"Freedom, Faction, Fame and Blood": British Soldiers of Conscience in Greece, Spain and Finland

by Elizabeth Roberts


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Under the rubric from Lord Byron, this book offers a unique comparison of three sets of British volunteers who left their homes to fight in the Greek War of Independence, the Spanish Civil War, and the Russo-Finnish War. From Lord Byron's journey to Greece, to the legendary International Brigades of the Spanish Civil War, to the strange sojourn of a contingent of British misfits during a bitter Finnish winter, author Elizabeth Roberts examines the passions, ideals, and ideologies that motivated these individuals to take up arms, as well as their experiences of warfare, the rhetorical and discursive cultures they encountered in the volunteer contingents, and the problems they faced when - and if - they returned home. Freedom, Faction, Fame, and Blood traces the political consequences of the volunteers' participation in these foreign wars in the context of the evolving concept of 'neutrality' in foreign relations and challenges to the state's control over the use of violence. Of the three wars, it was the Spanish Civil War that most caught the public imagination and generated the most controversy. The volunteers' defiance of the British state; the ideological, social, and cultural imperatives that sent them to Spain; and the nature of the war in which they fought give rise to a number of issues explored in this work, including: the imposition of Communist Party discipline on the British Battalion in the International Brigades, the fate of the British volunteers who sided with the Spanish revolutionaries and the dissident Left, and the ways in which volunteers sought to 'perform' war and revolution in an ideological environment. In considering these themes, Freedom, Faction, Fame, and Blood establishes the 'soldier of conscience' as a discrete category of historical actor, in Spain and elsewhere.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781845193188
Publisher: Sussex Academic Press
Publication date: 07/01/2010
Series: Studies in Spanish History Series
Pages: 300
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Elizabeth Roberts holds a PhD in history from the University of Sydney. Her current research is on the history of desertion.

Table of Contents

Series Editor's Preface vi

Acknowledgements viii

List of Maps ix

Introduction: Soldiers of Conscience 1

1 Shelley's Ghost: British Philhellenes and the Greek War of Independence 14

2 Ways of Feeling: Lord Byron and Edward Trelawny in Greece 39

3 Perseverance: Captain Hastings Goes to War 61

4 Two Loyalties: The British Battalion and Communist Party in the Spanish Civil War 86

5 Object Lessons: Unorthodoxy, Dissent and Revolution in Spain 113

6 The Surfaces of Things: The Politics of Appearance in the Spanish Civil War 133

7 The Spanish Precedent: British Intervention in the Russo-Finnish War 148

8 Our Hush-Hush Committee: The Finnish Aid Bureau and the Volunteers 163

9 A Fine Body of Blackguards: The Contingent, Stranded 180

Epilogue 200

Notes 204

Bibliography 255

Index 271

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