How Do Political, Economic and Social Realities of a Society Shape Its Perceptions and Ability to Make War?

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Political Economic and Social Realities of 17th Century France Political, economic and social realities of a society can significantly shape its perceptions and ability to make war. At his death, King Louis XIV’s final words were, “I have loved war too much.” In this reflection, King Louis XIV no doubt considered his many conquests as the longest reigning monarch in France, but more importantly, his words gives rise to the systemic political and social changes that revolutionized warfare in seventeenth-century France. Generally, revolutions in military affairs (RMA) convey technological and organizational developments and advancements in military tactics. According to Rogers, “military revolutions comprise four elements: technological change, systems development, operational motivation, and organizational adaptation.” Technology alone does not in itself create a revolution in military affairs. While there were no new implementations of weapons and tactics (France continued using flintlock muskets, socket bayonets and siege warfare through the 1690s) the French empire was able to make significant changes in the size, administration and structure of its army, creating an organizational innovation. As indicated by Rogers, technological developments require organizational and doctrinal adaption before their tactical and strategic potential can be fully realized. Doctrine and organizational development and implementation drive the revolutionary process. During his reign, King Louis XIV significantly influenced the administration of military operations and tactics that increased France’s ability to make war, thus casting France as a dominant European Power. Political and social dynamics significantly shaped the purpose, style, and administration of armed conflict as illustrated by seventeenth-century France. Seventeenth-century France illustrates how the purpose of armed conflict shaped political and social dynamics during the seventeenth-century. During seventeenth-century France, there was a restructuring of power in governmental authority. The emergence of the nation-state called into questioned whether or not the King did in fact have absolute power, or if the King was merely an agent of the state. The absolutist system of government characterized the political and social structure of seventeenth century France. The Divine Right’s Theory, as subscribed by King Louis XIV, asserted his right as having supreme authority over other lesser legislative bodies. Additionally, King Louis XIV advocated a centralized form of governance, assembling all government entities, including the army, under his control. A centralized form of government had the effect of controlling the activities of all governmental affairs, thus decreasing the power and influence of French nobility and the populous at large. Though King Louis XIV did not directly engage in armed warfare, he became more involved in drill, training and administration of the army, and constructed an administration that centralized matters of the state under his control. Seventeenth-century France also illustrates how changes in the administration of the army shaped political and social dynamics. Toward the end of the seventeenth-century, the French army saw notable changes in size, type of administration and level of support for the soldiers. The most notable change in military administration was the idea of developing and maintaining a professional (standing) army. The army grew to unprecedented numbers during Frances’ war with Spain and remained so following the war, therefore requiring new strategies to maintain a larger force. The strategy of transitioning from a mercenary type force that forged for subsistence to a professional army supported by logistical trains favored the King’s desire to have a ready force at his disposal. Additionally, France had “the advantage over its enemies, that its troops are well served for their subsistence; other nations … do not enjoy...
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