The trace italienne and the growth of armies: The French case

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


STALWART STONE SENTINELS guarded the borders of seventeenth-century France. An interlocking system of strongholds barred her frontiers, particularly to the northeast, where the great engineer Vauban designed a double line of fortresses and fortified cities across traditional invasion routes. French fortifications proved their value in the wars of Louis XIV and saved revolutionary Paris a century later. But did these grim giants simply shelter France, or did they also shape her? The noted historian Geoffrey Parker argues that because the attack and defense of the new style of bastioned fortress demanded huge numbers of troops, European states increased the size of their armies to immense proportions. To take Parker’s assertion one step further, military expansion then compelled states to claim the authority and develop the institutions to marshal the vast resources demanded by gargantuan forces-voilà Absolutism. This article tests the theory that fortifications drove up army size in France, with all the attendant consequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Military Revolution Debate
Subtitle of host publicationReadings on the Military Transformation of early Modern Europe
EditorsClifford J Rogers
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)9780429964817
ISBN (Print)9780813320540
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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