The Pike and Shot Thread - European Military History and Developments, c.1550 to c.1680

Jul 2009
9,837
#11
@Campmaster,

I have every book mentioned above except Gonzalez de Leon. His book is in the local uni library, but in e-form. I don't have the Andrade article.

It is good to know the topic has not died as so many fads do. :)

Cheers,
pike

EDIT: I do NOT have David Eltis.
 
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Jul 2009
9,837
#12
@Campmaster,

I would add:

Jan Glete, War and the State in Early Modern Europe: Spain, the Dutch Republic and Sweden as Fiscal-Military States, 1500-1660 (London, 2002).

John Lynn, Giant of the Grand Siecle: The French Army, 1610-1715 (Cambridge, 1997).

Olaf van Nimwegen, The Dutch Army and the Military Revolutions, 1588-1688 (Woodbridge, UK, 2006/2010).

An old one, but useful IMO: C.G. Cruikshank, Elizabeth's Army, 2nd ed. (Oxford, 1966).
 
Dec 2011
32
Germany
#13
@Campmaster,
I have every book mentioned above except Gonzalez de Leon.
Nice, you seem to have built up an impressive collection. You pretty much have the essentials, in my view, though I highly recommend you do get Eltis's book, it is definitely among the high-end research conducted in the field.

It is good to know the topic has not died as so many fads do. :)
It's a bit of a niche topic compared to, say, the Napoleonic period, WWII, or classical antiquity. The upside of that is that a lot of the people who are into it are in it for the long haul. I, for one, am still interested in it, but don't have as much free time as I did back in 2010-2012 to research it in my free time. When I do get a breather, I think I'll try to catch up on any new literature on the topic. Might even do a quick scan tonight.
 
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Dec 2011
32
Germany
#14
Also, I am familiar with the books by Glete and Lynn. Glete's, in particular, is very interesting, as it charts the development of the EM military-fiscal structures that allowed the leading states of the period to field professional armies in the dozens of thousands in protracted long-distance campaigns. It may relate more to the bureaucratic side of things rather than the military proper, but I think it still provides an important piece of the puzzle for those who seek to understand warfare during that period, so I definitely second the rec. I think I came across van Nimwegen's book at some point, but my memory is a bit hazy on this. Cruikshank's book, on the other hand, I had never heard of, thanks for the rec.
 
Feb 2019
345
California
#15
Nice, you seem to have built up an impressive collection. You pretty much have the essentials, in my view, though I highly recommend you do get Eltis's book, it is definitely among the high-end research conducted in the field.



It's a bit of a niche topic compared to, say, the Napoleonic period, WWII, or classical antiquity. The upside of that is that a lot of the people who are into it are in it for the long haul. I, for one, am still interested in it, but don't have as much free time as I did back in 2010-2012 to research it in my free time. When I do get a breather, I think I'll try to catch up on any new literature on the topic. Might even do a quick scan tonight.
I read that too fast Campmaster as in "When I do get a brother...." I was like "what???" Agree though--interesting topic!
 
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Jul 2009
9,837
#16
Military Dress circa 1600 - 1630

During the years 1550-1680, soldiers in Europe experienced many changes, including the development of "uniform" dress. In the earliest decades of this early modern period, standardized clothing was at most very rare. For one thing, soldiers in a deep pike block often were equipped with armor in the form of a "corselet (or corslet)" which usually covered them down to the thighs. This type of infantryman's armor is easily Googled.

Common issues of clothing were unusual, mostly due to cost, the soldier being expected to pay for his essential needs - food; clothing, etc. - out of his pay. On a field of battle, or even at a muster where the equipment was inspected and assessed, a soldier's clothing was not a consideration in terms of its appearance. Similarly, by the late decades of the 16th century, the most common cavalry were armored pistoliers (Reiter) who wore "three quarter" armor down to the knees. Here again the armored Reiter or cuirassier of the time can be Googled. Until most armor was discarded in the second half of the XVII century a soldier's clothing was a matter of keeping him covered and warm.

That is not to say that there was no commonality in what the soldiers of a company, or later a regiment, could wear. In the Elizabethan army of England, the county where troops were levied or otherwise recruited was responsible for clothing, and often of equipping, the troops. This reflected the limited resources available to the Crown at that time. One county might bulk-purchase cloth of one color, say blue or red, while another county might acquire undied gray cloth. in one company the color of jackets (doublets) and breeches (venetians) might vary, and it was not unusual to see groups of companies "regimented" together wearing clothing of numerous different colors.

Due to the Crown's dependence on the private resources of captains and other men of means, much latitude was given to the officers who raised troops as to how they presented their military appearance. Although the county was supposed to provide adequate clothing, hats and shoes for the men, the more important factors were that the companies had sufficient firearms, powder and shot; pole arms (pikes/halbards) and bladed weapons. The most important necessity was food, although frequently after troops were sent to the Low Countries or France they were expected to provide for that from their pay. Rations of food and beverages could be another post.

Specific information on French, Austrian or Swedish armies is harder to find. The assumption is that it was much the same in those armies, although Gustav Adolf in Sweden made every effort to supply his army centrally from workshops and magazines maintained by the government. Regardless, armies of the time would make a varied and non-uniform appearance even at a muster, and would look quite ragged and miserable after a campaigning season.

The most uniform thing about these pike and shot armies was the armor of pike men and cavalry. Men armed with firearms had by about 1600 laid aside any armor they might have worn as an impediment to handling their weapons. The musketeer, perhaps as a manly fashion, even discarded his helmet in more and more cases. Other than perhaps cloth obtained by his captain in a bulk-purchase - and until it wore out - an unarmored musketeer or caliver man might present the appearance of a civilian.

As recognition in the field, troops would wear something visible that was of a specific color, or they might wear a "field sign" that could vary from one battle to another. Dutch officers wore a sash of yellow-orange; Spanish and Imperialist troops wore red sashes or plumes, and after Henry IV converted to the Catholic Church the French wore the white of the House of Boubon-Navarre. The Swedish army of Gustav Adolf sometimes wore a batch of straw in their hat bands which represented the fascine in the coat of arms of the Royal House of Vasa (which IIRC means "fascine").

A subsequent post will go into the development of military uniform - frequently still varying widely within units and armies - as armor became used less in the XVII century.
 
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Jul 2009
9,837
#17
^^ Post script:

Further to the post above, the time for editing has passed. As an additional comment to post #16, it might be asked why Sweden had a more centralized method for clothing its soldiers while other states, which were much wealthier, relied on the resources of their own nobility to finance the army. Sweden at this time period was a poor country, hence its drive to control the Baltic economy.

Aside from a relatively few wealthy families the Swedish nobility was rather more like a poor gentry whose members were often not much different in material well being than their tenant farmers and other retainers (woodsmen, miners, tradesmen, etc.). Richard Brzezinski has consulted the account books of the Swedish "wardrobe" and has written that coarse grey cloth was issued to soldiers by the same officials who were responsible for victualing. The cloth was made up at the expense of the regiment's purse from funds provided from different sources, but apparently mainly from the royal treasury. The Swedish/Finnish nobility was not able to self-finance war as was more the case in Germany, France, the Netherlands or even in England.

Gustav Adolf was concerned that the army present a better appearance in the 1620s when comments were made in Prussia about how shabby the soldiery looked. Gustav himself made a comment to the effect that "My Swedish boys are ragged and dirty, but they fight well, and I hope that they will soon have better clothing." There is also a comment that upon taking a particular town the Swedes acquired "500 red coats." In extreme circumstances the color of clothing was not that much of a concern.

Brzinski's title for Osprey shows that in the earlier years of Gustav's military career there were troops that wore clothing of differing colors including all red, and red jackets and grey breeches. These were troops of more important officers, and of the king himself. Most of the army looked like peasant farmers and laborers as mentioned by the commentators in Prussia.
 
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Jul 2009
9,837
#18
Military Dress circa 1630-1680

Although some degree of standardization in military clothing developed in the decades after the Thirty Years War, it was still very common to see troops wearing differing colors in the same army. As an example, the Royalist regiments during the English Civil War are recorded as wearing coats of red, blue, yellow, white and green in addition to grey. The troops of the Marquis of Newcastle comprised numerous regiments that wore coats of both white and grey. These were likely made from undied cloth.

Parliamentarian regiments are known to have worn coats of red, blue, grey, green and even orange and purple. Most troops, as in Royalist armies, were probably clothed in varying shades of whitish to brownish grey, being cheaper undied wool.

Most cavalry had put aside their 3/4 armor, those who could afford it wearing a "buff coat" of well tanned elk leather when in the field. There were still units (troops or squadrons) that were equipped with the previously mentioned 3/4 harness. Cavalry that were not so equipped usually continued to wear an abbreviated cuirass of back and breast plate as well as a helmet. The increasingly common dragoons, as mounted infantry were dressed and equipped as the foot except with a shorter musket.

As the fortunes of the Civil Wars turned in favor of the Parliamentarians, their preference for the color red became predominant in the New Model Army. This color varied in shade from a brick red to brownish red rather than the scarlet of the later centuries.

In Continental armies there were similar examples. Both widespread grey coats and breeches were common (Habsburg Imperial troops during and after the TYW), and also regiments in Danish, Swedish and Brandenburg armies that presented kaleidoscopic appearances in all manner of color combinations. The cavalry were clothed and equipped in similar fashion as cited above, except for the "wild" eastern light cavalry from Hungary and other areas connected to Habsburg influence.

In keeping with contemporary civilian fashion, the coat of the soldier from around 1660 extended to the knee rather than being the short doublet or jacket that had previously been common. Colored distinctions became increasingly common on cuffs and on the hose worn with heavier military shoes. Although hardly the only reason, uniform dress made the soldier recognizable. The pike continued as a weapon late into the XVII century, but by around 1680 armor no longer covered the clothing of the pike man. That had fallen into disuse, mobility being seen as more important than heavy protection.

Larger armies - especially that of France - developed some degree of standardization mostly because of the costs of such forces. By the 1660s, it is probable that most French infantry regiments wore "pearl grey" coats and breeches with distinctions such as the different colored cuffs, hose and in many cases ribbons attached to shoulders. Due to the large number of regiments, the French used elaborate arrangements of buttons to help to differentiate them. However, there were still French regiments wearing differing shades of blue, including foreign regiments of German or Italian troops, red (Swiss) and even brown coats.

French cavalry in the army of the younger Louis XIV seem to have abandoned the helmet earlier than Austrian or Bavarian cavalry, and some also appear to have put aside even the cuirass. French dragoons of this time period appear in prints and plates to be dressed in red, green, blue and yellow. Some of these mounted troops appear wearing riding boots with others clothed as were the infantry.

In some smaller armies it was perhaps easier to standardize military clothing. After the TYW most small states had only companies or regiments of guards or companies of garrison soldiers. One such state was Bavaria which did have a reputation for military success since at least 1620. As Germany recovered from the disaster of 1618-1648/50, and according to the Peace of Westphalia, the small states of Germany were "constitutionally" permitted to maintain their own troops. Because of a continuing perceived threat of Ottoman aggression and expansion, these princely armies provided additional resources for the Holy Roman Empire to counter this Turkish threat.

Bavaria's Duke-Elector Maximillian Emmanuel (r. 1679-1726) rebuilt and reorganized Bavaria's army at around the end of the period of this topic, and on into the mid 1680s. Bavarian soldiers had worn predominantly differing grey or whitish coats in the 1670s. In 1683 seven regiments of infantry were raised - several of which were still in existence until 1918 when Bavaria was no longer a princely state. At the time these regiments were clothed in either pearl grey, dark grey or blue (one wore green) with differing colored cuffs. In 1684 they were ordered into light blue coats although because of the war against the Turks (1683-1688) it took some time to effect all changes. That color - the blue of the Bavarian princely House, and of the BMW - then lasted until German field grey in 1909. Max Emmanuel became known as "The Blue King."

It was apparently the case that officers, including sergeants and musicians, wore their colors reversed. So a regiment wearing blue faced yellow would have its officers, etc. in yellow faced blue and so on.

The Bavarian cavalry, virtually all cuirassiers, had worn buff coat and the aforementioned back-breast and helmet of the heavy cavalry. In 1682 the four cavalry regiments were clothed in light grey coats worn over the elk skin buff waistcoat with red or blue cuffs. The dragoons (it appears two regiments) were clothed and equipped as mounted infantry. They wore red with blue cuffs or blue with red.

As an additional mention on XVII century military dress, this was the era when the "grenadier" became common. The grenadier found it difficult to throw his particular weapon when wearing a wide brimmed hat, and the smaller cap became a common alternative for him. As far as hats and other head gear, most soldiers wore the hat common as civilian fashion, perhaps with the military distinction of a narrow band of a light color such as white around the brim. In the decades before 1670 it was generally turned up in the front. It gradually became worn as a "tri-corner" hat. Dragoons often wore a cap similar to the grenadier, especially in the French army.

Finally, as engineers and sappers increasingly became regular soldiers, it is worth a mention that some of these men, who had a very hazardous job, also wore cuirass and helmet when entrenching and preparing siege works while under fire. From some illustrations it seems this armor was heavier than that worn by the heavy cavalry.
 
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Feb 2019
345
California
#19
^^ Post script:

Further to the post above, the time for editing has passed. As an additional comment to post #16, it might be asked why Sweden had a more centralized method for clothing its soldiers while other states, which were much wealthier, relied on the resources of their own nobility to finance the army. Sweden at this time period was a poor country, hence its drive to control the Baltic economy.

Aside from a relatively few wealthy families the Swedish nobility was rather more like a poor gentry whose members were often not much different in material well being than their tenant farmers and other retainers (woodsmen, miners, tradesmen, etc.). Richard Brzezinski has consulted the account books of the Swedish "wardrobe" and has written that coarse grey cloth was issued to soldiers by the same officials who were responsible for victualing. The cloth was made up at the expense of the regiment's purse from funds provided from different sources, but apparently mainly from the royal treasury. The Swedish/Finnish nobility was not able to self-finance war as was more the case in Germany, France, the Netherlands or even in England.

Gustav Adolf was concerned that the army present a better appearance in the 1620s when comments were made in Prussia about how shabby the soldiery looked. Gustav himself made a comment to the effect that "My Swedish boys are ragged and dirty, but they fight well, and I hope that they will soon have better clothing." There is also a comment that upon taking a particular town the Swedes acquired "500 red coats." In extreme circumstances the color of clothing was not that much of a concern.

Brzinski's title for Osprey shows that in the earlier years of Gustav's military career there were troops that wore clothing of differing colors including all red, and red jackets and grey breeches. These were troops of more important officers, and of the king himself. Most of the army looked like peasant farmers and laborers as mentioned by the commentators in Prussia.

Controlling the Baltic economy was indeed a lucrative proposition---see the state of Denmark's treasury just before its (disastrous) decision to enter the 40 years war.
 
Jul 2009
9,837
#20
@BuckBradley,

The struggle for mastery in the Baltic is an interesting subject from the 1570s onward. While Sweden possessed natural resources in iron, copper and timber, foreign capital and expertise were needed to exploit those. Much of that came from Germany and the Netherlands and, although those regions and states had important commonalities with Sweden, that foreign support might not always be available to the kingdom. The late Renaissance demand for grain made access to Poland and Livonia an important economic and strategic factor for both Denmark and Sweden. Control of as many Baltic ports as possible was essential to Sweden's economic position in the region, and therefore it followed that they were important strategically.

Control of these ports' customs, fees and licenses, which were a very important (indeed essential) source of revenue for Sweden, could enable the country to dominate trade and politics in the Baltic Sea region. As one Swedish statesman remarked "Others make war because they are rich; Sweden because she is poor." It has always been a fascinating concept that a country with such a small population, and with a harsh climate and a short growing season, could be considered a "great power" in the XVII century. The Swedish imperial experience is a terrific area of inquiry.

Denmark was a wealthy kingdom because of her position controlling the revenue from the Sound Dues for access to the Baltic. However her domestic political situation was complex, and when Denmark went to war she had to rely mostly on expensive mercenary forces while the Swedes could draw from peasant levies and native nobility to provide cheaper armed forces. The Swedes did recruit and make use of many Scots and some English troops, but the bulk of her army was Swedish/Finnish - until the 1630s.
 
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