Army of Flanders

A moving and accurate description of the Spanish Army of Flanders by Fernando Gonzalez de Leon (from ‘The Road to Rocroi: Class, Culture and Command in the Spanish Army of Flanders, 1567-1659’ 2009):
‘As a royal courtier and chronicler put it, the Army of Flanders was “one of the greatest treasures that any monarchy or empire has ever had in the ancient and modern ages.”. . . The budget of the Army of Flanders amounted to over one half of total Crown expenditures. . . As Geoffrey Parker points out, this was more money than many European kings could spend. . . No other contemporary army had such a deep and well articulated structure of command, nowhere else but in the tercios were each rank’s responsibilities so clearly and permanently defined, no other army counted on such a large group of salaried leading officers serving with permanent patents and no other force had such a comprehensive and professional staff of civil servants in its financial and judicial services. In sharp contrast with contemporary armies, most military functions in the Spanish armed forces were carried out by professional officers commissioned and paid by the King, not private entrepreneurs or foreign mercenaries’.

Oh how I love his focus on command. Personally, I think that evolution of control and command hap far more impact on warfare than purely technical innovations. Can talk about that for hours, but not sure anyone’s interested. Discussion of musket’s penetrating power tends to draw more attention than details of increasing number of NCO’s.


Filed under 16th century, 17th century, Spain, War & society

5 responses to “Army of Flanders

  1. Cyrus

    Go on, I’d be interested in your thoughts on command and control.

  2. Miguel

    Read Sancho de Londonos works as well. Great stuff

    • André Marek

      Don’t neglect Don Bernardino de Mendoza or Martin de Eguiluz.

      • I also would remember Fr. Lodovico Melzo’s Rules for Cavalry

      • By the way, dear André, may be you could help me: de Leon mentions in his book in the chapter on Rocroi that the usual command ‘out and forward, musketeers’ could not be issued, but what is this command about? Is it really some part of standard tactical training?

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