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Absolute WarViolence and Mass Warfare in the German Lands, 1792-1820$
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Mark Hewitson

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198787457

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198787457.001.0001

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The Violence of Civilian Life

The Violence of Civilian Life

(p.125) 3 The Violence of Civilian Life
Absolute War

Mark Hewitson

Oxford University Press

The extent to which contemporaries’ conceptions of warfare altered during the revolutionary and Napoleonic periods depended, more than in the past, on their direct experience of military conflict. This chapter investigates the effects of such direct experiences of war on the part of civilians through an assessment of the role played by violence, suffering, and attitudes to death in subjects’ daily lives. It argues that civilians only gained an insight into the conditions of combat on rare occasions. ‘War’ continued to be understood by many of them in a broader sense—involving billeting, troop movements, looting, and disease—than it was by the hundreds of thousands of conscripts and other army recruits. The chapter explores civilians’ ‘sentiments’. How can we explain contemporaries’ emotional responses to military conflict?

Keywords:   civilians, suffering, death, sentiments, billeting, looting, disease

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