28 August 2008

Node: Military Transformation

Reading: Women and Military Institutions in Early Modern Europe: A Reconnaissance Barton C. Hacker Source: Signs, Vol. 6, No. 4 (Summer, 1981), pp. 643-671 Published by: The University of Chicago Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3173736 This was definitely a worthwhile article, less for what it contained, and more for the ideas I had while reading it. It focusses a great deal on English, American and (to some degree) Austrian experiences, but the approach is interesting. Essentially, it's a discussion of the lives and social status of the women who followed armies around. There's a lot of reference to other works (which are probably worth looking up later) and not a lot of primary sources, so I'm not entirely sure yet how legitimate some of the figures quoted are (the claims that up to 50% of an army, as counted, might be made up by camp followers seems suspicious). Some interesting thoughts, and I'll put in a brief summary (again, in rough note form, since I have to leave soon) of what I found relevant: There were, of course, any number of morally legitimate reasons a woman might choose to follow an army. Wives might well follow husbands, and augment (unreliable) promises of pay by performing menial tasks such as cooking, laundering, mending and firewood-gathering. Others seem to have done a brisk trade in the supply of luxury goods like tobacco and alcohol. Some simply had no place better to be, or saw fit to provide nursing, such as it was, to friends and family. Even simple things like helping to relieve burden by carrying things were percieved as helpful, valuable contributions -- and certainly would have left men in less weary shape for battle. And of course, others sold themselves as prostitutes -- though not (Hacker suggests) as many as historical assumption (and contemporary prejudice) suggests. It would be interesting to see if this social accusation and assumption is at any way linked to the efforts to encourage self-sufficiency in soldiers. Sancho de Londono, in Discours sur laforme et maniere qu'on devroit user, pour reduire la discipline militaire a meilleur et son ancien estate [(1589) , link is spanish, ] argues for the tolerance of camp prostitution as a means of preventing an army of men from committing crimes against local populations. Which makes sense -- this isn't an issue that any current army can honestly claim to have solved -- but the fact that it's being discussed at all suggests that it is an issue AND that there were those who felt otherwise. Find them :) Look for information about Gustavus Adolphus on his military codes surrounding camp followers for other contemporary examples -- it's alluded in the article that he was fairly stringent on their expected roles and treatment, but the source for this wasn't overly telling. Sir James Turner (1615-1686, Scottish soldier and military writer): As woman was created to be a helper to man, so women are great helpers to armies, to their husbands, especially those of the lower condition, neither should they be rashly banisht out of armies; sent away they may be sometimes for weighty considerations: they provide, buy and dress their husband's meat, when their husbands are on duty or newly come from it; they bring in fewel for fire; a souldier's wife may be helpful to others, and gain money to her husband and herself; especially they are useful in camp and leaguers, being permitted (which should not be refused them) to go some miles from the camp to buy victuals and other necessaries. [uncited in the article, go find] Check to see if/when custom of being granted permission to marry is implemented in France c. 1650 and any limits on the number of followers a company was allowed. Nicolas Guerard (fl. 1680-1719) titled Soldats en arreste et sur la cheval de bois (engraving of two people (one, female) being punished on the wooden horse in the barrack yard) -- see if his engravings can be tracked down. (Gallica has quite a few of his engravings -- haven't had time to search yet) In 1840: French army barred army wives from serving as vivandieres, who were now issued uniforms and assigned regular duties -- out of time period certainly, but interesting bookend. Other possible routes to explore with this include: Filles du Roi and settlement in Quebec, Haiti and Louisiana (1663 - 1673?) and other examples of this policy (if any, and where/how it developed) Hmm. Been reading a bit about the Filles du Roi (I haven't studied them before, so want general knowledge). Interesting demographics (of an approximate 700 to Canada) : "After l'Ile-de-France, the provinces contributing most to the movement are: Normandy, with 120 girls, Aunis, le Poitou, Champagne, Picardy, Orléans, and Beauce. Only Alsace, Dauphiné, Provence, Languedoc, Roussillon, Béarn, Gascony and the county of Foix did not participate. " (http://www.civilization.ca/vmnf/popul/filles/18-en.htm, very basic site) I am eyeing the demographics from Normandy with a very thoughtful eye to the reading on Normandy customary law re. females. I wonder if that number is out of line for population distribution, and (if so) if there's any other factors that may have made this seem like a good and timely choice. Hmm. In today's fun day of odd web searches, this look utterly tangental and indulgent of the part of me that likes curious things: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Dieu-Le-Veut

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