Valiant Heroines or Pacific Ladies?

Women in war and peace

Authored by: Jane Potter

The Routledge History of Women in Europe Since 1700

Print publication date:  December  2005
Online publication date:  April  2006

Print ISBN: 9780415301039
eBook ISBN: 9780203969120
Adobe ISBN: 9781134419067


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Thomas Day’s poem The Desolation of America (1777) about the War of American Independence presents a view of women in wartime that, for all its melodramatic eighteenth-century diction and sentiment, is recognisable to us today, over 200 years later. Women still suffer as bereaved mothers and as victims of rape. They continue to endure the loss of their husbands and brothers as they look on from the sidelines. Yet their experience of armed conflict extends beyond that of tortured observers. This chapter will illuminate the ways in which women have not only been implicated in the European wars and revolutions of the past three centuries, but have also often actively participated in them, both as militarists and as pacifists.

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