At least since Treitschke, historians have maintained that the former Prussian provinces ceded to Napoleon after Tilsit welcomed the armies of 6th coalition as liberators. Mainly integrated into the kingdom of Westphalia, they are thought to have suffered particularly from French occupation Napoleonic exploitation. Revisiting this question implies to focus on popular mobilization during the wars of 1813 and 1814.
However, studies taking up, at the scale of Westphalia, Rudolf Ibekken’s work about voluntary military service for the whole Prussian monarchy, are lacking. Indeed, the masses were the target of propaganda, but it is much more difficult to know how far people were actually involved in this war. Police records about popular unrest and attitudes during the invasion of Westphalia’s Eastern departments by Prussian and Russian troops as well as hiring of volunteers show the socially and geographically very uneven popular mobilization. The spatial patterns of this mobilization may be explained both by differences in war experience and socio-economic factors. Thus it seems necessary to give a more nuanced view of the Westphalian legacy than that left by the propaganda.