The idea that a military revolution occurred in the early modern period, specifically the century 1560–1660, is an established part of the curriculum for early modern studies in Britain. It is based on a published lecture by Michael Roberts, delivered in 1955 and published the following year. This drew essentially on his detailed studies of early-seventeenth-century Sweden, and in particular on the reign of Gustavus Adolphus (1611–32) and on Sweden’s entry in 1630 into the Thirty Years War (1618–48) in which most of the Holy Roman Empire (essentially modern Germany and Austria) was involved . The idea is linked commonly with the view that developments in the following century (1660–1760) were of considerably less importance and that the pace of military change resumed in the closing revolutionary decades of the eighteenth century, especially with the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars in 1792. The thesis is therefore related to the generally dominant view of early modern European history, one that sees a resolution of earlier crises culminating in a supposed mid-seventeenth-century crisis, followed, after 1660, by relative stability within states and limited wars between them until the onset of an Age of Revolutions. Indeed the putative military revolution has been used to explain this period of stability which is described as the age of absolutism and defined in terms of the authority and power of centralising personal monarchies.
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