The development of British military professionalism through early-modern European warfare (c.1572-1637) viewed through soldiers' published literature

Scannell, Paul (2013). The development of British military professionalism through early-modern European warfare (c.1572-1637) viewed through soldiers' published literature. PhD thesis The Open University.



This thesis analyses the late sixteenth-century and early seventeenth-century literature of warfare through the printed works of English, Welsh and Scots soldiers. The introduction analyses the relationship between modern historiography and the early-modern published works. The first chapter through analysis of over forty works explores the dramatic increase in printed material on many aspects of warfare, the diversity of authors, the adaptation of existing writing traditions and the growing public interest in military affairs. There follows an extensive discussion in the second chapter on the categorisation of soldiers, which argues that soldiers' works are under-used evidence of the developing professionalism among military leaders at various levels and which challenges the traditional view that all combatants from the British Isles fighting voluntarily in Europe were mercenaries. The thesis has consequently been able to clarify the terminology associated with soldier categorisation, an issue about which historians have, to date, been imprecise. The third chapter explores the motivation of soldiers, and through the analysis of autobiographical material the thought process behind an individual's engagement with an army is investigated, the results of which provide compelling information that sheds light on the relevance of significant personal factors such as religious belief and the concept of loyalty. The fourth chapter assesses the narratives of soldiers and the finer details of their experience, an enquiry that greatly assists in understanding the formidable difficulties that were faced by individuals charged with both administering an army and confronting an enemy. Throughout, the study considers the limited use historians have made of these primary sources, attempts to place the material into sub-genres within the military bibliography listed in the appendices, and concludes that the information contained within these works should form a larger element within current historiography. The thesis thus attempts to reassess early-modern warfare by focussing on the published works of soldiers. The conclusion highlights the various types of soldier and how each type viewed his commitment to war, while it also considers the impact of published early-modem material on domestic military capability, the 'art of war', and the position of soldier-authors within the historical debate.

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