This spring we will be holding a series of Extended Director’s Seminars, with papers given by Junior Research Fellows from the Institute. These will be held on Tuesdays, 11am-1pm, on the following dates: 21 April, 28 April, 5 May, 12 May, and 26 May. The full programme is below.
These seminars are an integral element of the Junior Research Fellowships programme at the IHR. They provide our Fellows with the opportunity of presenting before, and discussing their work with, their peers. They also offer the audience the chance of listening to engaging research being undertaken by a new generation of scholars.
We do hope you will be able to attend some of these seminars, which are open to all.
Junior Research Fellows’ seminar series
All seminars will be held in Wolfson II, on the lower-ground floor of the IHR. Coffee and tea will be served.
Tues 21 April 11am – 1pm
Róisín Watson – Lutheran piety and visual culture in the Duchy of Württemberg, 1534–c.1700
Carolyn Twomey – Living Stone: Early Norman Baptismal Fonts of the Yorkshire East Riding
Tues 28 April 11am – 1pm
Courtney Campbell – ‘The 1954 Miss Universe Pageant, the City of Salvador, and the Tale of the Famous Two Inches’
Jordan Claridge – Managing Milk, Making a Living: Dairying and Dairypeople in Medieval England c.1250–1450
Caroline Nielsen – Disabled by the state: the pensioners of the Chest at Chatham and their communities, 1660–1807
Tues 5 May 11am – 1pm
David Baillargeon – Slaving on the “Imagined Frontier”: Britain, Burma, and the Political Economy of Empire, 1795–1900
Will Pooley – Magic and the Law in France in the Long 19th Century
Tues 12 May 11am – 1pm
Kate Imy – Spiritual soldiers: masculinity and the body in the British Indian army, 1900–1940
Joshua Bennett – Baron Bunsen as historian
Tues 26 May 11am – 1pm
Catherine Arnold – Objects of charity: Britain and the development of a humanitarian politics, 1680–1748
This post has kindly been written for us by Róisín Watson, a Scouloudi Fellow at the IHR.
Theological assumptions about the material nature of the divine were central to the debates of the Reformation. The accessories of late medieval Catholic piety, in the form of multiple altarpieces, relics and reliquaries, and tabernacles, to name but a few, fed reformers’ attacks on Catholic worship and its associated beliefs. They argued that the sacred could not be accessed through these material trappings. The materiality of the divine also divided Protestants. Zwingli and Luther disagreed on whether a spiritual reality could be represented physically. For Luther, there was no clear separation between the material and the spiritual. God had revealed himself through the flesh of Christ. For Zwingli, the spirit and the material were irreconcilable – ‘what you give the senses’, he wrote, ‘you take away from the spirit’.
While such debates of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries framed the experiences of a theological elite, the everyday experience of the Reformation was far removed from these discussions. However, the materiality of religion is no less important for understanding how individuals interacted with the divine and defined their confessional identities. How were confessional cultures differentiated by the relationships they fostered with their material world? How did objects communicate the new theology? How can non-verbal expressions of confessional identities challenge the historical paradigms we currently use to understand this period?
As Scouloudi fellow, in early June I ran a one-day workshop at the V&A, funded by the IHR, RHS and GHS. It was designed to tackle these questions. The workshop brought together museum curators, historians, art historians, and archaeologists for an inter-disciplinary discussion on current research. It also provided the opportunity to integrate the V&A’s collections into our discussion. We were very grateful that curator Kirstin Kennedy was able to bring a smorgasbord of objects for participants to inspect up-close.
Many of the day’s papers revealed the ambiguity of objects, which stemmed from their malleability. The functions and significance of religious objects were defined by their owners or by the spaces that they inhabited. This was particularly true in the case of Allison Stielau’s study of the afterlife of the shrine for the bones of Saint Liborious in Paderborn. When the Catholic city was captured in 1622 by Protestant Christian the Younger, Duke of Braunschweig and Lüneburg, the shrine was melted down and turned into coins known as ‘Pfaffenfeindtaler’. For Protestants, the coins represented their iconoclastic triumph, as well as proof of the impotence of Catholic relics. However, Catholics used these coins too. They believed that touching them was analogous to touching the saintly relics the metal had previously protected. Stielau argued that despite the re-casting of the silver, the material retained the memory of its previous form.
The malleability of the meaning of objects has meant that they defy the neat labels placed upon them by scholars. In her paper, Suzanna Ivanič challenged the distinction historians have drawn between magic/superstition and religion in the early modern world. The inventories of citizens in Prague contain objects that resist this simple binary opposition. Catholic rosaries might contain non-traditional materials such as coconut shells, snake’s tongues and wolves’ teeth. Ivanič argued that these items demonstrate the co-existence of magical and religious beliefs, which in the mind of their owners were not discrete categories.
Lutherhaus in Wittenberg
Lutherans, too, actively engaged with their material surroundings. Distinguishing what was a ‘Lutheran’ object as opposed to a ‘Catholic’ one was not straightforward, as Mirko Gutjahr demonstrated. Gutjahr is currently curating an exhibition on what he refers to as ‘Luther’s rubbish’, that is the archaeological finds from Luther’s house in Wittenberg from the 1530s and 1540s. Gutjahr argued that there was, in fact, very little to distinguish the site as Lutheran. Catholic objects and motifs remained, indicating that a ‘Lutheran material culture’ did not exist at this early stage. Lutherans did occupy a middle ground, neither embracing the spiritual power of the object nor rejecting the utility of material religion indiscriminately. In her paper, Margit Thøfner demonstrated how Lutherans in Denmark consciously edited their catholic past by re-framing medieval altarpieces to suit the new theological standards.
Another theme that many of the speakers touched on was the agency of objects and how this could make them dangerous and subversive. This was most clear in Lloyd de Beer’s paper on the destruction of English alabasters in the Reformation, where these objects had been consciously disfigured. Irene Galandra Cooper also addressed the subversive qualities of religious materiality. In 1582 Francisco de Cordoba was brought to trial for wearing a pouch containing a variety of suspicious items, such as flesh that looked like a beating heart. Francisco insisted he was simply carrying an Agnus Dei, a wax disc blessed by the pope during the first Sunday after Easter. The object was traditionally hung within homes above the bed, but this case reveals the concerns the church had about their sanctioned sacramentals being used in ways that deviated from their stipulations. Edmund Wareham demonstrated how stone tablets decorated with text in the convent of Villingen allowed the nuns there not to be subversive, but to transcend the restrictions of enclosure. They used these tablets to aid their mental pilgrimages to the Holy Land. The women placed them around the convent to signal different locations on their pilgrimage, which established a sacred topography within the enclosed convent.
Object handling session at V&A.
The material culture of early modern religion had multiple meanings, but also multiple uses. It defined relationships between and within confessions, between local and official religions, and between different spaces. The workshop demonstrated how difficult it is to speak of a single Lutheran or Catholic identity and to characterise its relationship with the material world. Such relationships were negotiated and in constant dialogue with local customs, the availability of materials, contemporary understandings of the nature of materials, as well as the character of religious reform.
This post has kindly been written for us by Jennifer Keating, RHS Marshall Fellow, Institute of Historical Research
How is emptiness made, and what purposes does it serve? What cultural, material and natural work goes into maintaining nothingness? And why have a variety of historical actors, from colonial powers to cartographers, sought to construct, control and maintain physically and discursively ‘empty’ space? In April, three other IHR fellows (Courtney J. Campbell, Allegra Giovine and Will Pooley) and I organised a conference on the theme of ‘Empty Spaces’ that brought together speakers from a variety of historical backgrounds to tackle these very questions. The day saw an intriguing selection of inter-weaving topics, from ruins to representations of the sea and sky, and from vacant urban space to voids in history-writing. A hugely enjoyable keynote speech given by Matt Houlbrook reflected on the ways in which we all as historians have to engage with ‘emptiness’ in some form, whether as a specific aspect of our own topic of enquiry, or in the more historiographical sense of writing to fill gaps, voids or empty spaces – or conversely, embracing this emptiness – in our collective knowledge.
This theme of empty space provided me with a new angle from which to view my own work on Russian settler society in late tsarist Central Asia, the write-up of which is currently being funded by the IHR and the Royal Historical Society. In essence, the thesis investigates the ways in which the Russian settler community, presented with a territory far from the imperial centre that was commonly acknowledged as being ‘vast and alien’, sought to transform, appropriate or reject its ‘strange and Other-worldly’ terrain. Furthermore, I consider how ideas about Central Asia as a colonial space drove, and were driven by, these physical interventions in the landscape, as part of a broader perspective that considers the intersections between the actual reshaping of land and the social production of space in texts and images.
For the most part, I consider places and sites that we might think of as the opposite of empty space: work on irrigation projects, afforestation, railway building and settlement creation. Yet almost all of these activities and their representations were underpinned by pervasive Russian notions about the emptiness of rural Central Asia. Besides its settled river valleys and oases, over 75% of Turkestan’s territory comprised arid and semi-arid steppe and desert, and the perceived emptiness of these areas served a compelling ideological purpose in Russian discourse. Descriptions of the steppe commonly referenced landscape conventions of the sublime, awesome and terrifying in equal measure. These lands were held to be ‘lifeless’ and ‘deathly’, and visitors described in great detail the bewildering scale of an ‘empty’ environment that resembled ‘a circle of which the centre was everywhere, and the circumference nowhere’.
Claims that rural terrain was nothing but ‘one vast waste’, or a ‘monotonous Sahara’ were initially sustained by a lack of local geographical knowledge. With few accurate maps, Russian explorers and geographers set about ‘discovering’ the landscape, rendering it textually, cartographically and in photographs, acts which were very much part of the scientific and cultural exercise of colonial power. The documentation of this terrain generated discursively ‘empty’ space that had significant use and potential. Firstly, words and images were powerful tools that could be used to frame an empty landscape as an environment open for improvement. Engineers, irrigation specialists and state officials embarked on numerous projects to ‘fertilise this huge and hitherto unproductive space,’ casting the land as a potentially useful resource that had deteriorated into a state of dis-use. Secondly, emptiness acted as a convenient foil for exploitation. The aesthetic image of unproductive rural space provided the foundation for Russian claims to have transformed the land, resurrecting what was discursively labelled as ‘dead’, ‘empty’ and ‘barren’ into ‘fertile’ and ‘productive’ fields of irrigated land on which could be grown cereal crops, orchards and cotton, or beneath which coal, graphite, gold and other precious resources could be mined.
In the east of Russian Central Asia, where land was readily admitted to already be far more fertile than in the more arid regions of the Caspian, emptiness had rather different connotations. Here, rural land was occupied largely by Kazakh and Kirgiz nomads, yet local Russian officials confidently proclaimed that as the nomads had no fixed abode, the land was ‘obviously empty’. Such statements had the effect of discursively dispossessing indigenous peoples of their land, emptying the landscape of any inhabitants with sovereign claim to it. In turn, the Russian Resettlement Administration, a department of the imperial government that encouraged and oversaw the state-sanctioned resettlement of millions of land-hungry peasants from Central Russia to the empire’s Asiatic lands, made available large parts of rural land to incoming settlers.
Rural emptiness was clearly very much in the eye of the beholder. It could be both a hostile, threatening feature, in need of correction, and something to be embraced, under the right conditions. It legitimised colonisation, in terms of the ‘transformative’ effects on the land of Russia’s self-styled ‘civilising’ mission in Central Asia, and as a means of validating the settlement of tens of thousands of incoming Russian and Ukrainian peasants. At the same time however, the construction of empty space was far more than a tool to be wielded by the imperial state. Everyday Russian settlers also actively engaged with and referenced ideas of emptiness, very often for their own private gain. The portrayal of empty surface land, beneath which lay myriad natural resources was used in petitions to the state to grant mining and industrial concessions, while similar notions were employed to try to win railway-building contracts and to receive permission to build new homes and businesses. Thus the construction of emptiness was part of an ‘imperial language game’ in which many – consciously or unconsciously – participated.
The framing of empty rural land had numerous implications. The tsarist desire to exploit the land by means of irrigation and crop planting would reach its apogee in the Soviet period, actions that have had, and continue to have, severe environmental ramifications for the whole of the Central Asian region. Meanwhile, the sustained distribution of nomadic land to incoming settlers lead both to the incremental destruction of the nomadic way of life, and also to an escalation of inter-ethnic tensions that would contribute in no small part to the widespread violence of the 1916 uprisings. Notions of emptiness, as produced by Russian settler society, reveal not only colonial attitudes to geography, space and environment, and the desire to re-make landscape, but also some of the conflicting outcomes of such ideas.
This post has been kindly written for us by Ian Stone, Isobel Thornley Junior Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research.
I first saw the Curriers’ Company London history essay prize advertised about this time last year. To be considered essays have to be submitted to the IHR, who judge and administer the prize, and submissions can be on any aspect of London’s history. At that point I had submitted a junior research fellowship application to the IHR and was awaiting a reply. I was looking at various prizes offered by institutions as I had the germ of an essay in mind which I thought could be formed into something more concrete. I wanted to write about an essay about politics and identity in thirteenth-century London, focussing on the career of an alderman of the city, Arnold fitz Thedmar, the first layman in this country to write a historical account of his time. I did not expect to find something with so wide a remit and so generous a prize.
By the time I had written this essay up and submitted it I had been contacted by the IHR and awarded a fellowship. Being awarded a fellowship has given me the opportunity to really widen the scope of my doctoral research. Thanks to the IHR I am currently in the process of writing up a chapter which will add depth and context to my doctoral thesis; I have also rewritten substantial sections of my earlier work to take account of new research I have been able to undertake this year.
In addition to being awarded the fellowship, I was lucky enough to find out subsequently that I had won the inaugural Curriers’ Company prize. To win such a prize, when I knew that the judging panel had received so many good entries, was a wonderful surprise. The standard of entries was so high that several of the essays which were submitted were recommended for publication in the London Journal; I know that mine and at least one other has since been accepted for publication.
On Thursday 9 April 2015 the Curriers’ Company held a prize-giving ceremony at the Mansion House in London. The Lord Mayor of London presented the two prizes on the evening; the judging panel and staff from the IHR attended; and members and officers from the Worshipful Company of Curriers were there to celebrate with us all. The Mansion House is a beautiful venue and that the Lord Mayor of London was happy to host the event, and that so many people from the Curriers Company came, shows just how much support they have for young researchers working on the history of London.
Thanks to the opportunities offered by the IHR, I have been fortunate enough to be awarded a junior research fellowship, win the Curriers’ Company essay prize and have an essay accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. My advice to anyone who is thinking about applying for a fellowship or submitting an essay for the prize is to go for it. There are so many fantastic opportunities at the IHR and the Institute really does want to support early career researchers.
This post has kindly been written for us by Catherine Arnold, Mellon Dissertation Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research.
When does a state’s treatment of its subjects warrant foreign intervention? As we do today, men and women in early eighteenth-century Europe struggled to answer this question. Throughout this period the British government received formal and informal petitions for aid from religious minorities across Europe. And, in many cases, British officials responded. Between the 1690s and the 1710s, British diplomats negotiated international treaties that guaranteed rights—including liberty of conscience—for Protestants residing in Catholic states. From the mid-1710s, British ministers also instructed diplomats to petition European rulers for redress of the grievances of non-Protestant minorities or granted these groups asylum in Britain and its empire. By the 1740s, British diplomats had interceded on behalf of Jansenists in France and Jews in Portugal, Bohemia and Moravia. In my dissertation I seek to explain why this was so. Why did the British government begin to intervene on behalf of Catholic and Jewish communities—while also negotiating on behalf of Protestant minorities—between the 1690s and the 1740s?
In 1745, the British ministry responded to a transnational lobbying campaign and interceded with the Queen of Hungary, Maria Theresa, in an effort to halt the expulsion of Ashkenazi Jews from Bohemia. This print, titled “Exodus of the Jews from Prague, 1745,” and published in the same year, shows the Jewish community of Prague leaving the city. See: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/12329-prague
To answer this question, I’ve chosen to examine the British government’s interventions on behalf of five minority communities during the early eighteenth century: Huguenots, or French Protestants, in France and on the Continent; Vaudois, or Reformed Protestants, in the duchy of Savoy, in northern Italy; Jansenists in France; and Jews in Portugal and in the territories of the Habsburg monarchy, Bohemia and Moravia, in the present-day Czech Republic. I argue that British politicians’ negotiations on behalf of Protestant and non-Protestant minorities between the 1690s and the 1740s were, in large part, the result of extra-governmental diplomacy and lobbying. Protestant and non-Protestant minorities coordinated transnational lobbying campaigns intended to convince European governments, like Britain’s, to maintain their privileges and protect them against repressive policies.
In making the case for intervention, lobbyists, propagandists, diplomats and politicians in Britain and on the Continent frequently characterized government interventions as charitable projects and justified them on moral grounds. Minorities were often referred to as “objects of charity” rather than as Lutherans, Calvinists, Catholics, or Jews. Although justifications for intervention predicated on “compassion to those poor People,” as one of the British Secretaries of State put it in 1745, had sixteenth- and seventeenth-century antecedents, my research suggests that, during the early eighteenth century, these justifications were invoked with greater regularity. What’s more, these arguments were used to justify the British government’s intercessions on behalf of non-Protestant minorities, including Jansenists and Jews.
Henri Arnaud (above) was a pastor of the Vaudois church. In 1699, when the Vaudois were forced to convert to Catholicism or leave the duchy of Savoy, Arnaud was deputized to lobby the English government for aid. See http://www.huguenot-museum-germany.com/huguenots/galleries/huguenot-portraits/a-b/arnaud-henri-1.php
How did these ‘objects of charity’ plead their cases to Britain, as well as to other European states? In my research so far, I’ve found that Protestant and non-Protestant minorities lobbied the British government by several routes. In some cases, a member of the community might be deputized to petition the British Secretary of State or a member of the royal family directly, either in writing or in person. In addition to this direct approach, communities arranged for influential British subjects to lobby on their behalf. To do so, deputies or other community members wrote to politicians, members of voluntary religious societies and members of early Enlightenment correspondence networks in Britain, asking them to plead their case to the British ministry. They also mobilized members of longstanding religious institutions across Europe—such as churches, consistories, and synagogues—to petition the British government in their favor. Communities even pressed other European governments to lobby Britain on their behalf. By convincing the British government’s constituents at home and its allies abroad to lobby on their behalf, while also conducting direct petitioning campaigns, minorities pressured the government to consider their appeals and intercede on their behalf.
As minorities mobilized acquaintances, fellow scholars, and co-religionists across Europe to lobby on their behalf, they also put pressure on European governments, like Britain’s, by publicizing their lobbying. When they lobbied the British government, members of these communities ensured that news of their appeals for aid—and, just as importantly, the ministry’s response to those appeals—circulated among European diplomats and politicians by presenting petitions to the Secretary of State in public audiences. At the same time, lobbyists often made these audiences known to a wider reading public, in Britain and in Europe, by selling printed copies of their formal petitions. News of minority grievances was also disseminated, at times, through sermons given by sympathetic clergymen or rabbis. And, not least, British and European newspapers, reported on the treatment of these communities and on their campaigns for aid, sometimes even printing letters that described minorities’ grievances or governments’ intercessions on their behalf. The public nature of these lobbying campaigns meant that the British government risked alienating sections of public opinion at home and abroad, as well as damaging its reputation at those European courts sympathetic to minorities’ grievances, by ignoring their petitions.
An example of a formal petition that also circulated in print. In 1712, as the British government began peace talks with France at the Congress of Utrecht, French Protestant “Refugees” in Britain asked the British ministry to insist that Louis XIV restore the Edict of Nantes, which had granted limited rights to French Protestants. Their petition and its accompanying memoranda (shown above) were printed and sold by French Protestant booksellers in London. Memoires, avec la garantie d’Angleterre, Presentez a son auguste Majesté la reine de la Grande Bretagne, par les François refugiez, pour obtent retablissement de l’edit de nantes. Londres, 1712. Eighteenth Century Collections Online. Gale. Yale University Library. 27 Apr. 2015
So why do these cases matter? My research suggests that, during the early eighteenth century, intercessions and lobbying constituted an increasingly differentiated sphere of international politics, one in which informal lobbying and private negotiating coexisted with, and gave direction to, governments’ formal diplomacy and policy-making on the issue of how to treat foreign minorities. On this issue, members of civil society and religious personnel from across Europe could influence British foreign policy and diplomacy through their lobbying. And, I believe, the same argument could be made for other European governments. I’ve found evidence that France, the Netherlands, the Evangelical Swiss Cantons, the Republic of Geneva, Prussia, Sweden, some German principalities, Portugal, Spain, and the Habsburg monarchy were involved in negotiations about minority communities in their own or in other states’ territories during the early eighteenth century. Over the next eight months, I will visit archives in Italy, Geneva, the Netherlands, and France to develop this argument further. At the moment, though, I argue that through these lobbying campaigns and state interventions questions of minorities’ civil and religious rights, repatriation, and asylum gradually became a part of early eighteenth-century international politics.
It’s been argued that the experience of the seventeenth-century confessional conflicts led to the emergence of the modern state system, founded on the principles of state sovereignty and nonintervention, during the late seventeenth century. My research indicates that although confessional military interventions ceased during this period – Protestant governments no longer formed leagues to defend their faith, for instance – states did continue to intervene in each other’s internal affairs. By the early eighteenth century, politicians in Britain and on the Continent had begun to undertake a type of diplomatic intervention, which was intended to protect minorities’ rights and justified on moral grounds. Transnational non-governmental organizations, including religious institutions, played a significant role in this transformation. Well before the so-called ‘humanitarian revolution’ of the later eighteenth century politicians, clergymen, and members of civil society across Europe debated whether foreign governments like Britain’s should aid repressed religious minorities in other states. By further exploring these interventions I hope to offer a new perspective on the development of modern international relations and elucidate the emergence of an international politics centered on humanitarian concerns.
This post has been written for us by Ralph Stevens, Jacobite Studies Trust Postdoctoral Fellow at the IHR, @HistoryRalph, email@example.com
This coming September will mark the three-hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion, the unsuccessful attempt to restore to the thrones of England, Scotland, and Ireland the male, Catholic, ‘Jacobite’ line of the Stuart dynasty, deposed in the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688-9. Though the imminent anniversary will no doubt prompt scholarly interest in the Rebellion, as a Jacobite Studies Trust Fellow at the IHR I have looked not at the military aspect of Jacobitism, but rather at a cultural – and more specifically literary – facet of the movement. My focus has been on the life and works of the Irish Protestant clergyman and ardent Jacobite Charles Leslie (1650-1722) and my aim is to use Leslie’s Jacobite propaganda as a lens through which to explore the relationships in this period between political, religious, and national identities.
Leslie’s prolific literary output – 81 publications from 1691 onwards, not counting 397 issues of his periodical The Rehearsal (1704-9) – represented one of the most significant ideological challenges to the establishment in the decades after 1688. Not for nothing would he be characterised by Bishop Gilbert Burnet of Salisbury as the ‘violentest Jacobite in the nation’. One of the very few Irish Protestants and fewer Church of Ireland clergy unwilling to at least acquiesce to regime change in 1688-91, Leslie forfeited his Irish offices – Chancellor of Connor Cathedral and Justice of the Peace for Co. Monaghan – for his refusal to swear allegiance to William and Mary or their successors. He settled in London and emerged during the 1690s as a leading Jacobite polemicist, evading arrest for his clandestine interventions in what many historians regard as an emerging ‘public sphere’, a conceptual space in which authors and actors appealed to the increasingly influential force of public opinion.
In Queen Anne’s reign Leslie’s at first weekly and later biweekly periodical The Rehearsal (1704-9) presented Tory ideology with a Jacobite edge, pricking the consciences of conservative gentry and clergy by reminding them of political and religious certainties bent or broken in the Revolution of 1688-9. Week by week Leslie engaged in polemical back-and-forth with Daniel Defoe’s Review and John Tutchin’s Observator, periodicals orientated towards the Whig party, written by Presbyterians, and presenting interpretations of the constitution in Church and State which radically differed from Leslie’s. The Rehearsal was, however, suppressed by the then Whig-dominated government in March 1708. Facing prosecution for his subversive journalism, Leslie fled in 1711 to the Jacobite court in exile at Paris. He would accompany the ‘Pretender’ James Francis Edward Stuart across Europe to Lorraine, Avignon, and Rome, but, aware of his declining health, in 1721 he obtained permission from George I’s government to return to Ireland, where he died the following year.
My research has concentrated on issues of identity displayed in Leslie’s prodigious printed works and suggests that his political identity as a Jacobite, someone loyal to the exiled Stuart dynasty, was intimately linked to his understanding of the proper relationships between England, Scotland, and Ireland. Leslie understood the link between the Three Kingdoms as not only the person of a shared monarch, but also a shared Protestant episcopalian church settlement, a group of churches governed by bishops. He displayed in his works an intense concern with Scottish affairs and particularly with harassed Scottish episcopalian Protestants, whose troubles he placed before the readers of the Rehearsal week after week. North of the border the Revolution of 1688-9 had been an avowedly Presbyterian one, not only effecting regime change in favour of William of Orange but also deposing the bishops and securing purely Calvinist government in the Scottish national church. Though he is not known to have ever visited there, Leslie’s references to Scottish affairs in fact far outnumbered references to Ireland, his place of birth, education, and early career, but it is not difficult to locate the source of this fascination.
Though born in Ireland, Leslie was in effect a second-generation Scottish immigrant. His father John Leslie (1571-1671), a native of Aberdeenshire, had been a leading clergymen in the early-seventeenth-century Scottish church, then episcopalian in structure, and had risen to become Bishop of the Isles. Bishop John had in 1633 been transferred by Charles I to the northern Irish diocese of Raphoe and there organised military resistance to first the 1641 Catholic Rebellion and then at the end of the decade the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland. Following the Restoration the elderly bishop had been rewarded for his loyalty to the Stuart dynasty by promotion to the more lucrative Ulster see of Clogher and established his family’s seat at Glaslough, Co. Monaghan. Charles Leslie, named by his father for the Stuart king ‘martyred’ the year before his birth, not only grew up in an atmosphere of fervent royalism, but partook in an ‘Ulster-Scots’ version of Irish identity, which was yet distinct in religious terms from that of the Presbyterian majority of the Scottish population settled in Ulster since the early seventeenth century. Leslie’s episcopalian Protestant identity, bound to notions of tradition, hierarchy and ceremony, transcended national borders and allowed him easily to assimilate an ‘Anglican Tory’ religious and political identity upon settling in England after the Revolution.
Leslie’s fascination with Scottish affairs suggests an explanation for his almost unique position among the clergy of the Church of Ireland, adhering to the Stuart dynasty in spite of the fact that in Ireland the brief reign of James II had been marked by a Catholic counter-revolution that threatened to overturn Protestant social and political ascendency. It seems that Leslie was a Jacobite, at the cost of his career and social standing in Ireland, as much from a desire to restore bishops to the Scottish church as from loyalty to the Stuart claimants to the throne. What differentiated Leslie from vast majority of Irish clergy, either actively supporting or acquiescing to regime change, was precisely his inherited ‘Scottishness’, for all that it was the Scottish identity of many other Ulster Protestants which made them some of William of Orange’s staunchest Irish supporters. Leslie’s intense concern for the state of the Scottish church highlights the often overlooked episcopalian strand within Ulster-Scots Protestantism, overshadowed in demographic and cultural terms by Presbyterianism, and suggests that Leslie should not be understood as an ‘Irish’ Jacobite so much as one whose identity and motivations were bound up with the politics and religion of all three Stuart kingdoms. Above all, his life and works illustrate the potential complexities of identity created by the interactions between England, Scotland, and Ireland in this period.
Indian troops during a physical training. Copyright IWM (Q52701)
This post has kindly been written for us by Kate Imy, Mellon Dissertation Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research.
Contemporary debates about “religion” often emphasize that which is supposedly “irrational,” metaphysical or anciently doctrinal, ignoring the intimate, ever-shifting, disciplined and resolutely global ways in which beliefs develop in certain places at certain times. In order to investigate these complexities, I examine the meanings and uses of the word “religion” within the British Indian Army—a resolutely cosmopolitan, multi-linguistic, interracial, multicultural and overwhelmingly “religious” force. This massive military establishment—which played a decisive role in most of the major armed conflicts of the first half of the twentieth century—is perhaps one of the most potent symbols of faded European empires. Despite being a paragon of disciplined, secular, and imperial rationality, the army used “religion” for everything from recruiting soldiers, to encouraging men to fight and die, to occupying “holy” lands. My project therefore attempts to see how the army used the concept of “religion” to assign value to certain bodily performances of masculinity at a definitive moment in late-colonial British and South Asian history. By focusing on the intimate encounters between British and South Asian men, and the ways in which soldiers and civilians made meaning of, represented and interpreted soldiers’ bodies, this project hopes to better understand the processes through which soldiers’ bodies—as both “religious” and “martial” beings—helped give birth to contemporary notions of masculinity and violence in the late and postcolonial world.
Memories and popular perceptions of the British Indian Army are often defined by imperial nostalgia or post-colonial regret. Both narratives hinge upon shifting concepts of masculinity and perceptions of British and South Asian bodies. For the former, the proud and glistening British and Indian men in impeccable dress, and the paternalistic relationship between British officers and Indian soldiers, was at once intimate and familial, while also laying important groundwork for India’s postcolonial army. The latter interpretation, however, focuses on the imbalances of colonial power and the restrictive theory of “Martial Races” which deemed some men worthy of becoming warriors, at the expense of those “emasculated” men who were not. This perspective locates service to the empire somewhere between slave-like servitude, necessitated by limited job prospects, or a mercenary labor force that begrudgingly sold its martial prowess to the highest bidder. My study falls within the purview of more recent interpretations which have moved beyond these powerful yet restrictive interpretations by focusing on the complex networks of ideas guiding attitudes toward spiritual beliefs, bodies and “selfhood” that made the British Indian Army a powerful international force until the Second World War.
During war and peace, “religious” concerns were central to the efficient functioning of the colonial army in India. British army officials recruited South Asian soldiers based on a matrix of region, caste, and religion, for instance praising Sikhism as having “martial value” because it discouraged so-called “caste prejudices” while celebrating martial strength and disciplined living. Meanwhile, British soldiers marched into church armed every Sunday to receive the divine wisdom from chaplains who encouraged them to live their lives free from sin—especially the debilitating and fiscally costly conditions of venereal disease and alcoholism. Fears of anti-colonial “sedition” among South Asian soldiers meant cultivating allies among “religious” leaders and appointing religious teachers to exert an educational, social and ceremonial influence among the men to prevent them from seeking wisdom and guidance from the outside world. During wartime, army officials played an active role in regulating soldiers’ bodies, shaping the performance of even pillars of Islam such as the fast of Ramzan (Ramadan) and the pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj). Each of these bodily interventions played a crucial role in demarcating which types of bodies and beliefs were most conducive to military order and discipline, limiting financial and social opportunities to certain subjects of the British Empire.
One of the most widely debated aspects of daily life in the British Indian Army was the relationship between food and “religion.” While military officials hoped to build strong bodies and encouraged recruitment through the promise of stable rations, many officials condemned “the contagion of Hinduism” for impeding military discipline by making group messing more difficult. In the twentieth century, this was largely dictated by the limited and faulty memories and stories of the 1857 Uprising, which was widely regarded as stemming from improperly adhering to “Hindu” and Muslim dietary practices. However, arrangements for a diverse range of British and South Asian soldiers required considerable attention. Military officials strongly discouraged British soldiers from consuming numerous goods, including bazaar fruits and non-packaged drinking water, and often condemned and ridiculed them for contracting “preventable” maladies such as enteric fever and diarrhea. Similarly, many Muslim soldiers worried about finding food that was prepared “halal,” or carrying out the fast of Ramzan, while Gurkha soldiers’ food was often subject to considerable scrutiny including inspection of water tanks on ships and the use of exclusively Brahmin cooks. While military officials were willing and able to cater to such dietary needs of the “Martial Races,” they condemned the so-called “prejudices” of Indian Hindus. These dietary debates revealed the unstable boundaries between science, health, “religion,” custom and personal preference. They solidified the importance food in defining martial masculinity and the unequal application of what was “religious” and what was merely “rational.”
By placing British and South Asian bodies and beliefs in conversation with one another, my project hopes to create a more varied portrait of the relationship between belief, martial prowess, masculinity and violence in the making of the modern world. By looking at a disciplined and highly centralized military force and the ways in which “religion” shaped and was shaped by a diverse range of British and South Asian actors, my dissertation suggests that concepts of masculinity and the body were both global and local—spiritual and secular—and forever influenced by the uncertainties, opportunities, inequalities and instabilities of the imperial world.
Will Pooley is a Past & Present Junior Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research. He blogs at https://williamgpooley.wordpress.com and you can follow him on Twitter @willpooley.
I’m not the first person to point out that witchcraft exerted a fascination over doctors and physicians. Historians of early-modern Europe have long argued that separating the science from the supernatural in medical writings is impossible.
But France makes a bit of an odd case. The medical fascination with witchcraft had largely dissipated in other European countries by the nineteenth century, yet in France this period saw a boom in serious medical writings about possession, sorcery, and alternative healing practices. The interest may have waned as the twentieth century progressed, but French doctors have continued to occasionally publish investigations of magical practices and epidemics of ‘demonopathy’ up until very recently.
(One of the many medical theses written about ‘superstitions’ and witchcraft. See http://gallica.bnf.fr)
This raises two questions:
why this continuing interest?
why should historians care?
At this stage in my research, it is easier for me to answer the second question than the first, although I do have some working hypotheses for why not only doctors, but also psychologists and veterinary professionals in France took such a pronounced interest in sorcery.
For a start, there was a lot of it.
My research uses newspaper reports to trace criminal cases involving witchcraft from the 1790s to the 1930s, and even at this early stage it is apparent that crimes related to witchcraft were prosecuted with depressing regularity across this period. In the secondary literature alone I have identified 15 cases of people who were murdered for being witches in this period. There were many more cases of attempted murder or assault which were not reported so widely in the newspapers, not to mention a multitude of prosecutions for fraud and illegal medical practice. Sometimes, men and women sued their neighbours for defaming them as witches. What all of this suggests is that witchcraft beliefs, fears, and fantasies were surprisingly widespread in France during this period.
And perhaps this is partly related to the other key explanation for why doctors and scientists took such an interest in sorcery: the tumultuous religious history of France during this period. The struggle between the Catholic Church and secularists inspired by Voltaire and the French Revolution had two contradictory effects on French culture.
On the one hand, there was an apparent hardening of boundaries, especially during periods when regime changes abruptly shifted the balance of power between the scientific establishment and the Church. The struggle over Bernadette Soubirous’ visions at Lourdes would be just the most obvious example of a case where Church and Doctor faced off over an issue of national importance and supernatural significance.
(Bernadette Soubirous, the visionary of Lourdes. See: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c6/Bernadette_Soubirous_en_1861_photo_Bernadou_4.jpg)
Yet on the other hand, I think a strong case could be made for seeing this as a period when a cultural vacuum opened up. The very intensity of the public conflict between scientific secularists and defenders of the Church led to a willingness, at least among some elements, to court public opinion, to take seriously the feelings and beliefs of ordinary people such as the visionary Bernadette, or the many people who flocked to witness the miracles of Lourdes.
Many within the Church might have felt that condemning the ‘superstitions’ of the population was a slippery slope. Priests, too, read Voltaire and they were only too aware that condemning a belief in the supernatural powers of black masses and ringing church bells could seem inconsistent with the claims the Church made for the supernatural efficacy of its key rites.
And scientists also had to court public opinion. What use were immunization or pasteurization if the people could not be persuaded that they worked? Promoting professional midwifery, or psychology, or veterinary medicine partly depended on proving to a population that was predominantly rural that these new methods and theories were more than simply a way to interfere, charge higher fees, and defraud the paysans.
(Léon-Augustin Lhermitte, ‘La paye des moissoneurs’. The rural population were not always known for their approachability… See: http://www.histoire-image.org/site/oeuvre/analyse.php?i=43)
This brings me on to my second question: why historians should care about all of this? It might be weird that French doctors were so interested in sorcery, and it is equally odd that witchcraft seems to have been so important to so many people among the general population, but why does it matter?
The answer, I argue, has to do with what a remarkable case study this odd convergence makes for ‘history from below’. I have been strongly influenced by historians such as Andy Wood, Guy Beiner, Katrina Navickas, David Hopkin, and by the Many-Headed-Monster blog symposium from last year on revisiting ‘history from below’ (see: http://bit.ly/17h9jmV).
These historians, I think, have developed incredibly subtle understandings of concepts such as ‘popular culture’, ‘social class’, and ‘resistance’. We recognize that such terms are always problematic, and we recognize how hard it can be to recover the ‘voices’ of the people history too often forgets, but we maintain that there is still value in trying (http://wp.me/p3QdQ9-2E).
And it seems to me that the point where medicine and witchcraft met in France is a particularly rich example for pursuing the kinds of complicated questions of cultural repression, resistance, and agency that the new history from below addresses. Yes, doctors and other scientific ‘experts’ attempted to impose their understandings of causality, the human body, and illness onto the general population. But ordinary people took these ideas and refashioned them to fit what was important to their lives, forcing the ‘experts’ to deal in the languages of possession and malevolence.
Far from being a simple case of ‘superstition’ swept away by reason, witchcraft and medicine in France during this period is a much more interesting story of accommodation and cultural negotiation, and one that puts working men and women into the spotlight as often as middle-class doctors and scientists.
What is more, this was not unique to medicine. As I have mentioned, the related disciplines of psychology, psychiatry, and veterinary science were also caught up in witchcraft debates. But sorcery also touched even wider domains. Victims and suspected witches related their experiences to new technologies and the ‘modern wonders’ that Bernard Rieger has studied, and addressed new theories of radiation, ions, and the laws of physics. They also argued about the law, challenging the basis for criminal and civil prosecutions, and provoking a series of legal theorists to address the problem of witchcraft in the same period.
This is why I have found that the more I study the witches and their accusers, the less drawn I am to the early-modern parallels that at first appear so obvious. Witchcraft was modern, and has a lot to tell historians about the agency and constraints of ordinary people grappling with new authorities in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The 2014-15 cohort of Junior Research Fellows at the IHR will be holding a number of excellent colloquia and workshops in the coming months. These colloquia are a key element of the IHR Fellowships programme, and the institute provides Fellows with administrative and financial support in running them. The idea is that early career researchers get valuable experience in planning and hosting academic events, while the institute benefits from participating in engaging, diverse academic activity. Events held at the institute itself will be open to public registration.
This blog will feature details on upcoming colloquia over subsequent posts.
A one-day conference at the Institute of Historical Research
Friday 10 April 2015
Plenary Speaker: Dr Matt Houlebrook (Birmingham)
If nature abhors a vacuum, cultural attitudes to emptiness are more complex. Vacant places have been constructed and sustained by a variety of actors, from colonial powers to cartographers, city planners to scientists. This one day colloquium asks how and why empty spaces have been important to travelers, empires, anthropologists, artists, archivists, photographers, and the historians who study them. How is emptiness made? What tools, materials, and agents does it involve, and what cultural, physical, and natural work goes into maintaining nothingness? Have empty spaces been particularly important at specific points in history? What cross-cultural continuities are there in how they have been made and understood? How have historians perceived and created ‘gaps in the literature’? What ideological functions does emptiness serve?
The conference will explore ‘empty space’ in history.
Organized by: Courtney J. Campbell, Allegra Giovine, Jennifer Keating, and Will Pooley (IHR Junior Research Fellows)
UPCOMING JUNIOR RESEARCH FELLOWS’ COLLOQUIA
Read more about these in subsequent blog posts.
Gender in War Captivity: Interdisciplinary Perspectives
A one-day symposium at the Institute of Historical Research
Friday 8 May 2015
Organised by Elodie Duché (IHR Junior Research Fellow) and Grace Huxford (Warwick) of the Prisoner of War Network in conjunction with Warwick Institute of Advanced Study and the Institute of Historical Research.
Image: Randolph Schwabe, The Women’s Land Army and German Prisoners, 1918, available at the Imperial War Museum.
The History of the Body: Approaches and Directions
A one-day colloquium at the Institute of Historical Research
Saturday 16 May 2015
Organized by: Kate Imy and Will Pooley (IHR Junior Research Fellows)
Religious Identities and Material Landscapes in Early Modern Europe
A one-day workshop at the Victoria and Albert Museum
Friday, 5 June 2015
Organized by: Roisin Watson (IHR Junior Research Fellow)
Image: Prayer Book, c. 1623, V&A Images Image reference 2006BJ4433
Water in Anglo-Saxon England
A one-day colloquium at the Institute of Historical Research
October 2015 [date TBC]
Organized by: Carolyn Twomey (IHR Junior Research Fellow)
• Junior Research Fellow Ian Stone has been awarded the inaugural 2014 Curriers’ Company London History Essay Prize for his essay ‘Arnold fitz Thedmar: his place in London’. The prize is awarded in association with The London Journal and the Institute of Historical Research. In addition to a cash prize of £1000, the winning essay will be published in The London Journal.
• Junior Research Fellow Courtney Campbell has three upcoming presentations:
“‘Ela vale um time de futebol’: Gender, Victory, and Loss in Brazilian World Cup and Miss Universe Press Coverage (1954-1962),” American Historical Association, New York, 3 January 2015
“Sixty-One Days at Sea: Fishermen, their Rafts, and Regional Identity in the Brazilian Northeast,” Latin American History Seminar, Institute of Historical Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London, 10 February 2015
A panel that Courtney proposed to the Latin American Studies Association has been accepted. Courtney will be travelling to Puerto Rico to present her paper on “The Making of A Pedagogy of the Oppressed.” within the panel:
“Before and After a Pedagogy of the Oppressed: From Cold War Politics to 21st-Century Social Action,” for the XXXIII International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association, San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 2015
Courtney also recently presented the following:
“The Latin American Region as Internationally Embedded: The Case of the Brazilian Northeast (1926-1968),” Latin America in a Global Context Workshop, University of Bern, Switzerland, 4 December 2014
A book chapter co-written by Courtney Campbell will be coming out soon. The book launch will be at the British Library on February 27. The book is titled From Dust to Digital: Ten Years of the Endangered Archives Programme, Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2015.
[Jane Landers, Pablo Gómez, José Polo Acuña, and Courtney J. Campbell. “Researching the History of Slavery in Colombia and Brazil through Ecclesiastical and Notarial Archives.” In Maja Kominko, Ed., From Dust to Digital: Ten Years of the Endangered Archives Programme, Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2015.]
• Visiting Research Fellow Cheryl Fury presented a paper in Hamburg in November at the “Early Modern Military-Medical Complex” conference called “You Make No Men of Us but Beasts”: Shipboard Diet & Health in the Elizabethan Maritime Community”.