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Introduction: Nations in Arms — People at War

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Abstract

The period of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars has been described as that of the first ‘total war’, a war that affected millions of people’s lives, brought a whole continent into contact with armies and bloodshed, and subsumed the economies of most European states to the needs and exigencies of the military.1 The after-effects of the French Revolution, which permanently influenced European political culture far beyond France’s borders, have, of course, been widely analysed. But the extent to which the constant state of war that existed between 1792 and 1815 shaped the everyday experience of soldiers and civilians has been much less studied. Yet these wars affected nearly every European country as well as large areas of Asia, Africa and North America.2 They were conducted by mass armies and often mobilized by patriotic and national propaganda, and they led to the circulation of millions of people — soldiers, prisoners of war and civilians — throughout Europe and beyond. The changing nature of warfare had far-reaching consequences for civil society as well as for those directly engaged in fighting. Those who lived through the period between 1792 and 1815 shared formative experiences and memories.

Keywords

  • Military Service
  • French Revolution
  • Moral Economy
  • Female Soldier
  • Cultural Baggage

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Notes

  1. David A. Bell, The First Total War. Napoleon’s Europe and the Birth of Warfare As We Know It ( London: Bloomsbury, 2007 ).

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  2. Robert Epstein, Napoleon’s Last Victory and the Emergence of Modern War ( Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1994 ).

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  3. Michael S. Neiberg, Soldiers’ Lives Through History: The Nineteenth Century (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2006 ).

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  4. See Michael Epkenhans, Stig Förster and Karen Hagemann (eds), Militiirische Erinnerungskultur. Soldaten im Spiegel von Biographien, Memoiren and Selbstzeugnissen ( Paderborn: Schöningh, 2006 ).

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  5. Linda Colley, Britons. Forging the Nation 1707–1837 ( New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992 ).

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  6. John A Lynn, Feeding Mars: Logistics in Western Warfare from the Middle Ages to the Present ( Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1993 ).

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  7. Clive Emsley, British Society and the French Wars, 1793–1815 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1979), pp. 134–142,154–161.

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  8. William H. Sewell, Gender, History, and Deconstruction: Joan W. Scott’s Gender and the Politics of History, CSST Working Paper 34 (Ann Arbor, MI, 1989 ), p. 19.

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  9. Nikolaus Buschmann and Horst Carl (eds), Die Erfahrung des Krieges. Erfahrungsgeschichtliche Perspektiven von der Französischen Revolution bis zum Zweiten Weltkrieg (Paderborn: Schöningh, 2001), in particular the introduction.

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  10. Ute Planert, Der Mythos vom Befreiungskrieg. Der deutsche Süden und die französischen Kriege. Alltag, Wahrnehmung (Um)Deutung ( Paderborn: Schöningh, 2007 ).

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  11. See Samuel Hynes, The Soldiers’ Tale. Bearing Witness to Modern War ( London: Allen Lane, 1997 ).

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© 2009 Alan Forrest, Karen Hagemann and Jane Rendall

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Forrest, A., Hagemann, K., Rendall, J. (2009). Introduction: Nations in Arms — People at War. In: Forrest, A., Hagemann, K., Rendall, J. (eds) Soldiers, Citizens and Civilians. War, Culture and Society, 1750–1850. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230583290_1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230583290_1

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, London

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-349-36086-4

  • Online ISBN: 978-0-230-58329-0

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