History major Zachary Marotte has presented a paper at the Fourth Annual Northeast Regional Undergraduate Research Conference at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA), sponsored by the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) in October, 2013. Zach is a senior history major from Middlebury, Connecticut. His postgraduate plans are to pursue graduate study in Early Modern European history and to obtain employment in the State Department or Department of Defense. Zach’s paper was entitled “The struggle to break with the Ancients: The English Army’s gradual adoption of modern military theory, 1660-1728,” and he prepared it under the direction of Dr. Jamel Ostwald.
The abstract of the presented paper read: The return of Charles II to the English throne in 1660 ushered in a period of political and military isolation for England. For close to thirty years, the only option English officers had to gain experience in war was as individual swordsmen/mercenaries. In a vain but praiseworthy attempt to professionalize the English army, the experienced members of the English officer class wrote treatises that combined ancient and continental European military theories. In many of these early treatises, military professionals insisted that specific organizational, disciplinary, and tactical aspects of ancient warfare were still applicable to modern warfare. Not surprisingly, tactical and organizational innovation in the English army during the reign of Charles II and James II was virtually nonexistent or too slight to comment upon with any merit.
In November 1688, when the Dutch army of William of Orange invaded England to procure troops for his upcoming war with France, the largely unprepared English army disintegrated and the English officer class became absorbed into the Dutch military framework. Over time, as the English were exposed to modern continental European warfare, their models for military reform shifted from a hybrid of ancient and modern Swedish, French, German, and Dutch military drills and tactical theories to a more native focus on English tactical and disciplinary innovation. This was due in large part because the second half of the seventeenth century saw gunpowder weaponry phasing out the last vestiges of the Ancients (Pikes) circa 1706.