The Road to Rocroi

Class, Culture and Command in the Spanish Army of Flanders, 1567-1659


The Eighty Years War (1567-1659) has been the subject of important monographs but the high command of the Army of Flanders, which played a decisive role in the making of Spanish strategy and was in charge of its tactics, has eluded detailed scrutiny. This work, the first study of an early modern officer corps, examines the culture, class structure, and combat effectiveness of the largest army of its day. Combining approaches and insights from social, cultural and military history, it traces the evolution of the leading cadres of the legendary tercios in relation to major trends such as aristocratization and military modernization while revising recent perspectives on Spain’s war against the Dutch and the French in the Low Countries.
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Biographical Note

Fernando González de León, Ph.D. (1992) in History, The Johns Hopkins University, is Associate Professor of History at Springfield College and has published essays on early modern and modern Spanish history with an emphasis on military, social and cultural factors.

Review Quotes

"Excellent book...smoothly written, well documented, and logically conceived"
Ruth MacKay, Journal of Military History, 73/4 (Oct2009), 1317-18

Table of contents

Acknowledgements .. xi
List of Illustrations .. xiii
Introduction .. 1

Part One: The School of Alba, 1567–1621

Introduction .. 49

Chapter One Personnel Matters: Staffi ng the School of Alba .. 53

Chapter Two Internal Structure and Hierarchy in the Early Army of Flanders .. 89

Chapter Three Discipline and Justice in an Age of Mutinies 107

Chapter Four Doctors of the Military Discipline: Projects of Reform in the Spanish Offi cer Corps .. 121

Part Two: Falta de Cabezas: The Military Reforms and Policies of the Count-Duke of Olivares, 1621–1643

Introduction .. 145

Chapter One Olivares as Military Trainer .. 149

Chapter Two The Evolution of the Count-Duke’s

Chapter Three Grandees on Campaign: The Impact of the Count-Duke’s Aristocratic Reforms .. 183

Chapter Four Olivares’ Structural Reforms in the High Command .. 215

Chapter Five “Order and Obedience”: The Olivarean Reform of Military Justice .. 263

Part Three: “An Almost Hopeless Condition”: The Legacy of Olivares in The Army of Flanders, 1643–1659

Chapter One “Time to Act Like Who We Are: The Battle of Rocroi” .. 279

Chapter Two The Legacy of Olivares and the End of the War in Flanders, 1643–1659 .. 331

Conclusion .. 373
Bibliography .. 381
Index .. 397


Students of early modern Europe (Spain, the Netherlands and France, the Eighty Years War, cultural and social history) at the college and advanced level plus general readers of military history.

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