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Making War, Mapping Europe: Militarized Cultural Encounters, 1792-1920

Before the age of mass tourism began, warfare was one of the most significant engines of cultural encounter in European history. Across Europe and on its frontiers, the era of mass armies inaugurated by the French Revolution involved millions of soldiers and civilians in cultural encounters to which they would not otherwise have been exposed. Funded by the Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA) Joint Research Programme, 'Making War, Mapping Europe: Militarized Cultural Encounters, 1792-1920' brings together scholars from Trinity College Dublin, the Freie Universität Berlin and the Universities of York and Swansea to examine these encounters between soldiers and civilians across Europe and on its borders over the course of the long nineteenth century. By focusing on the experiences of British, French and German armies in Eastern Europe, Italy, the Balkans and the Middle East from the Revolutionary wars to the First World War it asks what impact these militarized encounters had upon these ordinary Europeans' sense of themselves and of the world beyond Europe's frontiers.

In Trinity College, this research team consists of Professor John Horne and Dr Joseph Clarke in the Department of History and two postdoctoral research fellows. The Trinity College strand of this project focuses on the experience of French and British soldiers in Italy, the Balkans, Egypt and Palestine during the French Revolutionary wars and the First World War. In comparing the French and British expeditions of the 1790s and the Great War as cultural encounters, this research charts how Europeans confronted one another culturally in times of conflict and asks how this encounter changed when Europeans came face to face with non-European populations.


1641 Depositions Project

The Project

The 1641 Depositions Project is a collaborative effort of scholars from Trinity College Dublin, the University of Aberdeen and the University of Cambridge, and is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Board in the UK, the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences and the Trinity College Library. Starting in October 2007, and completed in September 2010, this project digitised and transcribed over 4,000 depositions contained in 31 manuscripts, housed in the library of Trinity College. The Irish Manuscript Commission will publish hardcopies of the transcriptions in 12 volumes.

The principal investigators on the project are: Professor Jane H. Ohlmeyer and Dr Micheál Ó Siochrú of Trinity College Dublin, along with Professor Thomas Bartlett, University of Aberdeen and Professor John Morrill, University of Cambridge. The transcriptions are edited by Professor Aidan Clarke.

The Depositions


The depositions are witness testimonies of English and Scottish Protestants relating to their experiences in the 1641 Irish rebellion. These were recorded by government commissioned officials in the years directly following the outbreak on the 22nd of October 1641 and run to approximately 19,000 pages. The testimonies document losses of goods and chattels, military activity, and various crimes conducted by the Irish rebels, such as assault, imprisonment, the stripping of clothes, and murder. This body of material, unparalleled elsewhere in early modern Europe, provides a unique source of information for the causes and events surrounding the 1641 rebellion and for the social, economic, cultural, religious, and political history of seventeenth-century Ireland, England and Scotland. The depositions also constitute the chief evidence for the sharply contested allegation that the rebellion began with a general massacre of Protestant settlers.


The project is part of a joint initiative, involving the University of Aberdeen, Trinity College, Dublin and Cambridge University, which will develop existing institutional links between all three. In 2007, Dr Ó Siochrú successfully applied for £426,000 STG from the AHRC Resource Enhancement Scheme, while Professor Jane Ohlmeyer obtained €250,000 from the IRCHSS. TCD has also committed funds to this project, bringing the total funding to over €1,000,000.

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Paramilitary Violence after the First World War, 1918-1923

Paramilitary Violence

Paramilitary Violence after the First World War, 1918-1923. Towards a Global Perspective (2008-2010). Leaders: Dr Robert Gerwarth (University College Dublin), John Horne (Trinity College Dublin).

Funded by the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences, this project will break new ground by investigating the much-neglected history of paramilitary violence after the Great War from an international, comparative perspective. Although the history of the Great War itself can hardly be described as a neglected area of historical research, the same cannot be said about the violence that followed this first truly global conflict. Violent conflicts erupted across Europe and further a-field between 1917/18 and 1923, most notably, but by no means exclusively, in Russia, Finland, the new Baltic states, Ireland, Central Europe, Northern Italy, Anatolia and the Caucasus. By focussing on both geographical ‘zones’ and also cultures of paramilitary violence, the project aims to achieve the following objectives:

  1. overcome a nation-centric approach to paramilitary violence by investigating the trans-national ramifications of the Great War in the short-term aftermath of the conflict (1918-1924)
  2. place the Irish War of Independence and Civil War in an international context of paramilitary violence
  3. explore the forms, cultures and patterns of emerging paramilitary violence in order to ascertain the similarities, differences and connections between the different cases
  4. explain why some countries managed the transition from war (1914-18) to peace more successfully than others and why other regions and countries experienced major waves of violence.

Two Postdoctoral Fellows have been appointed. Dr Julia Eichenberg will be working with Professor John Horne at TCD and Dr Paul Newman will be based at UCD with Dr Robert Gerwarth. The opening conference of the project will be held in December 2008.

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International History of Concentration Camps

Prisoners Working at Dachau

This project, funded with a grant from the IRCHSS, will be the first transnational comparative investigation of the history of concentration camps. The history of concentration camps in Nazi Germany is now well advanced, with several scholarly histories of the concentration camps from 1933 to 1945 published over the last three decades. The history of the concentration camps of Italian Fascism, long neglected by historians, has recently been discovered as an important theme. However, none of the overall histories or histories of individual camps adequately examines their origins. This project therefore is designed to test various hypotheses on the origins of the camps by systematically scrutinizing the scholarly research on the camps from time of the first camps built by the Spanish in Cuba in 1896 to the construction of the Nazi concentration camps, and by conducting original research on the camp system in the belligerent countries of the Great War, the international learning process from 1896 to 1941, the treatment of civilian internees, the development of international law and the prosecution of violations of international humanitarian law in the camps. The final part of the project will examine camps in Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and the Soviet Union. An examination of the decision-making process that established the extermination camps in 1941 and gave the term its contemporary meaning forms the conclusion.

Many historians justifiably see camps as the dark side of modern human civilization. For that reason it will be a central part of the project to explain the system of incarceration: security, exclusion, punishment, economic exploitation, and eradication. Yet not only authoritarian but also democratic states established camps, e.g. France, which set up internment camps for Republican refugees after the Spanish Civil War. A conference on `The World of the Camps: Exclusion, social control and violence in a transnational learning process' will take place in April 2011.

Dr Claudia Siebrecht has been appointed Postdoctoral Research Fellow on this project. Her position will be fully funded by the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences for a period of three years.

Contact: Professor Alan Kramer

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Citizens and Soldiers in Early Modern Europe

Citizens and Soldiers

The intention of this project is to establish an international network of scholars to examine the relationship between civilians and the military in Early Modern Europe, with a particular emphasis on the three Stuart kingdoms - Ireland, England and Scotland. Dr Micheál Ó Siochrú was a successful co-applicant in 2006 with Dr Phil Withington of Leeds University and Dr Andrew Mackillop of Aberdeen for a British Academy research grant, in order to hold a number of exploratory workshops and conferences, as well as developing an international academic network of colleagues in Europe, North America and Australia. The first (hugely successful) conference was held in Leeds in December 2006, with a second one scheduled for 2009, after which we intend to apply for further funding to develop the project. The Journal of Early Modern History has just agreed to devote a special issue to a collection of essays prepared by members of the network.

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Courage, Cowardice, and Behaviour under Fire in the British and Dominion Armies, 1914 - 1918

An Irish Hero

Dr Edward Madigan has been awarded a two-year Government of Ireland (IRCHSS) postdoctoral fellowship. His project, dealing with notions of courage and cowardice during the First World War, is outlined below:

The words courage, bravery and heroism became so ubiquitous in Britain during the period of the Great War that there was a danger of them losing their real meaning. Yet concepts of courage, and how best to comport oneself under fire, were taken extremely seriously by those who experienced the war most directly: the junior officers and men who fought in the front-line, and the commanders who directed both the major offensives and the more minor campaigns. By the autumn of 1916 the mass volunteer armies that had been raised during the first eighteen months of the war had seen service on the Western Front during the Somme offensive. By the end of the year divisions from virtually every region of the British Empire had been deployed in either France or Belgium. 1916 thus acts as a good ‘benchmark’ year from which to gauge subsequent developments in attitudes towards courage and cowardice, and behaviour in battle, at different levels within the army. By the summer of 1918, the British Army, after a phase a near-catastrophic retreat, had begun, along with their main allies, to gradually push the German forces back across territory they had held since 1914. By this final stage of the conflict the Army had undergone four years of evolution in attitudes to gallantry, cowardice, shell-shock and morale. But what lessons had been learned? Had perceptions of courage and cowardice changed to any marked degree? Had merely surviving the ordeal of battle become the true mark of bravery, or was conscious self-sacrifice as highly-prized as it had been in 1916 and before? Did the popular attitude toward bravery differ depending on the national group in question or was there a commonly held ideal of courage? Importantly, did the distinctive type of warfare that developed on the Western Front lead the Army and the soldiers that fought in it to re-think their attitudes towards courage and cowardice? This research project seeks to provide answers to these questions by interrogating key military and civilian sources and by synthesising aspects of cultural and military history.

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Last updated 10 May 2018 by (Email).