Privately owned artillery in late-medieval and early-modern Europe?

May 2019
76
Earth
#1
There was a statement in the book 'Violence in Early Modern Europe 1500-1800' by Julius R. Ruff (2004 ed.) which peaked my curiosity:

"In 1604 [Henri IV of France] ordered one of his ministers, the duc de Sully, to draw up an inventory of private armament, and the next year, declaring that "to us alone belongs the right to possess artillery", he ordered cannon to be removed from a number of aristocratic châteaux."
-page 66-67.

How common was it for European aristocracy, or other private entities (e.g. mercenary bands) to possess artillery in Europe between, lets say, the 15th-18th centuries? I'd be interested to hear any examples of this sort of thing.
 

Belgarion

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,651
Australia
#2
I'm no expert on this and am only going by things I read some time ago, but artillery was a very specialised profession requiring much more training and expertise than the average soldier and I think that such training was controlled by Guilds, like most trades. The Guilds hired themselves out to whoever could pay . In the 16th and 17th centuries there would be some aristocrats who could afford their own artillery, but the expertise to use it would be another matter. Perhaps Henri IV saw the writing on the wall and wanted to remove the equipment before the guilds stared offering training to all who could afford it.
 
Jul 2019
107
New Jersey
#3
I'm no expert on this and am only going by things I read some time ago, but artillery was a very specialised profession requiring much more training and expertise than the average soldier and I think that such training was controlled by Guilds, like most trades. The Guilds hired themselves out to whoever could pay . In the 16th and 17th centuries there would be some aristocrats who could afford their own artillery, but the expertise to use it would be another matter. Perhaps Henri IV saw the writing on the wall and wanted to remove the equipment before the guilds stared offering training to all who could afford it.
I'm pretty sure Henri IV's motive was to disarm the Huguenots and the old Catholic Leaguers. At the time it was by no means clear that the devastating French Wars of Religion were over, and Henri IV had no desire to see France spiral once more into civil war with the crown watching impotently from the sidelines. Disarming the nobility of their artillery would've been an effective step in the direction of royal centralization.

With regards to the OP, I would point out that during the Elizabethan era, virtually the entire English navy was privately owned, armaments and all. This was a holdover from the feudal militaries, when most of a monarch's military force actually came from vassal nobles. I would imagine that the same situation would have existed in France at the time (especially when we consider that the French nobles had been fighting a series of civil wars for the past 30 years).
 
Likes: hyuzu

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