Sunday, April 29, 2007

War 16th century in Europe

“War is one of the scourges with which it has pleased God to afflict men”, wrote Cardinal Richelieu (1585-1642), the French Minister who played no small part in spreading the scourge. War was a constant of European society and penetrated to its very core. It dominated all the aspects of life. It enhanced the power of the state, it defined gender roles, it consumed lives and treasure and commodities ravenously.

War affected every, member of the society from combatants to civilians. There were no innocent bystanders. Grain in the fields was destroyed because it was food for soldiers; houses were burned because they provided shelter for soldiers.

Civilians were killed for aiding the enemy or holding out against demand for their treasure and supplies. Able bodied men were taken forcibly to serve as conscripts, leaving women to plant and harvest as best as they could. There was nothing new about war in the middle of 16th century.

The early part of the century had witnessed the dynastic struggle between the Hapsburgs and the House of Valois as well as beginnings of the religious struggle between Catholic and Protestants. But the wars that dominated Europe from 1555 to 1648 brought together the worst of both of these conflicts. War was fought on a larger scale, it was more brutal and more expensive, and it claimed more victims. During this century war extended thorough out the Continent.
War 16th century in Europe


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