University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Violence and Conflict Graduate Workshop, Faculty of History > Discipline and Control in Eighteenth-Century Gibraltar

Discipline and Control in Eighteenth-Century Gibraltar

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While mostly intended to record information of operative and military nature, eighteenth-century order books also contain wealth of material on social and cultural history. In addition to regular instructions, paroles and distribution of regimental assignments, many orders were direct reactions to specific events requiring a response or at least warranting a mention from the military authorities. So are the order books of the British garrison of Gibraltar preserved in the National Archives at Kew. This paper, based on the study of the first nine volumes covering the years 1720-91, gives an overview of some of the entries relating to disciplinary matters, such as special instructions, threats of punishments and sentences of general courts martials, recorded verbatim in order to be read to the troops.

The picture emerging from these records demonstrates that notwithstanding numerous attempts by the garrison commanders, drunkenness and other irregular behavior by the soldiery could not be curtailed. It appears that whatever the official regulation had to say, soldiers actually enjoyed a substantial license in their daily doings. It will be further suggested that this situation was not unrepresentative to garrison service elsewhere. This, in turn, allows us to question the extent to which old-regime authorities could successfully control and discipline their troops.

This talk is part of the Violence and Conflict Graduate Workshop, Faculty of History series.

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