IN SERVICE OF THE STATE: DESERTION, DISCIPLINE, AND ARMY LIFE IN THE HABSBURG MONARCHY, 1753-1781
Jeffrey M. Horton
The first standing army in the Habsburg Monarchy was officially founded in 1649. Until the monarchy’s dissolution in 1918, it had problems recruiting sufficient numbers of soldiers and preventing those soldiers from deserting. “In Service of the State: Desertion, Discipline, and Army Life in the Habsburg Monarchy, 1753-1781” is an examination of the treatment of deserters by the legal and administrative bodies of the Habsburg Monarchy. At its heart, it seeks to answer the question: why did some soldiers serve and why did others choose to flee military service? In particular, this dissertation is concerned with the multiethnic, multi-confessional, and multilingual nature of the Habsburg Monarchy--a monarchy that encompassed parts of almost two dozen modern European countries--and how the diversity of the recruited soldiers influenced the legal and administrative processes of the Habsburg standing army from 1753 to 1781. Given the amount of diversity in the Monarchy, how did the military forge a unified force? Based on the records of the Hofkriegsrat (the highest military administrative body in the Habsburg Monarchy until 1848) and collections of legal documents, this dissertation is composed of: an analysis of the legal status and treatment of deserters, a history of the actions of the Hofkriegsrat regarding desertion, and case studies of specific acts of desertion by individuals and groups. By studying deserters, “In Service of the State” provides insight into the development of state power in the eighteenth century and ultimately the relationship between the individual and the state. Desertion and the aiding of deserters were complex social phenomena, often resulting from socioeconomic pressures as well as the consequences of military decisions. Since the relationships built during the Habsburg era (1500-1918) have had long-term effects on the development of modern European political institutions, “In Service of the State” provides insight into the beginning of the many complex social, political, and economic dynamics that helped create the Europe of the twenty-first century.