The Bavarian Army During the Thirty Years War 1618-1648...

...The Backbone of the Catholic League, Helion & Company, via Casemate Books

Title:  The Bavarian Army During the Thirty Years War

Author: Laurence Spring

Publisher:  Helion and Company

ISBN:  978-1-911512-39-4

A new hardback book, number 15 in their Century of the Soldier series from Helion Books.  While I can still recall covering the Thirty Years War back in my school days, I will admit it is a period I don't know a great deal about so it is nice to read an account like this.  Europe back in the 1600s was a very different place to the Europe we know today.  There were no standing armies on those days, so those officers who wanted to command a regiment needed to find recruits and fund things like their uniforms for example.

The author, Laurence Spring, is a qualified archivist and the result of his efforts in studying the archival material in Bavaria and beyond shines through in reading the book.

There are 12 chapters and these cover The Officer Corps: The Rank and File: Organisation: Clothing the Soldiers: Arming the Soldiers: Regimental Colours: Rations and Pay: Billeting the Soldiers: Tactics: Civilians and Soldiers: Death in the Army: and closes with Conclusion, Peace at Last. For historians the story is fascinating, how soldiers were recruited and what they could expect when in service.  Food often relied on taking it from the local population along with other booty, and their treatment of civilians was often brutal, as described in the book.  As for things like pay, this was frequently in arrears so the taking of booty was not just greed but partly necessity.  Though mostly a history, I think wargamers who are interested in the period will also like the information on uniforms, the colours of standards and the like as well as the tactics employed.

My memories  from history at school (which is a very long time ago now of course) are of basic facts, about what happened when and who the personalities were with each country.  I wish I could have read something like this then, a very different take on things, about what it meant for the people who had to live through it, soldiers and civilians alike.  One of the sad things about for me is that religion was at the heart of the conflict but perhaps we have still not learnt the lesson as some 400 years later we are still seeing  people kill one another in the name of one religion or another.  A fascinating read I thought.

Distributed by Casemate Books, who kindly provided my review copy.

Robin