathes of central and north German territory, Bohemia, Silesia and Moravia. It is not difficult to detect the Generalissimo’s unease when operating away from this vast recruitment, provisioning and financial base, serviced via its crucial river artery, and easy to see why so many apparent opportunities to push his enemies harder were missed by his reluctance to distance his forces from this secure environment.136 In contrast to this, commanders who sought to conduct operations that were mobile and faster-moving, and who could seize initially unanticipated possibilities as Werth and Pappenheim had done, had to be aware of the dangers of overextension of their resource base. Their mercantile agents and connections, their financial backers and supply contractors could help to sustain the army, but only if they were given adequate notice of intentions, were drawn into the planning, and shared common priorities. However carefully prepared, provisioning an army will never work smoothly; the great strength of the armies that these commanders led was the presence of soldiers who might complain about shortages or poorquality food, but would not give up, would not quickly lose their military effectiveness or become demoralized. Provided that they saw the consequences of the operations leading to supplies and pay, they would tolerate present hardships and continue to pursue fast-moving, hard-hitting military operations. Indeed commanders could play upon these qualities in the context of acknowledged, effective leadership. Encountering initial reluctance from his Bavarian troops, who had been subjected to haphazard supplies and pay over the winter quarter of 1635/6, Jan de Werth galvanized them with enthusiasm for his campaign into France simply by promising to make them rich men from French booty; they then became the cohesive, effective force on which Werth had relied so successfully in the past.137 However, the most striking and observable change in the main campaign armies of the later Thirty Years War was the progressive reduction in their effective strength. Throughout the war the issue of army size is complicated by the difference between the total number of troops being maintained by a particular power or within a generic ‘army’, and the numbers actually serving in a particular campaign force, one that might be active in a battle or siege. In both cases the numbers rise to a peak in the later 1620s and early 1630s. Wallenstein was considered to have more than 100,000 men in his armies by 1628–9, and Gustavus Adolphus perhaps 150,000 men in his service by late 1631; at Breitenfeld, 31,000 Imperial and 40,000 Swedish and Saxon troops confronted each other on the field.138 By the later 1630s and 1640s the total numbers of troops

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maintained by the belligerents had declined: the Imperial troops under arms as early as 1634 numbered around 45,000 men, slightly fewer than the total number of Swedish troops with their German allies.139 More drastic still was the fall in the number and the size of campaign armies. Under Gustavus Adolphus the Swedes had maintained five separate campaign armies; by the time of Torstensson’s generalship in the 1640s there were only two armies; the Imperial forces sustained only two in the 1640s, one of which in the Westphalian Circle was partly supported by troops raised by the Cologne Elector. The size of these campaign armies shrank significantly. In 1645 the two important battles of Jankow in Bohemia and Allerheim in Swabia/Franconia demonstrate this change: at Jankow 16,000 Imperial troops engaged with 16,000 Swedes, while at Allerheim 16,000 Bavarian and Imperial troops faced a Franco-Hessian force of 17,000.140 Only the second battle of Breitenfeld (1642) and Rocroi (1643) – which anyway reflects the very different military conditions of the Franco-Spanish campaign theatre in Flanders – were traditional ‘large’ battles, with more than 20,000 combatants per side. It is usual to assume that this development was an aspect of the war as European catastrophe; soldiers were no longer available, or if they were to be had, rulers and/or military commanders could not afford to recruit or retain them. Declining army size adds fuel to the notion that the momentum of the war was lost in these latter years, which increasingly took on the characteristics of a futile round of territorial occupation and devastation. Yet specific military arguments about the benefits of small versus large armies go back well before the era of supposedly exhausted territory and declining population. The question arose at the time of Wallenstein’s first generalship. The guiding principle of Wallenstein’s military management was to build the largest feasible army via the imposition of contributions – war taxes – over the widest possible territories (see pp. 117–19). However, even at the time it was challenged by what might be called the Bavarian/ Liga model, or in Wallenstein’s own words, the ordentlich – the regular – rather than his own unordentlich – irregular – system of army funding and maintenance.141 Against Wallenstein’s model of military expansion, the Bavarians opted for a small army, supported on the basis of secure, but much lower, funding derived from contributions that had been accepted by the various states of the Catholic Liga. The advantages of this were underlined in Chapter 3 (see pp. 114–16): the reinforcement of military quality rather than quantity in an army that, even in the 1620s, was based on a small number of securely funded regiments. The disadvantage in the epoch of multiple enemies and gigantic military establishments was the ease with which the Bavarian/Liga army became overstretched. In 1628 Wallenstein could accomplish the military saturation of Holstein,


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Schleswig and Jutland by his vast army moving as three separate corps, each providing enough mutual support to ensure that the remaining Danish forces of Christian IV could not risk challenging any one of these columns.142 The success of this manoeuvre stands in sharp contrast to the worries of Tilly in the same period that he lacked sufficient troops to defeat a Danish counter-attack or maintain close control over occupied areas of north Germany, and indeed his attempts to borrow forces from the Imperial army.143 When Pappenheim was planning his 1632 diversionary campaign from Westphalia into Lower Saxony, he was still strongly under the spell of the ‘irregular’ – Wallenstein – system for raising troops and waging war. With an initially small force of experienced troops, Pappenheim ran circles round the Swedish and Hessian troops in Lower Saxony. Yet his intentions regarding the army were conventional: as soon as he could occupy territory, extract heavy war taxes or occasional protection money, he intended to recruit the army to the largest possible effective force. In this he ran up against the advice of his military collaborator, Gronsfeld, who had brought a Bavarian detachment to support Pappenheim’s activities in 1632. General Jost von Gronsfeld, one of the many capable commanders operating in the Thirty Years War who have almost completely disappeared from the historical record, argued precisely the opposite, doubtless from the perspective of Bavarian ‘regular’ warfare. To spend contributions on raising more troops rather than using the money to pay the wages and provisioning of the existing forces was simply to pack the ranks with inexperienced recruits – ‘useless boys’ in Gronsfeld’s words – rather than focusing on the strength and coherence of the existing forces.144 Pappenheim appears to have been convinced. Although his death at Lützen in November 1632 left his ultimate intentions unknown, he had spoken significantly in correspondence about not wishing to create a ‘giant army’ in the Westphalian Circle and the Lower Saxon territories under occupation, suggesting instead a total force of fewer than 20,000 (including the garrisons) and well supported through regular tax exactions.145 By the mid-1630s the trend towards smaller armies was spreading much more widely. The recognition that a smaller army made up of more experienced and better-quality troops would lose little in strikepower, but gain greatly in manoeuvrability and logistical durability, interacted with political realities. Looking to the operational level of military activity, and not seeing the future in terms of attritional frontier struggles, great set-piece sieges or the notion of the once-and-for-all decisive battle that would settle the war, a new generation of commanders began to recognize the clear advantage of smaller campaign forces. In some cases

Operational effectiveness


there was limited choice. For Banér, fighting to hold Sweden’s territories in north Gemany and to prevent Imperial forces pushing the Swedes into the Baltic, a large part of the Swedish military establishment had to be kept in garrisons in the great fortresses along the coast, and after the Peace of Prague, the recruitment opportunities for the Swedes in the Empire were massively restricted. Banér conducted a remarkable series of defensive campaigns through 1636–41 with an army that rarely exceeded 20,000 in total, but was predominantly made up of seasoned German and Scottish veterans prepared to accept campaigns every bit as hard-driven, tactically resourceful and demanding of fighting commitment as the one conducted by Pappenheim in 1632.146 The Swedish conscripts from the native indelningverk system were kept as garrison troops in the Baltic territories,






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Map 4.3 Banér’s campaigns of 1636–7, 1639–40 and 1641.


The military contractor at war

partly because they were less experienced, partly as the Bygdea example suggests, because they were already hugely vulnerable to epidemic disease in garrisons and even more likely to suffer on active campaigning in foreign territory. But elsewhere, more troops could have been made available to increase the size of field armies. Garrisons could have been pared down to raise extra effectives – as indeed they were in the aftermath of military setbacks or campaigns with a particularly heavy toll from sickness, desertion and military casualties. In both 1642 and 1645 Imperial troops in Westphalia were transferred to the main army to make good the heavy losses at Breitenfeld II and Jankow.147 In general, however, the approach was not, as a matter of military principle, to increase the campaign armies to levels seen in the 1620s, but to keep them small. Even when opportunities existed for expansion by recruitment or transfer they were not necessarily taken. The first obvious advantage lay in such an army’s smaller logistical ‘footprint’. Supplying the troops adequately with food and munitions – by whatever means – was an imperative both in terms of the expectations of the colonel-proprietors and in making possible any coherent operational plan. The considerably lesser burden of sustaining an army of 10,000–15,000 that could nonetheless retain its operational effectiveness made a lot of sense. A larger army, which would almost certainly contain a higher proportion of infantry, would increase the need for baggage transport and swell the additional human ‘tail’ disproportionately, so that an army of 25,000 might well involve double that number of mouths to feed.148 It was surely no coincidence that two commanders with active experience of fighting in this period, Turenne and Montecuccoli, should both have expressed the view that feeding 30,000 mouths in a single army (including the supply column) represented a ‘break-point’, above which supplying armies – by any mechanism – became highly problematic.149 A further major implication of operating smaller campaign armies also contributed indirectly to reducing the logistical problems of sustaining campaigns. Smaller armies could make easier the operational objectives of commanders who thought in terms of mobile, quick-hit campaigns, who were prepared to cut deeply behind enemy lines, to threaten communications and to bring home the impact of war on territory which had seemed secure from enemy incursions. The advantage of smaller forces was that it was possible to be far more selective about the composition of these armies. Overwhelmingly, commanders of the generation of Banér, Hatzfeld, Torstensson, Turenne and Mercy sought to ensure that they had high proportions of cavalry, irregular horse and dragoons or other mounted infantry in their armies. By reducing the overall size of the field

Operational effectiveness


Fig. 4.6 Banér as master of operational flexibility: the Swedish retreat from Bohemia at Preßnitz, March 1641 (see p. 188)

armies, most of the infantry could be left in garrisons. This consequent huge preponderance of cavalry in the field armies is another transformation seldom noticed in accounts of war in this period, all the more striking when contrasted with the typical assumption that the period is shaped by a military revolution which lays overwhelming weight on the importance of infantry and infantry firepower.150 The figures are unambiguous, however: in Torstensson’s Swedish army of 1645 there were 8,500 cavalry and dragoons against 6,000 infantry, while Mercy’s Bavarian army of 1644 was of 8,200 cavalry against 8,300 infantry.151 Partly thanks to Jan de Werth’s largely cavalry contingent, even the Spanish army which invaded Picardy in 1636 was of around 13,000 cavalry and 10,000–12,000 foot.152 The French field armies in general were slow to catch up with this trend, as numerous despairing letters from commanders to the war minister reveal.153 But by 1645 Turenne and Enghien’s forces at the battle of Allerheim numbered 9,200 cavalry and 7,800 infantry.154 This growing preponderance of cavalry is clearly visible in contemporary engravings of battles, where ever-larger cavalry wings fight out what


The military contractor at war

Fig. 4.7 The small cavalry-dominated army of the later Thirty Years War: the battle of Mergentheim, 5 May 1645

was more likely than not to be the decisive aspect of the engagement, especially given the cohesion of infantry units almost always placed in the centre. But fighting major pitched battles was rarely the intention of these generals in their approach to warfare; or rather, none of them believed that a single battle, even under the most ideal circumstances, would have a decisive, war-winning impact. Engaging in battle was a means to open up the enemy territory to deep incursion, devastation and occupation – this was certainly Torstensson’s intention in seeking combat at Jankow very early in 1645, and the aim of the Swedish and French forces in forcing the Bavarian army into battle at Zusmarschausen in mid-May 1648.155 Or it was a means, usually when all else failed, to confront such enemy tactics and inflict sufficient losses that they would have no capacity to press forward with their larger strategy, as Mercy and Hatzfeld did at Allerheim in 1645.156 But it was never more than part of an overall campaign plan which would stress all the qualities of mobility, surprise, rapid reaction and exploitation of circumstances for which large numbers of cavalry were especially suited.

Operational effectiveness


Shifting the weight of the army towards cavalry had some operational disadvantages: horses were no less prone to disease; they also needed to be fed, and though grazing or forage could offer them just enough sustenance to remain healthy, to be properly effective they needed measures of oats or barley; cavalry mounts in particular were expensive – a decent cavalry horse cost considerably more than a basic infantry soldier. Replacement of horses was one of the heaviest burdens on an enterpriser-colonel, and one reason why cavalry regiments were much smaller than infantry units, and why the financial commitment to running a cavalry unit was approached with some trepidation by potential colonels. But the horses themselves provided the potential to carry much larger stocks of provisions, while cavalry mobility offered the possibility of obtaining subsistence from local requisitioning, or moving quickly out of areas where there was minimal scope for support. Overall flexibility was simply much greater than for a force predominantly made up of infantry. If the deliberate focus on cavalry was a product of the commanders’ approach to campaigning, another implication of this was a reluctance to engage in protracted sieges. While the capture of fortified places was by no means a negligible advantage in campaigns that sought to place cumulative pressure on the enemy, the opportunity costs needed to be set in context. Smaller armies, focused on cavalry, were not suitable for a traditional siege of blockade and entrenchment, nor would it be easy to spare large numbers of troops to act as a garrison in the captured place. Moreover a campaign which was conceived in terms of rapid movements, surprise and deep strikes into enemy territory would inevitably fail if combined with a grinding, attritional siege that would absorb six weeks of the campaign and might cost a third or half the field army lost to disease and casualties. The recognition that sieges, if they were to be undertaken, would probably succeed not through formal siege warfare but, as with Pappenheim’s capture of Hildesheim in 1632, through trickery, threats and surprise, also shaped operational decision-making. The French Army of Germany under Turenne and Enghien suffered heavy casualties and an undoubted tactical defeat at the battle of Freiburg on 3–5 August 1644.157 However, the Bavarian army fell back from the positions it had earlier defended so effectively: Mercy judged it prudent to reconstitute the forces further south where they could safeguard Bavaria and other south German territory.158 At Turenne’s urging, the French army rejected the obvious next move of seeking to besiege Freiburg – the apparent objective of the battle – and doubled back up the Rhine to take advantage of the limited Bavarian/Imperial military presence there. Having determined not to take Freiburg through what might well prove a slow and costly siege, the French were now able to seize the vastly more important Mainz and


The military contractor at war

Phillipsburg by negotiation and bluff, together with a further series of significant strong-points, which entirely transformed the strategic outcome of the campaign.159 Smaller and much more mobile armies also permitted the opening up of what was, albeit with considerable precautions, almost an additional dimension to campaigning. The four or five months of winter quarter was traditionally seen as the period when troops and horses had the chance for rest and recuperation, and when regimental proprietors and their captains could carry out the recruitment and re-equipping of their armies and replenish their funds through the collection of quartering payments – an essential part of the ‘business of the regiment’. But when campaigns were seen in terms not of pursuing a single military objective but of maximizing advantages through combinations of manoeuvre, occupation and lesser engagements, then the operational benefits of campaigning during the winter months became considerable. The early start to campaigning was especially characteristic of the Swedes: by late January 1645, Torstensson’s army was already on Bohemian territory, ready to force Hatzfeld into battle by early March. Traditional armies of this period usually had not begun to assemble before April, and might not begin serious campaigning until June.160 Similarly the army that could be paid, persuaded or cajoled into remaining in action into the late autumn could achieve impressive advantages in situations where the enemy forces had already dispersed themselves. The most spectacular example of this is provided by the Bavarian surprise and total defeat of the FrancoWeimarian army at Tuttlingen on 24 November 1643, but there were plenty of other examples of such unseasonal tactics throughout the war; indeed it was one of the chief uses for irregular cavalry – Croats, hussars and Cossacks.161 The Swedish armies, and as the war continued, their enemies, were increasingly prepared to wage entire winter campaigns, continuing to fight and to accumulate military and territorial advantage without any normal winter pause. Johan Banér was the master of this approach – masterminding the logistical support for a series of winter campaigns in the later 1630s and persuading his troops to seize the opportunities these presented. A notorious example was his daring raid in January 1641, aiming to capture the Emperor and a group of Electors at the Reichstag held in Regensburg, deep within territory considered under Imperial control. The initial attempt at surprise failed, and Banér of course had no heavy artillery to try to besiege a city on the scale of Regensburg, so his troops moved across into undefended territory around Bamberg, seizing Cham on 28 January.162 Encountering growing Imperial pressure, Banér coordinated an impressive retreat from Bohemia via the Preßnitz pass. Less attention-grabbing, but of much greater strategic

Operational effectiveness


significance was the way in which Banér used the previous winters of 1637/8 and 1638/9 to claw back many of the losses of Swedish-held territory and fortifications suffered as superior Imperial forces had pressed into north Germany during the summer months.163 Again, though, while the tactical and operational advantages of winter campaigning are obvious, sustaining these campaigns and retaining troops capable of continuing into the summer months of the next campaign was a serious challenge. Cavalry-based forces had an obvious reason for not campaigning in the winter months given the absence of forage and new grass for grazing, although this could be surmounted via the careful stockpiling and transport of fodder. Waging such winter campaigns was also about ensuring that fresh troops were fed into the army at the beginning of the spring to reinforce and sustain those who had been active over the winter: both Banér and Torstensson relied on new Swedish levies arriving on the Baltic coast in the spring, who could replace existing garrison troops who in turn could be used to reinforce their field armies. It was also about finding means to guarantee the financial interests of proprietors who were given no time in winter quarters where they could live off local exactions and taxes that would be distributed to allow them to re-equip or remount their troops, recruit replacement soldiers and reimburse themselves for some of the costs of the campaign. Matthias Gallas on one occasion complained with some hyperbole that the ordinary Imperial soldiers garrisoned across the Rhenish-Westphalian Circle, a key contributions base for the Imperial army in the 1630s and 1640s, were better fed and accommodated than the senior officers in his own campaign army. But it was the ability to redistribute a portion of the money and resources from those areas where contributions were collected to the officers with the regiments on campaign that made this system of lengthy, sometimes winter-long campaigning viable.164 To examine systematically this style of waging war would require a detailed campaign history of the Thirty Years War, especially its second half, and a different, or much longer, book.165 The modus operandi of commanders like Piccolomini, Bernhard von Saxe-Weimar, Banér, Torstensson and Mercy has been alluded to throughout the previous section. Briefly to offer an example of military operations from the latter stages of the war which complements the opening account of Pappenheim’s campaign of 1632, attention could be given to the campaign conducted by the forces of Turenne and Karl Gustav Wrangel in 1646. In late 1645 the Swedish-backed forces of Amalie Elizabeth of HesseCassel had moved against the city of Marburg, hitherto awarded to the Hesse-Darmstadt branch of the family in a succession dispute dating back to the 1620s. In early 1646 Swedish and Imperial forces were drawn into


The military contractor at war

Hesse in support of the rival claimants. Prevented from retaking Marburg, a substantial Imperial and Bavarian army under the overall command of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm constructed a fortified encampment to block any Swedish move southwards and to guard against the possibility of a linkup between Wrangel and the army of Turenne. Turenne himself had spent the early months of the year engaged in intermittent campaigning in Lorraine, and countering a series of diplomatically motivated proposals by Mazarin that he should move his army north on to the borders of Flanders and Luxembourg in order directly to engage with the Spanish forces there. The threat posed to the Swedish army by the superior Imperial-Bavarian forces finally strengthened Turenne’s demand that he undertake the military objective that had initially been agreed for this campaign, a rendezvous with the army of Wrangel. But crossing the Rhine directly from Alsace would put the Imperial-Bavarian forces between the Swedes and the French, and risk the separate defeats of Turenne’s and Wrangel’s smaller armies. Turenne’s decision, taken in late June, was to march his army northwards on the west bank of the Rhine, crossing at Wesel in Kleve, and then to return along the east bank and into Hesse behind the Swedes, reinforcing their army against the combined ImperialBavarian positions. This involved a march of 120 miles along the Rhine to Wesel, and then back towards Hesse, itself a considerable challenge for the cohesion and organization of an army, and saying much about the way that military forces had been scaled down and were now dominated by cavalry. On 20 July Turenne crossed the Rhine at Wesel, then marched his troops rapidly upstream, uniting on 10 August with Wrangel’s army encamped in Hesse. The Imperial plan was simply to await the FrancoSwedish army in their strong entrenchments, hoping to inflict a heavy defeat on any offensive they might launch in an area that was already becoming increasingly denuded of supplies. But instead of assaulting the Imperial encampment as expected, the allies launched aggressive surprise attacks along both flanks of Leopold Wilhelm’s positions, aiming not to draw the enemy forces into a battle, but to outflank them. This they achieved rapidly and precisely, creating a situation in which the Imperial-Bavarian army was now prevented from retreating southwards by a reunited allied force, able to threaten its lines of communications, and to render its elaborate and powerful fortified defences completely useless. The allied temptation at this stage might have been to risk a battle, especially as Leopold Wilhelm’s army had abandoned their previous positions and were now moving tentatively northwards to link up with Holzapfels’ Imperial forces in Westphalia. Instead they seized the remarkable opportunity that this operational miscalculation by the Imperial forces had opened up. Despite the lateness of the campaign season, and

Operational effectiveness


the extensive marches already undertaken by Turenne’s troops, the decision was taken to sweep southwards through Swabia, outrunning Leopold Wilhelm’s troops and moving into Bavaria in a surprise assault which all of the efforts of the Bavarian army in the preceding three years had sought to prevent. This involved bypassing the great city of Heilbronn, which Turenne and Wrangel calculated they lacked the time and troops to besiege. Although the intervention of the Imperial-Bavarian forces had briefly tipped the balance in the Hessian struggle over control of Marburg, the news that the allies were rapidly approaching an undefended Bavaria produced the predictable orders for an immediate forced march southwards to try to intercept and throw back the invasion. But Leopold Wilhelm’s troops were on the wrong bank of the Main, held up by the recapture of Aschaffenburg, and forced to take an easterly route back towards Bavaria, reaching Regensburg on 19 September. Turenne and Wrangel swept southwards in two fast-moving columns passing north and south of Nördlingen and devastating the northerly part of Bavaria, crossing the Danube in late September to occupy all the duchy except Munich and Ingolstadt.166 The systematic devastation of this territory by the allies before the Bavarian forces could block them, and the failure of the Imperials to lend adequate assistance, was instrumental in persuading the Elector of Bavaria to agree to a separate ceasefire in March 1647. This was not strategically sterile war; it was a hard-fought struggle to dominate territory through mobility and flexibility, a willingness to exploit opportunities as they arose via planned and coordinated operational initiatives, and to use a combination of well-disciplined troop movements and systematic destruction to make it impossible for enemy forces to maintain themselves and to force a ruler to terms. Only from 1645 did the military balance start to swing irrevocably against one side, that of the Imperial-Bavarian forces, and even then both 1645 and 1647 offered plenty of evidence of continued resilience and military effectiveness. The war was a training ground for commanders, who developed extensive military skills in planning complex and flexible campaigns, revealed tactical subtlety, intelligence and deception, and understood the economical use of force to achieve hitting power and shock disproportionate to numbers. What did this system of waging war owe to military enterprise? It could be argued that these impressive commanders, placed in charge of armies made up of a core of high-quality troops, were simply doing their job effectively. In contrast, a Gallas or Savelli in the Imperial armies, a Dodo von Kniephausen in the Swedish army, demonstrated the pervasive limitations of logistics, structure and organization when armies were in the hands of weak or incompetent commanders with little operational


The military contractor at war

United Provinces Rh

Turenne’s Army

Turenne’s Army Crosses Rhine, 20 July.


Wrangel’s Army


Imperial/Bavarian Forces Dortmund

Kassel 10 August


Giessen Spanish Netherlands

Swedish Forces Under Wrangel (Late June)



Imperial Fulda and Bavarian Forces (June)

Main Frankfurt am Main


Bamberg Aschaffenburg

Trier Wurzburg



Turenne’s Army (June/July 1646) Metz

Regensburg. 19 Sept. e nub Da



Heilbronn Schorndorf Nördlingen 9 Sept. Donauwörth Donauwörth


Ulm 20 Sept. Augsburg Munich

Map 4.4 Turenne and Wrangel’s campaign in 1646

understanding. But military enterprise brought more to this equation. The strong sense of commanders’ accountability to their colonels, who were shareholders in the military project and who wanted success but did not want to see their investment needlessly wasted, certainly ensured that adequate logistical support for military operations figured high in commanders’ calculations. Operations needed to be realistic and costeffective, not grandiose statements concerned with maintaining the reputation of the ruler, or overly focused on a single military objective that would undermine wider goals sought incrementally across the length of the campaign. The relative independence of the commanders in many of these armies dominated by military enterprise was another key factor. It was the ability of Hatzfeld in Westphalia or Torstensson in Saxony to

Operational effectiveness


make decisions on the ground, to control a large portion of the army’s financial resources directly, to make contracts for supply and provisioning with agents who were specifically linked to the commanders, not negotiated via central administrators, which gave a vital flexibility to these operations. None of this would necessarily work smoothly, but a meansend rationality did dominate thinking, and ensured that military plans were established, altered and developed in response to a realistic appreciation of the military capabilities of the forces at their disposal, and a clear-sighted awareness of the logistical burdens and challenges that these plans would entail. In contrast to this style of war waged by the Swedish, Bavarian or Weimarian armies was the inflexible, slow-moving siege-driven warfare of the main French and Spanish forces of the period, more under the thumb of their respective rulers and serving dynastic priorities not just in their political aims but in their operational methods. Nor was this simply a characteristic of the monarchies of France and Spain; the rulers of the Dutch Republic were no less anxious to exercise overall control of the military operations of an army which they funded through state taxation and borrowing.167 In all cases the difference in outcome was striking. The lumbering advance of the Cardinal Infante in his 1636 invasion of France has already been considered as an example of this approach in action (see above, p. 179). However, as the French armies began to take the initiative in campaigning from the later 1630s the military goals and deployment of resources were shaped by a mirror image of Spanish policy. Large-scale sieges on the north-eastern frontier drained military resources from other campaign theatres and concentrated them, under the direct command of the king and his first minister, on the siege and capture of fortified towns of which the significance was as much a matter of dynastic prestige as operational utility. In 1642 Richelieu himself seems to have awoken to the misplaced priorities inherent in this attritional campaigning: writing to the French king early in that year, he argued that the commitment of an overwhelming share of the resources of the war effort to a single siege on the Flanders frontier in each campaign eliminated France’s capacity to achieve military results elsewhere, exhausted the armies and the support resources involved so that there was no chance of achieving anything else during the remainder of the campaign, and did nothing to force the Habsburg powers into a recognition of the need to negotiate a proFrench peace.168 A few years later, during his successful campaigning across Westphalia, Swabia and Bavaria, Turenne was to write to Enghien that it was his maxim to undertake sieges as rarely as possible, and that with the military resources available to him he aimed to fight small, cumulative engagements


The military contractor at war

rather than large-scale battles. It was, he continued, quite false to attribute more honour (my italics) to the conquest of a fortified city than to a campaign which brings about control of a great sweep of territory. Had the Spanish king devoted to open campaigning the resources in money and men that he had spent on sieges and fortifications, he would still be the mightiest of all rulers.169 Epilogue It was not, however, Turenne’s theory of waging war that was vindicated in conflict after 1648. Thereafter west-central European warfare assumed a character familiar from traditional accounts of early modern conflict: large-scale, cautious and slow-moving, with campaigns dominated by sieges in which the occasional field encounters were always bloody and most often indecisive. This transformation of warfare and the redefining of the public–private balance in its organization will be the subject of Chapter 6. From the perspective of the waging and character of warfare, the most obvious consequence was the inexorable drift to military gigantism that followed from elevating the authority of rulers in the organization and control of warfare. In the first half of the sixteenth century it had been the dynastic inheritance of the Habsburg Emperor Charles V and the political context in which he operated that had been the primary factor in stimulating the upward surge in the size of armed forces. In the same way, the determination of Louis XIV to assert control over his armies and to shape the French fiscal-military apparatus in order to underwrite his international policies precipitated the second great round of international military inflation. For Jacques de Guibert, whose favourable comment on the commanders and strategy of the later Thirty Years War was cited at the opening of the chapter, the military decay of ancien régime warfare started with Louis XIV and his age. Guibert, whose opinions are normally only cited in the context of the military debates of the 1760s onwards, offers a dismal picture of growing state involvement in European warfare. What Guibert noted was the return of war as carefully staged combat between dynastic rivals, in which the reputation of rulers was a key principle, both determining and restricting the ways in which campaigns could be planned and fought. The state control of armies tended always, and most notoriously in the second half of the seventeenth century, towards overly large armies pursuing single objectives. Louis XIV’s decision to command his armies in person as an exercise of assertive sovereignty led to a concentration on siege warfare as an appropriate symbol of an essentially dynastic struggle, and sapped resources from other campaign theatres as it became a matter of dynastic reputation that the siege



should succeed.170 The ‘honour’ that Turenne had suggested was overly associated with the capture of fortified cities and towns returned as the determining motive in the conduct of war. Armies that were large enough to ensure that there should be no setbacks in the royal presence were assembled for the nineteen sieges at which Louis was personally present between 1667 and 1692.171 The king’s personal command ensured a further level of caution in a style of warfare that was already slow-moving, attritional and risk-averse because of the size of the armies and the obsession with maintaining supply via convoys from frontier magazines.172 Once a fortified place had been captured, there was a strong temptation to abandon the campaign rather than risk further objectives where setbacks might compromise the accrued gloire of the king. A vast and inflationary expansion in armed forces did nothing to make war more decisive or to achieve strategic goals.173 The close synthesis of means and ends that had lain at the heart of the military enterprise of the later Thirty Years War had been swept away at a military as well as a political level. The dominance of the ruler and the centre in the formulation of policy was accompanied by assertive control over military planning and strategy. Behind this direct control of military force was what Marshal Vauban identified as strategic formlessness: attritional war based on unprecedented armies perpetuated conflict on a scale greater, costlier and more burdensome than the Thirty Years War, but offered no guide to winning the kind of strategic advantage that would give France or indeed any other power the lasting political hegemony in Europe which these expansionist political and military methods had sought.174 These developments represent a daunting challenge to unreflective assumptions that increasing the state’s control over armies and navies must equate with greater operational efficiency and higher levels of strategic and operational effectiveness. It was to be Europe’s tragedy that the approach of Turenne and his military contemporaries was virtually disregarded for a century after 1650, while dynastic imperatives, pursued by armies and navies in which the state became everywhere the majority shareholder, dominated the waging of warfare on a scale and with a human and material cost beyond anything seen in the campaigning of the Thirty Years War.


The business of war


The previous chapter focused upon the military effectiveness of armies raised under private contract. Unit commanders, whether on land or in command of naval forces, were generally motivated by more than a shortsighted desire to raise troops as cheaply as possible and then to exploit them for immediate financial self-interest. Regimental proprietors and ships’ captains sought to recruit experienced soldiers and sailors, and acknowledged the need to offer these men incentives to stay in service and to reward their military skills. Concern with operational viability shifted military activity away from large-scale, attritional warfare where the risk of supply failure and disruption was high. Enterprise encouraged military thinking and practice more appropriate to the limitations and possibilities available to armies and navies in this period: a strong emphasis on the mobility of field armies and willingness to draw upon the military qualities and resilience of the experienced troops within them; a massive downsizing in the scale of operational forces during the 1630s and 1640s as quality was preferred over quantity. All of this was the response of experienced, ambitious and capable commanders, who were certainly not combat-averse but were realistic in setting the pitched battle into a wider context of operational warfare which put more emphasis on territorial control and denial, and on maintaining the initiative through speed, surprise and flexibility. At the heart of this case for a more economical and flexible use of force lay the management of logistics and finance. Albrecht Wallenstein put his campaigning priorities with characteristic succinctness when he wrote that his army needed bread, then munitions, and after these, wages.1 Military commanders who deployed their armies in increasingly mobile, flexible approaches to campaigning were well aware that this put even greater weight on well-coordinated supply systems, capable of meeting at least a part of their armies’ needs across a campaign which might extend over ten months and many hundreds of miles of marches, encampments, 196

Supplying war for profit


engagements and sieges. If they were sea captains the centrality of provisioning their vessels for an entire voyage would in most cases be a selfevident requirement before setting out from port. Military commanders might facilitate logistical operations: they might choose to move their armies along the routes of rivers to permit water-borne transport of bulky supplies and equipment; they might plan their campaign with the expectation that the army would reach locations according to a timetable that would allow the stockpiling of food and munitions; they might be able to requisition carts and wagons to assist in the transport of supplies, or act directly to requisition foodstuffs from the localities through which the army passed. Yet beyond this they would need to draw upon the production, manufacturing and distribution capabilities of groups of specialists. These groups are themselves a vital part of the business of war, and their activities have a direct impact on the ways and effectiveness with which war was waged in this period. Where armies and navies are raised and maintained by the central state and its agents, it is frequently assumed that all these support services will also be handled by the state. A centrally controlled system of provisioning and administration would employ officials of varied rank and responsibility, who would act under commission to collect together supplies of grain, meat and other foodstuffs, or a range of munitions and equipment, store them in magazines and issue them to garrisons, to armies in the field, or to fleets of galleys or galleons. If transportation of foodstuffs was required, or grain needed to be milled into flour and baked into bread, this would be done through the agency of these officials. Payment for all these activities and for the collection and storage of foodstuffs would be met either directly out of state revenues, or in the form of tax credits or other means of offsetting subjects’ fiscal and military liabilities against provisions. Such a system could extend to the production of armaments themselves, which in the purest form of a state-run military support system would be manufactured in factories, workshops or dockyards established and financed by the state, operated by workers and specialists who were state employees, and whose activity was exclusively determined by state contracts and demand. A total system of procurement, distribution and production of this sort would represent the ideal version of a system which the early modern Spanish Council of State termed ‘administración’, the direct state control of military support functions. There is no reason why, even when the state’s role in the raising and running of armies and navies is more restricted, aspects of military support systems should not be directly administered. But in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe, there are few instances of such direct public


The business of war

control. Shipbuilding was one area in which administración made a substantial appearance: from the sixteenth century the Swedish fleet was constructed in state dockyards, funded and under the control of government officials.2 The Arsenale in Venice was state-run and its carpenters and other craftsmen were employees whose priority was building and fitting out galleys for the state, even if their secondary activities included building and repairing private merchant vessels.3 But even in shipbuilding, policy would more often oscillate between state control and the use of private contractors. A generation of ocean-going warships were built under Philip II’s orders between 1589 and 1598 in royal shipyards under the supervision of royal ministers who bought the timber and hired the skilled labour; but this policy of state-directed construction was reversed under Philip III.4 Some warships in both English and French fleets were constructed under direct state authority by state employees, but the great majority were put out to private contractors.5 The early seventeenth-century Danish fleet was partly built in crown dockyards near Copenhagen, but rather more ships were built by private contractors in the shipyards of Holstein (see below, p. 222). Moving away from shipbuilding, there were a few cases of army, and especially naval, supply provisioning being carried out by direct administration: in England during the Commonwealth the victualling of the fleet was directly handled by state administrators, and after 1683 there was a permanent transfer of the responsibility for provisioning the navy into the hands of a government Victualling Board.6 On land, the Venetian proveditore could be entrusted with direct responsibility for supplying the armies in the field during a particular campaign or operation, though in practice this was mostly managed through subcontracts with merchants and suppliers.7 In a similar way food supplies for the French campaigns of Henry VIII in the 1510s and 1520s were managed, with varying levels of success, by officials of the royal household, the only body with experience of supplying food on a large scale. But in turn these efforts depended heavily on support from English and Flemish contractors and company victuallers who distributed the food to the soldiers against wage deductions.8 There are cases as well where the production and distribution of munitions and armaments might be handled directly by the state and its officials: the Spanish powder factories in Malaga, Cartagena and Pamplona were in royal hands, as were the facilities for making match at Pamplona and the armour workshops in Guipozcoa. Only in 1632 did the Junta de reformación established by Olivares recommend that all royal factories, with the single exception of the gunpowder works at Cartagena, be put out to private contract.9 In France, the collection of saltpetre had been regulated and undertaken by the state from 1540, though again, this had been entirely abandoned by 1636 when production was placed in the hands of private lessees, who

Supplying war for profit


contracted to provide 200,000 pounds of saltpetre for an agreed price of 80,000 livres per annum.10 The most obvious point about this list is the exceptional nature of these initiatives, and their very small – and declining – role as a proportion of the military activity of the early modern state. Why should this have been so? It might seem an obvious priority that matters of supply and armament which related directly to military capability and the defence of the state should be in the hands of its officials and employees, whether or not the armies themselves were raised from national levies or were hired under contract. Direct control and exploitation of domestic sources of raw materials like saltpetre, metals and timber for shipbuilding would offer security in situations where contracts to obtain these materials from private suppliers, especially from abroad, might dry up or become prohibitively expensive in wartime. Moreover, state involvement in shipbuilding, army provisioning or gunpowder milling would seem to offer quality control, the ability to prioritize resources and some leverage to ensure that production could match military demand. These are issues that had been grasped by contemporary administrators. The Spanish Council of State discussed the issue of administración in the most direct terms, arguing not merely that it was more compatible with the sovereignty and reputation of the crown, but that it was a means to safeguard areas that were vital to the military security of the Empire: ensuring direct control of supplies of raw material and of the manufacturing processes required to ensure that munitions and armaments could be made available in sufficient quantities, and that the mechanisms for feeding armies and navies were predictably and reliably maintained.11 In an apparent paradox, the greatest of all early modern military entrepreneurs, Albrecht Wallenstein, drafted a project to establish a military manufacturing zone within the Habsburg hereditary lands that would, under the direction of its officials, provide all of the artillery, weapons, armour, equipment and munitions required to equip present and future Habsburg armies. Though the project was never carried through, the arguments for the benefits of autarky and control of production and supply in military goods suggest that, even in this unlikely quarter, statecontrolled arms and munitions production was taken seriously.12 Morever in contrast to these small-scale and apparently declining initiatives in the West, the Ottoman Empire appears from the early sixteenth century to have taken direct control of all aspects of the provisioning of the Sultan’s household troops, which included the standing force of Janissaries, the permanent cavalry regiments and the artillery, in total numbering around 18,500 troops in 1527 and rising to 75,000 in 1609. This left substantial forces of provincial timar cavalry and other irregular


The business of war

troops outside the mechanisms of state provision, and as the historian of a major study of Ottoman warfare stresses, reliance on official archival material may give an overly optimistic presentation of the success of such state-administered logistical systems. But even with these caveats, the evidence that the Ottomans chose direct administration to provision military forces running into tens of thousands of troops is striking evidence of a different decision-making process.13 But although the arguments for direct control and security of supply might seem strong, in practice pragmatic considerations shaped the debate about the public administration of military support systems. The main consideration was the nature of military demand, especially for military matériel. Supplying war represented a huge challenge to early modern economic systems, and this intensified during the sixteenth century. As discussed in Chapter 2, European armies grew substantially in size during the first half of the sixteenth century, but at the same time, at least until the 1550s, the continuous length of conflicts did not significantly increase. This created a particular problem: an intensification of military demand for weapons, munitions and foodstuffs immediately before and during a period of conflict, but at the same time dramatic fluctuations in that demand as campaigns were brought to a conclusion and uncertainty prevailed about when or if there would be a resumption of hostilities. Supplying quantities of muskets, match or cavalry harness to an army could require ratcheting up production levels, perhaps developing new manufacturing and distribution facilities, but to meet spikes of demand lasting for no more than a few months. If averaged out over years or decades these demands were of far more modest significance. This posed a virtually insuperable challenge to any plan to create dedicated state-controlled, -staffed and -financed industrial and manufacturing centres for the production of military goods and supplies.14 The dimensions of the problem can be seen in the running of the Venetian Arsenale, in many respects one of the most viable of such state-run industrial and manufacturing plants, since its remit included not just the building of a galley fleet, whose numbers steadily increased through the first half of the sixteenth century, but the repairs, maintenance and military outfitting of the galleys, and the construction and upkeep of the large fleet of ‘great galleys’ which were leased out by the Venetian state to merchant consortia in order to conduct trading expeditions with the Levant and the rest of Europe.15 Yet even this level of demand was not sufficient to keep the Arsenale permanently staffed and at work, and the tension inherent to the need for a labour force who in specific emergencies would be able and prepared to maximize productive capacity, but at other times would be encouraged to drift off to seek employment amongst the squerarioli, or private shipbuilders and repairers, remained unresolved throughout this

Supplying war for profit


period.16 The manufacture of munitions – which also occurred within the Arsenale – was even more problematic: very basic artillery and infantry handguns, with slow rates of fire, required a distinctly pre-industrial quantity of munitions to sustain them. A cannon in the field or at a siege, able to fire five iron cannon balls in an hour, might pose considerable challenges to the transportation capacities of an early modern army: getting shot, powder and match to a military encampment in sufficient quantity to service a battery of field guns was a serious problem. But simply manufacturing stockpiles of ammunition and powder to ensure that usable artillery in fortresses, with armies and in warships was adequately provisioned would not overstretch the productive capability of a sixteenth-century European manufacturing sector. The enormous stocks of munitions in many fortresses and in royal and private arsenals were more indicative of the difficulties of managing supply and demand in this industrial sector than a sign of the fearsome potential of early modern gunpowder weaponry, while even more indicative was the often vast overproduction of armour, harness and edged weapons.17 In this context, Wallenstein’s ideas for a dedicated Habsburg armaments complex were prescient in so far as they postulated a permanent state of war in which high demand could be maintained over the long term.18 But even in such a case it is not self-evident that the demand for armaments as well as munitions would be sustained for long enough and at a high enough level to justify the work of this dedicated military-industrial complex. Moreover, even where the possibility for a sustained, regular demand existed, governments showed little interest in stepping in to assume control of production and distribution. The main military-technological innovation of the later sixteenth and seventeenth century, the cast-iron cannon, transformed patterns of military demand. The European market for considerably cheaper, but acceptably reliable English cast-iron gun-barrels could support eight or nine iron foundries in full-time production in Sussex and Kent.19 The trade in iron guns was integrated into a network of international merchants, above all, Elias Trip from Amsterdam, who until 1622 organized the importing of 200–300 English iron guns per year into the Dutch Republic.20 Yet although the manufacturing of iron cannon was a genuinely viable, specialized military industry, the English crown felt no impulsion to assume direct control of its production, even though the destination of some of the exported cannon alarmed the government, and the concern to ensure a steady supply of iron guns for English naval vessels might have seemed a priority.21 A similar picture emerges when the Swedish manufacturing of iron cannon emerged as a major competitor in the 1620s, with guns of comparable quality and lower price. But here again the capitalization and development of the industry was in the hands of merchant-entrepreneurs, in this case the powerful Dutch partnership of


The business of war

Fig. 5.1 The diversity of military production: seventeenth-century artillery, munitions and supporting equipment

Louis de Geer and Elias and Pieter Trip who began producing and marketing Swedish iron cannon from the mid-1620s. De Geer organized and financed the production of cannon in Sweden, hugely developing the foundries at Arboga under licence from the crown, but with technical expertise and much of the skilled labour provided by Dutchmen and gunfounding experts from Liège.22 The scale of the industrial activity dwarfed English manufacture: in 1630 alone the Trips imported 1,182 cannon from Sweden, on which they paid an advance of 223,000 guilders, and then proceeded to sell across Europe. Again, the Swedish crown seems to have been content to leave the manufacturing of iron cannon in the hands of private and non-native enterprisers, and only briefly, from 1652 to 1656, sought to establish a crown monopoly over the export of guns.23 Provisioning under contract: the privatization of military supply If the direct involvement of the state and its administrators in the production and distribution of military goods was rare and becoming rarer in

Provisioning under contract


early modern Europe, various and very different private interests were involved in the business of war. All of the mechanisms for equipping and supplying armed forces were in various ways inadequate to the task, and resilience in the system was owed to the multiple levels on which it operated. Sutlers and small traders The commonest form of supply without any direct state intervention could claim to be almost universal from the earliest times. This was provided by small-scale individual traders and sutlers following in the wake of the army on their own initiative, and forming a large part of the Troß or general baggage and support train which until the eighteenth century accompanied most armies. These, the Marketender in a German context, vivandiers in French armies, were a flexible and important element of any supply system in this period, providing a freelance mechanism to concentrate available local resources to provide basic provisions for the army – bread, meat and beer – but in addition offering a much wider range of food to troops of different ranks and wage levels, and absorbing the costs of initial purchase, transportation and distribution in the prices they charged to the soldiers.24 In addition to food, these traders would offer a variety of second-hand military equipment, clothing and other goods needed by soldiers either at the beginning or throughout military service. Sutlers frequently enjoyed an additional and profitable role as the receivers and redistributors of plundered goods. This was a mechanism geared towards, and indeed thriving on, the cash-in-hand military economy of the Swiss, Landsknechte, and other sixteenth-century soldiers.25 In ideal conditions, where an army was operating in prosperous, densely populated territory, a host of small suppliers could more than meet the needs of a substantial campaign army. In 1507 the French army on Genoese territory was supplied by local victuallers whose carts stretched twelve miles along the valley of Polcevera.26 Though reliance on small-scale private enterprise was convenient and cost-efficient for commanders and those organizing military force, it presented obvious problems and dangers even in a period of smaller armies and shorter periods of conflict. Small-scale sutlers and private traders had limited ‘reach’ when it came to locating supplies of foodstuffs. They could buy up local goods – or whatever the local community was prepared to sell – but they had no larger network of agents and factors able to gather in food supplies from further afield in the event that the army’s demands were greater than anticipated, or the immediate area was poorly provided. Such small-scale dealers were certainly not immune to localized


The business of war

production and distribution difficulties, and though relying on them was strongly preferred to permitting the troops to go off in search of food supplies themselves, they had little more capacity to make good inadequacies and to guarantee that the troops would receive a basic subsistence. Though their privately owned wagons and carts were an inseparable part of every sixteenth- and seventeenth-century army, and formed a focal point of any military encampment, they added considerably to the overall size and cumbersome bulk of the Troß, the vast quasi-town of support and supply facilities that accompanied the army, and potentially slowed its progress to the rate of the heaviest artillery-piece and the most overladen and ill-constructed wagon. Given that the bulk of the army’s food supplies would be held in the hands of the accompanying convoy of sutlers and provisioners, rapid marches by the campaign troops might well be held back every few days in order to allow their suppliers to catch up. Added to the practical problems of supplying an army was the burden imposed on food supplies by a sprawling collection of private suppliers and their dependants and employees, themselves of course so many extra mouths for the food supplies being transported to the army.27 Apart from whether suppliers would be able to find sufficient food stocks to sell, there was the risk that the sutlers would be frightened away by the indiscipline of the troops. All military codes in this period contained harsh penalties for soldiers who robbed from or committed violence against the sutlers, recognizing the potential risks of driving away local and small-scale suppliers. In so far as the military authorities were involved in this mechanism for army provisioning, it was in policing and protecting the sutlers and their encampments, not always with success.28 A robust reply to complaints that inadequate provision had been made to feed a detachment of Wallenstein’s army serving in Poland in 1629 emphasized that the indiscipline of the men and their thieving from the Marketender ensured that no local supplier was now prepared to bring foodstuffs to the military encampment, hence the poor state of the troops.29 Despite these concerns and limitations, the sutler/trader was by no means an endangered species during the seventeenth century: thousands of them, perhaps best exemplified by the fictional figure of Mutter Courage,30 were in the rear of every army throughout the Thirty Years War and beyond, offering a combination of food, clothing and other necessities, and a variety of looted and plundered goods which had been sold to them or exchanged. They were part of that distinctive world of the soldier, with its claims to social respectability and possession of occasional purchasing power, yet set apart from civilian life and possessing its own structures, morality and conventions.31 The traders shared the opportunities and risks of soldiering: victories brought better sales of food and

Provisioning under contract


Fig. 5.2 Female sutler and companion

drink, and a potential windfall of booty to be bought or exchanged cheaply with the soldiers and sold on for profit. Defeat brought the risk of losing everything as the traders fled with the troops, abandoning wagons and goods to a plundering enemy.32 Central though they were to the character


The business of war

and the daily life of armies and garrisons, an exclusive reliance on smallscale traders and sutlers to supply troops, especially armies on campaign, would have provided only marginally more logistical security than dependence on foraging and living off the land.33 The ‘business of the regiment’ and ‘business of the warship’ The traditional mechanisms for hiring mercenaries offered limited business opportunities for the Swiss, Landsknecht or Scottish colonel or captain. Paid a substantial sum in advance for the recruitment and movement of his unit to the specified muster-point, and often provided with another advance to cover three months of the unit’s wages, the colonel could hope to make a profit by recruiting soldiers for less than the price per head agreed with the warlord. Even this might prove difficult in practice as he would often be under pressure to complete recruitment rapidly, and failure to obtain troops of adequate quality might lead to disputes at the mustering. The soldiers brought their own weapons and equipment with them, or borrowed/hired it from the community, and in most circumstances they expected to provide for their own subsistence and accommodation from their wages (see pp. 67–9). Unit commanders might be able to make a profit over and above their own salaries by manipulating the troop rolls and pocketing the wages of dead-pays, men who died in service but continued to be paid until the next muster re-established the effective strength of the unit and adjusted the pay accordingly. Swiss captains in French service quite early managed to extract the concession that their units would be paid at the strength fixed at the beginning of the contract after the first muster, and that this would continue to determine the rates of payment regardless of the accidents of disease or battle. Though this was in part intended to ensure that the widows and dependants of Swiss soldiers received some compensation, it was also a means to increase the commander’s profits from the contract.34 In general, though, what became known as the ‘business of the regiment’ was relatively limited, and it was private enterprise at sea that from the earliest stages provided the model for substantial collateral profits to be made from the management of ships and crews. Those Genoese patricians who ran individual galleys or entire squadrons in the service of Spain or other powers in return for an annual lump payment had the opportunity to enhance their profits via good, or simply hard-nosed, management of a financial package which was intended to cover the costs of not merely equipping and maintaining the galley itself, and recruiting and paying wages to the crews, but also purchasing the food supplies for the campaign,

The ‘business of the regiment’ and ‘of the warship’


acquiring munitions and equipment, and conducting routine repairs and maintenance.35 The Spanish government was aware that managing these operating costs could provide the possibility for substantial profit by the galley owners. In 1607–8, for example, rival Genoese patrician families the Centurióne and the Spinola were being encouraged by Madrid to undercut a basic price of 14,000 ducats per galley per annum for the management of the Spanish Mediterranean fleet.36 Yet in addition to the operating profits to be obtained, skill and luck permitting, from the comprehensive management of the galley, the contracting owners also received numerous concessions which could increase their overall business profits. Given the unreliability of the Spanish crown as a debtor, the right to collect 14 per cent interest on late payment of the instalments owed under the contract was a considerable, though doubtless not always gratefully received, concession.37 However, it meant that when even Andrea Doria himself had difficulty collecting all that was owed him – in 1552 he was able to collect only 96,170 of the 123,000 ducats outstanding on his account – this could produce a respectable return on the unpaid sums. It explains in part the apparently limited concern about unpaid arrears on the contracts. In 1588 ten galleys contracted out to Cosmo Centurión, Agapito Grillo and Giovanni Antonio De Marini had steadily accumulated 100,000 ducats in unpaid instalments during the 1580s. Despite this, when the government in Madrid had sought further contractors in 1584 to run the galleys of the squadron based on the Spanish coast, Centurión had offered to run twelve of them.38 If interest on outstanding payments represented an additional aspect of profit, another important provision in the contracts with the Spanish monarchy was the granting of licences to the galley owners to export wheat from Sicily at a fixed, reduced price. Although nominally intended simply for the production of biscuit, the staple of the crews’ diet, the licences for export always exceeded the galleys’ needs, and allowed the owner to engage in private trading.39 A similar ‘imperial’ concession came from the licences to export bullion from Castile, which was in theory merely a concession to meet the payments owed on the galley contracts. But given the brisk contraband trade in American silver, licences for exporting even limited quantities of bullion could offer cover for illegal but lucrative dealing.40 Finally, armed and heavily crewed galleys were also the preferred means for transport of high-value merchandise in secure conditions, and offered the possibility for profitable freelance mercantile activity while otherwise fulfilling the requirements of the military contract.41 This of course became a time-honoured though irregular means by which naval captains reconciled military service with a level of private profit.42


The business of war

The Genoese galley squadrons give some sense of the profits that could be made from Spanish contracts. In apparent contrast, the captains of the warships built and run by the Admiralties in the United Provinces during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries did not make comprehensive contracts to crew, equip and maintain their ships. As employees, like their men, they were paid a modest salary, which would potentially be supplemented, as with all naval activity, by prize money and other gains from raiding or combat. But by far the most important source of income for captains was the ‘provisioning pennies’ (kostpenningen). The provisioning of warships was the responsibility of the captain and the flag officer for each ship. The Admiralty paid them a fixed allowance per crewman per day, which varied between 5 and 7 stuivers, and this was deliberately set at a higher rate than was necessary to cover the expense of the prescribed rations. The margins for profit were quite generous, varying between onethird and one-fifth, and over a lengthy voyage in a ship with a large crew, could net a profit of several thousand florins. The less welcome side of this arrangement was an element of risk: the commanders were expected to purchase the provisions in advance, and were never sure that the sums of provisioning pennies would be paid immediately on their return. When the Admiralty coffers were near-empty, paying the provisioning costs was always regarded as the lowest priority, and the relatively high margin of profit afforded by good management was taken as the equivalent of formal interest payments on the delayed repayment.43 Examples of the ‘business of a warship’ could be multiplied across the period, and naval warfare was considerably ahead of comparable developments on land. But with the post-1560 shift towards longer-term military contracts the potential for more comprehensive ‘regimental business’ developed in line with these maritime initiatives. Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century military manuals for the ‘perfect captain’ detailed an extensive range of duties, responsibilities and behaviour appropriate to a regimental colonel, but notably absent from these was one of his main functions: the arming, equipping and provisioning of his soldiers. Vehemently asserting that he was ‘no tradesman’, Franz Albrecht von Sachsen-Lauenberg, one of Wallenstein’s colonels, was nonetheless typical in mastering the skills of finding goods and supplies, negotiating contracts, and arranging for the transport of these goods to his regiment.44 As the numbers of soldiers being recruited increased, the convention that the soldier brought along his own weapon and equipment when he was enlisted was tacitly abandoned. Colonels also had overall responsibility for replacing damaged or lost weapons and other equipment, and, most important and expensive, making good killed or injured horses in cavalry regiments. Army commanders considered that the

The ‘business of the regiment’ and ‘of the warship’


collection of contributions by the colonels justified demands that they provide additional equipment for their units. After the battle of Lützen, Wallenstein insisted that all the cavalry, not just the cuirassiers, should now be provided with breast- and back-plates, at cost to the colonels, while the Generalissimo’s orders also specified, for example, that colonels should ensure that their regiments were equipped with handmills, whether to allow units to produce flour for bread rations or, in at least one case, to mill charcoal to make gunpowder.45 But the colonels also had their own financial incentives to take on much of the support of their troops. As indicated in the last chapter (pp. 161–3), soldiers’ wage rates were maintained at a notionally high level throughout the Thirty Years War: enterprisers did not want to reduce quality of recruitment, still less to discourage experienced soldiers from staying within the regiment. But one reason why colonels continued offering high wages lay in their financial dealings with their soldiers for the provision of most of the latters’ basic needs. With good management this could provide the colonel with a significant return on his financial investment from within the regiment itself. Though the colonel would now almost always provide weapons or equipment for his recruits, the assumption that having appropriate equipment remained the soldier’s own responsibility was maintained, and the colonel sold the equipment to his soldiers against deductions from their wages. Selling the tools of the soldiers’ trade via regular wage deductions which represented a substantial mark-up from the bulk purchase price was the first stage in the development of the regimental business.46 It was accompanied by a wider shift to direct provisioning and away from the full, cash payment of the soldiers’ monthly wages.47 By the Thirty Years War the soldiers’ pay was normally divided into ‘subsistence’ and ‘reserved’ portions. The subsistence portion was usually made over entirely in kind, as food and drink, directly distributed or allocated by the unit commander, and now calculated as the equivalent of half to two-thirds of the soldiers’ total wages.48 In some circumstances it might be granted as a daily financial allowance, a regular, small portion of the soldiers’ wages.49 But significantly, these cash subsistence payments never became institutionalized in any of the armies of this period, suggesting that the colonel-proprietors would prefer to distribute subsistence in kind, with its opportunities for taking advantage of savings in acquiring food and other goods.50 Lodgings, when these could also be calculated as part of the soldiers’ wages, offered another opportunity for the proprietor to meet a part of his soldiers’ wage bill without direct payment. When both provision of food and of lodging were fixed as part of the contribution burden imposed upon a territory where the troops were billeted, the advantages to the officers were commensurably greater, since they were almost certainly


The business of war

acquiring these food supplies and services at below the rates at which they would supply them to their soldiers.51 After paying the soldiers a large part of their wages in food and drink or as a subsistence allowance, and taking the various deductions for provision of weapons, equipment and clothing into account, the remaining money owed would be held by the unit commander until finally distributed to the troops as lump sums at occasional musters. There were practical advantages in placing some aspects of equipping and provisioning the troops in the hands of their colonels, quite apart from giving them a further financial incentive to commit initial capital to the regiment. But in a European manufacturing sector dominated by small-scale production and supply at the level of individual workshops, obtaining weapons or armour even for a few hundred men at very short notice, and in competition with numbers of other colonels trying to do exactly the same thing, was no easy task. The problem was not primarily financial, although it is notable how large a part of the expense of raising a regiment would consist of purchasing military equipment, leaving to one side the enormous expense of mounting cavalry units.52 Many aspiring colonels were engaged in the hunt for credit as well as goods. Franz Albrecht von Sachsen-Lauenberg was a younger brother, and perennially hard-pressed for cash and credit, and in the course of recruiting his ‘neusächsisch’ cavalry regiment in 1625 he persuaded his lieutenant-colonel, Melchior von Hatzfeld, to raise several thousand talers on his own credit in order to fund some of the costs of equipping the regiment.53 The main issues, though, remained the short space of time between receiving a commission and presenting a fully recruited, fully equipped regiment for a first muster, and the limited access of the individual colonel to a range of widely dispersed producers and manufacturers. If an army was being assembled in the vicinity of a great arms-production centre, Nuremberg, for example, or Liège, then the problems might be manageable even if numbers of colonels were all looking to buy equipment or have it manufactured at the same time and as quickly as possible. Or if a colonel was well organized, and had some previous experience of raising troops, he would delegate a competent and trustworthy subordinate to organize purchase and despatch of goods from a more distant centre of arms manufacturing. Wallenstein’s colonels in early 1632 were acquiring cuirasses in Milan and Brescia, cheap muskets in Leipzig and across towns in Silesia, and gunpowder and match from Viennese contacts.54 Jan de Werth had an established relationship with arms suppliers in Cologne, and purchased weapons and equipment for his regiments there.55 When Franz Albrecht received permission to raise his regiment in 1625, Hatzfeld was immediately sent to Nuremberg, where he organized the purchase and transport of weapons and equipment, and obtained credit with the bankers Anton and Tobias Geiger.56 Hatzfeld’s specialized knowledge and good contacts in the

The ‘business of the regiment’ and ‘of the warship’


world of arms producers became well known; other colonels, having been less successful themselves, approached him for advice and assistance in equipping their units.57 Yet even Hatzfeld’s abilities could not overcome all the problems of timing and delivery, and when after a lengthy and financially profitable winter quarter in Silesia, Franz Albrecht’s cuirassier regiment was inspected by Wallenstein in June 1627, a large part of the armour that had been ordered for new recruits and to replace damaged or missing equipment had not arrived. Wallenstein had little patience with these failings, however explicable: the inadequately equipped companies were held back in Silesia as garrison forces, while the main army moved off against Christian IV.58 If colonels encountered problems in trying to collect together arms and armour for their soldiers, the provision of munitions or foodstuffs posed still greater difficulties, above all for an army on campaign, and these could quickly develop beyond the resources of the regimental commander, however potentially attractive the financial returns from supplying his men might be. In some garrisons, the commander might be able to draw up contracts with local merchants or even directly with producers, or he might arrange with the local authorities for some of the contributions payments owed to his regiment to be commuted into food supplies, which could be regularly delivered and distributed to his troops against deductions from their wages which he would then claim.59 However, when garrisons were established for overtly military purposes, rather than to ensure the collection of contributions – the Hungarian borderlands, for example, or the Spanish garrisons on the Atlantic islands or in North Africa, or in territory in the Empire which was not unambiguously held by one particular power – reliance on local supply contracting might easily be disrupted, and would render the garrison vulnerable to external pressures.60 The problems were compounded when troops went on campaign, especially when pursuing the fast-moving, rapid-strike style of warfare which became characteristic of the second half of the Thirty Years War. There was little possibility that the troops could be issued with more than a few days’ worth of initial supplies through the particular negotiations and supply provisioning of the colonels.61 In these cases and in meeting many other provisioning and support demands, it was the networks of large-scale private suppliers, manufacturers, merchants and financiers, working in conjunction either with state administrators or more often with the military commanders as contractors in their own right, who provided the largest part of the military support for armies and navies. They stood at the heart of the business of war throughout this period.


The business of war

Supplying war at an international level Fundamental to the economic systems of early modern Europe was the difference of scale between mechanisms of production and systems of distribution. Production of arms and munitions was heavily decentralized and dispersed into the workshops of individual masters, who aimed to meet small-scale orders with limited manufacturing capacity.62 There were exceptions, as noted earlier, especially iron cannon, iron and copper mining and production, and occasionally the milling of gunpowder. However, in general, the manufacturing of small arms and military equipment, the production of match and shot, and the collection of saltpetre were in the hands of small producers. Centres of arms manufacturing like the Southern Netherlands and lower Rhineland – Namur, Lüttich, Maastricht, Aachen/Stolberg and Cologne – or the southern German centres around Nuremberg and Suhl in Thuringia, were aggregations of small workshops, independently owned, and producing goods to order, often able to shift into other areas of production as demand rose and fell.63 This had the advantage of being highly flexible, much better adjusted to the inevitable fluctuations in military demand than any highly capitalized, state-sponsored set of armament factories could achieve. But at the same time, coordination of this manufacturing capacity, the ability to collect together and deliver its products to meet large-scale demand, whether from states or individual military contractors, was concentrated in a few great urban centres with multinational reach, and was controlled by an elite of merchant-financiers with extraordinary networks of agents and contacts spread across Europe. If the short duration and stop–start rhythm of wars before 1550 had imposed limits to demand for munitions and armaments, these limits were starting to erode in the later sixteenth century, and by the Thirty Years War it was clear that there were permanent and large-scale profits to be made from controlling supplies of military goods and production. Although this did not immediately lead to changes in the mechanisms of production, larger-scale and more consistent demand drove the expansion of three great, international military-provisioning centres, Genoa, Hamburg and Amsterdam, and a host of second-rank centres of arms distribution just beneath them: Nuremberg, Augsburg, Frankfurt am Main, Milan, Brescia, the city and the wider episcopal state of Liège, for example.64 The obvious mercantile advantage of the three greatest centres is that they combined excellent communications into the hinterland while being a major port, thus being ideally placed for the import then redistribution of bulk military goods. What gave these cities their dominant role, however, was not so much their location but the presence

Supplying war at an international level

213 Sweden


Hamburg London The Hague Weald Delft

Amsterdam Utrecht Gouda Dordrecht Maastricht

Antwerp Tournai Mons Liège


Marsberg Solingen Cologne Aachen Frankfurt

Namur Bishopric of Liège


am Main Strasbourg

Leipzig Friedland Suhl Prague

Nuremberg Augsburg Vienna

Basel Helvetic Confederation

Financial Centres Milan

Brescia Venice


Armament Production and Distribution Financial and Armaments Centres


Map 5.1 Key centres of arms production and finance in Europe, early seventeenth century

of a fiscal-mercantile elite of specialized dealers in military goods. The potential to make huge profits from supplying war was driving the business and financial activities of figures like Elias Trip and his family associates, Louis de Geer and Guglielmo Bartolotti, who played a dominant role in this burgeoning sector of Amsterdam’s commerce throughout the 1620s and 1630s. In Hamburg, the same armaments roles were occupied by those like the Marselis brothers, the firm of VerpoortenRuland-Groenedael, or Walter de Herthoge, close associate of Hans de Witte.65 In Genoa, the merchant house of Stefano, Antonio and Bartolomeo Balbi was a powerful force in the international arms trade, while banking houses like the Centurión and Serra, whose primary concern was financing the Habsburg war machine, were nonetheless prepared to extend their activities to army supply.66 Most of these individuals, families and firms were interlinked in international networks which could combine huge amounts of capital, technical knowledge and market influence. Elias Trip sought with his own capital to control the European export of English iron cannon through Amsterdam in the early 1620s; from the second half of the decade and in partnership with Louis de Geer he sought to dominate the still more profitable Swedish production of iron guns.67 In 1626 Elias


The business of war

Trip, Louis de Geer and three other merchants launched a company which, working with the Marselis firm in Hamburg, aimed to control the entire external supply of saltpetre, whether imported from the Baltic, West Africa or the Far East.68 This aim of achieving a monopoly of gunpowder supply (usually through control of saltpetre) drove a series of international business partnerships through the 1630s, each one being thwarted by the opportunities that an increase in the price of gunpowder offered to other enterprisers who managed to obtain supplies of saltpetre from elsewhere and to manufacture gunpowder competitively.69 The financial rewards were exceptionally high: a Danzig merchant, Peter Möller, and his Amsterdam business partner, Arndt Pilgrim, managed to control saltpetre imports via Danzig over two periods of three years, and netted a return on their initial investment of 220 per cent, while normal profits on purchase-resale business of this sort would be 14 per cent.70 While it was certainly not in the interests of military commanders to see the distribution and the price of gunpowder or other military materials monopolized by a particular commercial consortium, in fact these attempts were symptomatic of a process far more important for meeting military needs: a drive to bring together the production and distribution of military matériel and to concentrate it in certain centres, from where distribution to armies would be both easier and more able to meet sudden peaks of demand. Whether this was via Hamburg, Genoa, Amsterdam, or the other German or north Italian cities associated with arms distribution, the effect was to focus supply through networks which were more capable of bringing together production, and arranging the reliable and rapid amassing and transportation of arms, munitions, clothing and indeed foodstuffs than any other mechanisms in early modern Europe. Almost all major companies involved in marketing of munitions, or dealing in bulk food supplies and other raw materials, were based on these elaborate networks. They cut across not just national, but confessional and indeed military boundaries. Julia Zunckel offers a telling example of a contract to supply troops raised to defend Genoa, negotiated in 1625 by the Genoese firm of Balbi, which involved buying gunpowder in Amsterdam via the Amsterdam merchant and the Balbi business-partner, Guglielmo Bartolotti. Bartolotti was born Wilhelm van der Heuvel in Utrecht and spent his youth in Hamburg. He adopted his Italian name to cement the partnership with his uncle from Bologna, who directed a substantial trading company dealing between southern and northern Europe. Bartolotti/Heuvel would ship the powder that he would purchase in Amsterdam, via neutral Hamburg ships, back to Livorno, thence to Genoa. Given the acute shortage of saltpetre on the Amsterdam market in 1625–6, Bartolotti’s completion of this assignment was extraordinarily

Supplying war at an international level


Essential structure of the international armaments trade in the first half of the seventeenth century RUSSIA



(artillery production)

copper exports firearms exports



INDIA Saltpetre export to Europe from the 1620s





Centre of the arms trade – especially for the anti-Habsburg powers TRIP – DE GEER – BARTELOTTI MARSELIS (monopoly control)


ANTWERP Connections with Spain through Italian and Southern Netherlands’ merchant houses DORCHI – MAGGIOLI – ANDREA


Southern Netherlands and Lower Rhenish production complex for arms and equipment CURTIUS – FREY-ALDENHOVEN









Fig. 5.3 Supplying war: the mercantile interconnections between key production centres and traders – copied with permission from J. Zunckel, Rüstungsgeschäfte im Dreißigjährigen Krieg, p. 76


The business of war

efficient, and his costs reasonable, charging a commission of only 3 per cent on the deal. The ability of the Balbi firm to deliver on the contract rapidly and reasonably depended on their connections with Bartolotti, and in turn Bartolotti/Heuvel’s own links with the munitions empire of Elias Trip and Louis de Geer.71 The obvious fact that the gunpowder was being provided from the United Provinces to support the defence of Spain’s main Italian ally while Spain and the Dutch were at war underlines the international character of this network and its ability to tap sources regardless of military and religious boundaries, and on the basis of well-established networks of business associates. The example also underlines the high level of commercial/fiscal sophistication that underpins this international system. In an early modern context of rudimentary and limited administrative capacity on the part of governments, the supply of armies was being integrated into a remarkable structure of mercantile experience and organizational skill and knowledge about supplies, available production capacity and transport options.72 Moreover, as the Thirty Years War continued, these systems grew more extensive. A high-point was reached with the network established by Hans de Witte, Wallenstein’s right-hand man in finance and supply throughout the first generalship. De Witte’s network linked an unparalleled number of centres and personal contacts, on whose credit, administrative efforts and connections with manufacturers and suppliers de Witte could hope to draw. Stretching from Venice to Antwerp, and Madrid to Prague – the centre of de Witte’s activities – all the major trading and financial centres were represented by trusted merchantfinancier-agents of de Witte’s, from Walther de Herthoge in Hamburg, Anton Frey-Aldenhoven in Cologne and Amsterdam, Witte’s nephew, Arnold de Witte, in Antwerp, the Pestalozzi firm in Genoa and Milan, Johann Schwendendörfer in Leipzig, Abraham Blommaert in Nuremberg, Giovanni de Valli in Venice, and a wide range of high-value contacts in both Prague and Vienna.73 De Witte’s system interlinked at multiple levels: de Witte’s chief agent and negotiator in Hamburg, Walter de Hertoghe, worked closely with the arms-dealing mercantile consortium Verpoorten-Ruland-Groenedael, two of whom were family relatives, and who maintained close business and personal contacts with some of the great Amsterdam munitions dealers, headed by Elias Trip.74 De Hertoghe’s other connections included the powerful Genoese trading agent, based in Antwerp, Jan Paolo Dorchi, who was the key link in moving supplies and munitions between northern Europe and the Mediterranean for the benefit of Habsburg armies.75 The result was a wide-ranging network of financial resources and goods in which, for example, war taxes might be collected from populations in the Lower

Supplying war at an international level


- Key centres in de Witte’s system

14 Hamburg

3 Antwerp

17 Naumberg

8 Cologne

1 Aachen 9 Darmstadt 22 Strasbourg


11 England

R. E

2 Amsterdam

16 Leipzig 19 Pirna

23 12 Suhl Frankfurt am Main 18 Nuremberg

10 Dresden 6 Aussig

4 Arnsdorf 7 Breslau 15 Hohenelbe

20 Prague

24 Tetschen 26 Vienna

5 Augsburg 21 Schlaggenwald 25 Venice

13 Genoa

Map 5.2 Financing and supplying Wallenstein’s army: Hans de Witte’s European network of agents and contacts in the late 1620s Hans De Witte’s mercantile and financial connections The network of agents and correspondents: 1) Aachen (entrepôt for weapons and armour): managed from Cologne 2) Amsterdam: managed through agents in Cologne and Hamburg 3) Antwerp (home town of de Witte; financial and manufacturing centre) Main agent was his nephew, Arnold de Witte Subsidiary agent was Loys de Braa 4) Arnsdorf (Riesengebirge) (copper mining) Agent was Hans Jakob Heid 5) Augsburg (critical banking and trading centre) Key agent was the merchant and banking company of Georg Ammann and Giulio Cesare Pestalozzi Subsidiary agents were Otto Lauginger, Adolf Löschenbrandt, Sebastian Pesch, Andreas Scheler, Philipp Warnberger and Martin Zobel


The business of war Map 5.2 (cont) 6) Aussig (vital for shipment of foodstuffs and war matériel from the duchy of Friedland) Key agent was Salomon Freydenberger 7) Breslau (Silesian trade; trading connections with Poland and Ukraine) Agents were Flandrinis Erben and Batholomäus Mudrach 8) Cologne (financial centre, and centre for weapons and armour/ munitions) Key agent was Anton Frey-Aldenhoven Subsidiary agents were Peter Carlier, Johann and Peter von den Bergen, Robert Kaffart 9) Darmstadt (delivery points for weapons and armaments – along a line which included Trier, Heidelberg, Mainz and Cologne) Managed by de Witte through his agent in Cologne 10) Dresden (centre between Bohemia and middle/lower Germany) Agents were Abraham Prollhoff, Matthias Krüger and Adolf Luders 11) England (cloth, stockings, ironwork) Managed via Hamburg 12) Frankfurt am Main (money and trade fairs) Key agent was Daniel de Briers Subsidiary agents were Gerlach Beckh and Hans Haichnet 13) Genoa (links to Hamburg and Amsterdam: money and munitions) Agent was Italian merchant family of Sepossi 14) Hamburg (nodal point of de Witte’s supply system) Key agent was Walter de Hertoge Subsidiary agents were Heinrich Kreutz, Augustus Meschmann, Jakob de Moers and Cornelius Rosenthal 15) Hohenelbe (silver mining) Agents were Hans Perschmann and Stephan von Rehewaldt. 16) Leipzig (spring and autumn money fairs) Agent was Johann Schwendendörfer 17) Naumberg (money fair) Agent was Edwardt Beckher 18) Nuremberg (marketing and provision of arms and munitions) Key agent was Abraham Blommaert Subsidiary agents were Georg Ayermann, Hans Philipp Jeßlin, David Laurer and Hans Kautzdorf 19) Pirna (key transportation point) Agent was Georg Beutel 20) Prague (central point of the de Witte system) Large number of connections and agents, amongst the most important of whom were Bartholomäo de Pauli, Hans Ulrich Keßler, Jakob and Leon Bassavi, Matthias Hoffmann, Hans Keller and de Witte’s wife 21) Schlaggenwald (tin mines) Agent was Bartholomäus Stempel 22) Strasbourg (trade to/from France) Key agents were Martin and Andreas König

State administration and private supplier contracts


Saxon Circle, and used in part to mobilize credit contracted with Genoese financiers, whose loans had been used to pay Hamburg arms manufacturers and suppliers, who in turn had shipped their goods to an Imperial army based in Bohemia. Such a system of highly personalized contacts, frequently sharing the closest financial interests, would seem to be the antithesis of bureaucratic, externally supervised administration, and a licence for every kind of corruption and malpractice. In practice the tight, personalized integration and the overlapping and extensive financial interests created a strong set of shared interests, all of which ultimately depended on sustaining the success of Wallenstein’s army. State administration and contracts with private producers and suppliers That these networks for coordinating production, mercantile activity and movement of finance were sophisticated, international and strikingly effective within the limitations of their time was not lost on rulers and their administration. We have already seen that direct control of the production and distribution of military material was either economically unviable, or where it might have worked, governments in fact showed little interest in the possibility. On the positive side, the strengths of a flexible, responsive and wide-ranging private sphere seemed correspondingly greater. It was the Genoese Great Council who authorized the negotiations to purchase gunpowder from Antwerp via the Balbi firm’s network of contractors, who obtained the powder quickly sand cheaply via Amsterdam. Recent work on the English Civil War has shown that the

Map 5.2 (cont)


24) 25) 26)

Subsidiary agents were Reinhardt Mirkelbach and Franziskus Quischardt Suhl (weapon and munitions manufacturing) Agents were Valentin Cronenberger, Hans Haidenblut, Hans Heilmann, Balthasar and Georg Klett, Erhard Röder and Hans Stöhr Tetschen (transportation on the Elbe) Agent was Matthias Hosche Venice (money and high-quality goods) Agent was Giovanni de Valli Vienna (court merchants and financiers) Key agents were Ulrich Keßler, and members of the Pestalozzi family (Antonio, Giovanni Baptista, Stefano) Subsidiary agents were Italian business family of Giulini, Alessandro de Ferrari, Silvano Seraphin and Christoph Landtsperger


The business of war

Parliamentary war administration could draw on a complex and sophisticated mercantile system that combined existing capacity to provide food for London markets with transportation via commercial carriers, to move food supplies to the New Model Army throughout 1645. It was the existence of such a system that could be harnessed to military needs, which seems to have allowed the New Model Army to operate, like many of its Continental counterparts, very effectively and without the presence of any elaborate supply commissariat.76 This reliance on contracts made with the private sector was what the Spanish Council in its debates termed ‘asiento’, the outsourcing of military responsibility for the provisioning, supply or equipment of armies and navies. It has already been seen at work in the contracts between the Spanish crown and one group of the asentistas de galeras, Genoese noble families prepared to run galley squadrons in return for an agreed annual payment and the various financial and political concessions that were rolled into the contract (see pp. 81–2, 207). Such arrangements were characteristic of those states in which the ruler’s administration still played a large part in the organization and direct financing of war, states as diverse and varied in the control exercised over military organization as Spain, France, the United Provinces, Bavaria or Venice. Asiento could call upon the vastly greater capacity of private commercial, manufacturing and industrial sectors to meet the immediate needs of warfare, organize transport and delivery, and in general keep costs lower than would be possible from directly administered enterprises. In the second half of the sixteenth century, the Spanish monarchy and its various territories had already developed armed forces of unprecedented size and permanence. The open and sustained conciliar debate that took place over the merits of direct state control – administración – and asiento for equipping, provisioning and maintaining this war machine, had no European parallel. The major work on this subject remains the book and numerous articles by I. A. A. Thompson, and his account of the comprehensive devolution of the support systems for the Spanish navies, garrisons and armies in this period.77 For, if the monarchy and its councillors in the later sixteenth century appeared undecided in their debates between the benefits in political and prestige terms of direct state administration, versus the cheapness and efficiency of private contracting, the work of Thompson and other historians leaves no doubt that in practice the issue had been resolved by the reign of Philip IV (1621–65), with a virtually total abandonment of direct state administration. Government policy was unequivocal: ‘provisioning of the armadas, the galleys and the African presidios, munitions procurement, shipbuilding and fleet organization, and the victualling of the armies for Catalonia and Portugal were effected almost exclusively by asiento’.78

State administration and private supplier contracts


Long before the Thirty Years War, the Spanish monarchy had already been negotiating supply contracts for both armies and navies on a scale that dwarfed the activity of any other European state. Once the decision to outsource had been taken, the contracts were bold statements of confidence in the capacity of the private sector. As the primary naval power in the Atlantic world, the Spanish crown was prepared to negotiate contracts such as that drawn up in 1603 with Gonzalo Vaz Countinho to pay and supply the entire Atlantic fleet, 40 ships and 6,392 men, for eight years in return for 740,000 ducats in the first year and 790,000 in each of the remainder.79 Indeed the Spanish crown’s administrators seem to have considered that large-scale contracts were the most efficient and economical, and usually selected their contractors from a tight-knit group of major financiers and merchants capable of mobilizing money and resources on this scale. So after 1601, for example, the provisioning of bread rations to the entire Army of Flanders was entrusted to a single private contractor, holding the office of proveedor de víveres, a contract worth more than 2 million escudos per year.80 By the 1620s and 1630s the government was diversifying the contracts once again, and the largest were with the Genoese supplier Marco Antonio Gentile and the Flemish Amand de Hornes, while in the 1640s the contact for supplying bread to the army, made with Vincenzo Lazagna, granted him 75,000 escudos a month on the taxes from Antwerp.81 Where possible then, the Spanish administration would seek to concentrate financial, administrative and organizational control in the hands of a single contractor. Thus, for example, a contract was made with the Genoese Antonio Graffior in 1639 for the manufacture of gunpowder, giving him rights to all the saltpetre produced in Castile in order to supply the crown with 41,000 quintals of gunpowder over seven years.82 Some exclusive contracts of this type could prove very successful: in 1628 a contract was made with the Liège iron-master, Jean Curtius, to set up a cast-iron cannon and shot factory at Liérganes, near Santander. By 1640, 1,171 guns and nearly 250,000 assorted pieces of shot had been produced and delivered. Though there was still heated debate about the relative weight and durability of cast-iron guns compared with bronze, the financial factor gradually took the upper hand. Cast-iron artillery once again demonstrated its commercial viability, and a series of contracts would ensure that Spain could be selfsufficient in iron guns until the end of the eighteenth century.83 Not all contracts were on this vast scale, for many military functions simply did not permit this kind of consolidation. In December 1603 a contract was signed with the Lisbon businessman Manuel Gómez de Acosta to supply the garrison troops on Madeira and Terceira with all their pay and provisions for six years. For these services the contractor would receive a total sum of 61,770 escudos from the crown rents on the


The business of war

two islands. When dealing with small, isolated garrisons and their fortifications, the most obvious contractor for a long-term supply contract might be the governor or captain himself. Individual deals with captains of garrisons in the Spanish monarchia or for the upkeep of individual vessels had been common under Philip II, and continued into the seventeenth century.84 This was no less true of France, where the crown frequently sought to make contracts with governors of fortifications to meet the costs of the garrison in return for a stipulated share of locally allocated tax revenues. When Colonel Hans Ludwig von Erlach was appointed governor of Breisach, the French crown in consideration of his expenses as governor also gave him full rights to exploit the surrounding iron mines for his own profit, manufacturing and selling cannon balls and other arms to supply the French magazines in Alsace.85 Similar contracts could be made for the construction and repair of fortifications, and it would appear that the king himself was not above haggling over deals with his soldiers: Jacques de Chastenet de Puységur, captain in one of the French elite regiments, claimed that in 1639 Louis XIII in person offered him the contract to construct some of the siege-works around the city of Hesdin, proposing a payment of 6,000 livres. Puységur eventually argued the king up to 7,700 livres and undertook the work on the basis of this contract.86 This was not the first time that he had been drawn into contracting for the crown: in 1632 he had been sent by Louis XIII to Liège to purchase 4,000 muskets and 2,000 breast/backplates, and to negotiate the best price for these – presumably under commission. Puységur bought the weapons and armour in Liège and Utrecht, had the guns proved in Holland, and organized the shipping of them from Holland back to Rouen.87 Puységur may well have made a decent profit on the fortification work if the king’s original offer had been realistic. However, if the Balbi contract to provide gunpowder for the Genoese government is typical, weapons and munitions procurement yielded relatively small returns. Acosta’s contract for the upkeep of the Madeira garrison over six years envisaged total profits of around 12 per cent on 61,000 escudos.88 And of course it was possible to make an outright loss. A large-scale shipbuilding contract in Vizcaya made between the crown and the shipbuilder Martin de Arana in 1625 fixed a price of 72,000 ducats for six galleons, calculated on overall tonnage, so that the total paid was 79,752 ducats taking into account the slightly larger ships actually constructed.89 Arana claimed that he had spent a further 6,000 ducats without reimbursement to fulfil the contract, extra expense which was ultimately disallowed by the auditors who looked over the ships before taking delivery of them in the king’s name and adjudicating on the completion of the contract. However, in 1631 Arana was nominated Superintendent and Captain of War over the

State administration and private supplier contracts


soldiers garrisoned in Santander, a prestigious military appointment and sufficient to persuade him to take on another contract a year later to build a further nine galleons for royal service.90 Such non-economic benefits of participation in contracts were not unusual. For numbers of these contractors the social – and perhaps also political – potential of the contracts outweighed strict economic calculations about maximizing profit. This will be explored in greater detail later in the chapter, when examining more generally the nature of profits and benefits from the business of war. Another case, that of the construction of ships for the Danish navy by Christian IV in the early seventeenth century, can demonstrate a different set of motives for drawing on private contractors, ones that were essentially political rather than financial. Although it might be assumed that a ruler constructing a navy through a combination of his own revenues and state taxation would channel the project through state dockyards and employees, the building and equipping of the Danish royal navy was put out to private contractors.91 The building contractors were initially drawn from Scotland, and either hired their own labour and procured building materials as part of the contract, or might agree to make use of labour in the royal dockyards and be provided with wood, iron and other materials.92 Increasingly through the 1620s and 1630s, Christian’s warship commissions moved across to the outright delegation of all aspects of construction to private contractors.93 An important factor in this shift was that more of the warships could be built under contract in the duchy of Holstein, independent of Denmark but under Christian IV’s rule. In the context of frequent and rebarbative disputes over military expenditure with the Danish Estates, it was convenient for Christian to argue that the ships built in Holstein were entirely funded from his private revenues, and had not cost the Danish state anything.94 Even if some of these contracts produced ships that were deemed less well built than those commissioned in the Danish dockyards of Bremerholm, the advantages of constructing these ships outside of the reach of the Rigsrad was as important as exercising direct control over the product.95 There was, and always had been, a spectrum of success and failure in these systems. At one end stood the well-ordered negotiation of contracts by states with relatively well-managed, solvent fiscal systems, carefully monitored by officials to ensure compliance and to anticipate shortfalls and breakdowns. In some cases this effectiveness was attained by small states where the scale of the logistical challenge was contained within an administrative system which was efficient and well supervised. The Bavarian/Liga army was supported by administrative officials within a formal Proviantwesen, charged with coordinating army provisioning, and headed by an Obristen Proviantmeister to bring together the needs of the armies and the resources of private contractors whose activities remained at the centre of supply operations.96 Huge, well-


The business of war

funded contracts were negotiated to ensure the provisioning of the main Bavarian fortresses, most of whose lavish reserves fell into Swedish hands in the invasion of early 1632.97 In other cases, in the Dutch Republic, or England in the later seventeenth century, a creditworthy fiscal administration could draw up credible contracts on the basis of which enterprisers, drawn from a developed and extensive mercantile and manufacturing community, would provide food and supplies with confidence and reliability.98 But elsewhere – and even to some extent in these cases – the effectiveness of these arrangements was much less evident. One set of problems was a direct consequence of the central negotiation of contracts. For many states the chief benefit of negotiating supply and maintenance provision centrally, and with large-scale contractors who were also based institutionally and politically at the centre, was that it enabled contracts to be drawn up against anticipation of taxes and other revenues. Thus large-scale, centrally negotiated contracts for military provisioning and services became one part of the great, fragile edifice of revenue anticipation and deficit funding that was critical to the finances of the great majority of the major European states from the mid-sixteenth century onwards. Negotiating contracts on anticipated revenues was not only typical of contracts on the largest scale; it could extend down to relatively small supply contracts, like those for the French provisioning depots, the étapes, which were frequently supplied against the tax revenues for the généralité or region, and involved direct negotiation between the central Bureau des finances, the regional trésoriers and particular local contractors.99 In many cases these arrangements were made with no direct involvement of the military commanders in the field, and without taking into account their operational needs. There was limited flexibility, and a strong tendency to arrange the contract in a way that looked realistic from the centre, but which in practice made overly narrow or blatantly unrealistic assumptions about the impact of operations on the capacity to meet basic requirements for providing food and munitions. The negotiation of contracts by the French government with its munitionnaires provides overwhelming evidence of this weakness, but enough material in the work of Thompson and others shows that this was a problem which extended well beyond the kingdom of France.100 In the French case, and in contrast with contracts negotiated by commanders in the field, the failure lay in the detail: time after time in the 1630s and 1640s central government negotiated contracts which focused on a narrow requirement, for example, the need to fund the production of bread rations for an army of 35,000 over an eight-month campaign. But beyond that, little attention was devoted to detail and practicalities: how was the grain collected under the terms of

State administration and private supplier contracts


such a contract to be milled into flour, then baked into bread, where and by whom? How far were mechanisms for transport and distribution taken into account? The expense of providing transport could easily exceed the cost of grain or other basic foodstuffs, and it was the area in which the French munitionnaires proved most consistently inadequate.101 One reason why naval supply contracts may have worked more efficiently, with fewer spectacular breakdowns and failures, is that the collateral aspects of supplying a naval squadron were less complex, at least in the area of transport and distribution.102 Faced with contractual arrangements that seemed to institutionalize such problems by shying away from the complexity and expense of anticipating a dynamic and unpredictable military scenario, certain assumptions about the character of warfare, especially land warfare, took root. In an operational context, there were sound reasons to avoid a static, positional style of warfare, focused on set-piece sieges which absorbed most of the military effort of a particular campaign. But the implicit assumption underpinning inflexible, centrally negotiated supply contracts was that this was the one style of warfare which could reduce – though not by any means eliminate – the risks inherent in arrangements for supply which had very limited flexibility or adaptability built into them. If that was the assumption of central government when negotiating supply contracts, it was an attitude passed down to commanders in the field, who were directly affected by the potential breakdown of supply contracts and rightly pessimistic about the ability of contractors to deliver to the army in any other than the most straightforward and largely static contexts. Unsurprisingly many commanders, albeit not without frustration directed both at the ‘grasping munitionnaires’ and the disengaged and unrealistic central government, simply accepted the constraints that such a system imposed.103 The concentration of very large contracts in the hands of a small number of powerful private enterprisers had a further potentially damaging consequence. As we have seen, many of these men would be prepared to accept a high level of financial and economic risk, even to make uneconomic contracts, in part because they hoped that their activities on behalf of the ruler would bring social recognition and benefits. In some cases the willingness to undertake provisioning contracts and to lend financial services might also be a lever to bargain for high military office. This latter was seen, for example, in the military careers of various members of the Fugger family, notably Franz Fugger, count of Kirchberg, who rose to the rank of general in the Bavarian army.104 It appeared most extravagantly in Ambrogio Spinola’s proposal that he would finance the entire Army of Flanders, initially during the siege of Ostend, in return for overall military command of the army.105 This combination, though provoking to traditional military


The business of war

grandees, was overall quite beneficial. After all, it brought a direct fusion of the interests of the military suppliers and financiers and the military commanders which centralized supply contracting tended to separate. However, the more typical and more damaging pressure was for a direct role in central government: this could be through the informal contacts and connections that would be gained from access to ministers and courtiers in the process of negotiating contracts, or through a subsequent institionalizing of their position by assuming administrative functions and offices. A cause of confusion in this period, which has encouraged mistaken assumptions about the penetration of state bureaucracy into the armed forces, is to miss the point that all of the apparently formalsounding titles – General/Obrist-Proviantmeister, munitionnaire-général, proveedor general de víveres, factor general – were either administrative offices purchased by the contractors, or honorific titles granted to financiers and suppliers who had made such contracts. They tell us more about the privatization of the administrative activities of the state than the progress of bureaucratic encroachment on the activities of the private contractors. Where states such as France had developed an extensive administration based on purchasable office, the twin roles of military supplier and government administrator could be combined especially easily and publicly. Debts owed by the crown on provisioning contracts could be commuted or bargained into the purchase of office, and office which almost inevitably either concerned the supervision of military supply, or lay at the heart of the financial administration, and therefore dealt directly with the payment or reimbursement of military contractors. François Sabathier, who was granted a nine-year lease in 1634 to provide saltpetre and to manufacture gunpowder for the French armies, consistently pulled strings in central government to try to build his lease into a monopoly, although his record of supplying the armies was patchy and elicited widespread complaints from senior officers. Although the implied benefit of relying on a major operator like Sabathier was to ensure France was self-sufficient in gunpowder, his regular failure to meet stipulated outputs meant that large quantities of foreign powder still needed to be imported through the later 1630s.106 Moreover Sabathier’s ambitions and influence extended from supplying war to financing it, and in 1636 he and his business partners offered to waive a debt of 800,000 livres for supply of munitions in return for the two highly lucrative offices of trésoriers de l’extraordinaire des guerres, in effect the paymasters of the army. Refused on this occasion, in 1638 Sabathier used his connections and leverage to acquire the office of the trésorier of the parties casuelles, with a huge financial interest in the sale of offices in the financial and judicial administrations. Now on the inside track for opportunities to obtain lucrative contracts to

State administration and private supplier contracts


lend money to the crown, Sabathier had also become financially overexposed with outstanding loans totalling 9 million livres by 1640. His combined exercise of the roles of munitions supplier/manufacturer and crown financier had produced a disastrously unstable situation in which his looming bankruptcy threatened a complete breakdown in the supply of gunpowder to the armies. Desperate attempts to shore up his position and to hold off his creditors were driven by fear for the armies in the face of the collapse of his activities, and were an indictment of arrangements which had in practice brought benefit to no one except Sabathier and those of his supporters and financial backers in Richelieu’s ministry.107 Even where there was no formal venality of administrative office, a tendency for overlap between government and contractors was an inevitable consequence of a powerful military-supply interest which had strong personal and business ties to government. In the United Provinces a large numbers of the councillors on the Boards of the Admiralties, who formulated, funded and administered naval policy, had begun their careers as contractors for ship provisioning and shipbuilding, and almost all continued to maintain strong financial interests in provisioning and mercantile activities. This meant, for example, that the councillor to the Rotterdam Admiralty, Joost van Coulster, could demand priority payment on his contract to provide beer to the navy, and even more typically the councillors would give priority to the hiring out of their own ships for Admiralty use.108 Supply contractors might thus appear to be exploiting supine administrations, too ready to grant over-advantageous contracts to friends and associates. But there was another side to the coin. The real problem for all those prepared to enter into military contracting with European states was the latter’s chronic lack of creditworthiness throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.109 One good reason why such contractors sought to extend their role into the state’s administration and to build up their connections and dealings with elements of central government was the simple recognition that rulers were extremely bad creditors. Most states were encumbered with long-term debts, the servicing of which claimed a large part of current income. A second-rank principality like Saxony had seen its long-term debt rise from 1.6 million florins in the 1550s to 5.4 million in 1621; this was dwarfed by the debts of the Austrian Habsburg monarchy, which stood at 32 million florins by 1612.110 For most European states, the Thirty Years War began under the shadow of debts which made access to further credit a complex process that would usually involve hard bargaining and high rates of interest. Worse, most of these states possessed fiscal systems which either explicitly, through the requirement of negotiating taxes with powerful Diets or Estates, or implicitly, through the entrenched power of privileged and tax-exempt ruling


The business of war

elites, made further development of the state’s revenue-raising potential an extremely tough and frequently unsuccessful struggle. Contracts made with the central state were thus pushed into the murky waters of fiscal regimes in which as little as possible was paid for in cash or in advance, where assigned revenues would frequently fail to generate anticipated yields and had often been allocated to more than one creditor, and where debts were a negotiable commodity, transferable or open to bargaining and renegotiation for financial or political advantage.111 These were fiscal regimes that existed on the constant verge of bankruptcy, squeezing a hand-to-mouth existence through creative accounting and a mass of special relationships which could massage the confidence of certain individuals, groups or consortia to persuade them that they would enjoy preferential treatment in meeting payments and honouring debts. In 1608 when the milliones (sales taxes) in Castile had been reduced to 2 million ducats per year, 3.3 million ducats of expenditure were still assigned on them; the complaints of French munitionnaires, and indeed of many governors of fortified places, that they had been assigned revenues that were either worthless or so slow and difficult to collect that they would realize only a fraction of their value, are a constant litany in the correspondence with the Bureau des finances.112 The Franco-Italian financier Philip Burlamachi’s dealings with the English government from the 1610s through to his bankruptcy in 1633, which involved the supply of munitions to foreign powers, the funding of Mansfeld’s army and the expedition to La Rochelle, was a long saga of government default on contracted payments.113 In this situation many supply contractors cut back their own financial commitments as heavily as possible, knowing that this would lead to practical problems in maintaining contracts but anxious to avoid financial overexposure and outright loss.114 The result of this was the erosion of the contract as in any sense a binding commitment. The French munitionnaire knew that his negotiations with the central regime were a charade in which any sanctions that the regime might threaten for non-performance of contracted services would be mitigated by the inevitable non-payment of outstanding monies due on the contract.115 Military contractors and private suppliers While the administrations in France, Spain, the United Provinces and other states negotiated directly with private contractors for the provision of military equipment and supplies to their armies and navies, this was not the only model for large-scale military supply. As we saw in Chapter 3, the flourishing of military enterprise in lengthier warfare from the later sixteenth century had developed into a number of different varieties of

Military contractors and private suppliers


private–public partnership. In the most extreme cases, for example the armies of Ernst von Mansfeld or Bernhard von Saxe-Weimar, the connection with state administration was almost non-existent. Both armies might receive intermittent or irregular financial subsidies from powers who sought to direct the armies’ military effort in certain political directions, but these states did not intervene administratively to arrange contracts to supply equipment, munitions or food to these armies. Responsibility for this lay entirely with the military commander, though probably acting in conjunction with his ‘shareholder-colonels’, and it would depend on that commander’s relationships and contacts with networks of private contractors. This was of course a very similar situation to that of the vast majority of privateering fleets or individual privateering ships. Whether an Uskok pirate, a Dunkirk privateer or a Genoese or Maltese galley captain operating on his own risk, it was assumed that the owner of the ship would take full responsibility for feeding and arming the crew and maintaining the ship, even though the privateering activity was indirectly supporting the political aims of the ruler who sanctioned it. In other cases the situation was mixed: the circumstances in which Wallenstein raised his army, his authority to issue commissions to subcontracting colonels and the vast amount of private capital raised for military operations, all implied that the independent negotiation of supply and munitions contracts with contractors would predominate. To a large extent this was the case, while a further, unique character in his management of army supply was added when Wallenstein became a private military contractor in his own right, turning his duchy of Friedland in Bohemia into a vast centre for the production of arms, munitions and food. Yet at the same time Wallenstein, even at the height of his power, never became independent of financial support from his warlord, the Emperor. Throughout the years of war he continued to receive taxes imposed across the Habsburg lands and directly collected under the Emperor’s authority, even if the threat of ‘military execution’ by his troops was the ultimate sanction against default and delay. Substantial payments were made in kind, and although Wallenstein’s troops would be the ultimate destination of the grain, cattle, beer and other goods that might be exacted in the Tyrol, Silesia, Westphalia or Franconia, these would almost certainly be collected and transported by state and local authorities, not as a result of private contracts made by the Generalissimo. In contrast, and after the death of Gustavus Adolphus, the Swedish army commanders negotiated supply contracts largely on their own initiative. Receiving modest subsidies from France and the United Provinces, and contributions from garrisoned north Germany (see p. 133), war finance was largely raised by simple occupation and extortion of German territory


The business of war

beyond these directly occupied lands. The Swedish government in Stockholm would not have wished to micro-manage the provisioning and equipping of the army in Germany. Leaving this initiative in the hands of the commanders, while these latter had direct control of war finance, placed them in the position of negotiating virtually everything connected with the equipping, supply and feeding of the army. Can generalizations be drawn about the way in which supply contracts made by commanders acting more or less independently differed from contracts made by state administrators? If the besetting problem of many centrally negotiated contracts was their inflexibility and inability to adjust to changes in operational plans, how far will there be a just-in-time, ad hoc character to contracts made by commanders, often in the midst of a campaign or after a change of military circumstances or plans? How does the far more local and specific focus of many of these contracts – aiming to provide food or munitions for an army in particular locations at a particular moment in a campaign – change the nature of the assignment? Were supply contractors able to cope with the demand for much greater flexibility, less advance warning of specific needs and far less time for preparation and organization? The evidence – not least the success of many of the campaigns and the ambitious operational approaches to war described in Chapter 4 – suggests that this type of negotiation of contracts on the ground did in fact work considerably better than the direct, centralized negotiation of supply. There are limitations and failures, as we shall see, but in general the mechanisms seem more capable of underpinning ambitious and extensive military actions. A central strength of this system came from the direct relationship of the commanders, who had control of the funds from contributions and other sources to pay for the army’s logistical needs, with the financiers, merchants, manufacturers and producers who would contract to pay, feed and equip the armies. It is important not to underestimate the significance of these personalized and close relationships in the working of supply operations which both parties recognized as integral to the wider success of the military campaign. The fact that military commanders were themselves proprietors of regiments, had usually established their units through initial borrowing of funds, or had drawn on letters of exchange and other financial instruments, and had made contracts with arms suppliers and other provisioners, gave them initial, direct experience of working with financial and supply specialists. Pappenheim is aptly described by his recent biographer as having developed a flair for building relations with contractors and for supplying his troops which underpinned his campaigns of 1631–2.116 The particular business partnership between Wallenstein and the Flemish Calvinist Hans

Military contractors and private suppliers


de Witte is the best known of these relationships in the Thirty Years War. The success of Wallenstein’s entire military system during his first generalship depended explicitly on the extraordinarily close ties with de Witte, and through de Witte, with a vast, international web of financiers, merchants and suppliers. Wallenstein and de Witte first met as fellow members of the coinage consortium set up to debase the Bohemian currency in the aftermath of the rebel defeat.117 Their experience of the windfall profits to be made from the exploitation of reconquered Bohemia created a shared understanding of the potential that Wallenstein’s project offered for the funding of a gigantic army through punitive contributions levied across an ever-widening arc of German territories. His confidence in the viability of Wallenstein’s system underpinned de Witte’s extraordinary mobilization of financial credit, and the contracting, purchase and distribution of armaments, munitions and foodstuffs.118 When confronted with the mounting resistance to heavy contribution demands, de Witte’s warning of the dangers of allowing the flow of payments to slacken off were recognized by Wallenstein, although by 1629 the problems of resistance had become too widespread to permit any solution.119 The Emperor’s dismissal of his Generalissimo in August 1630 predictably brought the whole edifice of borrowing and contracting on credit crashing down, and led to de Witte’s suicide a few weeks later. But without him Wallenstein’s huge system could never have taken off, and he would never have gained his reputation as a master of the detail of military logistics. Equally, though, without de Witte’s own profound, and ultimately misjudged, confidence in Wallenstein, his own capacity and willingness to mobilize finance and resources would have been incomparably more limited. Wallenstein’s business relationship with de Witte was far from unique, and many other enterpriser-commanders of the period managed to achieve similar, close partnerships with figures who, though often financiers, extended their activities as provisioners, coordinators of supply operations and intermediaries in acquiring arms and munitions. The working relationship between Bernhard von Saxe-Weimar and Marx Conrad Rehlinger had begun at the time of the Augsburg financier’s involvement with Gustavus Adolphus and Axel Oxenstierna. Rehlinger had been prosecuted by the Imperial authorities for his support for the Protestant cause in the 1620s and had gone into exile in Switzerland, from where he gave financial support to the Swedes, while his two sons held commands in Gustavus’ army.120 The connection between Rehlinger and Saxe-Weimar, which followed the duke’s establishment of an independent army after the defeat at Nördlingen, proved far closer. It was money and supplies tirelessly assembled on credit by Rehlinger at Basle and Schaffhausen, and shipped down the Rhine to Saxe-Weimar’s army, which made possible the capture of Breisach in 1638 (see p. 176). Moreover, because a significant part of


The business of war

Saxe-Weimar’s financial support came, at least in theory, from the French subsidy paid him from 1635, the duke had also developed close relationships, initially through Rehlinger, with the Lyon-based Hervart family and the Paris–Amsterdam dealings of Jan Hoeufft.121 After Saxe-Weimar’s death in 1639 the business relationship with Barthélemi Hervart was maintained by Hans Ludwig von Erlach, the most senior of Saxe-Weimar’s colonel-successors.122 Both were crucial in allowing Saxe-Weimar to convert French subsidies via letters of exchange into pay for his troops in Germany, and to maintain a steady supply of munitions to his army from well-established Amsterdam sources. Amongst the Swedish enterpriser-commanders, Lennart Torstensson relied heavily when planning his operations on the financial and supply services of Melchior von Degingk, who in turn collaborated closely with the most important figure in the financing of the Swedish armies throughout the 1640s, the Hamburg-based Johan Adler Salvius.123 Amongst the Imperialist generals, while he was still only a lieutenant colonel, Melchior von Hatzfeld was known to be well connected in the world of both finance and munitions supply. His connections and financial activities in the late 1620s tied him closely to the Nuremberg banking firm of Geiger, but by the later 1630s when he had become a field marshal he had shifted his financial base to Cologne, initially working through the finance house of Heffing, but from the later 1630s relying more and more on the services of the financial agent and merchant Daniel Resteau.124 These direct, personal contacts between the enterpriser-commanders and chosen figures in the financial-mercantile world contributed to the supply of the armies. Both parties identified strongly with the outcome of military operations. If the commanders were prepared to raise extra credit or deploy their own capital to meet shortfalls and crises in demands for munitions or equipment, their business partners and hommes de confiance would extend their own credit, draw on the support of business colleagues and connections, and exert themselves well beyond their immediate financial self-interest to hold contracts together, to compensate for delayed or inadequate payments or to make good shortfalls in the delivery of goods.125 But the vital role of these link-men, whether a de Witte, Degingk or a Resteau, was to provide the entrée into the international networks of finance, manufacturing and supply that needed to be drawn upon if armies were to receive sufficient support to maintain operational effectiveness. All of this was no guarantee of success. Even with Wallenstein’s prioritization of logistical demands, and with de Witte’s capacity to mobilize, focus and collect together production, to identify stockpiles of goods and foodstuffs, to arrange transportation and to anticipate political or practical difficulties via his networks of agents, army supply did not always work

Military contractors and private suppliers


smoothly. In spring 1625 Wallenstein and de Witte were in negotiations with the small-arms merchants of Suhl, in Thuringia, for a contract to provide muskets and edged weapons as quickly as possible for seven Imperial regiments. The merchants would have to deal with a large number of individual metalsmiths, woodworkers and armourers, but a contract was fixed with costings and a three-week deadline for delivery.126 In fact the delivery was weeks late while the final price was 22,000 gulden more than the stipulated contract, and without this extra sum the merchants claimed they would be unable to deliver at all. After initial fury and the temporary arrest of the Suhl merchants in Prague on Wallenstein’s orders, the Generalissimo and de Witte recognized that the weapons were essential, and that no one else was likely to be able to deliver more quickly, and so de Witte went on to negotiate a characteristically thorough additional contract for the assembly and transport of the goods to the regiments.127 Though the Suhl merchants failed to meet a stringent contract, at another level the episode demonstrates an impressive ability to pull together large and complex supply contracts via pre-industrial mechanisms of production, even if not as quickly and cheaply as ideally – or unrealistically – wished. De Witte and Wallenstein continued to negotiate a vast variety of large munitions, food and transport contracts, making use of innumerable contacts across and well beyond the Empire. The cumulative evidence is that these contracts came to operate more smoothly over time and with growing experience.128 Above all in arranging the transportation of goods, initial equally frustrating setbacks seem to have been followed by a long period of reasonable success in meeting the needs of the army, and anticipating or resolving obvious problems as far as limited technology and the poor infrastructure allowed. The Imperial army continued to rely very heavily for its support on a network of agents, producers and bankers, who contracted their services, under admittedly careful scrutiny by de Witte, down to 1629.129 Focusing on one city, Nuremberg, a key munitions centre in its own right but whose merchants had capital and controlling interests in Suhl and other Thuringian centres of small-arms production, gives some sense of the continued scale of these operations. In Nuremberg, de Witte financed purchases for the army chiefly through the major banking house of Blommaert, and in each six months from the latter half of 1626 through to the first half of 1630 the financial transactions never totalled less than 200,000 gulden.130 Yet occasional contractual and delivery failures, combined with his larger strategy to ensure that the Emperor’s financial debts to him were so vast that they could only be repaid through the wholesale transfer of territory within the Empire, seem to have crystallized Wallenstein’s dissatisfaction with an exclusive reliance on decentralized military production.131


The business of war

Electorate of Saxony Elb e

Friedland (Frydiant)

Tetschen (De˘c˘˘in) in) Aussig (Ústí nad Labem)


n lze Po

Reichenberg (Liberec)

Duchy of Silesia

r Ije

Raspenau (Raspenava)

Wallenstein’s Duchy of Friedland Hohenelbe (Vrchlabi) Arnsdorf (Arnultovice)

Elb e

Arnau (Hostinné)


Jitschin (Jic˘˘in) in)

Kingdom of Bohemia

ldau Mo Prague


Kingdom of Bohemia

Gradlitz (Choustníkovo Hradis˘te˘) Neustadt (Nové Me˘sto nad Metují) Metuj Königgrätz (Hradec Kralove) 20 miles 20 kms

Map 5.3 Wallenstein’s duchy of Friedland

Both contributed to his decision to establish a large-scale production base in his own duchy of Friedland, a territory granted him by the Emperor from the confiscated lands of Bohemian rebels. Wallenstein was able to mould the economic life of the duchy from its foundation, and did so around its capacity to act as a primary source of food and industrial-munitions production for the army that he raised from 1625.132 Wallenstein controlled a territory of around 1,200 km2, and was seeking to provide support for anything between 60,000 and 100,000 troops. The economy of Friedland, though unable to meet the needs of the army in full, played a substantial role in this operation from 1626 to 1634. Grain production was requisitioned in tens of thousands of hectolitres and stored up before being shipped to the army.133 Around Reichenberg, Wallenstein co-opted settlements of cobblers, tailors and cloth-makers, able to produce thousands of pairs of shoes, sets of clothing and military cloth for each campaign.134 Above all, massive new armament workshops were developed around the settlement of Raspenau, centred upon furnaces and iron mills run by Italian armaments specialists, but staffed by a mass of village smiths and local iron-masters whom Wallenstein conscripted from the entire surrounding area. From the Raspenau works, hundreds of artillery pieces, shot, powder and handguns were produced from 1627 onwards.135 Of

Military contractors and private suppliers


Fig. 5.4 Louis de Geer

crucial importance to all this activity, Friedland was well placed for the eastern river arteries, and munitions, weapons and grain could be transported from the port of Aussig down the Elbe as far as Dessau or Hamburg, where they would be unloaded from barges and transported to Mecklenburg, Holstein, Stralsund or wherever the army was present in


The business of war

the late 1620s. In one sense the enterprises established in the duchy should not be seen as strictly ‘industrialized’: the producers were not a homogenous labour force under a single, centralized management; rather they remained agglomerations of individual craftsmen and their workshops. But they had been brought together, often in shared physical space, in Raspenau or Reichenberg, to meet production targets set by Wallenstein for prices that he had determined, and with the assumption that the military demand of the army would be a permanent source of employment for them.136 Friedland was Wallenstein’s uniquely personal achievement. It undoubtedly gave him more flexibility in both meeting the needs of the army and managing a precarious edifice of credit and revenue anticipations. In its relationship with the army it might be seen as an early example of a ‘military-industrial complex’, albeit singular in that army procurement and industrial supply were directly controlled by one and the same person. And as its complete collapse after his assassination and the dismembering of his confiscated duchy was to demonstrate, it was not strictly necessary to ensure effective army supply: reliance on decentralized private suppliers via capable financial and mercantile agents continued to deliver results. Indeed, Wallenstein’s Friedland system was to some extent a creation required to mitigate some of the self-generated problems of supplying his own, unprecedentedly large armies, and was especially suited to the particular circumstances in which two such armies had been recruited from scratch in a matter of months in 1625–6 and 1630–1. If there was a comparable agglomeration of privately owned production capacity in the same period, albeit under the control of a consortium rather than an individual, then the network of iron and copper mines and furnaces, iron foundries and artillery manufacturing that Louis de Geer financed in Sweden was the nearest equivalent. From the early 1620s the expansion of Swedish iron mining and production, above all in the crucial context of armaments manufacturing, had been contracted by the crown to private enterprisers. Initially the largest contracts for control of armaments manufacturing were with the Liègois de Besche family, who gained control of the ironworks at Nora, Lindesberg and Österby.137 But this period of control by the de Besche family interests quickly gave way to the capital and expertise of their hitherto junior partner, Louis de Geer. Though originally also from Liège, the family’s move to Amsterdam and their close business and marital association with the Trip family of munitions dealers gave them access to resources and financial potential far beyond their original reach. With the willing support of the crown, armaments manufacturing – from iron mining to bulk export – was handed over to a Dutch business monopoly and based on

Military contractors and private suppliers


Gefle Falun

Location of agents/representatives


Leufsta Forsmark


Copper mine Öregrund

Iron mine Avesta

Foundries of factories owned or rented by de Geer or Trip




Flögfors Finnåker

Västerås Arboga


Stålboga Olösa

Örebro Julita Bruk


Stockholm Nakka

Björnedam Skeppsta



Nyköping Finspäng



Sjösa Bränn Ekeby

Nälvekvarn Vänersborg Linköping

Fiskeby Nörrkoping Västerik



Map 5.4 The de Geer/Trip consortium: involvement in Swedish copper and iron mines, foundries and munitions works

huge financial investment via the partnership of de Geer himself and his brother-in-law, Elias Trip.138 While attempts to encourage investment from within Sweden itself had produced minimal sums, by 1626 the Dutch consortium had already committed over 400,000 guilders.139 Although disagreements with Gustavus Adolphus over de Geer’s aggressive marketing of Swedish iron cannon abroad led to the formal termination of the monopoly agreement in 1631, in reality the Dutch association’s dominance of Swedish armaments continued unchecked.140 The main armsproducing areas were dominated by private manufacturing plants owned and operated by de Geer on behalf of capital provided by his own family resources, the Trip family and other Dutch financiers, and produced a comprehensive range of weapons and munitions from heavy artillery through to iron cannon-balls.141 The range of interests extended to brass production, saltpetre and shipbuilding.142 Though not an armaments monopoly, it was an extraordinary concentration of capital, skilled

Fig. 5.5 Hendrick Trip’s cannon foundry at Julitha Bruk, Södermanland, Sweden

Military contractors and private suppliers


labour and manufacturing resources, which outlived the original directors, but stayed within the same entrepreneurial nexus. No fewer than five members of the de Geer family married into the Trip dynasty over the course of the seventeenth century.143 But the next generation brought disputes between the two families to a climax, as Elias Trip’s wealthy and ambitious son, Hendrik, nicknamed le roi de canons, took an overtly confrontational approach to the business relationship with the de Geer family, developed his own interests in Sweden and in 1646 succeeded in breaking de Geer’s monopoly of the Swedish gun-casting industry, provoking a fierce competitive struggle for control of production.144 The Trip family now became directly involved in manufacturing in Sweden, and it was the Trip-financed cannon foundry, the Julitha Bruk, near Nyköping, whose painted image hung in one of the salons of Hendrik Trip’s Amsterdam townhouse (see Fig. 5.5).145 In addition to impressive networks of international contacts and organizational expertise that these systems could demonstrate, the other strength of these privatized supply systems was fiscal. There were two sides to this. From the enterpriser-commanders’ perspective, the private commercial world offered sophisticated and flexible mechanisms both for raising large amounts of credit at reasonable rates of interest, and, no less crucially, for moving money around relatively easily and cheaply to pay for and organize delivery of food, arms, munitions and, in cases, soldiers’ wages. An essential precondition of the expansion of military enterprise had been an extraordinary increase in the possibilities of raising credit during the sixteenth century. The steady concentration of capital in the hands of elites – whether the traditional landed classes and institutions, or ever-larger numbers of merchants, manufacturers or office-holders – had created enormous demand for investment opportunities and much larger capital resources in the hands of investors. One aspect of this was the establishment of numerous private banks in the period from the 1580s to the early 1620s, which could take deposits, invest and offer security for clients, as well as acting as sources of loans.146 By the Thirty Years War, military enterprisers were looking not just for sources of credit, but for opportunities to deposit their own profits in private banking houses (see p. 241). The other consequence of the growth of capital and the search for investment opportunities was a huge internationalization of the system of finance, marked by the considerable development in the regular use and sophistication of letters of exchange, credit notes and mechanisms to facilitate currency exchange.147 Both Banér and Torstensson were to rely on the Swedish financial agent in Amsterdam, Erik Larsson, who was the vital figure in negotiating sales of Swedish copper and grain brought from the Baltic to Amsterdam, but then arranging for the money from these sales to be remitted as sums for the payment of the armies


The business of war

in north and central Germany.148 Larsson’s activities were dwarfed by the largest single provider of credit and financial facilities to the Swedish armies in the last phase of the Thirty Years War, Johan Adler Salvius, whose operations were conducted from Hamburg, the centre of his own network of financiers, credit and access to exchange and transfer facilities.149 At the heart of the entire system of military financing lay the regular money fairs of Frankfurt, Leipzig, Nuremberg, Prague, Lyon and the traditional Mediterranean financial centres.150 While agents of central governments did seek to obtain credit via the money fairs, there was a heavy-handedness about their involvement in what were essentially private contractual activities, with memories of the Grand Parti of Lyon and other clumsy attempts to manipulate the credit markets always in mind. For an agent like de Witte, personally attending all the major German money fairs four times a year was an essential part of his credit-raising activity on behalf of Wallenstein, but it was no less about managing and building personal relationships with groups of creditors who were themselves present at these events. It was when de Witte could no longer persuade his usual contacts and partners at the autumn money fairs of 1628 to advance him further credit that the seriousness for Wallenstein’s system of the failure to meet contributions targets became clear.151 Wallenstein’s project may have faltered, but the networks of private financiers and their control of an immense proportion of European financial resources continued unchecked. In a frank discussion about the state of the war held by the Emperor’s councillors in Vienna in 1633, it was simply treated as uncontentious that the bulk of available cash in the Empire was in the hands of the Hanse and a few other major Imperial cities. If these were to close their gates and their banking and mercantile elites refused to sustain the costs of the war, then no army would be able to maintain itself in the field.152 The potential to mobilize and deploy private credit had been transformed by the seventeenth century, and the military enterprisers were to be major beneficiaries of this throughout the Thirty Years War. It was no accident that the key agents/hommes de confiance who acted as the liaison between the military enterprisers and the world of private suppliers were financiers, and that it was their financial networks and contacts which were prized and drawn upon at the outset, even if – like Hans de Witte – increasing amounts of their time and energy might be spent directly negotiating, as well as financing, munitions and armaments contracts.153 The multiple benefits of this sophisticated international system for raising money by finding credit, but also transferring it from one centre to another, organizing currency exchanges and finding competitive rates of commission, were all directly relevant to the military contractors and their activities.

For gold or honour? Military enterprisers’ motivation


But the relationship had another side. Given the quantities of European capital available for investment, and the general unreliability of most rulers and their governments as borrowers, the military enterpriser could offer a more attractive financial proposition for financiers with capital to invest. Unlike the state, the military enterpriser did not usually seek to borrow money while already encumbered with long-term debts attached to his potential income. Moreover the enterprisers’ chief means of realizing capital, direct access to money raised as contributions, for the most part looked more attractive than most sources of normal state revenues.154 This was not inevitably the case: some state revenues, such as farms on indirect taxes or loans against the Spanish silver shipments, continued to attract ready capital and competitive bids to lend money. Moreover some contributions systems, notably Wallenstein’s and de Witte’s vast edifice of deficit finance, proved disastrously over-ambitious in the medium term. But in general, heavy but sustainable levels of direct war taxes, extracted under threat of military force and in large part received directly by the military commanders who had borrowed money or negotiated supply contracts on anticipated income from these contributions, looked more attractive to creditors than most typical early seventeenth-century state revenue systems, crippled by inefficiency and corruption in collection, and handicapped by networks of privilege and protection. FOR GOLD OR HONOUR? MILITARY ENTERPRISERS AND THEIR MOTIVATION

Financial reward was a driving force in explaining the attraction of military enterprise, and must be explored as a primary motive for the involvement of many commanders and colonels, as well as for those bankers and financiers who were willing to underwrite their activities, and those who provided the war goods, munitions and foodstuffs on credit against anticipated returns from military success. Unsurprisingly, the shift from the mercenary-commanders of the sixteenth century to the enterpriser-creditors of the seventeenth saw a transformation in the potential for profit in proportion to the much higher levels of capital investment involved. Back in the early sixteenth century, a figure like Georg von Frundsberg could accumulate, though also lose, a fortune of 70,000–80,000 florins during his career and could borrow 10,000 florins on his own account, while the notoriously moneyconscious Schertlin von Burtenbach was considered in the last decade of his life to have sufficient resources to provide a loan of 30,000 florins.155 In contrast, even a strikingly unrapacious military commander of the Thirty Years War like Count Tilly had accumulated a fortune of 500,000–


The business of war

Fig. 5.6 Equestrian portrait of Karl Gustaf Wrangel (1613–76)

600,000 talers by his death in 1631.156 Bernhard von Saxe-Weimar, operating as the leader of his shareholder-colonels, calculated his own fortune at 1,170,346 livres in 1637, though this had declined to around 1 million by his death in 1639, of which 450,000 were on deposit with the banker Jan Hoeufft in Paris.157 When it is borne in mind that Bernhard was a fourth brother, with an income of 5,000 florins per annum from the Saxe-Weimar revenues – just enough to provide him with a loan to raise a regiment at the start of his military career – then the likelihood that he could have realized larger profits in any other realm of economic activity seems doubtful.158 Amongst the commanders, some of the largest fortunes accrued, unsurprisingly, to the Swedish generals, whose ability to squeeze the occupied territories in the north of the Empire for regular contributions was enhanced by campaigns from the later 1630s which brought the Swedes back into

For gold or honour? Military enterprisers’ motivation


central and southern Germany as conquerors and occupiers, and ultimately on to the lands of the Habsburgs themselves. At his death, Johan Banér may have left as much as a million talers on deposit with Hamburg bankers, while Königsmarck managed to make enough from his German campaigns to buy an estate in Sweden which generated an income of 130,000 talers per annum, and left more than 2 million talers of property and money when he died in 1662. Karl Gustav Wrangel achieved similar financial success, enough to purchase substantial, income-bearing estates back home, and to pay for the building of Skokloster, the key element in his own aristocratic self-projection.159 While large profits were made by generals who avoided death or capture (and therefore a heavy ransom to gain release), individual colonels, especially those who held multiple colonelcies, could also make substantial gains. Franz Albrecht von Sachsen-Lauenberg, younger son of the duke, was able to cut an impressive figure at the courts of Dresden and Vienna on the profits from contributions and the running of his regiments in the late 1620s.160 Colonel Hans Ludwig von Erlach had 312,000 livres on deposit with the Hervart bank in Lyon in the late 1640s.161 Even lieutenant colonels and captains who held some share in the proprietorship of regiments might expect to see considerable profits accruing when serving in an army enjoying military success and access to contributions. Melchior von Hatzfeld, employed as lieutenant colonel and recruitment manager for Sachsen-Lauenberg’s regiment in Wallenstein’s army, had himself managed to deposit 12,000 talers with the Nuremberg bank of Tobias Geiger by the end of 1626. To this he added another 7,000 talers in 1627 which most probably came from his share in the profits on the Silesian contributions, followed by a further 10,000–12,000 talers to be sent via Hamburg to Nuremberg to be placed on deposit by Geiger in 1628.162 Whether examining the fortunes of Swedish generals or Bavarian colonels, in general the financial returns from land warfare came primarily from the regular collection of contributions, subsistence and other exactions from civilian populations. These monies could either be used to offer direct reimbursement for the colonels’ initial investment, or could pay official military salaries whose high level reflected senior officers’ initial capital outlay.163 This was coupled, as we have seen, with the opportunities to make slow but steady profit on the management of regiments, to some extent through the appropriation of these high levels of contributions to provide food, accommodation, arms and equipment as deductions from the soldiers’ wage bill. Income was also based, as with naval captains, on a potentially substantial ‘irregular’ element of military activities: looting and plunder. An officer after the Bohemian campaign of 1620–1 suggested that any colonel or captain in the Liga army who had not made at least 30,000 florins from loot had to be simple-minded.164 On


The business of war

occasion profits from looting could transform the economic and social status of the officer. Aldringen and Gallas’ three-day plunder of the city of Mantua in 1630 allowed them to take possession of the ducal palace with its entire contents, estimated to have a value of 18 million scudi.165 Gallas’ profits from the sack were to supply the capital which, supplemented by the transferred Bohemian estates he received for his part in the elimination of Wallenstein, was to provide the basis of his family’s elevation into the great Bohemian nobility for the next three hundred years.166 In early 1647 Karl Gustav Wrangel was able to combine operations to weaken Imperial forces in southern Germany with the opportunity to capture and loot the city of Bregenz, of limited strategic value, but known to be a fortified centre in which large amounts of money and goods had been deposited from all over the surrounding area. The capture of Bregenz netted some 2 million gulden in hidden goods in the town and another 4 million in ships laden with valuables that had been unable to get out of the lake harbour, a large portion of which helped to consolidate Wrangel’s already growing fortune from military enterprise.167 Such transformative profits from successful plundering or looting were a significant factor in building the fortunes of some of the commanders over and above any ‘regular’ income, while at a lesser but still significant level they extended down to individual officer-proprietors, as to the individual ships’ captains engaged in privateering or with-profit involvement in a naval operation. But in general they were probably more important in reinforcing a general climate of expectancy and enthusiasm for service, especially service which naval and military enterprisers would probably need to fund on their own account.168 Booty had always been a major inducement to involvement in warfare, and at all levels of military service, but it was especially important in an army based upon the capacity of proprietors to raise private financial credit to recruit and sustain their units. One obvious factor in the conspicuous consumption of colonels and higher officers in all the armies of this period – the quantities of silver plate, jewellery, costly clothing and furniture which they carried in their suite – was precisely its capacity to maintain a confident façade of wealth and creditworthiness.169 For many officers this was indeed a façade. While involvement in military enterprise in the right circumstances could appear an attractive financial investment opportunity, the reality was often less profitable. Money from a regular flow of contributions and from quartering arrangements that might accord a colonel four times his already generous monthly salary in return for rearming and recruiting his regiment up to strength, might suggest a huge return on the initial investment. Yet these extremely generous financial arrangements could simply reflect favourable but transient military-political circumstances, for example, the

For gold or honour? Military enterprisers’ motivation


Swedish occupation of western and southern Germany in late 1631 and 1632. Or they were based on an allocation of contributions and levies so heavy that it was inherently unstable, as was the case with the initially rich pickings for Wallenstein’s army from the contributions in Moravia, Bohemia and Silesia in the mid-1620s. Calculating on the permanence of these potentially fragile arrangements, senior officers were tempted, and encouraged by their commanders, to commit more of their own capital to raising extra troops, becoming creditors for the running costs of the armies, and engaging in other financial speculations. The result, as seen with the Swedish colonels by the end of 1634, was a group spectacularly indebted for the costs of their regiments, for the purchase of lands in territory which had now passed out of Swedish control, and even for loans to the Swedish crown assigned against revenues which had now evaporated (see p. 129). Hence the enduring paradox of the Swedish war effort until 1648, that the crown could lose the war, which would wipe out any obligations to its debt-ridden officers, but could win it only on terms which would recognize the vast indebtedness of the colonel-proprietors via a financial or territorial agreement generous enough to pay off their debts. The first demand produced by the Swedish negotiators at Westphalia for the satisfactio to meet the debts of the officers was an impossibly high 20 million talers.170 Even booty and prizes, which might seem an opportunity for clear profit, in reality proved much less straightforward. Individual privateers were running ships at their own cost, and hoping to finance this through the capture and sale of prizes, namely a ship itself, its merchandise or – if a warship – its military equipment and munitions, the ransoms that might be gained for crew or passengers. Prizes might seem to offer spectacular returns, but they need to be set in the context of the running costs and fitting-out of the ship, the wages of the crew, and as Robert Stradling reminds us in the case of the Dunkirk privateers, a 10 per cent levy on prize money for the crown, and a ‘voluntary’ donation of one-third of the value of the prize to the church, in particular the parish from where the ship’s master originated.171 Though the global quantity and value of prizes taken and held in a privateering base like Dunkirk in the 1620s/1630s looks spectacular, and provides evidence of naval war waged with a clear operational impact, the net gains for privateers look very much less impressive. Indeed, communities like the Dunkirk privateers were victims of their own success: the sheer number of prizes, merchandise and goods at Dunkirk would depress the likely return on sales well below the typical price for such goods elsewhere. Finally, in a situation where the shipowner might have borrowed sums of money at interest before his voyage to cover the necessary costs and to pay some of his crew’s wages in advance, the prize commissions


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at Dunkirk had to move slowly through the list of prizes, ascertaining ownership, hearing appeals, and finally ensuring that the appropriate deductions were made from the sale prices paid before the money was handed over to the captains.172 Adrien van der Walle, the largest of the Dunkirk armateurs, had funded eighteen privateering ships in 1623, twelve the following year, and was said to have paid 100,000 florins to the crown as 10 per cent of the value of his prizes. Yet he died almost completely ruined in 1633, by that time able to finance only one ship.173 Adrien’s son, Jacques van der Walle, diversified his commercial activities, relying as much on trade as on privateering to recover the family fortunes.174 Similar risk factors and difficulties of capital accumulation were evident on land. While some officers did spectacularly well from the manipulation of their military skills, deployment of credit and good fortune, this was by no means inevitable. An element that is easily overlooked is the level of managerial skill and effort that was required to run a regiment as a business concern, whether put in by the colonel in person, or by carefully chosen and competent subordinates. This went hand-in-hand with direct, personal leadership in reinforcing the authority of the junior officers and forestalling problems and disputes. Melchior von Hatzfeld can be seen as the model of the hard-working, efficient regimental officer, subsequently staff officer and field marshal; he can be contrasted with the young colonel Jakob Hannibal II von Hohenems, who levied a new regiment in Upper Germany during the course of 1621 to serve under Spinola in the Army of Flanders. The 13,000 florins required for levying and equipping the unit had been lent to him by family and local sources, but despite this liability he seems to have made minimal provision for the establishment of capable subordinates or any system of good management in the regiment, and he himself left the army to spend time in Germany during the winter of 1621/2. When he returned to Brussels in the middle of April 1622, Jakob Hannibal found that his regiment had been disbanded nine days previously after months of indiscipline and high levels of desertion, aggravated by the absence of senior officers. A ferocious letter from his father left Jakob in no doubt that this was his own responsibility, and the dismissive final remark that ‘what has been lost will not be regained, and you have saddled yourself with a burden of debt that you will never be able to repay’, was doubtless the fate of many other would-be colonels.175 For contractors the highest-risk activity was, for both commanders and individual colonels, involvement in military ventures entirely at their own expense – without a regular financial injection of subsidy and support. The dangers here were obvious: money was advanced or borrowed to raise regiments, purchase equipment and supplies, and the only way that this could be repaid without some sort of subsidy from a sponsoring power was

For gold or honour? Military enterprisers’ motivation


through military success, the extraction of protection money or other incidental benefits. While Ernst von Mansfeld was fortunate in his ability to find a series of sponsors for his army throughout the early 1620s (see pp. 106–7), keeping the army together in between periods of subsidy, when accumulating large profits was almost impossible, would erode the resources and credit of the commander and his colonels. Mansfeld’s own stipulation in these contracts for a large personal element in the payments for the army reflected this uncertainty.176 Mansfeld was relatively lucky or skilful in finding a number of short-term sponsors for his army, but the example of Charles IV of Lorraine makes clear just how ruinous trying to support an army with no controlled supply base and no assured subsidies from a sponsoring power could be. His army in the 1640s fell from 10,000–12,000 men down to 6,000–7,000, and with the French completing their conquest and occupation of the duchy, nothing could now be expected from the duke’s own lands or from his subjects to help maintain military costs.177 The one diminishing asset possessed by his colonels was the military skill and experienced personnel of their units, and after the arrest and imprisonment of Charles IV by the Spanish in 1654, their only option was to enter the service of other armies, albeit writing off years of accumulated and unpaid salary, and carrying over large personal debts in the management of their regiments. Even in a period of protracted European war, it proved impossible to maintain an army on the same self-financing basis as a privateering squadron and to hope to make enough through protection money and plunder to cover costs and sustain expenses. One threat to profitability came from standing entirely outside the financial support of the warlord – whether this was in the form of subsidies or rights to control and collect contributions. Another factor likely to reduce profits came from maintaining a traditional ‘hired mercenary’ link to the state administration. Just as the Landsknecht and Swiss colonels of the sixteenth century minimized their capital input into what they considered would be short-term military engagements, some of the Swiss, Scots and other nationals still sought to avoid making a capital investment in their own units, and offered service simply as employees, at the head of a unit which they had raised through funds directly provided by the contractor. This was the case with many of the foreign regiments in French service, or the Irish regiments in the service of Spain. Indeed the local and organizational tradition of both Scottish and Irish colonels seems to have been set strongly against speculative military enterprise as it had developed on the Continent. Few were prepared to recruit without money provided for the levy, equipment and transport of their troops, and they accepted contracts which recognized that they were employees rather


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than investors, and adjusted their own salaries and financial arrangements accordingly.178 Beyond the traditional profit-making benefit of being able to recruit their own men more cheaply than for the agreed price specified in the contract, there was for them little scope for profiting from the ‘business of the regiment’, or from handling large sums from contributions or quartering. An initial capital investment did not seem to be within reach of such colonels and consequently opportunities for systematic, large-scale reimbursement of regimental costs did not arise. Many of the Scots involved in service with the Danes, then with the Swedes, certainly held a similar, traditional view of their contractual relationship with the warlord. Even when they were prepared to cover some of the initial costs of recruitment, they expected rapid reimbursement for the immediate expense, rather than seeing themselves as long-term stakeholders in the military-financial fortunes of the Swedish monarchy.179 Colonel Robert Monro, for example, seems to have made no money at all from his years of Danish and Swedish service which began in 1626: he returned to Scotland in 1637 with a commission to recruit his regiment up to strength, but then became involved in the Covenanting rebellion against Charles I, a new direction to his military career which was ultimately to take him to Ireland as lieutenant general of the army sent to repress the revolt.180 Colonel John Hepburn left Swedish service after a dispute in 1632, but had no proprietary claim on the regiment that he had commanded in that army, which was transferred to the aforesaid Robert Monro. It was rumoured that James Ramsay had made a vast fortune of 900,000 talers from his governorship of Hanau in the early 1630s, but at the time of his death after the loss of the city his relatives were pressing the Swedish government for compensation of 50,000 riksdalers, suggesting that his fortune may have been altogether more modest.181 It might be added that the beginnings of the British civil wars led a large number of Scots colonels and their regiments to return to the British Isles at the very point, the first half of the 1640s, when the tide of war was turning in favour of the Swedish armies and those colonels who had invested heavily in their units and the Swedish military enterprise were likely to see large-scale returns, culminating in the satisfactio of 1648. Acting as a military enterpriser involved financial risks as it also involved obvious personal, physical risk. Colonels, and indeed commanding officers, were not distant figures, managing their regiments or armies from a safe remove. Personal leadership meant personal hazard, and even in a world typically characterized by high levels of mortality and of interpersonal violence, the chances of death, injury or capture in pursuit of the business of war were significant. Amongst senior commanders, Tilly, Gustavus Adolphus, Pappenheim, Piet Heyn the admiral of the Dutch West India Company, Mercy, Holzapfel, Guébriant, Richelieu’s admiral, Maillé-

Social ambition


Brézé, were all killed in battle, while Mansfeld, Christian of Halberstadt, Spinola, Banér and Saxe-Weimar all died from wounds and illness while campaigning.182 Hatzfeld, Gustav Horn, Jacques Colaert, Jan de Werth and Raimondo Montecuccoli were all subject to long periods of captivity and only escaped paying ruinous ransoms because they could be exchanged for someone important enough on the opposing side. The risks of the business of war were carried by the participants at all levels: whether Bernhard von Saxe-Weimar, who died wealthy but aged only thirty-six in 1639, or the ordinary soldier Peter Hagendorf, whose Tagebuch survives in Berlin, who served in the Piccolomini regiment continuously from 1634 to 1648, was promoted to corporal, lost two wives and seven of his children who had shared his military life, whose own carefully accumulated small savings were regularly wiped out or lost, and who records that in 1649 the regiment was disbanded at Memmingen when he received a final pay of three months’ wages, in total 39 gulden.183 All pose the obvious question of why anyone would want to make a career in military enterprise. Social ambition The obvious response requires us to understand military enterprise as a social and cultural phenomenon, not simply as an exercise in profit-making. Moreover, as has been hinted in both this and the previous chapter, the ability to satisfy social aspirations is one of its greatest strengths in mobilizing capital, resources and effort, and in delivering military results beyond any that war seen purely as financial/economic business would have yielded. That military enterprise is about more than just financial calculation can be seen right at the summit of the system: Fritz Redlich put the case directly and forcefully when discussing the career of Wallenstein. Why should someone who had managed to build up a vast fortune by essentially political means immediately after the Bohemian revolt – through territorial confiscations, loans to the Emperor, participation in the currency devaluation – have became so heavily involved in military enterprise? What was the real attraction of this risky form of business activity, when we are dealing with a figure already so well placed within the highest reaches of the political establishment that other, safer options were easily available to him?184 If Wallenstein had wanted to become the most powerful territorial prince in Bohemia with considerable political weight at the court in Vienna, he could have achieved this by traditional patterns of aristocratic accumulation and exploitation. In the case of Wallenstein, as with the vast majority of those who chose to commit capital, organizational resources and their persons to the risks of military enterprise, the most direct answer to the question is social


The business of war

validation or socio-political ambition. For Wallenstein, whose aspirations already extended beyond Bohemia, becoming the Emperor’s pre-eminent military contractor was the means both to reshape the political and territorial map of the Empire, and to become the prime beneficiary from that reshaping.185 Achieving semi-sovereign authority through ducal status in the Empire via the territories of one of the major German (or Italian) rulers – Pomerania, Mecklenburg, Mantua – or above all perhaps, one of the Electorates, would only be achieved through these vast projects of military enterprise waged on behalf of and as chief creditor of the Emperor. Only this military power would give him the political authority to cut through the thickets of his enemies at the court in Vienna and his even more tenacious enemies amongst the Imperial princes.186 At a more mundane level, the great aristocratic families of Lombardy saw military service in the Spanish armies, substantially at their own expense, as a means to preserve and reinforce their privileged status and role within the Spanish system.187 At the other end of the social scale, successful military enterprise could be the route from low-born obscurity to noble titles and the highest social status. Two emblematic figures, both from the Imperial armies, were Jan de Werth and Peter Melander, Reichsgraf von Halzapfel. Both succeeded in rising through the military ranks to the level of field marshal, shifting between armies at crucial moments in their careers in response to attractive offers of promotion, and both demonstrated outstanding military skill and organizational ability. Both ended up with noble titles and seigneurial estates and made marriages into traditional families which would not have been thinkable without the wealth, connections and reputation that had come through their years of military service.188 Jacques Colaert began his career in 1623 as a hired corsair captain in a ship financed by the magistrates of Bergues, was promoted to captain of one of the frigates in the Armada of Flanders and reached the summit of his career in 1637 as admiral of the Dunkirk Armada. He was received at the Spanish court in Madrid, and rewarded with pensions and membership of the Order of Santiago.189 It would be mistaken, however, to see military involvement in the Thirty Years War as providing an easy or much-frequented route from obscure origins to high noble status. As the regularly recurring names suggest, such dramatic social ascents were rare. Much more characteristic of the period, and of the opportunities opened by military proprietorship and enterprise, was the acceleration of social ascent within the traditional nobility and amongst those who already had some wealth.190 The career of Matthias Gallas was far more typical. From an established noble family in the prince-bishopric of Trent, he moved slowly through experience in the ranks to junior officer, reaching the grade of captain in his thirties. But the Thirty Years War and the demand for experienced soldiers and officers

Cultural validation


fast-tracked his career: he passed into the Liga army, was appointed lieutenant colonel, and rapidly, in part thanks to profits from his military activities, gained his own regiment. Wallenstein gave him the second major opportunity of his career, by offering him the post of general in the Imperial army in January 1629. From 1634, when he was one of the leading conspiritors in the elimination of Wallenstein and went on to serve as acting commander of the Imperial troops at Nördlingen, his social ascent never faltered. Despite a military record characterized by mediocrity and incompetence, he established himself as a favourite and adviser at the Viennese court under Ferdinand III. His vast profits from the sack of Mantua and the substantial Bohemian estates he received in 1634 provided him with the economic base, and his court connections the social nexus, from which he could ensure that his family were positioned amongst the aristocracy of the central European Habsburg lands.191 Similar biographical accounts could be provided for many of the military commanders who used the war to advance their families up through the ranks of the noble hierarchy in a way that would normally have required several generations of state service, land purchases and marital politics.192 Nor was this restricted to those already titled. On the supply side of war, numbers of already wealthy merchants and financiers could see social opportunities in supplying military needs, whether directly to the state or indirectly to its military agents. The Spaniard Martin de Arana accepted a contract to build six galleons for Philip IV in 1625 at a price that would involve financial loss to himself, but saw this in the wider context of social preferment for his family. For in return he received the military governorship of Santander for himself and, more important for the social aspirations of the family, a knighthood in the military Order of Santiago for his son.193 Hans de Witte’s commercial acumen would probably have served him better – or at least longer – had he involved himself in, say, the Hamburg–Mediterranean trade, but his social aspirations would be satisfied far more comprehensively – gaining both titles and status at court – through his close involvement with Wallenstein.194 Cultural validation As with Wallenstein, other instances can be found of men who had no obvious financial need to became involved in military contracting. The great Augsburg banking houses of Fugger and Rehlinger established family members as colonels or senior officers. At least three Fugger served in the Bavarian army during the Thirty Years War. Marx Conrad Rehlinger’s two sons who served as colonels in the Swedish Protestant army were no less part of a larger family tradition: as recently as 1622, Mathäus Rehlinger had


The business of war

been lieutenant colonel of one of the regiments raised by Augsburg.195 Hans Ludwig Zollikofer (1595–1633), who raised and commanded an infantry regiment, was the son of a patrician banking family from St Gallen, but was also the grandson of a sixteenth-century Swiss mercenary commander.196 All of these men might have pursued status and recognition through typical, and in their cases probably more lucrative, family activities. Military command was not merely a means to pursue socio-economic advancement; it also provided validation and reinforcement for existing social status. The direct association of traditional noble status with military service was deeply entrenched in the cultural assumptions of European elites.197 The impôt du sang – the willingness to serve at risk to life – was not merely an excuse to resist paying the taxes levied on the Third Estate, but a lively justification for the assertion and maintenance of noble privilege, and in theory, at least, for the exclusion from ‘true nobility’ of those whose titles came from administrative service or simple purchase.198 Whether for status reinforcement or status building, military service and especially military command, with all its potential for social interaction with the highest ranks of court or aristocracy, held a profound and enduring attraction for European elites. It is striking, and by no means untypical, that virtually the only route into the ranks of the high court nobility at the early modern French court was through military service: fewer than half a dozen French dukedoms were created on any other basis during the seventeenth century.199 War and military command could demonstrate moral and physical qualities which a European elite far more extensive than a traditional ‘sword’ nobility had been educated to esteem.200 The notion of military duty well performed, of a métier d’armes which could define an individual in an honourable, self-validating relationship to the rest of society, can be traced back to long before the epoch of professional, meritocratic officer corps.201 The military commander, even the regimental colonel, was placed at social centre-stage, given the opportunity to display qualities of personal leadership and decision-making that were validated by a mass of religious, moral, historical and literary traditions and assumptions shared throughout elite society.202 For these men, war was not primarily a risky but quick route to substantial financial gain; it was a species of cultural self-fashioning. The future marshal Bassompierre relates how, when he was a young man, his parents, an established noble family from Lorraine, continually urged him to abandon his life at the French court and to offer his military services in the Long Turkish War at the head of a regiment they were prepared to raise for him. Bassompierre declined the regimental command, arguing he had no experience of the territory where he would be leading the troops, but went to serve as a volunteer, albeit with an appropriately large supporting retinue.203

Cultural validation


Such men were fully aware that they were actors both in front of their immediate audience of commanders and other officers, and in the eyes of a public of all those who shared the common set of educational and cultural assumptions about values associated with military leadership. The great majority of published tracts and manuals on the art of war identify and prescribe the qualities required of the ‘perfect captain’, while extensive and widely disseminated narrative accounts of military campaigns, such as Peter Abaline’s Theatrum Europaeum, continued to describe and discuss battles and other military engagements in terms of the feats and leadership of military commanders.204 These assumptions may help to explain the extraordinary, reckless courage of commanders such as Pappenheim or Ottavio Piccolomini on the battlefield, going far beyond any reasonable expectations of military leadership.205 Pappenheim’s self-presentation – his claim to recognition and status – was based on this reputation for military success achieved through reckless leadership and personal bravery. His letters to Wallenstein were finely crafted acts of self-presentation which, while never directly questioning his ultimate subordination to the Generalissimo, promoted his personal and, in his view, vital contribution to the Imperial war effort.206 Pappenheim was an excellent example of traditional, lesser nobility projected into high status through his military abilities, even if his death at Lützen prevented him cashing in his accumulated social capital. As striking, however, are the large numbers of those colonels and commanders who already possessed princely status, for whom military enterprise also held strong attractions. If Pappenheim needed to prove himself, Ottavio Piccolomini-Pieri was already from an established and distinguished princely family, as was Marquis Annibale Gonzaga, or Georg von Braunschweig-Lüneburg, and his son, Johann-Friedrich. Many of these men had imposing titles, but little to support this claim to social pre-eminence. The progressive abandonment of partible inheritance by many German and Italian princely families in the sixteenth century, in favour of territorial consolidation under inheritance by primogeniture, may well have been a significant factor driving military enterprise. Numerous second and third sons served in the armies of the Emperor, Sweden or Spain, men who would receive a pittance from family lands which had been settled on their elder brother – enough perhaps to set themselves up as colonel-proprietors. Even more importantly, they were well aware of the gap between their princely titles and their actual standing and importance in a social and political context. The key factor for such figures was not just that military service as enterprisers offered them, with luck, the possibility of transforming their financial prospects, but that they would be able to deploy the cultural values and associations of military command to build a reputation and achieve


The business of war

external validation. For many of these colonels who were younger sons or members of minor cadet branches of princely families, the ambitions were primarily those of status recognition, gaining the attention of key powerbrokers, the respect of peers. Franz Albrecht von Sachsen-Lauenberg’s concern to obtain approval and validation from Wallenstein seems almost obsessive, and led him into frenetic and expensive activity to ensure that his first regiment was better recruited and better equipped than any of the others in the army.207 When he failed to meet the expectation that he would set his second regiment in order as quickly and lavishly, his letters shows that he was mortified – almost paralysed – by the prospect of ‘losing credit’ with Wallenstein.208 For a figure like Annibale Gonzaga, sixth son of the prince of Bozzolo – a cadet line ruling over a few dozen square kilometres enclaved within the main Gonzaga duchy in north Italy – a regimental command in the Imperial army, promotion and recognition of services was the means to bring himself to the attention of the great.209 Such service was the particular métier of the Gonzaga: one of Annibale’s elder brothers, Federico, was colonel of a German unit in the Army of Flanders, while another, Alfonso, marquis of Pomaro, raised two regiments for the French army in 1637.210 In all these cases it offered the possibility of achieving what their ancestors from the other minor principalities of Sabbioneta and Guastalla gained in the later sixteenth century: no great territorial aggrandizement, but high status and offices at the courts of Vienna and Madrid, recognition of status through titles and access to the powerful at a level far higher than cadet princely status could otherwise bring them (see p. 46). These were figures who in the course of their military activities would frequently be presented with the choice between straightforward capital accumulation from the profits of regimental management or access to contributions, or cultural and social self-fashioning through extravagant gestures in raising and maintaining their troops or sustaining an impressive entourage and living extravagantly within the army.211 In many cases they were likely to choose the latter, probably to the material benefit of the army of the warlord.212 War remained a business, but engaging in it, far from threatening loss of social status – the dérogeance attached to much commercial activity – positively facilitated the assertion and fulfilment of social and cultural ambitions. All of the triumphalism of martial imagery could be deployed to reinforce the status of those engaged in military command, whether they had themselves depicted dressed in full armour, or in stylized equestrian portraits which conveyed both a control of the surrounding battlefield and an implied discipline and mastery of their own persons symbolized by the perfectly controlled warhorse. A paradigm of such self-representation can be seen in the painting of the Swedish Field

Cultural validation


Fig. 5.7 Tomb of Melchior von Hatzfeld (1593–1658), Church of St Jacob, Prusice, Lower Silesia, Poland, c.1659–63

Marshal Wrangel by David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl (see Fig. 5.6). Such images were replicated for those of considerably less status and wealth amongst the military enterprisers.213 Ostentatious celebration of martial success and status was not restricted to portraits. Grandiose tombs had always been a medium by which to celebrate the military achievements of rulers and great aristocratic commanders, and the successful military enterpriser was as likely to adopt this form of validation for his military role. The image reproduced here of Field Marshal Hatzfeld’s tomb, with its sculpted frieze depicting his various battlefield triumphs (Fig. 5.7), played upon a style of personal military monument dating back centuries, and seen most famously in Philibert de l’Orme’s tomb of François I in St Denis with its frieze depicting the battle of Marignano. Celebrating the military triumphs of still-living commanders was no less important. We are indebted for some of the best and most topographically convincing images of battles in the Thirty Years War to the large-scale works of the Flemish artist Pieter Snayers. Many of his battle scenes were painted in response to commissions from Ottavio Piccolomini, and in these paintings Piccolomini’s own exploits, or simply his commanding presence, are prominently displayed to a viewer of the painting at ground level.214

Fig. 5.8 Engraving of Wrangel’s newly built palace at Skokloster

Cultural validation

Fig. 5.9 Jan de Werth in retirement as a country nobleman



The business of war

Fig. 5.10 The painted ceiling of the main salon of the Trip House, Amsterdam

If military enterprise was at root a highly developed form of commercial activity, the cultural credentials of military command shrouded this in the traditional values of a sword-bearing nobility. The central hall of Wallenstein’s palace in Prague depicted the Generalissimo recognizably as the war god Mars.215 His involvement in warfare as a vast exercise in financial speculation in no way constrained his willingness to link himself with the most traditional representations of military power and authority. This self-validation was no less willingly accepted by a wider society accustomed to according the highest social status and deference to military commanders. In the hands of a wealthy and successful enterpriser like Karl Gustav Wrangel, military success could be transmuted into something more. From the later 1640s Wrangel used his military profits to build his great palace at Skokloster in the most fashionable Italianate style; he set up and financed networks of agents and information-gatherers around Europe who acquired art and precious objects for his collections; he self-consciously pursued the patronage of the arts and literature. Wrangel not merely claimed the social validation of military command, but used the profits of war to refashion himself from a backwoods Swedish noble into a knowledgeable, cosmopolitan member of an international aristocratic elite.216 Wrangel represented the most extensive example of such refashioning, but the capacity of his contemporaries to shape their post-war image could also be seen, for instance, in the portrait of Jan de Werth, commissioned by de Werth from the Cologne painter Johan Hulsman, at the time of his marriage to his third wife, Susanna Maria, countess of Kuefstein. From recklessly brave, financially successful

Cultural validation


military commander to staid landowning noble, portrayed in the classic stance chosen here, we have another example of the extent to which military enterprise could render rapid economic mobility easily compatible with social credit and standing.217 Above all, association with the ‘business of war’ brought a level of social standing and cultural validation even to those who had entirely ancillary roles in military activity. The Trip family, pre-eminent for three generations as Amsterdam arms dealers, could use their profits to construct a palatial townhouse in Amsterdam which, far from playing down the commercial basis of their socio-economic success, positively celebrated it. From the external detailing of the house, which included mortarshaped chimneys, to the internal ceiling panels on which winged cherubs hold up piles of muskets and artillery barrels, this was a form of commercial success which carried enough martial prestige to be celebrated in its own right. Of the two sons of Elias Trip who had the house constructed in the 1650s, Hendrik’s own portrait depicts him standing in front of a pile of newly cast artillery barrels. Financing war brought public recognition and status of a different order from normal commercial success. When Jacques van der Walle, largescale armateur of the Flanders privateers, returned from Spain to Dunkirk in 1637 after the privateering successes of the 1630s, crowds came out to see him ‘as if he was ten times more important than his status deserved’.218 Men became military enterprisers and engaged in war as a commercial activity because it offered a remarkable opportunity, with luck and skill, to make substantial profit on an initial capital investment, while at the same time reinforcing (or creating) social and cultural prestige through association with the noble métier d’armes, which lifted the activity entirely outside the normal world of financial management and ways of earning a living. Instead it offered a powerful means of social validation and a mechanism for cultural self-fashioning. Seen in these terms many of the risks and obviously unattractive sides of military enterprise could easily melt away. At the same time, it also reinforced the business of war: it was the socio-cultural dimension of military enterprise that encouraged colonels and more senior officers to overreach themselves financially, to make calculations about the maintenance of their regiments that were not economically rational, and to compete for esteem and recognition by high expenditure and heavy levels of personal commitment, both materially and in conspicuous examples of courage and leadership. War remained the primary theatre of social and cultural esteem, and military enterprise harnessed much of the enthusiasm of the actors to play large and impressive roles.


Continuity, transformation and rhetoric in European warfare after 1650

The demobilization of the armies of the Thirty Years War during 1649 and 1650 allowed rulers to take stock of what had been an evolutionary process in the management and operations of their armed forces. Largescale warfare waged for an unprecedented, continuous duration had presented an organizational and financial challenge which swept away the notion that armed forces could be raised and funded exclusively through the state and its administrators. The various initiatives to bring private investment into the organization and financing of war certainly had not proved uniformly successful, but nor was it the case that the co-option of private resources had been a disastrous failure. Indeed, it would have been impossible to wage war on this scale and over this time-scale on the basis of the resources – manpower, provisions and finance – that could be mobilized or extracted by early seventeenthcentury governments and their direct agents. The better credit of the private sector, its greater technical and organizational know-how, and the access to international networks for raising resources, capital and manpower, far outweighed anything that a state administration could have hoped to achieve. The ability of the belligerents to protract the Thirty Years War over decades of successive campaigns was a human and material disaster. But it is important to recognize that the duration of the war was not simply a consequence of military stagnation, a dismal and universal failure of organization and strategic potential. To a large extent it was the effectiveness and adaptability of their outsourced military organizations which allowed the belligerents to continue waging war, to overcome individual military disasters, and to stave off the prospect of surrender on entirely unacceptable terms. There were thus good reasons to think that for many European rulers the organization and deployment of military force after 1650 would rest upon the further development and refinement of various forms of public– private partnership: they and their governments would continue to control and finance some aspects of a military system, but would also seek to involve the credit and the organizational resources of their subjects or of 260

The representation of seventeenth-century warfare


outside military contractors. The main argument of this chapter is that this is precisely what does happen during the later seventeenth century, and that there is a far greater degree of continuity in military organization than is traditionally allowed. Far from being swept away as a despised relic of the Thirty Years War by rulers intent on establishing direct state control over their military forces, military enterprise continued to flourish in numerous forms for another century, and in some cases for longer. At the same time, a number of new factors do intervene after 1650 to change the character of these public–private partnerships, and in some areas a more explicit level of direct control of armies and navies does emerge: cases in point would be the development of purpose-built fleets of rated warships, or the systematic imposition of drill and discipline as the main peace-time activity of armies. Yet the extent of this assertion of the direct power of the state over its armed force should not be exaggerated. The assumption that the development of European military organization is predetermined towards a fully state-controlled ‘monopoly over the means of violence’ regularly leads to a myopic focus on those areas in which the power of the central state appeared to be advancing, and an equal tendency to dismiss or ignore the larger context in which reliance on private organization, resources and finance remained central to military activity. This tendency is compounded, not so much by the facts of military organization after 1650, which point quite unambiguously to continuity, but by the language in which armies, warfare and its participants are discussed in formal tracts and other published writing. It is very easy to be misled by insistent strains of rhetoric in understanding early modern military affairs and organization. The earlier chapters of this book urged scepticism about the a priori assumptions of an anti-mercenary rhetoric deeply embedded in military and political tracts from at least the fifteenth century onwards. But a more general set of assumptions permeates the language of early modern writing about military institutions and the waging of war. These writings have created a misleading picture of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century warfare, and they pave the way for the strident rhetoric of ‘absolute’ authority which has distorted the general perception of ancien régime societies and their armies and navies. The representation of seventeenth-century warfare In 1643 the Italian historian Count Gualdo Priorato published a biography of Albrecht Wallenstein which, with seeming incongruity, he dedicated to Louis XIII of France.1 Priorato’s biography was cast in a traditional, humanist-inspired heroic mode, with obligatory classical references sprinkled through the text: Wallenstein, like Scipio and


Continuity, transformation and rhetoric after 1650

Hannibal, punished faults severely, but also rewarded good service generously. He brought the appropriate princely combination of distance and magnificence to his actions and behaviour, but also took pains over the welfare of his troops. Wallenstein is slotted into the well-established rhetorical formula of the ‘Perfect Captain’, who uses his authority to encourage devotion amongst his officers and respect from his men.2 What is absent from the account is any description of Wallenstein as general contractor, the great ‘entrepreneur of war’. He is certainly described as using ‘sue proprie spese’ – his own money – to raise regiments, and ultimately to raise an entire army of 40,000 men. But this is presented as a courtly strategem by a mercurial and wealthy aristocrat – a means to seize the attention and gain the trust of his overlord, the Emperor.3 Of the wider issues of ‘military devolution’, the huge structures of credit, supply and subcontract on which Wallenstein’s military system rested, there is no trace in Priorato’s account. Wallenstein’s life offers a dramatic and tragic account of a nobleman who rises to the highest princely status through gaining the favour of the Emperor, and is betrayed twice by the latter’s dynastic ambitions – a fitting subject for a series of reflections on glory, success, and the mutability of fortune. Priorato’s biography of Wallenstein is far from historically worthless: he makes shrewd points about Wallenstein’s attritional strategies and his aim of overwhelming his enemies by numerical superiority; about his refusal to accept worthless nominees to military office; about his ability to inspire extraordinary loyalty from talented subordinates. But the basic facts about military enterprise as a vast system of financial speculation secured against the exaction of contributions and other income streams are entirely excised from the account. This would appear to be characteristic of writing on the art of war throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.4 The vast number of treatises on the ‘perfect captain’, the ‘management of arms’, the lives of great commanders, make no allusion to the central aspect of military organization and practice in the period. Mercenaries are discussed, but they are confined to their traditionally defined role of (foreign) soldiers raised and serving the ruler for regular pay within a traditional structure of a royal or princely army. Even Raimondo Montecuccoli’s Trattato della Guerra, drafted while in Swedish captivity in 1641 and full of references to the contemporary war, offers a chapter on ‘preparations for war’ which is clear sighted about the need for money in all areas of raising and supporting troops, but nowhere refers to the role of private contractors.5 Unsurprisingly, the majority of treatises declare that the prince’s own subjects are superior to mercenaries, although there are a few dissenting voices. Girolamo Frachetta’s Il Prencipe asserts that there may be

The representation of seventeenth-century warfare


circumstances, especially when the ruler is the sovereign of multiple territories, in which the hiring of mercenaries might be a good choice, though not if such soldiers are hired from ‘perfidious nations’ – an unspecified, but presumably substantial, category.6 Though it is usually taken for granted that the regimental or army commander should have private wealth, both to cut an impressive figure and to meet out-of-pocket expenses for his troops, there is nothing in any of these works even to hint at the transformation of the commander into a creditor, entering the service of the ruler and conducting war as a form of venture capitalism; nothing to indicate that senior officers might be making autonomous decisions about contracts for supply, about funding – often through complex webs of international financiers – or about the shape and size of the army. There is no aversion to discussing military matters of technical, organizational or mathematical complexity in such tracts. Many of them focus strongly on ballistics and the conduct of siege warfare, often with an impressive level of technical detail, and they certainly challenge any simplistic notion that the qualities of a good officer were no more than the honour code and habits of command of the traditional nobility.7 But the financial aspects of establishing, equipping, maintaining a unit, or an entire army – the extent that those with overall command of the army would assume direct organizational and financial control of the supply of munitions, armaments and foodstuffs – simply never makes an appearance. Sections on logistics are most typically a series of platitudes about ensuring an adequate provision of supply wagons – with no indications about how these should be obtained, or how logistics might constrain military operations. The payment and supply of the army is taken as straightforwardly the responsibility of the ruler: Pierino Belli helpfully points out that soldiers should be content with the supplies provided by the state, and ought not extort anything else from the populations where they are stationed.8 Yet as the previous chapters have indicated, the financial and organizational realities of raising armies and navies were perfectly clear to the military protagonists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. We might treat as a particular case the explicit and detailed discussions in the Spanish Councils of State about the merits of state administration versus contract, administración versus asiento, in the management and funding of all aspects of war. But the practicalities of relying on military enterprisers, of contracting with individuals or consortia for the waging of war on land and at sea, establishing military systems in which the credit of officers, suppliers or other investors would be reimbursed through military operations, permeate the official and unofficial documentation of the


Continuity, transformation and rhetoric after 1650

period, from the level of Wallenstein’s and Torstensson’s extensive administrative correspondence with their respective sovereigns, down to the private letters of innumerable colonels and lesser officers in search of subcontracting opportunities, sources of funds or loans, or just seeking to carry out levies and equip their troops. Though the absence of any discussion of military enterprise in theoretical tracts on the art of war or the ‘duties of the perfect captain’ has undoubtedly contributed to the marginalization of military enterprise in historical discussion, the reality of public–private partnerships at the heart of the early modern military system hardly requires assertion. Underlying the dissonance between the reality of military devolution and the carefully crafted picture of war presented in published treatises and books are the vested interests of both rulers and military contractors. It might be assumed that military devolution was no more problematic than any other delegation of authority by the ruler. The establishment of commissioners and office-holders to act as the ruler’s representatives in the collection of taxes, the regulation of legal disputes or the general administration of the localities was not seen as incompatible with a ruler’s sovereignty. Moreover, as previous chapters have asserted, military devolution in its evolved and most successful forms was far from being a total abdication of military power and control by rulers into the hands of private military contractors. In all but a handful of cases, the state retained a shareholder interest in armed forces acting in its name, and in many cases this interest amounted to a majority holding. Just as the threat of treason or betrayal by military enterprisers has been greatly exaggerated, so the extent to which the contractors’ operations could be seen as flouting or undermining the authority and the will of the ruler needs to be kept in perspective. There was, however, a particular sensitivity about military authority, in that delegating military command could be seen as undermining a ruler’s sovereignty. The modern interpretation of sovereignty, entailing a claim to a monopoly of authority within a specific physical territory, legitimated by those living within that area, corresponds poorly to the situation in early modern Europe, where sovereignty was personal and dynastic rather than territorial. The typical means to build up or defend a claim to sovereign status was through adducing ‘marks of sovereignty’. These would often entail customary practices and actions by a ruler, recognized by other rulers, which could be interpreted as signs that his or her authority had been accepted by a (subject) population. The most familiar mark of sovereignty was the distribution of justice, that of determining all legal cases in the final degree. Other marks would include the right to mint coinage, or the establishment of a court – preferably linked to a princely

The representation of seventeenth-century warfare


capital, and thus a statement in bricks and mortar of the sovereign pretensions of the ruler.9 But a vitally important series of marks of sovereignty lay in the right to determine peace or war, to make alliances and to engage or disengage with other states without external constraint. All of these required control of the instruments of waging war – whether these were citadels and fortresses emblazoned with the arms of the prince, or command and control of the armies and navies through which his military power was projected abroad. Reliance on such marks of sovereignty did nothing to eliminate conflicts. The hotly disputed right to determine their own foreign policy and to make war on their own account was at the heart of debates about whether the German (and the Italian) princes of the Holy Roman Empire possessed outright or mediated sovereignty.10 If the direct exercise of military command, whether over subject troops or indeed over hired forces, was deployed as a mark of sovereignty, the delegation of even a part of such military authority to a contractor might call into question the sovereignty of the delegating agent. Though the ruler had full authority in theory to delegate both military and civil functions, he might prove particularly reluctant to concede the former. When the Council of State in Castile spoke of the shame and dangers of relying on asiento they had in mind the perception of the crown’s sovereignty and its reputation.11 An idealized military hierarchy in which highborn subjects subordinated themselves to the ruler’s authority in order to command the ruler’s troops provided a more comfortable working out of the implications of sovereign authority, and this idealization was what early modern military writings assumed. Rulers’ concerns to play down the implicit challenge to sovereignty posed by the reality of warfare were neatly complemented by concerns amongst the military contractors themselves. As indicated at the end of Chapter 5, for many of those involved as military proprietors, financial return was by no means the only motive for their involvement in contracting. Investment in setting up a regiment was also an investment in the social prestige of military service, and this would be debased if it were overtly discussed in terms of monetary investment and capital returns. It was akin to the more venerable presentation of war in terms of chivalry and knightly values as the means to uphold and validate the idealized culture and social prestige of a militarized nobility. Both sought to reinforce ideas of social status and hierarchy attainable through the disinterested pursuit of warfare as a vocation. Neither princes nor military contractors wished to draw out the implications of war as a business or trade, dominated by colonels who were more obviously shareholderinvestors than ‘perfect captains’. Neither would have cared much for publications on the art of war purporting to describe the duties and role


Continuity, transformation and rhetoric after 1650

of the ‘perfect subcontractor’. Tracts on war and military service were written within a set of conventions which made them marketable, or ensured that they would be well received by their dedicatee. However useful a guide to sourcing weapons manufacturers, purchasing soldiers’ clothing at bulk rates or contracting with merchants for munitions transport would have been in practice, this would break radically with the idealized notion of what military command ought to be about, and the nature of the relationship between officers and ruler.12 Such unreconciled divisions between constructed ideal and reality are by no means unusual: the history of the early modern nobility offers the example of a profound and largely unbridged gap between texts describing a series of idealized functions and socio-political reality. There is no reason to assume that this dissonance between military ideal and organizational reality would have been confronted, let alone resolved, through explicit discussion of the issue. Military devolution served both the military purposes of rulers and the military, economic and social aspirations of the contractors more effectively than any other viable military option in the early modern period. It was in no one’s interests to raise questions, or to dispel the myth that the traditional values and command structure of the military was in place, while in fact profiting from a system that responded remarkably effectively to the changing nature of war. French exceptionalism However, not all states had emerged from the experience of early modern warfare down to 1650 with the perception that military enterprise had provided a means to resolve some of the financial and organizational dilemmas of warfare. By far the most important of these exceptions, the state which was to draw attention to the gap between military theory and reality and was to shape a different and widely imitated public/private military paradigm, was France. Although France’s hiring of foreign mercenaries in the first half of the sixteenth century had been exceptional only in its vast scale, the Wars of Religion transformed the attitude of the crown and its central administration towards the organization and control of military force (see pp. 87–8). To a greater extent than anywhere else in Europe military devolution in France was identified by the crown and successive governments with self-assertive noble power and confessional separatism. Thus while other European powers from the early seventeenth century saw military devolution as a potential means to deploy private credit through a military partnership, in France it represented a return to political anarchy in which at various points the survival of both the crown and the

French exceptionalism


state had seemed at risk. Cardinal Richelieu’s actions as first minister during the later 1620s brought to an end a renewed period of open confessional and aristocratic revolt in France, but this did nothing to change the antipathy of the crown and its ministers to privatized military force. The general menace of militarized noble revolt still seemed very real, and both Richelieu and his successor, Mazarin, ruled through the manipulation and management of factional groups within the government and the court elites.13 Neither wished to see appointment to the army become a free-for-all in which purchasing power and connections to credit not directly under their own control might be a route to powerful – and threatening – military command.14 Though it became more difficult after 1635 and the beginning of large-scale, multi-theatred war, both ministers sought as far as possible to keep major military commands in the hands of family, clients and allies. This had the consequence of centralizing the direction of much of the war effort, so that it was exercised directly in the name of the crown through its central agents. The priorities, strategic thinking and dynastic preoccupations of the centre were thus imposed on the formulation of military plans and operations. France spent the 1630s and 1640s waging an expensive, slow and attritional war of sieges on the Flanders frontier, which at times seemed more like a convention-bound duel between the kings of France and Spain than a piece of seriously conceived operational planning.15 The negative attitude to military enterprise inherited from the religious wars had another consequence. Neither Richelieu nor Mazarin had any hesitation about hiring foreign military contractors, whether of individual units, multiple regiments or even a general contractor like Bernhard von Saxe-Weimar. The regiments were not for the most part organized like Saxe-Weimar’s force: an independent army corps operating on the initiative of the commander (pp. 107–10). The majority were simply incorporated as professional stiffening into the main French campaign armies and placed under the command of the French military hierarchy, just as they had been a century earlier in the 1530s or 1540s.16 But the readiness to hire foreign troops under these traditional ‘mercenary’ contracts stands in sharp contrast to the absolute refusal to sanction military proprietorship either at the level of colonelcies, or still less at the level of entire armies, by French nobles or other wealthy subjects of the crown. French subjects who became unit commanders were forcefully reminded that they held no proprietary rights over their unit; in no sense were they serving under contract, but entirely at the pleasure of the king. The obvious, practical problem in this was that the French crown could no more fund directly the costs of its war effort after it entered the


Continuity, transformation and rhetoric after 1650

European war in 1635 than could other European rulers. Harnessing the credit of serving officers was, for France, no less than for the Empire or for Sweden, the only way to make large-scale, long-duration war viable. This imperative to find ways to draw on the credit and financial resources of wealthy subjects, while, as a point of principle, simultaneously rejecting overt military enterprise with its recognition of the officers’ proprietary status, produced a deeply unsatisfactory compromise unique to France. The typical French unit or army commander was placed under intense pressure to commit his own funds to the recruitment and upkeep of units, without receiving any of the benefits of outright proprietorship which would have been the case had he been serving in a contract army. Acquiring a commission as a colonel or captain would very frequently involve an informal undertaking to meet the costs of recruitment, or to contribute substantially towards them. Once his unit was in being, the unit commander was pressured to meet wage shortfalls, pay for food and replace equipment under the threat of disbandment or réformation if the unit was judged to have fallen below effective strength or to be unfit for combat. None of these personal charges and expenses were recognized by the crown or its administrators, for to do so would imply that the officer held some kind of proprietary right over the unit, or at a higher level, the army. The French elites continued to compete for military office – factors of social prestige and noble self-identification saw to that – but aware that it was almost impossible to undertake military service without suffering moderate to heavy financial loss, officers were for the most part reluctant to contemplate lengthy service or to enter into sustained financial commitments. The high turnover of newly created regiments in the French army from the 1630s to the 1650s was a reflection of the officers’ decision to treat service as a social rite de passage, whose costs were too heavy to sustain for more than a campaign or two. It was compounded by the administration’s own cynical calculation that it was cheaper to hire and disband units on what was virtually a year-to-year basis, drawing on the initial enthusiasm and capital of a steady flow of aspiring unit officers. Though the established infantry regiments, the vieux and the petits vieux, were permanent entities – régiments entretenues – the individual captains and other regimental officers were placed under similar pressure since the constituent companies could be threatened with elimination or consolidation, again without compensation.17 The French crown’s principled rejection of military enterprise was one which no other European rulers followed, even if they assumed a variety of approaches to the issue in practice, from open discussion of contracting in the Spanish Council to a more typical position, in which the larger issues were simply taken for granted behind a focus on detailed practice. The

French exceptionalism


impact of this stance as a means to defend its sovereignty in military affairs was to some extent attenuated by the French crown’s heavy reliance on contracts with foreign military enterprisers. More importantly, it proved a severe handicap for the French war effort from 1630 to 1659. One part of France’s military underperformance in these decades undoubtedly reflected the assumption of royal and centralized control over the conduct of war and the construction of military policy, so that the adaptive organizational and operational developments of other armies fighting in the Thirty Years War were largely missed. But at least as great a role was played in this failure by the system of unacknowledged financial exactions upon the officer-corps, which created an army in which far too many regiments had a fleeting existence, and too many officers were resigned to short military careers from which the main benefit would be social validation rather than military professionalism. In the words of one Spanish military grandee, writing in 1684 of this earlier epoch: ‘the French infantry used to be the worst in Europe, and have become the best mainly by the improvement in their officer material’.18 The determinants of military effectiveness and resilience in other armies, principally the establishment of units with strong internal coherence and identity based on large numbers of veteran troops, and commanded by a professionalized cadre of long-serving officers and NCOs, were unattainable in this French system. The irony here is that the French crown missed what might have been the benefits of mobilizing larger resources and organizational skill via acknowledged military devolution, because it associated such devolution with the challenges to its authority seen in the Wars of Religion; but this sensitivity did not save the crown from what, setting apart the British civil wars and their aftermath, was the most devastating European military revolt of the mid-seventeenth century. The ability of the great nobles to draw the armies that they commanded into support for their struggles against First Minister Mazarin or against each other during the Frondes of 1648–53 served to confirm the worst suspicions of royal government about the threat posed by delegated military force.19 Although Mazarin’s agents managed to buy off the vicomte de Turenne’s troops in 1649, the prince de Condé’s military revolt gathered momentum after his release from imprisonment in 1650. By 1652 all the French army corps were either mutinous for want of pay and provisions, or under commanders who were in open opposition to the crown; France’s military positions in Catalonia, Italy and Flanders suffered major setbacks as Spanish forces pressed home their advantage. In 1653 the comte d’Harcourt, a hitherto loyal cadet of the House of Guise-Lorraine, seized Breisach and used his troops to try to take over control of Alsace.


Continuity, transformation and rhetoric after 1650

Following the restoration of Mazarin and the end of fighting in the heart of France, the prince de Condé took his army, composed of regiments commanded by his clients and noble supporters, and passed into Spanish service in the Netherlands, where he continued his armed struggle against Mazarin along the Picardy/Champagne frontier until the Peace of the Pyrenees in 1659. During that time he was joined by a trickle of other grandees, notably the duc de Noirmoutier, the maréchal d’Hocquincourt and the comte de Créqui, which threatened to become a flood after any major reverse for the French royal armies.20 French responses The experience of the entire decade 1648–59 served to confirm the ministerial elite in its profound hostility to the devolution of military authority in so far as it was linked with the threats of noble and provincial assertion. What successes they had enjoyed as a result of such devolution into the hands of foreign contractors such as Saxe-Weimar in the 1630s and his colonel-directors in the 1640s were overlooked in the conviction that independent military power had posed a threat to the existence of the state. And this was the dominant attitude when the young Louis XIV and his ministers began the project to reaffirm royal authority from the early 1660s. The army reforms of Louis XIV have usually been presented as the second stage in a military revolution that had begun with the OrangeNassau military commanders of the Dutch Republic, and had been revealed in its full battlefield potential by Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden. For a time, the story runs, the revolutionary thread was lost in the supposedly aimless, devolved confusion of the later Thirty Years War. But it reappears triumphantly in the military and administrative reforms of the French war ministers, Michel Le Tellier and his son, the marquis de Louvois, who created, it is considered, the first, truly modern, stateadministered, -financed and -controlled army for Louis XIV. Soldiers, recruited by state administrators and placed under the authority of an extensive and well-structured military administration, were paid, fed, equipped and uniformed, and were subjected to exacting standards of military discipline, control and inspection.21 A standing, peace-time army ensured that a good percentage of French soldiers were long-serving, drilled in tactics and use of weaponry, and possessed an esprit de corps both within their unit and the army at large. Equally, a large-scale permanent force offered a series of rewards and sanctions with which the war minister and his administrators could curtail the independence and organizational abuses of the officers. Those who served in the permanent

French responses


units, and many experienced officers who were retained on half-pay as réformés with the option of appointing them to new regiments with the coming of war, came to view military service as a career rather than a short-term and costly exercise in social assertion. The officers from the colonels up to the high command were genuine royal employees, subject to tight ministerial control. All of this tells a familiar story about the triumph of rational administrative procedures and centralized control over an undisciplined, potentially autonomous military force managed by unruly groups of the elites. And given the poor performance and haphazard control of the French war effort down to 1659, this imposition of a centralized administrative order can appear, and has usually been presented, as straightforwardly progressive, an uncontentious step towards modernity. In reality, it is far from obvious that Michel Le Tellier and Louvois had anticipated Max Weber in embracing rational administration and bureaucratic procedure in the 1660s and 1670s as the self-evident solution to army reform. The reassertion of administrative control over aspects of the army was important, though the starting point of this reorganization was more obviously to ensure that a high proportion of both the civilian administrators and the senior officers in the armies were Le Tellier clients or allies.22 In the same way, Jean-Baptiste Colbert was building up an unprecedented French fleet on the back of a network of relatives, clients and business associates in and outside the navy.23 But the armed forces were part of a much larger royal project. Louis XIV did think that he was doing something new in the 1660s. After the challenges and near-anarchy of the previous decade, and a legacy of weak and threatened royal authority for the previous century, his priority in 1660 was a massive re-emphasis upon the undisputed and indisputable sovereignty of the king. Individual administrative policies were all subject to this much more grandiose and multi-faceted reassertion of the king’s outright authority on both practical and ideological levels. This is the message of Louis XIV’s own memoirs; most administrative developments are passed over or mentioned in only the most fleeting manner. The main message of the text is Louis’ determination no longer to negotiate with his subjects, no longer to compromise in the assertion of his sovereign authority.24 This seems to have been borne out to a large extent in political practice. As historians have gradually abandoned the implausible notion of a seamless ‘rise of French absolutism’ from Henri IV or Richelieu to Louis XIV, they have become more aware of the profound change in the political and cultural atmosphere which pervades the decade of the 1660s. The language of politics itself shifts abruptly from negotiation to obedience, from self-assertiveness to abject deference to royal authority. Beneath the façade, the space for negotiation and compromise may have remained, but in a more limited


Continuity, transformation and rhetoric after 1650

guise and only on condition that the outward forms of obedience and the language of subordination were upheld.25 Ably supported by ministers of state in their dealings with institutions and the provinces, and by the habits which Louis XIV inculcated and rewarded at his court, this policy sought to reassert royal sovereignty over all key aspects of political life. The combination of symbolic gesture and image creation, the demand for appropriate behaviour from subjects, together with some innovation and institutional transformation, all touched heavily upon the waging of war and the control of the armies. In what was probably a conscious echo of Thomas Hobbes, Bishop Bossuet, in his Politique tirées de propres paroles de l’Ecriture Sainte, argued that in the truly godly and well-governed state, the king alone would be armed. The implications of such a claim can be seen in the assertion of the king’s sovereignty over the armed forces of the realm, in which there can be no sharing of military control and authority.26 The early iconographic identification of Louis as Apollo, god of the arts, order and harmony, was a relatively short-lived affair compared with Louis as ‘le roi de guerre’, whose sovereignty was wrapped in the personal assumption and control of military activity, and of his armies.27 By the 1670s this image-building had focused upon the representation of the king as Louis le Grand, the military ruler who was heir to Alexander and Charlemagne, and whose military deeds should be celebrated with the same, conventional focus on the person and the military deeds of the ruler.28 An aspect of this with considerable repercussions for the management and conduct of war was the king’s determination to command his armies in person, and in campaigns that should be structured to reflect the greatest possible lustre on his control of the army and his personal role in the action.29 The immediate, distorting effects of such personal leadership, and the related problems of command and control when France was waging war in four or five separate campaign theatres simultaneously, were subordinated to this determination to act out his possession of sovereign authority. There had been monarchs before Louis who had built their iconography and self-image on a representation of their military skills and authority. But never so comprehensively as Louis XIV, nor at a moment when it had such repercussions for wider debate about the control of armed forces.30 From the painted ceilings of the Galerie des Glaces at Versailles to the language of royal edicts and ordinances, from the prologues of Lully’s court operas to religious ceremony, the king’s sovereign status as roi de guerre was endlessly reaffirmed.31 An extraordinary range of literary, cultural and ceremonial rhetoric celebrating the king’s authority and sovereignty bore down time and again on the single point of the king’s absolute and unmediated control of his armed forces.

French responses


The goal for Louis and his war ministers was not some abstract ideal of a bureaucratically administered army, but the elimination of any implication of negotiated obedience or ‘bargaining’ with the officers and other power-brokers in the existing military structure, so that Louis’ own authority appeared direct and unchallenged. As the French crown had never embraced formal military devolution, an explicit rejection of delegated military authority was unproblematic. The implications here of hiring foreign troops for French military service could easily be dealt with. General contracts with foreign military enterprisers such as that with Saxe-Weimar had never dominated French military activity, and it was easy to return to the hiring of individual mercenary regiments which would be fully integrated into French armies and serve under French command and military discipline. As a result 15–20 per cent of the French army continued to be composed of Swiss, Irish, Scottish and German mercenaries, but there was no sense in which the colonels were treated as more than employees of the crown.32 Effort was even made to eliminate some of the distinctive privileges of the Swiss mercenary contingent, affirming the principle that all units served under the authority of the king on the same terms. The more pressing issue from the 1660s was the need to define a new relationship with the native French officers and through them the rest of the army. On one side, the crown and its ministers wanted to affirm the crown’s absolute control of the army, both through the language of military authority and in the reality of command and control. On the other side, it was vital to find some mechanism for military organization and funding that would be more effective than the previous, disastrous practice of arbitrarily extorting money from colonels and corps commanders to raise and maintain their units, while conceding no proprietary rights or financial security in return. Even if the second issue was primarily a matter of securing greater operational effectiveness, the two were clearly related: an army in which the principal officers considered that they were placed under unacceptable levels of financial pressure in ways that seemed to subvert the role defined for them by the terms of their commissions and service, would be unlikely to offer unconditional obedience to the crown, whether in practice or even in language. If a move towards an overtly contractual, proprietorial relationship with French unit officers might have offered them the benefits of a secured ‘investment’ in their units, this would not easily be compatible with the new political climate of the 1660s, in which the king and his ministers explicitly rejected anything that was suggestive of negotiation or bargaining with subjects. The opposing model would be the establishment of an army which was directly state-administered, state-controlled and state-funded,


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where the officers were not required to commit any of their own funds, and where they were genuinely the employees and servants of the state. If the army was small enough, it might be possible to establish a direct relationship between the costs of the troops and available crown revenues. The initial post-1659 demobilization had reduced the French standing army to a permanent force of around 55,000 men – a level at which, arguably and at a fairly basic level, the crown might have been able to assume the operational costs and create an employee-army. However, from the outset of the personal rule, the king and war minister were in no doubt that France’s future foreign policy would require large-scale military expansion above this military core, and by the War of Devolution in 1667, the army had already been increased to 70,000 infantry and 35,000 cavalry.33 Could the model of the directly administered, statefunded and state-raised army remain compatible with progressive military expansion up to a standing army of 140,000 on the eve of the Dutch War in 1672, a wartime strength of 250,000 troops between 1672 and 1678, a post-war standing army of 180,000 which was then built up to the highest point of military expansion, around 340,000 troops, in the early 1690s?34 The economic history of France from the 1660s until at least a decade after the death of Louis in 1715 should be painted in the gloomy shades of rural depression, modest urban expansion restricted to a few large centres, and demographic stagnation. The national resource base had not expanded since the earlier seventeenth century, when the inability of the crown to offer adequate support for an army which was scarcely 25 per cent of the size of that established in the 1690s had precipitated the deluge of arbitrary financial burdens on the military officers. All of this would make it optimistic to assume that now, in the later seventeenth century, heavier taxation or greater efficiency gains in its collection would somehow bridge the gap between available state funds and the everincreasing size and demands of the French army, not forgetting Colbert’s navy, which had itself reached 140,000 tonnes and eighty ships of the line by the 1680s. Recent work on Louis XIV’s reign has demonstrated that while deploying a rhetoric of royal authority, the resources and resilience of the crown and its central government depended in large part on its practical willingness to compromise with different groups of the elites, offering them continued privileges, concessions and benefits in return for their political cooperation and financial commitment. It was in finding ways to extract unprecedented financial support from those who were otherwise exempted from the normal burdens of taxation, that the flexibility of the regime was most evident. As the costs of ever-lengthier and larger-scale wars continued to mount, Louis’ regime sacrificed any possibility of

French responses


eliminating the intermediate authority of its privileged subjects in return for their willingness to underwrite the costs and burdens of royal policy.35 What was characteristic of the relationship with the elites in civil society was no less the case in the crown’s dealings with the army. As recent studies have demonstrated, the mechanism by which the French army was subjected to greater central and ministerial control while maintaining the willingness of the elites to undertake military service and, most crucially, to bear a high proportion of its costs, was a formalization and institutionalization of venality in military office.36 The official line throughout the seventeenth century was that the purchase of military office was prohibited under a series of ordinances and edicts; this held true in that blocks of colonelcies and captaincies were not placed on the open market and offered to the highest bidder for the profit of the crown. But in practice almost all newly formed regiments were commissioned on the basis that the colonels-to-be were squeezed to make an informal, private financial contribution, whether this was to meet all or a significant part of the costs of recruitment and setting up the unit. It was also the case that in régiments entretenus – the small number of regiments with a permanent existence – although officerships were not sold openly, considerable sums were paid informally as a kind of ‘entry fine’ by the incoming officer taking over the colonelcy or one of the companies. This was specifically to compensate the outgoing officer or his relatives for the loss of the post and the expenses that he had incurred while holding it. Both of these practices had flourished in the army under Richelieu and Mazarin. The ministers had turned a blind eye to the second style of ‘internal venality’, but given the relatively small numbers of permanent units, it could have limited effect on the perceptions of the officer corps as a whole. The crucial point about the ‘reform’ of the French army after 1661 was that this type of venality was not grudgingly retained as a reluctant concession to the unprofessional attitudes of the officer corps. Many historians writing about the reforms of Le Tellier and Louvois have treated this as an anomaly, an unfortunate remnant of traditional military organization, totally out of keeping with the spirit of their modernizing initiatives.37 In fact it stands at the very heart of the compromise that the crown and war ministers needed to establish with French elites if the latter were to continue to provide large-scale financial support for the state’s military activity. Tolerating ‘internal venality’ within the officer corps of the regiments was indeed a standing affront to ideals of thorough administrative and professional reform in the army; it was impossible, for example, for a long-serving lieutenant to acquire a company command without securing funds to pay his outgoing predecessor.38 But a far more important consideration than this for the crown and ministers was that abolishing


Continuity, transformation and rhetoric after 1650

venality would discourage wealthy potential officers from investing in their units – providing higher-quality equipment, horses and clothing, meeting the costs of food and supplies, even wages – and so depriving the crown of the financial means to make military expansion viable and sustainable. This objective was frankly stated in 1666 by Louis XIV, who wrote in his memoirs: ‘convinced that the French infantry had not been very good . . . I placed the colonelcies . . . into the hands of the highest ranking young people at my court . . . (they) being in a position to sustain the expense necessary to maintain them in their proper condition’.39 Emulation, magnificence and status display would certainly persuade some officers to spend their resources in ways that would help to share the financial burdens of the military establishment. It explains the paradox of armies that adopted military uniforms from the later seventeenth century, but where those uniforms were infinitely varied in design, detail and expense to accommodate the whims of colonel-proprietors, anxious to impose their own identity on their unit. A typical French colonel of dragoons spent 5,695 livres in 1703 to have the standards of his regiment made to his designs, and to ensure that his initials were embroidered over all of the baggage covers, saddle cloths and headgear of the units.40 Venality provided a recognition of these financial commitments, indeed would determine the price that the unit would fetch if the commander wished to demit his office. Royal policy strengthened this in a number of ways. Characteristic of Louis XIV’s regime, the price of these payments to acquire captaincies and colonelcies was prescribed, but the effect of this was simply to establish these official sums as the minimum price on assuming the office.41 No serious attempt was made to prevent posts in more prestigious or better-maintained regiments being sold for substantially higher prices.42 In 1675, for example, the colonelcy of the topranked gardes françaises changed hands for the extraordinary sum of 500,000 livres, but even the colonelcy of a more modest established regiment, that of Périgord, was sold for 50,000 livres in 1714. In the latter case the incoming colonel failed to meet the full contracted price and was duly removed from the office; the regiment returned to its original proprietor and 6,000 livres from the monies actually paid was accorded to this previous owner as damages.43 Colonel-proprietors in turn had the right to sell the commissions for subordinate officers in their units, and this would also become the price for a subsequent purchase by a replacement. In the 1740s captaincies in ordinary regiments might sell for 6,000 livres and lieutenancies for 3,000, but again prices rose astronomically for more prestigious regiments.44 Secondly, the size of the permanent army greatly increased. Thus, though a wartime regiment established on the basis of funds provided by

French responses


a newly commissioned colonel continued to carry a risk of disbandment without compensation at the end of the conflict, far more regiments were now part of a permanent military establishment in which internalized venality would offer the officers some financial security for their own ‘investment’ in its upkeep. In the case of the newly created regiments, the situation was ameliorated by the greater willingness to keep these units in service for more campaigns if at all possible, avoiding the apparently capricious way that earlier administrations would disband regiments because it was cheaper to persuade a new group of officers to invest than to assemble the financial packages that would allow the reconstruction of existing ones. Finally, and despite the grave concerns about military effectiveness voiced by some of the senior staff, aspiring colonels of new, wartime levies were allowed to form regiments containing significantly fewer companies and men than in the past.45 If short-term service in the royal army was to continue to attract members of the elites, the investment demanded needed to be more moderate than hitherto. On the back of a venality which was positively encouraged in all but the units of the king’s household – where more traditional royal patronage was allowed to flourish – a new and more effective relationship was forged between the crown and those members of the French elites drawn into military service.46 High levels of private investment in the army allowed not merely the achievement of unprecedented wartime peaks in the military establishment, but a permanent army which was of a scale and quality far beyond the resources that the crown could afford even from a more successful tapping of tax resources across the realm.47 The relationship was quite different from that prevailing in the earlier century. For twentyfive years after 1660, the crown was able to honour a reasonable proportion of its basic financial obligations to the army, and as military service increased in prestige during the reign so the demand for officerships continued to exceed supply well into both of the last wars of Louis’ reign. For these reasons the notion of a more powerful system of external control, better discipline of the soldiers in garrisons, more uniformity of arms and equipment, was not a myth.48 But it rested on a compact with the officers which, especially in periods of military expansion, recognized their contribution to the overall costs of the army and the continuing need for their support if adequate financial support was to be maintained. This was reflected not merely in the official acceptance of venality, but in a military culture in which sensibilities about social hierarchy, as opposed to functional rank, were still tacitly accepted in many cases of appointment and command. Civil administrators were left in little doubt that they needed to tread warily round an aristocratic and to some extent selffinancing officer corps in enforcing standards of discipline and central


Continuity, transformation and rhetoric after 1650

control.49 The notion that the officer corps had been subordinated to central government is far removed from reality. Recognition that the shift towards a state-administered and -controlled army was little more than skin deep is underlined in those areas of military administration where the crown did not consider that its claims to sovereignty were compromised. The entire operation of food supply, arms and munitions production, and supply for the armies continued to be put out to contract and handled by munitionnaires and other contractors far into the eighteenth century. These contracts were still for the most part negotiated centrally on a vast scale, though the crown was considerably more capable of honouring their financial terms, at least in the first decades of the reign.50 Much of the business of the regiment was left to unit commanders: the supply of clothing and other regimental and company equipment such as standards or musical instruments; the supplementary costs of better-quality horses in the cavalry; all of the trappings of establishing a regimental headquarters. These were devolved with a shrewd sense that the colonel-proprietors would provide better-quality materials than would be budgeted for via a state contract or direct provision.51 For both Louis and Louvois, Marshal Vauban’s great chains of fortresses along France’s frontiers were potent symbols of the king’s authority and his status as roi de guerre, and they would not for a moment have countenanced the earlier practice of contracting the upkeep of garrisons to enterpriser-governors. However, the actual construction of these fortresses involved no such affront to the king’s sovereign status, and Louvois’ correspondence with the king is full of detail of contracts with local entrepreneurs and consortia for remodelling terrain, constructing walls and bastions, and beautifying the sites with decorative stonework, grass and tree-planting.52 The same division between negotiable and non-negotiable areas of sovereignty was evident in the navy of Louis XIV. Developed by Colbert on the principle of overt royal-ministerial control, the building and supply of the navy was underpinned from the outset by massive contracting with financial-mercantile elites who had private and informal connections to Colbert and the naval administration.53 The notion of centralized, bureaucratic control was constantly subverted by the necessary deals to maintain the flow of finance and material resources to the navy, deals which frequently involved granting an official role in the naval administration to individuals whose involvement had been that of private contractor. The roles of financier-supplier and administrator-supervisor were thus frequently conjoined: for example, François Berthelot was commissaire général of powder and saltpetre, and he and his family were virtually monopoly suppliers of these goods.54 Beneath the grandiose

Beyond France


assertion of royal power, in which the capital ships bore titles evocative of the Bourbon monarchy and their elaborate decoration and heavy armament symbolized royal sovereignty no less than did Vauban’s fortresses, the navy was a creature of the financial and mercantile interests on which Colbert and his son, Seignelay, had drawn for its construction and maintenance.55 Beyond France: military enterprise in the later seventeenth century There were historically specific reasons for the French monarchy’s uncompromising rhetoric of royal sovereignty asserted over its armed forces, and at first sight there was considerably less pressure on other European states to adopt such a style. As we have seen, the deployment of military enterprise under the aegis of rulers had offered a relatively successful means of waging war, and had not been seen, as it was in France, as a direct challenge to sovereignty or the legitimate authority of the ruler. There was thus no immediate pressure to abandon military enterprise in favour of some model of directly administered and funded military force. Despite traditional assumptions that the path of European military history is inexorably linked to the growth of the power of the state, there was no obvious reason why rulers should have drawn this lesson from the previous decades of conflict. The immediate problem posed by the end of the war was securing the disbandment of well over 100,000 soldiers and restoring the territories of the Empire to a peace-footing. And for the great majority of rulers and their governments, the response to 1649/50 was straightforward: swingeing cuts in the size of their military establishments. The Bavarian army was slashed from its wartime strength of around 20,000 to a few hundred men, becoming little more than a princely bodyguard.56 Such demobilization by the German states – and many of their Italian counterparts after 1659 – was actually quite compatible with a traditional suspicion of standing armies as an incitement to princely aggression and trouble-making within the Empire. A just ruler had no need of a Praetorian Guard or a corps of Janissaries, which would provide rulers of a despotic and restless disposition with the means to tyrannize subjects and neighbours alike.57 But demobilization also reflected assumptions of continuity about how military forces were to be acquired should they be needed in the future. As before, it was assumed that military enterprisers would kick-start the system of recruitment and would bring together the armies required for subsequent purposes. Their combination of organizational resources and credit would once again allow the immediate recruitment of the army, permitting the ruler


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to bring together tax resources, license the collection of contributions and find other means to meet the longer-term financial burdens of warfare. Such assumptions were successfully demonstrated by Charles X of Sweden. The German regiments in Swedish service had been entirely demobilized by 1650/1, leaving only the levies of Swedish troops to provide the garrison forces for the Baltic territories.58 Faced by what he interpreted as a dynastic challenge from John II Casimir, the Polish king since 1648, Charles resolved upon that ever-favoured Swedish military strategy, the pre-emptive strike.59 In 1654 the king sent instructions to Königsmarck, the governor of Bremen-Verden, and Magnus de La Gardie, instructing them to carry out recruitment on their own credit, to be recovered by the substantial returns from the waging of a war that Charles was about to unleash on Poland.60 The following months were spent in a hectic round of recruitment, both through the persons of Königsmarck, La Gardie and their relatives and clients, and through direct patents given out to German nobles and military professionals acting as enterprisers.61 Some of these, like Graf Johann zu Waldeck and Graf Christoffer von Dohna, were multiple proprietors, and many were familiar from the armies of Torstensson and Wrangel.62 The conflict which ensued from 1655 to 1660 demonstrated just how quickly and effectively experienced Swedish and German enterprisercommanders could reassemble credible and effective forces against traditional expectations of reimbursement through contributions and plunder. Militarily, the first stages of the war, fought against Poland, and underpinned by forced levies of troops and contributions from Brandenburg and Saxony, were a restaging of the mobile, hard-hitting campaigns of the 1640s.63 Politically, however, the war raised the stakes both in the Empire, where Swedish aggression threatened to involve the Emperor, and in the Baltic, where the Dutch prepared to lend powerful naval support to the Danes, the next victims of Sweden’s ability to tap the resources of military enterprise. The war of 1655–60 might appear simply to have inaugurated a new round of conflict fought via military enterprisers on the basis of contributions, plunder and other war profits, but in fact it marked the end of an era. The ability to contract an army into existence through the efforts and credit of military enterprisers had in practice almost always been the preserve of the major powers, with their apparent access to greater resources and their more permanent need for troops. The exceptions to this – Bavaria, Hessen-Kassel, Lorraine – had built up the reputation of their forces over time, and could attract or retain enterprisers through a reputation for military effectiveness and an ability to draw on local loyalties, even when, like the Bavarian army, they paid the contractor-colonels less

Beyond France


well than their Imperial counterparts. But confidence that it would be possible to build up contacts and obtain the services of military contractors in a competitive, sellers’ market was inevitably eroded as peace continued and the contractors of the Thirty Years War retired, died or lost the ability to call upon numbers of experienced veteran soldiers to form the core of their units. It was unsurprising that Sweden, as the greatest military power of the previous decade, could still assemble a force of military contractors in short order and place it under the command of veteran generals with direct experience of the last period of the German war. But for lesser German princes, such confidence that the international military market could still conjure up an army was dangerously misplaced. The economic and military climate in the Empire was becoming less hospitable to military enterprise. Individual enterpriser-colonels found it harder to raise a quota of troops and to secure assured, long-running contracts, and the situation was equally unpropitious for anyone trying to play the role of the general contractor. Christoph Bernhard von Galen, bishop of Münster, appeared to be treading in the footsteps of enterpriserprinces like Christian of Halberstadt and Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar, using his territories to raise troops which he maintained from his own resources and credit, while looking for profitable opportunities to gain contracts for them in external conflicts or in alliance with greater powers. Able to raise anything up to 20,000–25,000 men on his own account, and possessing an impressive artillery train, he seemed a model of the traditional large-scale enterpriser.64 His colonels were mostly subcontractors, borrowing money from the Cologne banking house of Grote in the 1660s to finance their regiments.65 But in fact Galen was an anomaly. He was just about able to support his army in the volatile military circumstances of the 1670s, but only at the cost of changing alliances and warlords with such regularity that he destroyed all political credit and he found it impossible to secure lasting benefits from his military activities.66 Another lateflowering example of princely contracting, Duke Johann Friedrich of Braunschweig-Lüneburg (1625–79), raised an army of around 14,000 men in the mid-1660s. But the opportunities to deploy these troops profitably under contract in conflict within the Empire did not arise, and he drew on his close cultural and social ties with Italy to lease three of his regiments into Venetian service.67 Awareness that the market for hiring military force might be a great deal smaller than in the past raised other questions about defence needs and the ability of rulers to provide adequately for territorial defence after 1648. It is not difficult to understand the dilemma of Friedrich Wilhelm, Elector of Brandenburg. Holding the eastern part of Pomerania, which had been


Continuity, transformation and rhetoric after 1650

Fig. 6.1 Johann Friedrich von Braunschweig-Lüneburg

wrested from Sweden’s grasp at Westphalia only through huge diplomatic efforts, he and his councillors were well aware that Stockholm regarded this territory as an important means to safeguard a Baltic ‘lake’ composed of territory under its control. The Elector was equally conscious that Sweden viewed the dynastic assertions of the Polish king with concern, and that if Charles chose to intervene in Poland it would almost certainly be across and at the expense of the territory of Brandenburg. In this situation, waiting on events, and hoping that he would be able to raise troops under contract as an impending political/military crisis dictated, would be simply to repeat the disastrous policies of the Thirty Years War,

Beyond France


when states with no military resources became pawns of the active belligerents. The best that could be hoped for then – and probably also in the 1650s – would be a subservient neutrality, in which the state paid heavy contributions in return for not having to billet troops. The dilemma of the Brandenburg Elector was simply a more direct version of the concern of many German princely rulers about drawing on what now appeared an increasingly unreliable, ‘last-minute’ mechanism for raising military forces, and one that might well fail to meet its targets altogether. It was a familiar story from other parts of Europe in earlier periods, when the local market for hiring troops had been restricted or overburdened. In 1606–7, when trying to raise troops for what appeared an imminent war with Spain’s Italian territories, Venice had been forced to stretch the net of military contracting as far as the Netherlands, and still found itself spending very heavily to raise paltry numbers of troops.68 In this context, the notion of a permanent defence force again reappeared on many German rulers’ agendas. The previous, pre-1618 attempts to create conscript militias were acknowledged as failures, and few argued for reviving such projects on any grounds except the original, flawed one of cheapness. But if a part-time militia was dismissed as a serious option for anything other than last-ditch home defence, then the other means of ensuring that the ruler could have assured access to military force was through the establishment of permanent, regular units of troops. The exposure of their territories to military contributions imposed by the armies of the Thirty Years War had demonstrated to rulers that their subjects possessed far higher tax-paying capacity than had ever been envisaged before 1618.69 But the collection of contributions, even when explicitly conceded by Diets and other representative bodies, had been underpinned by the sanction of readily available military force. This direct recourse to force was not available to rulers in the years after Westphalia. Neither was the strongest argument to gain grudging consent to these impositions, deployed, for example, with success in the Western Circles of the Empire in the 1630s and 1640s: that the alternative to paying these defence taxes was being overrun by enemy forces and subjected to heavier and more capricious taxes, accompanied by widespread looting and destruction. Yet at a less immediate level the arguments about the needs of defence could still be used, and although the revenues that would be granted by territorial Diets and Estates were smaller than the sums extracted as contributions in the war years, there was no going back to the minimalist tax regimes of the pre-1618 era.70 Friedrich Wilhelm of Brandenburg led the charge towards the creation of permanent, regular ‘defence taxes’.71 A combination of the looming threat posed by Sweden and a backstairs deal


Continuity, transformation and rhetoric after 1650

with his tax-exempt nobility allowed him to negotiate a state-collected contribution of 530,000 talers, granted for six years from 1653 by the Estates of Brandenburg. And in a great break with previous practice, instead of using these revenues to hire troops under contract, they were deployed to boost the number of permanent troops in the Elector’s army, so that by 1655 these forces had reached 4,000 cavalry, 5,000 infantry and 500 dragoons.72 Friedrich Wilhelm was by no means alone in recognizing that a permanent body of troops seemed the one way of meeting the need for soldiers who were both militarily effective and readily available. Few rulers proved able to mobilize troops on the scale of the Great Elector, and most negotiations for new military taxes were hard-fought with subjects who were both hostile to heavier taxes and often recognized the ambiguous status of a ‘defence’ force.73 By 1657 the Bavarian Elector, Ferdinand Maria, had reassembled a Bavarian army of 4,000 infantry and 1,500 cavalry.74 For many territorial rulers, this might appear more of a straitjacket than an opportunity. But although it might initially seem that many of these rulers had used up their political credit and bargaining power to establish defence forces which amounted to little more than a standing bodyguard, the new system had considerable potential for adjustment in their favour. As external political and military threats grew, so the potential leverage possessed by a ruler against popular or Estates’ resistance to higher ‘defence taxes’ would be enhanced. Where German princely rulers proved initially reluctant to move down this path, or their powerful subjects had successfully opposed attempts to establish a heavier post-war tax burden, the force of events made the process increasingly difficult to resist. Mounting international tension and then war in the 1670s led to an anti-French coalition amongst the German princes under the leadership of the Emperor. Arguing that defensive war was a common Imperial burden, Emperor Leopold authorized those German princes who had previously raised armies and now deployed them in the service of the alliance to recover some of their costs by levying contributions on their neighbouring, non-militarized German states for the duration of the conflict. The message was clear, and in the 1680s a large number of previously foot-dragging states had adopted small permanent forces so that they could contribute directly to the military needs of such coalitions and avoid the inevitably over-heavy contributions imposed on their territories by the already-armed states.75 Much of this development of new permanent forces should be seen as a pragmatic response to changing military circumstances, above all the recognition that military enterprise could no longer provide a secure base for raising troops quickly and effectively. There was, needless to

Beyond France


say, almost always a degree of personal and dynastic ambition in the desire to create standing armies more directly accountable to the ruler, even if the price for this was to have fewer troops than military enterprise might have given the prince. At the very least, a princely army provided opportunities for direct courtly patronage and promotion that were unavailable in an army raised by enterpriser-colonels. Beyond this pragmatism, two other factors may have helped to push the balance further towards permanent forces. Although falling short of the extreme assertions of sovereignty that Louis XIV and his ministers considered an essential aspect of his government programme, many of the rulers of the Holy Roman Empire were sensitive to questions of sovereignty and the control of military force. In particular, Article 65 of the 1648 Peace of Münster specifically emphasized that the sovereign status of the German princes was defined by their rights to raise armies, make alliances and decide on war and peace.76 It was on these claims that the greater territorial princes justified their freedom of action from their overlord, the Emperor, and their status as independent political actors. A defence force that was clearly under the control of the ruler, sanctioned by taxes granted by his Estates, would make this point about the possession of sovereignty more effectively and explicitly than troops raised through an international system of military enterprisers and their support networks. The success of Louis XIV’s military experiment, and indeed the speed with which Louis achieved pre-eminence in European politics, inevitably drew attention to his rhetorical claims and his elaborate posturing as the roi de guerre. A model which had apparently proved so successful naturally found its willing imitators. Moreover the demonizing of the armies of the later Thirty Years War was deliberately seized upon as a means to sell the burdens of a standing army to subjects, and to reconcile them to higher taxes and greater authority in the hands of the ruler. By playing up the supposedly anarchic, selfseeking and universally destructive character of the armies of the 1630s and 1640s, and especially the implication that most of the soldiers came from outside the Empire and had no purpose within its borders except looting and indiscriminate violence, the new, permanent forces of the post-war rulers could be presented as guarantors of restored order and stability. To some extent, as we shall see below, the different way in which these troops were recruited, and the changed attitudes to military life and its relationship to wider society, could provide some support for the contention that these were a different style of armed force. But the representation of the Thirty Years War as a German catastrophe, wrought by foreign, contracted troops outside the control of rulers, civil authorities


Continuity, transformation and rhetoric after 1650

and military commanders, pursuing war for profit at the direct expense of the people, served the interests of German post-war rulers extremely well. It had the incidental effect of establishing a mythology of the ‘alldestructive war’ and the ‘all-consuming armies’ that has lasted for centuries, and still colours most accounts of the Thirty Years War and its military character down to the present.77 Thus to a large extent the German princes, and indeed their few Italian counterparts such as Carlo Emanuele and Vittorio Amedeo II of SavoyPiedmont, were willing victims of their own rhetoric about the control of military force.78 By preaching the virtues of standing armies and the direct authority of the ruler as an antidote to military chaos, the possibility of maintaining forces on the basis of the credit and private organization of the military contractor would seem to be restricted much more explicitly. The previous gap between military rhetoric and military reality was significantly harder to ignore. State control of military activity After 1650, there were areas in which the power of rulers and their administrators over military organization and structure grew, in terms of both practical control and public perception. Much of this growth mirrors the organizational changes seen in the French army from the 1660s, though accompanied by a less strident rhetoric about breaking with the past and establishing princely authority. A large element of the changes in the character of armies reflects the consequences of trying to fund permanent forces with the modest financial resources available from state revenues. Even a force of a few thousand men, sustained directly through the peace-time resources available to a second-rank German or Italian ruler, would be unsustainable on the basis of the wage levels that had been typical for soldiers in the Thirty Years War. Wartime circumstances had meant that wages were frequently delayed, or paid by contributions from occupied territory or simply from opportunities for plunder. A peace-time army would need to be paid far more regularly and directly from state resources. The only obvious solution to funding an army was to reduce the levels of pay, usually on the spurious grounds that pay would now be met in full and without the delays and shortfalls that had been typical of an earlier period. The pay of an ordinary soldier fell from the 6–7 talers offered by the recruiting officers of the Thirty Years War, down to the 2½ talers offered to recruits in Brandenburg in 1679, from which 1 taler 4 groschen was deducted for food and clothing, leaving actual pay of 1 taler 8 groschen per month.79 As was noted in earlier chapters, the later seventeenth century was the real turning point in the decline of

State control of military activity


soldiers’ social status, and this was mirrored in these dramatically falling wage levels. Less frequently remarked, but also important as part of this package of reducing the operating costs of a permanent army, is the disappearance of the ‘double-pay men’, the veterans who received either a full or considerably higher salary for their military experience and their key role in unit organization and deployment.80 In future the company hierarchy was simplified into a majority of ordinary soldiers and a small minority of NCOs. The latter’s pay was better than that of a traditional double-pay man, but their numbers were far smaller, they performed more general functions, and they were more clearly separated from the men. The double-pay men had been a central element in the ‘informal professionalism’ of military units in the Landsknecht and Thirty Years War tradition, the small-group dynamic based upon the Rott and the Rottmeister, and their disappearance was significant as part of a larger restructuring of unit dynamics. It might have been the case that the traditional, ‘apprenticeship’ system of military units, recognized in these differential wages between experienced soldiers and recruits, would have been unsustainable outside the context of permanent war, given the far smaller numbers of those still available for service with significant experience of combat. But in fact this whole system was being challenged by the fashionable importation of the model of rigorous, externally imposed drill and uniform practice in weapons and tactical deployment. When undertaken by militias and other parttime, quasi-informal forces, the failure of ‘revolutionary’ systems of exact discipline, taught through the drill manual and the barrack square, was unsurprising. To produce units which deployed their weapons and manoeuvred on the battlefield and under fire with perfectly synchronized collective movements in response to a formal repertoire of orders, and where drill and punishment had eliminated individual actions and reactions from this process, took a great deal of time and effort. But permanent armies, maintained over long periods of peace, had the time to inculcate these formalized practices, and permanent establishments of NCOs would have the task of teaching them. After the five to six years of regular drill which the marquis de Chamlay had suggested was the minimum required to train infantry soldiers (see p. 100), they would have achieved an impressive level of collective military performance both on the paradeground and in combat. The principles on which these military units had been prepared for combat were radically different from those of the Thirty Years War: they were characterized by a shared, uniform base of drill and rigorous subordination to instructions from above to provide cohesion in attack and under fire, rather than the previous, balanced mix of experienced and inexperienced troops held together by a common sense of esprit


Continuity, transformation and rhetoric after 1650

de corps and professional identity. Given the decline in the quality of ordinary soldiers being recruited in the later seventeenth century as the impact of reduced wages and lower social status took its toll, the inculcation of collective drill and unquestioning subordination almost certainly offered the best option for producing a combat-effective army. Moreover, with the technological developments of the later seventeenth century, the flintlock musket and the ring-bayonet – which finally eliminated the pikeman from the battlefields of Europe – the relentless drilling of infantry in formalized fire-drills and unit manoeuvres may even have had a serious tactical point. Massed infantry fire from units which could now stand shoulder-to-shoulder thanks to the more compact flintlock mechanism could have significant impact in close-range engagements. Though the deadliness of artillery on the battlefield still far outweighed that of infantry firearms, the ability to train units of infantry to maximize their rates of fire made tactical sense. From the later seventeenth century an infantry firefight might have real military consequences, rather than being the prelude to the kind of hand-to-hand, pike against musket-used-as-club fighting that would actually have decided infantry engagements between experienced troops before this time. There is no doubt, however, that the shift across to this style of military training and discipline also represented a public manifestation of the authority of the ruler over his entire army. The uniformity of drill, and the requirement that the soldiers be subjected to discipline in every aspect of their military performance, transformed both the behaviour and appearance of soldiers. Soldiers raised by the state’s administrators would be dressed and equipped to a common pattern, and indeed as the choreography of military drill took root, putting troops into full uniforms would have both functional and aesthetic purposes. The insistence on minute observance of drill on the parade-ground was carried across into the general imposition of disciplined comportment on guard duty, on the march, and in the behaviour of troops towards their superiors and those with authority outside of the army. The notion of the army as a wellregulated machine, in which the parts could move only in accordance with their stipulated roles and authority, was far removed from the informal discipline and structures of authority of the Landsknecht tradition. The perception of the individual soldier suffered a further decline: not only was he socially marginal, but he was now the ‘dumme Soldat’, capable only of unthinking obedience to orders.81 The army as a whole came to represent the authority of the ruler and the state, visibly manifested through the parade-ground performance of uniformed troops, well disciplined and subordinated to minute regulation in every aspect of their military behaviour and action.

State control of military activity


Low wages, plummeting social status and relentless discipline, which aimed to eliminate the casual – immoral – idleness of previous generations of professional soldiers, ensured that soldiering really did become the last resort of the most marginal social groups. And not only was it far more unpopular and ill-paid, but the logic of elaborate drill and discipline required long-serving soldiers, not men who would want to leave service after a year or two. As a result many rulers discovered that the ranks could be filled only by some form of direct conscription, a process which marked another departure from traditional perceptions of military life. At the same time, the ability to impose such long-service conscription, albeit on the most marginal and often criminal elements of society, marked a further apparent watershed in the increase in the authority of the state over its armed forces. Focus on collective drill and other disciplining activities also encouraged the hitherto relatively sporadic practice of confining soldiers to barracks, rather than billeting them on the local populations. Barracks provided a more consistent pattern of discipline, while also separating the soldiers from civilian life to a greater extent than ever before. This process should not be exaggerated; the poor wages of soldiers ensured that many of them still pursued some minor trade or skill in their free time, and the two worlds overlapped socially and economically.82 But the perception of soldiers as visibly set apart from society for a large part of their professional life grew in importance, and again emphasized the extent that the state and its specialist administrators seemed to control the levers of military power far more directly than in the past. Though these developments might appear to be shifting the patterns of military recruitment and maintenance towards state-raised, territorial forces, the use of hired, foreign troops by no means disappeared in Europe after 1650. Indeed given the small scale of most of the forces that could be raised by second-rank powers, the option of supplementing the modest standing elements with some additional hired troops remained attractive and in many cases essential. Notable, though, is the return of the traditional mercenary contract, in which the hired troops are integrated into the established forces. Enterprisers were not being contracted to raise forces to serve independently and alongside the rulers’ troops, still less to replace them altogether. Payment would be made for the costs of recruitment and assembly, terms of service stipulated, and the troops hired would be directly assimilated into the army of the ruler, even when they might on occasions outnumber the standing forces.83 On the other side, for some princes, the ‘soldier trade’ – hiring out native troops from their armies to other powers – was either a way of meeting the costs of a ‘standing’ army that was pressing heavily on their tax revenues, or a means to curry favour with a desired ally amongst the


Continuity, transformation and rhetoric after 1650

greater powers.84 Faced with the massive burden on small state resources of trying to maintain permanent military forces, the obvious way to try to cover the costs and maintain the army without a crippling or unacceptable tax burden was to lease out all or part of the army. Mercenary units had been returned to the status of individual force-enhancers – a means to raise additional troops quickly, especially when domestic recruitment was sluggish. They were still there in the mid-eighteenth century when, notoriously, a high proportion of ‘British’ troops fighting anywhere from Brunswick to Boston were Hessian mercenaries in the direct pay of the British crown, and where the armies of Frederick the Great made equally heavy use of Germans who were not the king’s subjects.85 The growth in the size of permanent forces and the range of military functions over which the state took some direct responsibility also had an impact on the size and status of central military bureaucracies. France was by no means a unique example of this, but during the 1660s the office of secretary of state for war was elevated to the status of war minister, with a permanent seat in the conseil d’en haut going to Louvois in 1672.86 This was paralleled in the growing importance of the Generalkriegskommissariat in Brandenburg or the Hofkriegsrath in Austria.87 In all cases the number of salaried officials grew, together with the scale and range of supervisorial activities, and the perception of the army as being directly under the control of the ruler and his expanding power base.88 The growth in the scale of administrative activity connected with the armies and navies of European powers from the later seventeenth century speaks for itself in the exponential increase in paperwork generated and preserved in the various state war archives, many of which were officially founded as depots for this material in the same period. Probably the most unambiguous practical example of the direct increase in state control over armed force came not with land forces, but with navies. The decisive factor here was not some ideologically motivated decision to take direct control of navies, but a technological change in warfare at sea, in its decisiveness akin to the role of siege artillery and the trace italienne for fortress design back in the early sixteenth century. Although the importance of shipborne gunnery had been steadily growing through the sixteenth and the early seventeenth century, this remained relatively unsystematic: heavier, ship-smashing guns, whether mounted in the prow, stern or along the side-decks, were certainly used with the aim of disabling an enemy vessel to permit subsequent boarding, or intimidating a crew with firepower so that they surrendered. But there was nothing that dictated a particular form of ship to carry such weapons, or the number and weight of guns carried. As we have seen, throughout the first half of the century, a substantial proportion of fleets would still be made up of

State control of military activity


armed merchantmen (see above pp. 83–6). This dual role lay at the heart of the private/state conduct of naval warfare down to the 1650s, and underwrote the willingness of shipowners and merchant captains to participate in naval campaigns, whether deploying their vessels as acting warships or as privateers. When rulers had built and controlled most of their navies before the 1650s it had usually – as in the case of Denmark and Sweden – been a reflection of the smallness and weakness of their merchant fleets, rather than a deliberate decision to concentrate resources in the hands of the state.89 The Anglo-Dutch Wars and the evolution of the line of battle had a decisive effect on maritime technology. The shift from naval tactics that aimed to intimidate or damage ships prior to boarding, to fleet actions which would be decided overwhelmingly by broadside batteries of heavy guns, was a major step in the emerging technology of warships.90 It inaugurated fleets made up entirely of rated vessels, the firepower of which would dictate the place they held in the fleet and their role in the artillery duel which would characterize future naval actions. A single gundeck posed much less of a structural problem to the role of the ship as cargo-carrier than did the designs for custom-built, rated warships after 1650, which from the third-rate upwards needed to be built to far higher specifications, with the capacity to carry sixty to seventy cannon on two or three reinforced gun-decks.91 At this battle-fleet end of the business, naval and mercantile technology were no longer interchangeable. It simply made no economic sense for private shipowners, who might have envisaged a partial military role for their previous ships, to build to the specifications of a rated warship. Armed merchant ships might act as privateers in time of war and supplement the naval activities of the main fleet, but they would be a dangerous liability if they tried to fight as part of the main navy. The last major sea engagement involving substantial forces which combined purpose-built warships and hired merchant ships was at the Listerdyb in May 1644, when Dutch armed merchantmen were heavily outclassed by the Danish warships of Christian IV.92 European states therefore faced a simple challenge after the 1650s. If they wanted a fleet capable of fighting in line of battle they would have to build it and maintain it at their own expense. Heavy warships could not double as commercial carriers and they were too costly and unfit for purpose as privateers; the most obvious private–public funding mechanism for operating navies would no longer work. These ships would only come into existence if the ruler was prepared to spend heavily from tax revenues to build, arm and crew them. It was this strategic realization which underlay Colbert’s massive naval building programme, and was felt no less forcefully amongst all the other powers with substantial maritime pretensions.93


Continuity, transformation and rhetoric after 1650

Fig. 6.2 A custom-built third-rate warship; contrast this with Figure 2.2

The persistence of military enterprise


Table 6.1 Number of ocean-going warships of 1,000 tonnes and above, 1650–1710

Britain France Netherlands Sweden Denmark/Norway






14 1 0 3 6

33 45 32 14 13

62 60 29 9 15

55 68 30 17 16

80 73 64 27 30

Source: Glete, Navies and Nations, II, pp. 549–649.

The creation of navies which were directly commissioned, owned and administered by rulers under state authority had an impact on many of the support structures for the building and maintenance of the ships. Although many of Christian IV’s ships had been built under contract in the private dockyards of Holstein, later in his reign the construction of larger warships and ship maintenance and repairs were carried out at the first comprehensively state-owned, state-controlled dockyards at Bremerholm, outside Copenhagen.94 The immense increase in the tonnage of the British navy in the later seventeenth century created a powerful demand for shipbuilding and for ship maintenance and repair facilities. From the 1690s the dockyards at Portsmouth and Plymouth were expanded over the existing naval base at Chatham. All first- and secondrated ships were now built in the royal dockyards, and this brought both the direct employment of an army of skilled and unskilled employees, and tighter supervision of the design and construction of the large numbers of smaller ships still built in private dockyards. The direct expense of the naval programme now fell almost exclusively at the door of the government, and this drove a steady increase in the authority and reach of the Admiralty Board.95 Here at last was a military operation on a large enough scale that it really could – unlike the Venetian Arsenale in its heyday – justify the full-time employment of skilled and unskilled labour as direct employees of the state.

The persistence of military enterprise All of these developments might seem to suggest that the armies and navies of European powers had indeed crossed a threshold from contracted armed forces to armies and navies that were organized and funded by rulers and their administrators. But as in France, where a strident


Continuity, transformation and rhetoric after 1650

ideology of direct crown control of the armed forces was accompanied by compromises and mechanisms that sought to mobilize the resources and ensure the involvement of wealthy subjects, the wider European reality was just as nuanced. As in the great age of military enterprise, the essential question remained as to how to gain access to the resources of privileged, taxexempt elites. The notion that rulers and state administrations could raise the incrementally larger sums that would have been required to fund the costs of the expanding armies of the later seventeenth century through taxation and better fiscal administration is no more convincing in the case of Austria or Brandenburg-Prussia than it was in the case of Louis XIV’s France. Most arguments that seek to link the growth of early modern armies and the development of state and fiscal power in some reciprocal explanation of mutually reinforcing growth become lost in a hazy circularity of implicit and untested assumptions.96 When case studies are examined, evidence that permanent armies were capable of the long-term imposition of coercion on domestic populations, above all on those elites who controlled the bulk of resources, proves unconvincing.97 The ability to finance armies which could achieve unprecedented expansion in the later seventeenth century and beyond can only be explained by placing the socio-political elites back into the picture, and demonstrating that they had a convincing blend of motives not merely to continue their involvement in military activity, but to underwrite a large part of its immediate costs. As in the case of the establishment and expansion of the army of Louis XIV, the notion of a clear-cut divide

Table 6.2 Growth in European army size, 1660–1760

France Austria Prussia Britain Dutch Republic Spain Russia Sweden Savoy-Piedmont Saxony








55,000 30,000 12,000 16,000

85,000 60,000 14,000 15,000 70,000 30,000

250,000 60,000 45,000 15,000 70,000 70,000 130,000 63,000 6,000

340,000 95,000 31,000 68,000 63,000 51,000

255,000 120,000 44,000 75,000 77,000 51,000 220,000 110,000 26,500 25,000

345,000 200,000 135,000 53,000 90,000

290,000 210,000 200,000 47,000 31,000


345,000 51,000

77,000 70,000 5,500

90,000 23,000 12,000

55,000 30,000


Source: Figures taken from J. Luh, Kriegskunst in Europa, 1650–1800 (Cologne, 2004), p. 17.

The persistence of military enterprise


between the world of military contractors and the world of the ‘permanent army’ breaks down once this is addressed. Both before and after 1650 the rulers of states, whether German or Italian principalities or the greater powers, sought means to enlist the capital, and to some extent the connections and organizational resources, of their elites in the raising of armed forces and the waging of war. The public–private military partnerships might vary in form and emphasis, but the underlying assumptions remained that substantial private involvement in the organization of war was both a practical requirement and not necessarily incompatible with the ruler’s authority over his armed forces. At the most basic level, in almost all armies the officers remained the creditors of the crown, lending money to feed, clothe or pay the basic wages of their troops when central funds and provisioning proved inadequate. This could take a number of forms. In some cases the senior officers were expected or encouraged, as in the past, to lend directly to the ruler. In the 1670s when it proved necessary to quarter the Electoral army on Brandenburg territory over the winter months, the colonels were expected to lend up to 10,000 talers each to sustain the costs of their regiments.98 This was a common phenomenon in the 1670s and 1680s when the armies of the smaller states frequently grew beyond the capacity of tax revenues to sustain even their basic expenses. In fact, such direct loans or voluntary contributions to military expenses continued far later into the ancien régime. Field Marshal Ludwig Johann, count of BussyRabutin, claimed that he had advanced more than 300,000 florins on the Emperor’s behalf from 1705 to 1707.99 Continuing the traditions of his forebears, who had provided loans to fund Habsburg military operations in both the Long Turkish War and the early years of the Thirty Years War, Field Marshal Joseph Wenzel, prince of Liechtenstein, carried out his reform of the Austrian artillery in the 1740s in significant part on the back of private funds that he was prepared to invest in new developments and better field guns.100 At its highest level this sort of ‘investment’ in the ruler’s military activities of course was a traditional aristocratic or courtly gambit: large, one-off financial commitments to military expenses, such as that of Liechtenstein, were aimed at gaining political favour or some later advantage. Lesser but probably more frequent loans, provided by colonels and senior officers in order to keep the army operational and the troops fed, would not be ‘gifts’ in this respect, and they would expect, and in some cases need, to receive reimbursement. Here we see a familiar pattern reasserting itself the moment that war can be waged outside the immediate territory of the ruler, as the officers who had provided loans continued to see themselves as shareholder-investors in the army, and looked to


Continuity, transformation and rhetoric after 1650

contributions or other means to recover their investment. Often this led to the straightforward imposition of Brandschatzen by the officers themselves: the Great Elector notified the Emperor in 1676 that the generals of the Imperial army had each extorted some 30,000–80,000 talers via local contributions on German territory during the previous two campaigns against France.101 There was a persistent tension, just as there had been in the Thirty Years War, between the collection of contributions as a means to meet the global expenses of military activities, and the assumption of individual senior officers that their own financial contributions to the costs of running their regiments and making good financial shortfalls would entitle them to a cut from the contributions being collected. While such individual reimbursement was increasingly resisted by state authorities as they tended to take over the management of contributions, it remained an obvious consequence of a military context in which senior officers were expected to make use of their resources to meet the burden of military expenses.102 More traditionally still, in some cases rulers were prepared to cut the knot of these conflicting expectations, and officially to sanction mechanisms for the reimbursement of loans and expenses by the officers. Senior Imperial officers operating in Hungary and further south up to the 1720s were granted licences by the Emperor to recoup their debts and pay themselves interest through the direct collection of local customs and sales taxes.103 A willingness to deploy the funds of these senior officers as enterprisers on an ad hoc basis was one way of meeting some of the spiralling costs of later seventeenth-century warfare. However, it was matched by a series of developments that were akin to the French model of recognizing a legitimate financial interest by the colonel-proprietor, recoverable on the transfer of the unit to another commander. As Fritz Redlich neatly defined the change, regiments were no longer large-scale business concerns in many European states after 1650, but they were certainly still investments from which the colonel would hope to recoup his capital with benefit. They did not offer opportunities to generate large profits over and above the initial and subsequent investment in upkeep, but they were much more than administrative appointments.104 Although regiments were in theory the direct property of the ruler, established as part of the permanent army, there were many variations on the theme of French-style venality: substantial sums paid to an outgoing colonel by his successor would amortize some of the expenses incurred in the unit’s upkeep, and provide an incentive for maintaining the unit in good condition by determining to some extent its ultimate transfer price. In some cases these arrangements, as in France, were explicit and formal, and in others they were given tacit approval by an

The persistence of military enterprise


administration as a means to encourage financial investment in military activity.105 In 1668, for example, Count Vitaliano Borromeo and Marquis Daniele Ala both contributed substantially to the costs of recruiting and equipping two newly formed tercios in Lombardy, which they then commanded for the Spanish crown.106 In the Austrian army, the regimental owner (as elsewhere in the German-speaking lands, bearing the explicit title of Obrist-Inhaber) would nominate an acting colonel, and could appoint directly all the officers up to the level of captain.107 In the British army of the early eighteenth century a full list of prices was published in an attempt to regulate sales, from £9,000 for the colonelcy of a regiment of dragoon guards down to £170 for the ensignship of an infantry regiment serving abroad.108 But if the regiment had a marketable value on being sold to a successor, it was also intended to provide a means for the colonel to recover at least a part of the money that he may have invested in equipping the troops, making good shortfalls of pay or provisioning, and indeed meeting the costly expectations of a regimental commander. As in the Thirty Years War, the structured ‘business of a regiment’ was a means by which initial cash payments to recruit and equip the regiment, providing clothing and weapons to the soldiers, could be recovered at a profit by deductions from the soldiers’ subsequent wages and the overall pay provided to manage the unit. In addition the regimental commander, through a series of opportunities connected with the collection of ‘administrative charges’ – the sale of subordinate commissions, of rights such as leaves of absence, and gratuities for internal appointments and promotions – could generate a significant annual income. In the 1690s an established Austrian regiment could generate some 10,000–12,000 florins per annum for its proprietor, a Prussian regiment of the same period around 3,000 talers in such benefits.109 Regiments could even be leased out by their owners: after his death in 1697, the daughter of Maximilian von Degenfeld rented out her father’s regiment to an acting colonel for 2,000 ducats per annum, since the colonel would be able to make a more substantial profit from the regimental business while also leading the unit militarily.110 One of the most conspicuous, and most thoroughly examined, examples of such regimental management is provided by the English, then British, army of the later seventeenth and the eighteenth century. This is an especially striking case in that England experienced little of the variety and extent of military contracting seen in the Thirty Years War period in Europe, and the establishment of regimental proprietorship as a structured investment opportunity would seem to have grown up largely without reference to the European precedents that have been explored in previous chapters.111


Continuity, transformation and rhetoric after 1650

Although the opportunities for windfall profits may have declined, regimental proprietorship remained highly prestigious, and in many armies senior officers continued to hold the titular colonelcies of more than one regiment. When the Great Elector died, Field Marshal Derfflinger had three regiments under his command – one each of infantry, cavalry and dragoons – together with control of the garrison of Küstrin.112 For Austrian commanders social prestige seems to have accrued more from the rank and number of regiments they held as titular colonels than from their title as general.113 Yet despite this prestige and the opportunities for recovering investment and making profit, the substantial change towards the end of the seventeenth and into the eighteenth century was that the economic/financial unit in the armies of the ancien régime became the company, not the regiment, and the rank which became the organizational and entrepreneurial linchpin was that of the captain. The first half of the eighteenth century saw the flourishing of the ‘company business’, with the captain as businessman-investor, whose activities – keeping the men clothed, keeping the equipment in good order and providing replacements, and maintaining the company at its established strength – offered a traditional style of military proprietorship, in which capital investment and good management were a means to a decent profit over the life of the unit or the command.114 As would be expected, not all captains were serving heads of companies: every general, senior officer and colonel had a company which he ran for profit, and would appoint a lieutenant captain to command the unit. In the early eighteenth century under Friedrich Wilhelm I of Brandenburg-Prussia, the capital value of a company is reported to have been 2,000 talers, while in addition the incoming captain would have to ‘buy’ company equipment – arms, standards, drums, etc. – from his predecessor, for a price set at 600 talers.115 In almost all cases the major profits from managing a company came from having direct control of recruitment – both of the ordinary soldiers and the NCOs and subaltern officers. Profit and patronage came together in the hands of the landowner-captain, who used his influence and standing both to raise recruits more cheaply than on the open market and to reward local clients with junior officerships. The high-point of this process was reached in the Prussian army where almost all the captains were from estate-owning families controlling unfree peasants who could be recruited at profit, and from the time of Friedrich Wilhelm I returned to their estates for a large part of the year to assist in the agricultural cycle.116 At one level this shift of enterprise down one rung of the command ladder might be seen as a step towards the state-controlled army: reducing the danger posed by independent commander-proprietors by fragmenting

The persistence of military enterprise


their activities into smaller units. From another perspective, it can be seen as an efficient version of the French mechanism for maintaining and widening the extent of recognized investment by the elites in military service: now every officer from captain upwards was a direct financial stakeholder in the organization and the effectiveness of the army. In the case of the British military administration, it seems that the playing-off of colonels against captains in their respective fiscal and military responsibilities and benefits allowed the government to strike a considerably tougher bargain when offering remuneration to the captains for their company expenses, while maintaining the goodwill of the colonels by tolerating a higher level of perquisites and benefits at this senior level.117 Such mechanisms were not restricted to land forces: the Dutch Navy Board continued the practice of paying the captains ‘provisioning pennies’ in return for the captains’ requirement to furnish the supplies for their crews until 1808.118 The persistence of entrepreneurship across the armies of the later seventeenth century had the same benefits and costs as in the French case. The prestige and status of officer service continued to grow, and with it the competition to obtain commands. The structure of all of these armies ensured that the vast majority of posts would be filled by those whose wealth would be channelled into the upkeep of their units, offering in return official recognition of this commitment through marketability of the office and some potential for investment return. One obvious cost of this system was in the blocking of military promotion to those who lacked the capital resources to purchase a company or regiment, and the very rapid promotion of those whose financial resources, rather than military skill and experience, gave them the wherewithal to purchase the unit and to sustain the subsequent financial burdens of its management. This did not necessarily mean that the regiment or company was badly led and run: large numbers of units were run by competent and experienced lieutenant colonels and company lieutenants acting as captains. But it generated the tensions and resentments that non-professional barriers to promotion would inevitably establish. The other cost was that the much-vaunted administrative initiatives and controls identified with these standing armies – the commissioners, inspectors, intendants – were in reality pragmatic and limited agents of central authorities; these in turn recognized that the military officers were engaged in the financing of the war machine and that the administrators needed to tread carefully around issues of discipline, moderate levels of financial misappropriation and proprietary interest.119 Above all, the system turned proprietary officer corps across Europe into a distinct caste, increasingly professional as the length of their service increased, but acutely aware of points of social status within the


Continuity, transformation and rhetoric after 1650

hierarchy, and easily capable of mirroring factional and dynastic rivalries through insubordinate, disruptive and assertive behaviour.120 The problem of socially motivated military insubordination was universal from Lisbon to Moscow throughout the ancien régime, but seems to have reached its height at the princely level in the Empire.121 The contractor state Regimental and company ownership was an important aspect of continuity in the management of armies long after any supposed midseventeenth-century watershed, and because it raises issues of control, of discipline and regulation of soldiers, as well as, ultimately, debates about the conflict between nobility and wealth, merit and service, it deserves attention.122 But by far the largest and most significant continuity between army organization before and after 1650 was the extensive structure of provisioning, clothing, arms and munitions manufacturing, army transportation and contracts to carry out maintenance, repairs and construction of fortresses, siege-works or barracks. In all matters connected with the supply and maintenance of armies and of military support systems, private contracting remained unchallenged. Down to the 1780s in France the basic bread rations for all of the armies continued to be provided by major contractors, munitionnaires, often operating as consortia, who negotiated the terms for supply with the central authorities, then organized the amassing of grain, milling, baking, and distribution of bread through their financial contacts, networks of producers, and their extensive webs of agents and employees. Other food supplies over and above the basic pain de munition were more often provided by local contractors operating with the individual armies and, in many cases when opportunity permitted, purchasing their supplies from cross-border sources.123 Only the amassing and distribution of forage for the cavalry was handled directly by state administrators, an area of the supply service that the historian of the Seven Years War, Lee Kennett, singles out for particular criticism on grounds of negligence, administrative incompetence and fraud.124 More characteristically, the provision of weaponry and the transport of goods to the armies were systematically outsourced to private contractors.125 Such contractual systems of army supply were replicated across Europe, in particular the widespread tendency to negotiate large-scale provisioning contracts from the centre with individuals or consortia who were strongly placed in their access to money, supplies and distribution facilities.126 Foremost amongst the Kriegsfaktoren who supplied the Imperial armies from the later seventeenth century was the powerful and

The contractor state


influential Vienna-based financier and munitions contractor, Samuel Oppenheimer.127 In 1702, for example, Oppenheimer received a commission to provide 21,000 new flintlock muskets for the Imperial infantry in addition to his already substantial roles in provisioning and supplying munitions.128 The advantage for the central government, as in France, was that it allowed these large supply and equipment contracts to be negotiated within the complex, tight-knit and overlapping milieu of government ministers, private financiers and officials concerned with the collection and distribution of tax revenues. The focus on large-scale contracts negotiated at the centre could be dangerous. In comparison with the regular and sometimes open negotiations in most states over the purchase of tax farms by consortia of financiers, it is striking just how little attempt was made to put military supply contracts for army or navy out to competitive tender.129 The rationale of relying on known, reliable contractors rather than whoever offered to meet the contract most cheaply, perhaps by skimping on quality of goods purchased or the distribution infrastructure, was obvious and universally acknowledged. But dependence on known and reliable contractors could become self-defeating, overly focusing activities through a handful of men known to the court.130 Oppenheimer’s supply contracts were supplemented by massive loans to the Habsburg monarchy which overstretched even his extensive network of financial resources and connections.131 His sudden death in 1703 precipitated the bankruptcy of his firm, and threatened to undermine the entire financial/logistical base of the Habsburg war effort.132 In 1709 the imminent bankruptcy of Samuel Bernard was to present the same threat to the already desperate military situation of the French armies. The problem of concentrating so much of the financial and military-supply operations in few hands was compounded when these turned out to be lacking in precisely the experience and skills that reliance on the private sector was supposed to supply. Marc-René, marquis de Montalembert, used his court connections to obtain a large-scale contract to supply iron cannon to the French navy in the 1750s, and then both completely failed to meet the terms of the contract and managed to obstruct any attempt to replace him with a more effective entrepreneur.133 It is easy to construct a patchwork using selective examples of contractors’ fraud, incompetence and poor performance to validate the assumption that state-controlled and government-managed logistical systems represented an obvious and uncontroversial improvement, a necessary step forward into a modern military organization. Yet failures and dangers amongst contractors need to be kept in proportion. The governments of the ancien régime persisted in using contractors to supply their armies not through self-delusion or collusion in fraudulent practice, but because they


Continuity, transformation and rhetoric after 1650

had no doubt that the system worked better, more flexibly and more cheaply than the creation of a state-run and -financed supply corps. On the one hand, there was a widely shared awareness that any specifically created government system would suffer from a comparative lack of the skills, experience and flexibility possessed by networks of established merchants and producers.134 On the other, setting aside an extravagant public rhetoric and a few egregious examples, in reality corruption was far from endemic amongst contractors, and state employees operating a supply corps would be quite capable of exceeding systematically any graft and fraud practised by their private counterparts. Even apparently model ‘bureaucracies’, such as the British excise administration and the militarized officials who collected the excise and the contributions from the Prussian territories, have been subject to substantial historical revisionism as their inefficiencies, inflexibility and compromises with established interests have been given more attention.135 Recent work on the supply of the British armies and fleet in the eighteenth century has made the same point on the basis of substantial and persuasive evidence: ‘the remarkable feature of contracting in eighteenthcentury Britain was its efficiency . . . One can see a glaring double standard in historical studies relating to contractors.’136 The success of contracting, and its ability to satisfy the operational needs of army and navy, underpinned a substantial growth in the use of contracting through the eighteenth century. By 1763, as Gordon Bannerman illustrates in his study of British army contractors, government had expanded its use of contracting for all aspects of military supply and had tested its capacities through a series of conflicts culminating in the operations of the Seven Years War. The duties of military commissaries were almost entirely confined to monitoring the activities of contractors; as in France, only the collection of forage typically remained a concern for military officials.137 The expansion of contracting was just as marked in the administration of the navy. Shipbuilding itself, gun and cannon-ball founding, copper and lead mining and manufacturing, rope making, manufacture of equipment and uniforms, all drew upon the resources of the private manufacturers and supplies. The Victualling Board served to coordinate the vast mass of contracts by which the navy was fed and supplied with munitions.138 Despite the royal shipyards at Chatham, Portsmouth and Plymouth, the Navy Board considered it essential throughout the eighteenth century to turn to private shipyards to build and maintain part of the fleet, and especially to respond to war-driven surges in demand.139 Between 1793 and 1815 some 71 per cent of naval tonnage was the product of private shipyards, and only the very largest ninety- or one hundred-gun ships were always built in royal dockyards.140 Where the contracting differed

The contractor state


from that of Continental states was in the greater willingness of both army and navy officials to make use of large numbers of smaller manufacturers, merchants and suppliers to meet their needs.141 The Victualling Board, for example, was willing to sacrifice the potential convenience of handling contracting through large-scale suppliers in order to maintain a more flexible and perhaps more secure system of small-scale contracts. It remained the case here that reliability and efficiency weighed heavily in decisions about making and renewing contracts.142 Use of smaller-scale contractors was not an attempt to stimulate cost-cutting, and contractors were more likely to be appointed on the basis of their known reputation, reliability and experience, while the outsider offering a deceptively cheap tender would be rejected. The developing system of contracting for military and naval supply was undertaken not primarily to save money, but because it did the job better than a state-run alternative. Private contracting offered, as it had done at the time of the Thirty Years War, access to a much wider range of markets, both domestic and foreign, in which a supply administration of government officials would have found it difficult or impossible to deal – whether for organizational or political reasons. It offered specialized expertise in the face of complex and often diffuse markets: as in an earlier age, private contractors were better at gathering together the relatively small-scale production from many different locations or markets and concentrating its delivery to meet the needs of the armed forces. Behind this lay the enduring problems of gaining technical expertise and specialist skills in manufacturing, supply and transport, of bringing together diffuse local and regional markets to meet military demand, reducing costs and obtaining credit.143 Moreover, the state could make use of a large-scale, diverse and efficient system of manufacturing and supply without having to capitalize its structure and operations on any significant scale, as would have been the case if the decision was taken to set up a supply corps. While it was accepted by all those directly involved in negotiations that contracts would – and should – incorporate a reasonable level of profitability, as with the figures cited in Chapter 5 for the purchase and transport of gunpowder in the United Provinces for Genoese military needs in the 1620s, the profits were by no means outrageous or unreasonable given the levels of risk run by the contractors.144 For the majority of states, and in comparison with the extortionate costs of anticipating tax revenues via short-term loans, military provisioning under contract was good value. This was especially true given that contracting was much more adaptable to the rhythms of war and peace; the contractor bore the risk of overstocking with military goods which might then need to be sold in a glutted, post-war market. He took the risks of building up an infrastructure of


Continuity, transformation and rhetoric after 1650

agents, negotiating transport contracts and dealing with the security or decay of his supplies. And if the contractors had to absorb the risk of rapid demobilizations from war to peace, they were no less the active parties in using their networks, connections and access to resources to meet surges of demand, whether for shipbuilding, fortress repairs or the equipping and feeding of an army that had multiplied in size with the beginning of war. As long as the fiscal-military state still drew a distinction between peacetime establishments and wartime military mobilization, and needed to move rapidly between the two, contractors provided them with a better and more efficient means to achieve this than any obvious alternative. Nor was the logic of enlisting private resources and expertise restricted to the states of ancien régime Europe. Chinese Qing armies of the later seventeenth and the eighteenth century were supplied in wartime through a combination of a state-managed logistical system for procurement and, in a new departure, extensive contracts with private suppliers and transport operatives. This deployment of shangyun (transport by merchants) by common agreement worked well, and facilitated a series of eighteenthcentury military campaigns on the Mongolian steppe and other far-flung campaign theatres.145 Far from being dispensable grit in the state machine, some hangover from a dark age of unrestricted profiteering based on weak and underdeveloped state administration, supply and manufacturing contractors were a central and growing element of early modern military organization. Conclusion The most extensive and wide-ranging study of military enterprise as an economic system is provided in Fritz Redlich’s monumental German Military Enterpriser and his Work Force. The subtitle to the third and final section gives an unambiguous indication of the approach to the subject after 1650: ‘The Decay and Demise of Military Entrepreneurship’. After nearly half a century, Redlich’s work still offers by far the most detailed account of German military proprietorship. His approach therefore contributes powerfully to the general perception that after 1650 a process of inexorable decline occurred, each stage representing a further enfeeblement of a system which had lost its raison d’être by the end of the Thirty Years War. Yet an alternative interpretation can be taken from the evidence. Military organization after 1650 was characterized by a new series of private–public partnerships between rulers, their administrations and various types of military contractors, partnerships which were of themselves no more inherently unstable and unworkable than their predecessors. As before, rulers



confronted the essential reality that military force on the scale that they deemed necessary to secure their political objectives could only be mobilized and maintained through the financial and organizational support of their own elites or other, external sources of military force and funding. The benefits for the ruler came through mobilizing otherwise unattainable financial resources to raise more, better-equipped and better-provisioned armed forces, and increasing levels of organizational competence and flexibility in negotiating supply, manufacturing and transport of support services. Early modern rulers, despite the implicit assumptions of Redlich and other historians writing about military enterprise, held no a priori assumptions about the practical superiority of state-controlled military organization, even if in a few documented cases they may have expressed, as did successive kings of Spain, an ideological preference for such central administración. Indeed, the working knowledge that the latter would not deliver comparable results in terms of efficiency and flexibility was the strongest inducement to pursue the range of partnerships with private capital and organization that have been examined in this chapter. Moreover it should not be assumed that the direction in which these state–private partnerships would move was inevitably further down the path towards a preponderant state interest in the control of armies and navies, albeit still underpinned with massive levels of private investment, organization and support. Even in the later seventeenth century, it was still possible to return to altogether more autonomous military activity. Under the overwhelming fiscal pressure of the War of the League of Augsburg (1689–97), the French Atlantic navy provides an example of how a radical redrafting of the public–private partnership was still possible, turning the clock back to an earlier style of military organization. Despite the success of the Colbertian navy at the battle of Béveziers in July 1690, the inability of the state to maintain even partial funding for both army and navy led to a series of decisions by which the main Atlantic fleet was effectively dissolved in 1694/5. The great majority of the larger-rated vessels were simply laid up in the ports. The individual captains were offered letters of marque, and encouraged to pursue their own financial interests via a guerre de course to be sustained as long as the war lasted. Many of those financiers and merchants who under Colbert’s aegis had been granted lucrative contracts for building, maintaining and provisioning the navy shifted their activities across to funding this wholesale privateering activity. They joined forces with a substantial number of merchant-skippers who either had been involved in privateering previously or now saw in the collapse of the navy the end of any chance of protection for legitimate maritime activity. All of this was now organized at a local, sometimes individual level, in business association with the venture capital of the


Continuity, transformation and rhetoric after 1650

same fiscal-mercantile interests who under Colbert had previously funded the ‘royal’ navy.146 The bottom line for the king’s government, hopelessly overstrained by the costs of warfare, was not to try to constrain the naval captains and the financial cartels to fund a conventional naval force compatible with the crown’s direct control of military resources. The financial and strategic case was put with absolute clarity by Marshal Vauban in his Mémoire concernant la course: the only option that would keep the captains and officers in service, and would allow France to retain some naval presence, was total decentralization and the return to full-scale contracting on the basis of privateering.147 A similar crisis and response was to overwhelm the French navy during the War of the Spanish Succession, with an equally deliberate decision to rely on privateering in place of maintaining a state-controlled navy of rated warships.148 In the decades following the Peace of Utrecht (1713) a statecontrolled French navy based on rated ships of the line was re-established. Vauban’s advocacy of privateering had not minced words in insisting that there was a strategic price to be paid in abandoning a high seas fleet by a nation with colonial and trading networks and an extensive and potentially vulnerable coastline. Linking these strategic concerns to the dynastic priorities and perceptions involved in waging war ensured that the rebuilding of the king’s navy was a foregone conclusion. Yet the price was equally predictable: as the French crown struggled through the eighteenth century to sustain the exorbitant costs of major armed forces on land and at sea, the navy inevitably bore the brunt of a struggle for resources which failed to match military needs.149 As long as an assertive rhetoric of state control outran the capacity of the state itself either to provide adequate support for its armed forces or to tailor its strategic and operational perspectives to the limits of this support, private investment and organization still had the potential to expand its remit and activities in order to fill the gap. When the role of private enterprise in warfare came under threat and finally disappeared in the late eighteenth century, it was for reasons that owed nothing to an assessment of its actual effectiveness.



To win a war you do not need to score a ‘perfect ten’ in military excellence, you just have to perform better, perhaps less badly, than the enemy.1 What has been insufficiently discussed . . . is the crucial evidence of the inefficiency, waste and the clear and straightforward corruption that for centuries has accompanied the preparations for war, to the point where it would perhaps be possible to write a ‘history of peculation’.2

The traditional depiction of early modern military contracting bears some resemblance to accounts of the age of the dinosaurs which my generation encountered as children in the 1960s. Dinosaurs (then treated as a single generic life-form, like mercenaries and military contracting) were slow, lumbering and ineffectual. They survived essentially because at the outset they faced no serious competition, and by sheer size could dominate a given environment. But they were ‘obviously’ doomed to extinction when set against warm-blooded mammals with their adaptability, speed and evolutionary potential, and the story of the dinosaurs was presented as one of increasingly unsustainable developments in size, in ever-more elaborate defensive carapaces, horns and spikes, and ever-greater dependence on very specific conditions from which they could derive enough food for survival. The obvious question of why such self-evident evolutionary losers should have managed to dominate life on earth for 140 million years was just beginning to be asked at a popular level in the 1960s, but had not yet challenged the general assumptions which suggested that the story was one of physiological and adaptive failure. Yet in subsequent decades understanding of dinosaurs has undergone a revolution. Lazy habits of speech ensure that the traditional associations and assumptions have not entirely vanished, but they coexist with a scientific consensus that the dinosaurs were extraordinarily adaptable, 307



resilient forms of vertebrate life, able to dominate different environments, climates and competitors over unimaginably long periods of time. Military contracting, easily dismissed under the generalized and unspecific category of ‘(hiring) mercenaries’, is in need of a similar, more thoughtful evaluation. 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. This was no self-defeating and wilful adoption of what was self-evidently a historical dead-end, but a system capable of adapting to meet rapidly changing military and political requirements and challenges, retaining those elements which could ensure resilience and effectiveness and adapting or jettisoning others as political or military circumstances dictated. The previous chapters have sought to demonstrate that almost none of the systems of private enterprise adopted by early modern rulers involved a total capitulation of control and responsibility by the warlord, with the implication that the ultimate aims and objectives of rulers and their states were simply abandoned to the financial and personal self-interest of the contractors and their workforce. There are remarkably few Wallensteins in the story of military contracting, and most respectable historiography doubts that Wallenstein’s own action – his ‘treason’ in apparently defying the Emperor in early 1634 – was at root more than a dispute over the militarily practical in a situation where the preservation of his army was the key imperative for both political and military authorities. The often subtle balance of public and private involvement in military activity, with the same senior officers acknowledging their position as both private investors and subjects of a ruler with considerable interests in the political and social status quo, militated against disloyalty. When Wallenstein’s enemies persuaded the Emperor to move against him, it was striking how few of the Generalissimo’s senior officers were prepared to waver in their loyalty to the Emperor.3 Military enterprise was not a recklessly deployed double-edged sword placed in the hands of inherently disloyal condottieri. Nor was it a crude and ineffectual bludgeon, as damaging to subjects as to enemies, and incapable of achieving decisive military results. Enough has been said about the ways in which force deployed by those who saw themselves as shareholders in both the military effectiveness of their forces, and also their long-term sustainability, was, by the standards of the period, flexible, adaptable and cost-efficient. It was not enough to preserve an army, or



indeed a force of experienced privateers like Colaert’s Dunkirkers, by passivity or small-scale raiding; success meant a level of risk, achieving operational advantages which could be built upon over entire campaigns, and involved systematically damaging both the territory and the military resources of enemy powers. These goals were best secured by delegating most operational responsibility to commanders of forces with an investment in one or more units and to their shareholder-officers, and counting on them to pursue the goal of deploying limited resources in a way that combined maximum striking power with the imperative of preventing the dissolution of the force through ill-conceived and logistically ill-supported operations. While this would by no means always bring success, and some commanders mastered this art of warfare better than others, it achieved vastly more than cursory and prejudiced overviews of the Thirty Years War would suggest. After the Thirty Years War and into the eighteenth century the imperatives behind the organization and control of military force changed again in various distinct ways, and with them the broad character of military enterprise. These imperatives included the assertion of the direct authority of the ruler over the armed forces as a crucial mark of sovereignty; the fashion for establishing a core of permanent troops (‘standing armies’) directly under the financial and administrative control of the state; various factors and influences in European politics which exponentially ratcheted up the overall size of armies. The model of military proprietorship changed from one of operational control delegated to armies that were largely made up of colonels who owned their regiments directly and whose ownership was a crucial factor in the conduct of campaigning, to one in which the financial and proprietary interests of unit commanders were harnessed within a military structure in which the authority and control of the ruler and his agents was far more assertively maintained. In some cases the proprietary interest was expressed through a straightforward system of venality, emphasizing that the office itself, and not the unit of soldiers, was the property of the officer. In other cases, the colonel, or latterly the captain, was encouraged to engage in the ‘business of the unit’ – investing and recouping profit from equipping, clothing and sometimes feeding his soldiers, or in the case of the Dutch navy, his sailors – but as a sideline to his duties as an employee of the crown, beholden to the military instructions of senior officers. These commanding officers made their military decisions less as commander-proprietors with delegated authority and aware that their unit officers were shareholders in the military enterprise, than as the agents of the crown and its military advisers, who would almost invariably maintain more control over military operations, allocation of resources and strategic priorities.



Yet if the traditional role of the military enterpriser was overshadowed in the decades from 1650 to 1750, this was not in order to create armed forces which were comprehensively under the direct administration of the state. The shift of the role of the army and unit commanders away from being self-financing enterprisers with a strong private interest in the effective conduct of warfare was accompanied by the spectacular rise of the military contractor. As armies grew dramatically larger in the later seventeenth century, so opportunities for equipping, supplying, transporting and in the short-term, financing them grew to match. The contracts might be made by the central government, or by its agents in the field, and on occasions by army commanders delegated or driven into the role, but the response of the ancien régime state to the entire panoply of logistical and operational needs for its armed forces was overwhelmingly to delegate the organization into the hands of private manufacturers, suppliers, merchants and transporters. A concern to assert the principle of the ruler’s sovereignty over the military hierarchy and the control of military operations was not accompanied by any similar concern to control directly the supply and service infrastructure of the armed forces. The ‘fiscal-military’ state and military enterprise The issues of direct versus contractual control of armed force can underscore the extent to which the present book is part of a broader historical debate about the role of war and military organization in state-formation. The arguments presented in successive chapters are intended as a challenge to the pervasive notion that one of the fundamental indicators of modernity and the rise of the state in Europe is the direct – political and administrative – control of armed force. As noted in the introduction, Charles Tilly’s adage that war made the state and the state made war encapsulates a central strand in thinking about political transformations and power, from the essays of Otto Hintze through successive generations of historians of state-building. Implicit in that thinking is the assumption that the only effective way in which the state’s ‘monopoly over the means of violence’ could be asserted was through the direct control of those means of violence, a process which parallels the bureaucratization of systems of revenue-raising. Instead, we have encountered a picture of mediated or delegated military authority and organization persisting, and in some cases growing, throughout the early modern period. Yet in the context of recent early modern historiography, this alternative picture is perhaps less surprising. The traditional historical picture of the ‘absolutist state’, with its assumed concentration of coercive power and authority in the hands of

The ‘fiscal-military’ state and military enterprise


the ruler and a bureaucratic, accountable and professional administration, has been under attack for the past three or four decades. The hallmark of most recent monographic and generalizing/synthetic studies of early modern European government, the character of its administration and the dynamics of central–local relations, has been scepticism about the growing power and capabilities of the state. Traditional accounts of absolutist regimes drew little distinction between the legislative intentions of government and its capacity for practical enforcement, and took the rhetoric of monarchs and their ministers as an account of a successful transformation of relations between rulers and the ruled. In contrast, recent works have emphasized the persistent weakness and limited reach of the early modern state, even in the hands of an unchallenged ruler or a closely cooperating ruling elite. In matters such as the imposition of religious uniformity, policing and social order, economic regulation, censorship and control of opinion, governments either compromised and negotiated local support for their initiatives, or failed to achieve more than a fraction of their declared objectives.4 This failure was unsurprising. The scale, competence and resources of early modern governments have been greatly overestimated, and their capacity to achieve objectives correspondingly exaggerated. This was true of the sixteenth century and remained the case through the seventeenth and, in many cases, beyond. Where a central regime acquired a large number of administrators on the ground, as was the case in France, the driving motivation was fiscal, not administrative: selling offices with the explicit purpose of raising funds from a wealthy elite who became in turn proprietors of the offices and their functions. In so far as they could be threatened for non-cooperation, it was more through challenges to proprietary rights implied by the creation of new office-holders than by any attempts to impose norms of performance or effectiveness in enforcing the decrees of central government. Elsewhere administrations where the agents were directly employees of the crown typically remained small, overburdened, and staffed by favour and established influence or direct patronage. Seeing in these structures an embryonic bureaucracy of motivated and specialized officials, cooperating closely and independently of external influences to enforce the directives of an ever-more exigent central state authority, is an anachronistic imposition of what, even in the nineteenth century, may have been an idealized view of the capabilities of government.5 In most areas where it sought to influence the lives of subjects, the capacity of early modern central government to achieve goals was constrained, whether by small numbers of officials, or by inefficient and overlapping layers of responsibility and accountability established for



financial rather than administrative motives. Officials worked within the constraints of fiscal, legal and territorial privilege at almost every level of early modern society, and encountered provincial, institutional and individual autonomy, influence and obstructionism just as inevitably. Far from embodying the cutting edge of nascent absolutism and the ‘wellordered police-state’, government and its administrators in early modern Europe remained emphatically small – whether absolutely or functionally – and limited in range, capacity and aspiration. Studies of supposed ‘confessionalization’ within the state, control of criminality and social deviance, enforcement of economic and social regulation, increasingly work from an assumption of the weakness and ineffectiveness of the state’s administrative power, rather than its capacity directly to shape the lives of its subjects. That government initiatives and policies pursued by early modern European rulers were not a stark litany of failure, inertia and confrontation has been widely attributed to an alternative model, that of government consensus, concession and collaboration which since the 1980s has formed an ever-more explicit presence in early modern political history. European rulers and their governments worked within existing structures of elite power and influence, not against them. This might entail taking policies in directions that satisfied the aspirations of these elites – whether these were social, fiscal, religious or cultural. Or it could involve guaranteeing and upholding elite interests as the price of gaining cooperation and active support for enforcing policies – whether heavier fiscal demands, the pursuit of unpopular war, or the enforcement of outward religious compliance, for example – upon the rest of the ruler’s subjects. Such compromises raise fundamental questions about the autonomy and effectiveness of state administration, but they have been used as a convincing tool to explain how potentially disastrous confrontations between highhanded government policies and entrenched elites in the first half of the seventeenth century – the central European Habsburg lands, France, England, the Spanish monarchy, numerous smaller Germanic and Italian states – may have been avoided later in the century and beyond. However, such explanations in terms of working with, rather than against, the wider interests of established political and social elites pose no fewer problems. Such arguments assume that early modern rulers, recognizing the administrative and coercive weakness of their government, explicitly or tacitly conceded that they needed to cooperate with their elites in policy-making and enforcement. This certainly implies respect for embedded fiscal, judicial and institutional privilege, and may involve potentially substantial elite involvement in a non-professional and self-serving administration. Yet such a recognition that compromise and

The ‘fiscal-military’ state and military enterprise


respect for established interests are the price of support for policies sits awkwardly with the knowledge that many European states by the later seventeenth century had achieved an exponential increase in their ability to tap their subjects’ financial resources and to spend these on raising and maintaining unprecedented military forces. As noted earlier in the book, the first clear and permanent increase in the scale of military resources maintained by the major powers after the mid-sixteenth century comes in the decades from the 1670s. The longterm increase in military establishments in the later seventeenth century, above all when the hugely increased costs of navies are added to land forces, is unprecedented until the armies of the French Revolutionary Wars. Yet the costs and the burdens of raising and maintaining these forces were sustained on the back of societies and economies that experienced, in most cases, limited or no economic growth and demographic stagnation or decline. Confrontational and aggressive fiscal policies in France during the 1630s and 1640s had failed to provide sufficient resources to raise and maintain an army that was around a quarter of the size of the forces maintained by Louis XIV in the Nine Years War. It is therefore hard to see how this supposedly ‘consensual’ later regime, respecting the privileges of the French elites and allowing the full burden of taxation to rest on the impoverished and unprivileged, would find the wherewithal to sustain its unprecedented war effort. The case for the French state in the 1690s could equally be applied to the Spanish monarchy a generation earlier, or the Swedish state of the Vasas: how did regimes with such apparently restricted access to fiscal and material resources and without the capacity for coercion of their privileged subjects manage to raise and maintain these massively increased military establishments? This challenge underpins a major shift in thinking about the nature of early modern state power, and can be summarized in the shift of nomenclature from the ‘absolutist state’, with its assumptions about a general level of unconditional authority and coercive power in the hands of the ruler, to the ever-more widespread use of the term ‘fiscal-military state’ in an early modern context. The concept of the ‘fiscal-military state’ gets to the heart of a system of government whose priorities were focused on a primary objective: the efficient raising – and spending – of money to achieve the state’s military objectives in a competitive environment in which the capacity to mobilize ever-larger military resources appeared crucial to political success and failure. It is because the raising and maintenance of military force is identified as the fundamental concern and key priority of the government and its administrators that political systems which seem riddled with fiscal exemptions, institutional and individual



interests, corruption and patrimonialism, can support what seem like unsustainably heavy and extensive military burdens. The concept has none of the broad reach and supposed political aims implied by the ‘absolutist state’, and carries few implications of a more general ‘passage to modernity’. What it offers is a synthesis of ideas about the role – and crucially the limitations – of state power in early modern Europe. The original use of the concept, first disseminated by John Brewer in his account of the war-driven development of the fiscal apparatus of the late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century English state, did postulate a remarkable transformation of fiscal administration. Brewer used the parliamentary monarchy of England, and its development of a highly effective, proto-bureaucratic administration for the imposition and collection of the excise taxes, to challenge the frequently assumed link between the European absolutist monarchies and a more effective mobilization of military capacity.6 Raising substantial resources to finance war need not be about military coercion and militarized fiscal administration, and efficient systems of tax extraction could develop in states dependent upon elite consensus in political and fiscal policies. The English system was driven from the 1690s by the needs of financing warfare, waged on an unprecedented scale. Subsequent historians have raised questions about the extent to which Brewer’s model overestimates the bureaucratic efficiency and modernity of the excise administration, but this has been in order to stress still further the dependence on compromise and cooperation with established groups and interests within the state.7 The effect of this has been to diminish the argument for English exceptionalism, and to spread the concept of the fiscal-military state much more widely across early modern Europe; a means to explain the general phenomenon of states with apparently limited governmental and fiscal ‘reach’ into their societies nonetheless achieving high levels of military mobilization. To date, the majority of detailed studies related to the fiscal-military state have sought to examine the ways in which rulers could focus their limited political and administrative authority on maximizing the financial resources that could be made available for military activity. Recent studies, for example, have risen to the challenge of explaining how the French monarchy in the last three decades of Louis XIV’s reign managed, despite its apparent dependence on the cooperation of local and institutional elites, to squeeze huge sums out of the kingdom for the support of the war effort. It did so precisely from these elites, whose wealth, untapped by direct taxation until 1695, represented a vast reservoir of immediate financial support and potential collateral for loans. In innumerable cases the price of gaining these financial resources was the permanent reinforcement and stabilization of the office-holding and political rights of these

The ‘fiscal-military’ state and military enterprise


elites. The magistrates of the Parlement of Dijon, who paid over huge sums to the crown, gained ever-tighter legal guarantees of the property rights in their own offices so that they could use their value as collateral in raising loans.8 In general the exploitation of venality of office, and the raising of massive loans from institutions and their individual members, was bought at the price of permanently reinforcing their privileges and autonomy within the political system. But as the aim was the maximizing of fiscal resources for the war effort, not the creation of some model of unimpeded central authority exercised by an ‘absolutist’ crown, the bartering continued down to and beyond the end of the Sun King’s reign. Whether seen in the relationship of the French crown with its ‘Fourth Estate’, or the relationship of the Spanish crown with the great aristocratic families whose financial and military support helped to sustain the war effort down to 1659, the impact was the same: resources to boost the war effort were bought through selling out on conventional notions of stateformation through the centralization and concentration of authority and the erosion of autonomous rights and privileges.9 In most respects an autonomous state administration continued relatively weak and underdeveloped, except in its ability to mobilize military resources. If discussions of the fiscal-military state have focused on the fiscal, rather than the military, side of its operations, there is certainly scope to consider the latter as part of the explanation for the remarkable and growing military capacity of the European state-system after 1670. Raising unprecedented revenues from taxation and other sources, expanding access to credit, and tapping wealth which lay well outside the normal reach of government, was one key to sustaining unprecedented military resources. Equally important is the effectiveness or otherwise with which that money was spent on waging and sustaining war. A state like Sweden, if forced to rely on its own modest fiscal resources to wage warfare, could only hope to sustain its armies and navies through greater efficiencies and more careful management than might be the case for France or Russia. But in all cases the question of how effectively these financial resources were used deserves some of the attention that has previously been devoted to obtaining them in the first place.10 In this context military enterprise and military outsourcing to private contractors occupy far more than the marginal historical role to which conventional accounts of European state-formation would consign them. Instead of being unimportant throwbacks to a pre-modern world of uncontrolled condottiere and militarized ‘overmighty’ subjects, the implications of relying in whole or part on contracted military force become central to the mobilization capacity of the fiscal-military state. Indeed the debate about whether historians should discuss ‘fiscal-military’ or ‘military-fiscal’ states



would seem to have particular relevance to a discussion in which the manner in which troops were raised and maintained might have as many implications for the military capacity of the belligerent state as the fiscal resources that it was able to mobilize for immediate war-waging.11 On this basis, the development and subsequent evolution of military enterprise lies at the heart of the formation of the military-fiscal state, for it represents a vital and enduring set of mechanisms by which European rulers could achieve a more extensive and effective mobilization of private resources than would otherwise have been possible from their own fiscal and administrative capacities. This is most obviously true of the period from 1550 to 1650, when most European rulers faced major domestic or external threats to their territorial authority, and possessed a very limited, and in some cases diminishing, capacity to tax or otherwise extract the financial resources of their subjects to face these threats. The flourishing of military enterprise as the optimal means to mobilize military resources comes as no great surprise in this context, indeed can be seen as the ‘first phase’ of the formation of the military-fiscal state. Access to the financial resources, organizational expertise, and networks of recruitment, manufacturing and distribution of enterpriser-colonels and commanders was the obvious response of embattled rulers, aware that without this they could neither raise nor maintain more than a fraction of the military forces that their engagement with the resources and organization of enterprisers made possible. On the other side, enterprise had the additional advantage of satisfying the financial, social, and to some extent political aspirations amongst the military enterprisers. Enterprisers were invited to contribute to the costs of raising and maintaining military resources as active shareholders in warfare which might bring them financial profits, certainly brought them enhanced or confirmed social status, and in many cases reinforced their political standing and aspirations in their relations with the ruler. If the ruler sacrificed direct authority of the sort that he may have possessed over earlier forces of directly recruited troops and hired mercenaries, the benefit lay in forging military systems that were, in the face of the financial, organizational and administrative weaknesses of the century down to 1650, the best available. In the face of the weaknesses, limitations, incoherence and corruption of state administration, this was the most effective means of mobilizing resources for rulers who pursued the priorities of the early military-fiscal state. After 1650 the ‘second phase’ of the development of the military-fiscal state, seen through the mechanisms of military enterprise and outsourcing, looks more familiar. As we have seen, most states moved away from the earlier use of more or less autonomous military contracting as a means

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to sideline inadequate, ineffective state administration and its comprehensive fiscal weakness. This was replaced in the later seventeenth century with a more overtly collaborative model, in which a larger and more regular element of state-distributed finance, greater administrative control, especially over military policy-making and overall military authority, was combined with a continuing financial/organizational role for officers and massive and growing reliance on the outsourcing of supply, manufacturing and support functions to private contractors. Public–private partnership lay at the heart of the fiscal-military state, whether in the form of venality that persuaded the elites to invest in their military units, or in the dependence on armaments and supply contracting which enlisted the connections, organization and resources of a commercial elite for profit, but far more efficiently than a state administration would have achieved. Seen in terms of states whose raison d’être was the optimization of military resources, the survival and flourishing of such partnerships throughout the ancien régime is unsurprising. Shorn of an ideology of state-building, these mechanisms were simply better, more flexible and more capable of maximizing the military capacity of the state than any attempt to build up comprehensive direct control of military force would have been. That they may also have maintained close ties between ruler and elite subjects, creating vital shared interests in the sustainable financing, waging and supply of war, was another tangible benefit even if it was not overtly recognized by the practitioners. The eclipse of military enterprise? It might thus seem that the persistence and evolving character of private involvement in the organization and waging of warfare was a foregone conclusion, sealed by increasing emphasis on the financial and organizational priorities of the fiscal-military state. Yet from the later eighteenth century military enterprise all but disappears in Europe for a couple of centuries. It is this that makes the argument for the durability and effectiveness of military enterprise and the ‘business of war’ a necessary corrective and challenge to assumptions about a more ‘natural’ direction for state–military relations. How should the apparent anomaly of the rise of armed forces that were fully financed and organized by state administrators be explained? If the fiscal-military state was built on the opportunities and benefits that private involvement in warfare offered, why should these have been abandoned? The age of Louis XIV unleashed a growth in armies and navies which was never subsequently retrenched. This hugely increased the expense of European warfare on both land and sea. Initially, as we have seen, the



financial and organizational burden of such unparalleled military forces offered advantages to military enterprisers: there had never been more foreign mercenaries in French service than in the last two wars of Louis XIV’s reign, even if they represented a smaller proportion of the total army; more than ever, rulers needed to encourage the financial support of their militarized elites in their attempts to square the circle of paying for war. Yet this military inflation was accompanied through the eighteenth century by another development: a gradual but inexorable increase in the killing-power of battlefield weaponry. If sieges and battles like Lille and Malplaquet (1708/9) had raised the potential ‘butcher’s bill’ for closequarter engagements to unprecedented and horrific levels, by the time of the Seven Years War (1756–63) this had been institutionalized as the normal consequence of large-scale battles or set-piece sieges. When close-range musket fire against tight-packed lines or columns of troops was combined with the considerably more deadly impact of an ‘immense profusion’ of mobile, better-deployed and, perhaps most significantly, medium-weight artillery, the stakes even for a victorious army in battle were raised to unsustainable levels.12 In T. C. W. Blanning’s words, the Seven Years War was effectively over by 1760, as ‘all the combatants in the continental war were suffering from exhaustion. By the close of the following campaign they resembled boxers who had fought themselves to a standstill . . .’13 What made this unsustainable was not this level of casualties as a percentage of population or even of potential army size, but the definitive shift over the previous century to a style of warfare which was waged on the basis of highly trained infantry, subjected to many years of military discipline in order to perform elaborate fire-drills and tactical manoeuvres with mechanical precision. This was not the only way to fight wars in the eighteenth century, but a huge investment had been made by European states in organizing and waging war on these principles. The resulting paradox was a style of positional warfare that if carried on to the battlefield was guaranteed to inflict massive casualties on at least one of the opposing armies, and if they were equally well drilled and disciplined, on both. At the same time there was a general recognition that the trained soldier was a precious commodity: in the words of the Maréchal de Saxe: ‘it is better to put off an attack for several days than to expose oneself to losing rashly a single grenadier: he has been twenty years in the making’.14 The obvious response was to try to avoid the kind of encounters that would lead to the mass slaughter of highly trained soldiers: hence one part of the typical arguments for the relatively ‘civilized’ nature of eighteenth-century warfare. Provided that all sides were prepared to play the game of manoeuvre and territorial control/denial rather than combat, using armies to seek diplomatic advantage rather than

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attritional victories, the system could be sustained. Indeed huge changes in the political map of Europe could be brought about by the threat rather than the reality of military action. But when the stakes were raised and powers made the decision to wage war through direct engagement in battle and siege, their rivals had little choice but to do the same. The Seven Years War brought this system close to collapse. By 1760 almost the entire stock of pre-war Prussian officers and soldiers had been killed or disabled in a succession of victories and defeats whose one common character was their terrifying cost in the lives of servicemen.15 Unsurprisingly, military theorists were brought to question many of the assumptions about the way in which soldiers were recruited and trained; the elaborate process of drill and disciplining which required years if not decades to produce a professional soldier was incompatible with the first, steely glint of industrialized warfare, in which cheaply produced iron cannon and more accurate and reliable muskets could be mass produced and deployed ever-more easily and cheaply. One response, discussed in theory long before the French Revolution turned it into a practical response to waging war, was the army composed of the citizens in arms, whether serving as eager, ideologically committed volunteers, or as conscripts who would need ideological induction as much as traditional military training. Belief that the élan of soldiers swayed by a strong sense of country or political conviction could produce battlefield qualities that would compensate for the drill and discipline of trained professionals was a bold assumption. Underpinning it was the more cynical calculation that such troops could be raised in vastly larger numbers, could sustain huge casualties and be replaced with others more easily and quickly than traditional armies could replace their exhaustively trained professionals. Even if the qualities of professional soldiers were superior, they would simply be swept aside by the waves of semi-trained, patriotic enthusiasts who could be unleashed by the ‘nation in arms’.16 The logic is similar to that of Machiavelli and his fellow humanists, who had espoused the benefits of a militia in which a virtuous citizenry would inevitably prove superior to venal mercenaries. In both cases the incompatibility of these ideas with military enterprise is self-evident. All of this could have remained on the drawing board. Guibert, who started as an enthusiastic exponent of a national militia, ideologically motivated and aiming to concentrate overwhelming numbers against an enemy, abandoned these ideas in his later writings, unconvinced that these could replace the qualities and discipline of trained soldiers.17 Nor were the first trials of the levée en masse a clear validation for the principles of the citizen army. Many historians of late eighteenth-century warfare would concede that had the duke of Brunswick possessed an extra 10,000



healthy troops on the field of Valmy in 1792, a different and altogether less dramatic picture of change and continuity in European warfare might have emerged.18 Events did, however, validate the national, citizen army, whether in France, Prussia or eventually across the entire Continent. Regardless of their initial military quality, the capacity of the French Revolutionary state to deploy ideology and coercion to put 700,000 conscripts in the field by 1794 irrevocably altered the nature of European warfare.19 This shift marked the real end of military enterprise. Once the state regarded war as the duty of all citizens, it was inconceivable that it could make additional use of hired mercenaries, that it could outsource the organization and recruitment of troops, or even that it could rely on private enterprise for the provisioning and supply of troops. By 1793 the French state had abandoned contracting for the production and transport of military supplies, and had guillotined several contractors as counterrevolutionaries.20 Military service was now defined as a sacred duty to the state, and in return the maintenance and well-being of the citizen-soldier could only be organized and provided by the state. All that might remain in the hands of private interests was the manufacturing and production of armaments in cases where the state did not choose to assume direct control of these or where, in wartime, continuous demand exceeded the capacity of state-run facilities to supply military needs.21 The contingent outcome of military events in north-west Continental Europe in the early 1790s could thus explain the disappearance of systems of military enterprise that had hitherto proved a capable and adaptable element of war-waging. But were there longer-term issues about the privatization of military force that also require consideration? Was it simply a straightforward consequence of the development of mass conscription and the political claims and reciprocal obligations implied by building loyalty to the nation-state, or were there other issues relating to the use of private military contractors in warfare waged by and for the state? It is fundamental to the argument of the present book that there is no necessary incompatibility between the growth of the military power of the state and the development of a substantial sphere of private military activity; indeed, the latter made available a level of resources and robustness of organization that would otherwise have been unattainable by government authorities in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This is even more true of European military activity beyond the borders of the Continent. An area of military privatization which has not been examined in this work is in many respects the most visible example of such delegation for the historian of early modern Europe. The establishment of colonial trading companies, most notably but by no means exclusively the

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English and Dutch East India (VOC) Companies in 1600 and 1602, delivered a remarkable expansion of Europe’s military ‘reach’. The licensing of private shareholder companies to engage in trading activity on their own initiative, to use private military force to conquer territory which would provide trading stations and organizational centres, to mobilize troops and vessels in order to fight wars both against local populations and against other European competitors, represented a huge level of delegated military authority by European states. The most successful of these companies grew continuously in scale and scope of activities throughout the seventeenth century. In advancing their commercial interests on behalf of their shareholders, the companies were virtually sovereign actors, with powers to make war and to raise and command troops and warships, to make treaties, to occupy territory, and to exercise rights of justice. To some extent, however, the idea that these were purely private shareholder companies was a fiction. It was no exaggeration of Hugo Grotius in 1613 to say that the directors of the VOC were to a large extent the men who were responsible for the political affairs of the Dutch Republic.22 For many of the ordinary investors, the early policies of the VOC, which included heavy capital investment in colonial fortification programmes and garrisoning, seemed a politically motivated evasion of the fiscal responsibilities of the company to its shareholders. In the event, the directors may have made the correct decision to commit capital to such military projects, ensuring the longer-term success of the company’s Asiatic ventures while also pursuing policies which could be seen to serve the larger political interests of a Holland-dominated United Provinces. In the medium and longer term, the VOC developed and operated in ways that satisfied both the shareholders – whether these were the bewindhebbers, the active investors with ships and merchandise of their own serving the company, or the passive investors of capital, the participanten – and the policy-makers in Holland. The dividends to VOC shareholders climbed through the 1630s and 1640s, while the company itself achieved its greatest military and commercial successes.23 In contrast, the Dutch West India Company (WIC), founded in 1621 with still stronger government intervention in the formulation of policy through its board of directors and its deployment of resources, was altogether less successful.24 Committed as its primary objective to acquiring and establishing colonies at the expense of Portugal and Castile, rather than building up trade networks or engaging in privateering against the Spanish treasure and merchant fleets, the investment policy of the company was skewed against the wishes of the majority of its shareholders. First attempts at this policy of colonization, including the bid to consolidate control of Bahia, captured from the Portuguese in 1624, proved

Fig. 7.1 Dutch East India Company magazine and dockyard

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expensive failures. By the end of the first decade of its life, the WIC had bought or built 220 ships and spent more than 18 million guilders on wages for its soldiers, sailors, agents and officials.25 Pushed towards these overtly political-military objectives by the directors, the company was instrumental in establishing Johann Maurice of Nassau-Siegen as governor general of newly conquered ‘Dutch’ Brazil. The costs of a major colonial military policy were being borne by the company throughout the early 1640s. Only in 1646, with the collapse in the value of WIC shares and threatened bankruptcy, did the directors accept ‘the transformation of the Company from a trading war-machine into a nonbelligerent commercial organization, content to supply the colonies of other powers and relying for protection of its own modest assortment of territories on the States General’.26 This experience of some of the shareholder companies in their overly close or at least ambiguous relations with government and government priorities to some extent foreshadows a much larger problem in the relations between military contracting and the military and political claims of the state. As the scale of military operations grew larger under the aegis of the fiscal-military state and its beneficial public–private partnerships, so the relations between the ruler, his government and key figures in the private sector, above all that concerned with manufacturing, supply and distribution of food and matériel, became closer. There was certainly a tension in the seventeenth, as in the twenty-first, century between the temptation to rely on a safe pair of hands in matters as important as military supply, and promoting competition by putting contracts out to tender. United States’ governments in the past two decades provide numerous examples of contracts made with logistical support companies, not because they offer the lowest price, but because they have a proven track record of successful contracts, and therefore seem to offer greater reliability. Brown and Root Services, particularly after its contracts in Bosnia and Kosovo in the late 1990s, had the reputation with the Pentagon of a military company whose strongest selling point was speed of deployment and response to rapidly changing circumstances, which none of its other competitors looked likely to match, even if they could undercut on price.27 And as the examples in Chapters 5 and 6 indicated, early modern governments reacted to similar concerns in similar ways. Yet such close relations between government and the highest strata of military enterprisers and contractors had significant repercussions. They could easily – and increasingly did – mean a reliance on those with strong court or government influence and patrons, those who were such patrons themselves, or those whose financial dealings and interests overlapped significantly with the court and government.28 Reliability or resources



could easily slide into influence and favour when it came to choosing contractors. Brown and Root won US military contracts on the basis of its known resources and flexibility, but this was in part because the company was a major subsidiary of another and better-known corporate giant, Halliburton, whose links with senior government ministers under President George W. Bush were exceptionally strong.29 To take just one early modern state, similar doubts could be raised about the French government’s munitions contracts with Cardinal Mazarin and his financial associates in the 1640s and 1650s, about the networks that linked the building and supply of the navy in the 1670s and 1680s to a Colbertian clientele of contractors, or the extraordinary hold exercised by the Pâris brothers over the financial and munitions contracts drawn up for the French armies under Louis XV.30 Large-scale, often monopolistic contracts with well-connected military contractors became more common, and were easy targets for the criticism of those who set themselves in opposition to particular court and government factions, or who took the line of general public concern against corrupt court interests and favour. The increasingly large scale of military activity which had originally served as the spur to private enterprise, making substantial capital investment in the business of war viable and financially attractive, thus had a paradoxical consequence. When contracts started to draw upon those directly involved in – or closely linked to – government as contractors, organizers and suppliers, the ability to offer a military option that was responsive, flexible and tailored to a particular set of circumstances was no longer a recognized priority. A process of institutionalization took place which did not lead to a conventionally understood ‘monopoly over the means of violence’, but involved a private sector which was heavily infiltrated by the capital and interests of members of government and other established political elites; this is only a few steps away from the institutional ‘military-industrial complex’ of the late nineteenth and twentieth century.31 The obvious consequence was a very public association of private and public interest in the waging of war, especially as the most prominent aspect of enterpriser involvement was not now the recruitment and military operations of privately funded regiments and companies, but the outsourcing of military supply and other logistical operations. Military failure could very easily lead to a public backlash against private interests who occupied the profitable role of supplier and contractor and could more easily be made the scapegoat for military setbacks than the officers, soldiers and sailors. As they were separated from active and more honourable military roles, and heavily linked to government policy-making from which they appeared to be the prime beneficiaries, the way was

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opened to a language of public vilification and hostility in which such private interests would gain no credit for their role in military success, but easy condemnation when armies or navies encountered setbacks.32 Held responsible for their supposed exploitation and rapaciousness, government connections provided limited protection when, as in the Seven Years War, the French public sought a scapegoat for military failure, or the British for the military failures of the American War of Independence and the later wars with France.33 Reinforcing this was a further public concern with financial profiteering from warfare, seen in the growing public criticism of the ‘soldier trade’, dealing in mercenary contracts that had hitherto been seen as a normal part of warfare. This was clearly evident in widespread British hostility to the hiring of mercenaries to fight for the crown against the American colonies, but had already become a significant part of public discourse about raising and hiring troops in the German lands.34 If contractors would bear the specific brunt of the blame for military failure and setbacks, they were no less implicated in the more general shift of political opinion and discussion towards the desirability of separating private interest and public service more effectively. By the later eighteenth century a lively discourse was openly critical of the intermingling of private and public resources amongst those exercising authority on behalf of government. There was more critical awareness of the conflicts of interest that stemmed from proprietary rights in office-holding and from traditional assumptions about the private profitability of pursuing public policy. In England it was in this climate of a greater concern for accountability and separation of interests, and following the failure of the War of Independence, that Clerke’s Act of 1782 sought to exclude all those who held military contracts from sitting in Parliament.35 Military contracting was drawn into a much larger sphere of hostility to private corruption in government, in which sinecures, profiteering and patronage were the subjects of ever-more virulent attacks from within and outside Parliament. A language of public accountability and the unacceptability of pursuing private interests while in the service of the state was by no means an exclusively British political discourse. Indeed much of it arose from a larger Enlightenment concern with ‘interests’ and ‘good government’, and it was unsurprising that it was enlisted in opposition to the private management of the state’s military activities. Public perceptions of private involvement in warfare were thus focused on high-profile munitions and supply contractors, too closely connected with the court, too visible, and easily blamed for military failure. They embodied in a particularly rebarbative way the conflict between private profit and the performance of public functions which was increasingly the



object of hostile scrutiny in political discourse. Simultaneously, however, it could be suggested that the more general ways in which governments perceived resources and political/military objectives were changing in the eighteenth century. This might be described as putting the ‘fiscality’ back into the military-fiscal state. The precise calculation of financial resources, a concern with accurate budgeting and an attempt to relate income streams to expenditure became far more prominent in thinking about the nature and priorities of effective government. Hitherto the financial operations of governments had been underpinned by massive and systematic access to private credit to make good revenue shortfalls, to speed distribution of revenues and to maintain liquidity. But a new and widespread rhetoric of government was increasingly concerned with maintaining a healthy and virtuous balance between economic resources, taxation yields, expenditure and public debt.36 As Hamish Scott has recently argued, the view that ‘the science of government was the condition of the finances, on which everything else depends’ underpinned more rigorous thinking about the longer-term impact of public debt, and the need to make funding decisions based on assessments of their impact upon the revenue-generating capacity of the economy.37 This had a considerable impact on the ways in which decisions about the funding and budgeting of military resources were made. State administrators, seeking more orderly and predictable means of funding warfare, would prove increasingly hostile to the long-term budgetary unpredictability of relying on private contracting. Even if less flexible and potentially more expensive, governments would favour direct control of all aspects of the organization and management of the war effort because it allowed for more predictable year-on-year financial planning and budgeting, and it integrated the military more effectively into an all-important fiscal system. In practice, such ideas struggled against the hand-to-mouth financial realities of most European states down to the end of the ancien regime. But the impulse was there; the notion that the overall control of the state offered a more accountable and financially predictable approach to supporting permanent military force had taken root in the thinking of rulers and their governments. The ‘fiscal-military’ state, with its overwhelming emphasis on the ‘fiscal’, did have the potential to undermine and make redundant the various adaptable and effective ways in which states had utilized public–private partnerships in the preceding centuries. Together with a developing practical and moral concern about the overlap in roles between government officials and military enterprisers, it may go some way to explain, even without the transformation following the French Revolution, why the business of war was to become, for a couple of hundred years from the late eighteenth century, the business of the

The eclipse of military enterprise


state. Only following the disappearance of mass conscripted armies, the relative marginalization of the military in the public life of most European nations, and the huge decline in the percentage of state budgets devoted to military expenditure, have these assumptions been seriously re-examined. The response of contemporary governments has been a widespread and comprehensive return to military outsourcing and the military contractorstate, embraced with all the political, financial and organizational pragmatism of the states that moved in this direction from the sixteenth to the late eighteenth century.


NOTES TO INTRODUCTION 1. Michael Roberts, ‘The Military Revolution, 1560–1660’ (Belfast, 1956), repr. in Roberts, Essays in Swedish History (London, 1967), pp. 195–225. 2. For the extensive bibliography on the ‘military revolution’, see notes 36, 38, 39, 43 and 45. 3. Jacques de Guibert, Essai général de tactique (1772), ed. Jean-Pierre Bois (Paris, 2004). 4. See introduction and chapters by Whitby, Hornblower and Roy in R. LaneFox (ed.), The Long March. Xenophon and the Ten Thousand (New Haven and London, 2004). 5. A. Goldsworthy, The Roman Army at War, 100BC–AD200 (Oxford, 1996), pp. 19–24, 35–7. 6. K. Fowler, Medieval Mercenaries, Vol. I: The Great Companies (Oxford, 2001). 7. P.W. Singer, Corporate Warriors. The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry (Ithaca, 2003). 8. A very recent volume of essays published under the aegis of the Militärgeschichtliches Forschungsamt, Potsdam, suggests that this situation may be changing: S. Förster, C. Jansen and G. Kronenbitter (eds.), Rückkehr der Condottieri? Krieg und Militär zwischen staatlichem Monopol und Privatisierung: Von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart (Paderborn, 2010). 9. A. Mockler, Mercenaries (London, 1969); G. Trease, The Condottieri. Soldiers of Fortune (London, 1970); W. Urban, Medieval Mercenaries. The Business of War (London, 2006); Urban, Bayonets for Hire: Mercenaries at War, 1550–1789 (London, 2007). 10. D. Avant, The Market for Force. The Consequences of Privatizing Security (Cambridge, 2005); D. Isenberg, A Fistful of Contractors. The Case for a Pragmatic Assessment of Private Military Companies in Iraq (London, 2004). 11. C. Kinsey, Corporate Soldiers and International Security. The Rise of Private Military Companies (London, 2006); Singer, Corporate Warriers, pp. 49–70, who argues for the importance of the end of the Cold War for the establishment of private military companies (PMCs), though also considers that future growth lies with multi-functioned private security companies (PSCs); see also S. Percy, Mercenaries. The History of a Norm in International Relations (Oxford, 2007), pp. 206–43. 328

Notes to pages 4–10


12. J. Scahill, Blackwater. The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army (London, 2007); for an account of non-Blackwater PSC activity in Iraq, G. Schumacher, A Bloody Business. America’s War Zone Contractors and the Occupation of Iraq (St Paul, MN, 2006). 13. D. Avant, ‘Mercenaries’, Foreign Policy, 143 (2004), 20–8. 14. Percy, Mercenaries, pp. 49–67. 15. J. Thomson, Mercenaries, Pirates and Sovereigns (Princeton, 1994), pp. 69–142. 16. Percy, Mercenaries, pp. 68–93. 17. S. Percy, ‘Mercenaries: Strong Norm, Weak Law’, International Organization, 61 (2007), 367–97. 18. Percy, Mercenaries, pp. 212–18, on the overwhelming political and moral consensus against using PMCs in Angola, Sierra Leone and Papua New Guinea in the late 1990s. 19. Recent examples would include: R. Bean, ‘War and the Birth of the Nation State’, Journal of Economic History, 33 (1973), 203–21; B. Porter, War and the Rise of the State. The Military Foundations of Modern Politics (New York, 1994), pp. 23–61; M. Van Creveld, The Rise and Decline of the State (Cambridge, 1999), pp. 59–125. 20. F. Lane, ‘Economic Consequences of Organized Violence’, Journal of Economic History, 18 (1958), 401–17; Lane, ‘The Economic Meaning of War and Protection’, in Lane, Venice and History (Baltimore, MD, 1966); C. Tilly, ‘War Making and State Making as Organized Crime’, in P. Evans, D. Rueschemeyer and T. Skocpol (eds.), Bringing the State Back In (Cambridge, 1985), pp. 169–91, pp. 175–80 criticizes the underlying assumptions of Lane that a monopoly of force will prevail because it is able to provide protection more cheaply: ‘the very activity of producing and controlling violence favoured monopoly, because competition within that realm generally raised costs . . . The production of violence, he suggested, enjoyed large economies of scale.’ 21. For a succinct account, see R. Gothelf, ‘Frederick William I and the Beginnings of Prussian Absolutism’, pp. 47–67, and H. Scott ‘Prussia’s Emergence as a European Great Power, 1740–1763’, pp. 153–76, in P. Dwyer (ed.), The Rise of Prussia, 1700–1830 (London, 2000). 22. P. Wilson, ‘The German “Soldier Trade” of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries: a Reassessment’, The International History Review, 18 (1996), 757–92. 23. For example: A. Dareste de La Chavanne, Histoire de l’administration en France (4 vols., Paris, 1848). 24. A. Forrest, ‘La Patrie en Danger. The French Revolution and the First Levée en Masse’, in D. Moran and A. Waldron (eds.), The People in Arms. Military Myth and National Mobilization since the French Revolution (Cambridge, 2003), pp. 8–32. 25. M. Weber, ‘The Presuppositions and Causes of Bureaucracy’, in R. Merton (ed.), A Reader in Bureaucracy (New York, 1960), pp. 66–7. 26. Otto Hintze, Historical Essays, ed. F. Gilbert (Oxford, 1975), see ‘The Hohenzollern and the Nobility’, pp. 33–63; ‘Military Organization and the


27. 28.

29. 30.



33. 34.


Notes to pages 10–14 Organization of the State’, pp. 178–215; ‘The Commissary and his Significance in General Administrative History: a Comparative Study’, pp. 267–301. Hintze, Gesammelte Abhandlungen zur allgemeinen Verfassungsgeschichte, ed. G. Oestreich (3 vols., Göttingen, 1962–7), see esp. ‘Der österreichische und der preußische Beamtenstaat im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert; Eine vergleichende Betrachtung’ (1901), I, 321–58; ‘Machtpolitik und Regierungsverfassung’ (1913), I, 424–56; ‘Der Ursprung des preußischen Landratsamts in der Mark Brandenburg’ (1915), III, 164–203. ‘Machtpolitik und Regierungsverfassung’, III, 429. ‘This [standing army] was not a product of princely caprice and arbitrariness, but was a European necessity from which no state could escape . . .’, ‘Hohenzollern’, p. 45. H. Scott (ed.), The European Nobilities of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (2 vols., London, 1995), I, pp. 35–52. P. Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers. Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500–2000 (London, 1988), pp. 89–91; D. Kaiser, Politics and War. European Conflict from Philip II to Hitler (London, 1990), pp. 7–137; Porter, Rise of the State, pp. xiii–147. W. Reinhard, ‘Power Elites, State Servants, Ruling Classes and the Growth of State Power’, pp. 1–18, and R. Braun, ‘Staying on Top: Socio-cultural Reproduction of European Power Elites’, pp. 235–59, in W. Reinhard (ed.), Power Elites and State Building (Oxford, 1996); T. Skocpol, ‘Introduction’, pp. 3–37, pp. 3–11, and C. Tilly, ‘War Making and State Making as Organized Crime’, pp. 169–91, pp. 175–7, in Evans, Rueschemeyer and Skocpol (eds.), Bringing the State Back In. P. Contamine, ‘Introduction’, in Contamine (ed.), War and Competition between States (Oxford, 2000), pp. 1–7. For an excellent survey of recent trends in this area of research, see B. Kroener, ‘Vom “extraordinari Kriegsvolck” zum “miles perpetuus”. Zur Rolle der bewaffneten Macht in der europäischen Gesellschaft der Frühen Neuzeit’, in Kroener, Kriegerische Gewalt und militärische Pråsenz in der Neuzeit (Paderborn, 2008), pp. 3–63; Kroener, ‘“Das Schwungrad an der Staatsmaschine?” Die Bedeutung der bewaffneten Macht in der europäischen Geschichte der Frühen Neuzeit’, in B. Kroener and R. Pröve (eds.), Krieg und Frieden. Militär und Gesellschaft in der Frühen Neuzeit (Paderborn, 1996), pp. 1–23. W. McNeill, The Pursuit of Power. Technology, Armed Force and Society since AD 1000 (Chicago, 1982), pp. 117–84. For example, C. Tilly, Coercion, Capital and European States AD 990–1990 (Oxford, 1990); B. Downing, The Military Revolution and Political Change. Origins of Democracy and Autocracy in Early Modern Europe (Princeton, 1992); T. Ertman, Birth of the Leviathan. Building States and Regimes in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, 1997). D. Kolff, Naukar, Rajput and Sepoy. The Ethnohistory of the Military Labour Market in Hindustan, 1450–1850 (Cambridge, 1990), pp. 32–116; J. Gommans, Mughal Warfare (London, 2002), pp. 67–97. Another good example is provided by medieval Japan: ‘law enforcement and defence, like most operations of government during the Heian era, simply

Notes to pages 14–22


37. 38.



41. 42.


44. 45.

46. 47. 48. 49.



became privatized, contracted out to professionals’; K. Friday, Hired Swords. The Rise of Private Warrior Power in Early Japan (Stanford, CA, 1992), p. 171. Roberts, ‘Military Revolution’; M. Roberts, ‘Gustav Adolf and the Art of War’, in Roberts, Essays, pp. 56–81; Roberts, Gustavus Adolphus. A History of Sweden, 1611–1632 (2 vols., London, 1958), II, pp. 169–271. N. Machiavelli, The Art of War, trans. E. Farneworth (1521; repr. New York, 1965), Book One. J.W. Wijn, Het krijgswezen in den tijd van Prins Maurits (Utrecht, 1934); H. Hahlweg, Die Heeresreform der Oranier und die Antike (Berlin, 1941); Hahlweg (ed.), Die Heeresreform der Oranier: das Kriegsbuch des Grafen Johann von Nassau-Siegen (Wiesbaden, 1973). M. Feld, ‘Middle Class Society and the Rise of Military Professionalism: the Dutch Army, 1589–1609’, Armed Forces and Society, 1 (1975), 419–42, p. 421; see the much more positive interpretation of the widespread dissemination of Dutch military theory in G. Parker, ‘The Limits to Revolutions in Military Affairs: Maurice of Nassau, the battle of Nieuwpoort (1600) and the Legacy’, Journal of Military History, 71 (2007), 331–72, pp. 366–9. Feld, ‘Middle Class Society’; J.P. Puype, ‘Victory at Nieuwpoort, 2 July 1600’, in M. van der Hoeven (ed.), Exercise of Arms. Warfare in the Netherlands (1568–1648) (Leiden, 1998), pp. 76–102. O. van Nimwegen, ‘Maurits van Nassau and Siege Warfare, 1590–97’, in van der Hoeven (ed.), Exercise, pp. 113–31. That at least would seem to be the conclusion from comparing Parker, ‘Nieuwpoort’, pp. 351–4, with Puype, ‘Nieuwpoort’, pp. 104–5. For the impact of the battle on strategy and politics, see the excellent analysis of Parker, ‘Nieuwpoort’, pp. 354–8. The military academy founded by Johann von Nassau at Siegen survived only until 1623 and attracted a total of twenty students: G. Parker, The Military Revolution. Military Innovation and the Rise of the West, 1500–1800 (2nd edn, Cambridge, 1996), p. 185, n. 44. Roberts, ‘Military Revolution’, p. 195. See particularly McNeill, Pursuit of Power, pp. 117–43; Downing, Military Revolution; J. Cornette, ‘La révolution militaire et l’état moderne’, Revue d’histoire moderne et contemporaine, 41 (1994), 698–709. A case made explicitly in Feld, ‘Middle Class Society’. H. Zwicker, ‘De militie van den staat’. Het leger van de republiek der Verenigde Nederlanden (Amsterdam, 1991), pp. 45–6. R. Monro, Monro, His Expedition with the worthy Scots regiment called Mac-keys, ed. W. Brocklington (Westport, CT, 1999), p. 126. Porter, Rise of the State, pp. 70–1: historians, we are told, have devoted ‘inordinate attention’ to studies of this colourful figure, whose irrelevance in a changing political world should be self-evident. J. Chagniot, Paris et l’armée au XVIIIe siècle. Étude politique et sociale (Paris, 1985), p. 255.


Notes to pages 27–32

NOTES TO CHAPTER 1 1. N. Machiavelli, Florentine Histories, ed. and trans. L.F. and H.C. Mansfield, (Princeton, 1988), pp. 226–7. 2. D. Le Fur, Marignan, 13–14 septembre 1515 (Paris, 2004), pp. 95–6. 3. Le Fur, Marignan, pp. 106–7. 4. E. von Frauenholz, Entwicklungsgeschichte des deutschen Heerwesens (5 vols., Munich, 1935–41), II, Pt 1, p. 114, cites a contemporary account of the battle: ‘das ist im namen des vaters, sohns und heiligen geists; das soll unser kilchhof sin, frommen lieben Eydtgnossen’. 5. R.J. Knecht, Renaissance Warrior and Patron. The Reign of Francis I (Cambridge, 1994), pp. 71–7; F. Lot, Recherches sur les effectifs des armées françaises des Guerres d’Italie aux Guerres de Religion, 1494–1562 (Paris, 1962), pp. 41–4; Le Fur, Marignan, p. 116. 6. M. Mallett, Mercenaries and their Masters. Warfare in Renaissance Italy (London, 1974), p. 197, indicates that some 900 soldiers were killed overall. The myth that condottiere warfare was bloodless choreography was comprehensively challenged by W. Block, Die Condottieri. Studien über die sogenannten ‘unblutigen Schlachten’ (Berlin, 1913), but remains an integral part of the case against mercenaries. 7. For sixteenth-century perceptions of the mercenary as exclusively motivated by wages, see especially D. Trim, ‘Fighting “Jacob’s Wars”. The Employment of English and Welsh Mercenaries in the European Wars of Religion: France and the Netherlands, 1562–1610’ (Ph.D. thesis, King’s College London, 2002), pp. 74–81. 8. D. Potter, Renaissance France at War. Armies, Culture and Society, c. 1480–1560 (Woodbridge, 2008), pp. 76–7, based on a gendarmerie of 1,500 ‘lances’ funded through the ordinaire des guerres. 9. R. Quatrefages, La revolución militar moderna. El crisol espanol (Madrid, 1996). 10. For examples of this from the Netherlands, see S. Gunn, D. Grummitt and H. Cools, War, State and Society in England and the Netherlands, 1477–1559 (Oxford, 2007), pp. 142–7, 151. 11. The terms are usefully deployed in J. Thomson, Mercenaries, Pirates and Sovereigns (Princeton, 1994). 12. W.H. McNeill, Europe’s Steppe Frontier, 1500–1800 (Chicago, 1964), pp. 113–20. 13. H. von Zwiedineck-Südenhorst, Kriegsbilder aus der Zeit der Landsknechte (Stuttgart, 1883), pp. 257–60, gives 16,700 troops in 1589, and identifies six strongpoints with garrisons of 900 men or more. 14. G. Rothenberg, The Austrian Military Border in Croatia, 1522–1747 (Urbana, IL, 1960), pp. 27–30. 15. The Hajduks further east in the Hungarian borderlands would have provided an equally effective example of this co-opting of local interests: P.F. Sugar, Southeastern Europe under Ottoman Rule, 1354–1804 (Seattle, 1977), pp. 242–7; F. Szakály, ‘The Hungarian–Croatian Border Defence System and its Collapse’, pp. 141–58, and F. Maksay, ‘Peasantry and Mercenary Service in Sixteenth-Century Hungary’, pp. 261–74, in J. Bak and B. Király (eds.), From Hunyadi to Rákóczi: War and Society in Late Medieval and Early Modern Hungary (New York, 1982).

Notes to pages 32–7


16. Rothenberg, Military Border, pp. 28–9; C.W. Bracewell, The Uskoks of Senj. Piracy, Banditry and Holy War in the Sixteenth-Century Adriatic (Ithaca and London, 1992), p. 43. 17. Bracewell, Uskoks, p. 91. 18. Bracewell, Uskoks, pp. 130–1; A. Tenenti, Piracy and the Decline of Venice, 1580–1615 (London, 1967), pp. 5–11. 19. Rothenberg, Military Border, pp. 54–5. 20. Bracewell, Uskoks, pp. 148–50. 21. Bracewell, Uskoks, pp. 112–13, who maintains that few Uskok pirates died wealthy men. 22. J. Glete (ed.), Naval History, 1500–1680 (Aldershot, 2005), pp. xi–xxvi. 23. K.R. Andrews, Elizabethan Privateering. English Privateering during the Spanish War, 1585–1603 (Cambridge, 1964), p. 5. 24. Thomson, Mercenaries, pp. 22–3; N. Rodger, The Safeguard of the Sea. A Naval History of Britain, 660–1649 (London, 1997), pp. 199–202. 25. Thomson, Mercenaries, pp. 43–4. 26. A. James, Navy and Government in Early Modern France, 1572–1661 (London, 2004), pp. 14–15; M. Augeron, ‘Coligny et les Espagnols à travers la course’, in M. Acerra and G. Martinière (eds.), Coligny, les Protestants et la mer (Paris, 1997), pp. 155–76; B. Dietz, ‘The Huguenot and English Corsairs during the Third Civil War in France, 1568–70’, Proceedings of the Huguenot Society of London, 19 (1952–8), 278–94. 27. E.O. Lana, Los corsarios espagñoles durante la decadencia de los Austrias. El corso español del Atlántico peninsular en el siglo XVII (Madrid, 1992), pp. 97–155, 253–70. 28. In many cases the shipowners, armadores, would own multiple vessels and therefore determine the collective policies of their hired captains: Lana, Los corsarios, pp. 99–107. 29. R. Baetens, ‘The Organization and Effects of Flemish Privateering in the Seventeenth Century’, in Glete (ed.), Naval History, pp. 453–80, pp. 461–3. 30. Thomson, Mercenaries, p. 43. 31. P. Rambeaud, ‘L’admiral à La Rochelle: l’union du ciel et de la mer’, in Acerra and Martinière (eds.), Coligny, pp. 131–43; James, Navy and Government, pp. 14–16. 32. Lana, Los corsarios, pp. 53–60; R. Stradling, The Armada of Flanders. Spanish Maritime Policy and European War, 1568–1668 (Cambridge, 1992), pp. 35–6. 33. R. Stradling, ‘The Spanish Dunkirkers, 1621–48: a Record of Plunder and Destruction’, in Glete (ed.), Naval History, pp. 488–9; Stradling, Armada of Flanders, pp. 80–9. 34. J. Heers, The Barbary Corsairs. Warfare in the Mediterranean, 1480–1580 (London, 2003), pp. 33–70; P. Williams, ‘Piracy and Naval conflict in the Mediterranean, 1590–1610/20’ (D.Phil. thesis, Oxford University, 2001), pp. 50–62; P. Earle, Corsairs of Malta and Barbary (London, 1970), pp. 23–36, 47. 35. G. Hanlon, The Twilight of a Military Tradition. Italian Aristocrats and European Conflicts, 1560–1800 (London, 1998), pp. 30–6; U. Ubaldini, La marina del sovrano militare ordine di San Giovanni di Gerusalemme di Rodi e di Malta (Rome, 1971), pp. 46–56, 60–8.


Notes to pages 37–42

36. Earle, Corsairs, pp. 180–1. 37. Ubaldini, La marina, pp. 121–9: the annual tribute offered by the Knights for the islands of Malta and Gozo was, of course, the (living) ‘Maltese falcon’; the reluctance of the Order to play the role of fleet auxiliaries was a source of concern to Spanish ministers: Williams, ‘Piracy’, pp. 155–7. 38. Williams, ‘Piracy’, pp. 150–1. 39. G. Guarnieri, Cavalieri di Santo Stefano. Contributo alla storia della marina militare italiana (1562–1589) (Pisa, 1928), pp. 69–77. 40. Hanlon, Twilight, pp. 38–9; Guarnieri, Cavalieri, pp. 97–106. 41. T. Kirk, Genoa and the Sea. Policy and Power in an Early Modern Maritime Republic, 1559–1684 (Baltimore and London, 2005), pp. 41–50. 42. E. Baudson, Charles de Gonzague. Duc de Nevers, de Rethel et de Mantoue, 1580– 1637 (Paris, 1947), pp. 181–4; D. Parrott, ‘A Prince Souverain and the French Crown: Charles de Nevers, 1580–1637’, in R. Oresko, G. Gibbs and H. Scott (eds.), Royal and Republican Sovereignty in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, 1997), pp. 149–87, pp. 162–3. 43. Baudson, Nevers, p. 182. 44. Parrott, ‘Nevers’, p. 169. 45. James, Navy and Government, p. 28. 46. See, for example, Rodger, Safeguard, pp. 293–4 on the costs of the ambitious privateering operations by the earl of Cumberland in the 1590s; G. Griffith, ‘An Account Book of Raleigh’s Voyage, 1592’, National Library of Wales Journal, 7 (1951–2), 347–53. 47. A point made about the Dunkirk privateers in Stradling, Armada of Flanders, pp. 221–8. 48. For the early use of mercenaries in a broader European context, see the volume edited by J. France, Mercenaries and Paid Men. The Mercenary Identity in the Middle Ages (Brill, 2008). 49. W. Caferro, Mercenary Companies and the Decline of Siena (Baltimore, 1998), pp. 3–9, 62–75. 50. The company may have reached around 10,000 troops and a baggage train of 20,000 in the mid-1350s, but the logistical requirements and inflexibility of a force on that scale were probably self-defeating: Mallet, Mercenaries, pp. 33–4. 51. K. Fowler, Medieval Mercenaries, Vol. I: The Great Companies (Oxford, 2001), though concerned with the activities of the companies for the most part in France and Spain, nonetheless points to the change in attitudes amongst the company leaders after 1360: pp. 1–23; Caferro, Siena, pp. 13–14. 52. D. Showalter, ‘Caste, Skill and Training. The Evolution of Cohesion in European Armies from the Middle Ages to the Sixteenth Century’, Journal of Military History, 57 (1993), 407–30, pp. 418–20; Mallett, Mercenaries, pp. 37–8. 53. W. Caferro, John Hawkwood. An English Mercenary in Fourteenth-Century Italy (Baltimore, 2006). 54. Showalter, ‘Caste’, pp. 408–11. 55. Mallett, Mercenaries, pp. 113–14; M. Covini, L’esercito del duca. Organizzazione militare e istitutioni al tempi degli Sforza (1450–1480) (Rome, 1998), pp. 49–51, 374–80.

Notes to pages 42–7


56. Covino, Esercito, pp. 285–351, examines the military policy of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, duke of Milan, who wanted the flexibility of creating his own army but also hired large numbers of condottiere to meet specific crises in the 1470s. 57. F. Cardini, ‘Condottiere e uomini d’arme nell’Italia del Renascimento’, in M. Del Treppo (ed.), Condottiere e uomini d’arme nell’Italia del Renascimento (Naples, 2001), pp. 1–10. 58. Peter Blastenbrei, Die Sforza und ihr Heer. Studien zur Strukture-, Wirtschaftsund Sozialgeschichte des Söldnerwesens in der italienischen Frührenaissance (Heidelberg, 1987), pp. 50–60. 59. Mallett, Mercenaries, pp. 82–3. 60. Mallett, Mercenaries, pp. 83–4. In the mid-fifteenth century Galeazzo Maria Sforza was paying a typical prestanza of 40–60 florins per lance, and 4–6 florins per footsoldier to his condottieri on a one-year contract: Blastenbrei, Sforza, p. 204. 61. M. Mallett and J. Hale, The Military Organization of a Renaissance State. Venice, c.1400–1617 (Cambridge, 1984), pp. 21–9 on the problems faced by Venice in defending the Terraferma in the early years of the fifteenth century. 62. Mallett, Mercenaries, pp. 84–5, indicates one-third, rising in cases to half the full pay. 63. Mallett and Hale, Venice, p. 319. 64. Blastenbrei, Sforza, p. 221. 65. Mallett and Hale, Venice, pp. 153–9, 284–312. 66. Covini, Esercito, pp. 285–328. 67. W. Caferro, ‘Continuity, Long-Term Service, and Permanent Forces: a Reassessment of the Florentine Army in the Fourteenth Century’, Journal of Modern History, 80 (2008), 219–51. 68. N. Labanca, ‘Clio, Mercurio e Marte: aspetti economici delle guerre in Europa’, Ricerche storiche, 14 (1984), 645–72, p. 658. 69. I. Affò, Vita di Vespasiano Gonzaga (1780; repr. Mantua, 1975), pp. 12–47; L. Amadè, Il duca di Sabbioneta (Milan, 1990), pp. 75–241; R. Tamalio, ‘Vespasiano Gonzaga al servizio del Re di Spagna’, in U. Bazzotti, D. Ferrari and C. Mozzarelli (eds.), Vespasiano Gonzaga e il Ducato di Sabbioneta (Mantua, 1993), pp. 121–51. 70. M. Brambilla, Ludovico Gonzaga, Duca di Nevers, 1539–1595 (Udine, 1905), pp. 4–15. 71. C. von Elgger, Kriegswesen und Kriegskunst der schweizerischen Eidgenossen im XIV, XV und XVI Jahrhundert (Lucerne, 1873), pp. 280–9; the Haufen evolved gradually towards a rectangular formation with more depth than breadth. 72. E. Dürr, ‘La principauté de Habsbourg et la formation de la Confédération des VIII cantons, 1315–1379’, in M. Feldmann and H. Wirz (eds.), Histoire militaire de la Suisse (4 vols., Berne, 1915–35), IV, pp. 23–64; C. Padrutt, Staat und Krieg im Alten Bünden (Zurich, 1965), p. 29. 73. R. Durrer, ‘Premier combats de la Suisse primitive’, in Feldmann and Wirz, Histoire militaire, I, pp. 60–1; R. Baumann, Landsknechte. Ihre Geschichte und Kultur vom späten Mittelalter bis zum Dreißigjährigen Krieg (Munich, 1994), p. 23. 74. R. von Fischer, ‘Les Guerres de Bourgogne (1474–77)’, in Feldmann and Wirz, Histoire militaire, II, pp. 155–201.


Notes to pages 47–9

75. Fischer, ‘Les Guerres’, pp. 164–5: though the entire Burgundian artillery of some four hundred guns fell into Swiss hands; M. Mallett, ‘Mercenaries’, in M. Keen (ed.), Medieval Warfare. A History (Oxford, 1999), pp. 209–29. 76. J. Häne, ‘L’organisation militaire des anciens Suisses’, in Feldmann and Wirz, Histoire militaire, III, pp. 16–19. 77. R. Baumann, Das Söldnerwesen im 16. Jahrhundert im bayerischen und süddeutschen Beispiel. Eine gesellschaftsgeschichtliche Untersuchung (Munich, 1978), p. 244. 78. Quatrefages, La revolución militar moderna, on the early evolution of the tercios. 79. Figures taken from contracts with the French crown from 1475 to the time of François I. These were not the highest sums paid: a contract for service in Milan in 1518 offered the ordinary soldier 5½ gulden: Elgger, Kriegswesen, p. 167. 80. W. Schaufelberger, Der Alte Schweizer und sein Krieg. Studien zur Kriegsführung vornehmlich im 15. Jahrhundert (Zurich, 1952), pp. 165–85, devotes an entire chapter to booty as an essential factor in understanding the motivation of the Swiss troops, and as part of what he terms ‘the triumph of disorder’ in Swiss military organization. 81. Schaufelberger, Alte Schweizer, pp. 146–7, gives an example of an order from Zurich in 1422 which forbade any unauthorized military service, whether with other cantons or abroad; but he recognizes that in practice these prohibitions were a dead letter: pp. 149–50. 82. Elgger, Kriegswesen, pp. 78–80; M.H. Koerner ‘Der Einfluss der Europäischen Kriege auf die Struktur der Schweizerischen Finanzen im 16 Jahrhundert’, in O. Pickl (ed.), Krieg, Militärausgaben und Wirtschaftlicher Wandel (Graz, 1980), pp. 37–45; for the relations between the French monarchy and the cantonal authorities, see M. Burin de Roziers, Les capitulations militaires entre la Suisse et la France (Doctoral thesis, University of Paris, 1902). 83. Elgger, Kriegswesen, pp. 75–8. 84. Frauenholz, Heerwesen, II, Pt 1, p. 58, taken from an estimate from 1481, though adds that contemporaries considered little over one-third of this number could actually be raised without creating insuperable problems of subsistence. 85. Häne, ‘Organisation militaire’, 7–9; Schaufelberger, Alte Schweizer, p. 19. 86. Schaufelberger, Alte Schweizer, pp. 84–7, 98–102. 87. Elgger, Kriegswesen, pp. 56–7. Though the capacity of the authorities to mobilize all those in theory subject to military service should not be overestimated: A. Sennhauser, Hauptmann und Führung im Schweizerkrieg des Mittelalters (Zurich, 1965), p. 129. 88. Machiavelli had a high opinion of the Swiss system of collective obligation: The Art of War, trans. E. Farneworth (1521; repr. New York, 1965), pp. 35, 61. 89. On seeking consensual decisions with subordinate officers via the Kriegsrat see Padrutt, Staat und Krieg, pp. 133–5; all accounts of Swiss military organization emphasize the extent to which the officers had limited power to compel or discipline their troops. 90. Elgger, Kriegswesen, pp. 199–200. Where, in Berne and Zurich, for example, the post-reformation political consensus opposed significant foreign military service, the impact was overwhelmingly apparent in the military

Notes to pages 49–52





95. 96. 97. 98.

99. 100. 101. 102. 103. 104.

105. 106.



deprofessionalization of the elites who would traditionally have led troop formations: G. Grosjean, ‘Miliz und Kriegsgenügen als Problem im Wehrwesen des alten Bern’, Archiv des Historischen Vereins des Kantons Bern, 42 (1953), 131–71, pp. 147–50. Sennhauser, Hauptmann und Führung, pp. 31–4, who cites the major military role played by the Bernese noble families of Diesbach, Scharnachtal, Wabern and Bubenberg from as early as the Burgundian Wars. Similar examples for the Drei Bünde are provided by Padrutt, Staat und Krieg, pp. 36–9, who adds that for those families with status and offices but without noble titles, such military service was the obvious route to social and political promotion. R. Walpen, ‘Das Wehrwesen in der landschaft Wallis des 17. Jahrhundert’, in L. Carlem and G. Imboden (eds.), Kaspar Jodok von Stockalper und das Wallis. Beiträge zur Geschichte des 17. Jahrhunderts (Brig, 1991), pp. 83–5. E. de Courten, ‘Un régiment valaisan au service de la France dans la campagne de Valteline de 1624–27’, Annales Valaisannes, 25 (1950), 253– 317. Frauenholz, Heerwesen, II, Pt 1, p. 32, cites a French pension of 20,000 francs paid to the military commander Niklas von Diesbach of Berne; numerous examples of other pensions and special payments are provided in M.B. baron de Zurlauben, Histoire militaire des Suisses au service de la France (8 vols., Paris, 1751–3), Volume IV examining the military role of the Swiss from Charles VIII to Henri III. Elgger, Kriegswesen, pp. 91–2; Schaufelberger, Alte Schweizer, p. 20. Padrutt, Staat und Krieg, pp. 62–3; Sennhauser, Hauptmann und Führung, p. 129. Padrutt, Staat und Krieg, pp. 66–71; Elgger, Kriegswesen, pp. 46–50, 63. F. Bächtiger, ‘Andreaskreuz und Schweizerkreuz: zur Feindschaft zwischen Landsknechten und Eidgenossen’, Jahrbuch des Bernischen Historischen Museums, 51/52 (1971–2), 205–70. Frauenholz, Heerwesen, II, Pt 1, pp. 27–8. Frauenholz, Heerwesen, II, Pt 1, p. 59. S. Fiedler, Kriegswesen und Kriegführung im Zeitalter der Landsknechte (Koblenz, 1985), p. 53. R. Feller, ‘Alliances et service mercenaire, 1515–1798’, in Feldmann and Wirz (eds.), Histoire militaire, III, p. 9. Feller, ‘Alliances’, III, pp. 7–8. Zurlauben, Histoire militaire des Suisses, IV, pp. 535–8; Burin de Roziers, Capitulations, pp. 96–8. This remained the definitive form for French contracts with the Swiss down to 1671. Burin de Roziers, Capitulations, p. 93; Grosjean, ‘Miliz und Kriegsgenügen’, p. 147. M. Körner, ‘Zur eidgenössischen Solddienst- und Pensionendebatte im 16. Jahrhundert’, in N. Furrer, L. Hubler, M. Stubenvoll and D. Tosato-Rigo (eds.), Gente ferocissima. Mercenariat et société en Suisse (XV–XIX siècle) – Festschrift für Alain Dubois (Zurich, 1997), pp. 193–203. Elgger, Kriegswesen, p. 72; T. Müller-Wolfer, ‘Le siècle du schisme religieux’, in Feldmann and Wirz (eds.), Histoire militaire, III, pp. 81–5.


Notes to pages 52–8

108. Sennhauser, Hauptmann und Führung, pp. 128–30. 109. Although the French crown was heavily in arrears in its payments to the Swiss regiments in its service in 1582, Henri III throught it prudent to offer their leader Ludwig Pfyffer a gift of 10,000 crowns for renewing the treaty: Müller-Wolfer, ‘Siècle de schisme’, III, 89. 110. Sennhauser, Hauptmann und Führung, pp. 134–8. 111. Schaufelberger, Alte Schweizer, p. 149. 112. Padrutt, Staat und Krieg, p. 72: ‘circha cinquante compagni’. 113. Sennhauser, Hauptmann und Führung, p. 135. 114. Sennhauser, Hauptmann und Führung, pp. 136–7, provides a particular example of a Zurich master craftsman who in 1495 lent one of his apprentices the money for arms and armour to join a free company. 115. Zurlauben, Histoire militaire des Suisses, IV, p. 103. 116. Sennhauser, Hauptmann und Führung, p. 88: ‘the more that the commanders of the free companies took service with foreign lords, the more they developed their financial expertise’. 117. Fiedler, Kriegswesen, pp. 43–4. 118. Padrutt, Staat und Krieg, p. 144; Elgger, Kriegswesen, pp. 167–8. 119. R. Wohlfeil, ‘Adel und neues Heerwesen’, in H. Rössler (ed.), Deutscher Adel, 1430–1555 (Darmstadt, 1965), pp. 214–16; W. Erben, ‘Maximilian I. und die Landsknechte’, Historische Zeitschrift, 116 (1916), 48–68. 120. Fiedler, Kriegswesen, p. 66, citing Frauenholz, Heerwesen, II, Pt 1, p. 63. 121. Baumann, Landsknechte, pp. 48, 78. 122. Eugen von Frauenholz, Lazarus von Schwendi. Der Erste Deutsche Verkünder der allgemeinen Wehrpflicht (Hamburg, 1939): a selection of Schwendi’s military writings, though making the point that he was a realist about practical limits on any universal military service. 123. Zwiedineck-Südenhorst, Kriegsbilder, pp. 14–15. 124. J. Bérenger, ‘Fiscalité et économie en Autriche XVIe–XVIIe siècles’, in J. Bouvier and J.C. Perrot, États, fiscalités, économies. Actes du cinquième congrès de l’Association Française des Historiens Économistes (Paris, 1983), pp. 13–25. 125. R. Baumann, Georg von Frundsberg. Vater der Landsknechte (Munich, 1991), pp. 13–20. 126. Baumann, Landsknechte, pp. 166–7; G. Millar, Tudor Mercenaries and Auxiliaries, 1485–1547 (Charlottesville, VA, 1980), pp. 32–3. 127. Redlich, I, pp. 37–8. 128. Baumann, Landsknechte, p. 62. 129. P. Burschel, Söldner im Nordwestdeutschland des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts. Sozialgeschichtliche Studien (Göttingen, 1994), p. 97, quotes Sebastian Franck in 1531 who claimed that the numbers of men offering themselves for military service were scarcely fewer than the number of flies on a hot summer’s day. 130. Burschel, Söldner, p. 98: this kind of over-recruitment was seen as highly undesirable from a public order perspective. 131. Frauenholz, Heerwesen, II, Pt 2, pp. 104–16, two contemporary accounts of the battle.

Notes to pages 58–60


132. B.S. Hall, Weapons and Warfare in Renaissance Europe (Baltimore and London, 1997), pp. 192–9, who draws extensively on François de La Noue’s accounts of pistolier cavalry. 133. F. de La Noue, ‘Premier paradoxe: qu’un escadron de reitres doit battre un escadron de lances’, in Discours politiques et militaires (Geneva, 1967), pp. 355–62. 134. Fiedler, Kriegswesen, pp. 216–17. 135. Fiedler, Kriegswesen, p. 96: fully armoured, often noble, Reiters received double this pay: F. Lammert, ‘Von den deutschen Pistolenreitern und ihrem Führer Graf Günter von Schwarzburg’, Zeitschrift für Historische Waffen- und Kostümkunde, 12 (1931), 209–28. 136. Frauenholz, Heerwesen, II, Pt 2, pp. 50–3. 137. Lot, Recherches, pp. 41–2. 138. Lot, Recherches, pp. 62–3. 139. Lot, Recherches, pp. 131–2, 140, 176–85. 140. Millar, Tudor Mercenaries, pp. 65–95; 1,200–1,400 Landsknechte under Conrad Pennink were in England in 1549 and assisted the earl of Warwick in the suppression of Ket’s Rebellion: ibid., p. 176. 141. D. Potter, ‘The International Mercenary Market in the Sixteenth Century: Anglo-French Competition in Germany, 1543–50’, English Historical Review, 111 (1996), 24–58, pp. 27–8; Millar, Tudor Mercenaries, pp. 90–3; Gunn et al., England and the Netherlands, pp. 147–50. 142. E. Hedegaard, Landsknaegtene i Danmark i det 16. århundrede. En kulturhistorisk studie (Helsingør, 1965), pp. 15–18. Hedegaard discusses both the hiring of German Landsknechte and the evolution of a parallel military system in Denmark. 143. H. Dihle, ‘Das Kriegstagebuch eines Deutschen Landsknechts um die Wende des 15. Jahrhunderts’, Zeitschrift für Historische Waffen- und Kostümkunde, n.s., 3 (12) (1929), 1–11. 144. Burschel, Söldner, pp. 145–65, who specifically rejects the assumption that the recruitment of the Landsknechte had a homogeneity lost in the later period of military enterprise. 145. Wohlfeil, ‘Adel und neues Heerwesen’, pp. 215–16; Burschel, Söldner, pp. 60–72. 146. Baumann, Frundsberg, pp. 215–17; the topic is judiciously discussed in H.M. Möller, Das Regiment der Landsknechte. Untersuchungen zu Verfassung, Recht und Selbstverständnis in deutschen Söldnerheeren des 16. Jahrhunderts (Wiesbaden, 1976), pp. 67–71, who identifies a degree of common identity only in antipathy to non-Germans. 147. Baumann, Frundsberg, pp. 123–5, 272–5. 148. Frauenholz, Heerwesen, II, Pt 1, p. 114: ‘Aber sind mannlich und gedenckt dheiner heimb’. 149. For the Swiss, see the article by W. Meyer, ‘Religiös-magisches Denken und Verhalten im eidgenössisches Kriegertum des ausgehenden Mittelalters’, in M. Kaiser and S. Kroll (eds.), Militär und Religiosität in der Frühen Neuzeit (Münster, 2004), pp. 21–32; Landsknecht piety and practice in Möller, Regiment des Landsknechte, pp. 112–13.


Notes to pages 60–5

150. M. Kaiser and S. Kroll, ‘Introduction’, in Kaiser and Kroll (eds.), Militär und Religiosität, pp. 11–19. 151. G. Parker, The Army of Flanders and the Spanish Road, 1567–1659 (2nd edn, Cambridge, 2004), pp. 152–3. 152. Baumann, Landsknechte, pp. 131–45. 153. Baumann, Frundsberg, pp. 274–5. 154. Möller, Regiment der Landsknechte, pp. 77–80. The Swiss premium was one of the many reasons for the mortal antagonism between Swiss and Landsknechte: Bächtiger, ‘Andreaskreuz und Schweizerkreuz’, pp. 218–19; Burschel, Söldner, pp. 170–8, cautions against simplistic wage-for-wage comparisons with civilian life, but does not doubt that as an indication of status through remuneration this wage of nearly 50 gulden per annum places the soldier high amongst the ranks of skilled craftsmen (p. 173). 155. Though a full set of infantry armour would cost up to 16 gulden: Möller, Regiment der Landsknechte, p. 76. 156. Baumann, Landsknechte, pp. 64–6. 157. Zwiedineck-Südenhorst, Kriegsbilder, p. 9; Möller, Regiment der Landsknechte, pp. 52, 58–67. 158. Burschel, Söldner, pp. 38–53, sums up the process in terms of the perceptions of society: ‘vom “schlauen Landsknecht” zum “dummen Soldaten”’. 159. Baumann, Landsknechte, p. 117. 160. Or the customary address of the Provost to the assembled Landsknechte before justifying to them the execution of a condemned soldier and asking for their agreement to the sentence: ‘Einen guten Morgen, liebe, ehrliche Landsknechte, edel und unedel, wie uns denn Gott zu einander gebracht und versammelt hat!’: F. Blau, Die deutschen Landsknechte. Ein Kulturbild (Görlitz, 1882), pp. 42–3. 161. M. Rogg, Landsknechte und Reisläufer: Bilder vom Soldaten. Ein Stand in der Kunst des 16. Jahrhunderts (Paderborn, 2002), esp. pp. 148–210. 162. Baumann, Landsknechte, pp. 98–9; Möller, Regiment der Landsknechte, pp. 95–9. 163. The system was paralleled in the Swiss companies, and indeed originated with them: Frauenholz, Heerwesen, II, Pt 2, pp. 54–5. 164. For one of the best accounts of small-group dynamics written from immediate experience, see S.L. Marshall, Men against Fire. The Problem of Battle Command in Future War (New York, 1947), pp. 60–1, 138–56. 165. Parker, Army of Flanders, pp. 151–2; La Noue, Discours, pp. 340–7 (‘Seiziesme Discours’), praised the military virtues of the Spanish system of camaradas and urged – unsuccessfully – its adoption by France. 166. Baumann, Landsknechte, p. 101. 167. Blau, Deutschen Landsknechte, pp. 36–42. 168. Ibid., p. 107, also describes cases where, for reasons which the texts do not make clear, the colonel might choose to try the soldier before a tribunal of the soldiers, where the verdict would be reached by popular vote; Frauenholz, Heerwesen, II, Pt 2, pp. 38–9. 169. A detailed contemporary acount of the involvement of the company in the administration of justice is given in L. Fronsperger, Kriegsordnung und

Notes to pages 65–9



172. 173. 174. 175. 176. 177.




181. 182.

183. 184. 185.


Regiment, sampt derselbigen befehl, statt und Ampter zu Roß und zu Fuß . . . (Frankfurt, 1564), lxx recto–lxxv verso; all of this, whether by conscious borrowing, or shared tradition, exactly reflected the Swiss procedures: Sennhauser, Hauptmann und Führung, pp. 53–4. The soldiers’ perception of their social status was reflected in this view of the executioner, his assistants and guards as ‘dishonourable’, set outside the ‘regiment’/corporation by their performance of these roles: W. Danckert, Unehrliche Leute. Die Verfemten Berufe (Berne and Munich, 1963), pp. 36–49; K. Stuart, Defiled Trades and Social Outcasts. Honour and Ritual Pollution in Early Modern Germany (Cambridge, 1999), pp. 69–93. See, for example, the case from Sennhauser of a Swiss captain killed by one of his men for trying to restrain him from stealing goods from the collective booty of the unit, and the soldier then being protected by his company: Hauptmann und Führung, p. 86. Möller, Regiment der Landsknechte, pp. 202–8. Zwiedineck-Südenhorst, Kriegsbilder, pp. 192–3. Padrutt, Staat und Krieg, p. 136. For the Swiss Kriegsrat see Elgger, Kriegswesen, pp. 195–6; Frauenholz, Heerwesen, II, Pt 1, pp. 47–51. See, for example, I. Clendinnen, ‘The Cost of Courage in Aztec Society’, Past and Present, 94 (1982), 44–89. B. Bei der Wieden, ‘Niederdeutsche Söldner vor dem Dreißigjährigen Krieg. Geistige und mentale Grenzen eines sozialen Raums’, in B. Kroener and R. Pröve (eds.), Krieg und Frieden. Militär und Gesellschaft in der Frühen Neuzeit (Paderborn, 1996), pp. 85–107; Burschel, Söldner, pp. 27–53. Rogg, Landsknechte, pp. 18–143; J.R. Hale, Artists and Warfare in the Renaissance (New Haven and London, 1990), pp. 1–72; Hale, ‘The Soldier in Germanic Graphic Art of the Renaissance’, in R. Rothberg and T. Rabb, Art and History. Images and their Meanings (Cambridge, 1988), pp. 85–114. For example, Hedegaard, Landsknaegtene, p. 28 for the strident condemnation of Peder Palladius, bishop of Zealand, in 1555; Blau, Deutschen Landsknechte, pp. 113–20 on the contemporary condemnation of the Pluderhosen (fashionable, puffed-out breeches, often tied at the knee). M. Rogg, ‘“Zerhauen und zerschnitten, nach adelichen Sitten”. Herkunft, Entwicklung und Funktion soldatischer Tracht des 16 Jahrhundert im Spiegel zeitgenössischer Kunst’, in Kroener and Pröve (eds.), Krieg und Frieden, 109–35; M. Rogg, ‘“Wol auff mit mir, du schoenes weyb”. Anmerkungen zur Konstruktion von Männlichkeit im Soldatenbild des 16. Jahrhunderts’, in K. Hagemann and R. Pröve (eds.), Landsknechte, Soldatenfrauen und Nationakrieger (Frankurt am Main, 1998), pp. 51–73. J. Lipsius, Sixe Bookes of Politickes or Civil Doctrine (London, 1594; facsimile edn, Amsterdam and New York, 1970), p. 157. Blau, Deutschen Landsknechte, pp. 98–104, from whose 1880s account all mention of the Hurenwaibel and whores has been carefully excised; cf. also pp. 27–9 on regimental officers. Burschel, Söldner, pp. 248–52, 257–8: ‘Ohne Huren kein Krieg’. Baumann, Landsknechte, pp. 150–1. Burschel, Söldner, pp. 129–45.


Notes to pages 71–3

NOTES TO CHAPTER 2 1. F. Baumgartner, Henry II, King of France, 1547–1559 (Durham, NC and London, 1988), p. 87. 2. A. Orlandi, Le Grand Parti. Fiorentini a Lione e il debito pubblico Francese nel XVI secolo (Florence, 2002); R. Doucet, ‘Le Grand Parti de Lyon au XVIe siècle’, Revue historique, 171 and 172 (1933 and 1934), pp. 473–513, 1–41; R. Ehrenberg, Das Zeitalter der Fugger: Geldkapital und Creditverkehr im 16. Jahrhundert (2 vols., Jena, 1896), II, pp. 93–107. 3. M.J. Rodríguez-Salgado, The Changing Face of Empire. Charles V, Philip II and Habsburg Authority, 1551–59 (Cambridge, 1988), pp. 139–40. 4. J. Tracy, A Financial Revolution in the Habsburg Netherlands. Renten and Renteniers in the County of Holland, 1515–1565 (London, 1985), pp. 91–107; Rodríguez-Salgado, Empire, pp. 55–9. 5. Ehrenberg, Fugger, II., pp. 91–3; Doucet suggests that the project for the Grand Parti had its origins in the levels of military expenditure from 1542: ‘Grand Parti’, pp. 475–6. 6. Doucet, ‘Grand Parti’, p. 507. 7. Ehrenberg, Fugger, II, pp. 104–7. 8. H. Hauser, ‘The European Financial Crisis of 1559’, Journal of Economic and Business History, 2 (1929–30), pp. 241–55; Ehrenberg, Fugger, II, pp. 159–69. 9. D. Potter, Renaissance France at War. Armies, Culture and Society, c.1480–1560 (Woodbridge, 2008), pp. 212–20, demonstrates this massively increasing financial burden of the 1550s via a series of bar charts. 10. Rodríguez-Salgado, Empire, pp. 238–42; Ehrenberg, Fugger, II, pp. 147–59. 11. Rodríguez-Salgado, Empire, pp. 240–52. 12. The chancellor, Michel de L’Hôpital, announced to the Estates General of 1560 that the crown’s debt stood at 43 million livres, of which more than 15 million was contracted at ‘grands et insupportables intérêts’: Doucet, ‘Grand Parti’, 172, p. 9. 13. This statement contradicts the apparent evidence of a number of widely cited tables showing comparative European army sizes from 1500 to 1700, which indicate an apparently vast growth in military establishments during the 1620s and 1630s. However, almost all of that projected growth is based on misleading documents and statements by contemporaries which need qualification: a few short-term ‘surges’ in military strength are not evidence of a real and permanent growth in military establishments. In practice the military mobilization atttained in the 1550s was not significantly and lastingly surpassed until the later seventeenth century. 14. A. Guéry, ‘La naissance financière de l’état moderne en France’, in J. Bouvier and J.-C. Perrot, États, fiscalités, economies (Paris, 1985), pp. 53–62; Guéry, ‘Les finances de la monarchie française sous l’Ancien Régime’, Annales ESC, 33 (1978), 216–39, pp. 223–8. 15. J. Collins, Fiscal Limits of Absolutism. Direct Taxation in Early SeventeenthCentury France (Berkeley, CA, 1988), pp. 48–64; P. Hamon, L’argent du roi. Les finances sous François I (Paris, 1994), pp. 135–247; J. Tracy, Emperor Charles V, Impresario of War (Cambridge, 2002), pp. 95–108, 249–303.

Notes to pages 73–8


16. J.R. Hale, War and Society in Renaissance Europe, 1450–1620 (London, 1985), pp. 232–52, is robustly dismissive of the extent to which the demands of war could overcome these political limitations. 17. Figures from F. Lot, Recherches sur les effectifs des armées françaises des Guerres d’Italie aux Guerres de Religion, 1494–1562 (Paris, 1962), pp. 125–88. 18. J. Glete, Navies and Nations. Warships, Navies and State-Building in Europe and America, 1500–1860 (2 vols., Stockholm, 1993), II, pp. 504–6. 19. S. Gunn, D. Grummitt and H. Cools, War, State and Society in England and the Netherlands, 1477–1559 (Oxford, 2007), p. 27. 20. S. Pepper and N. Adams, Firearms and Fortifications: Military Architecture and Siege Warfare in Sixteenth-Century Siena (Chicago, 1986), pp. 3–31; C. Duffy, Siege Warfare. The Fortress in the Early Modern World, 1494–1660 (London, 1979), pp. 1–105. 21. G. Parker, The Military Revolution. Military Innovation and the Rise of the West, 1500–1800 (2nd edn, Cambridge, 1996), p. 12. 22. N.A.M. Rodger, ‘The Development of Broadside Gunnery, 1450–1650’, The Mariner’s Mirror, 82 (1996), 301–24. 23. G. Parker, ‘The Dreadnought Revolution of the Sixteenth Century’, The Mariner’s Mirror, 82 (1996), 269–300, p. 286 gives the example of Philip II, who by the end of 1588 had commissioned twelve new warships, each displacing 1,500 tons. 24. Glete, Navies and Nations, I, pp. 36–7. 25. Even the Habsburg rulers of the Netherlands, for whom the availability of a vast pool of merchant shipping had previously discouraged direct ship ownership, started to fit out purpose-built warships with substantially heavier armaments from the 1550s: L. Sicking, Neptune and the Netherlands. State, Economy and War at Sea in the Renaissance (Brill, 2004), pp. 376–90. 26. J. Guilmartin, Gunpowder and Galleys. Changing Technology and Mediterranean Warfare at Sea in the Sixteenth Century (Cambridge, 1974), pp. 194–220. 27. For France, it can be assumed for the period 1500–59 that the largest part of the expenses of the extraordinaire des guerres was for foreign mercenaries (the gendarmerie and heavy cavalry were funded from the ordinaire); the dramatic rise in the costs of mercenaries is strongly evident: Potter, France at War, pp. 215–18, 356–7. 28. R. Baumann, Landsknechte (Munich, 1994), p. 87. 29. An extensive literature on this subject reflects recent research and thinking about the nature of the early modern state, and in particular the compromises and negotiations at the heart of most early modern fiscal systems: see, for example, Tracy, Financial Revolution; W. Beik, Absolutism and Society in Seventeenth-Century France: State Power and Provincial Aristocracy in Languedoc (Cambridge, 1985), pp. 245–78; M. Potter, Corps and Clienteles. Public Finance and Political Change in France, 1688–1715 (Aldershot, 2003), pp. 3–25; H. Root, The Fountain of Privilege. Political Foundations of Markets in Old Regime France and England (Berkeley, CA, 1994), pp. 23–40. 30. M. Burin de Roziers, Les capitulations militaires entre la Suisse et la France (doctoral thesis, University of Paris, 1902), pp. 97–8; Potter, France at War, pp. 124–51; Redlich, I, p. 48.


Notes to pages 78–83

31. G. Parker, The Army of Flanders and the Spanish Road (2nd edn, Cambridge, 2004), pp. 32–3; Redlich, I, pp. 56–7. 32. R. Baumann, Georg von Frundsberg. Der Vater der Landsknechte (Munich, 1984), shows how the most famous of all the Landsknecht commanders was ruined by ‘irrational’ financial behaviour in the context of short-term mercenary contracts: see especially Frundsberg’s reported comments – p. 297. 33. For Blaise de Monluc, the Swiss were ‘vrais gens de guerre’, but had also been the cause of great losses and damage to the king’s affairs by their rapacious behaviour and demands ‘to be paid in money, not words’: Commentaires (Paris, 1964), pp. 31–2, referring to the defeat at La Bicocca. For a passionate contemporary denunciation of the use of foreign mercenaries in place of native French troops see Guillaume du Bellay, Instructions sur le faict de la Guerre, extraictes des livres de Polybe, Frontin, Vegece, Cornazan, Machiavelle, & plusieurs autres bons autheurs (Paris, 1553), Book One, pp. 13–21r. 34. Baumann, Landsknechte, p. 114. 35. Glete, Navies and Nations, I, p. 14. 36. This latter problem is admittedly less pressing in the case of galleys, which are simple and light enough to be deconstructed and laid up in store: P. Williams, ‘Piracy and Naval Conflict in the Mediterranean, 1590–1620’ (D.Phil. thesis, Oxford University, 2001), pp. 17–18. 37. Williams, ‘Piracy’, pp. 11–16, 32–6. 38. J. Glete, Warfare at Sea, 1500–1650. Maritime Conflicts and the Transformation of Europe (London, 2000), p. 66. 39. Glete, Navies and Nations, I, pp. 140–2. 40. I.A.A. Thompson, War and Government in Habsburg Spain, 1560–1620 (London, 1976), pp. 226–33. As Thompson points out, this was not always a correct assumption, and the chronic financial weakness of early modern states could lead to default even in areas where it was clear that the consequences would undermine any military effectiveness. 41. C. Fusero, I Doria (Milan,1973), pp. 388–404. 42. G. Doria, ‘Conoscenza del mercato e sistema informativo: il know-how dei mercanti-finanzieri genovesi nei secoli XVI e XVII’, in A. de Maddalena and H. Kellenbenz (eds.), La republica internazionale del denaro tra XV e XVII secolo. Annali dell’Istituto storico italo-germanico 20 (Bologna, 1986), pp. 57–121, pp. 66–7; Guilmartin, Gunpowder and Galleys, pp. 25–6; T. Kirk, Genoa and the Sea. Policy and Power in an Early Modern Maritime Republic, 1559–1684 (Baltimore and London, 2005), p. 41. 43. Kirk, Genoa, p. 67, n. 37. 44. Kirk, Genoa, p. 42; Thompson, War and Government, p. 32; R. Savelli, ‘Giovanni (Gian) Andrea Doria’, in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (Rome, 1960–), XLI, pp. 361–75. 45. Kirk, Genoa, p. 44; Williams, ‘Piracy’, pp. 32–6. 46. Kirk, Genoa, pp. 112–16, though Kirk stresses the chimerical character of most of these self-funding aspirations. 47. This had been the means to augment the very limited permanent naval resources in the Habsburg Netherlands throughout the first half of the sixteenth century: Sicking, Neptune and the Netherlands, pp. 370–8, 407–19.

Notes to pages 84–7


48. Glete, Navies and Nations, I, pp. 53–5; J. Guilmartin, Galleons and Galleys (London, 2002), pp. 158–81. 49. Glete, Navies and Nations, I, p. 141; F.W. Carter, Dubrovnik (Ragusa). A Classic City State (London, 1972), pp. 308–13, 392–5. 50. Thompson, War and Government, pp. 193–9; D. Goodman, Spanish Naval Power, 1589–1665. Reconstruction and Defeat (Cambridge, 1997), p. 30, gives the later example of Jerónimo Masibradi, who served Philip IV from 1624 until his death in 1650 at the head of a squadron of six Ragusan galleons, after which the contract was continued by his heirs. 51. V. Kostic, Ragusa and the Spanish Armada (Belgrade, 1972), pp. 205–7. 52. Glete, Navies and Nations, I, p. 149. 53. Kirk, Genoa, p. 45. 54. P.W. Klein, ‘The Trip Family in the Seventeenth Century: a Study of the Behaviour of the Entrepreneur on the Dutch Staple Market’, Acta Historiae Neerlandica, 1 (1966), 187–211, p. 201; J. Bruijn, The Dutch Navy of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (Columbia, SC, 1993), p. 24. 55. Glete, Navies and Nations, I, p. 155. 56. Klein, ‘Trip Family’, p. 201; A. James, Navy and Government in Early Modern France, 1572–1661 (London, 2004), p. 73, gives five warships and a number of lighter vessels, and, p. 113, emphasizes that these were the largest and most heavily armed vessels in the navy in the 1620s. Four warships had been ordered from the Dutch for French Mediterranean use back in 1618 (p. 94), and another six were to be delivered in the later 1630s (p. 116). 57. Klein, ‘Trip Family’, p. 198. 58. E. Dahlgren, Louis de Geer, 1587–1652, Hans lif och verk (2 vols., Uppsala, 1923), II, pp. 441–505; R.C. Anderson, Naval Wars in the Baltic, 1522–1850 (1910; repr. London, 1969), pp. 47–50; N. Probst, ‘Naval Operations during the Torstensson War, 1643–45’, Revue internationale d’histoire militaire, 84 (2004); G. Edmundson, ‘Louis de Geer’, English Historical Review, 6 (1891), 685–712, pp. 702–9. 59. Dahlgren, De Geer, II, p. 491. 60. A large-scale example from the early 1630s involving the Genoese Centurión family in R. Mackay, The Limits of Royal Authority. Resistance and Obedience in Seventeenth-Century Castile (Cambridge, 1999), p. 51. 61. J. Wood, The King’s Army. Warfare, Soldiers and Society during the Wars of Religion in France, 1562–1576 (Cambridge, 1996), pp. 55–66. 62. M. Greengrass, ‘Pieces of the Jigsaw: Making Sense of French Taxation under the Last Valois, 1574–1589’, in M. Ormrod, R. Bonney and M. Bonney (eds.), Crises, Revolutions and Self-Sustained Growth. Essays in European Fiscal History, 1130– 1830 (Stamford, UK, 1999), pp. 138–69; Wood, King’s Army, pp. 275–86. 63. H. Koenigsberger, ‘The Organization of Revolutionary Parties in France and the Netherlands during the Sixteenth Century’, in Koenigsberger, Estates and Revolutions (Ithaca, 1971), pp. 224–52, pp. 227–30; R. Harding, Anatomy of a Power Elite. The Provincial Governors of Early Modern France (New Haven, 1978), pp. 58–9. 64. J. de Pablo, ‘L’armée huguenote entre 1562 et 1573’, Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte, 48 (1957), 192–216, pp. 198–201; M. Wolfe, The Fiscal




67. 68. 69. 70. 71.

72. 73. 74. 75. 76. 77. 78. 79. 80. 81. 82. 83. 84.

85. 86. 87.

Notes to pages 88–91 System of Renaissance France (New Haven, 1972), pp. 142–3; M. Greengrass, ‘Henri de Montmorency-Damville et l’administration des armées provinciales de Languedoc’, in J. Perot and P. Tucoo-Chala (eds.), Provinces et Pays du Midi au temps d’Henri de Navarre, 1555–1589 (Biarritz, 1989), pp. 103–23, pp. 112–15 on how Damville used his personal authority to collect military taxes. M. Greengrass, ‘Financing the Cause: Protestant Mobilization and Accountability in France’, in P. Benedict, G. Marnef, H. van Nierop and M. Venard (eds.), Reformation, Revolt and Civil War in France and the Netherlands, 1555–1585 (Amsterdam, 1999), pp. 233–54, pp. 240–1; Wolfe, Fiscal System, pp. 143–53; Harding, Anatomy, pp. 99–107. Greengrass, ‘Financing’, p. 244, gives examples where the Landsknechte and Reiters were raised on the credit of Huguenot grandees; later in the wars the German princes themselves on occasions funded part of the costs of levies of German troops for the French Protestants, hoping to benefit from substantially larger payments in the event of a Protestant victory: B. Vogler, ‘Le rôle des Electeurs Palatins dans les guerres de religion en France (1559–1592)’, Cahiers d’histoire, 10 (1965), 51–85, pp. 65–83. Wolfe, Fiscal System, pp. 185–90. And to use the troops themselves to collect these higher tax demands: Wolfe, Fiscal System, pp. 195–203. Wolfe, Fiscal System, pp. 203–5. Greengrass, ‘Financing’, pp. 247–8 for the Huguenots. J.-C. Arnould, ‘Pillage, Profit, Promotion: l’homme de guerre d’après les Commentaires de Monluc’, in G.-A. Pérousse, A. Thierry and A. Tournon (eds.), L’homme de guerre au XVIe siècle (St Etienne, 1992), pp. 167–76. I. Aristide, La fortune de Sully (Paris, 1990), pp. 29–31. Vogler, ‘Electeurs Palatins’, pp. 61–2, 66, 73–4; R. Bonney, The King’s Debts. Finance and Politics in France, 1589–1661 (Oxford, 1981), pp. 55–6. R. Quatrefages, Los tercios españoles (1567–1577) (Madrid, 1979), p. 83. Parker, Army of Flanders, pp. 22–3. G. Parker, The Dutch Revolt (London, 1977), pp. 169–78. Parker, Army of Flanders, pp. 231–2; Thompson, War and Government, p. 119. Parker, Army of Flanders, pp. 24, 231–2. L. Welti, Graf Jakob Hannibal I. von Hohenems, 1530–1587. Ein Leben im Dienste des Katholischen Abendlandes (Innsbruck, 1954), pp. 209–10, 300. Parker, Army of Flanders, pp. 190–1. Welti, Hannibal von Hohenems, pp. 184–91. Quatrefages, Los tercios, p. 180. H. von Zwiedineck-Südenhorst, Kriegsbilder aus der Zeit der Landsknechte (Stuttgart, 1883), p. 231. G. Henry, The Irish Military Community in Spanish Flanders, 1586–1621 (Dublin, 1992), pp. 40–2, and comments by Walter de la Hyde, p. 51: ‘I have no means to liv but my company . . .’ Parker, Army of Flanders, p. 191, who also gives further examples of this apparently complete disregard for these regimental debts. Welti, Hannibal von Hohenems, pp. 300–4. Parker, Army of Flanders, pp. 120–2.

Notes to pages 92–5 88. 89. 90. 91. 92. 93. 94. 95. 96.


98. 99.


101. 102.





Parker, Army of Flanders, pp. 122–3. Redlich, I, p. 242. Redlich, I, p. 33. Zwiedineck-Südenhorst, Kriegsbilder, p. 231. Zwiedineck-Südenhorst, Kriegsbilder, p. 234. H. Lonchay (ed.), Commentario del Coronel Francisco Verdugo de la Guerra de Frisa (Brussels, 1899), p. xxix. Lonchay, Commentario, pp. xix–xxiii. J. Lefèvre, Spinola et la Belgique (1601–1627) (Brussels, 1947), pp. 17–25. A.E. Estríngana, Guerra y finanzas en los Países Bajos católicos. De Farnesio a Spinola (1592–1630) (Madrid, 2002), pp. 129–204, though has disappointingly little on the extent to which Spinola’s private access to credit helped to keep the army operational; Lefèvre, Spinola, pp. 45–51. Parker, Army of Flanders, p. 212: ‘Spinola could always raise a personal loan of 2 million escudos, and could do it for half as much as the king of Spain.’ Although by 1626 and the aftermath of the siege of Breda, even he was having difficulties finding resources: Lefèvre, Spinola, pp. 89–90. J.P. Niederkorn, Die europäische Mächte und der ‘Lange Türkenkrieg’ Kaiser Rudolfs II. (1593–1606) (Vienna, 1993), pp. 55–7. M. Hüther, ‘Der Dreißigjährige Krieg als fiskalisches Problem: Lösungsversuche und ihre Konsequenzen’, Scripta Mercaturae, 21 (1987), 52–81, p. 66; K. Krüger, ‘Kriegsfinanzierung und Reichsrecht im 16. und 17. Jahrhundert’, in B. Kroener and R. Pröve (eds.), Krieg und Frieden. Militär und Gesellschaft in der frühen Neuzeit (Paderborn, 1996), pp. 47–57, pp. 50–6. Christoph von Rusworm, who ended as field marshal of the armies in Hungary, saw an opportunity to advance himself in 1594 when he was able to transfer his regiment from service in Flanders to Hungary: A. Stauffer, Hermann Christoph Graf von Rusworm, kaiserliche Feldmarschall in den Türkenkämpfen unter Rudolf II (Munich, 1884), p. 15. Zwiedineck-Südenhorst, Kriegsbilder, pp. 275–6. R. Baumann, Das Söldnerwesen im 16. Jahrhundert im bayerischen und süddeutschen Beispiel. Eine gesellschaftsgeschichtliche Untersuchung (Munich, 1978), p. 66. Campaign details and field army numbers are hard to ascertain, but some detail is provided in A. Randa, Pro Republica Christiana. Die Walachei im ‘langen’ Türkenkrieg der Katholischen Universalmächte 1593–1606 (Monachii, 1964), which indicates that Christian field armies regularly achieved strengths of 25,000–30,000 men at the start of campaigns from 1596 onwards. I. Bog, ‘Türkenkrieg und Agrarwirtschaft. Einführung in die Probleme der Heeresversorgung und der Kriegsfinanzierung vor allem in Österreich unter der Enns und seinen Grenzlandschaften im 16. und 17. Jahrhundert’, in O. Pickl (ed.), Die wirtschaftlichen Auswirkungen der Türkenkriege (Graz, 1971), pp. 13–26, pp. 18–20. For the heavy involvement of the Liechtenstein family in army provisioning from their estates in Moravia, see J. von Falke, Geschichte des fürstlichen Hauses Liechtenstein (2 vols., Vienna, 1877), II, pp. 138–41.


Notes to pages 95–8

106. Falke, Liechtenstein, II, pp. 246–7. 107. Goodman, Spanish Naval Power, pp. 29–30; Thompson, War and Government, p. 271. 108. N. Machiavelli, The Art of War, trans. E. Farneworth (1521; repr. New York, 1965), pp. 14–43. 109. G. Oestreich, Neostoicism and the Early Modern State (Cambridge, 1982), pp. 13–27, 90–117. 110. Parker, Army of Flanders, pp. 138–9. 111. W. Schulze, ‘Die Deutsche Landesdefensionen im 16. und 17. Jahrhundert’, in B. Stolberg-Rilinger and J. Kunisch (eds.), Staatsverfassung und Heeresverfassung in der europäischen Geschichte der frühen Neuzeit (Berlin, 1986), pp. 129–49, pp. 135–6; H. Schnitter, Volk und Landesdefension. Volksaufgebote, Defensionswerke, Landmilizen in den Deutschen Territorien vom 15. bis zum 18. Jahrhundert (Berlin, 1977), pp. 69–74. 112. J. Lipsius, Sixe Bookes of Politickes or Civil Doctrine (London, 1594); (facsimile edn, Amsterdam and New York, 1970), chapter 11 (pp. 144–7): G. Baudart, Les guerres de Nassau (2 vols., Amsterdam, 1616), I, p. 249, justifies the decision to demolish various Spanish citadels on grounds that they were no more than ‘nids de voleurs et de muselieres aux bourgeois . . .’ 113. Du Bellay, Instructions, Book One, esp. pp. 20–27v; J.J. von Wallhausen, Defensio patriae oder Landrettung (Mainz, 1621), provides an extremely detailed account of setting up a militia, dedicated, somewhat ironically in the circumstances of 1621, to Emperor Ferdinand II. Wallhausen integrates an account of the mechanisms to select and assemble a militia with the new prescriptions for discipline and drill detailed in his other works. 114. H. Schnitter, ‘Söldnerheer und Landesdefension. Militärische Alternativenentwicklungen im Verhältnis von Volk, Staat und Streitmacht im spätfeudalen deutschen Reich in der Zeit des Übergangs vom Feudalismus zum Kapitalismus (15 Jh. bis 1789)’, in H. Timmermann (ed.), Die Bildung des frühmodernen Staates – Stände und Konfessionen (Saarbrücken, 1989), pp. 405–20, pp. 409–10. 115. K. Krüger, ‘Dänische und schwedische Kriegfinanzierung im Dreißigjährigen Krieg bis 1635’, in K. Repgen (ed.), Krieg und Politik, 1618–1648 (Munich, 1988), pp. 275–98, p. 283 gives Oxenstierna’s calculations for the 1623 campaign in Livonia that each hired infantryman cost 62 talers, each Swedish militiaman 34 talers over a campaign calculated at nine monthly pays. 116. D. Potter, ‘The International Mercenary Market in the Sixteenth Century: Anglo-French Competition in Germany, 1543–50’, English Historical Review, 111 (1996), 24–58. 117. Lipsius, Politickes, Book 13, pp. 151–60; Oestreich, Neostoicism, pp. 76–86. As Geoffrey Parker points out, Lipsius was embarrassingly antiquarian when attempting to offer practical military prescriptions; ‘The Limits to Revolutions in Military Affairs: Maurice of Nassau, the Battle of Nieuwpoort (1600) and the Legacy’, Journal of Military History, 71 (2007), 331–72, pp. 334–5. 118. W. Hahlweg, Die Heeresreform der Oranien und die Antike (Berlin, 1941); see the discussion in the Introduction to this volume, pp. 15–16; G. Papke,

Notes to pages 98–9











Handbuch zur deutschen Militärgeschichte, 1648–1939), Vol. I: Von der Miliz zum Stehenden Heer. Wehrwesen im Absolutismus (Munich, 1979), pp. 72–6. W.H. McNeill, Keeping Together in Time. Dance and Drill in Human History (Cambridge, MA, 1995), pp. 127–32, supports this and speaks of ‘muscular bonding’ through imposed drill and other enforced, collective excercises; Papke, Miliz zum Stehenden Heer, p. 77. E. von Frauenholz, Entwicklungsgeschichte des Deutschen Heerwesens (5 vols., Munich, 1935–41), III, Pt 2 (Die Landesdefension), pp. 11–14. A measure of scepticism about this approach can be found in C. Schulten, ‘Une nouvelle approche de Maurice de Nassau (1567–1625)’, in P. Chaunu (ed.), Le soldat, la stratégie, la mort: mélanges André Corvisier (Paris, 1989), pp. 42–53. Frauenholz, Heerwesen, III, Pt 2, pp. 9–10. Frauenholz remains by far the most comprehensive account of this phenomenon of the early seventeenthcentury militias, though Papke, Miliz zum Stehenden Heer, pp. 83–114, offers a good overview; see also Schnitter, Volk und Landesdefension, pp. 100–13. Frauenholz, Heerwesen, III, Pt 2, pp. 17–28; Schulze, ‘Landesdefension’, p. 138, cites the Imperial Pfennigmeister in 1604: ‘almost all the princes in the Empire have drawn up excellent ordinances for territorial defence, and have started to arm and train their populations . . .’ One established German account of this period, part of a multi-volumed military history, makes the point explicitly, devoting more than sixty pages to militias and the Orange-Nassau reforms, and around twenty to military contracting from the Swiss to Wallenstein: Papke, Von der Miliz zum stehenden Heer [‘From Militia to Standing Army’]; see also the discussion pp. 150–3. W. Schulze, Landesdefension und Staatsbildung. Studien zum Kriegswesen des innerösterreichischen Territorialstaates (1564–1619) (Vienna and Cologne, 1973), especially pp. 215–42 on the influence of militia defence on political assertion and practice in the Inner Austrian territories. Though an enthusiast for the ‘forward-looking’ potential of militia service, Frauenholz does not seek to mitigate the extent of the military failure of the initiative amongst the German states: Heerwesen, III, Pt 2, pp. 28–34; Schnitter, Volk und Landesdefension, pp. 132–43, describes the ineffectual role of the militias, though with more interest shown in the potentially subversive role offered by Landesdefension organization in the ‘antifeudalen Klassenkampf’ in Upper Austria and Bavaria. M. Roberts, Gustavus Adolophus. A History of Sweden, 1611–32 (2 vols., London, 1958), II, pp. 207–19; J. Glete, War and the State in Early Modern Europe. Spain, the Dutch Republic and Sweden as Fiscal-Military States, 1500– 1660 (London, 2002), pp. 201–6; R. Frost, The Northern Wars, 1558–1721 (London, 2000), pp. 33–4, makes important points about the origins of the system in the sixteenth century. Glete, War, pp. 203–6; Muscovy attempted a similar system of permanent conscription, but with limited success until the reign of Peter the Great: J. Keep, Soldiers of the Tsar. Army and Society in Russia, 1462–1874 (Oxford, 1985), pp. 84–5, 103–8; R. Hellie, Enserfment and Military Change in Muscovy (Chicago, 1971), pp. 190–9, 232–4.


Notes to pages 99–107

128. Krüger, ‘Dänische and schwedische Kriegsfinanzierung’, p. 278. 129. Potter, France at War, pp. 112–17. 130. Monluc commented on the legions that they offered a means to draw on native troops rather than foreigners, but that they had failed because the original intention to create a permanent, trained force had been quickly abandoned: Commentaires, p. 61. 131. Falke, Hauses Liechtenstein, II, p. 150: ‘ungeordnetes Bauernvolk’. 132. Frauenholz, Heerwesen, III, Pt 2, pp. 31–3, lists the more notable failures of the militias; M. Kaiser, Politik und Kriegsführung. Maximilian von Bayern, Tilly und die Katholische Liga im Dreißigjährigen Krieg (Münster, 1999), p. 62, cites the Mandat of 10 December 1632 by which Elector Maximilian dissolved the militia in return for a cash commutation: ‘the militia has served badly and has been entirely useless and without effect . . .’ 133. Quoted in H. Drévillon, L’impôt du sang. Le métier des armes sous Louis XIV (Paris, 2005), p. 365. 134. Frauenholz, Heerwesen, III, Pt 2, pp. 33–4. 135. Frauenholz, Heerwesen, III, Pt 2, pp. 140–4: documents related to the incorporation of the remaining militia into regiments in the Liga army in 1632.

NOTES TO CHAPTER 3 1. Wallenstein contributed 40,000 florins of his own funds to the recruitment: K. Koch, ‘Wallenstein 1583–1625’ (Dissertation, Düsseldorf, 1908–9), p. 12. 2. A. de Villermont, Ernest de Mansfeldt (2 vols., Brussels, 1865), I, pp. 77–80. 3. Villermont, Mansfeldt, I, pp. 104–5, 251–66. 4. O. Chaline, La bataille de la Montagne Blanche. Un mystique chez les guerriers (Paris, 2000), pp. 82–4; Villermont, Mansfeldt, I, pp. 296–9. 5. C. Jarrys de La Roche, Die Dreißigjährige Krieg vom militärischen Standpunkte aus beleuchtet (3 vols., Schaffhausen, 1848), I, pp. 77–82; Villermont, Mansfeldt, II, pp. 395–8, letter from Mansfeld to Frederick, 19 May 1621. 6. Villermont, Mansfeldt, II, pp. 71–6. 7. An army which, including the forces of Christian of Halberstadt, totalled around 21,000 infantry and 8,000 cavalry: Villermont, Mansfeldt, II, p. 71. 8. Villermont, Mansfeldt, II, pp. 120–31. The hostile Villermont sees all of these manoeuvres to gain subsidy treaties as pure opportunism by a cynical manipulator, and details all the attempts by ‘le Bâtard’ to win similar deals with the Catholic powers. 9. Villermont, Mansfeldt, II, pp. 240–6; P. Lockhart, Denmark in the Thirty Years War, 1618–48 (Selinsgrove, 1996), pp. 129, 136. 10. The contemporary of Mansfeld, Christian of Brunswick, provided a very similar model: see H. Wertheim, Der tolle Halberstädter, Herzog Christian von Braunschweig (2 vols., Berlin, 1929). And at least one Catholic general contractor, Charles IV of Lorraine, operated on the same terms after his duchy had been occupied by the French from the 1630s. 11. G. Droysen, Bernhard von Weimar (2 vols., Leipzig, 1885), I, pp. 27–32. 12. Droysen, Weimar, I, pp. 150–60.

Notes to pages 108–11


13. Droysen, Weimar, I, pp. 443–4. 14. His own estimates for the cost of reconstructing the army in the aftermath of the defeat, reforming units and carrying out recruitment, assumed costs of 600,000–700,000 talers; the most that he could expect on paper from the four northern Kreise was 350,000 gulden (approximately 500,000 taler), but in reality far less: Droysen, Weimar, II, pp. 26–7. 15. Droysen, Weimar, II, pp. 28–9. 16. Droysen, Weimar, II, pp. 151–2; D. Parrott, Richelieu’s Army. War, Government and Society in France, 1624–42 (Cambridge, 2001), pp. 293–4. 17. A.M.R.A. Noailles, Bernhard de Saxe-Weimar (Paris, 1908), pp. 481–6, prints the terms of the treaty; rigorous control of numbers of troops implied that the French crown had a commissariat present with Saxe-Weimar’s army which, at least until French commanders took over its direction in 1639, was not the case. Droysen, Weimar, II, pp. 176–8. 18. Noailles, Saxe-Weimar, pp. 395–417. 19. Parrott, Richelieu’s Army, p. 205: strength in May 1638; Droysen, Weimar, II, pp. 186–7. 20. Droysen, Weimar, II, p. 529. 21. A. von Gonzenbach, Der General Hans Ludwig von Erlach von Castelen (3 vols., Berne, 1880–2), I, pp. 350–85. 22. Gonzenbach, Erlach, I, pp. 385–519, 587–98 (exhaustively); A.M.R.A. de Noailles, Le maréchal de Guébriant (Paris, 1913), pp. 126–66; Parrott, Richelieu’s Army, pp. 295–7. 23. Gonzenbach, Erlach, II, pp. 546–79: a particular clause of the agreement with Königsmark was that the soldiers should be incorporated into the Swedish army as free-standing regiments (p. 574). 24. L. Jespersen, ‘The Machtstaat in Seventeenth-Century Denmark’, Scandinavian Journal of History, 10 (1985), 271–304, p. 275; L. Petersen, ‘Defence, War and Finance: Christian IV and the Council of the Realm, 1596–1629’, Scandinavian Journal of History, 7 (1982), 277–313, pp. 291–4. 25. Lockhart, Denmark, pp. 64–5: the militia was specifically not to be used outside Danish territories. 26. E. Hedegaard, Landsknaegtene i Danmark i det 16. århundrede. En kulturhistorisk studie (Helsingør, 1965), pp. 15–18. 27. S. Murdoch, ‘Scotland, Denmark-Norway and the House of Stuart, 1603– 1660: a Diplomatic and Military Analysis’ (Ph.D. thesis, University of Aberdeen, 1998), pp. 213–14, draws attention to the ties which had embedded numbers of Scottish officers in Danish society between 1580 and 1660. 28. Petersen, ‘Christian IV’, p. 304; J. Fallon, ‘Scottish Mercenaries in the Service of Denmark and Sweden, 1626–1632’ (Ph.D. thesis, University of Glasgow, 1972), pp. 34, 191–215. Murdoch, ‘Scotland, Denmark-Norway’, pp. 247– 66, who accepts Fallon’s figure that some 13,700 Scots were recruited for Danish military service between 1620 and 1648 (p. 229), and stresses that the Danes ‘had a policy of maintaining control of the higher echelons of their armed forces’ (p. 263). 29. Petersen, ‘Christian IV’, p. 303. 30. Lockhart, Denmark, p. 151.


Notes to pages 111–14

31. Murdoch, ‘Scotland, Denmark-Norway’, pp. 267–79. In fact Scottish senior officers were mostly reluctant or unable to raise troops from their own resources, and the majority who served in this war and subsequently did so as professional officers commanding Danish troops. 32. Murdoch, ‘Scotland, Denmark-Norway’, pp. 280–6. 33. H. Zwicker, ‘De militie van den staat’. Het leger van de republiek der Verenigde Nederlanden (Amsterdam, 1991), pp. 45–6. If the relatively small number of entirely native cavalry units are added to the totals, the number of native troops outweighs the foreign. 34. J. Glete, War and the State in Early Modern Europe. Spain, the Dutch Republic and Sweden as Fiscal-Military States, 1500–1660 (London, 2002), p. 158. 35. Both the Spanish conquest and the subsequent Dutch recapture of the city of Breda in 1625–6 and 1637 provided tough lessons about the costs of largescale offensive siege warfare. 36. Glete, War, p. 161. 37. O. van Nimwegen, ‘Deser landen crijchsvolck’. Het Staatse leger en de militaire revoluties, 1588–1688 (Amsterdam, 2006), pp. 67–70; Zwicker, ‘De militie’, pp. 92–7. For delays and shortfalls of pay to the troops in Dutch service see R. Manning, An Apprenticeship in Arms. The Origins of the British Army, 1585– 1702 (Oxford, 2006), pp. 35–6. 38. G. Parker, ‘The Limits to Revolutions in Military Affairs: Maurice of Nassau, the Battle of Nieuwpoort (1600) and the Legacy’, Journal of Military History, 71 (2007), 331–72, pp. 354–8, makes clear the extent to which the States General were unprepared to see military authority delegated outright to the Stadholders, and how far they saw the army as subject to their political and military priorities. 39. W. Ziegler, Dokumente zur Geschichte von Staat und Gesellschaft in Bayern (3 vols., Munich, 1992), III, pp. 732–45, 10 July 1609, 18 February 1610: establishment of the Liga under the military direction of Maximilian as Bundesoberst, and prescriptions for its military organization; D. Albrecht, Maximilian I von Bayern, 1573–1651 (Munich, 1998), pp. 618–39. 40. Albrecht, Maximilian, pp. 186–205. 41. M. Kaiser, Politik und Kriegsführung. Maximilian von Bayern, Tilly und die Katholische Liga im Dreißigjährigen Krieg (Münster, 1999), pp. 17–18; O. Klopp, Tilly im Dreißigjährigen Kriege (2 vols., Stuttgart, 1861), I, pp. 67–9; M. Junkelmann, ‘Feldherr Maximilians: Johann Tserclaes Graf von Tilly’, in Um Glauben und Reich. Kurfürst Maximilian I (Exhibition catalogue, 3 vols., Munich, 1980), II (i), pp. 377–99. 42. Kaiser, Politik und Kriegsführung, pp. 31–5: Christoph Ruepp in particular seems to have played a powerful intermediary role between Tilly and Maximilian. 43. J. Heilmann, Kriegsgeschichte von Bayern, Franken, Pfalz und Schwaben von 1506–1651 (2 vols., Munich, 1868), II, pp. 1013–4. 44. Kaiser, Politik und Kriegsführung, pp. 84–5. Heilmann, Kriegsgeschichte von Bayern, II, pp. 1094–104, for an example of a Bavarian commission for a regiment of 3,000 (or if chosen, 4,000) infantry. 45. Kaiser, Politik und Kriegsführung, pp. 69–70; Redlich, I, p. 222.

Notes to pages 114–18


46. Kaiser, Politik und Kriegsführung, p. 69. 47. Kaiser, Politik und Kriegsführung, p. 70 (December 1628). 48. For the presence of the colonels, see Ziegler, Dokumente, III, pp. 984–8, 16 October 1626, Tilly’s instructions to the disciplinary officers of the regiments. 49. A. Gindely, Waldstein, I, p. 128: pay for 1626. 50. Heilmann, Kriegsgeschichte von Bayern, II, p. 1002: Verpflegungsordnung of 27 November 1632. Much of this sum would be to help cover expenses of re-recruiting and re-equipping the troops, and the infantry regiments were substantially larger than their cavalry counterparts. 51. Ziegler, Dokumente, III, pp. 1095–6, 9 October 1635, Imperial edict establishing an independent Bavarian army as part of the new military system of the Reich; C. Kapser, Die bayerische Kriegsorganisation in der zweiten Hälfte des Dreißigjährigen Krieges, 1635–1648/49 (Münster, 1997), pp. 16–21. 52. Kapser, Bayerische Kriegsorganisation, pp. 56–8, 218–49. 53. Kapser, Bayerische Kriegsorganisation, pp. 139–54. This was to some extent increased by subsidies from Spain and the Emperor and domain revenues paid to the duke: pp. 154–65. 54. Kapser, Bayerische Kriegsorganisation, pp. 290–5. Though they are not without their problems as sets of figures, Kapser transcribes a detailed breakdown of the contributions paid in 1645 by individual cities and regions within the Kreise, indicating both the sustainable level of these financial demands and the relatively small overall levels of default. 55. Kapser, Bayerische Kriegsorganisation, p. 56. 56. Heilmann, Kriegsgeschichte von Bayern, II, pp. 902–6. 57. K. Oberleitner, ‘Beiträge zur Geschichte des Dreißigjährigen Krieges mit besonderer Berücksichtigung des Österreichischen Finanz- und Kriegswesens, 1618–34’, Archiv für Österreichischen Geschichte, 19 (1858), pp. 4–6: the outstanding sums for military preparations amounted to 4.3 million gulden by the end of June 1619. 58. M. Hüther, ‘Der Dreißigjährige Krieg als fiskalisches Problem: Lösungsversuche und ihre Konsequenzen’, Scripta Mercaturae, 21 (1987), 52–81, p. 61. 59. DBB., IV, p. 53: Collalto to Wallenstein. 19 July 1625, Vienna. 60. Gindely, Waldstein, I, p. 76: note of letter from Nuncio, Carlo Caraffa, to Antonio Barberini, 13 March 1626. 61. Krebs, Hatzfeld I, pp. 44–5; H. Diwald, Wallenstein (Munich, 1969), pp. 266–70. 62. Wallenstein was not the first to encourage multiple proprietorship, but he developed it far beyond anything previously seen in the Imperial army. The Liechtensteins had raised two regiments as early as 1620: J. von Falke, Geschichte des Fürstlichen Hauses Liechtenstein (2 vols., Vienna, 1877), II, pp. 192, 248–9. 63. H. Hallwich, Fünf Bücher Geschichte Wallensteins (3 vols., Leipzig, 1910), I, p. 187, cites Privy Councillor Harrach’s report of a conversation with Wallenstein on 29 April 1625. 64. Gindely, Waldstein, I, p. 55; the mechanism invoked was the financial arrangement agreed at the 1570 Speyer Reichsabschied, which stipulated that the


65. 66. 67. 68. 69.

70. 71. 72. 73.

74. 75. 76. 77.

78. 79.

80. 81. 82. 83. 84.


Notes to pages 118–21 German territories, in case of war, were to provide quarters and subsistence for the Imperial army: Diwald, Wallenstein, pp. 274–81. Gindely, Waldstein, I, pp. 66–7. Krebs, Hatzfeld I, p. 46. Krebs, Hatzfeld I, pp. 73–4, for the exactions on the principality of Schweidnitz-Jauer in Silesia. Krebs, Hatzfeld I, p. 82. Gindely, Waldstein, I, p. 75, though he was shortly to retire from the army after a rift with Wallenstein over the latter’s ‘excessively severe’ enforcement of discipline. Gindely, Waldstein, I, p. 183; Kaiser, Politik und Kriegsführung, pp. 272–3. A. Ernstberger, Hans de Witte – Finanzmann Wallensteins (Wiesbaden, 1954), p. 196. Ernstberger, Hans de Witte, pp. 179–181. A detailed account of the imposition of contributions on the city of Halle in 1626 emphasized specifically that there were to be ‘no exceptions’ in the assessment of the inhabitants: Gindely, Waldstein, I, p. 140; Diwald, Wallenstein, pp. 280–3, rightly urges caution in taking contemporary complaints about contributions at face value. Of all the money borrowed by de Witte for the army, 98 per cent was set against anticipated contributions: Ernstberger, de Witte, p. 332. Ernstberger, de Witte, pp. 368–70. Gindely, Waldstein, I, p. 128. Redlich, I, p. 255. To take individual cases, Pappenheim’s colonels in 1632 were each expected to contribute 10,000–12,000 talers to the recruitment of their regiments, while Pappenheim had himself advanced some 300,000 talers of credit for the army: B. Stadler, Pappenheim und die Zeit des Dreißigjährigen Krieges (Winterthur, 1991), p. 605. Gindely, Waldstein, I, p. 182. L. Welti, Graf Kaspar von Hohenems, 1573–1640. Ein adeliges Leben im Zwiespalte zwischen friedlichem Kulturideal und rauher Kriegswirklichkeit im Frühbarock (Innsbruck, 1963), pp. 269–72: ‘die wallensteinischen Placker . . .’ Ernstberger, Hans de Witte, pp. 371–98. Kaiser, Politik und Kriegsführung, pp. 316–17. J. Heilmann, Das Kriegswesen der Kaiserlichen und Schweden zur Zeit des Dreißigjährigen Krieges (Leipzig, 1850; repr. Krefeld, 1977), pp. 156–7. G. Wagner, Wallenstein. Der Böhmische Condottiere (Vienna, 1958), pp. 99–101. DBB., V, p. 64: Slavata to Adam Waldstein, 24 December 1631: winter quartering and recruitment arrangements for the Imperial troops; notifies him of orders for quartering fifty-six regiments in Bohemia, eleven in Moravia and thirty in Silesia, five in Lower and ten in Upper Austria. DBB., V, p. 64: Slavata to Adam Waldstein, 24 December 1631: king of Spain has agreed to pay Wallenstein directly 100,000 florins per month, and in addition he has agreed to provide 20,000 infantry and 4,000 cavalry from the Spanish Netherlands, which the Spanish crown will pay to maintain; H. Ernst, ‘Spanische Subsidien für den Kaiser, 1632–42’, in K. Repgen (ed.), Krieg und Politik (Munich, 1988), pp. 299–302.

Notes to pages 121–5


86. F. Konze, ‘Die Stärke, Zusammensetzung und Verteilung der Wallensteinischen Armee während des Jahres 1633. Ein Beitrag zur Heeresgeschichte des 30 Jährigen Krieges’ (Dissertation, Frankfurt am Main, 1906), pp. 19–22, 26–35; see Kriegsliste in DBB., IV and V. 87. Wallenstein to Ferdinand II, 17 December 1633; Ferdinand II to Wallenstein, 24 December 1633, printed in DBB., V, pp. 217–20; G. Mann, Wallenstein. His Life Narrated, trans. C. Kessler (London, 1976), pp. 747–53. 88. Mann, Wallenstein, pp. 760–9; H. von Srbik, Wallensteins Ende. Ursachen, Verlauf and Folgen der Katastrophe (Salzburg, 1952), pp. 104–6. 89. A recent contribution to this debate in J. Polišenský and J. Kollmann, Wallenstein. Feldherr des Dreißigjährigen Krieges (Cologne, 1997), pp. 240–57. 90. M. Ritter, ‘Das Kontributionssystem Wallensteins’, Historische Zeitschrift, 54 (1902–3), 193–249; F. Redlich, ‘Contributions in the Thirty Years War’, Economic History Review, 2nd ser., 12 (1959–60), 247–54; Ernstberger, De Witte, pp. 179–212. 91. Konze, Stärke, pp. 62–3. 92. H. Haan, Der Regensburger Kurfürstentag von 1636/1637 (Münster, 1967), pp. 169–70; H. Salm, Armeefinanzierung im Dreißigjährigen Krieg. Die Niederrheinisch-Westfälische Reichskreis, 1635–50 (Münster, 1990), pp. 11–13. 93. There is good evidence that the issues were already being seriously reconsidered as early as 1634 – see J. Pohl, ‘Die Profiantirung der keyserlichen Armaden ahnbelangendt’. Studien zur Versorgung der kaiserlichen Armee, 1634–35 (Vienna, 1994), pp. 19–29. 94. K.-L. Böhme, ‘Geld für die schwedischen Armeen nach 1640’, Scandia, 33 (1967), 54–95, pp. 62–3. 95. Salm, Armeefinanzierung, pp. 106–42. 96. Böhme, ‘Geld’, p. 91, on the need for money as well as provisions in kind. 97. Salm, Armeefinanzierung, pp. 122–39, and figures 12–13, 22–23. 98. The survival rate of the Imperial regiments created in Wallenstein’s first generalship is appreciably lower than for those created in the 1630s and 1640s. Amongst the demands made at the Regensburg Electoral Diet of 1636 was that for the curtailing of the ‘überflüssigen Luxus bei den Offizieren’, and that regiments needed to be amalgamated into the hands of established colonels: Haan, Kurfürstentag, p. 169. 99. Gindely, Waldstein, I, p. 116, 9 September 1626, reported by Carlo Caraffa. 100. Pohl, ‘Profiantirung’, pp. 12, 18–19, 101. E. Höfer, Das Ende des Dreißigjährigen Krieges. Strategie und Kriegsbild (Cologne, Weimar and Vienna, 1997), pp. 44–9, gives a justifiably positive appraisal of Hatzfeld’s successor, Peter Melander (Holzapfel), and some examples of his plans being thrown off track by incoherent orders from the Imperial court: cf. pp. 95–6, the Emperor’s insistence that vital campaigning resources should be expended during the latter part of 1647 on the gesture of driving the Swedes out of Iglau, in Moravia. For Wallenstein’s notorious refusal to be fobbed off with the detritus of courtly petitioning, see, e.g., Mann, Wallenstein, p. 301.


Notes to pages 125–9

102. A. von Wrede, Geschichte der K. und K. Wehrmacht. Die Regimenter, Corps, Branchen und Anstalten von 1618 bis Ende des XIX Jahrhunderts (5 vols., Vienna, 1898–1903); vols. I and III (2) provide details of regiments of infantry and cavalry in the Imperial army established and dissolved from 1618. 103. J. Glete, Swedish Naval Administration, 1521–1721 (Leiden, 2010), pp. 252, 663–4; M. Roberts, Gustavus Adolphus. A History of Sweden, 1611–32 (2 vols., London, 1958), II, pp. 272–94. 104. Glete, War, p. 203; R. Frost, The Northern Wars, 1558–1721 (London, 2000), pp. 127–8. 105. T. Lorentzen, Die Schwedische Armee im Dreißigjährigen Kriege (Leipzig, 1894), p. 8; Fallon, ‘Scottish Mercenaries’, pp. 261–301. 106. H. Landberg, L. Ekholm, R. Nordlund and S. Nilsson (eds.), Det kontinentala krigets ekonomie. Studier i krigsfinansierung under svensk stormaktstid (Kristianstad, 1971), p. 459. 107. Fallon, ‘Scottish Mercenaries’, pp. 43–5. 108. Landberg et al. (eds.), Krigets ekonomie, pp. 463–7. 109. S. Lundkvist, ‘Schwedische Kriegsfinanzierung, 1630–35’, in H. Rudolf (ed.), Der Dreißigjährigen Krieg: Perspectiven and Strukturen (Darmstadt, 1977), pp. 298–303; Böhme, ‘Geld’, p. 54. 110. Lorentzen, Schwedische Armee, pp. 8–9. Pappenheim reported to Wallenstein on 18 November 1630 that Knyphausen had commissions to raise six regiments of troops for Gustavus, but instructions not to start recruitment until early January: DBB, IV, p. 338. 111. Heilmann, Kriegswesen, p. 161; A. Grosjean ‘Scotland: Sweden’s Closest Ally?’, in S. Murdoch (ed.), Scotland and the Thirty Years War, 1618–48 (Brill, 2001), pp. 143–71, pp. 145–51. 112. Lorentzen, Schwedische Armee, p. 36. This continued through the rest of the war: see, for example, G. Björlin, Johan Banér (3 vols., Stockholm, 1908– 10), III, pp. 631–2 – Banér’s army at Stettin, 16 July 1638. 113. Redlich, I, pp. 255–6. 114. Droysen, Weimar, I, pp. 147–9. 115. The system was also practised in central and north Germany under Swedish occupation: Banér was granted a large part of the city and surrounding territory of Magdeburg as a contribution to his military expenses: Lorentzen, Schwedische Armee, p. 28. 116. H. Laber, ‘Die Schweden in Augsburg von 1632 bis 1635’, in Münchener Historische Abhandlungen, 2nd ser. Kriegs- und Heeresgeschichte, Vol. I (Munich, 1932), pp. 22–7. 117. R. Hildebrandt, ‘Handel und Kapitalverkehr um 1630. Außenwirtschaftliche Beziehungen Deutschlands im Dreißigjährigen Krieg’, in J. Schneider (ed.), Wirtschaftskräfte und Wirtschaftswege V. Festschrift für Hermann Kellenbenz (Stuttgart, 1981), pp. 135–59, p. 146. 118. Hildebrandt, ‘Handel und Kapitalverkehr’, p. 140. 119. Laber, ‘Schweden in Augsburg’, pp. 37–8; F. Blendinger, ‘Augsburger Handel im Dreißigjährigen Krieg’, in J. Schneider (ed.), Wirtschaftskräfte und Wirtschaftswege II. Festschrift für Hermann Kellenbenz (Stuttgart, 1978), pp. 287–323, pp. 335–6.

Notes to pages 129–34


120. E. Friedlaender, ‘Protokoll über die Kontributionen und Kriegskosten des Ober-Barnimschen Kreises aus den Jahren 1630–1634’, Märkische Forschungen, 17 (1882), 139–428. 121. Redlich, I, pp. 255–6; Lorentzen, Schwedische Armee, p. 43. 122. Landberg et al. (eds.), Krigets ekonomie, pp. 467–9. 123. Lorentzen, Schwedische Armee, pp. 39–40. 124. Droysen, Weimar, I, pp. 151–9; Lorentzen, Schwedische Armee, p. 44; Landberg et al. (eds.), Krigets ekonomie, pp. 467–9, 471–2. 125. Lorentzen, Schwedische Armee, pp. 44–5. 126. Landberg et al. (eds.), Krigets ekonomie, p. 468. 127. Lorentzen, Schwedische Armee, pp. 73–4; Böhme, ‘Geld’, pp. 60–1. 128. B.P. von Chemnitz, Königlichen Schwedischen in Teutschland geführten Kriegs (4 vols., 2 only extant, Riderholm, 1855), III (i), p. 77. 129. M. Fieger, Der kriegerische Ereignisse in der Oberpfalz. Vom Einfalle Baners 1641 bis zum Westfälischen Frieden (Dillingen, 1909–10), pp. 19–20, for a good example of this type of bargaining in the Upper Palatinate. 130. Böhme, ‘Geld’, pp. 59–60. 131. Père Griffet, Histoire du règne de Louis XIII (3 vols., Paris, 1758), III, p. 211. Even in the apparently unfavourable conditions of 1636, this was being attempted by Banér: Chemnitz, Königlichen Schwedischen, IV (iii), pp. 88–9: punitive contributions levied on Dresden and Meissen. 132. For details of the Swedish approach to the German territories from 1639 onwards, see P. Englund, Der Verwüstung Deutschlands. Eine Geschichte des Dreißigjährigen Krieges (Stuttgart, 1998), pp. 191–208. 133. Lorentzen, Schwedische Armee, p. 88. 134. Böhme, ‘Geld’, pp. 64–5 (Brandenburg), pp. 85–6 (Saxony). Böhme’s article provides a good account of the detailed workings of this system of financial support, especially how it provided both for garrisons and for the field army. 135. Englund, Verwüstung Deutschlands, pp. 515–20, describes the plunder in detail. 136. Johan Banér, fighting a largely defensive war in the later 1630s, still left some 200,000 talers on deposit in a Hamburg bank, and many accounts suggest his profits from military enterprise were a great deal higher: Lorentzen, Schwedische Armee, p. 15. 137. Böhme, ‘Geld’, p. 58. 138. Banér was proprietor of both an infantry and a cavalry regiment throughout the later 1630s: Björlin, Banér, II, p. 631, III, pp. 631–2; the paradoxes of a Swedish ‘royal’ army are emphasized in L. Höbelt, Ferdinand III (1608– 1657) (Graz, 2008), pp. 185–9. 139. For Banér, Noailles, Le maréchal de Guébriant, p. 148; Wrangel’s first language was also German: A. Losman, Carl Gustaf Wrangel och Europa. Studier I kulturförbindelser kring en 1600-talsmagnat (Stockholm, 1980), p. 236. 140. P. Sörensson, ‘Das Kriegswesen während der letzten Periode des Dreißigjährigen Krieges’, in Rudolf (ed.), Dreißigjährige Kriege, pp. 431–57. 141. Chemnitz, Königlichen Schwedischen, IV (iii), p. 36. 142. Chemnitz, Königlichen Schwedischen, IV (i), p. 102.


Notes to pages 134–45

143. Böhme, ‘Geld’, pp. 68–9; this visible partitioning of the financial allocations had been started in 1632–4: Friedlaender, ‘Protokoll’. 144. Useful tables of regiments provided in W. Guthrie, The Later Thirty Years War (Westport, CT, 2003), pp. 105–55. 145. F. von Geyso, ‘Beiträge zur Politik und Kriegsführung Hessens im Zeitalter des Dreißigjährigen Krieges’, Zeitschrift für Hessische Geschichte, 53 (1921), 14–30. 146. C. Leestmans, Charles IV de Lorraine, 1604–75. Une errance baroque (Lasne, 2003), pp. 43–71. 147. See, for example, the blend of public–private arrangements detailed for the Spanish recruitment of Irish soldiers in the 1640s and 1650s in R. Stradling, The Spanish Monarchy and Irish Mercenaries. The Wild Geese in Spain, 1618–68 (Dublin, 1994), pp. 143–52.

NOTES TO CHAPTER 4 1. Comte Jacques de Guibert, Essai général de tactique (1772), ed. J.-P. Bois, (Paris, 2004), p. 29: ‘Ce fut le temps des grands généraux, commandant de petites armées et faisant de grandes choses . . .’ 2. B. Stadler, Pappenheim und die Zeit des Dreißigjährigen Krieges (Winterthur, 1991), p. 577. 3. Stadler, Pappenheim, p. 612: ‘auserlesen volck, starck und überaus begierig zu fechten’. 4. Stadler, Pappenheim, pp. 591–4. 5. Stadler, Pappenheim, pp. 656–7, 692–3. 6. Stadler, Pappenheim, pp. 689–90. 7. P. Villiers, Les corsaires du Littoral. Dunkerque, Calais, Boulogne de Philip II à Louis XIV (1568–1713) (Lille, 2000), pp. 62–75; R. Stradling, The Armada of Flanders (Cambridge, 1992), pp. 167–9. 8. H. Malo, Les corsaires dunkerquois et Jean Bart (2 vols., Paris, 1912/13), I, p. 298. 9. Malo, Corsaires, I, pp. 320–1; J. Israel, The Dutch Republic and the Hispanic World, 1606–1661 (Oxford, 1982), pp. 264–5. 10. Account from Stradling, Armada, pp. 86–7, who cites eighty-nine trawlers and five Dutch warships sunk. 11. Malo, Corsaires, I, pp. 322–3. 12. Stradling, Armada of Flanders, p. 87; Israel, Dutch Republic and Hispanic World, p. 265. 13. J. Israel, Dutch Primacy in World Trade, 1585–1740 (Oxford, 1989), pp. 134–40; Malo, Corsaires, I, pp. 335–42. 14. M. Kaiser, ‘“Sed vincere sciebat Hanibal”. Pappenheim als empirischer Theoretiker des Krieges’, in H. Neuhaus and B. Stollberg-Rilinger (eds.), Menschen und Strukturen in der Geschichte Alteuropas (Berlin, 2002), pp. 201–27, pp. 219–23. 15. Stradling, Armada of Flanders, pp. 96–7. 16. R. Weigley, The Age of Battles. The Quest for Decisive Warfare from Breitenfeld to Waterloo (Bloomington, IN, 1991), pp. 1–23. The perception that Breitenfeld was ‘no ordinary victory’ probably derives from H. Delbrück, History of the Art

Notes to pages 145–7





21. 22.

23. 24.





of War within the Framework of Political History, trans. W. Renfroe (4 vols., Westport, CT, 1975–85), IV, pp. 173–83, 202–7. C.V. Wedgwood, The Thirty Years War (London, 1938), pp. 459–60; the parallels between the two conflicts ‘which solved no problems’ were clearly in mind in this work, first published in 1938. D. Parrott, ‘Strategy and Tactics in the Thirty Years War: the “Military Revolution”’, in C. Rogers (ed.), The Military Revolution Debate (Boulder, CO, 1995), pp. 227–51, pp. 231–2. B.S. Hall, Weapons and Warfare in Renaissance Europe (Baltimore and London, 1997), pp. 134–56, 176–200; and for scepticism over the longer term: J. Luh, Kriegskunst in Europa, 1650–1800 (Cologne, 2004), pp. 129–49. J. Cruso, Militarie Instructions for the Cavall’rie (1632; facsimile, Kineton, 1972), pp. 100–4, indicates the fluidity of tactical thinking about cavalry deployment. M. Roberts, Gustavus Adolphus. A History of Sweden, 1611–1632 (2 vols., London, 1958), II, p. 250. There is an excellent, extensive account in M. Kaiser, Politik und Kriegsführung: Maximilian von Bayern, Tilly und die Katholische Liga im Dreißigjährigen Krief (Münster, 1999), pp. 446–61; for the Scottish role see A. Grosjean, ‘Scotland: Sweden’s Closest Ally?’, in S. Murdoch (ed.), Scotland and the Thirty Years War, 1618–48 (Brill, 2001), pp. 143–71, pp. 157–8. Parrott, ‘Strategy and Tactics’, pp. 232–9. G. Parker, ‘The Limits to Revolutions in Military Affairs: Maurice of Nassau, the Battle of Nieuwpoort (1600) and the Legacy’, Journal of Military History, 71 (2007), 331–72, makes an extensive case for the significance of disciplined volley-fire as put into practice by the Dutch army at the battle of Nieuwpoort. Yet despite assertions about a ‘production-line of death’ (p. 353), measuring the actual deadliness of infantry volley-fire depends on unavailable evidence about how many Spanish troops died from gunshot wounds, and indeed more generally whether the Spanish casualty figure of ‘4,000’ listed in this and other accounts of the battle were the dead alone, or the dead and wounded. And even the advent of flintlocks and bayonets changed less than has often been assumed in developing infantry firepower as a battle-winning force: Luh, Kriegskunst, pp. 131–54. See also the Memoirs of Captain Robert Parker, ed. D. Chandler (London, 1968), pp. 88–9, on the remarkably low level of casualties inflicted in an encounter at Malplaquet (1709) between British and French infantry exchanging fire at 100 yards. D. Parrott, Richelieu’s Army (Cambridge, 2001), pp. 59–65 on the French experience; R. Stradling, ‘Spain’s Military Failure and the Supply of Horses: 1600–1660’, History, 69 (1984), 208–21. The limited number of artillery pieces was especially evident in the French and Spanish armies: at Rocroi, the French had twelve guns against eighteen for the Spanish: W. Guthrie, The Later Thirty Years War (Westport, CT, 2003), p. 176; Parrott, Richelieu’s Army, p. 66. When armies counted significantly larger numbers of artillery pieces, these tended to be light regimental guns, in contrast to the proliferation of medium-weight field pieces in the later seventeenth and the eighteenth century.


Notes to pages 147–52

28. J. Heilmann, Das Kriegswesen der Kaiserlichen und Schweden zur Zeit des Dreißigjährigen Krieges (Leipzig, 1850; repr. Krefeld, 1977), p. 66, points out that the great disadvantage of the light ‘leather guns’ pioneered then abandoned by Gustavus Adolphus was that they overheated after a few shots. 29. Heilmann, Kriegswesen, pp. 51–73. 30. Heilmann, Kriegswesen, pp. 279–85, prints an état of the French artillery battery in 1646 showing guns of between six and twenty-four pound shot, the six-pounders requiring six horses to move them; Parrott, Richelieu’s Army, pp. 69–70. 31. For a detailed, modern battle history from which this seems the obvious conclusion, see W. Guthrie, Battles of the Thirty Years War from White Mountain to Nördlingen 1618–35 (Westport, CT, 2002) and Guthrie, Later Thirty Years War. It is a view confirmed in P. Wilson’s magisterial new history, Europe’s Tragedy. A History of the Thirty Years War (London, 2009), where Wilson points explicitly to the tendency to denigrate the military flexibility and capabilities of the Imperial armies: pp. 84–97. 32. Though even in the period supposedly dominated by choreographed siege warfare, a recent work points out the frequency with which these methodical approaches were overruled in favour of direct assault, which entailed high risk and casualties but saved time and money: J. Ostwald, Vauban under Siege. Engineering Efficiency and Martial Vigor in the War of the Spanish Succession (Brill, 2007), pp. 215–321. 33. G. Parker, The Military Revolution. Military Innovation and the Rise of the West, 1500–1800 (2nd edn, Cambridge, 1996), pp. 7–16, 83–103, and Parker, ‘The Dreadnought Revolution of the Sixteenth Century’, The Mariner’s Mirror, 82 (1996), 269–300. 34. Parrott, Richelieu’s Army, pp. 127–61. 35. R. Manning, An Apprenticeship in Arms. The Origins of the British Army, 1585–1702 (Oxford, 2006), pp. 108–19; Israel, Dutch Republic and the Hispanic World, pp. 280–1. 36. Israel, Dutch Republic and the Hispanic World, pp. 269–71; M. Bellamy, Christian IV and his Navy (Brill, 2006), p. 23. 37. Rheinfelden, in 1638, involved Saxe-Weimar’s extraordinary feat of reassembling his army after an initial defeat at the hands of Jan de Werth, and launching a surprise attack on the Imperial forces three days later which gained him an overwhelming victory: G. Droysen, Bernhard von Weimar (2 vols., Leipzig, 1885), II, pp. 336–46. 38. Guthrie, Later Thirty Years War, p. 121 (Breitenfeld II), pp. 140–1 (Jankow). 39. It is often the case that troops who have held their ground in a hard-fought combat and are then expected to abandon these positions in what will be seen as a retreat, even for the best of tactical reasons, are prone to demoralization and disillusionment. A classic case was the 1645 Bavarian ‘defeat’ at Nördlingen II/Allerheim, where the decision to retreat after inflicting massive casualties on the French army led to the collapse of Bavarian morale and mass surrenders: J. Heilmann, Die Feldzüge der Bayern in den Jahren 1643, 1644, 1645 unter den Befehlen des Feldmarschalls Franz Freiherrn von Mercy (Leipzig, 1851), pp. 270–303.

Notes to pages 152–8


40. V. Kiernan, ‘Foreign Mercenaries and Absolute Monarchy’, Past and Present, 11 (1956–7), 66–86, p. 78. 41. H. d’Orleans, duc d’Aumale, Histoire des princes de Condé pendant les XVIe et XVIIe siècles (7 vols., Paris, 1893–6), IV, pp. 139–77, esp. pp. 145–9. 42. B.P. von Chemnitz, Der Königlich Schwedische in Teutschland geführte Krieg (4 vols., 2 only extant; Rideholm, 1855), IV (v), p. 33: on Torstensson’s campaign plan to force a major battle and then press deep into the Habsburg lands; L. Höbelt, Ferdinand III (Graz, 2008), pp. 231–5; P. Broucek, Der Schwedenfeldzug nach Niederösterreich, 1645–46 (Vienna, 1967), pp. 6–8. 43. Monro, His Expedition with the worthy Scots Regiment called Mac-Keys, ed. W. Brocklington (Westport, CT, 1999), p. 235. 44. O. van Nimwegen, ‘Deser landen crijchsvolck’. Het Staatse leger en de militaire revoluties, 1588–1688 (Amsterdam, 2006), pp. 127–30; M. Gutmann, War and Rural Life in the Early Modern Low Countries (Princeton, 1980), pp. 62–4 examines a later set of treaties between France and the Spanish Netherlands. 45. K.-R. Böhme, ‘Geld für die schwedischen Armeen nach 1640’, Scandia, 33 (1967), 54–95, p. 79, gives the example of Königsmarck ending the payment of protection money by the bishopric of Verden in 1647 by simply overrunning the Imperial garrisons in Westphalia which had been making the demands. 46. Heilmann, Feldzüge der Bayern, pp. 61–92. 47. Manning, Apprenticeship, pp. 44–7; it was state-coordinated military operations that were most likely to draw excessively heavily upon such low-quality conscripts, and often for reasons that were overtly linked to social order and removing a financial charge on local communities: see D. Trim, ‘Fighting “Jacob’s Wars”. The Employment of English and Welsh Mercenaries in the European Wars of Religion: France and the Netherlands, 1562–1610’ (Ph.D. thesis, King’s College London, 2002), pp. 226–35. 48. Krebs, Hatzfeld I, pp. 245–6. 49. H. Salm, Armeefinanzierung im Dreißigjährigen Krieg (Münster, 1990), p. 35, quoting Imperial Field Marshal Hatzfeld in 1644. 50. The inception and diffusion of this military theory amongst a narrow group of Calvinist princely families and their in-laws deserves more sceptical attention, in the same way that the later sixteenth-century campaigns in the Netherlands have been given undue emphasis as a ‘school of war’ over the Hungarian theatre of war from 1593 to 1606: Parrott, Richelieu’s Army, pp. 27–32. 51. R. Williams, A Briefe Discourse of Warre (London, 1590), p. 6. 52. P. Burschel, Söldner im Nordwestdeutschland des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts. Sozialgeschichtliche Studien (Göttingen, 1994), p. 79, n. 106; G. Parker, The Army of Flanders and the Spanish Road, 1567–1659 (2nd edn, Cambridge, 2004), pp. 27–9; Parrott, Richelieu’s Army, pp. 44–6; C. Kapser, Die bayerische Kriegsorganisation in der zweiten Hälfte des Dreißigjährigen Krieges, 1635–1648/ 49 (Münster, 1997), pp. 68–70, 262–3. 53. One of the literary sources most frequently cited in this context, Grimmelshausen’s Simplicissimus, trans. S. Goodrich (Sawtry, 1989), certainly does not suggest that all soldiers are a feeble, duty-shirking rabble, recruited at the lowest price by exploitative officers: see, for example, the







59. 60. 61.

62. 63.




Notes to pages 159–61 implicit view of ‘real’ soldiers in book IV, chapter 11, ‘Discourse of the Order of the Marauder Brothers’ (Merode-brüder). M. Duffy, ‘The Foundations of British Naval Power’, in Duffy (ed.), The Military Revolution and the State (Exeter, 1980), pp. 49–85, pp. 67–72: though of course when wages failed to attract enough of each group, impressment, at least in the British navy, took its place. G. Frachetta, Il Prencipe, nel quale si considera il Prencipe, & quanto al governo dello Stato, & quanto al maneggio della Guerra (Venice, 1599), p. 208, places inexperienced recruits into three categories in terms of their exposure to campaigning. Kaiser, Politik und Kriegsführung, pp. 272–3, who argues that this was encouraged by Wallenstein, who saw it as useful in both strengthening his own army and weakening the independence of the Liga. B. Kroener, ‘Der Soldat als Ware. Kriegsgefangenenschicksale im 16. und 17. Jahrhundert’, in H. Duchhardt and P. Veit (eds.), Krieg und Frieden im Übergang vom Mittelalter zur Neuzeit (Mainz, 2000), pp. 271–95, pp. 282–3, though Kroener is sceptical about the real extent of such incorporation. J. Peters (ed.), Ein Söldnerleben im Dreißigjährigen Krieg (Berlin, 1993), pp. 143–6. For the identity of the soldier, taken from what is an anonymous manuscript, see P. Burschel, ‘Himmelreich und Hölle. Ein Söldner, sein Tagebuch und die Ordnungen des Krieges’, in B. von Krusenstjern and H. Medick (eds.), Zwischen Alltag und Katastrophe. Der Dreißigjährige Krieg aus der Nähe (Göttingen, 2001), pp. 181–94, pp. 184–5. Williams, Discourse, pp. 12–13. For example, Frachetta, Il Prencipe, pp. 207–8. DBB, IV, p. 143: Wallenstein to the Emperor, 2 September 1626 (Olmütz): ‘erfahren, kriegstüchtig Soldaten’. Jan de Werth drew heavily on experienced Italian recruits in raising a new cavalry regiment for Bavarian service in 1644: H. Lahrkamp, Jan von Werth (Cologne, 1962), p. 209. P. Burschel, Söldner, pp. 145–65. B. Kroener, ‘Soldat oder Soldateska? Programmatischer Aufriß einer Sozialgeschichte militärische Unterschichten in der Ersten Hälfte des 17. Jahrhunderts’, in Kroener, Kriegerische Gewalt und militärische Präsenz in der Neuzeit (Paderborn, 2008), pp. 125–51, p. 126, who points out that the word only gained pejorative connotations through later seventeenth-century French usage. Redlich, I, p. 485. Pay for ordinary Reiter in the sixteenth century in S. Fiedler, Kriegswesen und Kriegsführung im Zeitalter der Landsknechte (Koblenz. 1985), p. 96, and corroborated in other texts. Heilmann, Kriegswesen, p. 156: this sum (25 talers) was paid by Wallenstein’s colonels for good infantry recruits. For the high wages paid by Christian IV to his mercenaries compared with those in the United Provinces see J. Fallon, ‘Scottish Mercenaries in the Service of Denmark and Sweden, 1626–32’ (Ph.D. thesis, University of Glasgow, 1972), p. 200. Gindely, Waldstein, I, pp. 131–3: ordinances for the payment of the army in the Altmark and Schleswig-Holstein in 1627 stipulated wages of 1¼ talers per week

Notes to pages 161–3



69. 70. 71.

72. 73.


75. 76.





for the ordinary soldiers, roughly 7 florins per month, with wages between 1½ and 2½ talers for ‘double-pay men’ (Gefreiten and Landspassaten). Heilman, Kriegswesen, pp. 190–3, indicates that the wages in the Swedish army were consistently lower than those of the Imperial. If the average wage of the Imperial musketeer in this period was 6 florins per month, in the Swedish army it was just under 5 (3½ talers). G. Freytag, Der Dreißigjährigen Krieg. Das Heer. Soldatenleben und Sitten (1859; repr. Bad Langensalza, 2003), pp. 112–13; Heilmann, Kriegwesen, pp. 169–79; Redlich, I, pp. 487–9; Pohl, ‘Die Profiantirung der keyserlichen Armaden ahnbelangendt’. Studien zur Versorgung der kaiserlichen Armee, 1634–35 (Vienna, 1994), pp. 37–8, 63–5. Burschel, Söldner, pp. 167–9; Fallon, ‘Scottish Mercenaries’, pp. 379–80. Burschel, Söldner, pp. 188–92. The soldier Peter Hagendorf makes frequent reference to the quality of accommodation and food in his Tagebuch: Peters, Söldnerleben, cf. pp. 136, 139, 141, 146, 149, 150, etc.; Redlich, I, p. 491, cites a Swedish soldiers’ song praising Gustavus Adolphus for giving the soldiers good quarters and food, even though he did not pay them much money; Fallon, ‘Scottish Mercenaries’, pp. 380–2. Krebs, Hatzfeld I, p. 252. Jean de Werth was paying between 7 and 10 gulden in 1644 for troops depending on whether they were experienced or new recruits, and up to 15 gulden for experienced troops recruited in Italy: Lahrkamp, Jan von Werth, p. 209. Peters (ed.), Söldnerleben, p. 136, citing Peter Hagendorf: ‘here (around Stralsund) we weren’t interested in eating beef anymore, but only goose, duck or chicken’; Burschel, Söldner, pp. 207–11; Fallon, ‘Scottish Mercenaries’, pp. 351–5. Especially as the sources for the recruitment and origins of soldiers in the eighteenth century are much more extensive: Burschel, Söldner, pp. 57–8. Very clear about the appeal of soldiering to craftsmen and journeymen, albeit on the eve of the war, is H. Glümer, ‘Die Braunschweigischen Söldnertruppen zu Fuß und Roß in den Jahren 1599–1615’, Jahrbuch des Braunschweigischen Geschichtsvereins, 8 (1936), 47–76; Redlich, I, pp. 456–7. This point about the appeal of soldiering to ‘respectable’ workers and farmers is clearly evident in the work of those who have examined recruitment through archival sources: Trim, ‘Fighting “Jacob’s Wars”’, pp. 67–71, 279–84; Fallon, ‘Scottish Mercenaries’, pp. 90–2. Kapser, Bayerische Kriegsorganisation, pp. 68–73, 270–3: gives a particular breakdown by previous employment of 1,069 soldiers recruited into the Bavarian army between 1638 and 1648, of whom fewer than 5 per cent were previously unemployed, but Kapser would take this as untypically low. Grimmelshausen, Der Seltsame Springinsfeld, trans. as Tearaway by M. Mitchell (Sawtry, 2003), provides a campaign-by-campaign fictional account of the war, in which the military qualities – especially esprit de corps – of the soldiers are at least as apparent as cowardice or evasion. Peters (ed.), Söldnerwesen, pp. 133, 150.

364 80. 81. 82. 83.



86. 87. 88. 89. 90. 91. 92.


94. 95. 96.

97. 98.

99. 100. 101.

Notes to pages 163–8 Kapser, Bayerische Kriegsorganisation, p. 72. L. Welti, Graf Kaspar von Hohenems, 1573–1640 (Innsbruck, 1963), p. 228. Krebs, Hatzfeld I, p. 30: Lauenberg to Lt-Col. Hatzfeld, c. 5 July 1625. B. Kroener, ‘“Der Krieg hat ein Loch . . .” Überlegungen zum Schicksal demobilisierter Söldner nach dem Dreißigjährigen Krieg’, in H. Duchhardt (ed.), Der Westfälische Friede (Munich, 1998), pp. 599–630. Krebs, Hatzfeld I, p. 244, gives the high figure of 30 per cent in 1626; J. Kraus, Das Militärwesen der Reichsstadt Augsburg, 1548–1806 (Augsburg, 1980), pp. 177–8, provides figures for the proportions of double-pay men in companies contracted by the city in 1622–3, and gives an average of around 25 per cent. K.A. Müller, Der Söldnerwesen in den ersten Zeiten des Dreißigjährigen Krieges – nach handschriftlichen Quellen des Königlich Sächsischen Haupt-Staat-Archivs (Dresden, 1838), pp. 23–4; see also Gindely, Waldstein, I, pp. 131–3: ordinances which show various ranks of double-pay men receiving from 20 per cent extra up to double the pay of the ordinary enlistee. R. Quatrefages, Los tercios españoles, 1567–1577 (Madrid, 1979), p. 182. An infantry corporal in the Imperial army would receive 10–14 taler per month compared with 6–8 for an ordinary soldier: Heilmann, Kriegswesen, pp. 190–1. Burschel, Söldner, pp. 40–7. Krebs, Hatzfeld I, p. 249. J. Lynn, Battle. A History of Combat and Culture from Ancient Greece to Modern America (Cambridge, MA, 2003), pp. 116–18. Redlich, I, pp. 467–9. Even Count Tilly, the Bavarian field marshal, who was uncompromising in punishing military offences against the civil population, was impatient and evasive when ordered by Maximilian to impose standards of outward morality on his soldiers: Kaiser, Politik und Kriegsführung, pp. 71–8. M. Kaiser, ‘Cuius exercitus, eius religio? Konfession und Heerwesen im Zeitalter des Dreißigjährigen Kriegs’, Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 91 (2000), 316–53, pp. 331–52. Fallon, ‘Scottish Mercenaries’, pp. 62–3. Roberts, Gustavus Adolphus, I, pp. 369–72. An excellent example of an officer embodying these strong convictions was the Swedish Generalmajor Wilhelm von Kalchum, who respected diverse Protestant opinions, but had a low opinion of those who served simply for money: T. Lorentzen, Schwedische Armee im Dreißigjährigen Kriege (Leipzig, 1894), p. 52. Kaiser, ‘Konfession und Heerwesen’, pp. 325–31. For an attempt by Wallenstein to restrict the size of the baggage column: DBB, V, pp. 87–8, 14 May 1632. J. Lynn, Women, Armies, and Warfare in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, 2008), pp. 33–47, 130–45. Hermann Suter, Innerschweizerisches Militär-Unternehmertum im 18. Jahrhundert (Zurich, 1971), p. ix. Grimmelshausen, Simplicissimus, Book One, chapter 16. G. Mortimer, Eyewitness Accounts of the Thirty Years War, 1618–48 (Basingstoke, 2002), pp. 140–50.

Notes to pages 169–74


102. Krebs, Hatzfeld I, pp. 20–8, 192–6. 103. S. L’Honoré Naber and I. Wright, Piet Heyn en de Zilvervloot. Bescheiden uit Nederlandsche en Spaansche archieven bijennverzameld en uitgeven (Utrecht, 1928), pp. xlviii–cv; V. Lunsford, Piracy and Privateering in the Golden Age Netherlands (Basingstoke, 2005), pp. 199–201. 104. In his Tagebu