The service as mercenaries, the military service in foreign armies thus, was an essential trade sector for large parts of the Swiss population for many centuries. Switzerland had a low density of population, but it was constantly overpopulated nevertheless: the natural resources were insufficient to cover the needs of the population, no matter how small. Around the middle of the 17th century, mercenaries on entering an army received a first bounty from one to 1 1/2 talers. On top of that, they earned roughly 4 talers a month. In addition to their pay they received clothing, food and lodging.