- Levée en masse
Levée en masse (literally "Rise in (a) Mass") is defined in Article 4, letter A paragraph 6 of the
Third Geneva Convention. It is a French term for mass conscriptionduring the French Revolutionary Wars, particularly for the one from 23 August 1793.
The term "Levée en masse" denotes a short-term requisition of all able-bodied men to defend the
nationand has to be viewed in connection with the political events in revolutionary France, namely the new concept of the democratic citizenas opposed to a royal subject.
Central to the understanding of the "Levée" is the idea that the new political rights given to the mass of the French people also created new obligations to the state. As the nation now understood itself as a community of "all" people, its defense also was assumed to become a responsibility of "all". Thus, the "Levée en masse" was created and understood as a means to defend the nation for the nation by the nation.
Historically, the "Levée en masse" heralded the age of the people's war and displaced prior restricted forms of warfare as the cabinet wars (1715 - 1792) when armies of professional soldiers fought without general participation of the population.
The French Revolutionary Wars
The first modern use "levée en masse" occurred during the
French Revolutionary Wars. Under the Ancien Régime, there had been some conscription (by ballot) to a militia, "milice", to supplement the large standing army in times of war. This had proven unpopular with the peasant communities on which it fell and was one of their grievances which they expected to be addressed by the French States-General, when it were convened in 1789 to put the French monarchy on a sounder footing. When this led instead to the French Revolution, the "milice" was duly abolished by the National Assembly.
The progression of the Revolution came to produce friction between France and its European neighbors, who grew determined to invade France to restore the monarchical regime. War with
Prussiaand Austriawas declared in April 1792. The invading forces were met in France by a mixture of what was left of the old professional army and volunteers (it was these, not the "levée en masse", that won the battle of Valmyin September 1792).
By February 1793 the new regime needed more men, so the National Convention passed a decree on 14 February allowing for the a national levy of about 300,000 with each French
départementto supply a quota of recruits. By March 1793 France was at war with Austria, Prussia, Spain, Britain, Piedmontand the United Provinces. The introduction of recruitment for the Levy in the Vendée, a political and religiously conservative region, added to local discontent over other revolutionary directives emanating from Paris, and on 11 March the Vendée erupted into civil war—just days after France declared war on Spain and adding further strains on the French armies' limited manpower. [James Maxwell Anderson (2007) Daily Life During the French Revolution, Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN:0313336830. [http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=LWLkLT_hEsQC&pg=PA205&lpg=PA205&source=web&ots=wdiRCxv0t9&sig=bUlrxRpKrBWmUkKfS6WBKQuI_LQ&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=6&ct=result p. 205] ] By some accounts, only about half this number appears to have been actually raised, bringing the army strength up to about 645,000 in mid-1793, and the military situation continued to worsen.
In response to this desperate situation, at war with European states, and internal instruction, a "levée en masse" was decreed by the
National Conventionon 23 August 1793 in ringing terms, beginning::"From this moment until such time as its enemies shall have been driven from the soil of the Republic, all Frenchmen are in permanent requisition for the services of the armies. The young men shall fight; the married men shall forge arms and transport provisions; the women shall make tents and clothes and shall serve in the hospitals; the children shall turn linen into lint; the old men shall betake themselves to the public squares in order to arouse the courage of the warriors and preach hatred of kings and the unity of the Republic."
All unmarried able-bodied men between 18 and 25 were requisitioned with immediate effect for military service. This significantly increased the number of men in the army, reaching a peak of about 1,500,000 in September 1794, although the actual fighting strength probably peaked at no more than 800,000. In addition, as the decree suggests, much of the civilian population was turned towards supporting the armies through armaments production and other war industries as well as supplying food and provisions to the front.
For all the rhetoric, the "levée en masse" was not popular; desertion and evasion were high. But the effort was sufficient to turn the tide of the war, and there was no need for any further conscription until 1797, when a more systematic system of annual intake was instituted. An effect of the "levée en masse" was the creation of the first national army, made of highly motivated citizens defending their own soil, rather than a force of professional, but often semi-mercenary, armies, as was the standard practice of the time.
Its main result, protecting French borders against all enemies surprised and shocked Europe. The levée en masse was also effective in that by putting on the field many men, even untrained, it required France's opponents to man all fortresses and expand their own standing armies, far beyond their capacity to pay professional soldiers.
The levée en masse also offered many opportunities for untrained people who could demonstrate their military proficiency, allowing the French army to build a strong officer and non-commissioned cadre.
Though not a novel idea—cf. thinkers as diverse as
Plato, above and the lawyer and linguist Sir William Jones (who thought every adult male should be armed with a musket at public expense)—the actual practice of a "levée en masse" was rare before the French Revolution. The "levée" was a key development in modern warfare and would lead to steadily larger armies with each successive war - culminating in the enormous bloodbaths of World War Iand World War IIduring the first half of the 20th century.
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Levee en masse — Levée en masse Le 23 février 1793, la Convention décide la levée en masse de trois cent mille hommes, pris parmi les célibataires ou veufs de 18 à 25 ans. Elle consista à enrôler au tirage au sort des hommes de tous les départements de France. Le … Wikipédia en Français
Levée En Masse — Le 23 février 1793, la Convention décide la levée en masse de trois cent mille hommes, pris parmi les célibataires ou veufs de 18 à 25 ans. Elle consista à enrôler au tirage au sort des hommes de tous les départements de France. Le but était de… … Wikipédia en Français
Levée en masse — (en lengua francesa Leva en masa ) es el nombre con el que se designa la decisión de la Convención Nacional de reclutar levas masivas y obligatorias a partir del año 1793. El 23 de febrero de 1793 se decidió la leva de trescientos mil hombres por … Wikipedia Español
Levée en masse — [ləveã mas, französisch] die, , das allgemeine militärische Aufgebot der männlichen Bevölkerung, im August 1793 vom französischen Nationalkonvent (Aufruf von L. Carnot im Wohlfahrtsausschuss) auf Druck der Sansculotten für die 18 bis 25… … Universal-Lexikon
Levée en masse — (fr., spr. L weh ang Mass), allgemeines Aufgebot, s.u. Landwehr … Pierer's Universal-Lexikon
Levée en masse — ● Levée en masse appel de tous les hommes valides d une nation pour sa défense … Encyclopédie Universelle
Levee en masse — Bei der Levée en masse (frz., Massenaushebung) handelt es sich um eine Form der Wehrpflicht, die während des Ersten Koalitionskriegs in Frankreich eingeführt wurde. Nach der Schlacht bei Valmy am 20. September 1792 eroberte das aus Freiwilligen… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Levée en masse — Bei der Levée en masse (frz. für ‚Massenaushebung‘) handelte es sich um eine Form der Wehrpflicht, die während des Ersten Koalitionskriegs in Frankreich eingeführt wurde. Nach der Schlacht bei Valmy am 20. September 1792 eroberte das aus… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Levée en masse — Le 23 février 1793, la Convention décide la levée en masse de trois cent mille hommes, pris parmi les célibataires ou veufs de 18 à 45 ans. Elle consista à faire désigner ou à enrôler par le tirage au sort des hommes de tous les départements de… … Wikipédia en Français
Levée en masse — Le|vée en masse [ləveã mas] die; <aus gleichbed. fr. levée en masse, eigtl. »Groß , Massenaushebung«> (veraltet) allgemeines Aufgebot der männlichen Bevölkerung (zuerst 1793 vom franz. Nationalkonvent veranlasst) … Das große Fremdwörterbuch