Chapter

‘Civilized, Rational Behaviour’? The Concept and Practice of Surrender in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, 1792–1815

Michael Broers

in How Fighting Ends

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199693627
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741258 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199693627.003.0015
‘Civilized, Rational Behaviour’? The Concept and Practice of Surrender in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, 1792–1815

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Two debates dominate the history of the Revolutionary-Napoleonic wars. The first turns on the thesis of John Lynn that the French army evolved/regressed from the citizen-army of the Revolutionary decade into an army of honour, as Napoleon reprised the moeurs of traditional professionalism. The second is the recent thesis of David Bell, that the Revolutionary-Napoleonic wars represent the first example of a ‘total war’. The concept of surrender would appear to be a perfect touchstone to explore these wider issues. Attitudes to surrender present important windows on the minds of soldiers and politicians, as the character of armies and warfare changed, 1792–1815. The conclusion of the wars in 1814 offers a microcosm of the dilemmas facing contemporaries about coping with defeat and victory.

Keywords: patriotism; honour; negotiation; regime change; conventions; legality; revolutionary ideology; diplomacy

Chapter.  6001 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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