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Richelieu's Army
War, Government and Society in France, 1624–1642


Part of Cambridge Studies in Early Modern History

  • Date Published: March 2006
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521025485

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About the Authors
  • It is assumed widely that 'war made the state' in seventeenth-century France. Yet this study of the French army during the ministry of Cardinal Richelieu (1624–42) shows how the expansion of the war effort was not matched by army reform but by a reliance on traditional mechanisms of control. The army imposed a huge burden upon the French population, but far from being an instrument of the emerging absolutist state its demands contributed to weakening Richelieu's hold upon France and heightened levels of political and social tension. This is the first detailed account of the size, organization, recruitment, financing and control of the troops during this formative period of French history. The book also includes a detailed study of foreign policy during Richelieu's ministry, and places the training, deployment and fighting methods of the French army into the context of arguments for military change in early modern Europe. The title was runner up in the History Today Awards 2002.

    • Was the first detailed study of a military history topic which is central to early modern European history
    • Makes an archivally based challenge to the usual assumptions about the link between war and the development of the absolutist state, explaining the 'failure' of the French army before 1660
    • Contributes to the 'demythologizing' of Cardinal Richelieu as the great reformer and administrator of French history
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This book bucks the trend. Most books promise far lass than their titles, but Parrott delivers more … a major work for those interested in early-modern military history.' History Today

    'This is a monumental study, which not only puts a definitive stamp on its subject but sets a high standard for all future military historians.' Theodore K Rabb, The Times Literary Supplement

    'No previous study has lavished such attention on this chapter in military history … This is a monumental study, which not only puts a definite stamp on its subject but sets a high standard for all future military historians.' European History

    'The originality of this book lies in Parrott's mastery of the literature on seventeenth-century warfare written in all the major Western European languages. It is a triumph of scholarship that, by placing French developments in a wider European context, will have an impact well beyond the hexagon … We can only congratulate David Parrott on producing such a fine monument.' H-FRANCE

    'This is a book that beautifully illustrates the strengths and weaknesses of institutional history.' History

    'It is one of the most important studies of early modern warfare since the revival of that subject in the 1970s, as well as being an important contribution to seventeenth-century French and European history.' War in History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2006
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521025485
    • length: 628 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 35 mm
    • weight: 0.91kg
    • contains: 5 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: war, government and society in France, 1624–1642
    Part I. The Military Context:
    1. The French art of war during Richelieu's ministry
    2. France at war, 1624–1642
    3. The size of the French army
    Part II. The Administrative Context:
    4. Paying for war
    5. Recruiting and maintaining armies during the Thirty Years War: military enterprise
    6. The French rejection of entrepreneurship
    7. The civil administration of the army: the structures
    Part III. Responses and Reactions:
    8. The management of the war effort, 1635–1642: commissaires de guerres and intendants
    9. The ministry and the high command
    10. The army and the civilian population

  • Author

    David Parrott, University of Oxford

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