Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

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Press gang
(852 words)

The press gang was an early modern form of military recruitment, in which free men were taken by force to serve in the navy. It amounted to a form of forced migration and long-term temporary migration.

The system emerged as mercenary armies were replaced by standing armies, which took place between around 1650 and 1800 (Army reforms). Most soldiers and sailors on naval vessels in early modern European standing armed forces were recruited as free individuals (or in groups) for a specified term. In states like Sweden from the 17th century and most …

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Lucassen, Jan and Lucassen, Leo, “Press gang”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 07 June 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_SIM_025853>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20210107

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