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By Thomas Hippler

This booklet examines the construction of ‘national armies’ via obligatory army provider in France and Prussia through the French Revolution and the Prussian Reform interval. The French Revolution attempted to set up army and political buildings within which the militia and society may merge. on the way to make sure that the military could by no means develop into a method of oppression opposed to the folk, the entire inhabitants may still therefore ‘be’ the military. Defeated through the big army power that those new political settings had unchained in France, Prussia tailored the French ideas to its personal wishes, therefore laying the foundation for its contributions to the victories of the coalition troops in 1813-15. Conscription had implications that went past the only army sphere and concerned assumptions in regards to the nature of the kingdom and its dating to its electorate. It used to be the fabric foundation of Napoleon’s campaigns and of the German ‘wars of nationwide liberation’ of 1813-15, earlier than turning into a cornerstone of the Prussian Reforms and the construction of a civil society ‘from above’. army provider has for this reason been some of the most crucial and contradictory associations of the trendy geographical region. voters, infantrymen and nationwide Armies might be of curiosity to historians of contemporary Europe, army historians and scholars of highbrow historical past regularly.

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Extra info for Citizens, Soldiers and National Armies: Military Service in France and Germany, 1789-1830 (War, History and Politics)

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It is interesting to note that Rousseau consciously acknowledges the circle and the impossibility of bringing it into being: In order for an emerging people to appreciate the healthy maxims of politics and follow the fundamental rules of statecraft, the effect would have to become the cause; the social spirit, which should be a result of the institution, would have to preside over the founding of the institution itself; and men would have, before laws, to be what they ought to become by means of laws (Rousseau 1994: 156) The effect would have to become the cause: this should be considered as the blindspot of Rousseau’s political philosophy.

Accordingly, stress was laid on the education of the soldier from the point of view of physical education, training in handling weapons and the science of war. One generation on, the entire population would become ‘a race endowed with ever virtuous ardour for a military life, and who would eagerly thirst after fame and glory’. Virtue would spread through the whole of society: ‘this thirst after military exercises, now awaked amongst the nobility, will soon be spread abroad, and caught by the whole nation’.

While clearly an expression of the aristocratic reaction, La noblesse militaire is also an ideological pointer towards later conceptions favouring merit above birth (see Smith 1996). The aristocratic reaction also had an impact on another tendency in the second half of the eighteenth century: the professionalization of the armed forces, which was characterized by an increase in the duration of service, a rationalization of the rules of advancement and the commitment to a stricter discipline and subordination.

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