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Journal > Volumes > 48 (2017) / 2 (Summer)
“When War Comes They Want to Flee”: Motivation and Combat Effectiveness in the Spanish Infantry During the Italian Wars
Idan Sherer
University of Haifa, Israel

The purpose of this article is to reconsider the combat efficiency and motivation of the Spanish infantry during the Italian Wars in light of the unfounded and misguided conclusions of both sixteenth-century and present-day perceptions of professional and mercenary soldiers. The humanistic admiration of the citizen-soldier embedded a fundamental fear and suspicion of the supposedly untrustworthy and greedy professional soldier that only began to dissipate during the last few decades. Yet, combat efficiency and initial motivation to serve in early modern armies seem to be mangled together. The Spanish infantry soldiers of the Italian Wars are the most conspicuous example of the fact that early modern soldiers often joined the army for the prospect of financial remuneration and rewards, but their high level of combat efficiency was maintained by a highly cohesive warrior society, infused with a strong sense of esprit de corps, making them fierce, efficient, and dependable soldiers.

Pages: 385 - 412