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The passion of the Avesnes: foreign occupation of Northeastern France in 1814

Gladyshev Andrey

The beginning of the military campaign of 1814 in France was marked by a movement against recruitment and tax payments. Avesnes-sur-Help was the first city on this path in the northern departments. The city was unprepared to defend, had survived a severe epidemic of typhoid, and surrendered to the Allies without resistance. The fear of a typhoid epidemic was replaced by Avesnes residents worry due to the city surrender without resistance and loss of "honor". Moreover, government officials continued to perform their functions, but in favor of the occupation authorities. The French government regarded this as a betrayal. Avesnes residents turned from "their" into "strangers" and began to fear the threat of Napoleonic troops returning to the city and subsequent repressions. The informational isolation of the city dwellers did not allow them to carry out at least medium-term planning of life trajectories, and when choosing a behavioral model, the existential foundations of motivation were exposed. The division of the district of Avesnes-sur-Help into two suprefectures stirred up ambitions and engendered the struggle of neighbors (residents of Landrecies and Maubeuge) for the “Avesnes inheritance”. But among all these “the Passions of the Avesnes” no one, not even the Napoleonic press, mentioned any robberies and rapes by the occupiers. Avesnes residents, if they complained, then about the "burdens" and not about the "excesses". Actually, the occupation of the city by Russian troops was relatively painless for the city dwellers and did not cause “passions”. The honorary saber was presented by the city dwellers to commandant R.K. Nasakin is evidence of that.

Keywords: History of France, the Campaign of 1814, military-historical anthropology, history of emotions, Avesnes, occupation, R.K. Nasakin
Link: Gladyshev A. The passion of the Avesnes: foreign occupation of Northeastern France in 1814 // Annual of French Studies 2020: Wars and Revolutions in Modern Times.М. P. 156-184.

The study is sponsored by the Russian Science Foundation, grant 20-18-00113.