An "invisible giant," the seventeeth-century French army was the largest and hungriest institution of the Bourbon monarchy; yet it has received incomplete treatment and is poorly understood. Combining social and cultural emphases with more traditional institutional and operational concerns, this book examines the army in depth, studying recruitment, composition, discipline, motivation, selection of officers, leadership, administration, logistics, weaponry, tactics, field warfare, and siegecraft. The portrait that emerges differs from what current scholarship might have predicted. Instead of claiming that a "military revolution" transformed warfare, Lynn stresses evolutionary change. Questioning widely-held assumptions about state formation and coercion, he argues that this standing army was primarily devoted to border defense, and only rarely to internal repression.
'John Lynn has undoubtedly made a substantial contribution to the growing literature which has revised the history of seventeenth-century France.' Times Literary Supplement