'Habits Appropriate to Her Sex': The Female Military Experience in France During the Age of Revolution

Title'Habits Appropriate to Her Sex': The Female Military Experience in France During the Age of Revolution
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsCardoza, Thomas
EditorHagemann, Karen, Gisela Mettele, and Jane Rendall
Book TitleGender, War and Politics: Transatlantic Perspectives, 1775-1830
Pagination188-205
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
CityBasingstoke, UK; New York
Abstract

This book chapter shows that thousands of women served with French military units between 1792 and 1815. The French army included far more women than did the armies of other European powers. Each of the French army’s female roles had unique characteristics, but all involved women working in a largely male world and engaging in combat at least occasionally. Therefore, by definition, these roles implicitly challenged ideas of women as unsuited to military service, particularly combat. Yet despite numerous variations and exceptions, a remarkable continuity prevailed across four and a half decades and numerous regime changes. While women participated in the male activity of war far more extensively than they did in other European armies of the time, the French government and military officials carefully regulated and circumscribed their activities, confining them as much as possible to the roles of mother, nurse and housekeeper. When it became impossible to do so in reality, powerful men still did so in perception, by determining which women received recognition for heroism, and by controlling rewards, pensions and the narrative of women’s actions.

URLhttps://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1057/9780230283046_10
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903077709

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