For God and Fatherland

Research: Torsten Schwenke 

During the transition period after 1800, many European armies were transformed from the standing army of pre-modernity into modern armies recruited from conscriptable natives. This process was initiated by enlightened discourses on the integration of the military into society by means of a general patriotic duty of national defense. Eventually, this concept received a broader acceptance because of the successes of the French army of the Revolution period and because of the Napoleonic epoch. As a consequence, also in Saxony - raised to the status of a kingdom - the traditional system of military service was reorganized gradually. These changes between 1806 and 1866 are the focus of the project. Not only the structural changes of military service are examined, but also the meaningful recurrence on the “fatherland” comes to the center of observation. Consequently, the Saxon discourse on the “fatherland” will be reconstructed and analyzed as the foundation of community formation within the army. At the same time, religious meanings will be analyzed. In the 19th century, the religious charging of enemy stereotypes remained effective as a foundation of military virtues. Finally, it is intended to work out the significance of the history resp. of the military tradition of Saxony to identity formation in the Saxon military units, but also as a means to strengthen patriotic convictions within the population. Altogether, a complex image of the Saxon army, in a period determined by territorial and structural changes of the Saxon history, will be unfolded.