Archive | March 2015

Mort à la Différence!

Once again, my blog becomes a harbinger for things-to-come. Just weeks after I wondered (in a comment thread) why the French Archives de Guerre (SHD, an official French governmental agency, mind you) didn’t have a French equivalent for “le Wi-Fi” on its website, it turns out there’s been a possible sea-change in official policy towards protecting the French language from foreign infiltration. Those familiar with French culture, and with the history of Cardinal Richelieu’s l’Académie française, know that there’s been a long tradition of keeping the French language French, through legislative means as necessary. Depending on your opinion of French culture, that’s either a good or bad thing. For what it’s worth, English authors like Defoe and Swift failed to convince their own government to set up a comparable English Academy, much to the chagrin of non-native (and more than a few native) English speakers ever since.

It gets a bit more complicated when we include the tendency of French to take a lot of words to say things. Feel fee to point me to some linguistic study, but my wife, a computer programmer, can confirm that she constantly has to lengthen the width of her web form columns when converting a technical English-language form to French (with French translations provided by French speakers). The result, as a New York Times article points out, is that the term “wi-fi” formally translates into “accès sans fil à l’Internet”, which is great unless you want to use more than 113 of a tweet’s 140 characters.

But as the world globalizes, and as computer technology breaks down barriers between countries (see map below), convenience increasingly wins out. As does character count.

Total views of Skulking blog since Feb. 2012, by country

Total views of Skulking blog since Feb. 2012, by country

Now, apparently, the French establishment is beginning to relax a bit, and bow to the inevitable mishmashing of languages around the world by allowing foreign words into the official vernacular. That, I think, is a good thing.

Numerous news outlets are reporting on the recent comments by the French minister of culture online, some behind paywalls no doubt. Here’s just one.

The Cardonnel School of Management and Labor Relations

Adam Cardonnel is well known to Marlburian scholars. As personal secretary to the Duke of Marlborough and de facto Secretary at War, he was the administrative link that kept John Churchill connected to goings-on in the rest of the world. As a part of his office he also kept 9 volumes of letter books (Additional MSS 61394-61401, almost 2,000 folios of condensed script), wherein he copied all the administrative outgoing correspondence on the Duke’s behalf.

Cardonnel letter book

Cardonnel letter book page

He was, in other words, a servant of the Duke, and of the State.

Historians today are fortunate to be able to take advantage of all those copies Cardonnel made for nigh on a decade. But why are we so lucky to have a Cardonnel? If we stop and think for a moment, we quickly realize that every hour Cardonnel spent copying was an hour he couldn’t be doing other things. Thus, even servants of the State have servants, which prompts the business/labor historian in me to ask: how does a servant treat their own servants?

Let’s let Cardonnel tell us his secret to Human Resources management in his own words:

“… [A servant] was telling me the morning I came away that some of the servants grudg’d going into the feild without more wages. If it be so, pray let them have what they ask; but I’le be even with them, for as soon as I come to the camp I’le strip ’em and turn ’em loose, then it’s likely they will be glad to serve me for less.”

(From Alfred Morrison, ed., Collection of Autograph Letters 2:66, to Henry Watkins.)

Move over Zig Ziglar and Tony Robbins, we’ve got a new motivational speaker in town.

More books all over the map

Bloomsbury Studies in Military History is ramping up. Recent books include:

Davies, Brian. Empire and Military Revolution in Eastern Europe: Russia’s Turkish Wars in the Eighteenth Century. Reprint edition. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013.
Abstract: In terms of resource mobilization and devastation the wars between Russia, the Crimean Khanate and the Ottoman Empire were some of the largest of the eighteenth century, and had enormous consequences for the balance of power in Eastern Europe.Brian Davies examines how these conflicts characterized the course of Russian military development in response to Ottoman and Crimean Tatar threats and to determine under what circumstances and in what ways Russian military power experienced a “revolution” awarding it clear preponderance over the Ottoman-Crimean system.A central part of Davies’ argument is that identifying and explaining a Military Revolution must involve examining the role of factors not purely military. One must look not only at new military technology, new force and command structure, new tactical thinking, and new recruitment and military finance practices but also consider the impact of larger demographic, economic, and sociopolitical changes.
Henshaw, Victoria. Scotland and the British Army, 1700-1750: Defending the Union. 1 edition. Bloomsbury Academic, 2014.
Abstract: The wholesale assimilation of Scots into the British Army is largely associated with the recruitment of Highlanders during and after the Seven Years War.  This important new study demonstrates that the assimilation of Lowland and Highland Scots into the British Army was a salient feature of its history in the first half of the 18th century and was already well advanced by the outbreak of the Seven Years War. Scotland and the British Army, 1700-1750 analyses the wider policing functions of the British Army, the role of Scotland’s militia and the development of Scotland’s military roads and institutions to provide a fuller understanding of the purpose and complexity of Scotland’s military organisation and presence in Scotland in the turbulent decades between the Glorious Revolution and the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie, which has been too often simplified as an army of occupation for the suppression of Jacobitism.  Instead, Victoria Henshaw reveals the complexities and difficulties experienced by Scottish soldiers of all ranks in the British Army as nationality, loyalty and prejudice clouded Scottish desires to use military service to defend the Glorious Revolution and the Union of 1707.
Ronald, D. A. B. Youth, Heroism and War Propaganda: Britain and the Young Maritime Hero, 1745-1820. Bloomsbury Academic, 2015.
Abstract: Youth, Heroism and Naval Propaganda explores the young maritime hero became a major new figure of war propaganda in the second half of the long eighteenth century. At that time, Britain was searching for a new national identity, and the young maritime hero and his exploits conjured images of vigour, energy, enthusiasm and courage. Adopted as centrepiece in a campaign of concerted war-propaganda leading up to the Battle of Trafalgar, the young hero came to represent much that was quintessentially British at this major turning-point in the Nation’s history.By drawing on a wide range of sources, this study shows how the young hero gave maritime youth a symbolic power which it had never before had in Britain. It offers a valuable contribution to the field of British military and naval history, as well as the study of British identity, youth, heroism and propaganda.
Roy, Kaushik. Military Transition in Early Modern Asia, 1400-1750: Cavalry, Guns, Government and Ships. 1 edition. Bloomsbury Academic, 2014.
Abstract: A substantial amount of work has been carried out to explore the military systems of Western Europe during the early modern era, but the military trajectories of the Asian states have received relatively little attention. This study provides the first comparative study of the major Asian empires’ military systems and explores the extent of the impact of West European military transition on the extra-European world. Kaushik Roy conducts a comparative analysis of the armies and navies of the large agrarian bureaucratic empires of Asia, focusing on the question of how far the Asian polities were able to integrate gunpowder weapons in their military systems. Military Transition in Early Modern Asia, 1400-1750 offers important insights into the common patterns in war making across the region, and the impact of firearms and artillery.

Scannell, Paul. Conflict and Soldiers’ Literature in Early Modern Europe: The Reality of War. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015.
Abstract: In Conflict and Soldiers’ Literature in Early Modern Europe, Paul Scannell analyses the late 16th-century and early 17th-century literature of warfare through the published works of English, Welsh and Scottish soldiers. The book explores the dramatic increase in printed material on many aspects of warfare; the diversity of authors, the adaptation of existing writing traditions and the growing public interest in military affairs. There is an extensive discussion on the categorisation of soldiers, which argues that soldiers’ works are under-used evidence of the developing professionalism among military leaders at various levels. Through analysis of autobiographical material, the thought process behind an individual’s engagement with an army is investigated, shedding light on the relevance of significant personal factors such as religious belief and the concept of loyalty. The narratives of soldiers reveal the finer details of their experience, an enquiry that greatly assists in understanding the formidable difficulties that were faced by individuals charged with both administering an army and confronting an enemy. This book provides a reassessment of early modern warfare by viewing it from the perspective of those who experienced it directly.  Paul Scannell highlights how various types of soldier viewed their commitment to war, while also considering the impact of published early modern material on domestic military capability – the ‘art of war’.

Recent publications

Here are some recent publications that illustrate pretty well the trends in EMEMHistoriography: mercs, military fiscs and infidels, oh my! Leaven with the occasional campaign history.

Murphy, Neil. “Henry VIII’s First Invasion of France: The Gascon Expedition of 1512.” The English Historical Review 130, no. 542 (February 1, 2015): 25–56.
Abstract: Historians have paid little attention to the Gascon expedition of 1512 in their examinations of Henry VIII’s foreign policy. This is a considerable oversight, as the 1512 campaign was Henry’s first attempt to recover his ancestral lands in France. This study offers an evaluation of England’s European relations in 1512. It provides an in-depth examination of the young king’s efforts to make his mark on the international stage, and considers how far Tudor armies were able to compete in continental warfare. The article also explores the extent to which Henry’s French ambitions in the early years of his reign differed from those of his predecessors. It argues that the Gascon expedition was a significant event, and that it provided valuable lessons for Henry’s subsequent campaigns in France.
Boterbloem, Kees. “Dutch Mercenaries in the Tsar’s Service: The Van Bockhoven Clan.” War & Society 33, no. 2 (April 25, 2014): 59–79.
Abstract: Historians have pointed out that the Dutch played a key role in Europe’s Military Revolution. Neither the Dutch role as the foremost international arms traders of the seventeenth century nor the significance of Dutch officers in seventeenth-century militaries has been very much studied. This essay suggests that the Dutch were rather more influential in Russia’s adoption of some of the key innovations of the Military Revolution than the historiography of late Muscovy has acknowledged. It does this by investigating the importance for Russia’ military modernization of a Dutch officers’ clan, that of the van Bockhovens. They provide a telling case study of the extent of this Dutch influence.
Dutch mercenaries? Who woulda thunk it? Join the club, plenty of room.
And what would a bibliographic roundup be without some of that good old fiscal-military statism?
Thiele, Andrea. “The Prince as Military Entrepreneur? Why Smaller Saxon Territories Sent ‘Holländische Regimenter’ (Dutch Regiments) to the Dutch Republic.” In War, Entrepreneurs, and the State in Europe and the Mediterranean, 1300-1800, edited by Jeff Fynn-Paul, 170–92. Brill Academic Publishers, 2014.
Graham, Aaron, and Jeff Fynn-Paul. “Public Service and Private Profit: British Fiscal-Military Entrepreneurship Overseas, 1707-1712.” In War, Entrepreneurs, and the State in Europe and the Mediterranean, 1300-1800, 87–110. Brill Academic Publishers, 2014.
Among other chapters.
Apologies if I already posted these – they all start to run together for me after a while.
McCluskey, Phil. “‘Les Ennemis Du Nom Chrestien’: Echoes of the Crusade in Louis XIV’s France.” French History 29, no. 1 (March 1, 2015): 46–61.
Abstract: Throughout the second half of the seventeenth century, the Mediterranean remained the pre-eminent arena for the projection of French power and prestige. A time of considerable change in the government’s Mediterranean policies, this period also saw a sustained evolution in French attitudes towards the Ottomans, resulting from intensified commercial, diplomatic and cultural contacts. Yet older ideas persisted among certain sections of French society. In particular, many among the nobility continued to pursue a religious-chivalric model of their role in the Mediterranean. During French expeditions against Islamic adversaries in Hungary, Crete and North Africa in the 1660s, Louis XIV’s government attempted to capitalize on this by frequently invoking the language of holy war. This article offers an examination of the intersection of this ‘crusading’ rhetoric and the evolution of the French state, through the lens of these military engagements and those who were involved in them.
War, violence and religion seem to be a thing these days too – and border conflicts are always a draw.
Since I’m again teaching my Religion, War and Peace in Early Modern Europe course (first taught when I was still a postdoc at George Mason a decade ago), I’ll offer a free visual from my Powerpoint slides:
Ottoman Attacks and Christian Response

Ottoman Attacks and Christian Response

And did I mention I’m teaching a Crusades course in the fall? I figure one or two students might be interested.
The year after that I’ll finally submit to my fate and teach a French Revolution/Napoleonic Wars course.
You’ll really know things are bad when I teach a European Warfare, 1815-1945 course.
But now I must return to grading students’ analyses of Luther’s evolving response to the German Peasants’ War. Thieving and Murdering Hordes of Peasants indeed!

Now they tell me…

For those planning on going to the British Library, it looks like they’ll be allowing photography in the Manuscripts room soon. If I can quote from the personalized email that I received:

Following the initial roll-out of self-service photography in several of our Reading Rooms in January, we are pleased to tell you that this facility will be extended to the following Reading Rooms in March 2015: Asian & African Studies
 Business & IP Centre
 Rare Books & Music

Our curators have been working hard behind the scenes to identify material that can be photographed. With over 150 million items in our collections this is a huge task that will take some time to complete. From 16 March 2015 a significant amount of additional material will be available for photography for personal reference purposes and curators will continue to identify more material appropriate for inclusion.

Items which cannot be photographed include (but are not limited to): those that have not yet been assessed as appropriate for photography; restricted or special access material; items at risk of damage; and items where there may be data protection, privacy or third party rights issues. This will be a small proportion of our overall collections. Of the material ordered across all of our Reading Rooms in 2014, more than 95% of those items would now be available to photograph.

You may use compact cameras, tablets and mobile phones to photograph material and any copies made must not be used for commercial purposes. As with our current copying services, copyright, data protection and privacy laws must always be adhered to.

Before using your device to take photographs, we kindly ask that you view our Self-service Photography Video. This video outlines the new policy, along with information on copyright, data protection and collection handling.

A handout, available in the Reading Rooms, explains this facility and if you need further advice or assistance, please speak to our Reading Room staff.

Best wishes,
Reader Services

Boy I could’ve used that three years ago.