Monday 6 March 2023

Reading on the Great Procession #1 - The Battle of Rocroi, 1643.

This new book from Helion in their Century of the Soldier series is a remarkable re-examination of this iconic and, as suggested by the research of author Alberto Raul Esteban Ribas, potentially misunderstood battle between superpower rivals Spain and France on 19 May 1643. After his excellent previous book for Helion ‘The Battle of Nordlingen’ this latest, ‘The Battle of Rocroi 1643’ analyses the common-held myths surrounding the battle using a vast amount of French and Spanish primary and secondary sources, as detailed in the extensive bibliography.

The book is well written and an engaging read. I couldn’t claim to know much of the detail of the battle but after finishing the book (on a 13-hour train trip from Goa to Bangalore) I now have a much better understanding of battle and events relating to it., and Mr Ribas’ conclusions certainly bear thinking about and put events in a new light.

The author takes us through the political and military background, the armies of France and Spain, the events leading up to the battle and the battle itself, outcomes and repercussions. The final chapter is the author’s analysis of the battle, which you will have to read yourselves and perhaps come to your own conclusions or agree with his.

As ever with Helion books of this quality, it is full of contemporary black and white illustrations, several very useful maps showing each phase of the battle and eight pages of specially commissioned colour plates by Sergey Shamenkov depicting the officers and men of both armies. Lastly the two appendices detail the orders of battle of the French and Spanish forces which will be especially handy for wargamers among the readership.

I strongly recommend this book for anyone with an interest in the battle and the later Thirty Years’ War.

ISBN 978-1-915113-97-9. 168 pages. Paperback.

I’ve brought quite a few books with me to review and plan to do so as we continue our travels.


  1. I have many of the troops for this battle so perhaps I will need to buy the book. However it will have to join the queue of things on hold until after a move later this year.
    I enjoy all your reviews so look forward to more over the course of your travels.
    I also look forward to your return to VWC [Virtual Wargame Club] in due course.

  2. It's excellent that the later part of the 30-years-war now gets more attention by the audience through literarture. Thank you for your review. I'm not in this part of the war but prefer the 1620s in both Living History and Wargaming - as you may realize on our blog.