Matchlocks to Flintlocks, Warfare in Europe and Beyond 1500-1700, William Urban

Matchlocks to Flintlocks, Warfare in Europe and Beyond 1500-1700, William Urban

This book looks at the development of warfare in the two centuries between the French invasion of Italy of 1494 and the Austrian victory over the Turks that culminated in the Treaty of Peterwardein of 1718. This was a period in which armies changed quite dramatically - gunpowder weapons became central to all armies, those armies became increasingly professional and expensive, and it became harder for smaller or disorganised states to raise effective armies.

One of the best features of this book is that it rarely mentioned England, a fairly marginal military power for most of this period. Instead the focus is on the main European powers of the period - France, the Ottomans, the vast ramshackle Polish-Lithuanian Republic, Sweden, Russia and the Habsburg lands. 

The book is a little scattergun in places. The basic structure is chronological, although the chapter headings might lead one to expect a more thematic approach in places.

The narrative is used as a framework to ask the wider questions that accompany the military history of this period - was there a military revolution, how did the changes in warfare affect the societies that raised the new armies or suffered during their campaigns? One of the key strengths of the text is Urban's ability to tie together strands that are not always connected - one great example being the impact the activities of Louis XIV on the eastern borders of France had on the Habsburg's ability to fight the Ottoman Turks.

This is a very useful book, covering a somewhat neglected period and a much wider geographical area than is normally the case. The result is a wider picture of the military developments of the period (with barely a mention of the English Civil War).

Chapters
1 - Warfare in Europe and the Mediterranean in 1500
2 - Armies and Personnel
3 - Technology, Weapons and Fortresses, and the Growth of Empires
4 - The Gunpowder Revolution from Sweden and Germany to Turkey and Beyond
5 - National Cultures, Courts and the Nature of Warfare
6 - Years of Intense Conflict
7 - The Process of Change Accelerates
8 - The Turkish Wars
9 - Summary: The Evolution of Warfare

Author: William Urban
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 304
Publisher: Frontline
Year: 2011


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