Italy 1636 is one of the most closely-researched and detailed books on the operation of early modern armies anywhere, and is explicitly inspired by neo-Darwinian thinking. Taking the French and Savoyard invasion of Spanish Lombardy in 1636 as its specific example, it begins with the recruitment of the soldiers, the care and feeding of the armies and their horses, the impact of the invasion on civilians in the path of their advance, and the manner in which generals conducted their campaign in response to the information at their disposal. The next section describes the unfolding of the long and stubborn battle of Tornavento, where Spanish, German, and Italian soldiers stormed the French in their entrenchments, detailing the tactics of both the infantry and the cavalry, and re-evaluating the effectiveness of Spanish methods in the 1630s. The account focuses on the motivations of soldiers to fight, and how they reacted to the stress of combat. Gregory Hanlon arrives at surprising conclusions on the conditions under which they were ready to kill their adversaries, and when they were content to intimidate them into retiring.
The volume concludes by examining the penchant for looting of the soldiery in the aftermath of battle, the methods of treating wounded soldiers in the Milan hospital, the horrific consequences of hygienic breakdown in the French camp, and the strategic failure of the invasion in the aftermath of battle. This in turn underscores the surprising resilience of Spanish policies and Spanish arms in Europe. In describing with painstaking detail the invasion of 1636, Hanlon explores the universal features of human behaviour and psychology as they relate to violence and war.
Gregory Hanlon is a French-trained behavioural historian of the early modern period. He has written books on religious history in France, rural history in Italy, and three books on the involvement of Italy and Italians in the great wars of the early modern era. All this work is directly influenced by the social and behavioural sciences, from psychology, to anthropology and sociology, to primatology and human ethology, all of which examines the behaviour of people in the early modern era in the light of neo-Darwinian thinking.
Introduction: Studying the Thirty Years War in Italy ; 1. Cardinal Richelieu's War ; 2. Onward to Milan ; 3. "The War becomes cruel" ; Conclusion: The resilience of Spanish Italy ; Sources and bibliography
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