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Civilians and War in Europe, 1618–1815$
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Erica Charters, Eve Rosenhaft, and Hannah Smith

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9781846317118

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846317699

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date: 20 November 2017

Plunder on the Peninsula: British Soldiers and Local Civilians During the Peninsular War, 1808–1813

Plunder on the Peninsula: British Soldiers and Local Civilians During the Peninsular War, 1808–1813

Chapter:
(p.209) 14 Plunder on the Peninsula: British Soldiers and Local Civilians During the Peninsular War, 1808–1813
Source:
Civilians and War in Europe, 1618–1815
Author(s):
Gavin Daly
Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/UPO9781846317699.014

This chapter examines the nature of plunder by the British army in the Peninsular War, and shows that new forms of plunder developed as a result of both cultural perceptions and the specific experience of the Peninsular War. Aside from the British, the French, Spanish, and Portuguese armies also plundered the local inhabitants. They confiscated public merchandise and estates, requisitioned harvests, seized church property and valuables, and levied crippling war contributions on the provinces. French troops committed atrocities against civilians and looted towns and villages, churches and monasteries after razing them to the ground. British soldiers carried out plunder due to necessity, opportunism, and collecting. Yet British plunder was also restrained and facilitated by military, legal, customary, cultural, and environmental factors that converged during the Peninsular War to transform some British soldiers into banditti in red coats.

Keywords:   Peninsular War, British army, soldiers, plunder, civilians, opportunism

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