Peter H. Wilson (2020) Foreign military labour in Europe’s transition to modernity, European Review of History: Revue européenne d'histoire, 27:1-2, 12-32

Foreign soldiers were a major element in virtually all European armies between the early sixteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries. The extent and duration of their use clearly indicates they were far more than a temporary expedient adopted solely until states acquired the capacity to organize forces from their own inhabitants. Rather than being a hindrance to state formation, they were integral to that process. Likewise, the formation of European states and an international system based on indivisible sovereignty was not purely competitive: it also entailed cooperation. The transfer of foreign military labour is an important example of this and is central to what can be labelled the European Fiscal-Military System, which assisted the emergence of a sovereign state order and was dismantled as that order consolidated in the later nineteenth century. Wilson’s article articulates ‘foreign soldiers’ as an alternative to the problematic term ‘mercenaries’, and examines their motives, explaining how and why foreign soldiers were recruited by early modern European well as assessing the scale of their employment. The article concludes that the de-legitimation of foreign military labour was connected to fashioning the modern ideals of the citizen-in-arms as part of a more general process of nationalizing war-making.

This article has been made Open Access and can be seen here

Marianne Klerk and Peter H. Wilson, ‘Business of War untangled: Cities as ‘Fiscal-Military Hubs’ in Europe (1530s-1860s)’, War in History, December 2020.

Fiscal-military hubs were cities characterized by the clustering of specific expertise and resources, which became centres where states, and semi-state and non-state actors arranged the transfer of war-making resources in early modern Europe. Using this concept enables the study of the business of war to shift the locus beyond the state towards a transnational history, while integrating political, military, economic, and cultural aspects that have generally been studied separately. By examining the hub, we can untangle the full complexity of this business, and reveal its actors, networks, assets, prices, routes, culture, and rules of conduct.

This article has been made Open Access and can be seen here

Michael Martoccio, "'A man of particular ability’: A Jewish-Genoese military contractor in the fiscal-military system". Business History, 2021

This article uses a case-study of one Jewish merchant, Jacob Levi, from the port of Genoa to explore the essential brokerage role of ethnic-religious minorities in the early modern fiscal-military system. With know-how built through his private businesses as well as a network of his co-religious, Levi became one of the most important suppliers of grain for the Bourbon army of northern Italy from 1702 to 1706. 

This article has been made Open Access: Full article: ’A man of particular ability’: A Jewish-Genoese military contractor in the fiscal-military system (

Aaron Graham, "Huguenots, Jacobites, prisoners and the challenge of military remittances in early modern warfare". War and Society, 2021.

Early modern states faced numerous challenges in supporting their prisoners of war, not least the problems of remitting them money for their subsistence, which had to pass across hostile borders. Examining how the British state achieved this in the War of the Spanish Succession (1702–13) shows the limits of modern scholarship on state formation and its focus on administrative reform and domestic resource mobilisation. The projection of power continued to rely on international Huguenot and even Jacobite financial networks, held together by personal trust and private interests, sometimes even while they were working for the enemy. Success was achieved because British officials were able to tap into these networks through hubs such as London, Amsterdam, Paris and Madrid, and use them to maintain the flow of money abroad.

This article has been made Open Access: Full article: Huguenots, Jacobites, Prisoners and the Challenge of Military Remittances in Early Modern Warfare (

Michael Martoccio, "‘The place for such business’: The business of war in the city of Genoa, 1701-1714". War in History, 2021

Scholars long have examined the early modern European business of war – the recruitment, supply, and payment of combatants by non-native contractors. With such attention on who conducted this commerce, however, scholars have ignored where the business of war took place. As Peter Wilson and Marianne Klerk recently have argued, war business was often conducted in politically autonomous cities. This article takes their findings further by showing how naval contractors and army victuallers conducted the business of war in substantially different spatial settings in one fiscal-military hub, Genoa, during one conflict, the War of Spanish Succession.

This article has been made Open Access and can be seen at: 


Mercenary’ contracts as Fiscal-Military Instruments’

Peter H. Wilson

The ‘fiscal-military hub’ of Amsterdam: Intermediating the French subsidies to Sweden during the Thirty Years’ War

Marianne Klerk

in Subsidies, diplomacy, and state formation in Europe, 1494–1789: Economies of allegiance

Editors: Svante Norrhem and Erik Thomson

eISBN: 9789198469844  Publisher: Lund University Press



The FMS project team is publishing its working bibliography, the largest freely-available bibliography of books relating to the European fiscal military system in Europe.

The latest version of the bibliography is available to download here.