The Military Revolution and the Thirty Years War


Frequency of War C16th and C17th

  • Italian Wars - 1494 - 1559. 
  • French Wars of Religion - 1562 -1598. 
  • Thirty Years War - 1618 - 1648
  • War soon became an area of expansion and development in the late C16th and C17th. 

Infantry Revolution - Phase 1 (1470-1510) - The dominance of pike 

  • Pike - pole/spear like weapon, replaced heavy cavalry. 
  • This was seen in the 1470s in a series of battles concerning the Swiss (Swiss pike formations). For example, the Battle of Marten, 1476. 

Infantry Revolution - Phase 2 - Gunpowder weapons and musket 

  • The Early Modern period saw the introduction of more gunpowder weaponry e.g the Matchlock and the Musket. 
  • Musket - appeared in early C16th in Europe and was capable of penetrating heavy armour - they could fire lead musket balls long distances for maximum impact and wounding. 
  • Matchlock - facilitated battle techniques. Whereas previously a canon might have been used (and often had to be operated by several soldiers) - the Matchlock could be used easily by just one soldier and required less precision and concentration but still resulted in the same sorts of impact. 

Growth in the size of armies (C16th/C17th)

  • E.g; Charles VIII in 1494 had an army of 18,000 men - 50% cavalry and 50% infantry. Compared to Francis I in 1525; had an army of 30,000 men - 20% calvary and 80% infantry. 
  • Shift to the concentration in infantry paved the way for an expansion in the size of armies (more infantry required more soldiers). 
  • The leading military power in the C16th and C17th was the Spanish, who had the largest European army. 
  • Larger armies also meant modern permanent standing armies. 

New style fortifications 

  • Emerged as a response to the increasing use of gunpowder in the C16th. 
  • Initially there was a shift in power from defensive to offensive with the use of gunpowder. However, from the 1530s, this shifted back again (so the defensive had more power). 
  • The introduction of trace italienne fortifications - constructions with walls that


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