Introduction: Gender, War and the Nation in the Period of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars — European Perspectives

TitleIntroduction: Gender, War and the Nation in the Period of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars — European Perspectives
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsAaslestad, Katherine, Karen Hagemann, and Judith Miller
JournalEuropean History Quarterly
Pagination501 - 506
Date Published2007

In France in 1792-93, as in Prussia in 1813, propaganda revolved around the idea that men were duty-bound as citizens, fathers, and brothers to defend their families, homes, and country. In this way, the willingness to fight was intertwined with masculinity. The hero’s death was now open for the first time to every man; it was deemed the highest form of patriotism. The man who was a fatherland-loving citizen, who was willing to fight and die for this nation, and who demanded representation in the government became the new masculine ideal for the society of citizens. …No experiment in republican or democratic self-government before the French Revolution had resorted to universal military service and linked it to political rights. ...The forms of mobilization introduced in different countries during the wars between 1792 and 1815 dramatically altered eligibility for military service, and required a new rhetoric to legitimate this change as they induced men to fight. …[A] consequence of the new form of warfare was that military engagements, troop movements, occupation, and annexation affected civil society more deeply than during any of the eighteenth –century wars. …The new demands that national mass wars placed on both men and women rested on changes in ideas about the gender order . For the analysis of this period of war, gender is an important marker of the changes and continuities, the ambiguities and paradoxes in war, society, and culture. …This chapter emphasizes the importance of culture and gender to an analysis of this period. It compares the debates on universal military service and citizenship, their gendered meanings, and their cultural representations in France and Prussia – two different societies and political systems. (In lieu of an abstract this is an excerpt from the article.)

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