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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A prodigious research
This is the result of an impressive research through the archives of Western Europe. What is studied here from an impartial point of view is how Spain could keep a war against the Dutch "rebels" going on for 80 years. So it analyzes in one hand the political part of the story, that is the medieval-style policy carried out from Philip II to Philip IV of Spain which gave...
Published on 13 Jan. 2005 by Ignacio Recalde Canals

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0 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars could be better
an academic but not a clever work. History is for creative and interesting people, something that i do not consider a characteristic of mr Parker.
Published on 30 Aug. 2010 by jorge santos


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A prodigious research, 13 Jan. 2005
By 
Ignacio Recalde Canals (Mallorca, Spain) - See all my reviews
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This is the result of an impressive research through the archives of Western Europe. What is studied here from an impartial point of view is how Spain could keep a war against the Dutch "rebels" going on for 80 years. So it analyzes in one hand the political part of the story, that is the medieval-style policy carried out from Philip II to Philip IV of Spain which gave rise to Spain's Black Legend but in the other hand it is mainly focused in the prodigious logistics, organization and financial aspects of how to take the troops to Flanders from Spain and Italy, pay them (sometimes) and feed and lodge them (most of the time). One wonders what would have happened if that huge effort, which in the end gave way to revolts all over the Spanish monarchy due to excess of taxation, had been put for better aims. If you are not familiar with this part of European history is much better to start with the last chapter, giving a brief of the several phases of the war.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still a masterpiece, 1 Sept. 2013
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JPS - See all my reviews
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This book was first published in 1972, with a second revised edition in 2004, and it remains the masterpiece that it was some forty years ago. It is a remarkable piece of scholarship and exhibits considerable research through the records across Europe (not only the Spanish archives).

Having mentioned this, it may not be for "beginners". To put it slightly differently, this book is about the Army of Flanders and its logistics over a period of almost a century (1567-1659) during which the Spanish Empire fought an interminable war against its "rebel" provinces which would become the Netherlands. It is not about the war itself, the causes of the conflict or its main events even if the main phases and many of the main events are mentioned.

Despite this, the book is outstanding in several respects. First, it is rather remarkable in showing how the first "modern superpower" was able to sustain an eighty year war (with a twelve year truce somewhere in the middle) on a huge scale although the conflict took place over seven hundred miles from Spain. Second, it explains why the Spanish Superpower kept up its relentless struggle for so long and at such a huge cost. Third, it also shows how its huge multinational army (composed of Spaniards, Italians, Germans, but also several thousands of English and Irish Catholics and, of course, thousands of troops raised in Flanders itself from the "loyalists subjects" of the Spanish Empire) was brought to Flanders, equipped, fed and paid. The efforts deployed to this effect were herculean, but also often insufficient, with the soldiers' pay being chronically in arrears and the troops frequently underfed.

Fourth, and perhaps more than anything else, the book seeks to explain why such a huge effort from the State and so many sacrifices and sufferings from its soldiers. There were numerous reasons which Geoffrey Parker presents and discusses one after the other. Some were political and had to do with the Spanish imperial mind set - only total victory was acceptable. A number of mistakes were made. The Dutch Revolt was supported by Spain's enemies. The Dutch devised a complex set of defences that transformed the war into an endless series of difficult and long sieges and sustained their own war effort by developing a commercial overseas Empire of their own. The effort implied by keeping such a huge army permanently in the field for decades proved to be too much even for Spain and despite the riches coming from the Americas.

Fifth, the book also includes sections on the day-to-day life, or, perhaps more accurately in many cases, the daily ordeal and suffering of the soldiers of the Army of Flanders. Another section analyses how the army reacted and adapted to the often appalling terms of service and treatments that it had to cope with, including mutiny and desertion.

Another remarkable feature of this book is the author's tone and style. There is no bias either way, or at least none that I was aware of. Also, the author's analysis is meticulous and his style is clear, with each point being carefully argued and demonstrated.

Finally, this volume is probably also a good "companion book" for anyone wanting to known more about the War in Flanders and for those that have either read the books of Arturo Perez-Reverte (the Captain Alatriste series) or seen the film that have been derived from these books (with a rather superb Viggo Mortensen in the role of Alatriste).

A complete narrative of the War in Flanders is certainly missing but then this was not the book's subject so it can hardly be tasked for this. Besides, the author has come up with such a narrative in another one of his other books (the Dutch Revolt). Accordingly, I cannot see how I could have rated this book anything less than five stars.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb description of the influence of logistical factors, 16 Nov. 2000
Geoffrey Parker describes in this book the importance of the control of the roads through Swiss on the balance of powers in the age of Philip II. Victory and defeat in the Low Countries and in Germany, are correlated to the capacity of Spain to link these areas with its possessions in Italy.
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0 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars could be better, 30 Aug. 2010
an academic but not a clever work. History is for creative and interesting people, something that i do not consider a characteristic of mr Parker.
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