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Giants of the Grand Siècle

So what’s new in the world of EMEM historiography? The French are on the attack.

Sure, English historians continue to dominate the fiscal-military side of the ledger, as well as war-and-society topics. And, yes, the Germans continue their obsession with the Altagsgeschichte (everyday history) of the Thirty Years War. Italianists are even paying more attention to the Wars of Italy of the 16th century. Germanic scholars, both German and Dutch/Belgian, seem a bit more interested in the diplomatic history of these early modern wars as well. And even Spanish scholars are starting to write about their own wars from the period. And there are actually quite a few scholars working on those Terrible Turks as well, from what I can tell. But don’t worry, English-language collections still tend to serve as the default smorgasbord of different regions and decades, by scholars from around the globe.

Finally, though, French historians have embraced their inner giant. If you’ve read my past bibliography posts, you’ve already seen this trend in my shift to including foreign-language – primarily French-language – publications.  And this trend has only increased over the past few years, now that there’s a cadre of young (and older) French historians who have rediscovered the early modern age in all its martial glory. And they’ve got the conferences and edited collections to prove it. I’ve already mentioned a few of the recent publications over the past few years, but I’ll briefly re-cite them in one place, so you can see the trend:

  • Corvisier, André, ed. Le Soldat, la stratégie, la mort: mélanges André Corvisier. Economica, 1989.
  • Blanchard, Anne, Jean Meyer, Michel Mollat du Jourdain, André Corvisier, and Philippe Contamine. Histoire militaire de la France, tome 1: Des origines à 1715. Presses Universitaires de France – PUF, 1992.
  • Bérenger, Jean. La Révolution militaire en Europe, XVe-XVIIIe siècles: actes du colloque organisé le 4 avril 1997 à Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan par le Centre de recherches des Écoles de Coëtquidan, par l’Institut de Recherches sur les civilisations de l’Occident Moderne (Université de Paris-Sorbonne) et par l’Institut de Stratégie Comparée. Institut de stratégie comparée, 1998.
  • Chagniot, Jean. Guerre et société à l’époque moderne. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France – PUF, 2001.
  • Desplat, Christian, ed. Les villageois face à la guerre, XIVe-XVIIIe siècle: actes des XXIIes Journées internationales d’histoire de l’Abbaye de Flaran, 8, 9, 10 septembre 2000. Presses Universitaires du Mirail, 2002.
  • Chagniot, Jean, ed. Combattre, gouverner, écrire: Etudes réunies en l’honneur de Jean Chagniot. Paris: Economica, 2003.
  • Tollet, Daniel, ed. Guerres et paix en Europe centrale aux époques moderne et contemporaine: mélanges d’histoire des relations internationales offerts à Jean Bérenger. Presses Paris Sorbonne, 2003.
  • Warmoes, Isabelle, and Victoria Sanger, eds. Vauban, bâtisseur du Roi-Soleil. Paris: Somogy éditions d’art, 2007.
  • Salzmann, Jean-Pierre, ed. Vauban: militaire et économiste sous Louis XIV. Actes du colloque de 23-24 juin 2007 à Marsal. 2 vols. Luxembourg: Section Historique de l’Institut Grand-Ducal de Luxembourg, 2008.
  • Chanet, Jean-François. Les ressources des faibles: Neutralités, sauvegardes, accommodements en temps de guerre (XVIe-XVIIIe siècle). Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2010.
  • Saupin, Guy, and Eric Schnakenbourg, eds. Expériences de la guerre et pratiques de la paix de l’Antiquité au XXe siècle: Etudes réunies en l’honneur du professeur Jean-Pierre Bois. Rennes: PU Rennes, 2013.
  • Deruelle, Benjamin, and Bernard Gainot, eds. La construction du militaire: Volume 1, Savoirs et savoir-faire militaires à l’époque moderne. Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 2013.
  • Baechler, Jean, and Jean-Vincent Holeindre, eds. Penseurs de la stratégie. Paris: Editions Hermann, 2014.
  • Drévillon, Hervé, and Arnaud Guinier, eds. Les Lumières de la guerre : Mémoires militaires du XVIIIe siècle conservés au Service historique de la Défense. 2 vols. Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 2015.
  • Brunet, Serge, and José Javier Ruiz Ibáñez, eds. Les milices dans la première modernité. Rennes: Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2015.
  • Fonck, Bertrand, and Nathalie Genet-Rouffiac, eds. Combattre et gouverner: Dynamiques de l’histoire militaire de l’époque moderne (XVIIe-XVIIIe siècles. Rennes: Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2015.
  • Collectifs. D’Azincourt à Marignan: Chevaliers et bombardes, 1415-1515. Paris: Gallimard, 2015.
  • Chauviré, Frédéric, and Bertrand Fonck, eds. L’âge d’or de la cavalerie. Paris: Gallimard, 2015.
  • Boltanski, Ariane, Yann Lagadec, and Franck Mercier, eds. La bataille. Du fait d’armes au combat idéologique, XIe–XIXe siècle. Rennes: Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2015.
  • Jalabert, Laurent, and Stefano Simiz, eds. Le soldat face au clerc. Armée et religion en Europe occidentale (XVe-XIXe siècle). Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2016.
  • Drévillon, Hervé, Bertrand Fonck, and Jean-Philippe Cénat, eds. Les dernières guerres de Louis XIV: 1688-1715. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2017.

If I were to include the chapters in these collections, they would easily number a couple hundred from several dozen authors. But just from the above titles and contributors, you can see the progression:

  • from doyens of the French historical establishment – André Corvisier, Jean-Pierre Bois, Jean Bérenger and Jean Chagniot most prominently – being festschrifted at the tail end of their careers
  • to a whole host of mid-career converts and newly-minted disciples. The military history of early modern France, and of Louis XIV’s age in particular, is definitely on the rise.

Just as interestingly, the French interest in war and society, evidenced in the early (1960s-1970s) works of scholars like Corvisier and Bois, has subsided a bit, many following the path of Corvisier, who turned, by the 1980s, to a more focused look at the sharp end of war in his La bataille de Malplaquet 1709: L’effondrement de la France évité (1997). After a brief flirtation with the Military Revolution, French military-historical scholarship of the past two decades has specialized in case studies (primarily of France) and topical analyses (primarily of France). Cultural and social topics continue to receive attention, bien sûr, but what’s striking is how traditional military subjects have also seen a renaissance. I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that the Service historique de la Defense is supporting such researches with conferences and publication assistance.

This return to histoire événementielle appears a reverse image of what’s happened in the U.S. over the same timeframe. Even though Hervé Drévillon attributed the recent increase in early modern French military history to the influence of John Lynn’s Giant of the Grand Siècle (1997), Lynn’s own work has gone in a somewhat different direction ever since (after, it should be noted, beginning in the French Revolutionary armies). After his 1999 narrative of the Wars of Louis XIV, he shifted gears to works on women in early modern armies, just finished a book on modern terrorism, and is currently working on a broad history of surrender. This, I think, is more than a single example of a declining interest in the details of EMEMH among American academics: there are, to my knowledge, only a handful of young American scholars focusing on the period of 17C-18C European warfare (defined broadly), much less traditional military history (however that’s defined). And several of these focus much more on the later 18C into the Revolution.

Perhaps that’s not surprising, since I’d be hard-pressed to identify more than a handful of Ph.D. programs with more than a solitary European military historian (again, defined broadly) who could serve as advisor. I don’t mean to restart the old flame wars of ‘whither military history?’ and cast blame and rend garments, other than to suggest that, perhaps, the golden age of American students of EMEMH in the 1980s to late 1990s, advised by scholars like Joe Guilmartin, Geoffrey Parker and John Lynn at Ohio State and Illinois, where we had a dozen or more graduate students all working on the same general area, was an unsustainable deviation from the norm – unless you’re an American doing American history, or at least doing modern history. Maybe structural and institutional factors helped re-establish the normal state of affairs: the brutal job market for History Ph.D.s over the past several decades (or more!) certainly hasn’t helped matters. Last statistics I saw from the American Historical Association, a few years back, estimated about 1%-2% of academic historians were self-declared “military” historians, perhaps a bit more than the number of academic “diplomatic” historians. Perhaps it’s only natural, as well, that national history dominates a country’s historiographical interests, even in as large a country as the United States.

But back to the point: French military history is on the rise, and it’s hardly a surprise that they are focusing on their own nation’s martial past. In case we needed further evidence of the rise of EMFrenchMH, and of the concomitant necessity to read French, we can add one more publication to the above list, an edited collection which includes some familiar faces, as well as some new ones.

Jalabert, Laurent, ed. Les Prisonniers de Guerre (XVe-XIXe Siècle) Entre Marginalisation et Reconnaissance. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2018.

Chapters with an early modern focus include:

  • Ambühl, Rémy. “Le statut de prisonnier de guerre et les lois de la rançon à la fin du Moyen Âge.” In Les prisonniers de guerre (XVe-XIXe siècle) Entre marginalisation et reconnaissance Laurent Jalabert (dir.), edited by Laurent Jalabert, 99–112. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2018. [If the website can include 17C stories under its rubric, we EMEMHians will annex late medieval!]
  • Bardakçi, Özkan. “La figure des prisonniers de guerre (Européens et Ottomans) à travers les récits de l’expédition de Candie (1667-1669) : entre mort, souffrance et trahison.” In Les prisonniers de guerre (XVe-XIXe siècle) Entre marginalisation et reconnaissance Laurent Jalabert (dir.), edited by Laurent Jalabert, 41–50. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2018.
  • Chaline, Olivier. “Conclusions.” In Les prisonniers de guerre (XVe-XIXe siècle) Entre marginalisation et reconnaissance Laurent Jalabert (dir.), edited by Laurent Jalabert, 285-. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2018.
  • Chauviré, Frédéric. “Le sort des prisonniers sur le champ de bataille aux XVIIe-XVIIIe siècles, vers une humanisation?” In Les prisonniers de guerre (XVe-XIXe siècle) Entre marginalisation et reconnaissance Laurent Jalabert (dir.), edited by Laurent Jalabert, 113–26. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2018.
  • Frijhoff, Willem. “Prisonniers de guerre néerlandais aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles.” In Les prisonniers de guerre (XVe-XIXe siècle) Entre marginalisation et reconnaissance Laurent Jalabert (dir.), edited by Laurent Jalabert, 233–48. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2018.
  • Marquis, Hugues. “Le discours sur les prisonniers de guerre, des Lumières à la Révolution.” In Les prisonniers de guerre (XVe-XIXe siècle) Entre marginalisation et reconnaissance Laurent Jalabert (dir.), edited by Laurent Jalabert, 51–64. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2018.
  • Martin, Philippe. “Vivre sa foi en captivité : les guerres indiennes 1640-1670.” In Les prisonniers de guerre (XVe-XIXe siècle) Entre marginalisation et reconnaissance Laurent Jalabert (dir.), edited by Laurent Jalabert, 267–84. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2018.
  • Perréon, Stéphane. “Entre représailles et indispensable coopération : la gestion administrative des marins prisonniers de guerre pendant la guerre de la Ligue d’Augsbourg (1688-1697).” In Les prisonniers de guerre (XVe-XIXe siècle) Entre marginalisation et reconnaissance Laurent Jalabert (dir.), edited by Laurent Jalabert, 127–42. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2018.
  • Picaud-Monnerat, Sandrine. “Les prisonniers de guerre pendant la guerre Succession d’Autriche.” In Les prisonniers de guerre (XVe-XIXe siècle) Entre marginalisation et reconnaissance Laurent Jalabert (dir.), edited by Laurent Jalabert, 143–58. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2018.
  • Plassmann, Max. “Kriegsgefangene der Reichsarmee im Neunjährigen Krieg und im Spanischen Erbfolgekrieg (1688-1714).” In Les prisonniers de guerre (XVe-XIXe siècle) Entre marginalisation et reconnaissance Laurent Jalabert (dir.), edited by Laurent Jalabert, 199–212. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2018. [Hey, how did a German chapter get in here???]
  • Vo-Ha, Paul. “Les prisonniers de guerre de la bataille de Fleurus (1690-1691).” In Les prisonniers de guerre (XVe-XIXe siècle) Entre marginalisation et reconnaissance Laurent Jalabert (dir.), edited by Laurent Jalabert, 249–66. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2018.

En avant!


SMH 2017 Conference

For those attending the Society for Military History conference this year (not me) in Jacksonville, FL on March 30-April 2, you have the following panels to attend:



Chair and Commentator:  David J. B. Trim, Andrews University

Forging Alliances:  Reformed Rebels in the Wars of Religion
Dencie Fett, University of North Florida

The Enigma of Hugh O’Neill: Irish Military Strategy and Foreign Intervention in the Nine Years War
Edward Tenace, Lyon College

Intervening from a Position of Weakness: English Intervention Attempts on the Continent During the Personal Rule of Charles I
James A. Tucker, The Ohio State University

At the same time there are two panels on digital military history, if you like that kind of thing.

There’s also a poster in Session 3:

Soldiers and Society after the Seven Years’ War: The Impact of Eighteenth Century Demobilization
Jessica Dirkson, Georgia Southern University.



Chair:  Gregory J. W. Urwin, Temple University

“Munition Us With Gunpowder, Rope-Matches, and Fuses”: Catholic Clergy and Armed Conflict during the French Wars of Religion
Gregory Bereiter, Naval History and Heritage Command

Flanders to Brazil:  Battlefield Perception in the Portuguese Early Modern Atlantic World
Miguel Cruz, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal

Napoleon’s Empire: A Global View?
John Morgan, Miles College

Commentator: Stanley D. M. Carpenter, U.S. Naval War College



Chair and Commentator: Peter H. Wilson, All Souls College, University of Oxford

Most Saxon Soldiers Are Saxon:  The Myth of the Rootless Mercenary and the Origins of Soldiers in Electoral Saxony, 1618-1651
Lucia Staiano-Daniels, University of California, Los Angeles

Social and National Composition of the Habsburg Officer Corps, 1740-1790
Tobias Roeder, Clare College, University of Cambridge

Old-Regime Armies? Modern Armies? The Case of Habsburg Austria, 1740-1792
Ilya Berkovich, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich

One pre-revolutionary paper managed to sneak into another panel, but looking at the chair and commentator, it makes sense:



Chair:  Patrick Speelman, United States Merchant Marine Academy

Influencing Wellington’s Army:  The Impact of Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Military Thought on the British Army
Huw J. Davies, King’s College London

A Case of Goats Mingling with Sheep?  The Wartime Relationship Between the Civilian Engineering Profession and the British Army 1914-1919
Aimée Fox-Godden, King’s College London

“Operation Military History Singapore”: Theodore Ropp’s Makers of Modern Strategy Revisted and the Parameters of Military History
Michael P. M. Finch, King’s College London

Commentator:  Mark Danley, United States Military Academy

And of course several early American panels (3C, 5A, 7A).

The full program is available here:

Got Things Done


Got Promoted

And for those who need statistics from my first full academic year of real GTD use:
Total tasks completed (i.e. those that I bothered to enter into Pocket Informant and not just do right away) from 2015.08.22 to 2016.05.11:
1200 tasks (probably 3-5 hours-worth of entry time over the span of 8 months).

And to see how much I used the various pieces of metadata, and to get a better sense of what I did with my time, in broad brushstrokes, I record the following summaries for posterity:

PI Tasks by Project

Screenshot 2016-05-12 14.20.31

Screenshot 2016-05-12 14.26.09


I wouldn’t analyze these too closely, since some tasks were deleted, since not every task had every possible piece of metadata – some of them were just ephemeral reminders to myself (“Bring cheese”) set up with Siri, and since different tasks required differing amounts of time to complete. But still, it’s kinda interesting, if you’re into that kind of thing…

And speaking of generic end-of-academic-year checklists:

  • Clean work office
  • Inventory work office supplies
  • Bring home perishable food items (office, fridge)
  • Clean up computer folders on work computer
  • Copy work computer course folders to Dropbox
  • Order any outstanding textbooks for next semester
  • Wish happy summer to faculty/staff
  • Return library books
  • Update CV
  • Write semester-end thoughts for each course (keep textbook? different assignments…)
  • Brainstorm generic teaching improvements
  • Clean home office

Ha! Thought I’d let a GTD post go by without a checklist? You’ve been chklstd!

John F. Guilmartin Jr.

If you haven’t already heard, John (“Joe”) Guilmartin died last week. Best known to early modern military historians for his detailed work on Mediterranean naval warfare, he was a wide-ranging scholar who published on topics ranging from the Ancient world to Europe to the Americas to aerial combat to the Vietnam War.

He taught at several schools, spending most of his academic career at Ohio State, where he advised 200 students through the graduate school process. His former students, this one at least, remembers him as a jovial fellow always sharing historical factoids whenever the mood struck. If you’ve read his classic Gunpowder and Galleys, you already know that his engineering background was hard to repress, even if that meant chalking the equation for drag coefficients on the board during a History seminar on military technology, to the befuddlement of at least one of his students. Just as irrepressible was his homespun wisdom, whether describing the vigorous military mindset as “Hey diddle, diddle, straight up the middle”, or reassuring his charges that if the earth were to split open between his feet, he would automatically jump left, lest, in his hesitation, the earth swallowed him. And, though I missed his class lecture on siege warfare, his encouragement of my research on the 1708 siege of Lille, along with his early adoption of graphics, had a major influence on my future research path.

Guilmartin's HIS 625 syllabus

For more evidence of his very full life, see his homepage here. Several of his former advisees are preparing a festschrift in his honor.

He will be missed.

What rhymes with Ottawa?

Preliminary program for the SMH 2016 conference in Ottawa is up here.

There aren’t that many EMEMH panels, but there’s at least one of note. There are also, as usual, several panels on 17C-18C America, a few on Native Americans and other indigenes, a sprinkling of Ancients, and a few on environment/topography. None on medieval or Napoleonic this year – I’ll assume the SMH often competes with the Woodstock party that is Kalamazoo.

So I’m thinking we should try to organize some informal EMEMH get-together sometime during the conference. Could be drinks, lunch or even dinner. Let us know in the comments if anyone is game, and we can try to figure something out.

2015: The Year of the Military Revolution in French historiography

Yet more Xmas gifts. But at a price.

Oh, don’t worry –  I’ll spare you the checklist, but I’ll belabor you instead with what I’ve learned (and why I didn’t learn it sooner) over the past year.

But if you’re a busy person, the TL;DR version: there are a lot of French scholars of early modern military history, particularly of Louis XIV’s reign. And I’m giving you a bibliography, for free.
Read More…

SMH2016 Ottawa sneak-peak

While the official program for next April’s Society for Military History conference won’t be out until early next year, I can report that there will be at least one panel on Louis XIV’s last two wars (or is it William III’s last two wars?).

If I can quote from the brilliantly-crafted proposal overview:

Crossing the Channel: Anglo-Germanic Military Relations in the Age of William and Anne

England has always had a complicated relationship with the rest of Europe. Neither the ‘English’ Channel nor the wooden walls of the Royal Navy have prevented invasions from the sea, yet English self-identity has long prided itself on its separation from the Continent. Historians are well aware of the permeability of the Channel and North Sea: Julius Caesar, Norsemen and William the Conqueror, Lancaster and York are only a few of the early successful examples. Nevertheless, England’s peripheral location generally allowed Tudor and Stuart monarchs a freedom of action regarding continental entanglements. After William of Orange’s successful invasion of 1688 forced the island nation into a full-scale continental commitment, the immediate question arose of how England’s forces would contribute to the two ensuing conflicts against Louis XIV’s France (the Nine Years War, 1688-1697, and War of the Spanish Succession, 1701-1714). English troops, commanded first by King William III and then by the Duke of Marlborough, campaigned across Flanders and Iberia, while English diplomatic attentions ranged throughout Europe. Central to William’s vision of a pan-European anti-French alliance were the Germanic states of northern Europe: his own United Provinces of the Netherlands, the German princes of the Holy Roman Empire, and the crown lands of Austria. By 1714, the coalitions constructed by William had humbled the Sun King, and elevated Britain to the status of a great power. How England incorporated its own forces into this larger coalition effort is the focus of this panel.

The three papers provide complementary perspectives on the resulting military relations between England (Britain from 1707) and these continental allies, the compromises and tensions inherent in such coalition endeavors. Thomas M. Nora (University of Hull, Ph.D. candidate) focuses on the administrative and diplomatic groundwork necessary for the English to participate as full members of the Grand Alliances of 1689 and 1701 – their reliance on German auxiliaries. John M. Stapleton (West Point, Associate professor) examines the English reliance on Dutch operational logistics within a Flanders coalition army. Caleb Karges (University of St. Andrews, Ph.D.) explores the question of how the English sought to shape their Austrian ally’s grand strategy.

Together these contributions illustrate how the multi-national forces of two Grand Alliances crossed not just physical and state boundaries on campaign, but necessarily violated borders often considered sovereign and inviolate – crossing the frontiers of individual states’ fiscal, administrative and command structures. These papers explore the extent to which English exceptionalists were forced to become more “continental” when fighting within grand coalitions against a hegemonic France.

Me? I’ll just be along for the ride to chair and to commentate.