Review Essay: Historiographies, Bibliographies and War in European History (1494-1815)

Jeremy Black. War in European History, 1494-1660. The Essential Bibliography Series. Dulles, Virginia.: Potomac Books, 2006. ISBN 978-1-57488-971-0. Pp. x, 118. $14.95.

Jeremy Black. War in European History, 1660-1792. The Essential Bibliography Series. Dulles, Virginia: Potomac Books, 2009. ISBN 978-1-59797-246-8. Pp. x, 112. $14.95.

Frederick C. Schneid. Napoleonic Wars. The Essential Bibliography Series. Dulles, Virginia: Potomac Books, 2012. ISBN 978-1-59797-209-3. Pp. xii, 121. $14.95.

Dr Jeremy Black, Professor of History at the University of Exeter in England, and Dr Frederick C. Schneid, Professor of History at High Point University in North Carolina, provide useful studies regarding the literature on European warfare from the beginning of the Italian Wars (1494) to the end of the Napoleonic Wars (1815).  Black is known  as a military and diplomatic historian.  His numerous studies include European Warfare, 1494-1660 (2002), European Warfare, 1660-1815 (1994), and European Warfare in a Global Context, 1660-1815 (2007).  Schneid is a historian of the Napoleonic Wars, and his studies include Soldier’s of Napoleon’s Kingdom of Italy: Army, State and Society, 1800-1815 (1995), Napoleon’s Italian Campaigns, 1805-1815 (2002), and Napoleon’s Conquest of Europe: The War of the Third Coalition (2005).

In War in European History 1494-1660, Jeremy Black provides valuable essays  of several historiographical issues along with a brief bibliography.  The author goes beyond European military history to include “war in the global context” or global military history.  Essays include Europe in the world, war and the state, struggles for dominance, the nature of conflict, the question of a Military Revolution, and case studies on the Italian War (1494-1559), Spain, and Scandinavia.  Black’s discussions of the historiographical issues are insightful.  But, the author focuses more on current analysis of selected issues than on discussing the important historiographical studies and their arguments.  In the midst of his narrative Black will drop the last name of a historian, expecting one to look up the work in the bibliography at the back of the book.  This bibliography, consisting of a mere thirty-six pages of full bibliographical citations, is broken down into sections that match the chapters or issues that he discusses.  Nonetheless, many of the historians (and the works that Black is referring to) are not actually listed in the relevant section, if at all,  in the bibliography.  Overall, the book is an interesting read, but it is disappointing in regards to historiography and as a bibliography on war in European history from 1494 to 1660.

In War in European History, 1660-1792, Jeremy Black begins by stating that warfare in this period “suffers from relative historical neglect” (p.1).  It is located between the age of the so-called “Military Revolution” and the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.  Black, however, believes that this era is very important in military history, and that recent research has shown this to be true.  As such, his analysis and historiographical essays (and bibliography) focus on recent specialist studies.  This reviewer is disappointed that Black suggests that one should consult the footnotes and bibliographies of the studies that he mentions for the “earlier thinking” of conventional studies (p.1).  Nevertheless, Black provides valuable essays on war in the world, war and the state, struggles for dominance on land and sea in the European theater as well as outside Europe, the nature of conflict, the question of limited and indecisive warfare during this era, as well as the American War of Independence.  This time Black gives an author’s last name and year of publication when dropping a name in his essays, and the works are (most of the time) properly cited in the relevant sections of the thirty page bibliography at the back of the book.  The essays are informative despite the lack of a true historiographical discussion.  Black does make note of many areas needing further research.  The bibliography is select, but it indicates the most current studies that touch upon Black’s essays.

Writing for the same publisher, Frederick C. Schneid provides an outstanding historiography and bibliography of military studies dealing with the Napoleonic Wars.  Schneid tackles the historiography of the origins of Napoleonic warfare, Napoleonic Wars, and the military campaigns.  He also examines satellite and minor states, the armies of the Napoleonic Wars, as well as Britain, Spain, and the Peninsular War.  His historiographical essays, which discuss foreign and English language studies, are great for examining historical trends on each topic.  Schneid tells the reader what research has been done, what is dated, which studies (using each historian’s full name and title of the work) are still valuable, and where there are holes in our historical knowledge (suggestions for future research) of the Napoleonic Wars.  His twenty-one page bibliography contains full bibliographical citations that concentrate on current valuable studies.

The history of European warfare during the early modern period has seen more research and studies in the last twenty-five years.  The era from the Italian Wars to the beginning of the French Revolutionary Wars had been neglected by academic historians for many years. The concept of a Military Revolution has driven much of this research.  Jeremy Black has been instrumental in the development of global military history during this era.  Starting with David G. Chandler’s The Campaigns of Napoleon (1966) and Gunther E. Rothenberg’s The Art of Warfare in the Age of Napoleon (1978), academic studies on Napoleonic Warfare have expanded to fill many gaps in our knowledge.  However, as Black and Schneid both note, there are many voids for future researchers to fill when it comes to early modern military history.

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 Bibliography, Europe in the 16th Century (1494-1598), Europe in the 17th Century (1598-1715), Europe in the 18th Century (1713-1789), French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1792-1815), Global Military History, Historiography and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Review Essay: Historiographies, Bibliographies and War in European History (1494-1815)

  1. William Young says:

    Reblogged this on Military History.

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