Changes in the Nature of War in Early Fourteenth Century Tuscany

Changes in the Nature of War in Early Fourteenth Century Tuscany

By Louis Green

War and Society, Vol.1:1 (1983)

Introduction: In northern and central Italy, there occurred in the fourteenth century an expansion of city-states into territorial republics or principalities. Here I shall argue, with reference to the Tuscan evidence from the first three decades of this period, that this development can be attributed to a combination of military and economic factors associated with changes which took place in the conduct of war, particularly between 13131 and 1328. The thesis which I shall propose is that the employment of heavily armed mercenary cavalry as the spearhead of civic armies produced not only tactical innovations but also a new political situation. On the one hand, the availability of hired troops made it possible to increase the size of states by enabling conquered territories to be garrisoned effectively. On the other, the high cost of mercenaries ensured that only the wealthiest cities could field sufficient numbers of them to win battles. In consequence, the systems of military and political organization which had prevailed in the thirteenth century were rendered obsolete, with important implications both for relations between states and their internal mode of government.

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