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Urban Espionage and Counterespionage during the Burgundian Wars (1468–1477)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 February 2013

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Summary

Introduction

On 29 July 1475 the councillors of Strasbourg wrote an enraged letter to their captains in the war theatre in the Free County of Burgundy. The letter opened by thanking them for their last communication in which they had reported the taking of the town of L'Isle-sur-le-Doubs but had failed to talk about their future plans. These, however, could be deduced from a letter of the captains' scribe, written by him to his wife in Strasbourg. As proof, a copy of that letter was attached. The councillors ordered that in future the captains' scribe should write to no one but themselves. In addition, they mentioned the fact that the last messenger coming from the war zone had carried numerous letters written by soldiers to their families reporting of the war against Burgundy. Such “Nebenschreiben” were providing irritations and slowing down the city's already greatly overburdened messenger service. In closing their letter, the councillors pointed out that it was problematic if news from the war zone was not to reach it directly and was instead to be talked about on the roads. But which kind of information was to be restricted? The letter of a mercenary captain of Strasbourg, written only two days later to his cousin in the city, provides a first hint. In it he reports bad treatment by the captains, and that he was being given bad food and too little pay. According to him, resistance among the troops was rising, and he was sure to be coming home soon.

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Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2011

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