Probably the post-Roman
world's first professional, full-time military
unit, the New Model Army was the name given by Oliver Cromwell
to his troops during the English Civil War
. Prior to this armies had been composed of a ragtag
mix of people: farmers and peasant
s who were oath-bound
to fight for their feudal Lord of the Manor
and mercenaries willing to fight for whoever promised the largest pot of gold
In 1644 Cromwell realised that without a committed fighting force his Parliamentarians would be unlikely to defeat the King and his armies. Cromwell's reorganisation was one of the most radical acts of the time.
The generals of the New Model Army were no longer titled landowners such as the Earl of Essex and Earl of Manchester; instead professional fighting men were given command of the regiments. Additionally regiments were rearranged to be of a standard number of soldiers, and rations, pay and uniforms were made standard. Promotion was achieved strictly on military prowess rather than the old system of bribery or being from the "right" background. A serious attempt was made to separate politics and warfare by declaring that no Member of Parliament could lead a unit into battle.
The Royalists were at first disdainful of what they nicknamed the "New Noddle", but Cromwell's invention of a standing army was one of the key things that swung the balance of power in his favour: within a year the King had surrendered and Cromwell was victorious. Interestingly, the troops of the NMA, aware that they had been crucial to the victory of Parliament, became increasingly political, forming radical groups such as the Levellers and Diggers.