Chapter 7: Abstract

Society, Mass Warfare and Gender in Europe during and after the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars

Alan Forrest (University of York, Department of History)


The period of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars between 1792 and 1815 was characterized by mass warfare on an unprecedented scale. All the belligerent states used large armies that were principally composed of volunteers, militias and conscripts and were increasingly mobilized by patriotic and nationalist rhetoric. But warfare on this scale did not depend only on the military; it also required the mobilization of civil society to provide material war support, medical care and war charity. Civilians played a significant role in these wars. They were the victims of war violence and were also a target for economic warfare. This chapter explores the implications of this new form of mass warfare for women and for the gender order. After discussing the major changes in the political and military order and their consequences for the waging of war during this period, it examines the costs of the new forms of mass warfare for society and explores the different forms of encounter between soldiers and civilians. A final section looks at the variety of ways in which women contributed to the war effort.


Citizenship; Economic and Social Costs of War; Patriotic Women’s Associations; Warfare and Civilians; Gender; Men; Women; Anti-Napoleonic Struggle; French Revolutionary Wars; Napoleonic Wars; Europe.

In Part I “From the Thirty Years War and Colonial Conquest to the Wars of Revolution and Independence” of the Oxford Handbook of Gender and War  since 1600.

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