Military Recruitment and Employment in Europe and the Middle East and Asia, 1500–2000

By Erik-Jan Zürcher

This paper features an occupational group which was traditionally never studied by labor historians. It is argued that army activities are also a type of work, and therefore that the military ought to be regarded as workers- albeit a special category of workers. Based on the “Fighting for a Living” research project, the paper tries to discover regularities in the different systems of recruiting and employing soldiers which were practiced across the last five centuries by state-controlled land armies in Europe, the Middle East, India and China. The broad spectrum of possible labor relations is sketched, and the most important determinants of military employment are explored.


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