Surrender and the Laws of War in Western Europe, <i>c.</i> 1660–1783

John Childs

in How Fighting Ends

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199693627
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741258 | DOI:
Surrender and the Laws of War in Western Europe, c. 1660–1783

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The ‘Ancient Laws of War’ were uncodified yet widely observed by combatants involved in wars between European states of the same or similar religious confessions. Beyond these specific categories, especially in conflicts involving Christians and Muslims, the laws were ignored or only partially followed. Whilst the laws gave detailed advice and directions on the conduct of siege warfare, the most frequent type of military operation, they said little about the process by which soldiers might surrender in open battle or the subsequent treatment of such prisoners. Consequently, although capitulation by individuals, units or formations was relatively unusual, soldiers wishing to surrender sought to do so by agreeing treaties of capitulation, similar in nature to those arranged at the termination of formal sieges.

Keywords: laws of war; prisoners of war; capitulation; siege

Chapter.  10171 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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