The Experience of Spain’s Early Modern Soldiers: Combat, Welfare and Violence

TitleThe Experience of Spain’s Early Modern Soldiers: Combat, Welfare and Violence
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsWhite, Lorraine
JournalWar in History
Date Published01/2002

Between 1500 and 1700, hundreds of thousands of soldiers served in the armies of the Spanish monarchs. Our knowledge of the conditions of service of these men is scant and largely limited to those who served in the Army of Flanders. This article examines the experience of soldiers in the regular armies and the militias in the Iberian peninsula during this period. With a focus on combat, physical and spiritual welfare and the culture of violence, it provides a range of insights into the reality of warfare in mainland Spain. It examines a number of variables which influenced or arose from that experience. These include rates of attrition arising from desertion and casualities; the availability, use and effectiveness of weapons and munitions, along with evidence for ratios of the deployment of artillery; the nature of medical and spiritual assistance; food and drink; association with women; and engagement in and subjection to violence. The article provides incidental evidence for the use in the peninsula in the mid-seventeenth century of tactics associated with the Military Revolution, and for the violent interaction of soldiers with civilians.

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