Tuesday 9 April 2024

Holiday Reading #1 = The Wars and Soldiers in the Early Reign of Louis XIV, Volume 7


I can’t believe that this is volume VII in Bruno Mugnai’s tremendous study of the wars and soldiers in the early part of the reign of Louis XIV of France. In this volume Bruno has arguably exceeded expectations and provided us with an excellent in depth analysis of some of the main players from within the German states between 1655 and 1690, much of which has not been published in English. For example, as far as I am aware this is the first time the not inconsiderable armies of the influential Prince-Bishopric of Munster have been researched and presented in this way, alongside those more familiar nations of Brandenburg, Bavaria and Saxony.

The book begins with some contextual material, with chapters on the ‘German Universal Soldier’ and what that meant, together with a summary of Germany after the end of the Thirty Years War in 1648. There are then chapters on each of the armies, covering all manner of information relating to their campaigns, organisation, weapons, equipment and uniforms.

As well as being a prolific author and military historian Bruno is also an extremely accomplished artist, evidenced yet again by the 16 wonderful colour plates included within the pages of this work depicting a wide variety of uniforms and flags. It has to be said that the uniforms depicted are quite ordinary or mundane, yet the artist still gives them life and character. The book also contains a vast array of largely contemporary black and white images, and photographs of surviving items of equipment or weaponry together with several useful maps.

Like his earlier works on the armies of Spain and Portugal, Bruno has provided a detailed breakdown of individual regiments, squadrons and companies for each of the armies under review, including the year raised, the colonel proprietors, campaigns and engagements, a brief history and details of uniforms. This would be quite remarkable were it just for the army of Brandenburg, or Bavaria, but to present the same level of detail for Saxony and the Prince-Bishopric of Munster as well is a considerable achievement. Appendix II provides army lists and orders of battle for the entire span of the period under review.

To close, this has got to be of interest to anyone interested in the wars of the last quarter of the seventeenth century which at one point or another drew in almost all the great and not so great powers of Western Europe. Amateur historians and wargamers will find this book an absolute feast, and my own interest in the wars of the late seventeenth century is starting to itch again.

This is of course only the first part of the volume on the German States, and I await the delights of the second with undisguised anticipation.

ISBN 978-1-804510-9 372 pages, soft back.

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