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Topic: The Age of the Fronde  (Read 2604 times)
To Understand Everything Means To Forgive Everyone.
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Facta Infecta Fieri Nequeunt!

« on: October 06, 2006, 09:15:54 PM »

I read recently an article by Dennis Showalter, Colorado College on the alleged importance of an alleged military revolution of the 17-18 century, totally wrongly presented.

The author of this, a man who has not an inkling of what constitutes an analysis based upon History-proper as opposed to an analysis based upon unattached and tortured logical system of causes and effects that forms fast highways in the brain (such as his) but rather slow and ineffective pathways through Time and the mode of thinking that depends upon an understanding of the necessity behind the evolving nature of History-proper.

His lecture on "military revolution" is nothing but a coterie of terms and concepts that waste time and mislead the proper historical brain into useless swampy deadends of misleading academic research, mostly sociological, dissolutely Liberal (in which History has no organic but only a timelessly dead logic of conceptual causes and effects) and totally phraseological in nature ("metastisaton", "sub-state levels"(!?), "totemic gas of organization"(lol), "semi-entrepreneurial system of military contractual relationships"(God have mercy!)).

To explain History by using arbitrary analogies borrowed from science merely serves to prove that the way in which these modern "historiographical" minds were trained serves only to isolate the point they are making from the larger picture of events of the period, and simply creates a pretense to be a matter perused by the rigor of logical connections.

When will the Academia of the West wake-up and re-discover its lost connection with the far more expert roots of past Western History-research?
Perhaps, the sham that mostly nowadays passes for Western academic military history treatment, epitomized by this Showalter Article will only go away once there occurs a shake-up of the West and the change in its entire political system.

This author of this sorry little myopic analysis of a segment of the truly mighty course of Western-European History would certainly see no point in including factors that are outside (but immediately adjacent) to any one of these extrapolated and conceptually-treated logical postulates (about the military (r)evolution he created to support his jejune logic.

Let us examine the case of one Habsburg general Von Wallenstein, because he was used in the text as an example for the author's point about an existence of a military revolution in the late Baroque.
In the Baroque age, corresponding with the strong Feudalism of the evolving West-European state-system, dominated by the elaborate diplomatic power of the royal courts (in Madrid, in Paris, in Vienna, in Stockholm and in London), there arose a high conflict between the leading representatives of the country-specific high nobility of ALL the states of Baroque Europe and their country-specific counterparts in the few top families who represented the State and its powers (which were centered on cabinet-diplomacy and the volunteer-mass-recruiting operations on the Wallenstein Grand Imperial Army scale).

Wallenstein's recruiting operations created for the first time an actual imperial army for Germany which supported the Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand II's battle against the Protestant Princes of the German "Fronde". But, owing to his unexpectedly timid character, which proved politically fatal in 1630 when he foolishly decided against bothering with the Diet of Regensburg (a meeting of the rebel princes) which forced the Emperor to relent - his purpose failed. This allowed the champion of Imperial absolutism in France (Richelieu) to support the champions of Imperial dissolution in Germany in order to strengthen France on the outside. Wallenstein slided into becoming an unsteady and confused champion of those whom he had fought until 1630. After Wallenstein's assassination, the Emperor could not produce another Wallenstein to defend his cause (suppored by Spain). Wallenstein used his own personal popularity with the German countrymen to rally new recruits into his armies (he also used his own personal wealth to finance them). Ultimately, the Empire failed in Germany - and it would only be resurrected belatedly by Prussia in 1871, too late for Germany to form enough of a national spine to keep the state-course steady for the future.

I would not consider it expert to claim that something that resulted merely as a consequence of the need to recruit mass imperial armies to subdue the "Fronde" (an aristocratic anti-state league regarding which the author seems ignorant) represented in itself some sort of a "diplomatic revolution" with its own dynamic and its own set of instrinsic reasons of State. It was a state-revolution above any military sort of innovation-set that caused the so-called "military revolution" down below to look like one.

The century of warfare between the high princes and their state-crafting dynastic opponents produced the "civil wars" of Charles I vs Cromwell in England, Cardinals Richelieu/Mazarin and the Burbons vs Tilly in France, Habsburgs vs the Electors of Germany ("The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation") and Spanish Habsburgs vs the Spanish princes (which destroyed any possibility for a World-wide Empire run from Madrid).

Early-on, the dynastic politics of planned marriage gave the few European families dominion over half the World, but it did not create a situation in which they would later exercise un unchallengeable total control in the European home countries.
However, with the peace of 1648, 1659 and 1688 (England), the internal relations change to the point of re-gained loyalty of the high princes by the Crown (State) - which is what the European "absolutism" (of Louis XIV) was all about (also in Austria and Spain) with its aristocratic pride in civil service (Which the author mentions but in a different context).
However, in England (where the "Fronde" won with Sir Oliver Cromwell and his Puritans) - the State is no longer ruled by the Crown - but by the high princes IN ITS NAME (which in my opinion makes the so-called "grievances" of the American "Founding Fathers" against the English King rather ridiculous).
After 1688, the English Crown becomes as authoritative as the Emperor of the "Holy Roman Empire" on Europe's mainland (except in Austria). Not until Prussia emerges after Napoleon does the Empire become a possibility again.

I believe what is missing from modern understanding of History - is the healthy view from above, and instead - all sorts of petty logical contrivances are created to make it seem like the grand events of History start from the bottom (in effect - a Marxist, a Leftist, a misguided Liberal slant to everything - a mark of the age of the goaded proletarian/consumer).

Thus, my conclusion is that the concept of "military revolution" as espoused by the author of Showalter Article - is not only insiginificant but also highly misleading and uninformative. This is simply because something as important as the evolving standards and practices of military-recruitment cannot be viewed in isolation and by itself, perhaps only in relation to a limited and too rigidly conceptualized set of modern sociological ideas (such as the contracts between the "State" and the "professional soldiers") which are a mere temporary consequence of significant events and outside developments that he does not even give an inkling as to.
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History is the Grand Confession of Mankind

« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2006, 09:18:35 PM »

Some she-student at my college sanctified a few Age of Enlightenment thinkers vis-a-vis their alleged importance for military History.

I told her the following:

What in the world is there to learn about the military developments in late Baroque Europe from authors such as Voltaire, Locke, Bacon? Voltaire did have a correspondence with the Prussian King, but this did not testify about his prowess in matters military, and even matters political, except to satisfy a personal taste (which you so candidly indicated) ?

You did mention Sir Edmund Burke but you did not explain why. Certainly a Conservative Irish Catholic Anglophile of the late 18th century would seem oddly out of place in your list (except for his position vis-a-vis the American revolution).

Even in the 19th century, the high century of the triumph of parliamentarism owing its success to the cabinet-diplomacy of the Baroque age, was successful because of its secret anti-democratic origin in the age of high diplomacy of the Baroque State (England became the most successful example of it because of the way in which the age of the Fronde ended in England in 1688's "Glorious Revolution" which restored monarchy but only as a puppet of top aristocrats).

The "great" thinkers of the abstract sort are irrelevant, if not obstructive (if they somehow get the wrong idea that their ideas matter to History-making). Great thinkers I believe are those who understand Life and not merely oppose it or denounce it by a scheme, a theory or a dogged opposition borne out of personal inadequacies or outright cowardice. For example, the natural defeat of Marxism - had nothing to do with any clever scheme that could have toppled it (certainly not with Reagan's military spending, lol) - but with the fact that it was opposed to the natural flow of History, and as such had to go sooner or later (once its original protagonists aged and adjusted themselves to History by creating their own, ultimately failed, ignoble dynasties).

All the liberating ideas in History end in failure (and Marxism/Liberalism is by no means an isolated phenmenon, for there were "marxist"-type thinkers in every civilization near its end, for example, the Abassid Caliphate desperately fought in self-defense against an Islamic "Lenin" called Bebek for 20 years (817-837) in the process creating a dangerous vacuum which would be soon filled by a massive Spartacist revolt by an Arabian "Spartacus" Ali.)

History teaches that Liberal ideas merely ultimately serve (in Historic practice) to open-up the way for criminals to destroy the State. In the wake of the turmoil created in the name of a "righteous", "perfect", "just", "humanity-saving" anti-State ideal - there emerges disrespect for authority, fearful financial corruption run amok, disgust with politics, and partisan brigandism that tears the state to pieces.
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