The University of Iowa

Civilian Experiences of the Napoleonic Wars

October 31st, 2012

Join the European Studies Group (ESG) for the next lecture in their fall 2012 series:
“Civilian Experiences of the Napoleonic Wars: The Example of the Battle of Leipzig in October 1813”

When: Thursday, Nov. 8, from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m.
Where: C131 Pomerantz Center
Presented by: Karen Hagemann, James G. Kenan Distinguished Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A specialist in modern German history and the history of women and gender, her current research focuses on the history of the military, gender, nationalism, and citizenship during the Napoleonic Wars.

Between October 16-19, 1813, a total of more than 171,000 men under Napoleon’s supreme command faced 301,500 coalition forces in Leipzig and its Saxon hinterland. The military history of this battle, which decided the war of 1813-14 against Napoleon, is well researched. But we still know little about the battle experiences of the civilians in Saxony. The research in general has for far too long studied the Napoleonic Wars mainly from a military perspective.

The lecture explores what the new form of warfare with mass armies that were mobilized by a national propaganda and needed the support of the civilian population meant for ordinary citizens. Because of its extraordinary significance, the Battle of Leipzig provides an excellent example for such a study. To understand the extend of the civilian war experiences and the different factors that formed it, the lecture will start in spring 1812, when the war started for the people in Saxony, after four relatively peaceful years, and will end in the summer of 1814, when the wars against Napoleon officially had come to an end, but the population still was confronted with the aftermath of the war. To remember the victims of these wars on the occasion of their 200th anniversary instead of celebrating the glorious military leaders seems to be appropriate for today.

This event is free and open to the public. ESG and International Programs are sponsors of the lecture series. Details regarding other upcoming ESG events will be posted at as they are available.

For more information, contact Jennifer Sessions at or 319 353 2199.