Soldiers of the English Civil War l Infantry

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The Military Revolution

By the 17th century the military achievements of the Classical world had long been admired by more modern European theorists who considered that with a good understanding of Classical writers such as Julius Frontinus or Claudius Aelianus the 'Art of War' could be revolutionised. Initially this fascination took the form of direct translations of Greek and Roman authors; but the next stage, of commentaries on their use in modern warfare, soon followed. The first of these was Niccolo Macchiavelli's Libra della arte della guerra, which was published in Florence in 1521 and soon translated from the Italian. The first English edition was printed by Peter Whitehorne in 1560.

A number of 16th century writers, such as Diego de Salazar and Giulio Fcrretti, made similar if less politically callous attempts to re-introduce Classical strategy and tactics. Although read and discussed with interest these works failed to change radically the organisation of armies or the ways in which wars were fought. The reason for this failure was the absence of two crucial factors: a thorough understanding of the principles involved, and the constant pay necessary to maintain discipline and training.

It was the Dutch leader Maurice of Orange and his cousins William Louis and John, who successfully wedded Classical theories to the changed conditions and weapons of the 16th century. They achieved this through a combination of extensive reading of Classical military texts, and experimental wargames. For the latter, lead figures were used

An illustration from George Monk's Observations on Military & Political Affairs (1671)—an example of the combined use of infantry and cavalry. This was potentially a very effective style, but, if defeated, the cavalry could ride away while the deserted infantry were cut to pieces.

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