Defining soldiers: Britain’s military, c.1740–1815

Kevin Linch, Matthew McCormack

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


This article offers a critique of the methodology of military history. The question of what constitutes a ‘soldier’ is usually taken for granted, but history of Britain’s military between the wars of the 1740s and the end of the Napoleonic Wars suggests that current definitions are inadequate. By focusing on the themes of language, law and citizenship, life cycles, masculinity, and collective identity, this article proposes new ways of thinking about ‘the soldier’. In so doing, it suggests that military historians should rethink the relationship between the military and society, and engage further with the methodologies of social and cultural history
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)144-159
Number of pages16
JournalWar in History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2013


  • military
  • Britain
  • soldiers
  • methodology
  • eighteenth century
  • society


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