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The Experience of Soldiering: Civil-Military Relations and Popular Protest in England, 1790-1805.

Cozens, Joseph Thomas (2016) The Experience of Soldiering: Civil-Military Relations and Popular Protest in England, 1790-1805. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Over the past three decades, historians of the long eighteenth century have emphasized both the stability of the British state and the progressive growth of national sentiment over the period. The enormous mobilization of manpower during the French Wars is often characterized as the culmination of this evolution. Arming to fight the French, it is argued, was a formative process, which encouraged greater social cohesion, and forged an overarching sense of national identity. This thesis will contend that the ‘Nation-in-Arms’ interpretation has been constructed at a considerable remove from the culture and lives of common people. Adopting a ‘history from below’ approach, it will re-evaluate the popular experience of mass arming, by focusing upon two relatively neglected branches of the armed forces, the army and militia. Three central themes have been selected for investigation: The recruitment process, the experience of soldiering in the home garrison, and the role of armed force in maintaining public order. It will be shown that, between 1790 and 1805, the government was faced by a mixture of popular ambivalence and hostility towards the raising of the army and militia. It will be demonstrated that economic privation was the preeminent cause of enlistment and that, once recruited, soldiers and militiamen retained their working-class attitudes, and viewed their service primarily as a contractual form of labour. The extent to which armed service was viewed as conditional and negotiable will be emphasized through an examination of the military crimes of mutiny and desertion. Finally, an analysis of military deployments during industrial protests and food riots will demonstrate that, during the French Wars, the state became much more reliant upon armed force for maintaining public order. By adopting a ‘history from below’ approach, the limits of social stability and social cohesion will be tested, and a richer, more variegated, understanding of the popular experience of mass-arming will be offered.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Protest, British Army, Napoleonic Wars, Recruitment, Desertion, Mutiny, Food Riots, Strikes, Trades Disputes,
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > History, Department of
Depositing User: Joseph Cozens
Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2016 10:01
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2021 02:00

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