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Thread: Historical populations of Europe : changing proportions

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    Post Historical populations of Europe : changing proportions



    It is amazing to see how regional populations fluctuate over time. For those who look at history as if modern population proportions were representative of historical proportions, think again.

    Everybody knows that the population of the USA or other countries built on immigration soared over the last 100 or 200 years. The US population rose much faster than the world population, passing from only 5 million in 1800 to 23 million in 1850 to 76 million in 1900 to 151 million in 1950 to 281 million in 2000. In other words, the US population has been multiplied by 56 in these 200 years, as opposed to 6 for the world population (from 1 to 6 billion).

    In Europe, the overall population has also increased a lot since the 19th century, from 200 million to 730 million (Russia included). But some regions have had much more dramatic increases than others. In fact, some parts of Europe have now less inhabitants than they did 150 years ago. One example is Ireland.

    Ireland & Britain

    Ireland's population peaked around 1841, when it reached 8.2 million inhabitants (for the whole island). The Republic of Ireland now counts 4.3 million people, and Northern Ireland 1.7 million. That's 6 million, 25% less than 165 years ago !

    In comparison, the population of Scotland has doubled in the same period, and that of England has more than tripled. The main reasons for this population decrease in Ireland is massive emigration. According to Wikipedia, there are now 80 million people of Irish descent worldwide, among whom 45 million in the USA. This is not representative of the number of immigrants, as many (if not most) people claiming Irish descent are only partially Irish, sometimes with only one out of four grand-parents with Irish ancestry. The true number of Irish-born emigrants is estimated to be only 1.2 million. But this figure does not take into account the 1 million Irish living in England.

    Benelux

    Another interesting case is that of the Benelux. Nowadays, the Netherlands is the biggest country, with some 17 million citizens, for only 10 million Belgians and half a million Luxemburgers.

    Nevertheless, in 1816, following the collapse of Napoleon's empire, Belgium was twice more populated than the Netherlands (4.2 million against 2 million). This is ironic considering that Belgium had just been annexed to the Netherlands by the Congress of Vienna, forming the Holland-based United Kingdom of the Netherlands. The union only lasted 15 years as Belgians resented the bias of the new government in favour of the Dutch citizens.

    It was only in the 1930's that the population of Belgium and the Netherlands reached the same level, around 8 million each. In the last 75 years, the population of Belgium increased by a normal 25%. The Dutch were more prolific, doubling their numbers in only 2 or 3 generations.

    The situation in the Low Countries contrast with Scandinavia, where the proportions between Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland have been fairly stable for many centuries. The Nordic growth rate in the 20th century has been similar to that of Belgium. One can wonder how or why the Dutch growth rate was so spectacular in the 1900's.

    Comparing the big countries

    Until the middle of the 19th century, France had always been the most populous region of Western Europe since ancient times. 2,000 years ago, Gaul already had 8 million inhabitants, against about 6 million in Italy, 4 million in Germany and under 1 million in the British Isles.

    In Medieval times, the population of France had peaked to an unprecedented 20 million in the first half of the 14th century. The plague and other epidemics reduced the population to 15 million around 1500. The population kept fluctuating up and down around 18 to 22 million until the early 18th century, then soared to over 25 million from the 1770's and 30 million in 1820.

    From the 14th to the early 18th century, the Italian population remained around 12 million. In Germany it oscillated between 10 and 15 million, and in Spain between 6 and 9 million.

    England and Wales had some 3 million inhabitants around 1300, which rose to 4 or 5 million in the late 1300's. The Black Death annihilated about half of the population. In the 15th century, it had dropped to 2 million, 8 times less than in France. The population grew back to 5 million by 1700, and to 9 million in 1800. At the dawn of the 19th century, the United Kingdom with Scotland and Ireland, had a population of 16 million, almost like Italy (17 million), but still lower than France (27 million) or Germany (25 million).

    The German population overtook France's around 1850, when both countries had a population of approximately 35 million. At the time, there were 27 million Britons, 25 million Italians and 15 million Spaniards.

    In 1910, a few years before the First World War, there were 65 million Germans, 39.5 million French, 34.5 million Italians and 20 million Spaniards. The Austro-Hungarian Empire had 49.5 million inhabitants and the United Kingdom 45 million.

    In 1946, in the aftermath of WWII, the population of Germany was the same as 36 years earlier at 65 million. The number of Spaniards had almost doubled, to 27 million. France had reached 40 million inhabitants, while the UK had stagnated around 45 million, partly due to emigration to the colonies.

    Italy had for the first time overtaken France with 45 million citizens on a land hardly more than half the size of France. This would trigger a massive wave of Italian emigration, notably to South America, Australia, France and Belgium.
    Last edited by Maciamo; 18-12-11 at 13:22.
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    Selected populations in 1840 :

    1) Russia : 62.4 million
    2) Austria-Hungary : 34.9 million
    3) France : 34 million
    4) Germany : 32.5 million
    5) Italy : 22 million
    6) England + Wales : 16 million
    7) Spain : 14 million
    8) Ireland : 8.2 million
    9) Belgium : 4.1 million
    10) Sweden : 3.1 million
    11) Netherlands : 2.9 million
    12) Scotland : 2.5 million
    13) Finland : 1.5 million
    14) Denmark : 1.3 million
    15) Norway : 1.2 million
    16) Greece : 0.9 million

    Selected populations in 1900 :

    1) Russia : 132.9 million
    2) Austria-Hungary : 45.2 million
    3) Germany : 56.4 million
    4) France : 38.9 million
    5) England + Wales : 32.5 million
    6) Italy : 32.4 million
    7) Spain : 18.5 million
    8) Belgium : 6.7 million
    9) Netherlands : 5.2 million
    10) Sweden : 5.1 million
    11) Ireland : 4.5 million
    12) Scotland : 4.4 million
    13) Finland : 2.6 million
    14) Greece : 2.5 million
    15) Denmark : 2.4 million
    16) Norway : 2.2 million

    Selected populations in 2008 :

    1) Russia : 142.2 million
    2) Germany : 83.2 million
    3) France : 59.8 million
    4) Italy : 58.7 million
    5) England + Wales : 53.8 million
    6) Spain : 45 million
    7) Austria-Hungary* : 44 million
    8) Netherlands : 16.3 million
    9) Greece : 10.6 million
    10) Belgium : 10.3 million
    11) Sweden : 9 million
    12) Ireland : 6 million
    13) Denmark : 5.4 million
    14) Finland : 5.2 million
    15) Scotland : 5.1 million
    16) Norway : 4.5 million

    * + Czechoslovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    In 1845 the potato famine struck Ireland and lasted 5-6 years killing 1 million people and forcing a further 1 million to emigrate, this pattern of emigration continued up to and including the 1980's.

    Euro-stat is predicting by 2060 Ireland will have doubled in population size, other countries to increase will be Britain, Sweden and the US. Most of this increase will come from migration, and in fact Britain will become the most populous country in Europe, Germany is forecast to decrease.

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    "Selected populations in 2008 : 5) England + Wales : 53.8 million "

    What's happened to the other British populations of Scotland and Northern Ireland! Why has that been done? Why not take away the population of Flanders, Alsace and Lorraine and Brittany for example when calculating France's population. Anyway, wonder if the population figures for France include it's oversea's posessions or not?

    PS anyone confirm that the French government actively seeks to increase it's population by handing out money to encourage it's citizen's to have kids. Saw so many relatively old couples with children in France. Social engineering can be a bit weird sometimes.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Knatchbull View Post
    "Selected populations in 2008 : 5) England + Wales : 53.8 million "

    What's happened to the other British populations of Scotland and Northern Ireland! Why has that been done? Why not take away the population of Flanders, Alsace and Lorraine and Brittany for example when calculating France's population. Anyway, wonder if the population figures for France include it's oversea's posessions or not?
    I am surprised that this question comes from an Englishman (apparently), who chose the flag of England rather than the UK on this forum.

    The United Kingdom is a recent country. England and Wales have only been unified to Scotland since 1707, and to Ireland since 1800. Because of the federal nature of the UK, statistics have remained to this day mostly separated between Northern Ireland, Scotland, and the entity of England & Wales (because they have been basically the same country since Norman times).

    I could have made the total for the UK in the statistics, but I found it interesting to see how the population of England and Wales more than tripled since 1840, while that of Scotland only doubled.
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    Interesting info. My country was like a desert in the 19th century.

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    That's pretty fascinating

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    I'm skeptical of before 19th century population counts, especially pre renaissance. Many calculations were done by modern local historians, not by same period sensus, who had strong bias in making their country more populous therefore looking more prosperous.

    I wonder if sizes of armies through centuries can tell us the true(r) picture.

    France army before WWII - 5 million (Germany 4.3 million, similar numbers for British)

    During Napoleonic campaign, 130 years before, European powers had armies counted in hundred thousands. Napoleon's troops had 300,000 french people going to Russia. I would say that for this time period, size of armies fluctuated between 100 and 500 thousand, depending on time, need and country.
    Granted that it was cheaper and easier for France to conscripted and transport more men in mid 20th century, than in much poorer France of beginning of 19th. To produce rifle and uniform for example is 5-10 fold more affordable in industrial era. I guess it wouldn't make sense for Napoleon to call for another 200 troops if there was not enough weapons and logistics for them and his army was already the biggest in Europe.
    Even considering economics of weapon production I wouldn't guess that population of France wasn't much bigger than 10 million in 1800s.

    There is even a bigger contrast in size of armies of middle ages, compared to later times. Battles were fought with single digit thousands and tens of thousands men. Granted that weapons and logistics were even more expensive in poor Middle Ages, and populations must have been much bigger, than I could gather from ratio of population to army size of 20th century.
    I would estimated population size of middle age France to be around 2-4 million, and not 7 to 16 mil as per sources below.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_France

    Likewise population size of France at year 1800 is given as 30 million, and 40 million (the only figure we can be sure of) by 1930. It means just 1/4 demographic increase through the most of industrial era!!! Mind that industrial times brings factory made fertilizer (nitrogen and potassium) plus new machinery which doubled and tripled food production in this time period, plus the climate got warmer too. By this way of understanding it would make more sense if population of France went from 10-15 million in year 1800 to 40 million in 1930s. Should we even mention improved hygienic, longer life span and lesser child mortality of 20th century?
    Maybe I'm missing widespread birth control technology/pills of 19th century France. It is the only thing which could explain very slow population growth through industrial times.
    And yet we have faster population growth in last 60 years (during birth control use) than in whole 130 years before.



    PS. I just had a thought that perhaps biggest factor is the child mortality thing in general population statistics.
    These days almost every kid survives till adulthood, but it was almost in reverse in middle ages. By some scientific estimates only 40% and in bad times as little as 20% of kids lived past age of 20. It means that we need 5-10 kids per family to sustain population number. It also means that at all times 80% of all citizens are kids, considering short lifespan of adults too. In today's France kids till age of 20 consists 25% of population.

    1930 - 40 million total - 30 million adults
    1800 - 30 million total - 10 million adults
    Middle Ages - 10 million total - 2 million adults (1 million men, therefore armies of tens of thousands make sense)


    But I still don't get how come demographic of France is so stagnant during industrial revolution?
    Be wary of people who tend to glorify the past, underestimate presence, and demonize the future.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    I'm skeptical of before 19th century population counts, especially pre renaissance. Many calculations were done by modern local historians, not by same period sensus, who had strong bias in making their country more populous therefore looking more prosperous.

    I wonder if sizes of armies through centuries can tell us the true(r) picture.

    France army before WWII - 5 million (Germany 4.3 million, similar numbers for British)

    During Napoleonic campaign, 130 years before, European powers had armies counted in hundred thousands. Napoleon's troops had 300,000 french people going to Russia. I would say that for this time period, size of armies fluctuated between 100 and 500 thousand, depending on time, need and country.
    Granted that it was cheaper and easier for France to conscripted and transport more men in mid 20th century, than in much poorer France of beginning of 19th. To produce rifle and uniform for example is 5-10 fold more affordable in industrial era. I guess it wouldn't make sense for Napoleon to call for another 200 troops if there was not enough weapons and logistics for them and his army was already the biggest in Europe.
    Even considering economics of weapon production I wouldn't guess that population of France wasn't much bigger than 10 million in 1800s.

    There is even a bigger contrast in size of armies of middle ages, compared to later times. Battles were fought with single digit thousands and tens of thousands men. Granted that weapons and logistics were even more expensive in poor Middle Ages, and populations must have been much bigger, than I could gather from ratio of population to army size of 20th century.
    I would estimated population size of middle age France to be around 2-4 million, and not 7 to 16 mil as per sources below.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_France

    Likewise population size of France at year 1800 is given as 30 million, and 40 million (the only figure we can be sure of) by 1930. It means just 1/4 demographic increase through the most of industrial era!!! Mind that industrial times brings factory made fertilizer (nitrogen and potassium) plus new machinery which doubled and tripled food production in this time period, plus the climate got warmer too. By this way of understanding it would make more sense if population of France went from 10-15 million in year 1800 to 40 million in 1930s. Should we even mention improved hygienic, longer life span and lesser child mortality of 20th century?
    Maybe I'm missing widespread birth control technology/pills of 19th century France. It is the only thing which could explain very slow population growth through industrial times.
    And yet we have faster population growth in last 60 years (during birth control use) than in whole 130 years before.



    PS. I just had a thought that perhaps biggest factor is the child mortality thing in general population statistics.
    These days almost every kid survives till adulthood, but it was almost in reverse in middle ages. By some scientific estimates only 40% and in bad times as little as 20% of kids lived past age of 20. It means that we need 5-10 kids per family to sustain population number. It also means that at all times 80% of all citizens are kids, considering short lifespan of adults too. In today's France kids till age of 20 consists 25% of population.

    1930 - 40 million total - 30 million adults
    1800 - 30 million total - 10 million adults
    Middle Ages - 10 million total - 2 million adults (1 million men, therefore armies of tens of thousands make sense)


    But I still don't get how come demographic of France is so stagnant during industrial revolution?
    I dont think army size gives an accurate picture either, Finnish army during WW2 was from 330.000 in Winter War to 530.000 peak strength before Operation Barbarossa.

    That is almost 15% of the population mobilized, not counting the women and under-aged that where in support roles, that would make it to anything between 20-25%.

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    Maciamo: And if was possible to DNA Test every European, many peoples belief of their own genetic tree would go up in a puff of smoke. I doubt if any European country could boast 100% ethnic purity (and I use that term very carefully), as cross border settlement, land seizures resulting from war etc. saw a lot of movement, but not necessarily on a huge scale. That's not taking into account early human movement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Idun View Post
    I dont think army size gives an accurate picture either, Finnish army during WW2 was from 330.000 in Winter War to 530.000 peak strength before Operation Barbarossa.

    That is almost 15% of the population mobilized, not counting the women and under-aged that where in support roles, that would make it to anything between 20-25%.
    Of course it is imprecise technique but we can say the same for any attempts to calculate population of the past from scarce old records and archeology. There are also unusual times of mobilization of population to fight which can push the numbers high, as per your example, or numbers of warriors in slavic or germanic tribes of pre 6th century, where every farmer was a warrior and was mobilized for every battle. Times when armies were as numerous up to 20% of population.
    Although it happened many times in history, these numbers are unsustainable in longer run. How long Finland could have afforded to keep 530 thousand people in the army? And Warrior/farmers need to go back to their fields to produce food.

    I guess my numbers represent more of standing or regular armies than these special circumstances. It represents number of men who could be taken out of economy (production) and not being to heavy on king's or prince's budget. Let's use the example from Middle Age France. It could have been a rule through all feudal times till 20th century.
    In Middle Age France there was 10 million people, with 2 million adults, therefore one million adult men. We are dealing with agricultural society where 90% of men need to produce food for 10% of other trades and nobles. That means 100 thousand out of 1 million men have non-farming occupation. This number has to contain occupations like various smiths, vendors, servants and professional soldiers. This might leave no more than 50 thousand (possibly less) men to be available for wars in France, at this time period. This number might be somewhat bigger if one considers nobles themselves, as proper knights, being in the army. Let's say nobles consisted of about 1% of population, this will give us about 10 thousand extra men of fighting age of noble state.

    I guess, if we put the figure of arm forces at 0.5% of population (up to 20th century) we should be very close to the truth in most situations. There were times though when armies got closer to 1%. In hieght of Roman Empire population reached 50 million with about 500 thousand legionaries. In Napoleon France there were 30 million people, and 300 thousand french troops.
    Be wary of people who tend to glorify the past, underestimate presence, and demonize the future.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Of course it is imprecise technique but we can say the same for any attempts to calculate population of the past from scarce old records and archeology. There are also unusual times of mobilization of population to fight which can push the numbers high, as per your example, or numbers of warriors in slavic or germanic tribes of pre 6th century, where every farmer was a warrior and was mobilized for every battle. Times when armies were as numerous up to 20% of population.
    Although it happened many times in history, these numbers are unsustainable in longer run. How long Finland could have afforded to keep 530 thousand people in the army? And Warrior/farmers need to go back to their fields to produce food.

    I guess my numbers represent more of standing or regular armies than these special circumstances. It represents number of men who could be taken out of economy (production) and not being to heavy on king's or prince's budget. Let's use the example from Middle Age France. It could have been a rule through all feudal times till 20th century.
    In Middle Age France there was 10 million people, with 2 million adults, therefore one million adult men. We are dealing with agricultural society where 90% of men need to produce food for 10% of other trades and nobles. That means 100 thousand out of 1 million men have non-farming occupation. This number has to contain occupations like various smiths, vendors, servants and professional soldiers. This might leave no more than 50 thousand (possibly less) men to be available for wars in France, at this time period. This number might be somewhat bigger if one considers nobles themselves, as proper knights, being in the army. Let's say nobles consisted of about 1% of population, this will give us about 10 thousand extra men of fighting age of noble state.

    I guess, if we put the figure of arm forces at 0.5% of population (up to 20th century) we should be very close to the truth in most situations. There were times though when armies got closer to 1%. In hieght of Roman Empire population reached 50 million with about 500 thousand legionaries. In Napoleon France there were 30 million people, and 300 thousand french troops.
    Finnish men have been farmer/warriors for the 1500 years that you can talk about Finns as a distinct tribe.
    The farmer part has went to history during the last 60 years, the warrior part still stands, most still serve in the army and support conscription.

    Finland has always had to sustain large armies for extended periods, from the past 1000 years Finns have been in war most of the time.
    For example in 30 Years War Finnish troops peaked at 60.000 troops sent in Europe from a population of 400-500.000.

    Finland had to release men for field work during the 2WW but the system was such that they could be called back fast.
    When Russians attacked -44 my grandfather was in leave, three days later he was in the front fighting.
    Even today Finland is one big military camp, everything is planned for war, changing industrial production, areas to move the population of biggest cities, every road and bridge prepared for explosives, arms, fuel, food and medical supply in caves and bunkers etc.

    Not everyone can be an elite special forces soldier but that is no different in professional armies.
    I would estimate Finland can produce 300.000 front line capable troops and the same number in local defense roles, that makes it over 10% of the population.

    The real problem is getting the equipment, now some of them only have an assault rifle to issue.
    But I think if it comes to that we would be arming seniors and teens also with hunting rifles, bows and rocks.
    I would say that for countries that fight every time for their survival, it is different than for large countries.

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    Right, you get shot by a Finnish marksman in the groin region and you yell "YOOOUCH!!!! You look down to see the bullet hole and zip! Another bullet just tore through your behind from the opposite direction.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Idun View Post
    Finnish men have been farmer/warriors for the 1500 years that you can talk about Finns as a distinct tribe.
    The farmer part has went to history during the last 60 years, the warrior part still stands, most still serve in the army and support conscription.
    Finland has always had to sustain large armies for extended periods, from the past 1000 years Finns have been in war most of the time.
    For example in 30 Years War Finnish troops peaked at 60.000 troops sent in Europe from a population of 400-500.000.
    It is impossible, you better check your numbers. It is more probable that 60 thousand troops participated trough duration of 30 year war or through 21 year of Great Northern war.
    Let's say that average family way back consisted of 5 kids and 2 adults. It means that there was one adult man (in military age) per seven people. 400,000 divided by 7 = 57,000 adult male. It would mean that every adult man would need to fight at once, and this is impossible. To make sense of numbers I would say that no more than 10 thousand men would be conscripted by swedish army at one time. 21 or 30 year war was long enough to replenish killed troops with young men reaching age 16. Number is still fairly large at more than 2% of population, but keep in mind that they served in Swedish Empire army, and Sweden was one of richest countries in Europe at this time.

    Other historic argument, against your claim of 60 thousand Finnish troops at the peak, is recorded number of Swedish troops during invasion of Russia in 1700. Invasion force was around 40,000 men, of something like 60 thousand of entire Swedish forces. You don't want to say that in 1700 hundreds all Swedish army was made of finnish men, do you? 60 thousand it was on average the size of the whole Swedish Empire army. It makes again around 2% of all population of swedish territory of 3 million people, but keep in mind that they were rich and it was during swedish empire expansion times.
    Even this 2% number of troops and many wars were too costly for them, therefore Swedish Empire didn't last too long.

    Quote below confirms my suspicion that 60 thousand was the number of all finnish participants during 21 year war.
    Of the nearly 60,000 Finns who served in the Swedish army, only about 10,000 survived the Great Northern War. Finland's prewar population of 400,000 was reduced by the end of the war to about 330,000.
    http://historymedren.about.com/libra...xtfinland7.htm


    Finland had to release men for field work during the 2WW but the system was such that they could be called back fast.
    When Russians attacked -44 my grandfather was in leave, three days later he was in the front fighting.
    Even today Finland is one big military camp, everything is planned for war, changing industrial production, areas to move the population of biggest cities, every road and bridge prepared for explosives, arms, fuel, food and medical supply in caves and bunkers etc.

    Not everyone can be an elite special forces soldier but that is no different in professional armies.
    I would estimate Finland can produce 300.000 front line capable troops and the same number in local defense roles, that makes it over 10% of the population.
    I'm not sure what you are trying to argue here. Did I mentioned that my calculations refer only to regular/professional armies, and pre 20th century? I'm sure I did.
    Be wary of people who tend to glorify the past, underestimate presence, and demonize the future.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    It is impossible, you better check your numbers. It is more probable that 60 thousand troops participated trough duration of 30 year war or through 21 year of Great Northern war.
    Let's say that average family way back consisted of 5 kids and 2 adults. It means that there was one adult man (in military age) per seven people. 400,000 divided by 7 = 57,000 adult male. It would mean that every adult man would need to fight at once, and this is impossible. To make sense of numbers I would say that no more than 10 thousand men would be conscripted by swedish army at one time. 21 or 30 year war was long enough to replenish killed troops with young men reaching age 16. Number is still fairly large at more than 2% of population, but keep in mind that they served in Swedish Empire army, and Sweden was one of richest countries in Europe at this time.

    Other historic argument, against your claim of 60 thousand Finnish troops at the peak, is recorded number of Swedish troops during invasion of Russia in 1700. Invasion force was around 40,000 men, of something like 60 thousand of entire Swedish forces. You don't want to say that in 1700 hundreds all Swedish army was made of finnish men, do you? 60 thousand it was on average the size of the whole Swedish Empire army. It makes again around 2% of all population of swedish territory of 3 million people, but keep in mind that they were rich and it was during swedish empire expansion times.
    Even this 2% number of troops and many wars were too costly for them, therefore Swedish Empire didn't last too long.

    Quote below confirms my suspicion that 60 thousand was the number of all finnish participants during 21 year war.

    http://historymedren.about.com/libra...xtfinland7.htm



    I'm not sure what you are trying to argue here. Did I mentioned that my calculations refer only to regular/professional armies, and pre 20th century? I'm sure I did.
    I was talking about 30 years war, that was partly funded by France and the rest plundering trough Europe.

    Your figures are too low, you have to understand the system in Sweden/Finland, there where the standing army that could be used outside the empire and the local troops.

    You can find people complaining to the crown that they are taking these local troops to garrison duties in the baltics, also men serving in the navy
    That was technically keeping them within the borders but taking them away from the farms, they where supposed to train three times a year locally and defend their own area.
    They must have gotten grain from France or something to do this move and it was temporary.

    Im arguing that the line between regular and militia troops does no apply easy in highly militarized small countries.
    These farmer/soldiers won most of their campaigns and battles.

    That 60.000 is 11-12% of population, the limit for service was 15-40+ years, welcome to Finnish history, this is our story and it is a fact.
    If one thing was done well it was keeping books on men available for military service, the books are all preserved.

    edit.

    One thing is possible, that the population estimates are too low.
    They where only interested in taxes and getting the men in the army.
    The men where recruited by a set of houses and the men where payed and equipped by them. The crown only had to keep track of those that payed for the men, they did not care where they came from.
    Lot of the soldiers where landless rural folk, not from the free farmers themselves, they where not kept that close count as they where moving from farm to farm.
    Finland did not have serfs but not all where land owners, enlisting to the army was a possibility for social advancement.
    My ancestors served as cavalry because they kept their lands free form tax that way, they could have payed for others but seem to have sent their youngest sons usually with 1-2 other men.

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