1st Edition

Small Wars and Insurgencies in Theory and Practice, 1500-1850

Edited By Beatrice Heuser Copyright 2016
    236 Pages
    by Routledge

    234 Pages
    by Routledge

    In early modern times, warfare in Europe took on many diverse and overlapping forms. Our modern notions of ‘regular’ and ‘irregular’ warfare, of ‘major war’ and ‘small war’, have their roots in much greater diversity than such binary notions allow for. While insurgencies go back to time immemorial, they have become conceptually fused with ‘small wars’. This is a term first used to denote special operations, often carried out by military companies formed from special ethnic groups and then recruited into larger armies. In its Spanish form, guerrilla, the term ‘small war’ came to stand for an ideologically-motivated insurgency against the state authorities or occupying forces of another power.

    There is much overlap between the phenomena of irregular warfare in the sense of special operations alongside regular operations, and irregular warfare of insurgents against the regular forces of a state. This book demonstrates how long the two phenomena were in flux and fed on each other, from the raiding operations of the 16th century to the ‘small wars’ or special operations conducted by special units in the 19th century, which existed alongside and could merge with a popular insurgency.

    This book is based on a special issue of the journal Small Wars & Insurgencies.

    Preface: ‘The Origins of Small Wars from Special Operations to Ideological Insurgencies’: A National Army Museum response Alastair Massie

    Introduction: Exploring the jungle of terminology Beatrice Heuser

    1. The sixteenth-century antecedents of special operations ‘small war’ Benjamin Deruelle

    2. The essence of war: French armies and small war in the Low Countries (1672 – 1697) Bertrand Fonck and George Satterfield

    3. Initiating insurgencies abroad: French plans to ‘chouannise’ Britain and Ireland, 1793 – 1798 Sylvie Kleinman

    4. The insurgency of the Vendée Alan Forrest

    5. Guerrillas and bandits in the Serranía de Ronda, 1810 – 1812 Charles Esdaile

    6. The German wars of liberation 1807 – 1815: The restrained insurgency Martin Rink

    7. Poachers turned gamekeepers: A study of the guerrilla phenomenon in Spain, 1808 – 1840 Mark Lawrence

    8. Small Wars in the Age of Clausewitz: The Watershed Between Partisan War and People’s War Beatrice Heuser

    9. Atrocities in Theory and Practice Beatrice Heuser

    10. Lessons learnt? Cultural transfer and revolutionary wars, 1775 – 1831 Beatrice Heuser


    Beatrice Heuser is Chair in International Relations at the University of Reading, UK. Her research focuses on strategy, European security, transatlantic relations, Britain, France, USA, Germany, and defence policy making. She has published on nuclear strategy, Clausewitz, and the evolution of strategy since Antiquity.