Christopher J. Tozzi, Nationalizing France’s Army: Foreign, Black, and Jewish Troops in the French Military, 1715-1831, University of Virginia Press: Charlottesville, VA, 2016. 320 pp. $45.00 U.S. (hb). ISBN 9780813938332.
Review by Arad Gigi, Florida State University.
"In Nationalizing France’s Army, a painstakingly-researched, clearly-written monograph, Christopher J. Tozzi traces the transformation of the French army during the Revolutionary era from a monarchical to national institution: one where service was the duty and the privilege of members of the nation, and where cultural, linguistic, or religious differences were eliminated in order to create national unity among the ranks.... France needed as many men as were willing to fight for it. Thus, the declaration of war against Austria included a clause that granted foreign deserters immunity and promised enlistment into the French army. And in summer 1792, after dissolving the Swiss regiments, revolutionary authorities made great efforts to integrate these troops in French units. State authorities could not allow themselves to lose about 10,000 soldiers, or to let so many disgruntled and armed men wander freely in the kingdom and disrupt public order. Even the Directory, whose constitution prohibited foreign service, continued to rely on the service of foreigners, especially for its operations outside of Europe in the Caribbean and in Egypt....During the Empire, Napoleonic authorities set aside xenophobic considerations and recruited soldiers regardless of their ethnic origins or the language they spoke. But this was short-lived. During the latter years of the Empire, as its end was nearing, Napoleon turned against foreigners whose loyalty he now questioned. In the final years of his regime, the Emperor ordered the disarming and imprisoning foreign troops... "