Soldiers of Napoleon's Kingdom of Italy: Army, State, and Society, 1800-1815

Soldiers of Napoleon's Kingdom of Italy: Army, State, and Society, 1800-1815

Soldiers of Napoleon's Kingdom of Italy: Army, State, and Society, 1800-1815

Soldiers of Napoleon's Kingdom of Italy: Army, State, and Society, 1800-1815

Synopsis

"For Napoleon to create an Italian army, it was necessary to foster Italian nationalism, encouraging Italians to perceive themselves as citizens of a greater Italy and not as subjects of the former city-states, such as Milan or Venice. Conscription brought more than 200,000 Italians, roughly 3 percent of the entire population, into the kingdom's army. The army was representative of every sector of north Italian society, and the military administration became a significant part of the state. In the kingdom of Italy, Napoleon created a national army in the modern sense of the term. Frederick C. Schneid explores the relationship between the army, the state, and Italian nationalism and also examines the social composition of the army's officers and soldiers as well as its performance on campaign. The book concludes with an assessment of the legacy of the Napoleonic era in Italy." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

The heart of the Italian army was the officer corps. These men formed the backbone of the regiments and their diverse backgrounds exemplified an Italian national army. More than a North Italian army, officers represented the panoply of Italian states. Longtime veterans of eighteenth century armies as well as Italian Jacobins and Bonapartists brought a distinct professionalism to the officer corps. It manifested itself in the ranks as a national-professional army. the result of course was not immediate, but concomitant with the development of the army.

The origins of the officer corps are found in the revolutionary period which extended into the first years of the kingdom, 1797-1807. At this time Italians who volunteered for service during the revolutionary wars were later commissioned as the regular army was created and expanded. During the years 1807-1812 a professional officer corps developed, its membership composed primarily of revolutionary veterans, graduates of the military schools and promotions from the ranks. This period produced some of the finest and most dedicated officers. These men carried the army through the kingdom's first national crisis, the Austrian invasion of 1809, and then courageously led the Italian soldier into Russia and back again. the last years, 1813-1814, witnessed the decline of the officer corps, as the army attempted to recover from the devastating losses incurred in the Russian campaign. Unable to replace the quality and quantity of officers, the army was severely hampered in its ability to perform. Nonetheless, the officer corps illustrated determination and a professionalism which manifested itself as the driving force of the army. These officers were extremely loyal to the Italian kingdom and Napoleonic regime.

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