Military System and Social Life in Old Regime Prussia, 1713-1807

The Beginnings of the Social Militarization of Prusso-German Society

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This is the first publication in English of Otto Büsch’s important and original study of the origins of militarism in Prussia. First published in German in 1962, it remains unsurpassed in its highly original approach to the origins and development of the unique military system by which Prussia vaulted to great power status in the eighteenth century and to the leadership of a unique Germany in the nineteenth century.
That system created by Frederick William I (1713-1740), required the full mobilization of the human and material resources of a still overwhelmingly agrarian country. Both the landowning nobility and the peasantry had to be the integrated in the system - the nobility as officers and the peasantry as common soldiers.
From these circumstances arose a military system that merged and became identical with the social system in the countryside itself - the relationship of subordination and dependency of the peasant to the nobleman being transferred from the rural manor to the army. Noblemen gained new social and political prominence through their identification with army officership and became preferred appointees to the civilian bureaucracy.
The close identification between noble status and army officership not only perpetuated a military-aristocratic governmental system, but also produced the habits of command and obedience in Prusso-Germany society still fatefully apparent in the first half of the twentieth century.

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Otto Büsch was for many years affiliated with the Berlin Historical Commission at the Friedrich-Meinecke-Institüt of the Free University of Berlin.

John G. Gagliardo is Professor of History at Boston University.
Translator’s Preface
Foreword to the English Edition
Foreword

Introduction: The Social and Economic Significanceof the Army in Old Regime Prussia

PART I: THE PRUSSIAN MILITARY SYSTEM AND PEASANT LIFE

1. The Origins and Operation of the Canton System among the Peasantry, 1713-1733
2. The Prussian Peasant between Manor and regiment
3. The Practice and Effects of the Military System on the Peasantry and the Agrarian Constitution, 1733-1807
Appendix: Summary of Part I

PART II: MILITARY SYSTEM AND JUNKERDOM IN OLD REGIME PRUSSIA
4. The Integration of the Rural Nobility into the Military System
5. The Junker between Manorial Estate and Company Business
6. The Petrifaction of the Military System and the Dissolution of the Old Agrarian Constitution
Appendix: Conclusion

Epilogue: The Results of the Militarization of Social Life in Old Regime Prussia
Index
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