The English were introduced to the new Dutch style through their involvement as mercenaries or allies of the Dutch in their war of independence against Spain. One of the earliest works in this style to be printed in English was John Bingham's The Tactiks of Aelian in 1616. Bingham's comment in his introduction expressed the English view of the time: The practice of Aelian's precepts have long lien wrapped up in darkness, and buried (as it were) in the ruins of time, until it was revived, and restored to light not long since in the United Provinces of the Low-Countries, which Countries this day are the Schoole of war, whither the most Martiall spirits of Europe resort to lay down the apprenticeship of their service in Armes, and it was revived by the direction of that Heroicall Prince Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange'.
As an Appendix to his work Bingham added a copy of Prince Maurice's basic infantry instructions, The Exercise of the English in the service of the high and mighty Lords, the Lords of the Estates of the United Provinces in the Low Countries. This Dutch drill, indeed this actual manual, formed the basis of English drill from this time until the outbreak of the Civil War. It was used in 1623 as part of the new drill manual intended to turn the Trained Bands into a new and better 'Exact Militia' and can be found printed nearly verbatim in a manual printed for general
A closer view of Dutch infantry drawn up in three supporting lines. The Dutch military styles dominated English military thought at the outbreak of the Civil War.
publication in 1641 (The Exercise of the Militia in the Kingdome of England), as well as pamphlets printed for the King's Army in 1642 and 1643.
Several other English writers improved on Bingham's work with thorough guides to the new drill, Gervase Markham, Thomas Fisher, Henry Hexham and William Barriffe being the best known. These drill masters attempted to provide their readers with everything they needed to know about the military arts; and with the Thirty Years War spreading throughout Europe there was considerable interest in, and a considerable market for, their works. Some, such as William BarrifTe, mentioned the new Swedish style, but English drill and military theory remained essentially Dutch. Most Englishmen seeking military service did so in the Dutch army or those of the Protestant German princes who followed Dutch styles.
fostered by John of Nassau but engraved and printed by Jacob de Gheyn. This was a very superior work of engraving in itself, which added to its impact; but it also served as the first standard system of small arms drill, and was soon copied across the whole of Western Europe.
Military enthusiasm declined in London, as in the rest of the country, during the early years of the pacific James I, but was revived in 1610 as enthusiasts revitalised the voluntary 'Society of the Artillery Garden'. This was an association of some of the wealthier London citizens who met to practise weapon-handling and drill, sometimes with hired professional tuition. Although the citizens saw the intricate drill as much as a social accomplishment as military training, and some of their assemblies were distinctly theatrical, they were at least encouraged to practise. As the Society traditionally provided officers for the London Trained Bands, something of their enthusiasm was passed on to their men. The adjoining suburbs shared this enthusiasm for things military and formed rival associations—the 'Military Company' in the City of Westminster and the 'Martial Yard' in Southwark.
Some officers took this even further and formed
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Frontispiece from John Bingham's Tactiks of Aelian (1616). This shows Alexander the Great handing over his sword, and by implication, his military genius and pre-eminence, to Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange.
small groups dedicated to practising additional drill, examples being the 'Loving Gentlemen of Town-Ditch' and the 'Gentlemen of the Private and Loving Society of Cripplegate'. Captains Edward Ditchfield and Henry Saunders, who formed the group in Cripplegate, took this to extremes by summoning the men in their companies to drill every morning in summer at 6 o'clock: the captains claimed this provided 'no hindrance to men's more necessary callings, but rather calls them earlier to their business affairs'. Their soldiers 'neither beat drumine displaye Ensigne, nor discharge Musket: but only exercise their Postures, Motions and formes of Battell, with false fire in their pannes' at these early morning meetings—a concession their neighbours must have appreciated at that hour.
Where the Privy Council's efforts failed to revitalise the Militia, fashion succeeded, and many country gentlemen came to London to practise with the voluntary associations, particularly the Society of the Artillery Garden. Sometimes these county enthusiasts formed associations in emulation of the London societies, examples being those formed in Colchester (1621), Bury St. Edmunds (1622), Bristol (1625), Great Yarmouth (1626), Ipswich (1629) and Nottingham (1629). Some prospered, such as the 'Artillery Yard' at Great Yarmouth, while others declined; but all looked to London for their inspiration. In the absence of an army it was the voluntary associations in London who were at the forefront of military theory in England, encouraging a wide market for works on military theory and providing a forum for discussion and experiment.
In the absence of any permanent units, other than a few garrison companies, the only military force in England was the Trained Bands. These Militia soldiers had their origins in the reign of Queen Elizabeth when the Crown realised that recent advances in military technology made it impossible for each man to own useful weapons. Apart from their expense, the new weapons required a higher degree of individual and unit training, and it was inconceivable that every man in the country could be trained in this way. The Trained Band soldiers were intended for national defence in time of war and to maintain civil order in peacetime, especially in towns and cities. For the latter duties in particular it was considered important that those enrolled 'must be men sufficient, of able and active bodies; none of the meaner sort, nor servants; but only such as be of the Gentrie, Free-holders, and good Farmers, or their sonnes, that are like to be resident'. The objective was to keep arms and military training in the hands of those with some stake in the country and away from the 'meaner
A page from the manual Directions for Musters (1638). This contains illustrations for the (postures' of the musket (48) and the pike (36) together with elementary instructions for company training. The soldiers' costumes are copied partly from de Gheyn's original and partly from an English manual of 1623, so are n°t typical of the Civil War
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