Tag Archives: Early modern warfare

Definition of an early modern mercenary

Speaking about Renaissance wars without mentioning mercenaries is the same as discussing politics without mentioning scoundrels. But who is a mercenary in Early Modern Europe? Lets find out.

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Filed under 16th century, 17th century

“They shot at the skies”: soldiers and firearms of 16th century

Here is a simple secret of distinguishing bad and good books about early modern warfare. Bad books simply tell you that small firearms of the age were so inaccurate that soldiers had to come very close to the enemy in order to hit him. Good books go further and show a difference between accuracy of harquebuses and muskets in tests and in real battles. But still a question is often left unanswered – who is to blame for that inaccuracy? Soldiers or handguns? In other words, did soldiers use their firearms to its full potential? Lets dissect this problem and find the answer.


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Filed under 16th century, 17th century, 18th century, Weapons

Condottieri and bullets

When handguns had come into vogue, death rate of commanding officers increased tremendously. This corollary is probably the most vivid evidence of firearms superiority over bows and crossbows.

Proud commanders of the time were clad in finest armour of the age. They often emerged from battlefield with only minor wounds, being invincible to arrows, swords and almost anything else except for special anti-armour weapons like maces and spiked warhammers. How good that armour was in stopping bullets is a huge research topic but handguns definitely could pierce it more often than any arrow. Also, in 15th and early 16th century many prominent warlords fell victim to the fact that firearms could kill at the distance dimmed safe in the age of bows and crossbows.

But still there were miracles of surviving even bullet wounds.

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Filed under 15th century, Condottieri, Italy, Weapons

Mysteries of battle

Last 50 years of research help us see a much more vivid image of early modern warfare.  The concept of “military revolution” came to life after famous lecture of Michael Roberts in 1955, grew strong in works of Geoffrey Parker and finally was disemboweled by next generation of scholars. Numerous works advanced our knowledge of Renaissance wars far beyond former myths and misconceptions. But these studies also made clear that certain questions can’t be answered at all in conceivable future.

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Filed under Tactics

Renaissance Warfare: the source of its captivating powers

Twice or thrice a year I receive the same old question: “Why study Renaissance? Why do you prefer wars of 16th – 17th centuries to all other conflicts?” I’ve never had any troubles answering such queries. For me the question is rather “What’s not to love about Renaissance wars?”

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Filed under 16th century, Italy