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Furies: War in Europe, 1450-1700 [Kindle Edition]

Lauro Martines
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

During the European Renaissance, an age marked equally by revolutionary thought and constant warfare, it was armies, rather than philosophers, who shaped the modern European nation state. "Mobile cities" of mercenaries and other paid soldiers-made up of astonishingly diverse aggregations of ethnicities and nationalities-marched across the land, looting and savaging enemy territories.
In the 15th century, Poland hired German, Spanish, Bohemian, Hungarian, and Scottish soldiers. Later, Sweden fought in Muscovy with Irish, English, Scottish, French and German troops. Units of Croats, Germans, Walloons, Albanians, and especially Swiss served in French armies. In the Netherlands, Italians and Spaniards fought beside Irishmen, Germans, Dalmatians, and Walloons. Regiments of Swiss pikemen fought for Spain, France, and Venice, as well as for German and Italian princes. Companies of Poles, Hungarians, and Croatians fought in German regiments.
Growing national economies, unable to pay or feed massed armies for any length of time, thus became war states, an early nationalism which would later consume modern Europe. Furies: War in Europe 1450-1700 by acclaimed historian of the Renaissance Lauro Martines compellingly and simply delivers the story of modern Europe's martial roots, capturing the brutality of early modern war and how it shaped the history of a continent

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Unlucky were civilians of early modern Europe in the path of an army on the march or in a city under siege. No safer were soldiers, more apt to die from disease and starvation than battle. Vignettes of horror from the era’s maelstroms, grandly titled the Thirty Years’ War or the Dutch Revolt, abound in Martines’ treatment, which tries to raise ethical questions about panoramas of war. Discounting princes’ justifications for war, which come across as aristocratic brigandage in his text, Martines sets aside conventional military history of campaigns and leaders to show the hand of Mars on the peasants and villagers it touched. It coerced them into armies, but Mars’ royal sponsors failed to render promised pay and supplies. To square accounts, their generals instead let soldiers pillage the countryside and sack cities, examples Martines draws from eyewitnesses to plunder, arson, and killing. Ending by asking historians—he is a specialist on Renaissance Florence—to consider morality in their political and military works about the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Martines poises an agenda atop graphic historical envisioning of what he decries. --Gilbert Taylor


A story that is as gripping as it is horrifying. (The Washington Times)

Lauro Martines's new book is a godsend . . . made a pleasure to read by the author's nimble and darkly humorous prose, he has given us an unforgettable glimpse into a violent--and rarely seen--age." --Paul D. Lockhart, MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History"Fascinating.... Martines is a master researcher and, like a collector showing off his treasures, his delight in his findings sparkles on every page (Philadelphia Inquirer)

An intriguing book.... Every situation and character Martines presents to usis of marvelous complexity. (New York Review of Books)

A spine-chilling political drama of conspiracy, murder at High Mass, and bloody revenge. (The Times (UK))

Impressive narrative power.... A thoroughly good read that is also reliable history, scrupulously documented yet with its pages uncluttered by footnotes... Savonarola's story...bears fresh retelling, and Lauro Martines does so with scholarly authority and an admirable combination of clarity and pace. (The Wall Street Journal)

Product Details

  • File Size: 2665 KB
  • Print Length: 337 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1608196097
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Press; 1 edition (January 15, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009K4Z37W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #120,100 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars War in Early Modern Europe February 10, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a social history of war in Early Modern Europe, a time in which the continent was ravaged in succession by the Italian Wars, the French Wars of religion, the Eighty Years' War, the Thirty Years War, the Franco-Dutch War and the Nine Years' War, among others. However, the organization of the book is not chronological but thematic.

The focus is not in high-minded diplomacy or in battle tactics. In fact, the author maintains that too much emphasis has been traditionally given to these aspects of war. He notes that diplomacy is often just a flimsy facade over stark aggression and, interestingly, that none of the battles of the Thirty Years War was politically decisive.

Instead, the book centers on the plight of the common people. First the soldiers, which despite inflicting horrific suffering on civilians by way of plunder, requisitions, and sackings, and acting as a vector for the spread of infection and plague, often were victims as well, pressed in service against their will and going hungry, ragged and unpaid. The book also touches on the often neglected camp followers which accompanied the soldiers.

Armies tended to "live off the land" by extorting food and resources from the inhabitants of those villages unlucky enough to be located in their path. Due to their massive size and the limited agricultural productivity of the time, armies ended up emptying the countryside of anything edible, causing widespread starvation. This focus on the high-level logistical challenges of maintaining an army, combined with the untold suffering on the ground (vividly rendered thanks to quotes from diaries and primary sources) makes for an interesting, if harrowing, read.

Attention is also paid to the role of finance in war.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A collection of grim curiosities February 14, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I couldn't miss this new book on early modern wars because I try to read everything on that theme and author's backlog was respectable enough to make me first-day-buyer (I heartily recommend his April's Blood book about plot against Medicis).

The book is interesting and well written. The author had put some real emotions into the text, but kept it moderate, so the book is far from dry but is not too irksome in pushing of moral appraisals. However, I am subjective here, because I share most of author's thought on state, war and their effect on society.

That is not a truly new research, because most of the book is based on modern historical monographs and articles and most firsthand accounts are well-known to the connoiseur of early modern warfare. It not a systematical research but rather a collection of grim anecdotes. The fault of the book is that after description of some curious event the author usually doesn't tell whether is was a typical or a rare case. For example, he used Peter Wilson's book on Thirty Years' War (BTW, highly recommended) but failed to line up his conclusions against Wilson's who debunked several myths about that war.

Nevertheless, a rare perspective in assessing the information gives a lot of novelty to the book in proper elucidation of the chosen theme. The book is dedicated to taking "war and society" approach to the exteme. You won't find here anything about generals, weapons, tactics or battles. All that is left is the grizzly grizzliness of war: plunder, plague, mortality rate, hunger, sieges, sack, violence, fate of civilians and poor soldiers. As such, it is a wonderful overview, especially for those who still have illusions about Europe's past and European mentality.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No White Plumes Here February 14, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a very good book. To be honest, I expected something entirely different. I had read several books on warfare in early modern Europe and thought that this would be similar. Instead, the book looks at the underside of warfare during that period. It was an era in which a growing population dealt (or failed to deal with) an inelastic food supply and a growing inflation. These factors, among others, cheapened the life of soldiers and poor civilians in the eyes of aristocratic rulers and officers.

The author demonstrates, using gruesome but not uncommon examples, how rough and nasty the world of early modern warfare actually was. The thrill of battle is absent from this social history of war during the period. Instead there is an emphasis on death by disease, man-made starvation, collateral damage, and destruction of lives.

Martines emphasizes that there were hard fought battles and sieges during the period but few were decisive. Far more decisive were the epidemics and famines caused by stolen harvests or the population losses resulting from over-recruitment and the failure to keep armies in relative good health.

This book puts warfare of the period in much-needed perspective. It is necessary corrective to the romantic view of war in the pre-technological age. As such it is certainly worth a read.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting, but falls short of its potential July 8, 2013
"Furies: War in Europe, 1450-1700" by Lauro Martines is the history of the nearly constant warfare on the European continent from the perspective of the average inhabitant (as opposed to the soldiers or the princes). The first-hand accounts he cites are fascinating (and largely from areas ignored by other historians), and really help the reader picture the horror and terror of the age...however...the author does not do a good job of stitching the accounts together in a way that would make this book an excellent history of the time. Instead, the accounts remain single, disjointed narratives--sadly, this book could have been much more.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars War as it really was
This book is an excellent overview of the human cost of war during the renaissance. It talks about lesser known aspects of battle such as financing armies, disease, siege warfare,... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars “the notion of putting a city into a sack and going off with it”) and...
Lauro Matines, Furies: War in Europe 1450-1700 (New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2013). Anyone seeking to discover the true horrors of war would do well to start with this powerful and... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Christian Potholm
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book about a period of European slaughters!
Published 4 months ago by H. A. Loeb
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative
I wish my professor in my freshman year at college had assigned a book like this! I decided to read this in an effort to understand war and what it has meant to societies. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Joanne E. Andresen
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 5 months ago by Curtis Ackeret
4.0 out of 5 stars Warfare in Europe from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment
A summary of the review on StrategyPage.Com:

'Noted Renaissance scholar Martines gives us a look at how warfare changed, and how it didn’t change, in Europe from the... Read more
Published 6 months ago by A. A. Nofi
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent
Excellent book. Looks at war not as a glorious engagement but rather as the brutal, catastrophic event that it is
Published 6 months ago by Joseph Pulvirenti
4.0 out of 5 stars New approach to early warfare
The author provides a fresh look at early modern warfare of the European western world. This new work provides a fuller understanding for the common person during this period.
Published 12 months ago by smyers
2.0 out of 5 stars the plural of anecdote is not data
Lauro Martines' Furies is a decidedly mixed bag. On the positive side it draws upon a wide range of sources unfamiliar to the average Anglophone student of warfare in the late... Read more
Published 13 months ago by W. B Crews
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read from a non-military historian
Lauro Martines writes the "Furies" after a career in non-military historical study. In the books conclusion, the author describes that "... Read more
Published 13 months ago by robert johnston
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