Violence and the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars: Massacre, Conquest and the Imperial Enterprise

TitleViolence and the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars: Massacre, Conquest and the Imperial Enterprise
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsDwyer, Philip G.
JournalJournal of Genocide Research
Volume15
Issue2
Pagination117-131
Date Published2013
Abstract

Violence and the French Revolution has generated a considerable body of work, much of which focuses on the processes leading toward the Terror, or aspects of the Terror and Counter-Revolution. In contrast, the violence committed by French troops abroad during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars has largely been neglected, treated as something peripheral to the dynamics of conquest or as something peculiar to the nature of mass revolutionary armies. This article argues that far from being peripheral, massacre was on the contrary a method used by the French state in an effort to impose rule on conquered territories and to assimilate them into the empire. The territorial expansion of the French empire and the subjugation of neighbouring states should consequently be seen as part of a colonizing enterprise. To that extent, the methods used by the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic armies to subdue recalcitrant populations were no more violent than earlier periods. However, the purpose of the subjugation differed radically from previous eighteenth-century European wars. French troops, imbued with a sense of their own cultural and political superiority, were bringing enlightenment and civilization to the rest of Europe.

URLhttp://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14623528.2013.789180
Short TitleViolence and the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars
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5136109234

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