From the Greek professional armies of Alexander, through the Hundred Years War, to today, mercenaries have been ever-present, their role constantly evolving. In this compelling history William Urban takes up their captivating and turbulent story from 1550 to 1789: from the Wars of Religion to the eve of the French Revolution. The 16th century saw increasing sophistication in European politics and commerce, religious and scientific thought, and military technology.
Everywhere professionals became more important. Mercenaries are often considered a marginal phenomenon, but Urban shows that as military professionals they contributed significantly to the development of the modern state. By the mid-1700s military service had become a profession.
The old-fashioned mercenary was less common, but he would not disappear until swept away by the volunteer armies of the French Revolution. Money gave way, temporarily, to patriotism. Bayonets for Hire is an engaging study of war and conquest in early modern Europe and a highly recommended addition to any military history library.