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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/16381/the-comuneros-the-revolt-and-its-lessons/

The Comuneros: The Revolt and Its Lessons

April 6, 2011 by

The almost-lost story of the Revolt of the Comuneros was more than an uprising of the citizens of the Kingdom of Castile against the monarchy. FULL ARTICLE by Peter C. Earle

{ 10 comments }

fundamentalist April 6, 2011 at 9:09 am

Very interesting! But the main lesson from the failure should be that amateur militias never beat professional armies.

nate-m April 6, 2011 at 11:08 am

State governments are the experts at killing humans. It’s hard to beat them at it.

Redmond April 6, 2011 at 11:12 am

Define professional.

augusto April 6, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Professional = people who make a living out of it.

Jim April 6, 2011 at 12:53 pm

I’d like to explore why the free merchants and cities were unable to raise enough money to compete with the state. There have been a few really good arguments in the comments of some articles about the “viability”, for lack of a better word, of an ancap society and how it would respond to aggression from neighboring states. A theme in the argument is that a conglomerate of free merchants would always be about to out-spend any state (thus ensuring the loyalty of mercenaries, for example). That doesn’t seem to have been the case here. The cost of the war quickly outstripped the ability of the secessionists to pay for it, but the state could carry on.

Anthony April 6, 2011 at 9:38 pm

In theory a free society would experience increases in production and wealth exponentially faster than more restricted societies. Given enough time to become established the people in the free “state” would be so far ahead they would be able to out spend other states.

I would guess this didn’t happen for the Comuneros because they did not have enough time to accumulate capital.

(I noticed after writing this that fundamentalist said something very similar below… oh well.)

fundamentalist April 6, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Good points. I think there are two answers: 1) the problem wasn’t completely a lack of funds, but a lack of training of the army. Recall that Washington enjoyed the services of a German military officer who whipped his troops into shape at Valley Forge. 2) Weapons for fighting a war are like capital to business: it takes savings and accumulation over time to have enough to do the job. The rebels didn’t have the time to accumulate the needed capital equipment or train their soldiers. The lack of time, planning and savings made it necessary for the US to seek help from the French and Dutch in order to win.

The war fought by the Dutch for their independence from Spain is a better example of how freedom succeeds on its own. The Netherlands were far from Spain, whereas Castile isn’t. The Dutch used that distance to stall and drag out the conflict while they accumulated equipment and training and raised funds.

Because of distance, Spain needed to re-supply by ocean, which the Dutch already controlled from decades of building its shipping fleet. So the Dutch had accumulated the capital and experience to beat Spain on the ocean and give their ground forces the time they needed. The war lasted 80 years.

Also, Spain was a large nation, the wealthiest in the West outside of the Ottoman Empire, and had battle-hardened, discipline murderers for troops. They had a lot of capital equipment and experience, and it took a lot of capital accumulation and time to defeat them.

Jim April 6, 2011 at 2:35 pm

I agree with pretty much everything you stated, though it’s disheartening when put in the context of the “viability” question. Essentially this would be admitting that it could only hold off / defeat states in certain situations, i.e. with a distance factor involved, neighboring states allowing the capital accumulation for decades before attacking, the acquiring of superior soldiers / leaders / outside assistance, etc.

P.M.Lawrence April 10, 2011 at 6:03 am

The [American] rebels didn’t have the time to accumulate the needed capital equipment or train their soldiers. The lack of time, planning and savings made it necessary for the US to seek help from the French and Dutch in order to win.

While the reasoning is sound, the premises aren’t – that is, they don’t fit the facts – and there was another reason why that help was necessary, that no amount of preparation could have helped.

The revolting Americans had had five years to prepare, and some of them fifteen, and had done so badly; they hadn’t expected a serious response. Even so, they built up considerable arsenals, and managed to seize heavy guns from British posts. But what they really needed outside help for was the same thing the Irish needed and never quite got (though it came close): help in closing off British access that came from sea power, that would have allowed campaign after campaign with logistical support until it came right. Yorktown would have been at worst a Corunna or a Dunkirk, a tactical defeat and strategic withdrawal setting up for trying again, if it had not been for the loss of British sea power at a crucial moment that turned it into a Dien Bien Phu (which also got its effect more from causing a political shift than from changing military prospects). More often, though, places held out until relieved; at least, that was how it usually worked out in Ireland.

JohnB April 7, 2011 at 7:10 am

I liked the article but I believe that you brushed aside one key aspect of the economic boom. Many of the economic advances came from technology and practices that was either enhanced or developed during the time of Al-Andalus in Spain and Portugal. This includes most of the maps that we used to sail and develop commercial relations abroad. These advances were “acquired” by kicking anybody who was not a christian (either Moorish or Jewish) out of Spain. This was the campaign of ‘social purity’ that you spoke of which is not really accurate since in spanish it was called ‘pureza del sangre’ which means purity of blood. Of course this didn’t stop individuals favored by the court (such as Gusman El Bueno who based on documentation from his descendant the recently deceased Duchess of Medina Sidonia is actually from Morocco but whose ‘history’ was ‘cleaned up’) from acquiring large swaths of land as well. So through that many parties acquired well managed lands and estates as well as the technologies required to manage them. As for the tax question, I many of the parties who were on the other side when it came to confiscating lands or properties were now being chased by the state. Of course there was a backlash. Good article nonetheless.

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