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Abstract

The period sees the transition of the ordinary fighter from feudal levy, yeoman or city burgher militia, to subject in an absolute polity, to today’s concept of the free citizen in a democratic state. In the period, the Swiss Confederacy was the only major polity that was not monarchical, but republican, and at the same time eschewed a standing army in favour of continued reliance on militia throughout.

A commonwealth’s military organisation is clearly one of fundamental importance to its own understanding of the nature of rule - its “constitution”. The article traces the transition and relates it to the concept of government under the different theories of the period.