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Giant of the Grand Siecle : The French Army, 1610-1715 by John A. Lynn (2006, Paperback)
In his preface he argues that what attention the French army of this period has gotten from historians has either focused too much on the soldier in a social context, ignoring his role as a warrior or, when looked at by military historians, has been only written about in service of theorising about the supposed military revolution that took place in this century.
Lynn is dismissive of both approachs and states that he will try to show the real army and show that instead of revolution, it went through a long evolution as it adapted itself to changed circumstances and turned from an almost medieval army into a recognisable early modern one.
He is nothing if not thorough, looking at all aspects of the army and the way it fought. After setting his context, he starts with examining the way it was administered and supplied, moves on to issues of command before looking at the common soldier, the way they were recruited, disciplined, fought and discharged, and how their morale was kept up.
His emphasis in tracing these developments is that the way in which army tactics or the command structure developed was a process of evolution rather than revolution , that these always involved compromises, were largely routed in older practises and always limited by what resources —men, food, money — were available or not, as the case might be. One consequence of the latter was that the supposedly absolutist rule of Louis XIV was in practise often compromised by the need to secure monetary support for the army, for example by having the aristocracy buy regiments then spent their own resources on their upkeep, or the fact that a large part of what the army consumed in food, ammunition, clothing etc had to be locally sourced rather than centrally provided, giving the provincial powers at least some measure of control too.
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