Mark Stoneman

Independent Historian / Freelance Editor and Translator

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Soldiers and Civilians in the Franco-Prussian War

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Illustration of peasants in the Vosges shooting at German soldiers, titled “Paysans des Vosges faisant le coup de feu.” Source: L’Illustration EuropĂ©enne 1870, p. xvii, via Wikimedia Commons.

This was the first project in which I brought together social history, cultural history, and war. It began as an investigation into why Bavarian soldiers earned a reputation for atrocities in 1870–71. The need to explain both their good and their terrible relations with French civilians led me to consider factors such as social background, gender norms, nationalism, identity, morale, leadership, discipline, logistics, personal and tactical security, and normative images of war. There is still a lot to unpack in this emblematic and instructive moment in the modern history of war and society.

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