Under the Shadow of Defeat

Reference work entry

Karine Varley’s book Under the Shadow of Defeat is the first wide-ranging analysis of how memories of the Franco-Prussian War shaped French political culture and identities. Examining war remembrance as an emerging mass phenomenon in Europe, it sheds new light on the relationship between memories and the emergence of new concepts of the nation.

One Hundred and Forty Years Ago

Aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War

In the wake of military defeat, nations have a talent for reinventing themselves. The pain of transition from humiliation to self-respect can be softened by a thick layer of historical reinterpretation, a retelling of the story that minimizes blunders and builds on myth. By way of example, Germany after the Great War immediately springs to mind but in a revealing study of 1870–71, ‘l’année terrible’, when proud France was crushed by the upstart Prussia, Karine Varley (Under the Shadow of Defeat. The War of 187071 in FrenchMemory) shows that a recognizable pattern of self...


  1. Varley, Karine, Under the Shadow of Defeat. The War of 1870–71 in French Memory. Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2019

Personalised recommendations