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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The German Landsknechts were colourful mercenary soldiers with a formidable reputation, who became an important military force through late 15th- and 16th-century Europe. Consisting predominantly of German mercenary pikemen and supporting foot soldiers, they achieved the reputation for being the universal mercenaries of early modern Europe.


The Germanic compound Landsknecht (earlier Lantknecht, without fugen-s) combines land "land, country", here in the sense of "lowlands" and knecht "servant, vassal", here in the sense of "foot-soldier". The compound Lantknecht was used during the 15th century of bailiffs or court ushers. In its application to mercenaries, it is first recorded in the 1480s, perhaps coined by Peter von HagenbachTemplate:Citation needed and intended to indicate soldiers of the lowlands of Swabia as opposed to the "highlander" Swiss mercenaries.

As early as 1500, the term was re-etymologized as Template:Lang, suggesting a derivation from Lanze "lance; pike". The modern term Landser is possibly based on Template:Lang, as is the name of the French card game Lansquenet.

The more common English-language plural form is Landsknechts, but the original German form Landsknechte is also in use. Since it is a common noun, it may also be written with lower-case "l", landsknechts (though in German it would be capitalized).

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Landsknecht" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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