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CIVILIZATION OF THE RENAISSANCE IN ITALY

From Jacob Burckhardt's 2nd edition of the Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy; edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS

Part One: The State as a Work of Art

War as a Work of Art

Em. Macron, Rediscovering the Path to Europe
Em. Macron, Rediscovering the Path to Europe


» Full Contents of this Part

Part One: The State as a Work of Art   » Introduction   » Despots of the Fourteenth Century   » Despots of the Fifteenth Century   » The Smaller Despotisms   » The Greater Dynasties   » The Opponents of the Despots   » The Republics: Venice and Florence   » Foreign Policy   » War as a Work of Art   » The Papacy   » Patriotism

It must here be briefly indicated by what steps the art of war assumed the character of a product of reflection. Throughout the countries of the West the education of the individual soldier in the Middle Ages was perfect within the limits of the then prevalent system of defence and attack: nor was there any want of ingenious inventors in the arts of besieging and of fortification. But the development both of strategy and of tactics was hindered by the character and duration of military service, and by the ambition of the nobles, who disputed questions of precedence in the face of the enemy, and through simple want of discipline caused the loss of great battles like Crecy and Maupertuis. Italy, on the contrary, was the first country to adopt the system of mercenary troops, which demanded a wholly different organization; and the early introduction of firearms did its part in making war a democratic pursuit, not only because the strongest castles were unable to withstand a bombardment, but because the skill of the engineer, of the gunfounder, and of the artillerist - men belonging to another class than the nobility - was now of the first importance in a campaign. It was felt, with regret, that the value of the individual, which had been the soul of the small and admirably organized bands of mercenaries, would suffer from these novel means of destruction, which did their work at a distance; and there were Condottieri who opposed to the utmost the introduction at least of the musket, which had lately been invented in Germany. We read that Paolo Vitelli, while recognizing and himself adopting the cannon, put out the eyes and cut off the hands of the captured 'schioppettieri' (arquebusiers) because he held it unworthy that a gallant, and it might be noble, knight should be wounded and laid low by a common, despised foot soldier.

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Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy: Table of Contents

url: www.ellopos.net/politics/renaissance/default.asp

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Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
The Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * The Making of Europe

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