The Paradoxical Masculinity of French Soldiers: Representing the Soldier’s Body in the Age of the Enlightenment
Title: The Paradoxical Masculinity of French Soldiers: Representing the Soldier’s Body in the Age of the Enlightenment
Author: SERIU, Naoko
Series/Report no.: EUI MWP; 2009/32
In the age of Enlightment, France did not succeed in imposing its military prestige, in contrast with the preceding century. In the second half of the eighteenth century, especially at the end of the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763), the French army was in dire need of regeneration which was carried out under the impetus of the enlightened War Ministers who canvassed their officers en masse for advice. Officers reflected on what the body of the soldier should be like, how it would have to be fabricated within the institution through the implementation of military discipline. Military drill then appears as a major process with the aim of reshaping the body of the warrior. Through the analysis of the officers’ memoranda, the purpose of this paper is to analyze the ideal male body that should be, according to the hierarchy, straight and proud, but at the same time silent, immobile, and obedient. The paper also focuses on how the soldier - as a man and a Frenchman – is valued differently to both the Prussian and the female.
Subject: Soldier; military discipline; masculinity; body; French army; nation; gender; elite and the people; Enlightenment; military training
Type of Access: openAccess