Book Review: European Armies of the French Revolution, 1789-1802


by Frederick C. Schneid, editor

Norman: University of Oklahoma, 2015. Pp. viii, 280. Tables, notes, biblio., index. $34.95. ISBN: 0806140399

European Armies in the Age of Revolution

Nine scholars give us a look at how the French Revolution affected Europe’s military institutions. Following an introduction that surveys the military history of the Revolutionary period, there are a series of essays by Prof. Schneid (High Point University) and eight of his colleagues, among them Dennis Showalter, Charles Esdaile, and Ciro Paoletti while profile the various armies that became engaged in the wars of the French Revolution. 

The main body of the book consists of nine chapters, which cover the armies of France, Prussia, Austria, Russia, Britain, Spain, the smaller German principalities, the Italian states, and the Ottoman Empire. The essays are more or less uniform, opening with brief look at the earlier history of the army – or armies – in question, and then go on in more detail to examine military policy, organization, leadership, recruiting, and numbers, operational and tactical matters, and conclude with an overview of each army’s operations during the wars and how these may have influenced changes in organization, training, and so forth. The essays usually go into considerable detail, and the notes are often worth reading. 

The essays on the Spanish, German, Italian, and Ottoman armies are particularly useful given that thy are mostly neglected in histories of the period.  The absence of the Portuguese, Swedes, Danes, Swedes, and Swiss is unfortunate, but understandable given that they did have little or no role in the wars of the Revolutionary era, unlike those of the Napoleonic period.

European Armies of the French Revolution, a volume in the Oklahoma “Campaigns and Commanders” series, is an excellent introduction to the principal armies of the period.

Note: European Armies of the French Revolution is also available in several e-book formats


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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