Fifteenth- and Sixteenth- Century warfare in Europe was essentially solely fought by mercenaries, the most notable of which were the Germanic Landsknechte, ruthless foot soldiers that dominated the battlefields for nearly a century. While lauded in military scholarship for their innovations and contributions to the Military Revolution, the social impact of the Landsknechte often goes unnoticed, their status and influence ignored, despite the evident obsession civilian society had with the mercenaries’ lives, as seen through the tremendous production and consumption of military genre woodcuts. To understand the civilian perception of Landsknechte at the beginning of the sixteenth century, this Independent Study focuses on the ostracization of the mercenaries, as the Landsknechte were forced to operate on the margins of society, eventually leading to the celebration of alienation by the Landsknechte as a source of personal identity and pride. This ostracization can be seen through popular woodcuts that society, enamored and repulsed by the brutish Landsknechte, wildly consumed prints detailing the enlistment process of the soldiers, the regulations of mercenary domestic life, and allegorical woodcuts that further served to isolate the Landsknechte. The study of the mass dissemination of woodcuts glorifying the Landsknechte through various styles of the military genre allows an understanding of both the active alienation of the Landsknechte based on their liminal status and how fickle public mentality was shown through popular styles within the military genre of woodcuts.


Morrow, Kara

Second Advisor

Welsch, Christina


History; Art and Art History


Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque Art and Architecture | European History | Medieval History | Military History


Landsknechte, Mercenaries, Woodcut, Military Genre, Troß

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2018 Kathryn Connors