Surrender in the Thirty Years War

Lothar Höbelt

in How Fighting Ends

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199693627
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741258 | DOI:
Surrender in the Thirty Years War

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The Thirty Years War was the last hurrah of the condottieri. Soldiers were mercenaries, officers entrepreneurs. Prisoners of War faced an uncertain fate. Even at its best, captivity spelt business disaster. It was only during the later stages of the war that regular cartel agreements came into force that provided for regular prisoner exchanges and payment of ransoms. Thus, having to surrender in battle was considered a misfortune. But there was no stigma attached to it. Even switching sides was sometimes tolerated. Sieges, however, answered to different rules. Surrendering your employer's fortresses along with yourself was almost invariably considered treasonable, with few extenuating circumstances. Thus, commanders who dared to spare the towns in their care a lengthy ordeal or a terrible sack, might find themselves sentenced to death ‘pour encourager les autres’.

Keywords: mercenaries; entrepreneurs; prisoners of war; cartel agreements; ransom; fortresses; sieges

Chapter.  6570 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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