To what extent is it true to say that the eighteenth century up to 1792 was the age of limited warfare?
To call the 18th century the age of limited warfare would be to imply that it was mild and restrained. Limited can be assumed to refer to the small-scale, cautious tactics and limited goals of the warfare of the time; generally, whole societies did not need to be mobilized, and whole nations were neither conquered nor annihilated. Armies were the property of monarchs rather than countries, and subject only to their intents and purposes of war were not yet the concern of the masses. The wars of the eighteenth century were largely fought for material, rather than ideological, reasons: generally specific territory or resources.
The 18th Century war was a game they [rulers] play for what is staked, not for all they have in the world. Compared the religiously motivated and incredibly destructive Thirty Years War of the previous century, wars of the eighteenth century were fairly composed. There was no longer a need for the complete annihilation of one’s enemy; enemy had become flexible term, as the deep-rooted religious or moral differences that had motivated previous feuds were now paid less heed. There was little real ill-will between opposing parties, de Saint-Etienne went so far as to say, µour legions thunder upon one another politely; the heroes salute before they proceed to kill; the soldiers of hostile armies pay mutual visits before the battle “Without the impassioning influence of ideology, acts of deliberate and sporadic violence were less common, and so warfare was markedly more reserved. The humanising influence of the Enlightenment was also important in encouraging a move towards more limited forms of warfare. The three fundamental beliefs of the enlightenment individualism, relativism and rationality argued against war on the grounds of its destructive nature and its taking of human life. The ideas of the Enlightenment were certainly limiting,...
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