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A Class Apart

The Military Man in French and British Fiction, 1740–1789


Karen Lacey

The military man has long been one of literature’s archetypal figures. Using a comparative framework, this book traces the transformation of the military man in eighteenth-century British and French literature as this figure moved from noble warrior to nationalised professional in response to changes within the military structure, the role of empire and the impact of an expanding middle class. The author examines the way in which the masculinity of the military man was reimagined at a time when older models of military service persisted alongside emerging models of patriotic nationalism, inspired by bourgeois morality, the cult of sensibility and a new understanding of the role of violence in both public and private domains. Through a corpus of canonical and lesser-known literature, the book explores the military man’s relationship to the state and to his fellow citizens, even in the domestic setting. With the role of the «nobleman» in decline, the military man, not a «civilian» and no longer associated with the ‘aristocrat’, became a separate class of man.
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Chapter 4 : Mercenaries in a Nation of Citizens


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Mercenaries in a Nation of Citizens

Je pense que chacun doit sa vie et son sang à la patrie; qu’il n’est pas permis de s’aliéner à des Princes auxquels on ne doit rien, moins encore de se vendre, et de faire du plus noble métier du monde celui d’un vil mercenaire.1

[I believe that everyone owes his life and blood to his fatherland, that one cannot estrange oneself to foreign Princes to whom one owes nothing, and still less sell oneself and make of the world’s noblest profession that of a vile mercenary.]2

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