The Landsknechts: The History and Legacy of the German Mercenaries Who Fought for the Holy Roman Empire
The Landsknechts: The History and Legacy of the German Mercenaries Who Fought for the Holy Roman Empire3,5 2 5 Höfundur: Charles River Editors Lesari: Stephen Platt
The Middle Ages witnessed almost constant warfare in Europe, so mercenaries were a constant on the battlefield, but the 15th century also saw the rise of mercenary usage by the increasingly wealthy aristocracy. One of the finest groups of mercenaries were the Landsknechts from central and northern Europe. The term means “servant of the country,” and they mostly served the Holy Roman Empire, first under Emperor Maximilian I (r. 1508-1519) and then under his successors. The Landsknechts (German: Landsknechte) were masters of the battlefield, adept at pike, sword, and dead shots with the crude matchlocks of the day. The only mercenaries rivaling them were the famous Swiss, who they hated and often fought bitterly. The Landsknechts were as famous for their flamboyant costumes as much as their prowess on the battlefield, and they became symbols of rebellion and freedom in early modern Europe, even as they fought in service of Europe’s largest empire.
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