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C. P. Lesley

Bookworm, writer, radio host—I blog about history, fiction, and publishing in the Internet Age. You can find the full blog on my website. This space is for books.

Women, Armies, and Warfare in Early Modern Europe - John A. Lynn II

Really interesting argument about the importance of women as supporting players in medieval and early modern warfare, with great illustrations and examples. The author is limited by sketchy source data, so he doesn't answer many of my questions. But that is something he cannot help.


On the whole, a good read that does its best with the material available and opens up a new field for analysis.


The basic argument is that before 1650 or so, when governments made a serious effort to professionalize their armies, soldiers traveled with an equal number of women and children whose activities were crucial to their survival. These women did violate some of society's traditional expectations, but for the most part they did not try to imitate men. On the contrary, the gender-determined division of labor made their skills as laundresses, providers of food and drink, seamstresses, and managers of the family budget just as important as their men's contributions to the war effort.


#6 on my History Challenge and #10 on my TBR Challenge (#5/9 was Russia's People of Empire, which I enjoyed and may review later—haven't decided yet what to say).