Book Review of Scotland and the Thirty Years War, 1618-1648

Steve Murdoch, editor. Scotland and the Thirty Years War, 1618–1648. History of Warfare series. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2001. ISBN 90-04-12086-6. Illustrations. Tables. Figures. Notes. Index. Pp. xvi, 311. $185.00

Originally published in The Journal of Military History 67 (January 2003): 226-27.  The review has been updated.

Dr Steve Murdoch, Professor of History at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, is known for his work in Scottish diplomatic, military, and maritime history.  He is the author of Britain, Denmark-Norway and the House of Stuart: A Diplomatic and Military Analysis (2003), Terror of the Seas? Scottish Maritime Warfare, 1513-1713 (2010), as well as editor of Fighting for Identity: Scottish Military Experiences, 1550-1900 (2002), Military Governors and Imperial Frontiers, c.1600-1800: A Study of Scotland and Empires (2003), and the present collection of essays concerning Scottish involvement in the Thirty Years War (1618-1648).  These essays focus on Stuart diplomacy and Scottish military involvement in the conflict.

By the beginning of the war, the Scots had formed a strong connection with Protestant Germany through the Scottish princess, Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of King James VI and I of Great Britain.  Elizabeth was married to Frederick V, the Elector of the Palatinate who became King of Bohemia in opposition to the Holy Roman Emperor in 1619.  Frederick V and Elizabeth were forced to flee Bohemia and the Palatinate after the Battle of White Mountain in 1620.  Thereafter, the Stuart monarchy sought the restoration of Frederick V and Elizabeth to their lands in the Palatinate.  The contributors to this volume emphasize the devotion of Scottish diplomats and soldiers to Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia, and her family’s cause against the Habsburgs.

The Scots played a key role in Stuart diplomacy during the war.  In his essay, Steve Murdoch stresses the Stuart monarchy’s reliance upon Scotsmen to conduct British diplomacy at the Danish and Swedish courts in support of Frederick V.  These efforts led to alliances against the Habsburgs.  On the other hand, David Worthington investigates the activities of Scottish exiles at the courts of the Spanish and Austrian Habsburgs.  He argues that these Catholic Scotsmen were loyal to the House of Stuart and the cause of Elizabeth Stuart, despite her Protestant ways. John R. Young looks at Scottish foreign policy and the attempt to extend the Solemn League and Covenant to the European continent as a defense league for European Protestantism in the 1640s.

The most overwhelming involvement of the Scots in the Thirty Years war was in the military sphere.  Over 50,000 Scots fought on the continent during the conflict.  In his essay, Josef Polišenský shows that several thousand Scottish soldiers were deployed to the Palatinate in support of Frederick V in 1619–1621.  Matthew Glozier focuses on the 15,000 Scottish soldiers serving in the armies of France and the Dutch Republic in the struggle against the Habsburgs.  Alexia Grosjean depicts the strong Scottish leadership role and the importance of the 25,000 Scots that served in the Swedish army in the anti-Habsburg war effort.  Finally, Paul Dukes and Robert Frost address the Scottish forces serving in the armies of Muscovy and Poland-Lithuania.

These essays contribute significantly to our knowledge of Scottish military and diplomatic involvement in the Thirty Years War.  The study shows that the Scottish contribution to the conflict was more significant than previously believed.  The study also makes a valuable contribution to the growing knowledge of warfare during the first half of the seventeenth century.

Dr William Young
University of North Dakota
Grand Forks, North Dakota


About William Young

Dr William Young is a retired historian with more than 30 years of experience in teaching and research. He has 18 years of teaching experience at the University of North Dakota and Valley City State University. Moreover, he was a historian in the United States Air Force History Program for 15 years. He possesses a doctoral degree in international and military history and master’s degrees in history and international relations. Young is the author of German Diplomatic Relations, 1871-1945 (2006), International Politics and Warfare in the Age of Louis XIV and Peter the Great (2004), and European War and Diplomacy, 1337-1815 (2003). He has also written 42 official Air Force unit histories, two monographs, and other studies. Young is the recipient of many history awards, including three U.S. Air Force Historian of the Year Awards and a U.S. Air Force History Program of the Year Award. He has studied and worked for 13 years overseas in the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Germany, and Saudi Arabia. He has traveled extensively in Europe and the Middle East. His hobbies include collecting and reading history books and attending college ice hockey games.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Eighty Years War (1568-1648), Europe in the 17th Century (1598-1715), Thirty Years War (1618-1648) and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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