Tuesday, 30 April 2013

A musical intermezzo

On this joyful 30th April 2013 some musical entertainment from the early modern period.

One is called 'Marlbrough ne revient pas', and written after the battle of Malplaquet of September 1709. It tells how Sarah Churchill is told that her husband found his death on the fields of Malplaquet.

Le roi et mort, vive le roi: The funeral march for Louis XIV.

And finally, William Croft's ode for the peace of Utrecht, now 200 years ago.

(Please ignore any commercials)

Friday, 26 April 2013

Book writing ~~ lessons learned

In little over than one year, two books were compiled by the author of this blog and published by Drenth Publishing.As the two books are on the same subject, half-pay officers, this post will compare both efforts and look into lessons learned and differences between the two projects.

Lessons learned:

  •  Never underestimate your audience. However, don't assume your audience is that well informed into the subject you are writing on as you are. So, it is better to write a bit more on some intricate detail, than leave it out (and: you can always remove it afterwards).
  • Who are the people that will buy your book? Or, putting it a bit differently, know about your target audience. This helps in formulating the scope of the project, and finding additional scope to be covered.
  • If I were a potential customer, what would I want to see in such a book.
  • Be critical to yourself. Re-read what you have written, and question yourself: what is the scope, what is the level of detail, what would a reader expect.
  • So, accept that requirements can change!
  • (Unless you have agreed to someone deliver before a certain time, don't set a hard deadline when there are still things to be sorted out.)
  • (So, communicate the fruits of your labour only when the completion is feasible.)
  • Make a print of the document to see what it looks like on paper, or at least view the document in a two-page modus. This will avoid silly mistakes that makes the project look like a rubbish.


  • The second project on the reduced officers for 1699 greatly benefited from technicalities solved in the first project on the half-pay officers for 1714.
  • This meant layout issues: how to present the lists of officers, how to format tables.
  • But it also meant that the design of the cover could be done much quicker.
  • Contact with a printing company was already established.
  • The first project had the benefit of being, partially, based on an existing document. This meant more research time was needed for the second project, even though the information was readily available: the first project run between January and April 2012 (three months), the second between April 2012 and March 2013 (one full year!). 
  • So, where does this extra time from given the 'newby' issues with the first and 'documentation' issues with the second:
    • the second project has an index of officers (should have been done for the first too ...)
    • the introduction in the second project has a more detailed and quantitative approach
    • one appendix was almost a project in itself

When the second project was started, it seemed to be an easy walk-over: the information was present and had 'only' to be arranged and edited. However, during the process the requirements changed a bit by the inclusion of 600+ Huguenot officers, and addition of an index. This explains for a large part the extra time needed.

Now, on to the next project!

Friday, 19 April 2013

A Regimental list of the Reduced officers for the year 1699

Fresh from the press and ready for shipment:

A Regimental list of the reduced officers for the year 1699 
on the English, Scots and Irish Establishments

Please see the publisher's website for more details and ordering information.

This book is the companion volume to the Half-Pay list 1714, that was published in May 2012. Both volumes provide, as the titles indicate, information on the officers that were reduced after the Nine Years' War and War of the Spanish Succession, respectively. But there is more to that. All regiments that were part of the British army, during the respective periods, are detailed (except the subsidy troops), with information on the regimental lineage and a succession of colonels. Moreover, orders of battle are given for a variety of battles, sieges, descents (executed or aborted), expeditions, et cetera.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Treaty of Utrecht 300 years

Today is a bit of a special day. Today, 300 years ago on 11 April 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht was signed between several of the belligerents of the War of the Spanish Succession and saw an end to the conflict that started in 1701. See the Wiki for some more information.

Though one of the few quality newspapers in the Netherlands, NRC Handelsblad, devotes an article on the Treaty of Utrecht, they miss at least one very crucial point: how did they manage to remove any mention in the article of the Dutch Republic as one of the main, not to say most important, opponents of France? Is this simply lack of the journalist's understanding of history, or that deep ingrained believe in the peaceful past of the Dutch?

It is a bit like writing about the Yalta Conference, and omitting the United States as one of the participants ....