"Society, Mass Warfare, and Gender in Europe during and after the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars"
In: The Oxford Handbook of Gender, War, and the Western World since 1600. Edited by Karen Hagemann, Stefan Dudink, and Sonya O. Rose
The period of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars between 1792 and 1815 was characterized by mass warfare on an unprecedented scale. All the belligerent states used large armies that were principally composed of volunteers, militias, and conscripts and were increasingly mobilized by patriotic and nationalist rhetoric. But warfare on this scale did not depend only on the military; it also required the mobilization of society to provide material war support, medical care, and war charity. Civilians played a significant role in these wars. They were the victims of war violence and were also a target for economic warfare. This chapter explores the implications of this new form of mass warfare for women and for the gender order. After discussing the major changes in the political and military order and their consequences for the waging of war during this period, the chapter examines the costs of the new forms of mass warfare for society and explores the different forms of encounter between soldiers and civilians. The final section looks at the variety of ways in which women contributed to the war effort.