Introduction — War as Emotion: Cultural Fields of Conflict and Feeling

Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Emotions book series (PSHE)


The word ‘emotion’, first used in France in the fifteenth century to denote political or social upheaval, was also commonly linked to physical violence. Nicole Hochner observes that in the 1429 Chronique du Bon duc Loys de Bourbon, ‘l’esmotion du duc de Bretaigne’ (the ‘emotion’ of the Duke of Brittany), leads directly to a siege of the French town of Troyes. The OED puts the earliest reference to ‘emotiones’ in English over a century later, in 1562, where it was also used to describe manifestations of social unrest: ‘the great tumultes and emotiones that were in Fraunce between the king and the nobilite.’1 During the reign of Elizabeth I the term entered English vocabulary in this triangulation of the French, Italian, and English languages as a description of — and an explanation for — escalating conflict, most frequently in historical accounts. Throughout history emotions have not just started wars, but been firmly entrenched within them, and are a heightened condition of their narrative aftermath. The history of emotions must necessarily therefore take this long written history of war and violent conflict into account.


Violent Conflict Emotional Community Modern Warfare Emotional Lexicon American Historical Review 
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© Stephanie Downes, Andrew Lynch, and Katrina O’Loughlin 2015

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