War in Europe, 1450-1700

Book - 013
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We think of the Renaissance as a shining era of human achievement, yet it was also an age of constant, harrowing warfare. Armies, not philosophers, shaped the face of Europe as modern nation-states emerged from feudal society. Martines captures the dark reality of the period in a gripping narrative mosaic, putting us on the front lines of battle, and on the streets of cities under siege, to reveal what Europe's wars meant to the men and women who endured them.
Publisher: New York : Bloomsbury Press, c 013
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
Description: xv, 320 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. (chiefly col.) ; 25 cm
ISBN: 9781608196098
Branch Call Number: 355.0094 Mar


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Jun 21, 2015

A detailed account of the art of financing war largely at the expense of the populace lower and merchant classes. Citizenry unable to avoid the conflicts that often raged around them looked to their leadership for protection while under siege, often with disastrous consequences. Taxes and special charges so easily dodged by the aristocracy and the favoured elite are discussed in great detail, along with the methods of taxation. While taxes were paid by the elite this often came at a cost to the state in terms of future incomes and yet more privileges of rank.

The text borders on being a light discussion on the concepts of "Machiavellianism": morality, duplicity and an overarching familiar pattern of personal gain above the needs of an decentralized and often inept state bureaucracy. The text is unique in topic and approach, however, the author is verbose and repetitive. He often revisits the same patterns of taxation and abuse between the major powers with only minor differences in execution.

His text could easily be shaved by 30% without harm to the topic. Near the middle of the text I felt I had to push my way through the book "just to be done with it". This was disappointing as I truly enjoy all facets of military history.

I would almost recommend reading the first 75 pages, skip to page 175 and then finish the book. The middle largely rehashes the same patterns of abuse from the perspective of different nations. Few new elements are brought into the discussion.

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