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1 - ‘Then was then and now is now’: an overview of change and continuity in late-medieval and early-modern warfare

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Frank Tallett
Affiliation:
University of Reading
D. J. B. Trim
Affiliation:
University of Reading
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Summary

This book examines how European warfare changed in the 400 years from the mid fourteenth to the mid eighteenth century. Military change and its effects in this period have emerged as of critical importance in European and global history. Some scholars have argued that dramatic changes in technology and the art of war, amounting to nothing less than a ‘military revolution’, were responsible for the development of strong central states within Europe and their subsequent domination of the rest of the globe. At the heart of several global historical and sociological grand narratives is the issue of what changed and what remained the same in the organisation, administration, and conduct of warfare, and its wider repercussions, especially for power relationships within polities.

However, European warfare in this period has generally been approached either from a late-medieval or from an early-modern perspective, leading to substantial confusion over whether change occurred, the nature of changes (if any) and when changes occurred (if they did). Geographically, as well as chronologically, historians have generally adopted a narrow focus, concentrating either upon western or upon eastern Europe; historical inquiry is generally restricted to specific national case-studies, and is focused disproportionately on western European nations, particularly France, Germany, Scandinavia, Spain, and England. These have been assumed, rather than proven, to be typical; many scholars have ignored the considerable military power of Poland and the Ottoman Empire.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010

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