Durham University History Society Journal, Vol. 6 (2013)

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Durham University History Society


Volume Six, 2013


Chief Editors: Maddie Michie & Ivan Yuen

Lucy Darbon

Jemma Ockwell

Nicole Stirk



Editors' Introduction

Maddie Michie & Ivan Yuen 3

Foreword: What does it mean to study history in Durham?

Dr. Ben Dodds 5


Who was responsible for the sack of Constantinople in 1204?

Joe Adams 10

How and why did a largely illiterate population convert to a ‘religion of the


Philip Kelvin 20

Did increasing Sunni orthodoxy have a positive or negative effect on

Ottoman relations with the non-Muslim communities under their rule

during the reign of Mehmed IV?

William Vick 29

How important was the loss of the American colonies to the British Empire

between 1770s and 1810s?

James Callingham 37

Why has ‘shell shock’ been such a prominent aspect of the cultural

representation of the war?

Harriet Evans 46

How far did the Fuhrer-myth succeed in uniting the German people behind

the Nazi war effort, 1939-1945?

Daisy-Rose C. Srblin 56

Was the 1989 Tiananmen protest movement about ‘democracy’?

David Bartlett 70


To what extent did UNITA’s capacity to fight a long civil war depend on

appeals to Ovimbundu cultural authenticity?

David Bartlett 79


The ‘Superfluous Man’ and Russian Romanticism

Rachel Powell 89

Zero Dark Thirty: The film of a memory too soon (review)

Joe Strong 92

“Over the Sea to Skye” (excerpt)

Antonia Goddard 96


Presidential Address

Ryan Cullen 106

History in our Backyard: The Annual Trip to Hadrian’s Wall

Josh Hewson 108

About the DUHS Exec 110

About the Editors 112

About the Authors 113


Editors' Introduction

By Maddie Michie & Ivan Yuen

Reading history as an undergraduate can feel lonely. Yet the study of our

subject has always been, from the days of the Durham monks, a collective

endeavour. Knowledge is passed from generation to generation, just as

scholars challenge each other's preconceptions and come up with innovative

approaches to historical questions through discussion, debate and

mutual-learning. Through this publication, we hope to provide a sense of the

diversity and richness of the work undertaken by the Durham historical

community, and allow the reader to (re)discover the joys of pursuing historical


Whether you are using this journal as a revision tool or reading it for pure

interest, we hope you will be able to benefit from the fruits of the authors'

labour. In this volume, Joe Adams deliberates the responsibility for the Sack of

Constantinople and gives his verdict on an issue which has perplexed

historians since 1204, whilst Philip Kelvin takes a novel approach to

Reformation history by attempting to resolve the paradox of the growth of

Protestantism, the 'religion of the word', at a time of minimal literacy. Will

Vick extends the debate of Ottoman relations with non-Muslims under

Mehmed IV beyond the narrow confines of a religious context, as James

Callingham re-evaluates the significance of the loss of the American colonies

to the British Empire against the backdrop of the Industrial and French

Revolutions. More preoccupied with cultural representations, Harriet Evans

assesses contemporary portrayals of 'shell shock'. In the same vein, Daisy

Srblin examines the construction and use of the Hitler myth. The last two

essays in Part 1, both written by David Bartlett, critically explore, and try to

make sense of, recent events that rocked China and Angola.

This journal also offers a selection of lighter discussion articles, including

Rachel Powell's comment on the place of the 'Superfluous Man' in Russian

Romanticism, Joe Strong's review of Zero Dark Thirty (a recent film based on

the capture of Osama Bin Laden), and a taste of Antonia Goddard's upcoming

novel. Last but not least, Part 3 comprises of news from the society, with a few

photos in colour for the entertainment of those who are reading this as



We are extremely grateful to our team of editors, Lucy Darbon, Jemma

Ockwell and Nicole Stirk for their time and effort, which made our task so

much easier. Similarly, we are thankful for the advice given by our

predecessor, Joel Butler, from St. Andrews. Huge thanks must also go to the

authors, without whose contributions this journal would not have been

possible. Dr. Ben Dodds has been most generous in providing us with a

foreword—we hope you will be as inspired as we have been by his words of

wisdom. Dr. Julian Wright and the department secretaries have also kindly

aided our publicity, and we thank the Department for their continuing

support for the society.

This publication marks the end of another academic year and of our tenure as

co-Editors. We have enjoyed being on the History Society Exec under the

presidency of Ryan Cullen, whose enthusiasm and wisdom have proved

invaluable to the ongoing vivacity of the society. We wish Ryan and our

Vice-President, Josh Hewson, all the best as they depart from Durham. We

would also like to thank Matt Williams, our Social Secretary, for organising so

many memorable events, to our two secretaries for arranging an engaging

speakers programme, and to Emma Russell, our Treasurer, for her efficient

work behind the scenes.

Lastly, we would like to dedicate a special thanks to our friends at Hatfield,

whose company and support have helped us achieve our goals and kept us

sane. We will particularly miss the tender loving care from Laura Baldwin

next year. Best of luck to our successor, Siena Morrell, who we are sure will

continue to build on the foundations laid by us and by our predecessors.

We do hope you enjoy reading this journal, and that it might provide you

with a sense of the standard of excellence and the level of creativity of

Durham historians. It has been an honour.

April, 2013



What does it mean to study history in Durham?

By Dr. Ben Dodds

All the readers of this Journal spend a lot of time studying history, and all of

us, at one time or another, wonder why we bother? There are lots of answers

to this: developing certain skills which are transferable to different walks of

life; seeking to understand how our own society and others work; developing

a perspective on the different ways in which societies operate. But most

important, for me at least, is the feeling of connection which studying history

brings us: a sense of the past and of our closeness to it.

One of the pleasures of studying History at Durham, whether as an

undergraduate or postgraduate student, or as staff teaching and researching

in the department here, is the acuteness of this sense of the past in the city

where we live and work. Not only is the city itself historic, but all of us

connected to the History Department are the heirs to almost a thousand years

of historical study on this rocky peninsula in the River Wear. The story goes

that Durham was founded in 995, when the community of clerks looking after

the body of Saint Cuthbert decided, after a period based in Chester-le-Street,

to establish a new shrine for the saint’s relics in Durham. Those who

transformed Durham into a cathedral city in the eleventh and twelfth

centuries did so with a vivid sense of history. A church was constructed as a

fitting resting place for an Anglo-Saxon saint who had long since enjoyed

national and international renown. Sometimes the clerks of the Cuthbertine

community seem to have gone a little too far. One particularly zealous

historically-minded member of the community, a man named Alfred, secretly

took the bones of Bede, the great Anglo-Saxon historian who had died in 735,

from their resting place at Jarrow and deposited them in a little bag alongside

the body of St Cuthbert in Durham.

Following the Norman Conquest, and the Conqueror’s brutal reprisals in

northern England after the rebellion against his rule, the Cuthbertine

community was adopted by the Normans as means of establishing their

control in the region. An enormous building project was begun, in which the

Anglo-Saxon cathedral was replaced with an up-to-date Norman edifice of

unprecedented magnificence. We can only imagine the impact this building

work must have had on Durham’s inhabitants: possible anger at the

appropriation of a dear local symbol must have been silenced by awe at the

scale of the construction on Palace Green.


Although in many ways, the Normans’ ‘Durham project’ was deliberately and

self-consciously new – a departure from a past the conquerors were anxious

to break with –there was a very serious attempt to appropriate the past for

their own ends. Symeon, one of the early members of the Benedictine

community which was introduced to look after the saint’s body in 1083, was

pressed into service and wrote his ‘Tract on the origin and progress of the

Church of Durham’. This piece of historical research drew on archival

resources available in Durham in the late eleventh century. It was designed to

present Norman Durham as the culmination of the long history of of the

Cuthbertine community going back to the foundation of the bishopric of

Lindisfarne in 635. Symeon’s interpretation of the history of the Durham

underpinned the thinking of the hundreds of monks who succeeded him in

the city: his work gave them a sense of their role in the unfolding of God’s

plans for mankind. We see ideas similar to those of Symeon emerging in the

work of later twelfth-century Durham monkish writers. Lawrence of Durham

used William Cumin’s failed attempt to usurp the see of Durham in 1141-4 as

a demonstration of the operation of divine grace in history. Reginald, who

seems to have entered the monastic community around the time of

Lawrence’s death in 1154, was a famous hagiographer who compiled, among

other things, a collection of St Cuthbert’s posthumous miracles.

We can never know for sure what went through the minds of Durham monks

as they conducted their daily round of services, administered the house’s vast

income, dined in the refectory, or drank spiced wine next to the fire on a

winter’s afternoon in the warming house. If their writings are any guide,

though, a sense of the past was an important part of their outlook and was

never far from their thoughts. The miraculously-preserved body of a saint

who died centuries earlier gave meaning to their daily lives, and they were,

they believed, simply the present-day incarnations of a perpetual line of

servants of the saint. But history, of course – for them like for us – was more

than just a sense of the past. History was a powerful tool deployed by

Durham’s later medieval monks to safeguard their house’s privileges and to

maintain its income for their successors. We see this most clearly in the work

of John Wessington, prior of Durham from 1416-1446. Wessington was an

exceptionally able politician, manager and administrator, but he underpinned

all these roles with a keen awareness of the history of his community and a

commitment to both writing and commissioning works of historical research

defending his monastery and sometimes the probity of himself and his



The records left by the Durham monks have been the focus of much historical

work conducted in Durham since the sixteenth century, and their continued

preservation has meant that Durham Priory is one of the best documented

medieval communities anywhere in the world. Serious modern historical

scholarship on the Durham monastic records began in earnest in the

eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. James Raine, the son of a village

blacksmith, and later master at Durham School and rector of St Mary the Less

on South Bailey, did more than anyone else to tap these important records and

to make them available to a wider public. Along with Alan Piper, until

recently in charge of the Durham monastic records, Raine is one of only two

people since the middle ages ever to have read through all the monastic

records held in Durham.

It is thanks to the work of Raine, Piper and many others that I was lucky

enough to work on the Durham monastic records myself. This began when I

was an undergraduate student in the department in the summer of 1997,

trying to think of a topic for my dissertation. I remember clearly walking

down Bow Lane towards Kingsgate Bridge, in the shadow of the Chapel of

the Nine Altars, thinking that it might be interesting to do something on the

monastery here. Not really knowing anything at all about medieval monks, I

went to see Dick Lomas, an expert on the history of northeast England now

retired, and he directed me to a series of account rolls from the nearby

monastery of Finchale, a daughter house of Durham in the middle ages. As I

began work on the printed accounts, I read somewhere that the transcriptions

might be less than accurate, so I went to the archives behind the Cathedral

and rang the bell beside the solid blue wooden door to find out for myself.

After a few minutes, the door opened and Alan Piper appeared and listened

to my question. He thought for a moment, smiled, and said “I think you’ll

find they’re probably okay” before the wooden door slowly closed again.

My second trip to the archive, over a year later, was longer but less conclusive.

As a postgraduate student, I wanted to extend the range of my work beyond

the printed accounts, and to examine some of those which had not yet been

printed. This time, I managed to get beyond the wooden door and into the

searchroom on the first floor. Alan Piper brought me a carefully preserved

and rolled account, and I laid it on the desk before me. I had come too early

though, before I had had enough training in medieval palaeography, and

found I was not able to distinguish the words from the numbers. Anxious to

conceal this ignorance, I spent a nervous hour copying out some of the faintly


recognisable capital letters in the document before me.

Thanks to much generous help from Dick Lomas, Alan Piper and my PhD

supervisor, Richard Britnell, I was finally able to make some sense of the

medieval monastic records in Durham. After days spent working on the

monks’ records, I walked home through the cloisters of the Cathedral, a route

familiar with those who had written those same records several centuries

earlier. I now know this sense of the presence of history can be found

elsewhere. I remember, for example, scrambling under a motorway on the

south coast of Spain, past a derelict mill building, to a secluded beach beyond

and then, months later in a library in Madrid, being confronted with a

photograph of the same spot (minus the motorway) in a description of the

covert anti-Franco resistance movement in the 1940s. I have no doubt that

those reading this Journal would be able to share many similar experiences of

their own, but it seems to me that we are all exceptionally fortunate to operate

in a place where such a feeling for the past is something so real, and so

everyday, that we can almost take it for granted.

April 2013, Durham



Subject Articles

10 Joe Adams

Who was responsible for the sack of Constantinople in 1204?

By Joe Adams

Despite a finite number of sources on the topic, there is still little

historiographical agreement about who was responsible for the sack of

Constantinople. Steven Runciman, a Byzantist historian, has taken the view of

a preconceived plot by the Venetians to divert the Crusade. This view persists

not only in popular literature but also in some scholarly literature, despite the

publication of credible works that undermine it. 1 An alternative view sees the

diversion as a “series of mistakes, failures and accidents,” but removing all

human agency seems an overly simplistic model. 2 Deterministic arguments

citing a long history of suspicion, declining relations and mistrust between the

West and Byzantium are, and have easily been disproved; they will be but

briefly covered here. Furthermore, the decision to attack a Christian city (Zara)

en route was not atypical in the context of earlier Crusades and thus need not

necessarily be seen as part of a chain of events. 3 Less-well researched and

more crucial issues are the Treaty of Zara and the Venetians’ decision to

conquer Constantinople rather than continuing on to Egypt after they had

deposed Alexios IV. By assessing the input of the various parties: Venice,

Innocent III, Alexios IV, and the leaders and senior clergy; it can ultimately be

demonstrated that the latter were primarily responsible for both the diversion

and the sack of the city.

Advancing a deterministic Venetian revenge theory relies largely on the view

of declining relations with Byzantium. This can be observed most vividly in

the 1182 massacre of the Latin residents of Constantinople, in which,

according to Runciman, “the Venetians were the chief victims.” 4 However,

1 See T. Madden, “Outside and Inside the Fourth Crusade,” International History Review 17

(1995) pp. 726-743 and John H. Pryor, “The Venetian fleet for the Fourth Crusade and the

diversion of the Crusade to Constantinople” in Marcus Bull and Norman Housely (eds.), The

Experience of Crusading, vol. 2 (Cambridge 2003) pp. 103-123

2 D. E. Queller and G. W. Day, “Some Arguments in Defence of the Venetians on the Fourth

Crusade,” American Historical Review, Vol. 81, No. 4 (Oct., 1976), p. 719; J. Sayers, Innocent III.

Leader of Europe 1198-1216 (Harlow 1994) p. 174

3 Queller and Day, p. 727


S. Runciman, “Byzantium and the Crusades,” The Meeting of two Worlds: Cultural Exchange

between East and West during the period of the Crusades, ed. Vladimir P. Goss and Christine

Verzár Bornstein (Kalamazoo 1986) pp. 21-2

11 Sack of Constantinople 1204

not only had compensation been agreed in 1187, but Madden has

demonstrated that the Venetians were expelled from the city before 1182,

therefore the vast majority of those massacred must have been Pisan and

Genoan. 5 Furthermore, Dandolo’s desire for revenge, articulated only in the

primary sources by the heavily-biased Byzantine Nicetas Chionates, has been

overemphasized, given the very vague picture of him that can be constructed

from the sources. 6 Revenge, then, is difficult to posit as a motive, especially

when it can be proven that the Venetians intended to sail for Egypt.

The second major argument of the Byzantist camp is the Venetian desire for

economic profit. Despite a wealth of evidence to suggest that Venetian

Crusade motivations were as pious as their northern compatriots’, the

characterisation of Venetian “rapacity” still pervades scholarly literature. 7

While one cannot doubt that Venice profited from the Crusade, especially

after acquiring Zara and Crete, this ignores the argument that acquiring the

original target, Egypt, would have been far more profitable. 8 Pryor

demonstrates that, while in Constantinople Venice had trade dominance, tax

concessions, and a malleable government, in Egypt her sailors were heavily

taxed and denied access to the lucrative spice trade. 9 One reason to doubt this

viewpoint is the greater difficulty of attacking Egypt over Constantinople;

however, the presence of a large number of “uissiers…for transporting

cavalry… with stern ports for embarking and disembarking horses”, a type of

vessel useless against Constantinople’s sea walls but ideal for landing on the

shores of the Nile delta, confirms that the Venetians intended to do so. 10

Furthermore, Venice brought fifty war galleys: a costly and

manpower-intensive force completely unnecessary to combat the ineffectual

Byzantine fleet, which Nicetas Choniates describes as “rotting and

worm-eaten small skiffs, barely twenty in number.” 11 Doubtless the chronicler

5 Queller and Day, pp. 735-6; T. Madden, “Outside and Inside the Fourth Crusade,”

International History Review 17 (1995) p. 730

6 Niketas Choniates, Harry J. Magoulias (trans.), O City of Byzantium, Annals of Niketas

Choniates (Detroit, 1984), Ch. 538; T. Madden, “Outside and Inside the Fourth Crusade,”

International History Review 17 (1995) p. 732

7 For example, see J. Sayers, Innocent III. Leader of Europe 1198-1216 (Harlow 1994), p. 175

8 Sayers, Innocent III, p. 174


Pryor, “The Venetian fleet”, p. 112


Ibid., p. 103


Ibid.; Choniates, Ch. 451

12 Joe Adams

was exaggerating the inadequacies of his native fleet, but the massive naval

superiority enjoyed by the Crusaders, to the point that they could sail

unimpeded to the mouth of the Golden Horn, verifies Choniates’ statement. 12

Venice, then, must be absolved of plotting to divert the Crusade before its


Pryor’s research has shown that the diversion was not planned before the

departure from Venice, so one must look to the principal actors after the

departure to explain the diversion. The evidence available highlights Innocent

III’s intractable opposition to a diversion. While his actions in England

demonstrate his political will and skill, his only sin in the Fourth Crusade was

failing to control it. This apology for Innocent’s laxity, however, can be

attributed largely to the legate Peter Capuano and his reluctance to criticize

the Pope. Much more useful as a source for Innocent’s actions and desires are

his own letters. Although Donald Nicol asserts that Innocent was unaware of

the Crusader’s intentions towards Constantinople, 13 this is easily disproved

by reading the relevant letter:

“Not one of you… is allowed to occupy or prey upon the land of

the Greeks because it might be too little obedient to the Apolistic

See and because the emperor of Constantinople [Alexios III]

usurped the empire… it is still not your business to judge his

crimes.” 14

Furthermore, Innocent had already rejected Alexios IV’s overtures at the Papal

Curia, and the contemporary chronicler Gunther of Parais reports that the

Pope had encouraged his people to “sail directly to Alexandria.” 15

12 Geoffrey de Villehardouin, Marzials, F. T. (trans.), Memoirs or Chronicle of The Fourth

Crusade and The Conquest of Constantinople, (London: J.M. Dent, 1908) p. 37 from

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/villehardouin.asp [accessed 18/02/12]

13 D. Nicol, “The Crusades and the Unity of Christendom,” The Meeting of two Worlds: Cultural

Exchange between East and West during the period of the Crusades, ed. Vladimir P. Goss and

Christine Verzár Bornstein (Kalamazoo 1986) p. 172

14 Innocent III, A. J. Andrea (trans.), “Reg. 6: 101, Ca. 20 June 1203” in Andrea (ed.)

Contemporary Sources for the Fourth Crusade (Leiden, 2008) pp. 62-3.


J. Powell, “Innocent III and Alexius III: a Crusade Plan that Failed,” Marcus Bull and

Norman Housely (eds.), The Experience of Crusading, vol. 2 (Cambridge 2003) p. 102; Gunter

13 Sack of Constantinople 1204

Queller’s opinion that Innocent was “deliberately vague on the question of

excommunication” over Zara can also be challenged. 16 He appears to be

referring to Reg. 6:99, in which the Crusade leadership states “the Apolostic

excommunication that we incurred at Zara (or fear we incurred)”, but he

would be well advised to read the earlier Reg. 5:160, in which Innocent very

clearly states “you should realize that you lie under sentence of

excommunication and cannot share in the grant of remission promised you.” 17

The later letter from the Crusaders probably expresses confusion only as an

excuse for their actions. Although Innocent was forced to have Capuano

confirm the (uncanonical) absolution given by the clergy on Crusade,

Innocent cannot be seen to be condoning Crusader actions.

The shortage of money to fulfil the Venetian contract was certainly the prime

cause of the acceptance of Alexios IV’s offer of support. While some have

attributed this to an extortionate price, by comparing the price per man and

horse to earlier Crusades, Queller has demonstrated that the contract was in

fact cheaper than many. 18 The high cost can instead be explained by a massive

overestimation of numbers: the contract was for three times the number of

men of the French army at Bouvines, and twice the annual revenues of the

Kings of England or France. 19 Such an overestimation made the leadership

particularly susceptible to any offer of aid.

Alexios IV’s overestimation or fabrication of his future resources and thus

inability to pay can be considered a major cause of his overthrow, which led

directly to the sack. His offer could not be refused as it appeased all parties:

200,000 marks would more than pay off the Venetians, supplies would placate

the rank and file, 10,000 troops would provide the missing strength to take

Egypt, and the maintenance of 500 crusaders in the Holy Land would provide

long-term security (for comparison, there were just 1200 knights at the Horns

of Pairis, Alfred J. Andrea (trans.), The Capture of Constantinople: The Hystoria

Constantinopolitana of Gunther of Pairis (Philadelphia, 1997), Ch. 8, p 84

16 D. E. Queller, The Fourth Crusade (Philadelphia 1977), pp. 68-9

17 Counts Baldwin of Flanders, Louis of Blois and Hugh of St Pol, “Reg. 6:99, April 1203“, in

Andrea (ed.), Contemporary Sources. pp. 55-6; Innocent III, “Reg. 5: 160 (161), February? 1203”

in Andrea, (ed.), Contemporary Sources, p. 45


Queller, The Fourth Crusade, p. 11


Queller and Day, p. 723

14 Joe Adams

of Hattin). 20 Furthermore, his offer was supported by the Crusade leadership

as they were informed by Alexios that he would be well-received. 21 The

opposite would of course prove true: on arrival, Villehardouin states “not one

person on the land or in the city made show as if he held for the prince.” 22

Whether Alexios believed his own rhetoric is, unfortunately, nearly

impossible to tell. Once enthroned, he was caught between anti-Latin faction

in his own government and his contract to repay the Crusaders before March

1204. 23 After the hugely destructive fire, (which “devastated one-sixth of the

city, making one-third of the inhabitants homeless”) stemming from an

independent group of Latins attacking the Muslim quarter, he was

overthrown. Once dead, his contract with the Crusaders became defunct,

providing an excuse and motive for the conquest; the only alternative was to

leave with minimal resources. 24

Because the envoys prevented the leadership from refusing Alexios’ offer, and

the offer was too large for Alexios to pay, one might consider the Crusade

leadership as victims of the Byzantine claimant's faults. However, this ignores

the actions of the leadership. The duplicity frequently applied to Venice is

more accurately applied to Boniface, Hugh and Baldwin. This is not to say

they had a long-held plot to capture Constantinople, but merely that they, not

the Pope or the Venetians, were the main directors of the events. Although

Queller suggests the leaders were impotent in the face of “an inchoate mass of

men moved unpredictably by enthusiasms, fears, ambitions, superstitions,

lusts,” this is at odds with their influence over said mass; Villehardouin tells

us that twelve nobles convinced the vast majority of the army to accept


For the composition of the army at Hattin, see Jonathan Riley-Smith, The Crusades: A

History (London, 2005) p. 110; For a detailed account of the impact of supplies on the Crusade,

see Thomas F. Madden, “Food and the Fourth Crusade: a new approach to the ‘Diversion

Question’”, in John H. Pryor (ed.) in Logistics of Warfare in the Age of the Crusades, John H.

Pryor, (ed.) (Brookfield, 2006), pp. 209-28; J. Phillips, The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of

Constantinople (London, 2004) pp. 127-9

21 Queller, The Fourth Crusade, p. 69

22 Geoffrey de Villehardouin, p. 36

23 T. Madden, “Vows and Contracts in the Fourth Crusade: The Treaty of Zara and the Attack

on Constantinople in 1204,” The International History Review 15 (1993), p. 442


T. Madden, “Outside and Inside the Fourth Crusade,” International History Review 17 (1995)

p. 743

15 Sack of Constantinople 1204

Alexios IV’s offer to divert to Constantinople, despite vocal opposition. 25

A reading of the sources elucidates a pragmatic desire to maintain the unity

irrespective of papal orders. While the Franks were absolved from

excommunication following Zara, the Venetians were not. Boniface, however,

concealed this from the Venetians to prevent a rebellion from the rank and file

over the diversion. 26 This fact cannot be doubted, as not only does he admit it

to the Pope himself but also his confederates do so in a separate letter. 27 This

complete disregard for papal instruction forces one to agree with Queller

when he states that Papal crusade leadership was “already anachronistic.” 28

This is not to say the leadership had a long-held plot to divert the Crusade,

but that they were willing to take Alexios’ offer to ensure eventual success in

Egypt regardless of protest from the rank-and-file. Proof of this is best found

in Count Hugh’s letter. Written during the events in 1203, it is more accurate

than Villehardouin’s account written several years later. Furthermore, it was

addressed to a trusted vassal, and thus would not be inclined to falsehood. 29

Hugh speaks both of returning and of the journey being to Jerusalem, which

hardly suggests Constantinople as the Crusade’s ultimate objective. 30

Blame for the eventual sack can also be largely attributed to the leadership.

Madden bases his analysis on the inviolability of sworn medieval treaties, as

best demonstrated by the diversion made to pay the Venetians. A treaty was

made with Alexios to help secure his empire in return for payment in March

1204, but the leaders demanded payment while the Emperor stalled. Madden,

however, notes that they had no legal right to do this, even if Alexios did not

actually intend to pay: 100,000 marks had already been paid according to

Villehardouin, and he never refused to pay the rest. 31 By undermining the

Emperor in front of his court, they contributed to his eventual downfall. More

25 Queller, The Fourth Crusade, p. 33; Geoffrey de Villehardouin, p. 24

26 Andrea, Contemporary Sources, p. 57

27 Marquis Boniface of Montferrat, “Reg 6:100, April 1203” in Andrea, (ed.), Contemporary

Sources, pp. 58-9; Counts Baldwin of Flanders, Louis of Blois and Hugh of St Pol, “Reg. 6:99,

April 1203“, in Andrea (ed.) Contemporary Sources. pp. 55-6

28 Queller, The Fourth Crusade, p. 8

29 Andrea, Contemporary Sources, p. 183


Count Hugh of St Pol, A. J Andrea (trans.), “The Letter of Hugh of Saint Pol to R. Of

Balues”, in Andrea (ed.) Contemporary Sources, pp. 186-9


Madden, “Vows and Contracts” pp. 446-9

16 Joe Adams

immediately, the refusal of the ultimatum to pay immediately led the

Crusaders to begin looting the outskirts of the city. Madden suggests “the

Latins must have concluded that Alexius IV had refused to pay his debt, and

therefore they were now freed from their allegiance to him,” although Alexios

had technically made no such refusal. 32

The final indictment of the leaders must be considered their behaviour

following the elevation of Alexios V. At this point, the agreement with Alexios

IV was terminated by his death, but the Venetians had already received

100,000 marks needed to cover the transport fee. Instead, the objective of the

Crusade was changed from Jerusalem to Byzantium by means of the complicit


“this war is lawful and just, and that if you have a right intention in

conquering this land, to bring it into the Roman obedience, all those who

die after confession shall have part in the indulgence granted by the

Pope." 33

This was not without legal justification, as the Third Lateran Council had

legislated that remission of sins could be granted for opposing heretics. 34

Madden further adds that “so many crusaders considered their vow fulfilled

that the papal legate, Peter Capuano, released them from the burden of the

cross,” which shows Capuano’s complicity with the Crusade leadership over

obedience to his Pope. 35

In conclusion, there were numerous parties to blame for the sack of

Constantinople, but none had so great a chance to avoid it than the Crusade

leadership. Dandolo may be legitimately included in this group, for as a

provider of over half the manpower he may be said to have wielded

considerable influence. 36 His agency should not be limited to pre-departure.

Tensions between Byzantium and Venice were in existence, but have shown to

32 Madden, “Vows and Contracts” p. 449

33 Geoffrey de Villehardouin, p. 56

34 See Canon 27, Third Lateran Council 1179 A.D., in Norman P. Tanner, (ed.), Decrees of the

Ecumenical Councils, from http://www.piar.hu/councils/ecum11.htm [accessed 17/02/12]



Madden, “Vows and Contracts” p. 463


P. S. Noble, “Eyewitnesses of the Fourth Crusade - the War against Alexius III,” Reading

Medieval Studies, 25 (1999) p. 76

17 Sack of Constantinople 1204

have little impact on the actual conduct of the Crusade. The idea of a

long-held plot to divert the Crusade whether by the Papacy, Venice or the

Frankish leadership has been disproved. The latter two parties, however, were

forced by the ineptitude of the envoys into the diversion to Zara and

Constantinople, so the blame must be shared. However, Alexios IV’s

impossible contract, combined with the diplomatic failures of the Crusader

leadership in 1203-4 and their inability to control their troops and prevent

friction with the local Byzantines, must be ultimately blamed for the sack of


18 Joe Adams


Primary Sources

Choniates, Niketas, Harry J. Magoulias (trans.), O City of Byzantium, Annals of

Niketas Choniates (Detroit, 1984)

Innocent III et al, A.J. Andrea (trans.), “Registers of Innocent III” in A.J. Andrea

(ed.) Contemporary Sources for the Fourth Crusade (Leiden, 2008), pp 5-176

Geoffrey de Villehardouin, Marzials, F. T. (trans.), Memoirs or Chronicle of The

Fourth Crusade and The Conquest of Constantinople, (London: J.M. Dent,

1908) p. 37 from http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/villehardouin.asp

[accessed 18/02/12]

Gunter of Pairis, A.J. Andrea (trans.), The Capture of Constantinople: The Hystoria

Constantinopolitana of Gunther of Pairis (Philadelphia, 1997)

Hugh of St Pol, A. J Andrea (trans.), “The Letter of Hugh of Saint Pol to R. Of

Balues” in A.J. Andrea (ed.) Contemporary Sources for the Fourth Crusade

(Leiden, 2008) pp. 177-202

“Third Lateran Council 1179 AD”, Tanner, N.P, (ed.) Decrees of the Ecumenical

Councils from http://www.piar.hu/councils/ecum11.htm[accessed


Secondary Sources

Madden, T, “Vows and Contracts in the Fourth Crusade: The Treaty of Zara

and the Attack on Constantinople in 1204,” The International History

Review 15 (1993), pp. 441-468

Noble, P. S., “Eyewitnesses of the Fourth Crusade - the War against Alexius III,”

Reading Medieval Studies, 25 (1999), pp. 75-89

-----, “Outside and Inside the Fourth Crusade,” International History Review 17

(1995) pp. 726-743

-----, “Food and the Fourth Crusade: a new approach to the ‘Diversion

Question’”, in John H. Pryor (ed.) in Logistics of Warfare in the Age of the

Crusades, John H. Pryor, (ed.) (Brookfield, 2006), pp. 209-28.

19 Sack of Constantinople 1204

Nicol, D., “The Crusades and the Unity of Christendom,” in Goss and

Bornstein, The Meeting of two Worlds: Cultural Exchange between East and

West during the period of the Crusades, ed. (Kalamazoo, 1986) pp. 169-180

Phillips J., The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople, (London, 2004)

Powell, J., “Innocent III and Alexius III: a Crusade Plan that Failed,” Marcus

Bull and Norman Housely (eds.), The Experience of Crusading, vol. 2

(Cambridge 2003) pp. 96-102

Pryor, John H., “The Venetian fleet for the Fourth Crusade and the diversion of

the Crusade to Constantinople” in Marcus Bull and Norman Housely

(eds.), The Experience of Crusading, vol. 2 (Cambridge 2003) pp. 103-123

Queller, D. E., The Fourth Crusade, (Philadelphia 1977)

Queller, D. E. and Day, G. W., “Some Arguments in Defence of the Venetians

on the Fourth Crusade,” American Historical Review, Vol. 81, No. 4 (Oct.,

1976), pp. 717-37

Riley-Smith, J., The Crusades: A History, (London, 2005)

Runciman, S., “Byzantium and the Crusades,” in Goss and Bornstein, The

Meeting of two Worlds: Cultural Exchange between East and West during the

period of the Crusades, ed. (Kalamazoo, 1986) pp. 15-22

Sayers, J., Innocent III. Leader of Europe 1198-1216, (Harlow 1994)

20 Philip Kelvin

How and why did a largely illiterate population convert to

a ‘religion of the word’?

By Philip Kelvin

The last fifty years has seen the historiographical debate extend out of the

erstwhile focus on the politics of the reformation, and, instead, to assess the

Tudor Reformation on the ground. This essay intends to assay how a

largely illiterate population converted to a religion, which had a great focus

and respect for the written and spoken word. The answer is by no means

clear-cut and it is indeed challenging to explain why the English population

converted to Protestantism; it is difficult, as Elizabeth herself stated, “to make

windows into men’s souls”. 1 Whilst it is difficult to assess why the

population converted, one can examine how the population could have

converted, despite low levels of literacy through gauging the reception of

different mediums of religious indoctrination. This essay argues that an

absence of literacy did not prevent access to Protestantism, as, whilst there

was a focus on the written word, there was equally a focus on the spoken

word, such as the sermon. Furthermore, with expanding education it was

likely that there were some literate members of the community who extended

the reception of printed works. This extension can be seen through Cynthia

Zollinger’s model of ‘textual communities’, whereby the reception of ballads,

broadsheets and other printed works were expanded through the interaction


between speakers and listeners. Meanwhile, the acquisition of

pre-reformation metrical psalms and ballads allowed continuity in song,

alongside new ballads, which were conceived for pedagogical instruction,

aiding the conversion process. Historians such as Patrick Collinson have

noted that, from 1577, the ‘popular’ culture of the Tudor Reformation in the

form of godly ballads and moralizing plays declined due to incessant attacks

from the ‘Puritan onslaught’. 3 Whilst this decline may have occurred, by the

1570s and 1580s, one can argue that there existed a blurring of secular and

1 Alexandra Walsham, Church Papists: Catholicism, conformity and confessional polemic in early

modern Europe (Woodbridge, 1993), p. 12.

2 Cythnia Wittman Zollinger, ’”The booke, the leafe, yea and the very sentence”:

Sixteenth-Century Literacy in Text and Context’ in Christopher Highley and John King (eds.),

John Foxe and his world (Aldershot and Burlington, VT, 2002), p. 102.


Patrick Collinson, The birthpangs of Protestant England: religious and cultural change in the

sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (New York, 1988), p. 112.

21 'Religion of the word'

religious culture that enabled Protestantism to become a religion of habit.

The second generation of the Reformation had grown up in the Elizabethan

settlement: their Queen was Protestant and so was England. The passive

victimhood of Elizabeth and the consistency of threats from Catholics abroad

and at home, allowed Englishmen to define themselves as English based on

their religion. Asking ‘why’ the population converted to the ‘religion of the

word’ is complex, but the substantial number of mediums through which an

illiterate population could be converted, or at least encounter Protestantism,

helps to explain the process.

With the Reformation, a basic willingness to read scripture in the vernacular,

which was once the mark of the heretic, became central to the new orthodoxy.

The relationship between the individual and the text, between self and

scripture, was recognised as a site of negotiation and the act of reading and

interpretation became personalized and authorized by the tenets of a faith

celebrating the Word above all. Yet, despite this, over two-thirds of men and

nine-tenths of women were unable to sign their names at the time of the

English civil war. 4 However, John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments suggests that

that there was a great fluidity between orality and literacy encouraged by

vernacular translators who made texts available to listeners as well as

readers. 5 The solution to the problem of illiteracy was the creation of a

textual community, an interaction between speakers and listeners situated

around the knowledge and interpretation of a text. 6 John Foxe’s martyrology

also provides evidence that not all those persecuted were highly educated

scholars and clergy but also those who listened and memorized -evidence of

the further penetration of Protestant thought into the lower strata of society.

Foxe gives the example of Rawlins White, an inspired fisherman, who

encountered the Bible by proxy. While he began his spiritual journey within

oral culture, a “diligent hearer, and a great searcher out of the truth,” he

looked to the text of the Bible to continue his education through his son and

he would “have the boy to read a piece of the holy scripture,” he also used his

memory and “very often would cite the booke, the leafe, yea and the very

sentence: such was the wonderfull working of God in this simple and

4 Zollinger, ’”The booke, the leafe, yea and the very sentence”: Sixteenth-Century Literacy in

Text and Context’, p. 102.


Ibid., p. 103.


Ibid., p. 106.

22 Philip Kelvin

unlearned father.” 7 Clearly, the word could not be read by all but it could

permeate through society via an alternative route.

Furthermore, through ballads, the first generation of Protestant reformers

utilised aspects of pre-reformation melodies and metrical psalms alongside

existing secular songs as their route to the people’s hearts. 8 Tessa Watt has

estimated that an absolute minimum of six hundred thousand ballads were

circulating in the second half of the sixteenth century and a maximum of four

million. 9 As Nicholas Bownde commented in 1595; “You must not onely

look in the houses of great personages…but also in the shops of artificers, and

cottages of poor husbandmen, where you shall sooner see one of these newe

Ballades…than any of the Psalms, and may perceive them to be cunninger in

singing the one, than the other.” 10 The ubiquitous nature of the ballad at all

social levels is suggested by John Jewel’s letter to Peter Martyr, 5 March 1560:

“Religion is now somewhat more established than it was…You may now

sometimes see at Paul’s cross, after the service, six thousand persons, old and

young, of both sexes, all singing together and praising. This sadly annoys

the mass-priests and the devil. For they perceive that by these means the

sacred discourses sink more deeply into the minds of men.” 11 Moreover,

music became imbedded into Elizabethan life through another pillar of

Elizabethan culture: the grammar school. Through educational reformers

such as Richard Mulcaster, music was affirmed as one of “the chiefe principles,

for training up of youth”. 12 Being particularly susceptible to music, young

people and schoolchildren became a target of a range of pedagogic musical

forms. One could even argue that Zollinger’s ‘textual communities’ included

the exchange of music. While only a minority of children may have

experienced religious music in an Elizabethan schoolroom, many more were

exposed to Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs in the home and wider

community. It has been estimated that there were over 360 grammar schools

in England by 1600, one for every 12,500 people, collectively educating

7 Zollinger, ’”The booke, the leafe, yea and the very sentence”: Sixteenth-Century Literacy in

Text and Context’, p. 104.

8 Tessa Watt, Cheap Print and Popular Piety 1550-1640 (Cambridge, 1991), pp. 40-41.

9 Ibid., p. 11-12.

10 Ibid., p. 12.


Jonathan Willis, Church Music and Protestantism in Post-Reformation England (Farnham, 2010),

p. 164.


Ibid., p. 167.

23 'Religion of the word'

around 12,000 boys or one in 375 people. The impact on local congregations

of a grammar school population fluent in music, and especially the metrical

Psalms, could have been considerable. 13

While Zollinger and Willis have examined the transmission and potential

interaction with Protestantism one might encounter in the sixteenth century, it

has proven difficult to establish an accurate representation of the reception of

Protestant ideas. Arnold Hunt’s study on preaching arguably bridges this

gap by questioning the inevitability of a Protestant preacher creating a

Protestant parish. Focusing on the two-way relationship between the

preacher and his audience, Hunt argued that the preacher imbued the printed

word with a warmth thtat it previously lacked. 14 Hunt argues that a sermon

on the printed page was arguably not a sermon at all: it could not save souls,

because it lacked the converting power of the spoken voice. 15 What made the

sermon special was not simply its orality but its unique and unrepeatable

nature that was addressed to the emotions as well as to the intellect, and was

designed not merely to impart doctrinal information but to elicit an effective

response from the audience. 16 Intellect was by no means a prerequisite for

the penetration of the preacher’s message. Hunt’s evidence for this is

plentiful, although the presence of ‘sermon-gadding’, where people travelled

to different parishes to hear from their favourite preachers, suggests that the

quality of preaching was not consistent throughout the parishes.

Nevertheless, it is likely that the tailoring of a preacher’s sermon based on

their audience and location, would have indeed helped people to convert to

the ‘religion of the word’ and helps explain why one might convert. 17

The transition to print culture following the Reformation did not entail a full

separation from visual imagery and early Protestantism arguably created a

new religious and moral drama of its own for its own propagandist and

didactic purposes. 18 Early Protestant drama became a tool to discredit

previous papist practices and to introduce Protestant doctrine. Lewis

Wager’s Life and repentaunce of Marie Magdalene is a theological play that

13 Willis, Church Music and Protestantism, p. 172.

14 Arnold Hunt, The Art of Hearing (Cambridge, 2010), p. 12.

15 Ibid., p. 10.


Ibid., p. 11.


Ibid., pp. 14-15.


Ibid., p. 102.

24 Philip Kelvin

centred on the themes of predestination and of salvation through faith alone. 19

The audience that saw the Magdalene play was left in little doubt that the

heroine’s redemption was affected purely through unmerited grace:

There was never man borne yet that was able,

To performe these precepts iust, holy and stable,

Save onely Jesus Christ.

So by faith in Christ you have Justification

Freely of his grace and beyond mans operation 20

Furthermore, Peter Berek’s work on tragedy and title pages has shown how a

large proportion of plays published and labelled as “tragedy” were used to

characterize stories of martyrdom whilst works such as The stage of popish toyes:

conteining both tragicall and comicall partes (1581) provided a collection about

the wickedness of Roman Catholics. 21 Thus, despite Collinson’s observation

of a gradual iconophobia in England after the 1570s, religious themes were

still able to shape plays despite the government’s insistence that the writer

avoid doctrinal matters. 22

This essay, thus far, has focused on the quantities and qualitative nature of

tools used by Protestants to convert a largely illiterate body. It has

demonstrated both how, and suggested reasons why such tools were

successful. However, national secular culture and not just religious doctrine

was deeply intertwined with the written and oral culture. From the 1570s

especially, panegyrics fused anti-popery with fervent biblically flavoured

patriotism. 23 Many of the population were arguably converted, not solely

out of habit, but because one’s national identity as English and one’s religious

identity as Protestant, were one and the same. In her first speech to the

House of Lords, Elizabeth declared herself ‘God’s Creature, ordained to obey

his appointment…[and]….the minister of his heavenly will,” and in her

19 Collinson, The birthpangs of Protestant England, p. 104.

20 Ibid., pp. 104-105.

21 Peter Berek, ‘Tragedy and Title Pages: Nationalism, Protestantism and Print’ in Modern

Philology, Vol. 106, No. 1 (August, 2008), p. 9.

22 William A. Dyrness, Reformed theology and visual culture: the protestant imagination from

Calvin to Edwards (Cambridge, 2004), p. 120.


Alexandra Walsham, ‘’A Very Deborah?’ The Myth of Elizabeth I as a Providential

Monarch’, in Susan Doran and Thomas S. Freeman, The Myth of Elizabeth (Basingstoke, 2003),

p. 144.

25 'Religion of the word'

Golden Speech of 1601 that she was an ‘instrument to deliver you from

dishonour, from shame, from infamy, to keep you from…servitude and

slavery under our enemies, from cruel tyranny and vile oppression.’ 24

Accession Day, on 17 November, also provides an excellent example of the

fusion of religious and secular culture because the accession is presented as

the day on which Elizabeth had ‘opened unto us the door of his Gospel’. 25

Moreover, reflections on her rule on this day were occupied with both the

religious and political success of England:

Since which time [after Elizabeth’s accession] having taken progresse

together with Gods manifold blessings… both to her royall person,

sincere religion, and most blessed government, …it hath been oppugned

by the Priestes and Iesuites, the enemies of her gracious peace and happy

prosperitie… 26

The inviolability of the English monarch was widely read as evidence of the

nation’s own elect status and loyalty to the Queen was by nature conforming

to the religious orthodoxy. 27

In conclusion, whilst it is very easy prima facie to present illiteracy as an

obstruction to the conversion of Englishmen to Protestantism, the evidence

suggests that many who were illiterate were adept at finding alternative

means to understand the key doctrines and Scripture or, indeed, others who

were literate used tools and methods that illiterates could understand. The

ubiquity of printed broadsheets, ballads, psalms and sermons alongside the

strong culture of orality and focus on preaching, whether on secular occasion

or on the Sabbath, meant that it was very difficult not to escape the trappings

of Protestantism. The evidence presented in this essay has focused

predominantly on the period after 1558 and more research is needed on the

period after the break with Rome in determining a new model on the impact

of literacy aside from Christopher Haigh’s study. Nevertheless, the fervour,

24 Walsham, ‘’A Very Deborah?’', pp. 144-145.

25 Ibid., p. 146.

26 John Howson, A sermon preached at St Maries in Oxford, the 17. Day of November, 1602. In

Defence of the festivities of the Church of England, and namely that of her Maiesties coronation. By

Iohn Hovvson Doctor of Divinitie, one of her Highnes chaplains, and vicechancellour of the Vniversitie

of Oxforde (Oxford, 1602), Preface.


Walsham, ‘’A Very Deborah?’ The Myth of Elizabeth I as a Providential Monarch’, pp.


26 Philip Kelvin

passion and consistency of the written and oral culture after the accession of

Elizabeth I led, over time, to the habit of Protestantism. Whilst Collinson’s

argument holds strong regarding increased censorship and care taken over

the publication of works after the 1570s, this also coincided with a further

entwinement of religious and secular culture due to the threats on Elizabeth’s

life. Thus, religion became a part of a Tudor citizen’s life by virtue of where

they lived, their local government and their parish church. Interaction with

the Word, especially in larger towns, was inevitable and the conversion to

what they viewed English Protestantism, a prerequisite to residence within

the Protestant island.

27 'Religion of the word'


Collinson, Patrick, The birthpangs of Protestant England: religious and cultural

change in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (New York, 1988)

Dyrness, William A., Reformed theology and visual culture: the protestant

imagination from Calvin to Edwards (Cambridge, 2004)

Evenden, Elizabeth and Freeman, Thomas S., ‘Print, Profit and Propaganda:

The Elizabethan Privy Council and the 1570 Edition of Foxe’s ‘Book of

Martyrs’, English Historical Review, 119 (2004), pp. 1288-1307.

Howson, John, A sermon preached at St Maries in Oxford, the 17. Day of November,

1602. In Defence of the festivities of the Church of England, and namely that of

her Maiesties coronation. By Iohn Hovvson Doctor of Divinitie, one of her

Highnes chaplains, and vicechancellour of the Vniversitie of Oxforde (Oxford,

1602), Preface.

Hunt, Arnold, The Art of Hearing (Cambridge, 2010)

Peter Berek, ‘Tragedy and Title Pages: Nationalism, Protestantism and Print’

in Modern Philology, Vol. 106, No. 1 (August, 2008), pp. 1-24.

Walsham, Alexandra and Crick, Julia C., ‘Introduction: script, print and

history’, in Julia C. Crick and Alexandra Walsham (eds.), The uses of

script and print, 1300-1700 (Cambridge, 2004), pp. 1-26.

Walsham, Alexandra, ‘’A Very Deborah?’ The Myth of Elizabeth I as a

Providential Monarch’, in Susan Doran and Thomas S. Freeman, The

Myth of Elizabeth (Basingstoke, 2003), p. 143-171.

Walsham, Alexandra, Church Papists: Catholicism, conformity and confessional

polemic in early modern Europe (Woodbridge, 1993)

Watt, Tessa, Cheap Print and Popular Piety 1550-1640 (Cambridge, 1991)

Willis, Jonathan, Church Music and Protestantism in Post-Reformation England

(Farnham, 2010)

28 Philip Kelvin

Zollinger, Cythnia Wittman, ’”The booke, the leafe, yea and the very

sentence”: Sixteenth-Century Literacy in Text and Context’ in Christopher

Highley and John King (eds.), John Foxe and his world (Aldershot and

Burlington, VT, 2002), pp. 102-116.

29 Sunni orthodoxy and non-Muslims

Did increasing Sunni orthodoxy have a positive or negative effect on

Ottoman relations with the non-Muslim communities under their rule

during the reign of Mehmed IV?

By William Vick

The ambiguous relationship between the Ottoman Empire and its multitude

of religious communities is undoubtedly a most fascinating and relevant issue,

and one that is still well under consideration. The advent of Islamist

extremism and the prospect of a ‘Clash of Civilizations’ have ignited debates

in the Western world about the precise nature and doctrine of Islam and the

degree to which it can tolerate the existence of other religious groups. 1 The

Ottoman Empire has formed part of the battleground in this debate,

providing the most significant recent example of a polyethnic and

multi-religious community under an ostensibly Muslim state. Hence

historians such as Madeline Zilfi, Marc Baer and Karen Barkey have analysed

the discontinuity of Ottoman Islamic traditions, particularly the wave of

Kadızadeli orthodox reformism that emerged over the course of the

seventeenth century, and on the effects that this may have had on the religious

minorities of the empire. 2 Indeed, Baer and others have suggested that

military defeat and economic uncertainty led to a kind of identity crisis within

the empire, which prompted a turn to Islamic orthodoxy and Islamization

that inevitably led to tensions with, if not outright oppression of, Christians,

Jews and other minorities. 3 Yet the rise of the Kadızadelis led to conflict

within Islam as well as without, and indeed the essential thrust of Kadızadeli

thought was anti-Sufi or anti-Halveti in nature, not anti-Christian or

anti-Jewish. 4 How, then, do we make sense of these complex shifts in

Ottoman religious positions and their impact upon minority religious

communities at this time?

1 Karen Barkey, ‘Islam and Toleration: Studying the Ottoman Imperial Model’, International

Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society, 19 (2005), pp. 5-6.

2 Marc David Baer, Honored by the Glory of Islam (Oxford, 2008); Madeline Zilfi, The Politics of

Piety (Minneapolis, 1988) and Karen Barkey, Empire of Difference: The Ottomans in Comparative

Perspective (Cambridge, 2008).

3 Baer, ‘The Great Fire of 1660 and the Islamization of Christian and Jewish Space in Istanbul’,

International Journal of Middle East Studies, 36 (2004).


Madeline Zilfi, ’The Kadızadelis: Discordant Revivalism in Seventeenth-Century Istanbul’,

Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 45 (1986), and Zilfi, The Politics of Piety.

30 William Vick

First we can examine the nature of the ‘increasing Sunni orthodoxy’ that

occurred over course of the seventeenth century and peaked in influence

between around 1660 and 1680. The Kadızadeli movement originated in

reaction to the growing influence of the Halveti sufi order in Istanbul, which

had come to monopolise the most important religious posts in the major

towns of the Empire. From the 1630s with the leadership of Kadızade

Mehmed Efendi, the provincial preachers who competed with these sufis –

the vaizan – began to form a coherent ‘puritanical movement’ that strongly

opposed the innovation (bida) driven by sufi practice, which had led the

Islamic community too far from the Sunna and into realms of disbelief. 5

Consequently they demanded the destruction of sufi lodges and prohibition

of the reverence of deceased sufi leaders. 6 By the 1660s and 70s, Grand Vizier

Köprülü Fazıl Ahmed Paşa had come to sympathise with the Kadızadelis, and

even employed a leading Kadızadeli, Vani Mehmed Efendi, as his spiritual

counsellor. But even if it produced a highly-charged religious atmosphere in

affected Ottoman cities, the Kadızadeli movement clearly only saw itself as

diametrically opposed to sufism; impacts upon Christian and Jewish

communities were, in a sense, only collateral or incidental. Kadızadeli identity,

to the extent that it existed, was defined against sufism, not against

non-Muslims. Thus, we cannot simply assume that increasing theological

fervour must lead to further persecution of non-Muslim minorities when

intra-religious conflict was, at least at this time, far more prominent.

That said, there are several useful case studies of interreligious interaction

during the 1660s and 70s that would appear to indicate a new zeal towards

Islamization and lesser tolerance towards religious minorities in some areas of

the Empire, often coinciding and tied in with the height of Kadızadeli

dominance. Marc Baer, for instance, has analysed the aftermath of the 1660

Great Fire of Istanbul and what he describes as the subsequent ‘Islamization

of Christian and Jewish space in Istanbul’ through processes which clearly

indicate a different attitude by the Islamic authorities in the capital to those in

past eras. 7 Whereas previously Ottoman authorities had usually allowed the

reconstruction of destroyed buildings such as churches and synagogues, this

5 Zilfi, ‘The Kadızadelis’, pp. 253-4.

6 Jane Hathaway, ‘The Grand Vizier and the False Messiah: The Sabbatai Sevi Controversy

and the Ottoman Reform in Egypt’, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 117 (1997), p.



Baer, ‘The Great Fire’, p. 159.

31 Sunni orthodoxy and non-Muslims

was now restricted as Islamic laws prohibiting reconstruction were enforced.

Although Christians were initially allowed to repurchase ruined buildings

and reconstruct them as houses, this only lasted for two years; Jews from the

outset were often expelled entirely from certain districts of Istanbul and

mostly herded into Hasköy, an already-existing Jewish community. 8 Most

significantly, this allowed for the construction of the New Mosque by the

Valide Sultan in Eminönü, and later the Valide Sultan Mosque in Galata; key

symbols of the radical transformation of Jewish and Christian space in

Istanbul that followed the great fire. Moreover, this was not an exclusively

Constantinopolitan phenomenon: in 1665, a remarkably similar process of

Islamization took place upon the Ottoman conquest of Candia, in Crete. 9

How then to explain this new Ottoman aggression towards the Christians and

Jews? As Baer explains, we cannot underestimate the roles of individuals in

this course of events. Indeed, he largely accredits the initial persecution of

Jews to the Valide Sultan Hatice Turhan, since she was the most powerful

political figure in 1660-1 (hence the Eminönü mosque bearing her name),

while the emergence of Köprülü Fazıl Ahmed Paşa and Vani Mehmed Efendi

in late 1661 engendered the wider anti-Christian policy of the subsequent

years. 10 Vani Mehmed Efendi, as leader of the Kadızadeli movement, clearly

provides a direct link between the movement and the programme of

Islamization in Istanbul. However we can question how far Islamization was

really influenced by Kadızadeli theology; significantly, no previous

Kadızadeli leaders had supported such a policy to any noteworthy degree.

The idea that non-Muslims corrupted the political and social networks of the

Empire was Vani Mehmed’s own contribution to the Kadizadeli movement.

Moreover, even if we accepted that Vani Mehmed’s Kadızadeli beliefs

instigated his persecution of Christians, how do we explain the Valide Sultan’s

previous oppression of the Jews?

A further significant episode in the relations between Jews and Muslims took

place in 1665 in the form of the Sabbatian controversy, as Sabbatai Sevi’s claim

to be the Jewish Messiah found a substantial following in Egypt and across

the Ottoman Empire. Factors such as high taxation in Egypt, the aftermath of

the Great Fire, and a general decline in the Jews’ political importance within


Baer, ‘The Great Fire’,, p. 170.


Ibid., pp. 173-4.


Ibid., p. 174.

32 William Vick

the Empire all added fuel to the fire of Jewish discontent with the Ottoman

authorities. 11 Furthermore, the mystic nature of the Sabbatian movement was

naturally opposed to the anti-mysticism of the Kadızadeli. 12 But the nature

and events of the controversy are not as relevant here as the government’s

reaction to them: the movement was not simply crushed or censored, but the

government made a point of converting Sabbatai Sevi to Islam. Not only did

this completely undermine the movement’s religious and sectarian authority;

it also brought a large number of Sabbatai Sevi’s followers into the Islamic

faith. Notably, it was also Vani Mehmed Efendi who was primarily

responsible for educating Sabbatai Sevi in Islamic doctrine. 13

In the Sabbatian controversy, therefore, we can see the complex interplay of

religious groups that took place in the Ottoman Empire of the 1660s. A small

degree of religious persecution, coupled with other economic and social

factors, combined into a failed dissident movement that ultimately only

legitimised past persecution and justified it into the future. From 1665

onwards Jews were considered ‘volatile and untrustworthy’ and denied

positions of any political importance within the palace. 14 But the more

important aspect of the affair was the highly successful attempt to effectively

hijack it in the name of Islamization; again, Vani Mehmed was instrumental in

enacting a programme of conversion. In fact, it is worth emphasising the

limited nature of Jewish persecution that followed the controversy, which

suggests that conversion was by far the primary goal.

It is evident, then, that Vani Mehmed Efendi, and through his influence the

Grand Vizier Köprülü Fazıl Ahmed Paşa and other members of the palace,

undertook a deliberate programme of Islamization during the 1660s. However,

the opportunistic nature of this process is worth noting; at no point did the

Ottoman authorities attempt an empire-wide programme of conversion. Some

religious groups were protected due to external circumstances. Catholics, for

instance, were closely guarded by the French, and therefore did not suffer

extensive repression, despite earning the Ottomans’ ire for supporting the

11 Baer, Honored by the Glory of Islam (Oxford, 2008), pp. 124-5; Minna Rozen, ‘The Ottoman

Jews’, in Suraiya N. Faroqhi (ed.), The Cambridge History of Turkey, Volume 3: The Later Ottoman

Empire, 1603-1839 (Cambridge, 2006), p. 271.


Hathaway, ‘The Grand Vizier and the False Messiah’, p. 667.


Ibid., p. 667.


Baer, ‘The Great Fire’, p. 162.

33 Sunni orthodoxy and non-Muslims

Venetian invasion of Chios in 1695. 15 Orthodox Christians in fact benefited

from the declining position of the Jews in Ottoman society, not only in

supplanting them in those palace positions in which they were no longer

welcome but also in wider society. 16 Indeed, Karen Barkey suggests that, by

the end of the seventeenth century, ‘Christians and Muslims allied to oppose

Jews.’ 17 The anti-mystic nature of Kadızadeli teaching no doubt contributed

to this animosity, when confronted with the evidently mystic Sabbatian

movement within Judaism.

However, we can hardly treat Kadızadeli teaching itself as a monolithic entity.

The prominence of Vani Mehmed signalled a notable shift in emphasis such

that the movement now became overtly anti-non-Muslim, whereas previously

the question of non-Muslims had not been raised in Kadızadeli discourse or

in the debate with sufism. We can then ask, therefore, what prompted this

change – whether we can explain this new zeal towards Islamization as a

simple continuation of the ‘increasing Sunni orthodoxy’ that had taken place

throughout the seventeenth century, or as a peculiarity of Vani Mehmed’s take

upon Kadızadeli thought. It is here that the Valide Sultan’s attitude towards

the Jews following the Great Fire of 1660 is significant in indicating that the

idea of Islamization, albeit perhaps in a weaker form, preceded the emergence

of Islamising Kadızadeli-ism within the palace, instigated by Vani Mehmed

Efendi and Köprülü Fazıl Ahmed Paşa in 1661. The possibility that Vani

Mehmed was prompted by external conditions to adjust his take on

Kadızadeli positions, to encompass a degree of Islamization into his teachings,

suggests that forces essentially unrelated to the growth of Sunni orthodoxy or

the Kadızadeli movement were ultimately responsible for the appearance of

Islamization as a means of advancement for the Ottoman state. In effect, the

policy of Islamization was adopted and adapted into Kadızadelism, rather

than originating as a Sunni orthodox principle in itself.

To discover the root cause of Islamization, then, we can return to the wider

geopolitical situation of the Ottoman Empire in the latter half of the

seventeenth century. As we have seen, this was a period of identity crisis for

the Empire: both economic difficulties and military stagnation were evident;

15 Bruce Masters, ‘Christians in a changing world’, in Suraiya N. Faroqhi (ed.), The Cambridge

History of Turkey, Volume 3: The Later Ottoman Empire, 1603-1839 (Cambridge, 2006), p. 277.


Baer, ‘The Great Fire’, p. 162.


Barkey, Empire of Difference, p. 187.

34 William Vick

the ongoing Siege of Candia was an embarrassing sign of the latter. The

Kadızadelis laid the blame for the faltering of the Ottoman state entirely at the

feet of pernicious sufi heterodoxy, and thereby grew to prominence by

offering a fundamentalist alternative. 18 In this debate between Kadızadelis

and sufis – or more generally, heterodoxy versus Sunni orthodoxy – religious

minorities had little to say, and played little role. The relationship between

Muslim and non-Muslim here is perhaps more usefully viewed in a slightly

different context: that of the expansionist, ghazi model of Ottoman statehood

that had been predominant throughout the first centuries of its existence,

versus a more internally-focused, converting model. In effect, with external

conquest and conversion – a process ideally suited to sufi appeal and

methods – no longer a possibility, the Ottoman authorities and elites found it

beneficial to define internal enemies. In Islamization, they found a battle

against these enemies which they could win, and thereby reassert their

authority. Consequently, numerous groups within the Empire, including the

Valide Sultan, Vani Mehmed and the Kadızadelis, came to a similar

conclusion at a similar time. In constructing the New Mosque in Eminönü, the

Valide Sultan created a powerful symbol of Ottoman power within the

capital. 19 In a sense, this could be presented as an expansionist victory for the

Ottoman state, but simply one inside its own borders. The role of the

Kadızadeli within this course of events is, therefore, incidental, in that they

merely propagated and legitimised a religious process that can be seen as

essentially political in cause. The indifference of the Kadızadeli towards

religious minorities before the floruit of Vani Mehmed indicates that, in itself,

their movement did not necessitate any worsening of relations with Christians

or Jews. Instead, the Kadızadeli and Islamising movements formed distinct

branches of the identity crisis that struck the Ottoman Empire at this time,

and it was more for political expediency – particularly the reaffirmation of

Ottoman power and expansionism – that Vani Mehmed Efendi intertwined

the two by adapting Islamization into Kadızadeli rhetoric. True, the religious

minorities – and, as we have seen, particularly the Jews – suffered as a result

of this. But in this instance, it is more useful to blame political forces and a

more general identity crisis within the Ottoman Empire than to reduce the

conflicts of the 1660s to the business of religion alone.


Baer, ‘The Great Fire’, p. 162.


Ibid., p. 163.

35 Sunni orthodoxy and non-Muslims


Sufism - usually defined as Islamic mysticism. Owing to the significant role

of sufi orders (turuq) in the expansion of Islam under the early Ottoman

Empire, forms of sufism became predominant in the Empire and heavily

influenced popular religion, incorporating mystic and syncretic aspects that

deviated from strict shari'a law.

Kadızadeli - originally taking their name from the Istanbul

preacher Kadızade who expounded many of their beliefs,

the Kadızadeli formed a more-or-less coherent religious movement

throughout the seventeenth century. They were primarily defined by their

opposition to religious innovation (bida), particularly the pantheistic and

emotive aspects of the sufi tradition. Instead they supported a reversion to

'orthodox' holy or shari'a law.

Halveti - the most influential sufi order in Istanbul in the 1600s. Along with

the Mevlevi order, it opposed most of the orthodox reforms proposed by

the Kadızadeli.

Valide Sultan - the mother of a reigning Sultan in the Ottoman Empire. Valide

Sultans often held great political influence within the Empire, particularly

during their sons' infancy. Here the Valide Sultan referred to is Hatice Turhan,

the mother of Sultan Mehmed IV, who was particularly powerful in the early

years of her son's reign as he showed little interest in the affairs of state.

Grand Vizier (sadrazam) - the Sultan's most important minister to whom, by

the 1660s, most political and military power was delegated. In the late

seventeenth century, this post was dominated by the Köprülü family.

36 William Vick


Baer, Marc David, ‘The Great Fire of 1660 and the Islamization of Christian

and Jewish Space in Istanbul’, International Journal of Middle East Studies,

36 (2004), pp. 159-181

Baer, Marc David, Honored by the Glory of Islam (Oxford, 2008)

Barkey, Karen, ‘Islam and Toleration: Studying the Ottoman Imperial Model’,

International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society, 19 (2005), pp. 5-19

Barkey, Karen, Empire of Difference: The Ottomans in Comparative Perspective

(Cambridge, 2008)

Hathaway, Jane, ‘The Grand Vizier and the False Messiah: The Sabbatai Sevi

Controversy and the Ottoman Reform in Egypt’, Journal of the American

Oriental Society, 117 (1997), pp. 665-671

Masters, Bruce, ‘Christians in a changing world’, in Suraiya N. Faroqhi (ed.),

The Cambridge History of Turkey, Volume 3: The Later Ottoman Empire,

1603-1839 (Cambridge, 2006), pp. 272-279

Rozen, Minna, ‘The Ottoman Jews’, in Suraiya N. Faroqhi (ed.), The Cambridge

History of Turkey, Volume 3: The Later Ottoman Empire, 1603-1839

(Cambridge, 2006), pp. 256-271

Zilfi, Madeline, ’The Kadızadelis: Discordant Revivalism in

Seventeenth-Century Istanbul’, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 45 (1986),

pp. 251-269

Zilfi, Madeline, The Politics of Piety (Minneapolis, 1988)

37 Loss of American colonies

How important was the loss of the American colonies to the British Empire

between 1770s and 1810s?

By James Callingham

The loss of the American colonies had a variety of impacts across the British

Empire, affecting some colonies more than others. Across the whole of the

Empire, it evidently damaged Britain's reputation. 1 In economic terms,

however, the impact seems to have been less important: a commercial decline

did not follow American Independence; in fact, the opposite occurred : British

trade experienced a period of expansion. 2 There certainly was some impact

on the remaining colonies in British North America, later Canada, mostly due

to the thousands of migrants which moved from the Thirteen Colonies. 3

Equally, it seems clear that the conflict in North America led to upheaval in

Ireland, Britain’s oldest colony, as it seemed to be following America's

footsteps at one point during the 1780s, prompting British legislation to

incorporate Ireland into the United Kingdom. 4 However, the impact on the

West Indies is questionable and the impact on the Asian Empire, India and

Ceylon, seems unimportant as the transition of British interests to the East

was already happening before the outbreak of war in America. 5 Therefore,

the importance of the American Revolution varied across the Empire,

affecting some colonies more heavily than others, resulting in different forms

of colonial development.

There was undoubtedly an initial impact from the loss of the American

colonies on the British Empire as a whole. Contemporaries feared for the

Empire’s future: for example, Horace Walpole predicted that Britain would

1H. M. Scott, British foreign policy in the age of the American Revolution (Oxford, 1990), p. 338.

2 Brendan Simms, Three victories and a defeat: rise and fall of the first British empire,

1714-1783 (Cambridge, 2007), p. 681.

3 Peter Marshall, ‘British North America 1760-1815’ in P. J. Marshall, (eds.), The Oxford History

of the British Empire Vol. II: The Eighteenth Century (Oxford, 1998), p. 382.

4 C. A. Bayly, Imperial Meridian: the British empire and the world 1780-1830 (Harlow ,1989), p.



Vincent T. Harlow, The founding of the second British empire, 1763-1793, v1. (London, 1952), pp.


38 James Callingham

become no more than a province of France. 6 Equally, the damage to Britain’s

reputation is shown by Joseph II of Austria’s comment that Britain would

become a second rate power like Denmark and Sweden. 7 Brendan Simms

regarded the deprivation of the American colonies to Britain as “a

catastrophic defeat”, indicating that the loss was important to the Empire. 8

There was a change in attitude in Britain towards the Empire after the loss of

the 13 colonies; there was a desire “for a more vigorous world empire”, which

led in part to imperial expansion. 9 Therefore, the loss of the colonies

revitalised expansion ideas, which contributed to the growth of the Empire

worldwide. A successful administration would be necessary to do this and the

American Revolution had “exposed inefficiencies… in the existing

administrative system”, making the British government more aware of the

need for reform. 10 Notably, The American Revolution led to the establishment

of the Foreign Office. This combined the North and South Secretaries and

significantly led to less contrasting views, as one minister only was now

responsible for Foreign Affairs. 11 So there was an impact on the Empire as a

whole, particularly with regards to the reputation of, and internal attitudes

towards, British imperial rule.

There were other factors and events which perhaps affected the British

Empire more than American Independence. It seems that the American

Revolution provoked “very limited changes in imperial governance after

1783”, since reformers were not prominent in the British government, and the

governance of colonies was not altered significantly. 12 Furthermore, P.J.

Marshall argues that there was not a shift away from the Atlantic because the

Americas were still important to British interests economically and


R. Coupland, The American Revolution and the British Empire (1930), pp.12-14 in Denis Judd,

Empire: the British imperial experience from 1765 to the present (London, 1996), p. 26.

7 A. von Arneth, Joseph II und Leopold von Toscana (Vienna, 1872) in John Cannon ‘The Loss of

America’ in H.T. Dickinson, (eds.), Britain and the American Revolution(Harlow, 1998), p. 235.

8 Simms, Three victories and a defeat, p. 661.

9 Bayly, Imperial Meridian, p. 99.

10David Mackay, In the wake of Cook: science and empire, 1780-1801 (Beckenham, 1985), p. 22.

11 H.M. Scott, ‘Britain as a European Great Power in the age of the American Revolution’, in

Dickinson, (eds.), Britain and the American Revolution, p. 183.

12P.J. Marshall, ‘The Case for Coercing America before the Revolution’ in F. M. Leventhal and

R. Quinault, (eds.) Anglo-American attitudes: From Revolution to Partnership (Aldershot, 2000), p.


39 Loss of American colonies

strategically, and Britain remained prominent in North America and the

Caribbean. 13 On the other hand, there were other reasons why a Second

British Empire, featuring a shift to the East, developed apart from the loss of

America. Helen Taft Manning suggests that the Second Empire was built on

population growth, expansion of industry and naval supremacy, not the loss

of America. 14 Certainly the Napoleonic Wars played a prominent role in the

growth of the Empire; arguably a more important one than the loss of the

American Colonies. 15 The role of France was significant, particularly after the

French Revolution and the resurgence of French imperialism. Revolutionary

France and British “domestic disorders” unquestionably played an equally, if

not more, important role in the expansion of the British Empire than

American independence. 16 Overall, the impact of the American Revolution on

the British Empire is debatable, but it seems clear that it was not the only

factor which led to the expansion of the British Empire.

In economic terms, one would expect American independence to have a

negative impact on the British Empire overall, as the Thirteen Colonies were

among Britain's richest colonies. Britain’s National Debt rose from a £132.6

million in 1763 to £243 million in 1784, indicating that the war stretched

British resources. 17 Whilst there was not an economic collapse in the British

Empire as a result, the American Revolution did lead to economic changes,

principally economic reform, as many in Britain quite rightly believed that

heavy Parliamentary taxation had cost them America. 18 This led to a radical

economic policy, starting with the Navigation Act of 1786 which aimed to

solve the issues with the old colonial system. 19 However, there were other

factors which led to economic change throughout the empire, which in turn


P.J. Marshall, ‘Britain without America – A Second Empire’ in P. J. Marshall, (eds.), The

Oxford History of the British Empire, p. 581.

14 Helen Taft Manning, British colonial Government after the American Revolution 1782-1820

( Yale, 1933), p. 15.

15 J. Gallagher and R. Robinson, ‘The imperialism of free trade’, Economic History Review 6

(1953), pp. 1-15.

16 Bayly, Imperial Meridian, p. 115.

17 Stephen Conway, ‘Britain and the Revolutionary Crisis, 1763-91’ in P. J. Marshall, (eds.),

The Oxford History of the British Empire, pp. 327, 345.

18Bayly, Imperial Meridian, pp. 95-6.


P.J. Cain and A. G. Hopkins, ‘Gentlemanly capitalism and British expansion overseas,

I: the old colonial system, 1688-1850’, Economic History Review 39, (1986), p. 522.

40 James Callingham

led to expansion. The Industrial Revolution in Britain was happening during

this period and altered the British economic make-up significantly; indeed,

Ronald Hyam argues it had a more important impact on the Empire than the

American issue. 20 Britain clearly maintained close economic ties with the

newly created United States, and trade continued where it left off before the

war. 21 Thus, the American Revolution led to some economic changes but their

importance must be questioned; the loss of America did not lead to the

Industrial Revolution, an economic transformation that impacted the Empire

hugely. Arguably the effects of industrialisation “swallowed up” the

consequences of the American War. 22

The American Revolution impacted some areas of the Empire more than

others and British North America was affected by the Independence of the

Thirteen Colonies hugely. The movement of 40,000 Loyalist refugees from

America to this region, later Canada, altered the balance of the population

significantly. 23 The province had previously belonged to the French until the

Seven Years War between 1754-63, and so the majority of the population were

French Catholics; the increased presence of English-speaking settlers changed

the situation. The American settlers had been accustomed to a constitutional

assembly, which had not existed in British North America before. This led to

the 1791 Constitution Act, which split British North America into Lower and

Upper Canada, with the two different ethnic populations in different

provinces, creating a representative assembly and diffusing tensions. 24 The

loss of the Thirteen Colonies also led to a security risk for the British as the

USA was determined to expand, and this led to the establishment of a militia

service in Canada, which would defend against a potential US attack. 25

Therefore, the creation of an independent USA was important to the

remaining British Empire in North America, as it led to constitutional changes

and created defence issues.

20 Ronald Hyam, ‘British imperial expansion in the late-eighteenth century’, Historical

Journal 10 (1967), p. 124.

21 Judd, Empire, p. 26.

22 Cannon ‘The Loss of America’ in Dickinson, (eds.), Britain and the American Revolution, p.


23 Ibid., p. 249.


Marshall, ‘British North America 1760-1815’ in Marshall, (eds.), The Oxford History of the

British Empire, p. 385.


Manning, British colonial Government, p. 322.

41 Loss of American colonies

The American Revolution also had an important impact on Ireland and

contributed to Irish upheaval against their British rulers. Irish nationalism

became “a British domestic problem” as a result of the precedent set by the

Thirteen Colonies. 26 The significance of the 4000 Irish troops sent to America

to fight the rebels is important: it angered the Irish Parliament as they disliked

British intervention in Irish affairs. 27 The subsequent demands for an

independent Irish Parliament must be seen as a result of the war in America. 28

The British Government was reluctant to grant this and instead chose to fully

integrate Ireland into Britain through the 1800 Act of Union. This was in part

due to events in Ireland but also “part of the process of imperial consolidation

and rationalisation” in the aftermath of defeat in America. 29 It is clear that the

American War did have a significant impact on Ireland and its relations with

Britain, because Ireland had always been “a thorn in Britain’s side” and the

impact of the American Revolution meant that the British Government was

determined to prevent Ireland going the same way as America, and so

introduced the radical union Settlement, resulting in the loss of Irish

independence. 30

Arguably there was also an important impact in the Caribbean British Empire

as a result of the American Revolution. The islands of Tobago and Florida

were ceded to France and Spain respectively and so British dominance in the

Caribbean was weakened. At the same time, the Bahamas were returned to

Britain after French occupation, but the terms were “onerous” which suggests

that the British Empire in the West Indies was affected by the American

Revolution. 31 However, the sending of troops to the West Indies from 1793-99

was not a direct result of the American conflict; rather it was to seize French

colonies which the British Government believed would lead to French

bankruptcy. 32 Equally, the economy of the West Indies, the “most important”

American colonies, was not affected significantly by the American

26 Harlow, The founding of the second British empire, pp. 7,9.

27 Neil Longley York, ‘The Impact of the American Revolution on Ireland’, in Dickinson,

(eds.), Britain and the American Revolution, p. 217.

28 Ibid., p. 225.

29 Judd, Empire, p. 40.


Ibid., p. 43.


Simms, Three victories and a defeat, p. 659.


Manning, British colonial Government, p. 339.

42 James Callingham

Revolution. 33 Indeed the Jamaican economy continued booming, with exports

from Kingston alone amounting to £1 million. 34 Therefore, there was an

important impact on the British Empire in the Caribbean from the American

War in the sense that territories changed hands, but this was common

throughout the period, and the French Revolutionary Wars seem to be more

significant in that colonies changed hands permanently.

It seems clear that the importance of the American Revolution on India and

Britain’s Asia Empire was relatively limited. The British had already

established a presence by the outbreak of war in America and their influence

was growing. 35 There were changes in the Asian empire, with the Indian Act

1784 increasing the cooperation between the East India Company and the

British Government, but this was arguably “influenced by Indian precedents”

not the war in America. 36 It was the Indian Crisis 1775-83 which led to the

stabilisation of the East India Company, not the American Revolution. 37 It is

worth emphasising that the territorial concessions granted to France in 1783

did not really benefit French position in India, which meant that British

dominance continued. 38 Thus, Harlow’s theory on a ‘swing to the east’ has

largely been discredited, as there is little evidence for a connection between

the growth of the Asian Empire and the loss of the American colonies. 39 The

emergence of the Second British Empire may have happened anyway without

the loss of America; there were developments before and they continued after.

Ultimately, the loss of the American colonies did have an impact on the British

Empire, but there were great regional variations. Britain gained a reputation

“for weakness and arrogance” as a result of losing America, as the

government appeared defeated and in crisis. 40 Ironically, it was not Britain

33 T. R. Clayton, ‘Sophistry, security, and the socio-political structure of the American

revolution; or, why Jamaica did not rebel’, Historical Journal 29 (1986), p. 319.

34 Manning, British colonial Government, p. 283.

35 Cannon, ‘The Loss of America’ in Dickinson, (eds.), Britain and the American Revolution, p.


36 Bayly, Imperial Meridian, p. 211.

37 Ibid., pp. 119-20

38 Scott, British foreign policy, p. 335.


David Mackay, ‘Direction and purpose in British imperial policy, 1783-1801’,

Historical Journal 17 (1974), p. 488.


Simms, Three victories and a defeat, p .648.

43 Loss of American colonies

which saw a radical regime change; it was France in 1789, so perhaps this

condemning of Britain was too presumptive. Economic consequences were

relatively limited, and Britain rapidly became the world’s leading economy

due to the Industrial Revolution, so the American Revolution cannot have

been that significant. It was other factors which allowed the British economy

to flourish over her rivals: the availability of resources for example. 41 As a

result of this economic prosperity, Britain had the financial ability to embark

on a period of expansion, which was important for the Empire. Certain

colonies in the existing British Empire were affected, Ireland and Canada in

particular, but ultimately the Revolution did not lead to the disintegration of

the Empire. Rather, it led to closer integration and British involvement, as

exemplified by the Act of Union for Ireland in 1800. Furthermore, the

American War of Independence was of little significance to the West Indies

and the British Asian Empire and the subsequent loss of America did not

change British involvement in these regions. Essentially, the British Empire

expanded due to wars and the availability of finances, and there were more

significant conflicts than the American Revolution. 42 Indeed, the French

Revolution and subsequent wars arguably “overshadowed” the American

conflict and its consequences. 43 Therefore, whilst the loss of the American

colonies did bring with it regional impacts, the Empire was altered due to

other significant events: the Industrial Revolution and the French Revolution


41 Patrick K. O’Brien, ‘Inseparable Connections: Trade, Economy, Fiscal State and the

Expansion of Empire, 1688-1801’ in Marshall, (eds.), The Oxford History of the British Empire, p.



C.A. Bayly, ‘The first age of global imperialism, c. 1760-1830’, JICH (1998), p. 43.


Cannon, ‘The Loss of America’ in Dickinson, (eds.), Britain and the American Revolution, p.


44 James Callingham


Bayly, C.A., Imperial Meridian: the British empire and the world 1780-1830


Bayly, C.A., ‘The first age of global imperialism, c. 1760-1830’, JICH (1998)

Cain, P.J., and Hopkins, A.G., ‘Gentlemanly capitalism and British expansion

overseas, I: the old colonial system, 1688-1850’, Economic History Review

39, (1986)

Clayton, T.R., ‘Sophistry, security, and the socio-political structure of the

American revolution; or, why Jamaica did not rebel’, Historical Journal 29


Dickinson, H.T., (eds.), Britain and the American Revolution (Harlow, 1998)

Gallagher, J., and Robinson, R., ‘The imperialism of free trade’, Economic

History Review 6 (1953)

Harlow, Vincent. T., The founding of the second British empire, 1763-1793, v1.

(London, 1952)

Hyam, Ronald., ‘British imperial expansion in the late-eighteenth century’,

Historical Journal 10 (1967)

Judd, Denis., Empire: the British imperial experience from 1765 to the present

(London, 1996)

Leventhal, F.M., and Quinault, R., (eds.) Anglo-American attitudes: From

Revolution to Partnership (Aldershot, 2000)

Mackay, David., ‘Direction and purpose in British imperial policy, 1783-1801’,

Historical Journal 17 (1974)

Mackay, David., In the wake of Cook: science and empire, 1780--1801 (Beckenham,


Marshall, P.J., (eds.), The Oxford History of the British Empire Vol. II: The

Eighteenth Century (Oxford, 1998)

Manning, Helen Taft., British colonial Government after the American Revolution

1782-1820 ( Yale, 1933)

45 Loss of American colonies

Scott, H.M., British foreign policy in the age of the American Revolution (Oxford,


Simms, Brendan., Three victories and a defeat: rise and fall of the first British

empire,1714-1783 (Cambridge, 2007)

46 Harriet Evans

Why has ‘shell shock’ been such a prominent aspect of the cultural

representation of the war?

By Harriet Evans

‘The Great War has resulted in the spilling of floods of ink as well as of blood’

- Cyril Falls, 1930. 1

* * *

As a military historian and Captain of the British army during the First World

War, Cyril Falls provides a highly perceptive summary of how post-war

culture was notably re-shaped by the proliferation of written accounts of

war-time experience. The notion of shell shock was often at the forefront of

such accounts, both in contemporary journalism and in the works of authors

such as Graves and Sassoon. These texts captured public interest for a variety

of political and sociological reasons, and influenced attitudes towards both

returning soldiers and the authorities seen as responsible for the war.

Historians such as Norman Stone have argued that the concept of shell shock

has been romanticised and misused to the extent that it presents an inaccurate

depiction of war-time experience. 2 Similarly, Jay Winter suggests that shell

shock became a ‘prism through which much of the cultural history of the

1914-18 war has been viewed’; however, this fails to acknowledge that ‘war

neurosis’ became a prominent feature of historical studies not due to a skewed

selection on the part of academics, but because it became a significant topic of

debate amongst society as early as 1915, and exacerbated a range of pre-war

concerns. 3

Despite this, it is significant that shell shock was only diagnosed in a minority

of British soldiers: with 65,000 soldiers receiving disability pensions for

neurasthenia in 1920, this is approximately only 1 per cent of all the men who

served. 4 Whilst these figures are of limited accuracy due to factors such as a

1 Cyril Falls, War Books: A Critical Guide, (P. Davies, 1930), p. 8.

2 Michael Trimble, Somatoform Disorders: A Medicolegal Guide, (Cambridge: Cambridge

University Press, 2004), p. 209.

3 Jay Winter, 'Shell-Shock and the Cultural History of the Great War', Journal of Contemporary

History, 35/1 (Jan., 2000), p. 7.


Ted Bogacz, ‘War Neurosis and Cultural Change in England, 1914-22: The Work of the War

Office Committee of Enquiry into 'Shell-Shock'’, Journal of Contemporary History, 24/ 2 (Apr.,

1989), p. 227.

47 'Shell shock'

lack of consistency within definitions of shell shock and an unwillingness to

make these diagnoses, shell shock was undoubtedly far from a majority

experience. Thus the question of how war neurosis became such a prominent

aspect of the cultural representation of the war is highly significant. Tracey

Loughran suggests that for “myth and memory” revisionist historians only

the experiences of the majority are significant and able to provide a ‘typical’

narrative of events. However, this argument is undermined in the instance of

shell shock, which provides an example of minority experience becoming

highly significant within the culture of the majority. 5 For example, post-war

debates regarding whether the 3000 soldiers court-martialled for cowardice

could be pardoned on the basis of insanity indicate one of a number of factors

which promoted shell shock to the forefront of public discourse. 6 Joanna

Bourke contends that ‘the emphasis on emotional breakdown and psychiatric

illness has obscured the fact that most men coped remarkably well with the

demands being made upon them in wartime’ and this is substantiated by

Ferguson’s explanation that 'many men simply took pleasure in killing'. 78

However, it is arguable that coping strategies, such as optimism and humour,

employed by soldiers whilst fighting became redundant once they returned to

post-war society and acknowledged the reality of events, expanding trauma

into a common experience. Consequently, it is significant that Graves uses the

phrase ‘The inward scream, the duty to run mad’ in a poem entitled ‘Recalling

War', emphasising how even for those not diagnosed with shell shock whilst

fighting, later recollections were capable of producing similar levels of

distress. 9 Therefore, whilst shell shock was a minority experience during the

years of fighting, it became a focal point in cultural representations of the war

because the majority were able to relate to the associated feelings of suffering.

This consequently undermines assertions that an unjustified fixation on shell

5 Tracey Loughran, ‘Shell Shock, Trauma, and the First World War: The Making of a

Diagnosis and Its Histories’, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 67/1 (Jan.

2012), p. 98.

6 Bogacz, ‘War Neurosis and Cultural Change in England, 1914-22: The Work of the War

Office Committee of Enquiry into 'Shell-Shock'’, p. 228.

7 Joanna Bourke, ‘Effeminacy, Ethnicity and the End of Trauma: The Sufferings of

'Shell-Shocked' Men in Great Britain and Ireland, 1914-39’, Journal of Contemporary History, 35/

1 (Jan.,2000), p. 57.


Niall Ferguson, The Pity of War (London: The Penguin Group, 1998), p. 358.


Robert Graves, Collected Poems (Cassell, 1958), p. 130.

48 Harriet Evans

shock has distorted the history of post-war experience.

Since 1918, shell shock has gained prominence both culturally and

scientifically, with conditions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder gaining

medical recognition. However, it is significant that in the immediate aftermath

of the First World War the concept of shell shock as a genuine medical

condition was resisted by both those in positions of authority and by the

general public. Lord Moran’s statement: ‘fortitude in war has its roots in

morality… war itself is but one more test of character’ reflects a common

argument that shell shock emerged from pre-existing mental faults. 10 The

initial government position on shell shock stemmed from similarly

disparaging beliefs and there was a general reluctance to fully address the

needs of traumatised soldiers. Lloyd George had promised that Britain would

be a ‘home fit for heroes’; however, in 1919 there were numerous strikes led

by war veterans campaigning for greater assistance from the state and, by

1920, 250,000 soldiers remained unemployed. 11 Winter argues that ‘a political

discourse was unavailable for the expression of the soldiers' point of view’

and thus it is evident that official resistance fuelled the emergence of more

popular forms of cultural dissent; 12 for example, Owen’s lines of protest: ‘If in

some smothering dreams you too could pace/ Behind the wagon that we flung

him in/ And watch the white eyes writhing in his face… My friend, you

would not tell with such high zest/ To children ardent for some desperate

glory, / The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est’ were published in 1920 and represent

the developing cultural revolt against an official stance that glorified the war. 13

Thus, through the emerging literature and popular forms of protest, shell

shock became more culturally significant and the government was forced to

react. For example, in 1920 the War Office Committee published an enquiry

into shell shock which aimed to determine possible methods of government

intervention. Peter Leese is partially correct in arguing that ‘it resolved little,

but did serve its purpose by officially shelving the subject’, because no firm

10 Bogacz, ‘War Neurosis and Cultural Change in England, 1914-22: The Work of the War

Office Committee of Enquiry into 'Shell-Shock'’, p. 231.

11 Deborah Cohen, The War Come Home: Disabled Veterans in Britain and Germany, 1914-1939

(University of California Press, 2001), p. 11.


Winter, ‘Shell-Shock and the Cultural History of the Great War’, p. 8.


Wilfred Owen, Poems of Wilfred Owen (Forgotten Books, 1949), p. 15.

49 'Shell shock'

conclusions were reached. 14 However, instead of ‘shelving the subject’ the

report actually drew further public attention to the matter and

unintentionally sparked widespread debate in national newspapers. 15 The

impact of this discourse is evident in the doubling of the number of treatment

centres in 1921 and the introduction of 1,356 additional hospital spaces. 16

Therefore, grass roots campaigns from those with direct experience of shell

shock helped to centralise the debate within contemporary culture, and

government actions should largely be considered a reaction to the resulting

growth in pressure from an increasingly sympathetic public.

Although the State required a certain amount of pressure to act on the issue of

shell shock, it did eventually introduce numerous reforms to ensure greater

rights for ex-serviceman, including employment assistance and pensions,

leading Fiona Reid to suggest that the war was a turning point which revoked

the “stiff upper lip” of British society. 17 More accurately, however, it should be

concluded that these acts arose from pre-existing shifts in the Edwardian

period towards greater state intervention, as demonstrated by the liberal

reforms. For example, an article published in the Times in 1915 stating: ‘As it

now stands the law is unintelligent in its attitude to the victims of severe

shock’ demonstrates the existence of liberal attitudes early on in the war,

again implying greater continuity from the pre-war period. 18 Similarly, in his

1918 analysis ‘War Neuroses’ MacCurdy partly attributes the condition to

‘some degree of resentment at the State which has sent him to fight’,

suggesting that pre-existing disillusionment with the authorities made the

war seem more futile, exacerbating the likelihood of developing shell shock. 19

Therefore, whilst Kent argues that post-war sociological and political changes,

such as the vote for women and the general strike, result from ‘aftershocks’ in

a ‘shell shocked’ society, it is more accurate to suggest that these shifts

14 Peter Leese, Shell Shock: Traumatic Neurosis and the British Soldiers of the First World War

(Basingstoke, 2002), p. 126.

15 ‘The Wounded Mind’, The Times, Issue 40837 (Apr., 24, 1915), (London, England), p. 5.

16 Leese, Shell Shock: Traumatic Neurosis and the British Soldiers of the First World War, p. 124.

17 Fiona Reid, Broken Men: Shell Shock, Treatment and Recovery in Britain 1914-30 (London,

Continuum UK: 2010).


‘The Wounded Mind’, The Times, Issue 40837 (Apr., 24, 1915), (London, England), p. 5.


John T. MacCurdy, War Neuroses (State Hospitals Press, 1918), p. 13.

50 Harriet Evans

pre-date 1914 and were merely accelerated by the war. 20 Thus, shell shock

became such a striking cultural focus point because the condition evoked

pre-war concerns with the role of the state, and created the opportunity for

debate which would eventually resolve wider issues.

Indeed, the numerous variations in the definition of ‘shell shock’ parallel the

disparate attitudes of the authorities and those sympathetic with sufferers.

John Collie, the head of the army’s medical branch in the Ministry of Pensions

remained adamant that shell shock was the result of concussion from

explosives, thus denying the idea that the war could traumatise

psychologically and removing the need for long-term government aid. 21

Those who did accept shell shock as a medical condition often viewed it as a

sign of personal weakness or as restricted to the lower classes, with

Lieutenant Gort declaring that shell shock 'must be looked upon as a form of

disgrace to the soldier'. 22 Thus, the issue of shell shock became a microcosm

of pre-war debates on mental illness between those who viewed it as a moral

flaw and those who accepted psychological disorders as non-discriminatorily

occurring medical conditions requiring appropriate treatment and state

support. For example, an article in The Times on ‘The Ministry of Health Bill’

perceptively argues that: ‘It was framed with the humane and very natural

intention of dealing with shell-shock cases arising from the war, but we can

now see that these cases are being made a pretext for a fundamental basis of

our Lunacy Laws.’ 23 Similarly, issues concerning women’s rights are

frequently associated with shell shock, with Showalter arguing that the

condition was ‘a disguised male protest not only against the war but against

the concept of ‘manliness’ itself’. 24 Woolf’s ‘Mrs Dalloway’ provides a feminist

critique of post-war society, and it is notable that she links issues of sexuality

with the condition of shell shock in the character of Septimus. 25 However,

20 Susan Kingsley Kent, Aftershocks: politics and trauma in Britain, 1918-1931 (Palgrave

Macmillan, 2009).

21 Leese, Shell Shock: Traumatic Neurosis and the British Soldiers of the First World War, p. 131.

22 Bogacz, ‘War Neurosis and Cultural Change in England, 1914-22: The Work of the War

Office Committee of Enquiry into 'Shell-Shock'’, p. 239.

23 ‘The Ministry of Health Bill’, The Times (London, England), Issue 42579 (Nov., 27 1920), p.



Michael Roper, ‘Between Manliness and Masculinity: The “War Generation” and the

Psychology of Fear in Britain, 1914–1950’, Journal of British Studies, 44/2 (April 2005), p. 343.


Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway (Oxford University Press, 2008).

51 'Shell shock'

Showalter’s argument is largely invalidated by the fact that those suffering

from shell shock fought hard to distinguish themselves from the ‘insane’ or

‘hysterical’ and, instead, both arguments highlight an appropriation of the

condition for the feminist movement, which had pre-dated the war. Thus shell

shock was adopted as a focal point for a variety of causes, elevating the

disorder to a position of cultural pre-eminence through the resulting debates

and public discourse.

Despite this, it is important not to over-exaggerate the direct impact of shell

shock: it is more accurate to relate its significance to wider issues concerning

the cultural memory of war. For example, it is notable that in the initial

aftermath of the war those suffering from the condition were not accepted

immediately by society. The frustrations of sufferers are evident in this

Father’s letter in 1920, where his statement: ‘After much careful nursing he is

becoming quite normal, but he is eternally harassed because of his

non-settlement in the economic machine’ reflects a common inability of

soldiers to reintegrate successfully within society. 26 Furthermore, in

Carrington’s memoirs the words: ‘in this disillusioned nineteen-thirties the

ex-soldiers at last could speak and out came tumbling the flood of wartime

reminiscences in every country which had sent soldiers to the war’ imply an

initial inability for those who suffered through the trauma of war to

communicate their experiences to non-combatants. 27 Significantly, Carrington

also insinuates that it is only many years after the war ended that such

accounts came to cultural prominence, emphasising the fact that the

emergence of shell shock as a representation of war-time experience was a

gradual process. For example, Barker’s trilogy ‘Regeneration’ sold over 1

million copies in the 1990s, suggesting that the cultural obsession with war

neurosis is partly generated by modern concerns over how society should

depict the First World War. Indeed, it was only in 2006 that those executed

during the war were officially pardoned.

Therefore, shell shock emerged as a prominent aspect of the cultural

representation of the war through a grass-roots process in which a minority of

sufferers and sympathisers brought the issue to the forefront of public

attention, predominantly through the gradual proliferation of literature on the


‘The Ex-Soldier's Dilemma...Harassed Father et al.’, The Times (London, England), Issue

42495. (Aug., 21 1920), p. 11.


Charles Carrington, Soldiers from the Wars Returning (London 1965), p. 252.

52 Harriet Evans

subject. The committee investigating shell shock regarded the term as ‘wholly

misleading’, but argued that ‘the alliteration and dramatic significance of the

term had caught the public imagination’. 28 However, with hindsight it is

perhaps more accurate to suggest that the notion of shell shock caught the

public imagination not because of its emotive term, but because it symbolised

the traumatised state of post-war society and also evoked a variety of pre-war

debates. Indeed, the efforts of a minority to gain aid for shell shock sufferers

by bringing the condition to cultural prominence would not have succeeded

had the general public not readily appropriated the condition as a means

through which to prompt debate on pre-war issues relating to the wider role

of the State. However, it is important to question whether more recent cultural

representations of shell shock share the same purpose, as it is perhaps more

accurate to suggest that the issue has evolved to mirror society’s growing

preoccupation with the role of collective memory and the determination to

present a suitably critical illustration of the First World War.


Anthony Richards, Report of the War Office Committee of Enquiry Into "Shell-shock" (Imperial

War Museum, 2004), p. 5.

53 'Shell shock'


Bogacz, Ted, ‘War Neurosis and Cultural Change in England, 1914-22: The

Work of the War Office Committee of Enquiry into 'Shell-Shock'’, Journal of

Contemporary History, 24/ 2 (Apr., 1989), pp. 227-256

Bourke, Joanna, ‘Effeminacy, Ethnicity and the End of Trauma: The Sufferings

of 'Shell-Shocked' Men in Great Britain and Ireland, 1914-39’, Journal of

Contemporary History, 35/1 (Jan., 2000), pp. 57-69

Carrington, Charles, Soldiers from the Wars Returning (London, 1965)

Caruth, Cathy, ‘Unclaimed Experience: Trauma and the Possibility of History’.

Yale French Studies, No. 79. (1991), pp. 181-192

Cohen, Deborah, The War Come Home: Disabled Veterans in Britain and Germany,

1914-1939, (University of California Press, 2001)

Falls, Cyril, War Books: A Critical Guide, (P. Davies, 1930)

Ferguson, Niall, The Pity of War (London: The Penguin Group, 1998)

Graves, Robert, Collected Poems, (Cassell, 1958)

Hatherly Pear, Tom, Shell Shock and its Lessons, (Manchester: Manchester

University Press, 1917)

Kingsley Kent, Susan, Aftershocks: politics and trauma in Britain, 1918-1931,

(Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)

Leese, Peter, ‘Problems Returning Home: The British Psychological Casualties

of the Great War’, Historical Journal, 40/ 4 (Dec., 1997), pp. 1055-1067

------, Shell Shock: Traumatic Neurosis and the British Soldiers of the First World War,

(Basingstoke, 2002)

54 Harriet Evans

Loughran, Tracey, ‘Shell Shock, Trauma, and the First World War: The Making

of a Diagnosis and Its Histories’, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied

Sciences, 67/1 (Jan. 2012), pp. 94-119

MacCurdy, John T., War Neuroses, (State Hospitals Press, 1918)

Mandler, Peter, Review of ‘Susan Kingsley Kent, Aftershocks: Politics and

Trauma in Britain, 1918–1931.’, The Journal of Modern History, 82/ 4 (Dec.,

2010), pp. 940-942.

Meyer, J. (ed.). 2008., British Popular Culture and the First World War [Online]

-------, ‘Separating the Men from the Boys: Masculinity and Maturity in

Understandings of Shell Shock in Britain’, Twentieth Century British

History, 20/1 (Jan. 2009), pp. 1-22

Owen, Wilfred, Poems of Wilfred Owen, (Forgotten Books, 1949)

Reid, Fiona, Broken Men: Shell Shock, Treatment and Recovery in Britain 1914-30,

(London, Continuum UK: 2010)

Richards, Anthony, Report of the War Office Committee of Enquiry Into

"Shell-shock" (Imperial War Museum, 2004), p. 5

Roper, Michael, ‘Between Manliness and Masculinity: The “War Generation”

and the Psychology of Fear in Britain, 1914–1950’, Journal of British

Studies, 44/2 (April 2005), pp. 343-362

------, ‘Re-Remembering the Soldier Hero: The Psychic and Social Construction

of Memory in Personal Narratives of the Great War’, History Workshop

Journal, No. 50 (Autumn, 2000), pp. 181-204

Stevens, George Warrington, The Times History of the war, (London: London

Times, 1914-1915)

55 'Shell shock'

Trimble, Michael, Somatoform Disorders: A Medicolegal Guide, (Cambridge:

Cambridge University Press, 2004)

Winter, Jay, ‘Shell-Shock and the Cultural History of the Great War’, Journal of

Contemporary History, 35/1 (Jan., 2000), pp. 7-11

Woolf, Virginia, Mrs Dalloway, (Oxford University Press, 2008)

‘The Ministry of Health Bill’, The Times (London, England), Issue 42579 (Nov.,

27 1920), p. 11

‘The Wounded Mind’, The Times, Issue 40837 (Apr., 24, 1915), (London,

England), p. 5

56 Daisy-Rose Srblin

How far did the Fuhrer-myth succeed in uniting the German people behind

the Nazi war effort, 1939-1945?

By Daisy-Rose C. Srblin

In histories of the period, the trajectories of the Hitler-myth, general morale

and the war itself are often inextricably linked. For Detlev Peukert ‘the

Fuhrer-myth was dead before Hitler physically took his own life’, while for

Ian Kershaw, the myth ‘collapsed almost completely’ towards the end of the

war, exposing what David Welch has described as the image’s ‘hollowness’. 1

Yet there remains consensus that the myth was still capable of inspiring

mobilisation, even after the defeat at Stalingrad. Michael Geyer’s review of

The Hitler Myth suggested Kershaw and others had failed to appreciate the

myth’s potential independence from other factors and had ‘fallen into one of

the traps of the Hitler mystique: that the Third Reich would come and go with

Hitler’. 2 Further, while histories of the period often emphasise Goebbels’s

production of the propaganda construct, the power of the myth lay in its

potential to resonate among the people to whom it was targeted, indicating

the need to avoid tying the myth too closely to ‘external’ factors. 3

The essay is structured according to the limitations of any conclusions. Firstly,

the methodological problems regarding the assessment of opinion in the

Third Reich will be considered. The Fuhrer-myth will then be examined as a

propagandist construct: how the myth changed and its inherent

contradictions will highlight the complexity of judgements regarding its

ability to unite. Next, the role of popular consumption and projection will be

considered before tracing the myth’s trajectory throughout various contexts of

war. The early years of war, usually presented as the myth’s peak, will be

reassessed to highlight the contradictions that existed. The development of

the myth after Stalingrad will be examined, applying Nicholas Stargardt’s

1 Detlev J. K.Peukert, Inside Nazi Germany: Conformity, Opposition and Racism in Everyday Life

(Yale University Press, New Haven, 1982), p.75; Ian Kershaw, The ‘Hitler Myth’: Image and

Reality in the Third Reich (OUP, Oxford, 1987), pp. 152-7; David Welch, ‘“Working Towards

the Fuhrer”: Charismatic Leadership and the Image of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Propaganda’, in

Anthony McElligott and Tim Kirk (eds.), Working towards the Führer: essays in honour of Sir

Ian Kershaw (MUP, Manchester, 2003), pp. 93-118, here pp.113-114.


Michael Geyer, review of Kershaw, The Hitler Myth, in The Journal of Modern History, 54:4

(Dec., 1982), pp. 811-812.


Welch, ‘Working Towards the Fuhrer’, p.94.

57 Fuhrer-myth

‘sharply oscillating’ patterns of hopes and fears, in the context of the

‘psychological adjustment’ in the latter stages of war. 4 In light of this, it is

clear that the myth was at its most potent when need for it was greatest.

Though no sweeping statements regarding the extent to which people were

unified behind the myth are possible, by plotting the parameters within

which conclusions can be made, we come closer to appreciating the

complexity of popular engagement with the myth. Further, as a result of the

‘profoundly dissonant qualities of individual subjectivity’ the myth was

always subject to change and was often contradictory in nature. 5

The methodological problems at the heart of any exploration of opinion in

Nazi Germany limit the scope of potential conclusions. The first issue

concerning the definition of ‘opinion’ is central for historians seeking to

understand popular identification with, and the success of, the Hitler-myth.

‘Public opinion’, openly expressed and characterised by plurality, was

formally dissolved after 1933 as opposition was crushed and opinion

verticalised, in the spirit of Gleichschaltung. As such, according to Kershaw,

historians may only speak of ‘popular opinion’ in the Third Reich which,

though potentially undermining the propagated image of ‘monolithic unity’

was ‘inchoate…spontaneous [and] unorchestrated’. 6 In having the potential

to undermine the required outward conformity, popular opinion in Nazi

Germany is particularly hard to measure as it was rarely openly articulated,

posing obvious methodological challenges in the absence of reliable

quantitative data.

However, as Marlis Steinert has identified, though the Nazi state sought to

homogenise opinion it also adopted a complex apparatus through which

opinion was monitored, most notably through the intelligence agency,

Sicherheitsdienst (SD). 7 Use of the SD reports as indicators of opinion, like

those at Gau or ministry level, poses the problem of reliability. Often these

4 Nicholas Stargardt, ‘Beyond ‘Consent’ or ‘Terror’: Wartime Crises in Nazi Germany’, History

Workshop Journal 72 (Autumn, 2011), pp.190-204, here p.199.

5 Ibid., p.202.

6 Ian Kershaw, ‘Popular Opinion in the Third Reich’ in Jeremy Noakes (ed.), Government,

Party, and People in Nazi Germany (University of Exeter Press, Exeter, 1980), pp.57-75, here



Marlis Steinert, Hitler's War and the Germans: Public mood and attitude during the Second World

War (Ohio University Press, Athens, 1977), trans. Thomas de Witt, pp.1-2.

58 Daisy-Rose Srblin

were far too generalised and optimistic in tone, particularly in the early years

of war, such as the ‘unanimous…inner unity’ described in one report after the

fall of France. Such optimism was soon targeted in a directive later that year

calling for reports to present the public mood ‘frankly, without

embellishment…as it is, not as it could or should be’. 8 Yet reports were also

reprimanded for their negativity, particularly as prospects in war began to

deteriorate. In March 1943 when Reich Minister for Public Enlightenment and

Propaganda Joseph Goebbels stated the need to distinguish between mood

(Stimmung) and attitude/bearing (Haltung), the ‘unpolitical’ grumblings of the

former seemed obvious in the context of air warfare, distracting from the

‘main issue’ of morale. 9 Further, reports were subjective and may reflect the

opinions of reporters and what they anticipated superiors might want to hear,

rather than popular opinion. 10 Since sources are open to considerable

interpretation, conclusions regarding the potency of the myth at any one time

rely on subtleties in emphasis, or reading ‘between the lines’. 11 The

difficulties in using the main sources available for identifying opinion in the

Third Reich combined with the absence of openly-expressed and measurable

public opinion indicate that attitudes towards the Hitler-myth can only ever

be ‘impressionistically represented’ rather than accurately identified with any

certainty. 12

For Goebbels, the production of the Hitler-myth was one of his greatest

propaganda achievements, serving as the ‘central motor for integration,


SD report of 24 June 1940, document no. 1278, in Jeremy Noakes and Pridham (eds.), Nazism,

1919-1945: A Documentary Reader, Vol. 4 (University of Exeter Press, Exeter, 1994), p.528;

Directive of October 1941 quoted in Steinert, Hitler's War and the Germans, p.14.


Conference notes of 10 March 1943, in W.A. Boelcke (ed.) and Ewald Osers (trans.), The

Secret Conferences of Dr Goebbels (Wiedenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1967), p.338; see also

Goebbels’s diary entry for 17 April 1943 recording dissatisfaction with SD reports: ‘it is

unnecessary for the political leaders to know if here or there someone damns the war or

curses it or vents his spleen’, in Louis P. Lochner (ed. and trans.), The Goebbels Diaries

(Hamish Hamilton, London, 1948), p.258.

10 Ian Kershaw, ‘The Fuhrer Image and Political Integration: The Popular Conception of

Hitler in Bavaria during the Third Reich’, in Gerhard Hirschfield and Lothar Kettenacker

(eds.), The ‘Fuhrer-State’: Myth and Reality, (Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart, 1981), pp.133-163, here



Kershaw, The ‘Hitler Myth’, p.216.


Kershaw, ‘Popular Opinion in the Third Reich’, p.58

59 Fuhrer-myth

mobilisation and legitimation’ in the Nazi state. 13 By 1939 it seemed as if

Hitler’s power knew no bounds and his considerable achievements could be

personally attributed. As he announced to the Reichstag, ‘I have managed this

from my own strength’. 14 Additionally, Hitler’s ‘infallibility’ in his separation

from the party, meant that one could support the Fuhrer without identifying

with Nazism. This separation from ordinary politics was linked to explicitly

religious themes where Hitler could be found only through ‘the strength of

your hearts’. 15 Through constructing vertical unity in ‘One People, One Reich,

One Fuhrer’, Hitler’s position in this hierarchy was strengthened through

solitary presentations in portraits and film. 16 However, upon the outbreak of

war his position shifted, from ‘Leader and Prophet’ in peace, during the

consolidation of power, to ‘Fighter and Commander’. 17 At the heart of this

new construct, a commitment to Hitler was presented as synonymous with a

commitment to the war effort, to mobilise a nation ‘united in thought and

will’, a core theme running throughout Goebbels’s speeches celebrating the

Fuhrer’s birthday. 18 Faith in Hitler’s embodiment of national unity was now

the ‘sharpest and best defensive weapon’ in war, particularly after the failure

of spiritual mobilisation in 1918. 19 Hitler embodied the people more than ever,

and the nation was ‘tuned to his will’ in its battle for ‘national existence’. 20

This demand for mobilisation was strengthened through Hitler’s own sacrifice:

the people could be reassured as ‘there is one who stands above all’, despite

individual difficulties, carrying all burdens like Atlas, meaning ‘we need only

follow’. 21 Finally, Hitler’s leadership and omnipotence carried with it the


Entry for 12 December 1941, in Rudolf Semmler, Goebbels: The Man Next to Hitler

(Westhouse, London, 1947), pp.56-57; Ian Kershaw, ‘The “Hitler Myth”: Image and Reality

in the Third Reich’, in Crew, Nazism and German Society, pp.197-215, here p.202 and p.198.


Speech of April 1939, quoted in Kershaw, ‘The “Hitler Myth”’, p.202.

15 ‘Our Hitler’ speeches of 1936 and 1938, in

http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/goebmain.htm (accessed 28 January 2013); Rudolf

Hess, ‘Der Eid auf Adolf Hitler’, Reden (Zentralverlag der NSDAP, Munich, 1938), pp.10-14,

excerpt trans. Randall Bytwerk.

16 ‘Our Hitler’, 1939; for the propaganda of the Fuhrer-myth see Welch, ‘Working Towards

the Fuhrer’, pp.103-110.

17 Welch, ‘Working towards the Fuhrer’, p.93.

18 ‘Our Hitler’, 1942.


‘Our Hitler’, 1940.


‘Our Hitler’, 1941.


‘Our Hitler’, 1942.

60 Daisy-Rose Srblin

assurance of victory which relied upon the mobilisation of the German people:

‘if they are loyal Germany will be unbeatable’. 22 Clearly, in war, Goebbels’s

propaganda construct was multi-faceted and complex in order to appeal to

the German people in its breadth.

Whilst there were common themes in the myth’s propaganda, these were

often contradictory and changed throughout the course of war. One of the

most powerful paradoxes was the simultaneous emphasis of Hitler being one

of the ‘broad masses’ and his increasingly lofty status, culminating in his

ultimate transcendence of the corporeal in 1945: ‘we feel him in and around

us’. 23 Similarly, as his deified ‘omnipresent will’ was being stretched in 1944,

people were reminded that ‘his day too has only 24 hours and he is human’,

paradoxically seeking to strengthen faith in an increasingly unlikely victory

and rationalising what people could reasonably expect from Hitler. 24 These

concurrent and contradictory themes, not least the image of the peace-loving

Fuhrer at war, served multiple functions in appealing to as broad a

demographic as possible. Similarly, not all elements of the myth were

emphasised at all times: for instance, the theme of ‘omnipresence’ became

more noticeable towards the end of the war as Hitler himself retreated, while

his role as the guarantor of final victory shifted with the definition of victory

itself, from material triumph to ‘the greater victory of souls’. 25 As such, the

myth is not best understood as a consistent construct to be unified behind, but

rather a constructed zone within which existed a variety of complex and often

contradictory themes, perhaps reflecting the ‘chameleon-like’ nature of

Nazism itself, containing ‘something for everyone’. 26 Indeed, the myth’s

power lay in its confusion. Combining this conclusion with the absence of

public opinion, a complex problem emerges where the myth’s varying themes

were projected onto a public, under a veil of ‘monolithic unity’, who may

have identified with some areas but not others and whose identification

changed over the course of war.

Goebbels certainly believed in the power of the myth on the German people.

22 ‘Our Hitler’, 1942.

23 ‘Our Hitler’, 1939 and 1945.

24 ‘Er ist der Sieg’, Das Schwarze Korps, 20 April 1944, pp.1-2, trans. Randall Bytwerk.


‘Our Hitler’, 1945.


Ian Kershaw, ‘Hitler and the Germans’ in Richard Bessel (ed.), Life in the Third Reich (OUP,

Oxford, 1987), pp. 41-56, here p.44; and Kershaw, ‘Popular Opinion in the Third Reich’, p.74.

61 Fuhrer-myth

Writing of Hitler’s speech at the Sportpalast in January 1942, he recorded ‘the

Fuhrer has charged the entire nation as though it were a storage battery’,

betraying Goebbels’s assumption that his propaganda was being accepted by

the people just as he intended, or, in other words, that the myth’s production

was synonymous with its consumption. 27 A more accurate approach would

be to examine propaganda’s ‘penetrative capabilities’ through popular

consumption of and even projection onto the myth. 28 If successful

propaganda was only ever ‘an indicator of what people sincerely hoped to be

true’, then the hopes of the people and their projections onto the myth are

both crucial in understanding the extent of its appeal. 29 The Hitler-myth’s

strength derived from this role of popular participation which gave it real

legitimacy and potency, beyond propagandists’ intentions.

The years prior to 1941 are commonly seen as the peak of support for the

myth. Kershaw has gone so far as to claim that up until the defeat at

Stalingrad ‘almost every Volksgenosse was a believer in Hitler’ with support

apparently reaching around 80%. 30 Certainly, despite Hitler’s image as a man

of peace, propaganda successfully persuaded the people that war had been

forced upon an innocent Germany. 31 The protection of the Fuhrer-myth was

documented by US-journalist William Shirer who noted in August 1939 the

‘blind faith’ in the Fuhrer in Danzig where people believed that they would be

returned to the Reich peacefully. 32 Certainly, there were many who adopted

this propagated image of the Fuhrer. The author of a poem sent to Hitler in

April 1941 described how, upon Germany’s victory, the Fuhrer would solve

problems ‘not with weapons, with good, not evil …then there’d be no more

war in this world’. 33


Entry for 31 January 1942 describing the speech for the ‘Day of the Seizure of Power’, in

Lochner (ed. and trans.), The Goebbels Diaries, p.27.

28 Kershaw, ‘The Fuhrer Image and Political Integration’, p.133.

29 Lothar Kettanacker, ‘Sozialpsychologische Aspekte der Duhrer-Herrschaft’, in Hirschfeld

and Kettanacker (ed.), The ‘Fuhrer-State’, quoted in Robert Gellately, Backing Hitler: Consent

and Coercion in Nazi Germany (OUP, Oxford, 2001), p. 259.

30 Kershaw, ‘The Fuhrer Image’, p.159 ; Kershaw, The ‘Hitler Myth’, pp.151-168.

31 Kershaw, ‘The Fuhrer Image’ p.154.

32 Entries for 10 and 11 August 1939, in William L.Shirer, Berlin Diary, 1934-41 (Hamish

Hamilton, London, 1941), p.140.


Letter received April 1941, by an unknown writer as the cover letter has been lost, in

Henrik Eberle and Victoria Harris (eds.) and Steven Rendall (trans.), Letters to Hitler (Polity

62 Daisy-Rose Srblin

However, this assumption of unity, based on supposed high morale, ignores

the complexity of public opinion at any point. Indeed, Shirer recorded jokes

being made about Hitler as early as 1940, though SD reports only started

noting their prevalence from 1943. Though the jokes cited specifically refer to

Hitler in their punch-lines, the question remains of just how widespread such

humour was. 34 These jokes were not of the most subversive nature; however,

they certainly uncover a public who were perhaps not absolutely convinced

by the Hitler-myth, even in late 1940, after the apparent elation following the

fall of France. Such tensions within morale were also indicated in the ‘mistrust,

annoyance and frustration’ spawned from the invasion of the Soviet Union in

mid-1941. 35 As such, upon the outbreak and first years of war there existed a

confused and complex mood and attitude towards the war and Hitler. The

myth was not necessarily at its strongest simply because the beginning of the

war resulted in comparatively few casualties. Although regard for Hitler’s

military skills was perhaps at its peak, the potency of faith and hope that

made the myth quite so intoxicating, and could divorce people so much from

reality, was not to come until the war’s prospects began to deteriorate


Within his framework of deteriorating morale, Kershaw saw Stalingrad as the

turning point, after which there were only ‘short-lived upsurges of support’

for the myth as it entered a period of irrevocable decline. 36 Welch has pursued

the same argument, demonstrating that by the end of 1943 the Hitler-myth

had ceased to develop as a propaganda construct, as few new slogans and

images were produced. 37 However, according to Stargardt, 1943 is better

understood as a ‘mid-war crisis’, ‘plural, dynamic and transformatory’ in its

potential, and subsequent years should not be seen as deterioration, but

Press, Cambridge, 2012), pp.210-213.

34 The joke related to advice in Berlin advising people to get to bed early to get some sleep

before the air raids started: those who said ‘good morning’ had just been to sleep, those who

said ‘good evening’ had not been to sleep, whilst those who said ‘Heil Hitler’ had ‘always

been asleep’. Entry for 9 November 1940, in Shirer, Berlin Diary, p.440.

35 Stuttgart SD report of 29 July 1941, document no. 1286, in Noakes and Pridham (eds.),

Nazism, 1919-1945, p.536.


Kershaw, ‘Hitler and the Germans’, p.54; Kershaw, ‘The Fuhrer Image and Political

Integration’, p.158.


Welch, ‘Working Towards the Fuhrer’, p.112.

63 Fuhrer-myth

rather ‘psychological adjustment’. 38 Such a conclusion is supported by Robert

Gellately who, in repeating the argument of Hartmut Mehringer, that air

attacks and destruction served to turn a ‘community of people’ into a

‘community of faith’, justified his own conception of morale shifting in the

context of war which had ‘revolutionised the revolution’, redefining the

meaning of the Nazi war effort once again, from the initial optimism to the

tough realities and resigned defeat of the latter years. 39 Though discussed in

terms of morale, this framework can be applied to the Hitler-myth to

demonstrate not only that it was still ‘mobilisable’, but also that it formed part

of this ‘adjustment’ and changed in its consumption among the people. As

Weber argued, charismatic authority is strongest in times of ‘extraordinary

need’ which was exactly the circumstance after 1943; increasing faith in and

projection of hope onto the Fuhrer developed in the increasing absence of

alternative sources of faith. 40

As such, contrary to Welch and Kershaw’s conclusions, we might actually see

the years following Stalingrad as a high point of the Hitler-myth, at least in

terms of potency among the people if not actually as a propaganda construct.

Stalingrad might often be seen as a total disaster in terms of morale, yet there

is much to support the conclusion that regardless of the impact on morale, the

Hitler-myth did not specifically falter, though it did experience some of

Stargardt’s ‘troughs’. 41 Recording reaction to the Wehrmacht communique

carrying the news of the destruction of the sixth army, an SD report described

the nation as ‘deeply shaken’ demonstrating ‘acute symptoms of depression’,

with people asking why the army had not been evacuated earlier. 42 However,


Stargardt, ‘Beyond ‘Consent’ or ‘Terror’’, p.197 and p.199. This sense of strengthened

morale was specifically noted in a special report to the Party Chancellery of 27 November

1943 which stated that while distinctions were made between the party, which was often

blamed for air raid devastation, faith in the Fuhrer remained ‘virtually unshaken’ as he was

now ‘the only guarantee of a successful end to the war’. Document no. 1321, in Noakes and

Pridham (eds.), Nazism, 1919-1945, p.550.

39 Hartmut Mehringer, Widerstand und Emigration (Munich, 1997), p.233, quoted in Gellately,

Backing Hitler, p.224 and p.261.

40 Max Weber, ‘Charisma and its Transformations’, in Gunther Roth and Claus Wittich (eds.),

Economy and Society, Vol.2 (University of California Press, Berkeley, 1978), p.1111.


Stargardt, ‘Beyond ‘Consent’ or ‘Terror’’, p.199.


SD report of 28 January 1943, document no. 1297, Noakes and Pridham (eds.), Nazism,

1919-1945, p.543.

64 Daisy-Rose Srblin

even if this did demonstrate a lowering of morale, there is little evidence that

this equated to loss of trust in the Fuhrer, despite his personal responsibility

as Commander. Rather, the same report recorded the people turning towards

the Fuhrer in an hour of need and urgently awaiting a speech to answer their

questions, demonstrating the level of faith directed to Hitler. 43

This theme of sustained or even strengthened faith in the Fuhrer is also

well-demonstrated by the example of faith in retaliation. As Gerald Kirwin

has argued, after Stalingrad and the destruction of air raid attacks Vergeltung

became one of the few remaining sources of hope, eventually becoming the

‘sole decisive chance of victory’. 44 However, as promises increasingly fell

short of action, there existed a sense of serious discontent surrounding the

issue of retaliation. Yet Hitler still seemed able to command a powerful level

of faith. His radio speech of September 1943, his first since March of that year,

was anticipated by the ever-confident Goebbels who asserted that hearing

Hitler’s voice would ‘do the work of several divisions at the Eastern Front’. 45

An SD report a few days later depicted the ‘unconditional’ belief in Hitler as

people considered it impossible ‘that in this darkest hour of the war the

Fuhrer would feed them with cheap hopes’, while Goebbels described the

effect of the speech on Berliners as acting ‘like champagne’. 46 Further, though

Kirwin has argued that such faith in retaliatory weapons was lost by mid-1944,

letters were still being sent to the Fuhrer’s office in 1945 with suggestions of

new technologies that might ‘conquer for the future beautiful Germany’. 47

Though we might reasonably question the intentions of those writing to the

Fuhrer, such examples, particularly in a period commonly noted for

weakening morale, demonstrate continued faith in him. This links with the

adjustment Stargardt described, as people were projecting their own hopes

and faith regarding the possibility of victory onto the image of an

increasingly-absent Hitler. Beyond demonstrating the desperate need to

43 Ibid., p.543.

44 Gerald Kirwin, ‘Waiting for Retaliation: A Study in Nazi Propaganda Behaviour and

Civilian Morale’, Journal of Contemporary History 16:3 (July 1981), pp.565-583, here p.565; SD

Berichte zu Ingandsfragen report of 18 October 1943, quoted in Kirwin pp.572-3

45 Entry for 11 September 1943, in Lochner (ed. and trans.), The Goebbels Diaries, p.357.

46 SD Hauptaussenstelle Schwerin 14 September 1943, quoted in Kirwin, ‘Waiting for

Retaliation’, p.571.


Kirwin, ‘Waiting for Retaliation’, p.579; Letter of 22 February 1945 from a Corporal in

Hanau reprinted in Eberle (ed.), Letters to Hitler, p.255.

65 Fuhrer-myth

believe in something in the later years of the war, the examples also indicate

the role of projection in the power of the myth.

The remarkable endurance of the Hitler-myth, years after the fall of the Third

Reich, can be seen in 1952, when 25% still had a ‘good opinion’ of Hitler while

one third opposed the assassination attempt of July 1944. 48 With this in mind,

and returning to the methodological difficulties, any generalisations about

unity or disunity behind the Hitler myth are necessarily flawed by virtue of

the myth’s complexity and the varying levels of ideological penetration

amongst the people. Indeed, a key issue was perceptively identified by Jewish

academic and diarist Victor Klemperer in 1939 who asked in exasperation

‘who can judge the mood of eighty million people…?’ 49 The contradictions

that can exist within popular opinion itself are often related to the perspective

of the individual while ‘uncensorable’ aspects of opinion as in humour and

rumour remain unknown and uncaptured in the limited reliability of SD

reports. 50 Such an assessment indicates the limitations of any conclusions.

Nevertheless, we can say with confidence that the myth was characterised by

contradiction and tension in its production as well as its consumption, and

that at times of difficulty the myth was still strikingly powerful. Not all

aspects of the myth were popular at all times, and just as emphasis within the

propaganda construction of the myth changed so too did popular responses.

These were characterised by dissonance, and were often contradictory,

‘sharply oscillating’ between hope and fear, between faith and criticism as the

German people sought strength in an increasingly difficult situation.

Perhaps the complexity of responses is best captured in Hitler’s own

understanding of popular opinion, which identified three types of people: the

‘criminal elements’, the ‘idealists’ and finally, and by far the largest, ‘the broad

masses which are in constant doubt whether to sway one way or another’. 51

Generalised though it is, the comment captures something of the difficulty of

making any sweeping statements regarding ‘the people’ as well as pointing to

the polarised tensions that existed within this ‘broad’ group. Perhaps the

extremities of the first and second group may well be what were most noted

48 Kershaw, The ‘Hitler Myth’, p.264.

49 Entry for 29 August 1939, Victor Klemperer and Martin Chalmers (trans.), The Diaries of

Victor Klemperer 1933-1945 (Phoenix, London, 1999), p.293.


Stargardt, ‘Beyond ‘Consent’ or ‘Terror’’, p.202.


Entry for 22 May 1942, Lochner (ed. and trans.), The Goebbels Diaries, p.172.

66 Daisy-Rose Srblin

in intelligence reports as these were usually the most coherent expressions of

faith in the Fuhrer, or lack of it. It is the shifting and often contradictory

opinions of the final, middle group which still proves so elusive. Such a

cautious conclusion is testimony to the power of the myth, behind which the

opinion of many in Hitler’s ‘broad masses’ has been obscured.

67 Fuhrer-myth


Primary Sources


Boelcke, W.A. (ed.) and Ewald Osers (trans.), The Secret Conferences of Dr

Goebbels (Wiedenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1967)

Cameron, Norman and R.H. Stevens (trans.), Hitler’s Table Talk, 1941-1944 –

His Private Conversations (Phoenix Press, London, 2000)

Eberle, Henrik and Victoria Harris (eds.), Steven Rendall (trans.), Letters to

Hitler (Polity Press, Cambridge, 2012),

Klemperer, Victor and Martin Chalmers (trans.), The Diaries of Victor Klemperer

1933-1945 (Phoenix, London, 1999)

Lochner, Louis P. (ed. and trans.), The Goebbels Diaries (Hamish Hamilton,

London, 1948)

Maser, Walter and Arnold Pomerans (trans.), Hitler’s Letters and Notes

(Heinemann, London, 1974),

Semmler, Rudolf, Goebbels: The Man Next to Hitler (Westhouse, London, 1947)

Shirer, William L., Berlin Diary, 1934-41 (Hamish Hamilton, London,


Online material

‘Er ist der Sieg’, Das Schwarze Korps, 20 April 1944, pp.1-2, trans. Randall


Hess, Rudolf, ‘Der Eid auf Adolf Hitler’, Reden (Zentralverlag der NSDAP,

Munich, 1938), pp.10-14, excerpt trans. Randall Bytwerk

The Fuhrer Makes History (NSDAP, 1938)

d’Alquen, Gunter, Das ist der Sieg! Briefe des Glaubens in Aufbruch und Krieg

(Zentralverlag der NSDAP, Berlin, 1941), excerpts trans. Randall Bytwerk

Collection of ‘Our Hitler’ speeches by Goebbels, 1933-1945, found online:

http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/goebmain.htm (accessed 28

January 2013)

68 Daisy-Rose Srblin

Secondary Sources

Gellately, Robert, Backing Hitler: Consent and Coercion in Nazi Germany (OUP,

Oxford, 2001)

Geyer, Michael, review of Kershaw, The Hitler Myth (see below), The Journal of

Modern History 54:4 (Dec., 1982), pp. 811-812

Kershaw, Ian, ‘The “Hitler Myth”: Image and Reality in the Third Reich’, in

Crew, Nazism and German Society, pp.197-215

Kershaw, Ian, ‘Popular Opinion in the Third Reich’ in Jeremy Noakes (ed.),

Government, Party, and People in Nazi Germany (University of Exeter Press,

Exeter, 1980), pp.57-75.

Kershaw, Ian, ‘The Fuhrer Image and Political Integration: The Popular

Conception of Hitler in Bavaria during the Third Reich’, in Gerhard

Hirschfeld and Lothar Kettenacker (eds.), The ‘Fuhrer-State’: Myth and

Reality, (Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart, 1981), pp.133-163

Kershaw, Ian, ‘Hitler and the Germans’ in Richard Bessel (ed.), Life in the Third

Reich (OUP, Oxford, 1987), pp. 41-56

Kershaw, Ian, The ‘Hitler Myth’: Image and Reality in the Third Reich (OUP,

Oxford, 1987)

Kirwin, Gerald, ‘Waiting for Retaliation: A Study in Nazi Propaganda

Behaviour and Civilian Morale’, Journal of Contemporary History 16:3 (July

1981), pp.565-583

Noakes, Jeremy and Geoffrey Pridham (eds.), Nazism, 1919-1945: A

Documentary Reader, Vol. 4 (University of Exeter Press, Exeter, 1994)

Peukert, Detlev J. K., Inside Nazi Germany: Conformity, Opposition and Racism in

Everyday Life (Yale University Press, New Haven, 1982)

Stargardt, Nicholas, ‘Beyond ‘Consent’ or ‘Terror’: Wartime Crises in Nazi

Germany’, History Workshop Journal 72 (Autumn, 2011), pp.190-204

Steinert, Marlis, Hitler's war and the Germans: Public mood and attitude during the

Second World War (Ohio University Press, Athens, 1977), trans. Thomas de


Weber, Max, ‘Charisma and its Transformations’, in Gunther Roth and Claus

Wittich (eds.), Economy and Society, Vol.2 (University of California Press,

Berkeley, 1978)

69 Fuhrer-myth

Welch, David, ‘“Working Towards the Fuhrer”: Charismatic Leadership and

the Image of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Propaganda’, in Anthony McElligott

and Tim Kirk (eds.), Working towards the Führer: essays in honour of Sir Ian

Kershaw (MUP, Manchester, 2003), pp. 93-118

Welch, David, The Third Reich: Politics and Propaganda (Routledge, London and

NY, 1993)

70 David Bartlett

Was the 1989 Tiananmen protest movement about ‘democracy’?

By David Bartlett

The year 1989 witnessed a number of movements in Europe aimed at

overthrowing authoritarian communist regimes and establishing democratic

governments in their place. The Tiananmen protest movement in China has

been placed easily within such a historical narrative. The only difference, it

has been suggested, is that, in contrast to European autocrats who recognised

the tide of history turning against them, the Chinese Communist Party was

brutally determined to cling onto power. Consequently, the Chinese

‘democracy’ movement fell tragically short of liberating the Chinese people.

This perspective, however, ignores not only established Chinese traditions of

protest, but also the particular Chinese context of the Tiananmen protest

movement. To gain a more nuanced understanding of the nature of the

Chinese protest, it is necessary to investigate the movement from within.

Understanding how and why the movement presented itself as it did is of

fundamental importance. Equally, the composition of the movement, its

motivations, and the social, political and economic contexts in which it

emerged and operated demand analysis. Such an investigation holds the

potential to reveal whether labelling the movement as democratic is helpful or

harmful to our understanding of the protests of spring 1989.

In establishing whether the movement was about democracy or not, it is

crucial not to exaggerate the degree of consensus within the movement. In

reality, the movement was neither uniform in its social composition nor in its

objectives. The protesters gathered in Tiananmen Square, and their

compatriots in Shanghai, Tianjin and other urban centres of unrest, were an

‘amorphous mass’ of students and, particularly in the later stages, of workers. 1

The students themselves were often divided, between ‘the older graduate

students…who sought to ‘influence the internal politics of the CCP’ and the

more exuberant, ‘politically and culturally radical’ undergraduates. 2

Moreover, the workers involved in the protest were often mobilised by

different political and sectional concerns than those which motivated the

students whom they supported. It is important, therefore, to consider the

movement as a coalition of the discontented, rather than a rigidly coherent


Maurice Meisner, Mao’s China and After (New York, 1999), p. 504.


Ibid., p. 504.

71 Tiananmen protest movement

group when analysing its nature.

Moreover, it is imperative to discard ‘the Liberal-Western interpretation of

the Chinese crisis.’ 3 It is unsurprising that Western journalists, who were in

China in unprecedented numbers during the protest to cover the visit of

Mikhail Gorbachev, perceived the mass protests as a parallel of the concurrent

revolutions against Communism in Europe. Similarly, interpretative

frameworks of the protest movement have been influenced by the temptation

to explain Chinese history through the prism of a Western path of

development: namely the notion that political liberalization must always

follow economic liberalization. This conforms to an altogether teleological

view of history in which the liberal-constitutional framework of the West is

the endpoint to which all societies are moving. We must be cautious, therefore,

before subscribing to the popular view of the movement as a pro-democracy

protest because of how easily it satisfies Western ideological expectations and


Nevertheless, the picture is clouded by demonstrators’ frequent use of a

vocabulary of democracy and freedom. The demands in the petition

presented by the students to the Party on 21 April, which included

‘abolishment of the unconstitutional ten-point restrictions against public

demonstrations’ and ‘fair and precise reporting in Party and government

newspapers on the current demonstrations’, seem to corroborate Svensson’s

argument that ‘freedom of the press and freedom of association were the

rights most frequently invoked’. 4 Moreover, Fang Lizhi, one of the most

prominent intellectual supporters of the movement, wrote in January 1989

that ‘the May Fourth Movement slogan ‘science and democracy’ is being

reintroduced’. 5 The influence of such ideas is further testified to in Wang

Dan’s ‘democracy salons’: discussion groups organised at Beijing University

in order to study and debate ‘democratic theories and other heterodox ideas’. 6

3 Marie-Claire Bergère, ‘Tiananmen 1989: background and Consequences’, in Jeffrey

Wasserstrom (ed.), Twentieth Century China (London, 2003), p. 247.

4 Nan Lin, The struggle for Tiananmen: anatomy of the 1989 mass movement (Westport,

1992), p. 57; Svensson, Marina, Debating Human Rights in China (Lanham, 2002), p. 264.

5 Fang Lizhi, ‘China needs democracy’ 17 January 1989 in Michel Oksenberg, Lawrence R.

Sullivan and Marc Lambert (eds.) Beijing spring, 1989: confrontation and conflict: the basic

documents (New York, 1990), p. 164.


Meisner, Mao’s China and After, p. 500.

72 David Bartlett

Even workers, who were denied a central role in the movement by the

students and who often had a different agenda to their co-demonstrators,

were recorded to have made speeches on 20 April calling for ‘workers and

students to work together for the introduction of a more democratic and less

corrupt system’. 7 Furthermore, the regime’s persistent refusal to recognize the

movement as a legitimate expression of discontent radicalised the movement,

leading to the dramatic hunger strikes of May which demonstrated a fierce

commitment to maintain the protest. From such an analysis of the language

and activities of the protest movement, it becomes possible to perceive the

movement as the expression of popular democratic resistance against an

ailing authoritarian system.

However, simply acknowledging the existence of a discourse of democratic

rights and freedoms is not sufficient to justify labelling the protest as a

democracy movement. What the historian must do is to explore in more

depth what the protesters were hoping to achieve through their protest.

Firstly, the student protest was not rejecting the current system in favour of

liberal democracy. The students, in fact, went to great lengths to present

themselves as loyal subjects to the Party, imitating to an extent the

demonstrations of 1976 in using Hu Yaobang’s death as a means of ‘mourning

the dead to criticize the living’. 8 Thus, any suggestion that the movement

intended to overthrow the CCP’s hold on power is misguided: ‘the most

prominent anthem of the student demonstrators was ‘the Internationale’

while protesters themselves carried ‘pictures of Mao Zedong and Zhou

Enlai’. 9 Instead, the slogans and banners calling for democracy and freedoms

of demonstration and the press reflected a desire to achieve official

recognition of their organizations and for a ‘greater political voice’ through

legitimation of political dialogue with the Party. 10 However, the concept of

democracy (minzhu) which they advocated was highly elitist; only party

members and the intelligentsia were entitled to ‘democracy’. As a result,

workers were often prevented from joining the movement. It was only in late

7 Elizabeth Perry, ‘Casting a Chinese “Democracy” Movement: The Roles of Students,

Workers and Entrepreneurs’, in Jeffrey Wasserstrom and Elizabeth Perry (eds.), Popular

Protest and Political Culture in Modern China (Boulder, 1992), p. 84.

8 Meisner, Mao’s China and After, p. 500.


Joseph Esherick and Jeffrey Wasserstrom, ‘Acting Out Democracy: Political Theater in

Modern China’, Journal of Asian Studies 49(1990), p. 836.


Ibid., p. 837.

73 Tiananmen protest movement

May, when military pressures heightened, that ‘student delegations were sent

to the major factories to seek support’. 11 The undemocratic disposition of the

student movement is encapsulated in a foreign observers’ encounter with

students ‘horrified at the suggestion that truly popular elections would have

to include peasants, who would certainly outvote educated people like

themselves’. 12 Instead, what the students wanted when they called for

democracy was to secure for themselves an elevated role within the existing

system. Such a role would position them neither as electors nor as an

opposition group, but as advisers guiding and correcting Party policy.

The implication thus far has been that the movement’s self-labelling as

pro-democracy is misleading: the students were not calling for political

representation for themselves, and certainly not for the workers who were

active alongside them. Womack, however, has fiercely contested such an

argument, which he perceives as blatant Euro-centrism. He contends that it

incorrectly places democracy as a cultural constant when in reality ‘if Chinese

democracy implies the power of the Chinese people, then one must expect

that it would differ from Western democracy’. 13 Womack’s attempt to

emphasise the specific Chinese context of the movement is laudable.

Evidently, the Chinese people proved able to exercise political pressure in

sophisticatedly articulating their grievances in spring 1989. Nevertheless, if

one perceives the students’ aims of ‘dialogue’ and ‘recognition’ as

representing a pro-democracy agenda it ‘obfuscates more than it clarifies’. 14

Instead, precisely because it proves difficult to separate democracy from its

Western context and connotations, the ‘democracy label’ unhelpfully places

the movement into a Western tradition of political development rather than

underpinning a more nuanced and accurate understanding of the nature of

the movement.

Esherick and Wasserstrom have offered an alternative explanation of the

Tiananmen demonstrations in which the protesters simply utilised a

11 Perry, ‘Casting a Chinese “Democracy” Movement’, p. 84.

12 Esherick and Wasserstrom, ‘Acting Out Democracy’, p. 837.

13 Brantly Womack, ‘In Search of Democracy: Public Authority and Popular Power in China’,

in Brantly Womack (ed.), Contemporary Chinese Politics in Historical Perspective (Cambridge,

1991), p. 55.


Esherick and Wasserstrom, ‘Acting Out Democracy’, p. 837.

74 David Bartlett

‘historically established repertoire of collective action.’ 15 The evidence for

such an interpretation can be seen in the petition of 22 April which was

represented an ‘age-old manner of Chinese scholarly remonstrance’. 16 In this

carefully managed display, the students, presenting themselves as honest and

virtuous advisors, sought redress of their legitimate concerns through a

humble petition made to the Party. The deference and patriotism with which

the students presented their protest debunks the myth that they were

alienated from the system itself. The reality was less radical: the movement

was aimed at correcting the errors of Party policy rather than changing its

structure. However, the movement became more than ‘just another wave of

popular protest’ because the Party, its policy embodied in the 26 April

editorial, failed to acknowledge the movement within such a tradition. 17 It

was this refusal to engage with the protesters, as opposed to a wider

democracy agenda, which intensified and radicalised the student movement.

The extent to which the demands for democracy have dominated the

preceding discussion testifies to the centrality of democracy within the

historiography of the movement. Nevertheless, such a focus is unmerited: the

movement clearly placed sectional economic concerns regarding the impact of

economic reforms and, in particular, Party corruption at the forefront of its

agenda. Huan Guocang asserted that ‘the heart of the crisis’ was ‘the

leadership’s refusal to allow political reform to keep pace with economic

reform’. 18 However, the main problem with economic reform was not its

political implications, but its economic consequences. As a result of the

liberalisation of the market, encompassing massive increases in industrial

production (up to 20 per cent in 1985 alone) and the ending of price controls,

there was serious overheating of the economy: inflation rose to 30 per cent in

the autumn of 1988. 19 This inflation hit state workers, students and

intellectuals dependent on fixed state salaries. Indeed, one of the demands of

the petition of 22 April was for ‘increased stipends and salaries for students

and teachers’. 20 The inflation crisis, moreover, provoked the government into

a policy of retrenchment. In 1988, 400,000 workers were laid off from 700

15 Ibid., p. 139.

16 Bergère, ‘Tiananmen 1989’, p. 241.

17 Meisner, Mao’s China and After, p. 500.


Huan Guocang, ‘The Roots of the Political Crisis’, World Policy Journal 6(1989), p. 610


Meisner, Mao’s China and After, pp. 484-492.


Paul Bailey, China in the Twentieth Century (Oxford, 2001), p. 222.

75 Tiananmen protest movement

factories in Shenyang province for example. 21 Furthermore, one of the major

complaints of the Beijing Workers’ Autonomous Union was, that ‘inflation is

out of control and the people’s living standards have slipped’. 22 Evidently,

economic grievances, although of a different nature for workers and students,

were at least equal to vague demands for freedoms as a mobilising factor.

The dissatisfaction with the Party’s economic reforms was greatly

compounded by the endemic state of official corruption. It has been

established that the Party’s modernising project had had negative social and

economic consequences for the groups involved in the 1989 protest. Its

participants feared that the Party no longer guaranteed the Chinese people a

better future. Instead, rampant corruption made the Party bureaucracy appear

to have only its own interests at heart; interests which it was advancing at the

expense of the rest of the nation. This corruption was both high-profile, for

example the 1985 Hainan Island scandal, and small-scale: ‘most of the 150,000

Party members who were punished in 1988 were convicted for economic

crimes.’ 23 The root cause of the problem was that Party members, or their

relatives, could buy goods at cheap state prices and then export them abroad

at a much higher price. The workers and students consequently perceived

that the Party had become a threat to their own opportunities for

self-advancement. The Beijing Workers’ Autonomous Association, for

example, issued a manifesto against official corruption, criticising ‘these

bureaucrats [who] use the people’s hard earned money to build luxury’. 24 The

students, moreover, mobilised angrily against corruption; a major target was

Zhao Ziyang himself (‘Ziyang, Ziyang, xinge buliang’). 25 Evidently, as Fang

Lizhi conceded, ending Party corruption represented the ‘focal point’ of the

movement. 26

There is, therefore, little to be gained by characterising the Tiananmen protest

movement as a democracy movement. Such characterisation is an ahistorical

distortion which tells us more about the biases of Western observers’

interpretative frameworks than it does about the nature of the movement

21 Ibid., p. 219.

22 Tony Saich, Governance and Politics of China (Basingstoke, 2001), p. 82.

23 Bailey, China in the Twentieth Century, p. 220.


Perry, ‘Casting a Chinese “Democracy” Movement’, p. 85.


Esherick and Wasserstrom, ‘Acting Out Democracy’, p. 836.


Fang Lizhi as quoted in Perry, ‘Casting a Chinese “Democracy” Movement’, p. 80.

76 David Bartlett

itself. Whilst the students may have called for ‘democracy and science’, their

conception of democracy was one in which only they, the ‘enlightened

citizenry’, could participate. 27 The movement did not aim to change the

existing system. Instead, the students wanted greater scope to influence Party

policy within the existing one-party state. The kinds of policy changes they

wanted, moreover, were not political but economic: both workers and

students were mobilised by a resentment of official corruption and shared

fears over their economic future and position in society. The fact that many

workers desired a different resolution - a return to state socialism - is beside

the point. The overarching intention of the movement was to force the Party

to recognise their grievances; to adjust their reforms in order to protect the

material interest and aspirations of the protesters; and to redirect the Party’s

attention away from bureaucratic self-enrichment, towards securing the

future prosperity of the Chinese people.


Perry, ‘Casting a Chinese “Democracy” Movement’, p. 76.

77 Tiananmen protest movement


Primary Sources

Lizhi, Fang ‘China needs democracy’ 17 January 1989 in Michel Oksenberg,

Lawrence R. Sullivan and Marc Lambert (eds) Beijing spring, 1989:

confrontation and conflict: the basic documents (New York, 1990), pp. 163-166

Lizhi, Fang, ‘Letter to Deng Xiaoping’ 6 January 1989 in Michel Oksenberg,

Lawrence R. Sullivan and Marc Lambert (eds) Beijing spring, 1989:

confrontation and conflict: the basic documents (New York, 1990), pp. 166-67

Xinhua News Agency, ‘Students’ reasonable demands to be met through

democratic legal channels’ in Michel Oksenberg, Lawrence R. Sullivan

and Marc Lambert (eds) Beijing spring, 1989: confrontation and conflict: the

basic documents (New York, 1990), pp. 254-256.

Ye, Wu, ‘What does the statue of the goddess of democracy which appeared in

Tiananmen Square indicate’ 1 June 1989 in Michel Oksenberg, Lawrence

R. Sullivan and Marc Lambert (eds) Beijing spring, 1989: confrontation and

conflict: the basic documents (New York, 1990), pp. 341-342.

Secondary Sources

Bailey, Paul, China in the Twentieth Century (Oxford, 2001)

Bergère, Marie-Claire, ‘Tiananmen 1989: background and Consequences’, in

Jeffrey Wasserstrom (ed.), Twentieth Century China (London, 2003), pp.


Dittmer, Lowell, ‘Tiananmen Reconsidered’, Pacific Affairs 64(1991-1992), pp.


Esherick, Joseph and Wasserstrom, Jeffrey, ‘Acting Out Democracy: Political

Theater in Modern China’, Journal of Asian Studies 49(1990), pp. 835-865

Guocang, Huan, ‘The Roots of the Political Crisis’, World Policy Journal 6(1989),

pp. 609-620

78 David Bartlett

Kristof, Nicholas D., ‘Prelude to Tiananmen – The Reasons Why China Erupts’

Winston L.Y. Yang and Marsha L. Wagner (eds.) Tiananmen: China's

struggle for democarcy: its prelude, development, aftermath, and impact

(Baltimore, 1990), pp. 33-42

Lin, Nan, The struggle for Tiananmen: anatomy of the 1989 mass movement

(Westport, 1992)

Meisner, Maurice, Mao’s China and After (New York, 1999)

Oi, Jean C., ‘Realms of Freedom in Post-Mao China’, in William Kirby (ed.),

Realms of Freedom in Modern China (Stanford, 2004), pp. 264-284

Perry, Elizabeth, ‘Casting a Chinese “Democracy” Movement: The Roles of

Students, Workers and Entrepreneurs’, in Jeffrey Wasserstrom and

Elizabeth Perry (eds.), Popular Protest and Political Culture in Modern China

(Boulder, 1992), pp. 146-164.

Polumbaum, Judy, ‘Making Sense of June 4, 1989: Analyses of the Tiananmen

Tragedy’, The Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs 26(1991), pp. 177-186

Saich, Tony, Governance and Politics of China (Basingstoke, 2001)

Svensson, Marina, Debating Human Rights in China (Lanham, 2002)

Walder, Andrew G. and Xiaoxia, Gong, ‘Workers in the Tiananmen Protests:

The Politics of the Beijing Workers' Autonomous Federation’ The

Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs 29(1993), pp. 1-29

Womack, Brantly, ‘In Search of Democracy: Public Authority and Popular

Power in China’, in Brantly Womack (ed.), Contemporary Chinese Politics in

Historical Perspective (Cambridge, 1991), pp 53-90

79 UNITA and Ovimbundu cultural authenticity

To what extent did UNITA's capacity to fight a long civil war depend on

appeals to Ovimbundu cultural authenticity?

By David Bartlett

Editor's note: ‘The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola’ (UNITA)

is the second-largest political party in Angola. Founded in 1966, UNITA was led

by Jonas Savimbi from its foundation until his death in 2002, and fought alongside

the ‘Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola’ (MPLA) in the Angolan War

for Independence (1961–1975) and then against the MPLA in the ensuing civil

war (1975–2002).

There have been three main explanations of UNITA’s success in sustaining its

capacity to fight a civil war over the course of three decades. Firstly, many

historians have perceived the conflict in ethnic terms: UNITA’s support

derived from its representation of the Ovimbundu, which deprived the MPLA

of a large and ‘enormously important ethnic and geographical constituency’. 1

Consequently, it was essential for UNITA to assume the culture of the

Ovimbundu in order to legitimise its claims of representation. However, for

William Minter, UNITA were ‘Apartheid’s Contras’. 2 In this school of thought,

it was the military support of South Africa and the United States that enabled

both UNITA’s survival and its ability to project its political message. Finally, in

the aftermath of the escalating violence of the 1990s, the role of the illicit

diamond trade has been increasingly emphasised. Evidently, the importance

of appeals to cultural authenticity must be analysed in relation to these factors

over the course of the war, and perhaps may indicate whether single-factor

explanations of conflict in Angola are sustainable.

Appealing to Ovimbundu cultural authenticity, chiefly through the figure of

Jonas Savimbi, was an important dimension of UNITA’s political strategy for

tempting, but also coercing, the Ovimbundu population into proffering

support for the party. Linda Heywood has argued that such appeals gave

UNITA a ‘legitimacy amongst among the rural masses that guarantee[d] them


Norrie MacQueen, The Decolonization of Portuguese Africa (London, 1997), p. 33.


William Minter, Apartheid's Contras: an inquiry into the roots of war in Angola and

Mozambique (London, 1994)

80 David Bartlett

staying power’. 3 UNITA’s strategy was to work with existing local power

structures — the sekulus, osomas and ocimbandas — and embedded

institutions like the protestant church to present themselves as fighting on

behalf of the Ovimbundu. Savimbi, moreover, would often use ‘local

proverbs…cultural motifs’ and indigenous Angolan languages in his speeches

in controlled territories to give his leadership local legitimacy. 4 Consequently,

UNITA, and Savimbi in particular, were able to convincingly portray

themselves as fighting as and for the people against the MPLA, who, within

this political narrative, were caricatured as a distant urban minority propped

up by foreign interests.

However, there is evidence that Heywood romanticised UNITA’s connection

with Ovimbundu culture. In reality, effective use of Ovimbundu ideology was

intended to offer Savimbi coercive power as a tool for mobilisation. Through

pre-colonial traditions such as cleansing communities of ‘witches’, Savimbi

was able to conduct a ‘politics of fear’, allowing him rigid control of his party,

as seen in the purging of Tito Chingunji. 5 By playing upon the notion that

rulers were the ‘repository of the spiritual power of the community’, UNITA

were able to create a cult around Savimbi, who became a god-like figure to be

both loved and obeyed, evidenced in the UNITA slogan ‘God in Heaven and

Savimbi on earth’. 6 Thus, Savimbi was able to both compel support from the

Ovimbundu population out of fear and mobilise them through a political

narrative in which Savimbi was one of them, against the other represented by

the MPLA. That the conflict was only ended by Savimbi’s death in 2002

perhaps testifies to the importance of the cult created around Savimbi for

UNITA’s capacity to prolong its struggle.

It is imperative, however, to avoid creating a simplistic framework of analysis

in which ethnicity is central as the determinant of political loyalty. Historians,

foreign diplomats and UNITA politicians themselves have been far too ready

to see the Angola’s civil war as an ethnic conflict. Instead, UNITA’s failure to

3 Linda Heywood, ‘Towards an understanding of modern political ideology in Africa: the

case of the Ovimbundu of Angola’, Journal of Modern African Studies 36, 1 (1998), p. 166.

4 Linda Heywood, Contested Power in Angola, 1840s to the Present (Rochester, NY, 2000), p. 214.

5 Heywood, ‘Towards an understanding’ p. 139; Assis Malaquias, Rebels and Robbers: Violence

in post-colonial Angola (Uppsala, 2007), p. 97; Heywood, ‘Towards an understanding’ p. 147.


Ibid., p. 156; Michael Wolfers and Jane Bergerol, Angola in the Frontline (London, 1983), p.


81 UNITA and Ovimbundu cultural authenticity

win the 1992 elections, which astounded confident predictions within and

outside Angola, should remind us that ethnicities are not pre-determined

facts but negotiated identities, which political parties have to shape and

manage if they are to be exploited. UNITA were successful in ‘ethnicising’ the

conflict; Patrick Chabal is correct to emphasise that UNITA made ‘widespread’

the perception that the MPLA dominated politics to the exclusion of those

outside Luanda. 7 Moreover, the actions of the MPLA in 1976, when a severe

campaign of repression in the central highlands was undertaken to destroy

UNITA, served to confirm UNITA’s narrative of the marginalisation of the

central and southern population. Nevertheless, this reveals how Heywood’s

emphasis on UNITA’s appeal to pre-existing Ovimbundu ethnic sentiments is

misplaced. Instead, UNITA had to fashion a convincing narrative of

marginalisation based not solely on cultural traditions but on perceptions of

contemporary political events. Further undermining Heywood, moreover, is

Justin Pearce’s finding that the conflict of identities was instead often between

‘UNITA people’ and ‘MPLA people’: loyalties forged during rather than

before the civil war. 8 Furthermore, many Angolans often had little choice of

which party to support: one MPLA civil servant described how, upon capture,

‘of necessity one had to identify oneself as an adherent of UNITA...[or] you

would be dead’. 9 Minter corroborated such a picture in describing how

Angolans on the Namibian border, in close proximity to UNITA’s ally South

Africa, revealed they felt they had little choice but to support UNITA. 10

Evidently, ethnicity played a less salient role in UNITA’s effort to secure the

manpower and resources necessary for maintaining the war effort than many

have realised. Instead, the strength of UNITA’s appeal firmly depended upon

how far its narrative could exploit political and military opportunities.

Indeed, much of UNITA’s capacity to extract support from the population was

dependent upon the party’s creation of alternative state structures. By creating

a ‘state-within-a-state’ in territories under their control, symbolised by its rival

capital at Jamba, UNITA were able to give their claim to be fighting on behalf

of the Ovimbundu greater credibility. Savimbi himself expounded this

7 Patrick Chabal, ‘E Pluribus Unum: Transitions in Angola’ in Patrick Chabal & Nuno Vidal

(eds), Angola: The Weight of History (London, 2007), p. 5.

8 Justin Pearce, ‘Control, politics and identity in the Angolan Civil War’, African Affairs 111

(2012), pp. 447.


Ibid., p. 454.


Minter, Apartheid's Contras: an inquiry into the roots of war in Angola and Mozambique, p. 81.

82 David Bartlett

strategy: ‘our army is not just an instrument of power. It must above all

protect our educational work and agricultural cooperatives’. 11 These

initiatives were extensive: UNITA established 53 ‘secondary production

centres…‘totalling approximately 25 thousand hectares’, while Savimbi

promised ‘old men false teeth free of charge; the young men free cars and a

university education’. 12 Evidently, UNITA presented itself as capable of

protecting and providing for its supporters. We can see this in how many

people interviewed after the conflict have justified their support for UNITA in

terms of ‘common interest’. 13 One man, for example, stressed that UNITA

provided ‘teachers and nurses’ who ‘left the bases to help people in the

villages’. 14 UNITA were also able to strengthen their ties with the Ovimbundu

through escalating an economic crisis by targeting infrastructure such as the

Benguela railway. As a result of the $30 billion of ‘material damage to the

infrastructure’ between 1980 and 1990, the population became even more

dependent on UNITA’s parallel state structures. 15 Thus, UNITA did not

simply appeal to pre-existing ethnic loyalties but sought to legitimise its

anti-MPLA political narrative through assuming the functions of government

and distributing patronage. However, it is important to avoid romanticising

UNITA’s strategy. In reality, its liberated zones were tightly controlled areas in

which ‘there was no possibility of expressing political choice’. 16 In other

words, while its political narrative was reinforced by its creation of state

structures, for many the simple fact of UNITA’s military control of their

territory compelled them to support the party’s war effort.

However, what gave UNITA the means to maintain military control of

territories, to create parallel state structures and, on a more fundamental level,

to even remain in existence as a guerrilla army was external support from the

United States and South Africa. Without accommodation with the Portuguese

military during the independence struggle and South African intervention in

1975, it is likely UNITA would have quickly been crushed by the MPLA,

which had little difficulty eradicating the FNLA. Nevertheless, one has to be

11 James W. Martin, A Political History of the Civil War in Angola 1974-1990 (London, 1992), p.


12 Ibid., p. 98; Wolfers and Bergerol, Angola in the Frontline, p. 207.

13 Pearce, ‘Control, politics and identity’, p. 442.


Ibid., p. 458.


Heywood, Contested Power in Angola, p. 206.


Pearce, ‘Control, politics and identity’, p. 455.

83 UNITA and Ovimbundu cultural authenticity

careful when placing such importance upon external intervention. It is

important not to de-Africanise the conflict by suggesting it was merely a

proxy war fought by Cold War powers or an extension of South Africa’s ‘total

strategy’: the ‘dynamic domestic perspective’ discussed above should not be

ignored. 17 Nevertheless, the domestic and the external can be integrated.

South Africa invaded Angola 12 times after 1975, allowing UNITA to ‘liberate’

territory taken by the SADF and to defend such areas with MPLA weapons

captured by the South Africans. 18 In addition, military supplies, fuel and

financial assistance were routed to UNITA through Mobutu’s Zaire. These

resources enabled the creation of the state structures essential within UNITA’s

political narrative: external support gave UNITA both the means to fund

agricultural and social welfare initiatives and the military capacity to take and

control territory in which the population could be coerced or tempted into

supporting the cause.

Moreover, the temptation to see UNITA’s reliance on foreign support as a

result of a lack of legitimacy amongst the Angolan population should be

resisted. For example, Victoria Brittain, a journalist who travelled around

Angola with the MPLA, suggested that ‘political choices at home’ (in favour

of the MPLA) had been ‘sabotage[d] by powerful outsiders’. 19 This illustrates

the methodological problems of fieldwork during a conflict; Brittain was

evidently heavily influenced by both victims’ accounts of UNITA violence and

by the MPLA political narrative sold to her because she neglected to consider

that during the 1980s the Soviet Union delivered the MPLA ‘nearly $1 billion

annually in arms’ while the Cuban military presence also expanded

considerably. 20 Clearly, UNITA’s comparative military weakness therefore

made foreign support essential, demonstrated at the battles of Mavinga and

Cuito-Cuanavale in the late 1980s. Without US anti-aircraft and anti-tank

missiles, alongside South African troops, artillery guns and tanks, UNITA

would have been crushed by the sheer weight of MPLA’s military

preponderance. 21 Thus, not only was external support crucial for allowing

UNITA to project and reinforce its political narrative, it was also imperative

for UNITA’s military survival.

17 Heywood, Contested Power in Angola, p. 186.

18 Malaquias, Rebels and Robbers, p. 93.


Victoria Brittain, Death of Dignity: Angola’s Civil War (London, 1998), p. 100.


Heywood, Contested Power in Angola, p. 203.


Malaquias, Rebels and Robbers, p. 93.

84 David Bartlett

However, UNITA were able to maintain their capacity to wage civil war even

in the 1990s when, after the peace agreement signed by South Africa and

Cuba in 1988, and the end of the Cold War, there were vastly reduced

opportunities for obtaining resources from external patrons. This was possible

as a result of the control of the diamond trade which provided UNITA with an

estimated $400-600 million a year in income. 22 The role of diamonds poses a

number of analytical problems. Clearly, UNITA’s capacity to wage war was

not destroyed by the loss of foreign support. However, Global Witness’ belief

that better control of the diamond trade would end the conflict proved wrong;

it was only the death of Savimbi in 2002 which brought UNITA’s struggle to

an end. 23 Access to resources, both external and domestic, was not then the

only factor prolonging war: Savimbi’s cult, based in part on authentic

Ovimbundu traditions, evidently was a significant factor in holding UNITA


Assis Malaquias has contended that UNITA’s reliance on diamonds in the

1990s transformed it into a ‘criminal enterprise’. 24 His suggestion that

UNITA’s political strategy of appealing to popular legitimacy was

subordinated in favour of a primarily military strategy is corroborated by the

fact that UNITA even collaborated with MPLA soldiers, who received

diamonds in return for smuggling weapons. The political education that had

taken place in liberated zones was replaced by predation in

diamond-producing territories, depicted in testimonies such as that of Maria

Luhuma: ‘UNITA came and cut my brother with his own machete’. 25 UNITA’s

strategy in the 1990s therefore betrayed a willingness to use any available

means to gain the military tools necessary to wage war. This was successful

insofar that UNITA’s military capacity was maintained. Nevertheless, this

came at the cost of political support: the abandonment of appeals to

legitimacy in favour of a strategy of resource acquisition left UNITA without

both the political support and the political will necessary to maintain the

struggle without its charismatic leader and in less favourable military


The importance of UNITA’s appeals to Ovimbundu cultural authenticity

should therefore not be overstated. Whilst they were vital for the creation of

22 Malaquias, Rebels and Robbers, p. 106.

23 Global Witness, A Rough Trade: The role of companies and governments in the Angolan

conflict (London, 1999), p. 4.


Malaquias, Rebels and Robbers, p. 91.


Brittain, Death of Dignity, p. 16.

85 UNITA and Ovimbundu cultural authenticity

Savimbi’s leadership cult and integral to UNITA’s political narrative of the

marginalisation of the Ovimbundu, explaining UNITA’s popular support

solely in terms of ethnicity oversimplifies the roots of conflict. UNITA’s

political narrative was, in reality, dependent upon the resources of external

actors: it needed foreign military assistance both in order to gain control of

territories from the MPLA and to fund the alternative state structures essential

for UNITA’s political message. Military strength and political legitimacy were

therefore interdependent. Nevertheless, the experience of the 1990s reveals

that military control obtained at the expense of political legitimacy left the

organisation unable to sustain its war, except through the hegemonic cult of

Savimbi. Evidently, one-dimensional explanatory models of UNITA’s capacity

to wage war cannot be sustained. Both foreign support and domestic

legitimacy, founded on a narrative only partly dependent on appeals to

Ovimbundu cultural authenticity, were needed for UNITA to maintain its

struggle. By 2002, both had disappeared.

86 David Bartlett


Bates, Robert, When Things Fell Apart: State Failure in Late-Century Africa

(Cambridge, 2008)

Brittain, Victoria, Death of Dignity: Angola’s Civil War (London, 1998)

Chabal, Patrick, ‘E Pluribus Unum: Transitions in Angola’ in Patrick Chabal &

Nuno Vidal (eds), Angola: The Weight of History (London, 2007), p. 1-18

Cooper, Frederick, Africa Since 1940: The Past of the Present (Cambridge, 2002)

Global Witness, A Rough Trade: The role of companies and governments in the

Angolan conflict (London, 1999)

Heywood, Linda, Contested Power in Angola: 1840s to the Present (Rochester, NY,


Heywood, Linda, ‘Towards an understanding of modern political ideology in

Africa: the case of the Ovimbundu of Angola’, Journal of Modern African

Studies 36, 1 (1998), pp. 139–67

Heywood, Linda, ‘Unita and ethnic nationalism in Angola’, Journal of

Modern African Studies 27, 1 (1989), pp. 47–66

MacQueen, Norrie, The Decolonization of Portuguese Africa (London, 1997)

Malaquias, Assis, Rebels and Robbers: Violence in post-colonial Angola (Uppsala,


Martin, James W., A Political History of the Civil War in Angola 1974-1990

(London, 1992)

Messiant, Christine, ‘The Mutation of Hegemonic Domination: Multiparty

politics without democracy’ Patrick Chabal & Nuno Vidal (eds), Angola:

The Weight of History (London, 2007), pp. 93-123

87 UNITA and Ovimbundu cultural authenticity

Minter, William, Apartheid's Contras: an inquiry into the roots of war in Angola

and Mozambique (London, 1994)

Mkandawire, Thandika, ‘The terrible toll of post-colonial rebel movements in

Africa: towards an explanation of violence against the peasantry’, Journal

of Modern African Studies 40(2002), pp. 181-215

Nugent, Paul, Africa Since Independence: A Comparative History (Basingstoke,


Pearce, Justin, ‘Control, politics and identity in the Angolan Civil War’,

African Affairs 111 (2012), pp. 442-465.

Reno, William, ‘African weak states and commercial alliances’ African Affairs

96(1997) pp. 165-88

Spears, Ian, Civil War in African States: The Search for Security (Boulder, 2010)

Strauss, Scott, ‘Wars do end! Changing patterns of political violence in

sub-Saharan Africa’, African Affairs 111(2012), pp. 179-201

Wolfers, Michael and Bergerol, Jane, Angola in the Frontline (London, 1983)




89 The 'Superfluous Man'

The ‘Superfluous Man’ and Russian Romanticism

By Rachel Powell

The Russian Romantics were undoubtedly influenced by Western writers and

philosophers. However, due to the time delay of cultural diffusion across

Europe, pre-Romantics such as classicists were initially influential, with the

main Russian Romantic era spanning the first half of the nineteenth century

until the end of the 1840s. Due to the Russian Empire’s geographical expanse,

backward political and social policies such as serfdom and the late

development of art and literature, a certain group of Russian elites often

perceived the West as a rational and fashionable muse. Contrastingly, Western

Europe saw Russia as a savage, foreign and distant land – the ‘Other’ – its

antithesis to a civilised nation. 1 The French Revolution and the Patriotic War

of 1812 were turning points for France’s cultural influence over Russia; the

emerging intelligentsia increasingly rejected their ideology in favour of

nationalism. British Romantics such as Lord Byron, influenced arguably the

most ‘Russian’ aspect of Russian Romantic literature: ‘superfluous people’,

an archetype evolved from the Byronic hero. Towards the second half of the

Romantic period, a general disdain towards the West developed, and gave

rise to conflicting and contradictory views regarding the retention of the

conservatism of the 'old regime', which itself originated from the West. 2

During the nineteenth century, other distinct Russian principles emerged:

narodnost, nationalism, autocracy, communal traditionalism and

Orthodoxy, which further distanced Russia from the West.

The classic Romantic hero of the Russian tradition was the ‘superfluous man’,

a culmination of the Byronic hero and the Russian Intelligentsia. Such an

individual possessed the intelligence and status of the Intelligentsia, but

lacked the Slavophilic nationalism or determination to act upon their ideas.

The intelligentsia were defined by Stavrou as the ‘by-products’ of the

country’s goal of modernisation. The rise of secularisation, education and

cultural development led to the establishment of institutions such as

universities, art centres and printing presses, all of which encouraged critical

1 Rozaliya Cherepanova, ‘Discourse on a Russian "Sonderweg": European models in Russian

disguise’, Studies in East European Thought, vol. 62 (2010), pp. 315-329.


Theophilus C. Prousis, Review of Alexander M. Martin, ‘Romantics, Reformers,

Reactionaries: Russian Conservative Thought and Politics in the Reign of Alexander I’, The

Slavic and East European Journal, vol. 43 (1999), pp. 238-240, p. 239.

90 Rachel Powell

thought and the emergence of the intelligentsia. 3 As with the exiles of the

French Revolution, Russians returning to their homeland following a western

European education in law, literature and individualism became disillusioned

with their country and its values. The latter seemed incongruous and

anachronistic with their own new philosophies, as the superfluous heroes

belonged to neither the Russian nor the Western European camp, thus being

in an ideological and geographical limbo. It was these sentiments that perhaps

influenced Russia’s alternative take on the literary Byronic hero; the

‘superfluous man’ reflected Russia’s tragic approach to the Romantic

Movement. Goethe’s creation of a bildungsroman differed in the sense that it

allowed nonconforming individuals to return to the accepted social

conventions. 4 In the case of the superfluous hero, his high intellect is

hindered by his arrogance, self-destructiveness and pessimistic outlook on life

which prevents him from conforming, often leading to tragic consequences.

Brown claims that Alexander Pushkin ‘is another Byron […] but with a beauty

in language and in music […] to which Byron rose only at his best.’ 5 Pushkin

emphasises the importance and influence of literature on Eugene Onegin, as

literature can significantly alter an individual’s character and philosophy. It is

evident that Onegin has read Byron’s work, 6 which influenced both Pushkin’s

writing and Onegin’s actions, to the point where Tatyana believes that his

character is merely a literary construction. In a speech on Pushkin,

Dostoevsky praised the author for portraying those individuals who were

misunderstood and rejected from society, and that these were the Russian

intelligentsia. He believed that the characteristics embodied by Tatyana, the

‘Russian soul’, were the requisites for the country’s salvation. In contrast, the

characteristics of Pushkin’s westernised antihero were eroding. 7 This concept

was ironically realised in the premature deaths of Pushkin and Lermontov in

3 Theofanis George Stavrou, Art and Culture in Nineteenth-Century Russia (Indiana University

Press, 1983), pp. xi-xii.

4 Ellen Chances, ‘The superfluous man in Russian literature’ in Neil Cornwell (ed.), The

Routledge Companion to Russian Literature (Routledge, 2001), pp. 111-112.

5 E. K. Brown, Review of Vladimir Nabokov, ‘Three Russian Poets, Selections from Pushkin,

Lermontov and Tyutchev’, Poetry, vol. 66 (1945), pp. 289-290, pp. 289-290.

6 Andrea Lešić-Thomas, ‘Focalization in Pushkin's "Eugene Onegin" and Lermontov's "A

Hero of Our Time": Loving the Semantic Void and the Dizziness of Interpretation’, The

Modern Language Review, vol. 103 (2008), pp. 1067-1085, p. 1070.


Chances, The Routledge Companion to Russian Literature, p. 118.

91 The 'Superfluous Man'

duels, considered tragedies for Russian literature, and demonstrating the

catastrophic influence of Western literature in both reality and a literary

context, in relation to preserving the Romantic notion of one’s dignity and


As Stavrou put it, Russia’s adoption of Western influences went ‘from

imitation and imprudent assimilation to a critical evaluation.’ 8 There were

conflicting beliefs among the intelligentsia whether Russian Romanticism

should adhere or diverge from its Western origins. The movement was

therefore highly contradictory due to the conflicting intentions of the

Westernisers and Slavophiles. Despite Martin’s argument that there was more

that divided these ‘romantics, reformers and reactionaries’, 9 revisionist

historians have suggested that there was in fact more overlap between the two

ideological camps. However, whether the Russians admired or abhorred

western European philosophy, it undoubtedly influenced all notable writers

and artists of the period. The Romantic period began with Russia’s new

intelligentsia hoping to catch up culturally with the rest of Europe, and ended

with the Golden Age of literature. Russia’s distancing from the West can be

seen in the country’s growing pride, or narodnost, towards its increasing

literary and artistic traditions: Pushkin, Dostoevsky and Gogol succeeded in

becoming literary heroes of the Golden Age, displacing foreign writers as the

muses of future Russian writers.

8 Stavrou, Art and Culture in Nineteenth-Century Russia, p. xiv.


Seymour Becker, Review of Alexander M. Martin, ‘Romantics, Reformers, Reactionaries:

Russian Conservative Thought and Politics in the Reign of Alexander I’, Slavic Review, vol. 57

(1998), p. 657.

92 Joe Strong

Zero Dark Thirty: The film of a memory too soon

A review by Joe Strong

Zero Dark Thirty: a 2012 action drama which chronicalized the decade-long hunt

for Osama Bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks. The film has recently received five

Academy Award nominations and received an Oscar for sound editing.

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Cast: Chris Pratt, Edgar Ramirez, James Gandolfini, Jason Clarke, Jennifer Ehle,

Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, Kyle Chandler, Mark Strong

Runtime: 157 minutes

Now that the awards season is over and the Oscars have made their

irreversible dent into the history of film, this review might seem redundant.

The greats of the film industry have spoken and critics everywhere have seen

their words paled to worthlessness by a golden statuette. Nevertheless, a few

words of inconsequence are required before trying to untangle what has

become the dominant shadow surrounding this politically and topically

controversial film.

Kathryn Bigelow proves herself to be a director of masterful talent in this

genre, following the success of The Hurt Locker in 2008. The film itself is

excellent, a gripping and masterfully tense account of what may have

occurred during the infamous hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Critics’ buzz over

Jessica Chastain’s ‘strong depiction of a focussed and driven Maya’ may

however have been misplaced. It felt as though critics and Hollywood alike

were seeking to make a strong female role something of an exception, when

it ought to be seen as anything but. Though Chastain was by no means weak,

her performance did not sweep you off your feet. Anyone familiar with the

tour de force that is Claire Danes in ‘Homeland’ will be unable to avoid

drawing unfavourable comparisons with Chastain. Nonetheless, the cast was,

on the whole, superb, and particular credit must be given to Jennifer Ehle

(highly regarded and remembered by many of us, for her depiction of Miss

Bennet in BBC’s Pride and Prejudice in 1995). With five-star reviews from the

critics, production and actors alike were pinned for academy fame. And yet,

the 85 th Annual Academy Awards swept over the film with a dark tar brush.

Beyond the film critics and the Academy, the film has sparked much debate.

Families impacted by 9/11 have been central to this discussion. In a complex

and in many ways antithetical discussion, members of these families (and

many others) denounced the film critics as anti-patriots, against the capture

93 Zero Dark Thirty

of Osama Bin Laden, ‘international enemy number one’. However, opinion

began to shift, most notably when controversy arose over the use of victim’s

last phone-calls, from the September 11 th attacks, reportedly without

permission from family members. As the studio, firmly on the defensive,

called the phone-calls a tribute, some have seen it as quite the reverse.

The crux is thus: is it too soon, Bigelow? Have we separated ourselves from

the constraints of memory and entered the realms of history as Maurice

Halbwachs might consider it? Historical interpretations imply within them a

certain separation from the historian and the history they work with, but can

recent memory be interpreted, events that even we as young adults can

remember? Whilst some have argued such phone calls are now part of a ‘war

on terror’ vernacular and that the film is part of the history growing around

events before and after 9/11, others have argued that they are private,

personal memories, that do not belong in the public, commercial domain.

For a historian, the debate that has raged around the film has been indicative

of the debates that rage around history itself. For one, there is the contextual

element of history and the critical evaluation of sources to uncover it. With

regards to the historical reliability of the film, it has been accused from all

angles. For example, whilst the Left says it advocates torture, the Right

argues that it lies about it. In response to these paradoxically conflicting, yet

uniting denouncements, Bigelow shot back, contending the film was never

meant to be completely factual. It was meant to be a historical narrative; a

representation, not a reconstruction. There is an enormous difference

between the two, and the debate alone highlights the complications that can

ensue when there is confusion.

After the initial phone calls, the film opens with a torture scene, in which

information is uncovered which aided in the eventual capture of Osama Bin

Laden. This proved a historical representation too uncomfortable for the

world to swallow. What became increasingly important, were not the

cinematography, the picture or the art, but the historical accuracy. Arguably,

this is redundant. An exact account of the (possible) use of torture is not

information that is likely to surface at any point in the near future. When has

history ever given us facts and figures when demanded?

With this in mind, it would be difficult to conclude that the film advocates

torture. There is nothing glamorous about what Bigelow portrays. There is

nothing heroic, nor is there anything humane about it. Re-enactments of the

horrific practice of ‘water-boarding’ were enough to make many of my fellow

audience look away in disgust. To come out the cinema believing torture to

be a benefit to society can only be paralleled to those who argued slavery was

necessary for the enrichment of the South. Most reasonable viewers should

94 Joe Strong

be beyond that stage now and Bigelow tried her best to emphasise this. If

anything, the film boldly enters an area of history that has remained almost

completely silent.

Then there is the murky issue of historical accuracy. Fundamentally, is it

necessary? If the film purports to be a historical reconstruction, which in

some respects it was felt to have done, are people entitled to the absolute

truth, unconditional and without interpretation? Probably yes, or at least the

film should be called up for the dismissal of facts. Conversely, the same is

not true for historical narrative. Here, as in the case of historical fiction, the

same facts do not need to be used. Shallow critiquing could otherwise ensue.

We could highlight how the lead investigator was not only blessed with an

unusual name (Maya) and hair colour (red), but also had the capacity, in the

opening scenes, to wear a black suit in an extremely hot region of the world.

These points do not arguably need to be highlighted. Unless a film is a

documentary, it will always fall foul of these nuances, which are perhaps so

much more distinctive than in literature.

As such, whilst it is difficult to offer an answer to the critique of Zero Dark

Thirty, it is easy to offer a critique of its critics. It has been stated that whilst

torture has been used during the US wars in the Middle East, torture was not

used specifically in the capturing of Bin Laden. This report comes from the

CIA. It seems almost pedantic and arrogant to proceed in an evaluation of

such a source in light of its authorship and the inability to substantiate facts

either in support or as a counter-argument. One may solely highlight

President Obama’s failure to end the use of torture, as promised during his

first campaign, as an insight into American military tactics. Neither side can

prove, one way or another, whether they told the truth about how Bin Laden

was captured. The truth could only be revealed by the publication of a

significant amount of military information; enough to make even Julian

Assange weak at the knees. Thus, all that remains is to look at what these

reactions tell us about society.

Fundamentally, history and memory are inexplicably linked, for better or for

worse. Zero Dark Thirty emphasises how people yearn for the truth when it

concerns them. So the outrage directed towards the film by certain Academy

voters should make us question why they did not do the same to the

make-believe Tudor world of Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth, or even Spielberg’s

Lincoln, but instead showered them with nominations. Zero Dark Thirty

suffered because it is an insight into our own, immediate past, a past that

does not look pretty. Whether critics truly believe that the film advocates

torture, or whether it is more that they find it an uncomfortable

representation of history, all too close to home, is difficult to tell. At any rate,

95 Zero Dark Thirty

Bigelow can be commended for her efforts. Voices that were quiet have

suddenly risen in cries against torture. The world has seen up close and

personal the horrors of water-boarding; perhaps an insight into the extremes

torture can be manifested into. If viewers choose to dispel this as pure fiction,

or instead prefer to attack Bigelow, this is entirely their choice. However, an

awareness of where in history these decisions place the viewer could

certainly change their perspectives.

96 Antonia Goddard

“Over the Sea to Skye”

An excerpt from a historical fiction by Antonia Goddard

Defeated and wounded, Bonnie Prince Charlie is left to fight alone for his cause, his crown and his life.

His only supporter is his devoted friend Sir George, a faithful royalist who is unafraid to stand up to

him in times of necessity. Sir George enlists the assistance of a local girl, Flora MacDonald, to help

him smuggle the prince to safety. However, his presence in her house soon attracts the attention of

Hanoverian soldiers Marston and Clairborne, who will stop at nothing to arrest the prince, and kill all

those supporting him. Clashing swords with personalities, the pair set off in hot pursuit. With danger

lurking around every corner, the prince's only hope for survival is to leave behind Flora's loving care,

abandoning her in favour of safety in France. Meanwhile Marston and Clairborne, closing in on the

prince, can agree on only one thing: pistols at dawn.

In an age where lives were dependent on who wore the crown, which church you attended and which

boys you fell in love with, Flora is faced with a terrible, heart-wrenching decision.

Despite being a work of fiction, the story this book tells is true. Thousands of Jacobites died, or risked

their lives for the protection of their prince. Among them was Flora MacDonald, the bravest of women,

whose loyalty and love for Charles should not be forgotten.

His eyes narrowed into slits in the onslaught of the bitterly cold wind and

sleet, and Charles Edward Stuart turned his head to assess the field. Despite

the harsh climate he was not cold, wearing two shirts so that shivers of cold

might not be mistaken for fear. It was hard, however, not to think of his

namesake who had done the self-same thing on the scaffold more than a

hundred years before him, losing his head for his crown.

But this Charles had no plans to lose his head. His grip on the reins

strengthened, his knuckles white. Reacting to his tension, his horse shifted its

weight beneath him - all too ready for action.

With a guiding twitch of the reins, Charles steadied the nervous stallion.

“We’re too far away,” he complained. “I cannot get a proper view of the


Beside him, his general sighed. “Your Highness knows the risks of

approaching further. This moor is too exposed for a defensive position.”

“You always were a coward, Murray,” snapped the prince, but he did not

pursue the point. “Pass me the eyeglass.”

The curved glass disk pressed to his right eye, Charles was able to study his

army at close quarters, drawn up neatly holding defensive positions, their

regiments distinguishable by their coloured tartans. Left to right he glanced,

making quick and detailed mental notes of miniscule corrections and

improvements that needed to be made.

97 "Over the Sea to Skye"

The drumming of hooves broke into his reverie and he glanced down at the

man who, red-faced, had slid down the heaving flanks of his horse and knelt

before him.

“What is it?”

“Government forces, Ye Highness,” the soldier gasped in his thick accent.

“Spotted not two hours ago at Drummossie by one of our scouts. Estimated

time of arrival at eleven o’clock, sire.”

Charles snapped his pocket watch shut with a click. “That’s only an hour

from now,” he said tersely to himself while feeling the familiar twist of

excitement, pride and fear at the prospect of battle.

“Should the men be prepared for charge, sire?”

“Hmm?” He glanced down at the messenger as though only just aware of his

presence. “No. Tell the men to hold their positions. We charge when I give

the order.”

“Yes, sire.” Wiping his dripping face with a handkerchief, the man gave a

low bow before vaulting back into his saddle.

Murray was fidgeting nervously with his own pocket watch, opening it and

closing it again. He always had been obsessed with the time. “Your Highness

should retreat from sight,” he said suddenly, snapping it shut almost

viciously. “Best keep you safe.”

“Have you lost your wits, Murray?” Charles was astounded. “I am no child

to be hiding in the forest. These are my people, Murray, my forces. For

honour’s sake, I fight with them today.”

“Aye, and when they are slaughtered, will Your Highness die with them as

well? For honour’s sake?”

Charles’ glare was murderous. “To talk of my death is treason,” he growled.

“I meant only that I am thinking of your safety, sire,” replied Murray

smoothly. “Should the whole army be slaughtered, we will have much to

fight for. But should Your Highness be among the casualties...”

He didn’t need to finish. They both knew how much more precious his blood

was compared to that of their whole army.

“So Your Highness will withdraw?”

98 Antonia Goddard

Reluctantly he nodded. “But I will stay close. I must be in command of my

troops. Send my retinue to join the front line; the forces outnumber us, and I

confess I fear the losses we may make. You will stay here, Lord Murray, to

carry out my instructions as we have discussed.”

Murray inclined his head in agreement.

“I will take Sir George with me, and the bare minimum of guards. A smaller

group will be easier to hide. Besides, every man is needed here... put the rest

of my escort with the troops. Now, where is George?”

Fetched from his own horsemen, Sir George led the way westwards in the

direction of Inverness, followed by Charles and the smallest number of the

royal guards. Neither man spoke; Charles’ face was closed in thought,

knowing what was at stake.

Nestled in the scarp of a hill opposite, George dismounted, comfortable that

they were hidden from prying eyes by the steep slope. He held his hand up

to help the prince down, but Charles rejected him with a small but sharp

shake of his head.

George’s eyes flickered up to the guards. “Secure the area,” he instructed

succinctly, and they twisted on their horses and trotted out of earshot.

As comfortable in the saddle as anywhere else, the prince refused to move,

nudging his stallion lightly with his calves until he sidled up to George.

Bending low over the stallion’s neck so as not to attract the attention of the

guards, Charles beckoned George closer.

“What news?” he hissed urgently. “Murray is keeping things from me, I

know it.”

George rubbed his jaw thoughtfully. “What has he told Your Highness?”

“Very little,” the prince scowled. “I have that heard we expect the

government’s forces at eleven. Any idea of their size?”

“About eight thousand men to our seven thousand, sire. That’s not so bad,

but from what I hear, morale is not in our favour.”

“We have deserters?”

“No sire, but the men have been on their feet for nearly twenty-four hours

and are starving. Their eight thousand are fresh and lusting for our blood.”

Charles nodded. “So Murray keeps informing me. With each hour that

99 "Over the Sea to Skye"

passes I receive another plea to return to France, head cowed and tail

between my legs. But I will not withdraw on his account.”

“If the odds are so poor –”

“The odds are not poor, George. Against my better judgement I permitted

Murray to retreat to this godforsaken wilderness of a country last year, and

now I receive news that the French had an invasion force waiting for us!

Damned if I shall follow his advice again... no, George, I will not risk my

birthright due to a coward’s fears. Besides, we have God on our side – God,

and my right to rule. He will support us, I know it. Believe me, George, He

will not let us lose today.” This was the Prince at his best, and at his worst;

determined, courageous and honourable, qualities blunted by arrogance and

a chin which was as high as his confidence.

Despite George’s warnings of a low morale among the soldiers, both men

knew how well he could rally even the most stubborn and downcast of

troops to his cause. Charles had a powerful voice, a fervent heart and a

natural ability to convey both in inspirational speeches.

But words would not win this battle. Now was the time for the strong arms

and broad claymores, for it was a fight of blood and not wits.

Charles angrily swore under his breath, nudging the stallion around. “I

should be with them, not caged away here,” he muttered. “How can I

command my men if I cannot even see them?”

“Murray has promised he will send us word of any developments, sire,”

soothed George, but his words were feeble and he knew it, not entirely

surprised to see Charles’ raised eyebrow.

“He’s hardly been the man of the hour,” replied the prince curtly. “At least

Sullivan has not let us down so far. Have you seen him?”

“Not since daybreak, sire.”

Charles bit the inside of his cheek in a gesture that only George knew to be

nervousness. He checked his watch again, cradling the engraved gold in his

palm, the royal crest that was now his identity as Prince Regent.

Subconsciously, almost instinctively, he placed his hand over his heart to feel

the crackle of paper from his father, those black letters that promised him the


“It’s gone eleven,” he muttered suddenly, “We should be able to hear them

now. Surely if they had attacked we would hear them from here?” He looked

100 Antonia Goddard

towards George for reassurance.

His bodyguard opened his mouth to answer, and then pressed his finger to

his lips. “Hush. Listen.”

Drums in the distance signalled an arrival. Then began the bagpipes, the war

cries and the impatient snort of horses.

They had arrived.

Head bowed, Charles was forced to listen to the distant battle raging about

him. George had turned away in an attempt to give the man some privacy,

but there was no privacy from the ongoing battle being fought backwards

and forwards inside the prince’s own head. Honour and royal pride were all

very well, but secluded from the battle and forced to listen to the screams of

those dying for him, Charles’ insides were clenched in internal agony.

He had dismounted, remounted and dismounted again, pacing up and down

with clenched fists, a useless waste of space unable to command his people.

“I should be with them!” he growled, thumping his fist into the thick leather

saddle. With a confused whinny, the stallion shuffled sideways, backing its

hindquarters into George’s mount, looking at the prince reproachfully.

Charles barely noticed, turning his murderous glare on George. “When will

there be news?” he snapped yet again at his friend.

George knew better than to respond to the prince’s agitation, contenting

himself with holding the horses’ reins and soothing them. “We’ll hear if

there’s anything to know,” he reassured him, the words sounding as false to

the prince as they did to him.

Charles muttered a string of abuse at all his commanders in turn which

George didn’t even try to decipher. Whatever it meant, it was almost

certainly deserved.

“Your Highness! Sir! Your Highness!” A blood stained young man scrambled

from the bushes, stumbling in his haste and rolling to the bottom of the valley,

adding mud stains to the filth that smeared his Jacobite livery.

“Message from Perth, sire!”

“Well, get on with it!”

Gasping, the man righted himself into a kneeling position, drawing his

sleeve across his forehead and leaving a trail of red. “Our forces have been

under heavy government fire, sire, and we have suffered many losses. We,

101 "Over the Sea to Skye"

and many other clans, entreat Your Highness to order a charge with

immediate effect, else all may be lost!”

Charles swore and turned away, paling. “Tell me more.”

The messenger looked at him blankly. “Our forces have been under heavy

government fire, sire, and –”

“Don’t repeat the same message, you damned fool. I have a brain in my head,

which is more than you do, I’ll warrant. I want more information, not the

same thing again!”

The messenger just blinked in confusion. “Well, there have been heavy losses,

sire, and His Grace the Duke of Perth requests an immediate advance.”

Charles’ nostrils flared, the way they always did when he got angry. “That’s

just the same words in a different order, you... oh, forget it.” He pursed his

lips, running his tongue over the sharp edge of his teeth as he thought. “I

cannot make a decision without knowing more of the events. George, will

you take me back into the battle?”

“Forget it,” George replied instantly. “I’m sorry, sire, but I cannot.”

Charles’ eyes flashed. “You dare disobey me?”

“Your Highness will be killed,” George said frankly, in a matter-of-fact voice.

“It would not just be risking your life, it would be certain death. For both of


Distracted by anger and fear, the prince did not bother arguing, changing

tack as quickly as he could. “What’s your name?”

Surprised, the messenger looked up at him. “Halle, sire, Robert Halle,” he


“Halle, you must tell His Grace that without knowledge of the field to order

an advance would be suicidal. If the losses are so heavy at a standstill I dread

to think what they should be in an advance. Besides, the ground is boggy

and we shall lose men to it. No, Halle, I will not order a charge. The clans

must stand firm in faith, their faith in God and their faith in me.”

“Yes sire,” Halle nodded, his mind racing over the words. “I will tell His

Grace, sire.”

“Thank you.” He took the soldier’s hand. “God bless you, Robert.”

102 Antonia Goddard

Overcome with awe, fatigue and pain, Halle’s mouth hung open a little. With

a snap he shut it, raised himself to his full height, and ran without another


Charles swore aloud, grinding the heel of his boot into the sodden earth,

digging up a little mound of dark brown clay and kicking it into the air.

“How can they expect me to lead from here?” he shouted. “Murray will not

obey my instructions. Sullivan will, but only because he has no brain in his

head. How can I organise dozens of mismatched clans, half of whom speak a

language I do not understand or worship a God I do not care for, when I

cannot even see who fights for me and who fights against me?”

With an angry grunt he swung himself into the saddle. Alarmed that he

might be about to make a run for the battlefield, George leapt upon his own

horse, but the prince merely tugged at the reins, turning his horse around to

get a better view.

“Hey!” he called to his guards, “Have someone send a messenger for Lord

Drummond – at once!”

“What message, sire?”

Charles considered the phrasing for a moment. “Stand firm in the face of

enemy fire. We shall not be moved. When the government forces are spent,

then and only then are they to advance. I trust in His Lordship to make the

correct decision as to when that may be, for I can see nothing from here. That

is all.”

“At once, sire!” The white hindquarters of the guard’s horse disappeared over

the hill and into the rain.

A useless command, and all knew it. How much influence the prince had

when he was not amongst his troops, when the loyalty of the Jacobites was

confined to keeping their weary feet still for a coat of arms emblazoned

above their hearts, no-one liked to think. Instead, they huddled pathetically

together under the light drizzle, the cold numbing Charles’ fingers and toes.

Up and down he paced, chewing the inside of his cheeks and lips, his palms

itching for action but unable to move.

First the ground vibrated, and then the four-beat thud of hooves was audible

in the distance. Tensing, George drew his sword but Charles placed a

restraining hand on his arm, raising one finger and tapping his coat of arms.

The meaning was clear: one horse, and it’s ours.

George nodded, sheathing his weapon but keeping the hilt in his grip, wary

103 "Over the Sea to Skye"

eyes darting here and there.

“Your Highness!”

The horse half-reared as the soldier reined him in violently, throwing himself

from the saddle in his haste. “Go!” he gasped, scrambling to his feet, “Do not

waste another second!”

His torso heaved for a few seconds as he took deep, panting breaths. Finally

he recovered, straightened up, and without a glance at the prince, snapped at

his bodyguard.

“Sir George, you are to take the prince and go.”

“What?” Two voices echoed in shocked harmony.

The soldier did not blink, still addressing Sir George. “There’s no hope for

our army, sir, we’re lost. Take the prince and get out of here. We’ll retreat into

the Highlands, and be given board and lodging where we can.”

“No!” Charles’ command rang clear across the frosty ground. “Our only

hope is to press on, to stand firm. I will not run away from my own men, and

I most certainly will not countenance a retreat!”

The soldier stared at his prince with grave, sorrowful eyes. “Your Highness,”

he said quietly. “If you do not leave now there may be no Jacobites surviving

to protect you. Cumberland is butchering them, one by one. He has already

withdrawn one battalion to sweep the villages searching for you, and it is not

just soldiers that are dying for you now, sire. Women, children, the sick and

the old – he spares not one. He will continue until he has your head on a

spike, Your Highness.”

Charles’ hand involuntarily snatched at his throat. “Children too?” he

whispered, horrified.

The matter-of-fact tone that the soldier used made his words all the worse.

“Children too,” he confirmed, flatly.

“Tell me.”

The soldier licked his lips nervously. “The fire was so heavy, they could not –

they would not - stand firm. We tried to give your orders, sire, but the ranks

broke and they charged... right into the musket fire. We had no chance.”

Charles turned away, his head bowed, refusing to let any of them see the

tears that filled his eyes. When he had blinked them away, he straightened up,

104 Antonia Goddard

afraid to speak lest his voice should tremble. “Where do we go?” he asked,


“Anywhere,” the soldier replied. “Leave, and quickly.”

“Inverness is not so far,” added George. “We’ll send your bodyguards as a

decoy, Your Highness, and make a break for cover. We’ll be hidden by the


“That’s as good a plan as any,” agreed the soldier. “I will take His Highness’

guard south.”

He whistled sharply to attract their attention and motioned for them to

mount. “May God go with you, sire,” he said sincerely, one foot already in

the stirrup of his exhausted horse, whose flanks were dark with sweat.

“And with you too,” replied George, his hands more than occupied with two

sets of reins.

The soldier nodded grimly and tugged on his horse’s reins. “Come on, boys!”

he called, and, digging his spurs into his horse, began the dangerous dash

across the east wing of the battlefield, claymore in hand.

He was barely out of sight before they heard his scream.

Charles could only open his eyes when the echo of the man’s death had

finished ringing in his ears. Slowly, he made the sign of the cross, and turned

to meet George’s eyes. “What was his name?” he asked in a barely audible


But neither man knew.





Presidential Address

By Ryan Cullen

I have had the honour of being the President of the Durham University History

Society for 2012-2013. It has been a privilege to serve the society in this way and to

be able to give something back after it has given me so many opportunities during

my time here at Durham.

In terms of events, the History Society has been busier than ever. Last summer, the

DUHS took several students to visit the Napoleonic British frigate, HMS

Trincomalee, at Hartlepool Maritime Experience. This included a tour of the vessel

itself from above the deck and inside the captain’s cabin to the bowels of the ship, in

the bilges and powder magazine, as well as giving us the opportunity to explore

the early nineteenth-century dock and its surroundings.

Michaelmas term began with a stellar performance by Durham’s very own Ben

Dodds, who gave an exciting and energetic lecture on Medieval Durham to start off

our annual programme of guest speakers. The secretaries for 2012-2013, Andrew

Guppy and Will Simmons, did an excellent job of creating a varied and interesting

programme of guest lectures in both Michaelmas and Epiphany terms.

Josh Hewson, the DUHS Vice-President, managed the website and organised a very

enjoyable trip to Hadrian’s Wall, which was led by Dr John-Henry Clay and took us

to Vindolanda, the Roman Army Museum, and the edge of the ancient empire…

A personal highlight of Michaelmas term was the Elizabethan banquet at Lumley

Castle, a five-course feast with dancing, singing and much revelry enjoyed by all.

Being given the opportunity to lead proceedings as the ‘baron of the castle’ was an

experience I shall not forget. Thanks to our Social Secretary and future President,

Matthew Williams, for organising this event, as well as ‘Christmas at Beamish’,

‘college conquest’ and the end of term social in Michaelmas. He also deserves credit

for organising a day trip to the battlefield of Flodden to mark the 500 th anniversary

of the historic battle, as well as for the DUHS’s very popular and successful new

event in Epiphany term, the Jazz Age Extravaganza. I am particularly looking

forward to the Pirate Ball in the summer term, which will see the DUHS return to

HMS Trincomalee as corsairs and brigands rather than as respectable Durhamites.

Throughout the year, two other members of the executive committee have enabled

the aforementioned events to run so smoothly. Greg Mazgajczyk, the Publicity and

Sponsorship Secretary, ensured DUHS events were always well-advertised and,

along with Josh, helped to manage and develop the society’s internet presence.

Emma Russell, the Treasurer, performed the essential role of managing the society’s

finances, without which none of this would have been possible.


Finally, the two members of the exec committee who need thanking for producing

this journal are Ivan Yuen and Maddie Michie, the chief editors for this publication.

This journal is a testament to their hard work and dedication. I hope you enjoy

reading it and find it informative, interesting, and a useful revision aid for the

summer exams.

I wish to thank my executive committee for all the work they have put in over the

past year and it has been a pleasure to work with you all. Good luck to those

continuing on to the exec in 2013-2014. I am confident that the society is not only in

safe hands but looks set to build on the successes of this year and become an even

bigger and better society than eve r before.

Trip to the battlefield of Flodden

1920s Jazz Extravaganza

Most of the Exec at Lumley Castle

From left: Josh Hewson, Greg Mazgajczyk, Will Simmons,

Ryan Cullen, Ivan Yuen & Matt Williams


History in our Backyard: The Annual Trip to Hadrian’s Wall

By Josh Hewson (Vice-President)

On a classic grey and dreary Durham morning, around 50 students dragged

themselves to the coaches in front of the DSU at 9am. This is by all accounts

an ungodly hour for us arts students.

Battling hangovers and intermittent rain, we all ventured forth out of the

bubble and into Northumbria for the annual Hadrian’s Wall trip. After a

pleasant coach ride with a short introductory talk from our personal tour

guide, Durham University’s very own Dr. John Clay, we were all ready and

enthused for the day ahead.


Our first stop was the archaeological site at Vindolanda. After an informative

chat from Dr. Clay about the site we wandered through the old foundations of

the buildings which once made up this mighty Roman fort. We soon learnt

that not only was this a fort, but also a functioning village where Romans

lived for over 300 years. After looking at the amazing preservation effort that

has gone into keeping these buildings and their foundations intact, we walked

to the Vindolanda museum. This museum held an amazing collection of

anything and everything excavated from the site, from combs and jewellery to

the weapons and armour. Most impressive, however, was the collection of

‘writing tablets’ held at Vindolanda. Named Britain’s ‘Top Treasure’, the

writing tablets were notes, letter and messages excavated from the site which

have been invaluable in providing information about the Roman army and

daily life at Vindolanda. From a personal perspective though, my favourite

section of the museum was the amazing connection between Vindolanda and

Durham University. Unbeknownst to me, Eric Birley, who started and ran the

excavation at Vindolanda for many years, was also a professor of archaeology

at Durham. Yearly excavations now occur under the guidance of Eric’s son


Hadrian’s Wall:

Our second stop was the eponymous Hadrian’s Wall. Echoing a Blackadder

episode, upon arrival the very first question the chorus of students asked:

“was it really that small?”


Dr. Clay then proceeded to reassure us that no… it was much larger when it

was built and that it has eroded over hundreds of years. After wandering

down a length of the wall, we stopped at a few sections where Dr. Clay

pointed out towers and informed us how the wall was built, why it was built

and what it would have looked like originally. It turned out that not only was

the wall quite huge for its time, but it was also built on cliffs and ridges to

make it not only extra defensible, but also extremely imposing. As we all soon

discovered, the wall was an amazing feat of Roman engineering, and unlike

anything seen before in Britain.

Roman Army Museum:

Our final stop on the trip was the Roman Army Museum. This fantastic

museum has a range of great interactive exhibits which show the progression

of the Roman presence in Britain. Going through the museum we learnt the

intricacies of the Roman Army formation while also getting a glimpse into

what everyday life was like for a Roman legionnaire or citizen. The major

highlight however, had to be the 3D movie called ‘The Edge of Empire’. This

amazing short film was a realistic and interesting exploration of the entire

Roman experience in the North East and it finished our day perfectly.

As a final note I would just like to say a massive thank you to all the students

who came along, and an even bigger thank you to Dr. John Clay for

graciously giving up his Saturday to give us what was an unforgettable tour.

After exploring what was just a small section of the North East, I’m sure

DUHS will continue to venture out annually, finding many more interesting

places to visit in years to come!


About the DUHS Exec, 2012-2013

Ryan Cullen, President

Ryan is just about to finish his final year at Durham. The three years have

flown by but have been absolutely incredible. He has greatly enjoyed being

the History Society president for the 2012/2013 academic year, having also

been the secretary the previous year. He will take many fond memories with

him from his time with the DUHS, including meeting Father Christmas at

Beamish in his first year, exploring the limits of the Roman world at Hadrian’s

Wall, and nearly being hamstrung by a billhook at the battlefield of Flodden.

He will especially remember being the short-reigning baron of the Lumley

Castle Elizabethan banquet, surrounded by happy subjects enjoying a night of

feasting and revelry.

Josh Hewson, Vice President

Josh is about sit his final exams before finishing his degree in History. Since

joining the Society in 2011, he has loved being Vice-President for 2012-2013.

Out of a stack of amazing memories of both the Society and Exec, his favourite

has to be leading his team through the pouring rain, attempting to beat other

exec members in the Freshers’ Social Pub Crawl. This was particularly

memorable as the combined creativity of the team came up with the original

team name: ‘Team Josh’. Despite the deadlines, late nights and constant

reading, Josh is venturing back into the world of history by applying for a

range of Masters Programs in the UK and Australia.

Andrew Guppy, co-Secretary

Andrew is a second year historian at St. Mary's College and has enjoyed

working with Will to provide the society with a structured programme of

academic speakers this year.

Will Simmons, co-Secretary

Will is a second year History and French student at St Mary’s College. As a

joint-honours student, he is about to move to Paris for his third year of study.

He has thoroughly enjoyed being DUHS secretary this year, a job which he

has described on occasion as the ‘genuine flame’ of his life. A particular

highlight for him this year was the delicious meal served at the Lumley Castle

ball – which was a far cry away from the burnt bacon he had eaten for lunch

that day – and the questionable dancing that ensued from one too many

glasses of port. Although he will be sad to leave Durham, he is excited about

living and studying in Paris next year.


Emma Russell, Treasurer

Emma is about to start the final year of her degree in History. Having loved

being treasurer on the exec for DUHS, she is excited about becoming the next

Informals Secretary of St. Mary's College. Travelling around Beamish and

seeing the President Ryan Cullen getting rejected time and again by the

mature flirtatious singer was a definite highlight of her year on the history

exec! The fresher's history social was a lot of fun and a great way to meet

other people on your course.

Greg Mazgajczyk, Publicity and Sponsorship Secretary

Greg is coming to the end of his second year at Durham and his first year on

the DUHS Exec. This past year has been a great one on the exec and as part of

the society. Highlights have to include being on the head table at the Lumley

Castle ball (mainly for the unlimited mead), meeting several interesting and

entertaining academics, and dancing badly to the jazz band at the 1920s

themed party. Conversing with our sponsors has sparked an interest in law,

which he hopes to pursue this year.

Matt Williams, Social Secretary

Having reluctantly handed over the reins as Social Secretary, Matt is about to

embark on his final year at Durham as President of the DUHS. The highlight

of his year was the privilege of being Ryan's manservant at Lumley Castle Ball,

which was only topped by the success of the DUHS Jazz Extravaganza

Maddie Michie, co-Chief Editor

Maddie is a second year historian at Hatfield and co-editor of the History

Journal with Ivan Yuen. She hopes to have a career in journalism and has

thoroughly enjoyed working with Ivan (who she also happens to live with!)

on the History Journal. Maddie has found it incredibly rewarding to be part of

the history society, comprising a team, which has devoted itself to making

history infinitely more fun, exciting and accessible to all Durham students. It

has been a pleasure for her to read the diverse array of essays published in

this journal and she hopes that you will enjoy reading them as much as she

has enjoyed editing them. Maddie wishes the next journal editor the very best

of luck.


Ivan Yuen, co-Chief Editor

Ivan is approaching the end of his second year at Hatfield College, and will be

attempting to write a dissertation on modern Chinese history next year.

Having thoroughly enjoyed being on the DUHS exec this year, he is staying

on in the capacity of Treasurer and is looking forward to being called 'My

Lord' again at the next Lumley Castle Ball as well as journeying out to see

more historical sites. He is grateful to all the editors and authors who have

made this journal possible, not least his housemate and colleague Maddie,

and sincerely hopes that everyone will be able to benefit, in whatever way,

from its publication. If there is a life after Durham, he would like to pursue an

international career of some sort.

About the Editors

Lucy Darbon

Soon to complete her second year at Durham, Lucy will be looking over the

summer to make regular trips to the British Film Institute to undertake her

dissertation research on the release of Soviet films in Britain in the 1930s.

Working with the editorial team has been a great challenge and pleasure in

her year.

Jemma Ockwell

Jemma is a second year historian from Hatfield College. Her main interests lie

in British political history and African social history. She hopes to combine her

historical interests with her cultural background with a dissertation focussed

on the Jewish British response to World War ll.

Nicole Stirk

Nicole is set to embark on the final year of her 'Ancient, Medieval and

Modern History' degree, with a dissertation focused on coronation

ceremonies in medieval Europe.


About the Authors

Dr. Ben Dodds

Ben is a Senior Lecturer in the Durham History Department and runs two

hugely popular courses: Robin Hood and The Black Death. He has worked

mainly on English medieval economic and social history, and is also pursuing

questions concerning the representation of traditional rural societies in Spain

in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His current project is an

examination of stories about bandits which circulated in modern Spain.

Joe Adams

Joe is a third year, graduating this June from Van Mildert College. Having

focused much of his degree on medieval history, he wrote his dissertation on

the attitudes of Frankish rulers of the Crusader states to their

Muslim neighbours in the twelfth century. Beginning a thoroughly unrelated

graduate role in Marketing at EDF energy in September, he intends (at some

point) to write the inevitably controversial historical novel of the First

Crusade the world's been waiting for.

David Bartlett

David is graduating from Josephine Butler College, Durham in the summer of

2013 with a BA in History. Having largely studied extra-European history in

the course of his time at Durham, David is looking forward to beginning his

training contract at an international law firm, subject to passing the GDL next


James Callingham

James began his BA History Degree in the autumn of 2012. His interests are

mostly in late modern history, particularly regarding Britain, the USA and

Russia. He hopes to pursue these interests in his forthcoming years at

Durham, with possibly doing a dissertation on modern British political

history. Outside of work James has enjoyed participating in History Society

events such as the Lumley Castle Ball and is looking forward to his role as

Secretary in the society next year.


Harriet Evans

Harriet is currently in her second year at St Cuthbert's Society. She is working

towards completing a joint honours degree in English Literature and History,

and her research interests are predominantly focused on 20th century cultural

history. After completing her degree next year, she hopes to pursue a career in

journalism or marketing.

Antonia Goddard

Antonia is in her first year at Durham studying history, writing historical

fiction as procrastination when writing essays. Her particular interest is

16th-18th century history and she hopes to have her first novel, "Over the Sea

to Skye", a historical romance set in 18th century Scotland, published soon. In

the meantime, she is working on a novel about Charles II and dreams of

writing for television.

Philip Kelvin

Philip is going onto his third year as an undergraduate at Grey College, with

a dissertation focused on Livery Companies and the City of London in the

Fifteenth Century. Other interests include print and propaganda in Tudor

England. On obtaining his BA, Philip hopes to enter the world of work in


Rachel Powell

Rachel is a history and modern languages undergraduate at Grey College,

about to embark on her year abroad studying and working in Siberia and

Moscow. She intends to combine her interests in travel and British cultural

and social history in a dissertation surrounding exploration and colonialism

in her fourth year.

Daisy Srblin

Daisy is a finalist at Castle and is relieved to have completed her

undergraduate dissertation examining cultural policy and popular culture

under ‘New’ Labour. She is delighted to have her work featured in the DUHS

journal, and was lucky enough to have an essay on comedy in the 1960s

selected for Symeon, the department’s alumni journal, last year. Daisy still

wonders how the undergraduate degree flew by quite so fast but is excited to

be taking up one of her offers for Master’s study in Modern History in the

next academic year: it turns out that three years of History is just not enough.


Joe Strong

Joe is set to begin his third year as a historian. He is primarily focussed on,

and enjoys, American history, especially African American, Native American

and women's rights. In particular, he is interested on the role of sports and

more broadly the media in the progression, and degeneration, of civil rights.

This is also a justification for watching films and sports instead of working.

Will Vick

Will is currently in his second year as a History undergraduate in St.

Cuthbert's Society, Durham. His interests at the moment (other than the

Kadızadeli movement in 17th century Ottoman history) include the

development of national identities in medieval and modern France, Spain,

and Belgium, and concepts of colonialism and imperialism when applied to

non-European polities such as the Qing and Ottoman states.

Durham University History Society is sponsored by

Durham University History Society

Journal, Volume 6

© Durham University History Society and the

respective contributing authors, without prejudice,

all rights reserved

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