‘Between Glory and Good Sense: Resistance to Conscription and the National Guard Experience in the States of Parma, 1805-06

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Abstract

On 5 frimaire an 14 (26 November 1805) the viceroy of the Kingdom of Italy Eugène de Beauharnais issued a decree establishing a Reserve Camp between Bologna and Modena to meet the imminent threat posed by Anglo-Russian forces landing in the Kingdom of Naples. Each department in the kingdom was expected to provide between 500 and 1,000 men; the quota for the states of Parma – territory not fully integrated in the Kingdom of Italy and at the time not yet included in the conscription legislation – was initially set at 12,000 (for a population of approximately 400,000). These troops were to be recruited from the states’ local militia. It was not a success: while about 700 men answered the call to glory, as Prince Eugène’s defined enrolment in his forces, many more potential recruits refused to join in. The two groups eventually clashed and triggered a popular rebellion that spread throughout the Piacentino Apennines. This paper offers a close reading of the contradictory responses to the viceroy’s call to arms. The arguments advanced for and against service in the reserve camp reflect the inherent duality of French rule in Italy, at once inspiring and oppressive, reformist and exploitative.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13
JournalNapolenic Scholarship
Issue number7
StatePublished - Feb 15 2017

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