Conclusion: military professionalism
At the end of the 17th century, it was still possible to become an officer in the English army by serving an apprenticeship in arms, but purchasing a commission became the more usual way of gaining entry into the officer corps. Although William III and Queen Anne disapproved of the purchase system, most members of Parliament approved of it as a means of weeding out soldiers of fortune, of favouring aristocrats from their own ranks, and maintaining political loyalty and stability. In contrast to the strides made towards a system of advancement based upon proficiency and merit in the Royal Navy, the purchase system delayed professionalization in the English/British army. William III preferred officers from the Dutch army for the highest commands in the English army because he did not trust many of James II’s officers who had changed their colours in the middle of battle. Those British and Irish officers whom he did promote were usually veterans of the Dutch army or other mainland European armies. Because he assigned a higher priority to raising larger armies quickly, William did little to promote professionalization in the English army as he had done in Dutch army.
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