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Britains SoldiersRethinking War and Society, 1715-1815$
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Kevin Linch and Matthew McCormack

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781846319556

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781846319556.001.0001

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The Eighteenth-Century British Army as a European Institution

The Eighteenth-Century British Army as a European Institution

(p.17) 1 The Eighteenth-Century British Army as a European Institution
Britains Soldiers

Stephen Conway

Liverpool University Press

We tend to associate armies in the modern world with nation states. Armies are instruments of state power, funded from the public purse; in wartime, particularly, they often epitomize the nation. British people in the eighteenth century came to see their army in much the same way. Even in the first decades of that century, a time of regularly voiced suspicion of a permanent military force, we can find references to the army as a national institution; from the late 1750s, when British soldiers acquitted themselves creditably in the later stages of the Seven Years War, such descriptions became more common as the army emerged as a symbol of national effort and a focus of national pride. But if the army embodied and represented the nation, it was also, paradoxically, an international or European institution, having much in common with, and closely connected to, other European armies. Soldiers – particularly officers, but also members of the rank and file – were acutely aware of what united them with other European military men. This chapter analyses the European dimensions of the eighteenth-century British army, drawing mainly on evidence from the years 1740 to 1783.

Keywords:   British army, soldiers, Europe, identity, national, international, transnational, military Europe

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