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The Belgian Army, Society and Military Cultures, 1830-1918

Draper, Mario A (2016) The Belgian Army, Society and Military Cultures, 1830-1918. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (KAR id:54504)

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Abstract

This thesis examines the conflicted relationship between the Belgian army and society from its independence in 1830 through to the end of the First World War in 1918. It assesses the role that the army played as a tool of nation building in what was a culturally, geographically, linguistically, and politically fractured country. Ultimately, the work argues that the army largely failed in this role as political interference in the institution restricted its ability to impact positively on the youth entrusted to its care. The machinations of the two dominant parties, the Catholics and the Liberals, helped reinforce local ties as opposed to fostering a wider sense of nationhood. The military implications were manifold. Not only was the army slow, within a continental context, to adopt conscription, only doing so in 1913, but the strong sense of anti-militarism within society equally held successive governments to account over necessary financial contributions towards other aspects of the military, such as the Civic Guard and the fortresses. When coupled with the issue of language among a majority Flemish rank and file commanded by a predominantly French-speaking officer corps, there was a real fear among domestic and foreign commentators that Belgium’s ability to uphold its unique imposed neutrality in the event of a future war was limited. Notwithstanding, its performance during the First World War was surprising and marked a brief interlude in the contested domestic affairs of the long nineteenth century, as opposition against the ‘other’ rallied the nation behind a single cause. It demonstrated that, despite an entrenched parochialism, multiple associations with the concept of Belgian nationality were extant, but required the crisis of the Great War in order to be clearly expressed.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Uncontrolled keywords: Belgium, Military History, Army and Society, Nationalism, First World War
Subjects: D History General and Old World
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of History
Depositing User: Users 1 not found.
Date Deposited: 10 Mar 2016 16:00 UTC
Last Modified: 28 Jan 2020 04:08 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/54504 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Draper, Mario A: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7240-343X
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