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Interaction and perception in Anglo-German armies: 1689-1815

Wishon, M.; (2011) Interaction and perception in Anglo-German armies: 1689-1815. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Throughout the ‘long eighteenth century’ Britain was heavily reliant upon soldiers from states within the Holy Roman Empire to augment British forces during times of war, especially in the repeated conflicts with Bourbon, Revolutionary, and Napoleonic France. The disparity in populations between these two rival powers, and the British public’s reluctance to maintain a large standing army, made this external source of manpower of crucial importance. Whereas the majority of these forces were acting in the capacity of allies, ‘auxiliary’ forces were hired as well, and from the mid-century onwards, a small but steadily increasing number of German men would serve within British regiments or distinct formations referred to as ‘Foreign Corps’. Employing or allying with these troops would result in these Anglo-German armies operating not only on the European continent but in the American Colonies, Caribbean and within the British Isles as well. Within these multinational coalitions, soldiers would encounter and interact with one another in a variety of professional and informal venues, and many participants recorded their opinions of these foreign ‘brother-soldiers’ in journals, private correspondence, or memoirs. These commentaries are an invaluable source for understanding how individual Briton’s viewed some of their most valued and consistent allies – discussions that are just as insightful as comparisons made with their French enemies. Although their impressions borrowed from many prevalent stereotypes, especially in analyses concerning national character, these soldier-authors had a unique perspective and their writings reflect this. These men belonged to the soldiering profession, and this solidarity among military men would often focus their attention away from national or cultural distinctions, and towards defining how their allies adhered to the common ideal of a good soldier. The result was that though the British public may have maintained a derogatory attitude towards German soldiery, Britain’s own military men – due to shared identities and experiences – viewed them far more favourably.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Interaction and perception in Anglo-German armies: 1689-1815
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > History

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