Guest Question: Subsidies and Mercs
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But Wienand Drenth of British Army lineages fame writes in with the following question that may be of use to discuss more broadly:
“Whilst studying the 17th century, I noted a slight change regarding the ‘use’ of foreign troops by the various states, and the nature of these troops. In the first part of the 17th century they seem to be of the mercenary or military entrepreneurial type: some guy with influence and martial ambitions signs a contract with a foreign king. With (or without) the consent of his own sovereign he recruits a regiments and becomes famous. Notable examples are of course the many Scots regiments in Swedish service.
Later, it seems that foreign troops employed by another state were mostly drawn from that (first) state’s (standing) army, with the prince/king acting as entrepreneur. As such, it seems that contract were signed between states, and not between a states and an entrepreneur. Examples are found in the many many German regiments serving the Maritime Powers between 1688 and 1713. Also, the nature of the English and Scots regiments in Dutch service changed over the years. When I understood correctly, the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1678 redefined these regiments as being part of the English army, on permanent loan to the Dutch. And could be recalled if desired.
What I was curious about, is if there is a relation between this (vague) shift from (old style) mercenaries to contracts between states, the formation of standing armies, the rise of nation states and control over finances, etc etc. I do understand this is a bit of a mixed question, probably not easy to answer. But I would be happy to hear your opinion on this. If you happen to know literature on this subject, I would be pleased to hear this too.”
Post your thoughts in Comments. I’ll start it off with a few bibliographical suggestions.