Italy 1636 : Cemetery of Armies
Italy 1636 is one of the most closely-researched and detailed books on the operation of early modern armies anywhere, and is explicitly inspired by neo-Darwinian thinking. Taking the French and Savoyard invasion of Spanish Lombardy in 1636 as its specific example, it begins with the recruitment of the soldiers, the care and feeding of the armies and their horses, the impact of the invasion on civilians in the path of their advance, and the manner in which
generals conducted their campaign in response to the information at their disposal. The next section describes the unfolding of the long and stubborn battle of Tornavento, where Spanish, German, and Italian soldiers stormed the French in their entrenchments, detailing the tactics of both the infantry and the
cavalry, and re-evaluating the effectiveness of Spanish methods in the 1630s. The account focuses on the motivations of soldiers to fight, and how they reacted to the stress of combat. Gregory Hanlon arrives at surprising conclusions on the conditions under which they were ready to kill their adversaries, and when they were content to intimidate them into retiring. The volume concludes by examining the penchant for looting of the soldiery in the aftermath of battle, the methods of treating
wounded soldiers in the Milan hospital, the horrific consequences of hygienic breakdown in the French camp, and the strategic failure of the invasion in the aftermath of battle. This in turn underscores the surprising resilience of Spanish policies and Spanish arms in Europe. In describing with
painstaking detail the invasion of 1636, Hanlon explores the universal features of human behaviour and psychology as they relate to violence and war.