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How Fighting EndsA History of Surrender$
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Holger Afflerbach and Hew Strachan

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199693627

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199693627.001.0001

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Surrender in the Thirty Years War

Surrender in the Thirty Years War

Chapter:
(p.141) 9 Surrender in the Thirty Years War
Source:
How Fighting Ends
Author(s):

Lothar Höbelt

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199693627.003.0010

The Thirty Years War was the last hurrah of the condottieri. Soldiers were mercenaries, officers entrepreneurs. Prisoners of War faced an uncertain fate. Even at its best, captivity spelt business disaster. It was only during the later stages of the war that regular cartel agreements came into force that provided for regular prisoner exchanges and payment of ransoms. Thus, having to surrender in battle was considered a misfortune. But there was no stigma attached to it. Even switching sides was sometimes tolerated. Sieges, however, answered to different rules. Surrendering your employer's fortresses along with yourself was almost invariably considered treasonable, with few extenuating circumstances. Thus, commanders who dared to spare the towns in their care a lengthy ordeal or a terrible sack, might find themselves sentenced to death ‘pour encourager les autres’.

Keywords:   mercenaries, entrepreneurs, prisoners of war, cartel agreements, ransom, fortresses, sieges

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