Well hello there, welcome history friends and patrons all, to our website! Looking for our latest series? Look no further, as this is the place where all episode of the Thirty Years War will be uploaded. To see those episodes, keep scrolling down past all the informative fluff!
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The Thirty Years War - 400 Years Later.
To mark the fact that 2018 is a very special anniversary, and because I have to write a book about the event anyway, I decided to turn my podcasting attentions to the Thirty Years War (1618-48) once again. Unlike my first visit to this conflict, this time I have a great portion of it planned, and I will be designing it specifically to appeal to those that are interested in the era, but also intimidated by the range of characters and issues on offer. There is a lot to be fascinated and excited by in this series, so I hope you will join me for the journey, however long it takes.
A new episode on the Thirty Years War will be released every second week from Monday 9th September, 2019. This means our schedule will be significantly stripped back, as we begin our History PhD journey, so make sure you check out our podcast feed here, and subscribe so you always get the latest content directly to your player. You won’t be left in the dark just because my voice will be rarer though, as I plan to actually plan ahead this time around, and increase engagement in the social media mediums, and the blogs. I want our social media platforms to really bring you closer to the Thirty Years War content - leading up to the first episode and during the lifetime of the series, we will release regular pieces on important and interesting details relating to that conflict, so check our Facebook page out, follow us on Twitter and join our lovely Facebook group if you're feeling sociable.
This section of the website has been specifically designed to hold everything relevant to the Thirty Years War series. Below you'll find:
the most recent episodes (in descending order, at the bottom of the page).
introductory episodes to get you familiar with the conflict if you're a complete noob, in both audio and written format.
links to any articles which I believe would be useful.
relevant images and other details.
the bibliography, when I eventually finish this series and book, in a time far from now...
We've been delivering a lot of regular detail on the Thirty Years War through social media, and you can find a document containing all of that work in one place right here.
Episodes in the Thirty Years War Series
Thirty Years War Intro 1: Who's Who/What's What
We're jumping back into the Thirty Years War and this is all super exciting, but to some of you guys it may also be a tad overwhelming, as a lot of unfamiliar stuff is about to be thrown at you. With that in mind, this episode is designed to familiarise you with the main themes, the most important figures, and the most active powers in Europe at the time.
We'll learn a bit about the constitution of the Holy Roman Empire, meet the Habsburg family, and take a gander at some other related issues in Europe at the time of the outbreak of the conflict in 1618.
Thirty Years War Intro 2 & 3: TALK I & TALK II
Happy birthday to us! When Diplomacy Fails is 6 years old today, and to celebrate we're jumping right into the Thirty Years War once again, with another intro episode (2/5) this one looking at the timeline of the conflict up to the year 1635, but with a twist. I'm not by myself this time - today I am joined by TALK episode guest Sean. Far too much happens to really summarise here, but as usual, skip ahead past the BEFIT rundown for the bulk of the episode, and make sure to let me know what you thought. Then, Sean returns for Part 2 of the TALK episode, and we take the story from 1635 and discuss several battles, characters and important diplomatic developments before concluding on the Peace of Westphalia. Hopefully this will get you pumped for all the content that is to come
Thirty Years War Prologue
1618-2018 - on this day 400 years ago, one of the most destructive conflicts in human history erupted within the walls of Prague's Hradschin Castle. As we recount here, the conflict was neither all the fault of the Bohemians, nor sustained by them for very long. Instead, several factors prolonged the conflict and kept Europe in rapture for three decades. For the next year or so, we here at WDF want to bring you on a journey into this conflict, on a scale and with an attention to detail which you have never known before.
We start on that morning - it's just after 8AM on the morning of 23rd May, 1618, and you've agreed to meet a friend of yours. The two of you, along with several others, have agreed to do something radical...
Thirty Years War Intro 4: For God or the Devil
'This is a fight between God or the Devil. If his Majesty wants to side with God, he must join me. If he prefers to side with the Devil, then indeed he must fight me. There is no third way"
Gustavus Adolphus may give us our podcast's theme, and our book's title, but there was much more to the Thirty Years War than the famed King of Sweden. In this introduction episode, we place you in the thick of this dilemma - neutrality was impossible, yet the consequences for picking one side or the other were potentially catastrophic, so how could those caught in the middle decide? To make our point, come with us to the sack of Magdeburg in may 1631, a city whose people chose the 'Devil' in the mind of the Imperialists, and paid the ultimate price, as the worst single atrocity of the conflict takes place. It's time to pick a side history friends, are you for God or the Devil?
It was necessary to make a new intro episode as we returned to this series, and this podcast, after a long hiatus, so what is there left to say other than…
We're back! At long last, after a lot of confusing scheduling and weird decisions, WDF is finally ready to introduce to you what we have planned for the next few years. It is an investigation of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) like you've never seen it before, and I couldn't be more excited to begin! Listen in here for a rundown of what we've done so far since our too eager release back in May 2018, and what we plan to do going forward. For those confused with what this all means, and why there's so many introduction episodes floating around, look no further than this episode, which is made up of explainers, disclaimers, and probably a few complainers! Thanksss!
17th Century Warfare Series Episode 1
At long last! Our series on 17th century warfare has finally landed, with our first episode looking at…nothing to do with 17th century warfare…Hmmm. Not to worry history friends – untangling warfare in the 17th century requires a certain amount of background detail, and in this episode here we do exactly that. The feudal society and its relation to the military contract aren’t topics we would normally go anywhere near, but to lay the foundations for what’s to come, we need to establish what came first.
In this episode we do this, using the case study of Medieval England as our baseline. Expect talk of how English Kings did war during the Middle Ages, and what challenges they faced and hoops they had to jump through in order to make going to war possible. These traditions were bound up in the expectations of feudal society which dictated that the King was always at the top of the pyramid, but not necessarily always obeyed or followed.
Contradictions and exceptions abounded of course, but tracing the arc of development from medieval to early modern also provides us with the chance to examine another concept which will become key to this series – the Military Revolution. So jump right into this series here, and remember that part 2, which looks in more detail at the technological advances – specifically how England traded longbows for muskets – will be released on Wednesday! Thankssss!
17th Century Warfare Series Episode 2
In my time my poor father was as diligent to teach me to shoot, as to learn me any other thing; and so I think other men did their children: he taught me how to draw, how to lay my body in my bow, and not to draw from strength of the body: I had my bows bought me, according to my age and strength; as I increased in them, so my bows were made bigger and bigger; for men shall never shoot well, except they be brought up in it…But now, we have taken up whoring in towns, instead of shooting in fields.
These were the words of Hugh Lattimer when talking of the decline of English training standards with the longbow - an important theme in this episode. Trust me history friends, this is a good one! Herein we ask that important question - why did England swap its longbows for muskets over the 16th to 17th centuries, what did this process look like, and why did it take so flaming long?
We trace the longbow’s dominance of English military thinking, and ask how it was that England swapped the longbow for the musket, when the musket was less reliable, more expensive and overall less effective. Did you know that longbows were only fully removed from English armies in 1595? Factoids such as these abound in this fascinating installment of our 17th century warfare series. It’s a long episode for sure, but I don’t doubt that you will enjoy every minute of it if even the idea of English longbowmen interests you.
17th Century Warfare series Episode 3
Time to get a bit technical, but I promise it'll be anything BUT boring!
Get your thinking caps on history friends, because in this episode we’re going to assess the most important element of the historiography of the 17th century – the Military Revolution theory. The Military Revolution idea states that Europe underwent fundamental – you might even say ‘revolutionary’ changes during the late 1500s and 1600s. These changes were affected by improvements in military technology, and the adoption of weapons like the musket, the usage of proper infantry musket drills, and the creation of a new fortification system the trace italienne, which made the ballooning of armies essential if these modernised fortresses were to be effectively besieged.
There is of course more to the Military Revolution thesis than that, and contradictions abound which we will absolutely be sinking our teeth into in the episodes to come. If you were sceptical or simply curious though, then this episode will give us a great grounding in the mechanics of the Military Revolution, so please don’t feel intimidated or put off by our mention of it! I promise it is a fascinating story which I genuinely got real enjoyment researching, so hopefully this will come across in the episode. Come and join me and see for yourself, as we pick our way through 17th century warfare!
17th Century Warfare Series Episode 4
In our latest episode of 17th Century Warfare, we put the Military Revolution to the test, by applying a key aspect of it - the trace italienne system - to 17th century France! Expect talk of fortresses, historian John A Lynn and lots of talk about context....
So...get ready to lay siege! In this episode we use the case study of French fortifications to examine the trace italienne, the name given to the modernisation of European fortifications along the Italian model. These forts had low, thick walls buttressed by large earthworks and supported by bastions which boasted interlocking fields of fire. The new developments in technology meant that the defenders could lay down a punishing amount of fire of their own, while the attacker would be forced to withstand this bombardment, and conduct his siege in the meantime. Developments in mining, in trench digging and in the size of armies necessary to police these trenches followed, and these issues will occupy much of our attention in this episode.
If you ever wondered how the fortifications of early modern Europe kept up with the advancements in gunpowder technology and the increasing calibre of cannons, then this episode is for you! If you were curious about the technological race between the defender and the attacker, then this episode is for you too! If you were simply curious about how defensive works were garrisoned or effectively employed against an invading army – the mission of any state which faced war with another during this period – then yes, this episode is for YOU! I hope you’ll join me as we look through the French lens to better explain why siege warfare developed as it did. Thanksss!
17th Century Warfare Series Episode 5
Our series on 17th century warfare continues with a look at how French armies were constituted, and how their attitudes towards certain tactics changed. We begin with an examination of the massive increases of European armies across the board, but we soon refine our focus, and examine the machinations of King Henry IV of France (r. 1594-1610), who made the most of new theories in infantry and cavalry tactics. The story is by no means a straightforward one of consistent, sensible progression. Instead, it is a tale of hard knocks and tough lessons, which inculcated within the French military thinkers a respect for new methods of making war, and a willingness to experiment and take ideas they appreciated from their Dutch and Swedish neighbours.
Such developments say a great deal about the spread of new military theories in the West, as much as they provide a clear example of the interconnectedness of Europeans, who served in each other’s armies and swapped drill manuals in military institutions. It’s a story which I’m sure you’ll find fascinating, so come and join me for this latest instalment of 17th century warfare! Thanksss!
17th Century Warfare Series Episode 6
We return with part 6 of our series on 17th century warfare, and in this episode we have something very special for you guys – an examination of the sick man of Europe, before he was sick, but when he was certainly maligned and looked down upon. For some time, it has been supposed that the Ottoman Empire could not keep pace with Western Europe, and that her eclipse by the West European powers in the 1700s was an inevitable, rational process which can be partially explained by the Turk’s reluctance to accept new technological advances. Yet, as we’ll learn here, this generalisation against the Turks is as unfair as it is unfounded.
The Ottoman Empire possessed one of the most advanced organisational and administrative systems in the world at the dawn of the 17th century. She was equipped with some of the most educated military minds, and had on site some of the best facilities for producing the weapons of war which he soldiers needed. This was not a sick man of Europe, nor did the patient show any signs of illness – far from it. The Turk was the envy of the continent thanks to the immense successes and accomplishments of her Sultans and soldiers, and it was partially to explain away these successes that the more unflattering myths about the Turk’s barbarity did the rounds.
In this episode we’ll learn what the Turk was truly capable of, and why he made use of certain weapons which were shown to be obsolete in other parts of Europe. The Military Revolution, as we’ll see, was not the blanket theory which could be universally applied to all – advancements in technology did not arrive evenly to the continent, and even when they did, these advancements were affected by the circumstances on the ground, and issues as simple as whether Tartars were more comfortable firing a technically obsolete bow, than picking up a more ‘modern’ carbine. So I hope you’ll join me here history friends, while we examine the Turk’s prowess in the detail it deserves. Thanksss!
17th Century Warfare Series Episode 7
he fire by rank tactic used by Europeans in the 18th and 19th centuries had surprising beginnings, as we learn in this episode. While key military thinkers like Maurice of Nassau in the Netherlands played a pivotal role in changing how infantry were viewed and used on the battlefield, it is highly likely that he acquired inspiration for these ideas not just from Europe’s Ancient past, but also from Asian innovations many thousands of miles away.
The adoption of the musket on a wide scale and its incorporation into the infantry-based armies of the 1500s was a process made into legend by the Spanish, who achieved their supremacy on the continent with the tercio formations – pikemen squares surrounded by musketmen, with a secure centre and the capacity to meet any challenge, be it man or beast, on the field.
This tercio formation granted the Spanish stunning victories, from Pavia in 1525, all the way up to Nordlingen in 1634. Yet, as a tactic, it was gradually dying, to be replaced by Maurice of Nassau’s innovations in the fire by rank approach. In this tactic, men would line up as a group of musketmen several ranks deep. The front rank would discharge their weapons and march to the back of their unit to reload, with the second rank following suit, and so on. In this way, a constant volley of fire would be poured into the enemy – in this case the vaunted Spanish tercio formations, with devastating results.
This tactic harnessed the potential for superior firepower which the musket could boast, and it ensured that further innovations were possible. In this episode we trace the development of this idea from its unlikely beginnings, and in the next episode, we will see it in action for the first time. Make sure you join us for this fascinating look at European warfare in the 17th century history friends! Thanksss!
17th Century Warfare Series Episode 8
After covering the adoption of a revolutionary new musket drill by Maurice of Nassau in the late 1590s, in this episode we come to the point where all of these innovations would be put to the test, so I hope you’re ready to listen in, as the full horrors of constant barrages of lead on the human body were felt to their full effect for the first time in Western Europe, in the relatively unknown Battle of Nieuwpoort, in July 1600.
This episode provides a key example of what made the Military Revolution so unique and important for European warfare. From Maurice’s display at Nieuwpoort, so many other innovations would follow, including the adoption of its key lessons by other powers, and the perfecting and adding to them by others, like the Swedish and French. Before long, the drill would be the staple means by which infantry would take the field, and training these men and giving them the platform they needed to succeed would become the occupation of all competent commanders in early modern Europe. Make sure you tune in here to see what made innovators like Maurice of Nassau tick, and why he was so important for his time. We also get a window into how the Dutch government organised its military, and what they were up against in the sheer professional supremacy of the Spanish tercio system. I hope you enjoy it history friends! Make sure you spread the word – thanksss!
17th Century Warfare Series Episode 9
In our ninth installment on 17th century warfare, we assess the overall contribution of the Dutch to the military revolution, through a few important spheres. We will learn that spreading the word about new technological innovations was not an unusual practice, and that Europeans were far more willing to share their discoveries than we may have previously imagined. In addition, we examine how the drill became the supreme method of warfare, and how it inculcated a sense of discipline which profoundly affected European society on the battlefield as much as off. The journey involves one of discipline, forbearance and continued practice, and obsolete methods of making war did not go quietly...
17th Century Warfare Series Episode 10
At long last, our series on 17th century warfare smacks straight into the man many of you probably came all this way to see. What did Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden do to make his name in the military sphere? Did he really do all that is often assumed? Do we give him too much credit? What, at the base level, can it truly be said that he accomplished? Come and find out here, as we look at the Swedish king's innovations in infantry drill, firepower, artillery and cavalry, to build a picture of the most famous Swede in the game. If you think you know Gustavus, you ain't seen nothing yet!