Essential Histories Series
The French wars 1667-1714
The Sun King at War by John A Lynn
One thing I have often noticed about wargamers is that a number of them are able to provide every possible detail of military trivia, down to the last bayonet frog, but they are so often totally unable to give any details to the historical perspective in which the battle that they are gaming is placed.
And I have to admit that although having a fairly comfortable knowledge of the military campaigns of Marlborough, and a detailed knowledge of some of the battles, I was woefully ignorant to the wider Continental situation until I read this impressive little publication.
John Lynn is Professor of History at the University of Illinois, and he makes clear that it was the character of Louis XIVth, and his perception of the role of kingship that was the principle cause of a series of conflicts during the period under discussion. And because it was the personal impact of Louis that created the conflicts, the impact of his far larger than life personality on the diplomatic exchanges means that the alliances and influences throughout these years can be very confusing.
Basically, Lynn argues that Louis's preoccupation was to develop an impermeable frontier, with a series of border fortresses and strongholds. In order to do this he undertook a series of military actions to rationalise his frontiers. These moves were interpreted as his gross and insatiable desire for conquest by many of the other European states. How this conflict of ideas resulted in a series of military campaigns is succinctly and fascinatingly recounted in this book.
As usual with Osprey publications the publication is in a paperback format, and is profusely illustrated , this time with a mouthwatering range of contemporary paintings and prints, many of which were new to me, supplemented by a series of very clear maps which are essential to a full understanding of the text.
Maybe, for the real expert there is little new in this book. However for those like myself with only a general knowledge of the historical background to the age, or for someone new to the period, this book can be highly recommended, and is very good value for money at less than a tenner.
I.S.B.N. 1 84176 361 6 JOS 30/9/02
96 pages: Price £9.99
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