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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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‘Turning Out for Twenty-Days Amusement’: The Militia in Georgian Satirical Prints 1

‘Turning Out for Twenty-Days Amusement’: The Militia in Georgian Satirical Prints 1

(p.157) 11 ‘Turning Out for Twenty-Days Amusement’: The Militia in Georgian Satirical Prints 1
Civilians and War in Europe, 1618–1815

Matthew McCormack

Liverpool University Press

The period after 1783 was, in the words of Dorothy George, ‘the classic age of English caricature’. Artists such as Thomas Rowlandson, Isaac Cruikshank, and James Gillray produced prints featuring militiamen. Gillray's 1796 print ‘Supplementary Militia, turning out for Twenty-Days Amusement’ pokes fun at the militiamen, depicting them as hapless amateurs rather than professionals. For historians, the militia was a key political issue in eighteenth-century Britain, figuring prominently in constitutional debates about executive power, national strength, and the rights and responsibilities of ordinary citizens. Many prints appeared during the campaign to reform the institution at the onset of the Seven Years War, but changes in civilian defences during the wars against Revolutionary France also changed the visual representation of the militiaman. This chapter argues that satirical prints were not only about cheap jokes about the militia's ineptitude or failure to be true soldiers.

Keywords:   James Gillray, satirical prints, soldiers, Britain, militia, Seven Years War, caricature, France

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