The "Military Revolution," 1560–1660—a Myth?

TitleThe "Military Revolution," 1560–1660—a Myth?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1976
AuthorsParker, Geoffrey
JournalJournal of Modern History

The early modern period has come to be seen as a time of major change in warfare and military organization, as an era of "military revolution." The growth of military manpower depended not only on internal factors like tactics but also on a number of extrinsic factors, totally unrelated to the art of war itself. Spain's more permanent armies were also distinguished by a sophisticated panoply of military institutions and ancillary services. The concept of a "'military revolution" was introduced by historian  Michael Roberts in the 1950s. He argued that it took place between 1560 and 1660 in four distinct areas. First and foremost came a 'revolution in tactics': certain tactical innovations, although apparently minor, were 'the efficient cause of changes which were really revolutionary'. A 'revolution in strategy' formed the second major strand of Roberts's thesis. A third component of the military revolution theory was a 'prodigious increase in the scale of warfare in Europe' between 1560 and 1660. These four assertions form the kernel of the military revolution theory. This article discusses the concept in the light of new research.

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