Military Migration and State Formation. By Mary Elizabeth Ailes. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2002. ISBN 0-8032-1060-4. Figures. Notes. Bibliography. Index. Pp. 192. $50.00.
This monograph, derived from a 1997 University of Minnesota doctoral thesis, charts the careers of 119 "British" (but mostly Scottish) officers who immigrated to Sweden from the late sixteenth century and links this migration to the rise of the centralised state in Sweden. Chapter 1 offers a cursory [End Page 228] overview of recruitment patterns but unfortunately Dr. Ailes gives no figures of how many mercenaries actually served in Sweden. This is a shame since the data is readily available at www.abdn.ac.uk/history/datasets/ssne, an online database constructed by Alexia Grosjean and Steven Murdoch and entitled "Scotland, Scandinavia and Northern Europe, 1580-1707" (Aberdeen, 1998- ). Chapter 2 outlines the "push" and "pull" factors that underpinned migration throughout early modern Britain and Europe and sets the experiences of the "British" migrants to Sweden in a wider comparative framework. The analysis in these opening chapters would have been greatly enriched if Dr. Ailes had consulted Grosjean's recent work on Scotland and Sweden, "Scots and the Swedish State: Diplomacy, Military Service and Ennoblement, 1611-1660" (Ph.D. diss., University of Aberdeen, 1998); "Scotland: Sweden's Closest Ally," in Steven Murdoch, ed., Scotland and the Thirty Years' War (Leiden, 2001), pp. 143-72; and "General Alexander Leslie, the Scottish Covenanters and the Riksråd debates, 1638-1640," in Allan I. Macinnes, T. Riis, and F. G. Pedersen, eds., Guns and Bibles in the North Sea and the Baltic States, c.1350-1700 (East Linton, 2000), pp. 115- 38; and Murdoch's publications on Scotland and Denmark-Norway (Britain, Denmark-Norway and the House of Stuart, 1603-1660 [East Linton, 2000]); "Scotland, Scandinavia and the Bishops' Wars, 1638-1640," in Allan I. Macinnes and Jane Ohlmeyer, eds., The Stuart Kingdoms in the Seventeenth Century: Awkward Neighbours (Dublin, 2002); "Scottish Ambassadors and British Diplomacy, 1618-1635," in Steven Murdoch, ed., Scotland and the Thirty Years' War (Leiden, 2001), pp. 27-50; "Diplomacy in Transition: Stuart-British Diplomacy in Northern Europe, 1603-1618," in Macinnes, Riis, and Pedersen, eds., Guns and Bibles, pp. 93-114, and "The House of Stuart and the Scottish Professional Soldier, 1618-1640: A Conflict of Nationality and Identities," in Bernard Taithe and Tim Thornton, eds., War: Identities in Conflict 1300-2000 (Gloucestershire, 1998), pp. 3-55.
Chapters 3, 4, and 5 are much more original and derive from extensive research in the Swedish (but, ironically, not English, Irish, or Scottish) archives. Collectively these—using detailed individual case studies—explain the mechanics of recruitment and the importance of military and political patronage both in Sweden and back in the Stuart kingdoms. Levels of social and economic integration within Swedish society are carefully unravelled through discussions of marriage patterns and the ability of an officer to secure a noble title, together with political office and influence. Strangely lacking is any analysis of how these experiences in Sweden influenced the migrants' perception of themselves or—depending on their geographic origin—their sense of "Englishness," "Irishness," or "Scottishness." Equally, while Dr. Ailes makes a tantalizing reference to how the migrants may have shaped Swedish culture (p. 111), this is never fully developed. Finally, Dr. Ailes suggests that the experiences of these "British" military migrants was "unique," certainly when compared to those of their compatriots in Denmark or Russia. Yet, the experiences of military migrants, especially from Ireland and Scotland, to the lands controlled by the Spanish or Austrian [End Page 229] Habsburgs offer striking and instructive parallels that are not explored here.
Though limited at times, this book nevertheless makes a useful
contribution not only to seventeenth-century Swedish national history but
also to the histories of the three Stuart kingdoms and to early modern
migration studies. Clearly structured and well written, this book is worth
reading, especially alongside the recent work of other historians of the
Scottish, Irish and English—rather than "British"—military
University of Aberdeen