Tag Archives: early modern military

Who Were the ‘Enfants Perdus’?

When we think of early modern military, we typically think of infantry, cavalry and artillery. But once in a while while researching you run into a fun little term that provides some color and character to an otherwise monotone palette.

Enter the French’s enfants perdus.

Battle of Dreux by Jacques Tortorel.
The ‘enfants perdus’ are listed as K (center-left). At the Battle of Dreux (French Wars of Religion), they were arquebusiers used as skirmishers. Engraving by Jacques Tortorel.

Enfants perdus‘s literal translation is “Lost children” but a phrase more typically used as the translation is “forlorn hope.” It’s the equivalent to Dutch’s verloren hoop (which means “lost heap”). French generals of German troops used a more pragmatic phrase, commanded musketeers.

Despite it sounding overly-dramatic, the name enfants perdus were apt. These French enfants perdus were small groups of soldiers, typically musketeers, formed by pulling troops out of various regiments. They were used as skirmishers as well as given specific missions (such as “hold that bridge” or “charge that outpost”). They were also used at the head of regiments to lead attacks.

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DOCUMENTARY: The Battle of Lützen

Came across this half hour Swedish documentary (English subs) on the Battle of Lützen, where Swedish king and military innovator King Gustavus Adolphus.

The documentary goes to the site where the battle takes place with an archeological crew to find out if the mass graves there were filled with Swedes or Germans. They also figure out what the soldiers died mostly from — swords, musket barrels (blunt force) or shot.

It’s not exactly an eye-opening documentary for anyone already interested in the era, but it’s worth a watch just the same as the Thirty Year’s War continues to be a relatively overlooked bit of European history.

Documentary: Battle of Lützen – 1632

The Thirty Years War is my era of choice when it comes to research and persona portrayal. I stumbled across this great little documentary about the Battle of Lützen (1632) where Gustavus Adolphus was fatally shot.

It’s got some nice research and amazing animation, showing what happened in the battle. It surrounds mostly mass burial grounds at the battle site, and how the soldiers died.