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Prisoners of war between Bourbon nations and United Kingdom during the 18th Century: ways of life and humanity in misfortune

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PriWa (Prisoners of war between Bourbon nations and United Kingdom during the 18th Century: ways of life and humanity in misfortune)

Reporting period: 2017-07-03 to 2019-07-02

The project “Prisoners of war between the Bourbon nations and the United Kingdom during the 18th Century: ways of life and humanity in misfortune” studies changing assumptions about captivity in the Ancien Régime and the different worldviews these entail, using specific examples from Britain, France and Spain as case studies. Through the lens of social History, it engages with crucial questions about Europe in a changing world, and it reflects on Protecting freedom and the security of Europe and its citizens, named in the Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge of that name: Rights of/in war and specifically prisoners of war are terms from a specific construction of History and have evolved or, in some cases, regressed, to present-day conventions. The living conditions of a prisoner of war in the eighteenth Century varied according to the moral standards of the time, but also according to religion, social group and notions of honor, of both captor and captive. It was the duty of captors to care for prisoners and the captive’s situation was therefore not necessarily unhappy -there was a place for humanity. This study will analyse prisoners’ feelings and thoughts and how they were considered by their captors and interacted with the communities in which they found themselves, assessing variations and parallels between nations. We will trace an evolution from the beginning of the century to the Napoleonic era, accelerated by the phenomenon of the French Revolution.
What is proposed here is a transcultural study with two main targets: 1) to trace the echoes of the same conflict in the political classes of the United Kingdom, France and Spain, from the War of the Spanish Succession to the Peninsular War. 2) to deepen our knowledge of the situation of and consideration towards prisoners of war in the long 18th century going beyond just one conflict and one group of prisoners in order to make a major contribution on the topic. In aiming to show examples from Spain, it extends, completes and strengthens the studies that are being carried out by Dr. Katherine Astbury. Thus, both applicant and supervisor are ideally suited to work together in order to develop this study and the University of Warwick has a wealth of expertise and experience in the field of prisoner of war studies. We are aware that this is an ambitious proposal, but it also reveals its importance.
We propose to start with the War of Spanish Succession since it changed Europe’s foreign affairs considerably. This war will also offer an ideal opportunity to analyse the situation of prisoners of war from different countries. The main focus will be the way prisoners of war were treated and considered in the United Kingdom, and at the same time the situation of the British ones in other countries, first as enemies and then as allies, mainly the way they felt, and what their correspondence reveals. The primary material will open a huge and interesting field in relation to social classes, political affairs and international perceptions of the strength of a nation, as well as hitherto unexplored aspects of military and social History and questions of the humanitarian in the Ancien Régime. But not only that, since I would like to know how captivity could affect women, which is another innovative aspect. Female captivity as combatant was less common but of course, there are cases that we would highlight. Furthermore we will explore the consequences for women of the imprisonment of their husbands, fathers or sons and the humanitarian efforts women exerted towards the captives.
The fellow was following what scheduled in the project and even added some other activities. To achieve our purposes, we divided the work into two large groups: fieldwork and bibliographic comparison and analysis. Archival and primary research was crucial to approach our project through comparison, analogies and differences, between the Bourbon States and the United Kingdom. With all the gathered international documentation and work developed, the Fellow is currently working to publish a monograph by himself but also a special issue and a special journal with different contributions from the activities he organized and colleagues from Spain, the UK, France and Portugal.
So the fellow organised academic activities such as an international Congress in Madrid and an international Workshop at Warwick, and also attended and took part in other activities to improve his profile and learn. With this, he didn’t stop working and collaborating with academic colleagues from other institutions and countries presenting findings and receiving a good feedback. Thus, he gave several presentations both in the academic and public spheres in France, the UK (highlighting his presentation at the Wolfson College, University of Oxford), Spain and soon in Portugal. Here, he was also concerned about the public engagement and was able to obtain a continued echo in media.
He was in touch at all times with his mentor, keeping her informed and sharing points of view and information on how to achieve the best results. But also he collaborated with the host institution when appropriate, even giving several lessons on Early Modern Military History, above all related to the epoch of the Revolutionary France and Napoleonic era. And he was in touch with experts in History and studies on violence, that was useful to make himself known and get in touch with other study groups of war and violence, that made it easier to be invited to participate and present contributions to other activities as well as to receive advice on how to improve his career.
This would be a major contribution to the historiography of war which at the same time will throw light on later European historical relations. War has always been subject to certain laws and customs and the project is closely linked to the origin of the International Humanitarian Law. Considerations towards/ among prisoners individually or collectively have evolved throughout History, overcoming barriers of class and leading to modern rights. Nowadays, these rights are legally defined, but in the 18th century, they depended on moral rules more or less shared. There are no studies of the prisoners of war phenomenon and the development of their rights (that would be a part of the ius in bello) since existing studies focus on individual periods or nations. We deal with the conception’s basis in the 18th century and the rise of Human Rights in the emerging United States and France and later in Spain on the occasion of the Peninsular War (Constitution of 1812). The period even led to the conception of the Red Cross, international conventions regarding humanitarianism, rights in war and the treatment to the captives in the 19th and 20th centuries. Showing this evolution, it is important from historical, social, legal and political points of view, to take France into account given the political changes that it suffered.
This project shows: unknown aspects of the conflicts of the 18th century, above all social ones; mentalities from all social classes and their changes after the French Revolution; changes in the conception of the social, from preferential treatment for those of noble birth to more equitable arrangements; views of ordinary people on whether war was just another burden; the petite Histoire, the intrahistory, which is as important as the most general and known one.
La Nueva España Newspaper Lecture at Club Prensa Asturiana_Gijón JAN 2018
Eco in Media Lecture on PriWa Newspaper La Nueva España JAN 2018
With Katherine Astbury at Warwick 2019
Vaughan Radio 1
Vaughan Radio 2
With Kate Astbury JUL 2017
Congress in Madrid
talk “My experience as a Marie Curie Research Fellow”, Clermont Ferrand 2
Lecture POW's Maison des Sciences d l'Homme 30 May 2018 2
Micro-dynamics of Violence_Oxford 2
Lecture POW's Maison des Sciences d l'Homme 30 May 2018
talk “My experience as a Marie Curie Research Fellow”, Clermont Ferrand
lecture Towards a social History of European prisoners of war in the long 18th Century, Maison des S
Micro-dynamics of Violence_Oxford 1
Micro-dynamics of Violence_Oxford 3