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Reviewed by:
  • War, Society, and Enlightenment: The Works of General Lloyd
  • Armstrong Starkey
War, Society, and Enlightenment: The Works of General Lloyd. Edited by Patrick J. Speelman. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2005. ISBN 90-04-14410-2. Maps. Illustrations. Notes. Index. Pp. xvi, 747. $285.00.

Students of eighteenth-century military thought will welcome this publication of the collected works of Major General Henry Lloyd (c. 1729–83). This volume follows editor Patrick Speelman's 2002 biography of Lloyd, reviewed in the October 2005 issue of this journal. In his biography, Speelman made a strong case for Lloyd as perhaps the most creative military intellectual of his time. Now it will be possible for readers to decide for themselves, for all of Lloyd's published works have been brought together for the first time. Some have not been published since the eighteenth century and most have languished in obscurity in special collections. Speelman observes that Lloyd is relatively unknown today because of the general unavailability of his works. This is no longer the case.

Lloyd was a soldier of fortune of wide experience, serving Prince Charles Edward Stuart in the '45 rising and in the armies of France, Austria, Brunswick, and Russia, in which he participated in many celebrated actions of the War of the Austrian Succession, the Seven Years' War, and the Russo-Turkish War. He was also absorbed in the era's intellectual currents, which spurred his reflections on military, political, and economic subjects. The result was his "History of the Late War in Germany," which appeared in three parts in 1766, 1781, and posthumously in 1790. Part operational history and part reflections on the principles of war, these segments allow the reader to observe the evolution of Lloyd's military thought. Christopher Duffy has dismissed the value of Lloyd's operational history as not representative of Austrian military thought and, indeed, to a modern reader, this aspect of Lloyd's writing may appear turgid and uninspired. Nevertheless, Lloyd was present at many of the actions that he described and had access to official accounts on both sides. In his "History" Lloyd offered valuable lessons on the influence of geography on warfare that led to his theory of lines of operations. He maintained that skillful exploitation of such lines by a general on the defensive could eliminate the necessity for battle. His criticism of Frederick the Great seems persuasive in this regard. Confined to the defensive, the king was too fond of battle and fought too many self-destructive actions that might have been avoided if he had moved against the enemy's line of communication. On the other hand, the Austrians' failure to develop a comprehensive plan of operations with their allies rendered their [End Page 499] efforts futile. Finally, it is clear that Lloyd's Russian experience led him to value mobility above mass in war.

Three other works in this collection demonstrate the variety and richness of Lloyd's contribution to the Enlightenment: "An Essay on the English Constitution" (1770), written in support of John Wilkes and constitutional reform, and providing a critique of Britain's colonial policy; "An Essay on the Theory of Money" (1771), espousing liberal economic ideas; and "A Rhapsody on the Present System of French Politics; on the Projected Invasion, and the Means to Defeat It" (1779). The latter reveals Lloyd's application of his ideas based upon a detailed knowledge of Britain's coastal defenses gained from his experience as a Jacobite agent. Lloyd believed that an invasion was logistically impossible if prudent precautions were taken. The government found his detailed exposition so compelling that it suppressed the pamphlet as a military secret.

A brief review cannot do justice to the significance of Lloyd's work. The editor has offered brief, excellent introductions to each work as well as informative footnotes. Speelman's biography of Lloyd should be a compulsory prerequisite for anyone using this volume. Its hefty price will no doubt restrict its purchase to libraries, but scholars owe Speelman a great debt for rendering accessible the work of one of the eighteenth century's most interesting minds.

Armstrong Starkey
Adelphi University
Garden City, New York


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pp. 499-500
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Archived 2010
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