Citizen Soldiers and the Key to the Bastille by Julia Osman

By Julia Osman

Showcasing French participation within the Seven Years' battle and the yankee Revolution, this booklet exhibits the French military on the center of innovative, social, and cultural swap. Osman argues that efforts to remodel the French military right into a citizen military earlier than 1789 caused and assisted in shaping the French Revolution.

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When Louis XIV had harnessed those qualities that made for honorable and victorious military officers, he had institutionalized it in a way that both strengthened the French army and set it on a course that would eventually see it weakened. In regulating and creating standards for the army that measured personal gloire, the king had also made it possible for members of the nobility with little talent in military duties, but great wealth, to obtain a place, and even senior rank, in the French army.

Studying the ancients provided them with a solid foundation for understanding the art of war while also teaching them military virtues. 16 Because of the general belief that military and political principles remained absolute and unchanging, studying ancient warriors provided useful information and examples for contemporary officers. 17 From their earliest days, nobles learned to imitate the ancients’ moral code and to use warfare as a platform for pursuing gloire for the king and themselves. Studying family histories contributed to this calling by providing more immediate examples of heroic deeds, self-sacrifice, and feats of gloire.

23 Beyond these practical matters, historians have argued that the Enlightenment, with its emphasis on reason and humane values, influenced the way officers engaged in war. Beginning with the era of Louis XIV and lasting through the eighteenth century, monarchs and officers discouraged violence against civilians and had stringent rules to prevent their soldiers from plundering towns in their path. 24 If war was to be waged, it had to be waged as humanely as possible. This approach fit into the aristocratic culture of the officer corps, in which war was seen as a ‘gentlemanly game’ between aristocrats, who felt more connected to each other through class and status than to common members of their own state.

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