The Siege of La Rochelle, Part II

G.A. Rothrock describes how, at the close of the French Wars of Religion in 1627-8, the Protestant centre of La Rochelle succumbed to royal siege.

The crown’s extraordinary efforts at La Rochelle were not limited to the engineering accomplishments of the long siege line and the dike. The royal army was raised to twenty-five thousand men, a very large force for the day, and it presented a startling contrast to the motley collection of undisciplined mercenaries who were ravaging Germany in the 1620’s. Louis’ troops were paid every week by royal commissioners, an innovation that circumvented the age-old practice of officers appropriating a part of the enlisted men’s pay. With money circulating, food and other supplies flowed into the camp steadily from local peasants and merchants, and looting and desertion were at very low levels by seventeenth-century standards. The King was sometimes distressed by local complaints of rapes and drunken brawls, for no one could make saints of seventeenth-century soldiers, but the general condition and discipline of the royal army at La Rochelle were impressive.

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