Office-Holding and Holding onto Office: Duration of Military Captaincies in Elizabeth I’s Armies, 1579-1603

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The Treasurers at War in Elizabeth I’s armies, 1579-1603, kept in their charge a record of service nearly complete for all field and staff officers. Gaining and keeping an office is the subject of this paper, with four variations on office-holding discussed. The analysis uses a prosopographical database created by the Historical Knowledge Mapping project at the University of Western Ontario. Over 800 captains’ have been entered, with their military service and non-military office-holding also added. For many men data is extremely partial. Birth and death dates are missing, and final verification of some more obscure men is impossible. The Treasurers’ account make service in war an unusually nearly complete run of data for the later Elizabethan armies created for service in Ireland, the Low Countries, and for expeditions to France and elsewhere. From these records can be determined the culture of tenacity in holding an officers’ place in the absence of a standing army. The paper relies on interdisciplinary methods and contains some statistical analysis. A rare set of sources reveals patterns in early modern official culture not otherwise observable. Army officers search for land and profit, advancement on the basis of transitory captaincies and status where no standing army exists.

Keywords: Interdisciplinary, Knowledge Community, Military Culture, Database, Prosopography
Stream: History, Historiography
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Office-Holding and Holding onto Office

Dr. William Acres

Centre for Global Studies
History, Huron University College/The University of Western Ontario

London, Ontario, Canada

William Acres is part of an interdisciplinary research group investigating Historical Knowledge Mapping at the University of Western Ontario. He teaches at Huron University College, and at The University of Western Ontario. His work includes investigating early modern military culture through a prosopographical analysis of office-holders using a database created especially for this project. He studied under Sir Geoffrey Elton at Cambridge University, as well as Professor James Alsop at McMaster University, during his Commonwealth Scholarship at Cambridge and SSHRC Post-Doctoral Fellowship. The current research has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Research Development Initiative, and by a Major Award from UWO ADF Fund, New Research and Scholarly Initiatives.

Ref: H08P0632