In the Shadow of the Citizen-Soldier: Politics and Gender in Dutch Officers' Careers, 1780-1815

TitleIn the Shadow of the Citizen-Soldier: Politics and Gender in Dutch Officers' Careers, 1780-1815
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsDudink, Stefan
EditorHagemann, Karen, Gisela Mettele, and Jane Rendall
Book TitleGender, War and Politics: Transatlantic Perspectives, 1775-1830
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
CityBasingstoke, UK

This book chapter studies the politics of gender in the military with a focus on Dutch Officers' careers between 1780 and 1815. Military officers’ experiences of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars differed dramatically for reasons that are obvious in some cases and in others merit further consideration. If not cut short by injury or death, an ambitious officer’s career was largely shaped during this period by his ability to adapt both to the changing nature of war and politics and to the evolving relationship between them.  By the late eighteenth c a ‘culture of war’ that was dominated by aristocrats who did not sharply distinguish their professional roles as military officers from their social identity as noblemen gave way to a new culture organized around a separation of the military from civil society. This new culture came with an ‘infrastructure of difference’ that segregated the military institutionally by housing soldiers in barracks, educating them in military academies and regulating their conduct by means of a separate legal system. Officers were required to wear uniforms that visually displayed their military status, to spend more and more time soldiering and to espouse a political cause rather than a code of honour to which they were unconditionally bound. Instead of belonging to a warrior class that adhered to a concept of honour that pre-dated the nation-state, they were becoming professionals in the service of a state government, regardless of whether they fought for their native country. 

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