Cookies?
Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services

Veterans and empire: a comparison of British and Russian treatment of veterans in the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries

Hartley, Janet (2022) Veterans and empire: a comparison of British and Russian treatment of veterans in the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, 100 (400). pp. 14-31.

[img] Text (Veterans and empire. A comparison of British and Russian treatment of veterans in the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries) - Accepted Version
Download (195kB)

Abstract

Britain and Russia in this period were very different countries in terms of political, economic and social structures. Both countries, however, had to find ways of mitigating against potential social disorder following the discharge of a large number of soldiers into the community after wars in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The issue of demobilisation after 1815 was more acute in Britain because the army was dramatically decreased in size whereas Russia maintained a very large standing army, but by the late 1820s it was estimated there were circa 85,000 demobilised soldiers in both countries (albeit Russia had a larger population). The ways in which Britain and Russia cared for and controlled veterans illustrate the different constraints under which both countries operated. In Britain, this led to an elaborate system for qualifying for pensions and then of payments. In Russia, where service had been for life (reduced to 25 years in 1793) monasteries, churches and, belatedly, state charitable institutions cared for a small number of elderly and maimed veterans. Soldiers, and their dependants, often resorted to begging in both countries. Britain and Russia also regarded former soldiers as a useful resource for the maintenance of law and order. In both countries former soldiers were used to man garrison or veteran battalions on vulnerable frontiers or in towns. Both countries had extensive empires and former soldiers were used, either forcibly or voluntarily with incentives, as new settlers in the borderlands, a policy which in both cases only had limited success. In the 1830s, both countries undertook reviews of the costs and sustainability of their armed forces. In Britain, the only issue was financial – as the army shrank in size so the cost of pensions increased disproportionately – and measures were taken to reduce pension eligibility. In Russia, the issue was more fundamental; the rigid social structure inhibited measures to widen the pool from which recruits could be drawn, and was also the main reason why it was difficult to reintegrate former soldiers into rural and urban communities. The problem was only addressed in Russia in the 1870s, after defeat in the Crimean War exposed the weakness of the, mainly, serf army.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: International History
Date Deposited: 24 Mar 2022 15:15
Last Modified: 25 Mar 2022 10:30
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/114461

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Downloads

Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics