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A Military Revolution?: Military Change and European Society, 1550-1800 (Studies in European history) Paperback – 12 Dec 1990


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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (12 Dec. 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 033351906X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0333519066
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 14.6 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 769,917 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

'...a provocative re-examination of the so-called Military Revolution...' - Teaching History

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Squirr-El TOP 50 REVIEWER on 31 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is now 20 years' old. I first read it shortly after it was first published, and have now re-read it as a result of reading James Raymond's Henry VIII's Military Revolution: The Armies of Sixteenth-century Britain and Europe (International Library of Historical Studies). The military revolution debate was begun in 1955 by Michael Roberts (see his Essays in Swedish history), who put forward the thesis that the period 1560-1660 saw major and far-reaching developments in military technology that affected western European states. Geoffrey Parker (see his Spain and the Netherlands, 1559-1659) then modified the theory in the 1970s and 80s, pushing the date back into the 15th century, but was "unclear when it ended" (page 5). This book is a survey of the literature of the military revolution debate as of 1991. Professor Black was then and still is today, a prolific author on military themes of the period.

Roberts centred his thesis on Sweden and the Netherlands; Parker added Spain and later Italy. By the time this book was published, historians were claiming military revolutions at various times for various countries. Professor Black surveys the literature and debate as follows:
1. Military Change
i. Theory of the military revolution
ii. 1560-1660 reassessed
iii. Change 1660-1760
2. The Limitations of Change 1660-1760
i. Constraints 1660-1760
ii. Limited operations?
iii.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 16 Nov. 2001
Format: Paperback
Jeremy Black's book provides an alternative but interesing view to many published works on this era in history such as that offered by Geoffrey Parker, in his book 'The Military Revolution, Military Innovation and the Rise of the West' Rather than arguing of the military revolution between 1560-1660 Black argues that this more likely occured a century later and uses statistical evidence to prove this.
Although he rejects many of the existing historical thought off hand he provides the reader with new and fresh ideas from which to progress on, posing new questions.
A worthwhile read, particularly when compared to other more tradition texts on this period in late medieval history.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 1 review
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A critique of Roberts and Parker 16 Feb. 2009
By T. Graczewski - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Jeremy Black presents a concise (<100 pages) but often captious critique of the "Military Revolution" argument made famous by Michael Roberts and modified by Geoffery Parker.

The author makes three main points. First, the truly distinguishing features of successful armies in the Thirty Years War were size, morale and tactical flexibility - not the use of the new infantry tactics of the Swedes under Gustavus Adolphus adopted from the Dutch as argued by Roberts. Black hammers home the argument that the battles of the Military Revolution period were often indecisive and the much touted Swedish army often lost. He stresses that leadership, morale and experience, along with size, were the true barometers of success, not innovative tactics. It seems that Black equates military revolution with military panacea. The changes and trends to the size and conduct of armies during this period are dramatic and consistent; their individual performance in battle is secondary.

Second, the real period of military innovation, Black argues, was the half-century after 1660 (a period the author claims Parker ignores), especially the rapid replacement of the pike with the socket bayonet. His arguments here lack punch.

Finally, Black maintains that religious cohesion and a new crown-elite consensus ushered in a new phase of domestic political stability, which was the real engine of military growth, not the other way around.

This is a scholarly treatise on an already highly academic subject. If you are reading this review you have pre-screened yourself as a likely reader. I would guess that this work will not dramatically alter your opinion on Michaels and Parker. But it never hurts to challenge your thinking.
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