Outcomes
 /  Outcomes

PREWArAs is a very ambitious project. It covers about 25 years of European history and analyses the political, social and cultural features of armed associations acting in the most important nation-states of that period: France, United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy, and the Austro-Hungarian empire.

Moreover, it deals with a wide topic: the definition of armed associations refers to a wide range of different groups which experienced violence and armed politics in very different ways.

Due to the innovativeness of its topic, chronology and methodology, its large comparative scale and interdisciplinary approach, the substantial lack of any specific literature on this period, the broad topic it deals with, and the promising ground-breaking objectives and outcomes.

However, these results would be of limited use if they were not properly and effectively circulated within the academic community and indeed the public at large. Along with monographs and articles in international journals, the project team will organise international conferences and series of seminars to discuss the results of the project, which will also be presented through this website.

The results of each investigation will be presented in monographs, edited books and articles dealing with specific nation-states and their armed associations, so as to offer a survey of different groups acting within different contexts.

Amerigo Caruso, Claire Morelon, “The Threat from Within across Empires: Strikes, Labor Migration, and Violence in Central Europe, 1900–1914”, Central European History 54, no.1 (2021), 86-111

Matteo Millan, Alessandro Saluppo (eds.), Corporate Policing, Yellow Unionism, and Strikebreaking, 1890–1930. In Defence of Freedom (Abingdon: Routledge 2021)

Assumpta Castillo Cañiz, ‘Violence against Strikers in the Rural Peripheries of the Iberian Peninsula, 1890–1915’, in Corporate Policing, Yellow Unionism, and Strikebreaking, 1890-1930: In Defence of Freedom, edited by Matteo Millan and Alessandro Saluppo (Abingdon: Routledge, 2021)

Claire Morelon, ‘State authorities, municipal forces and military intervention in the policing of strikes in Austria-Hungary, 1890-1914’, in Corporate Policing, Yellow Unionism, and Strikebreaking, 1890-1930: In Defence of Freedom, edited by Matteo Millan and Alessandro Saluppo (Abingdon: Routledge, 2021)

Matteo Millan, ‘From “state protection” to “private defence”. Strikebreaking, civilian armed mobilisation and the rise of Italian fascism’, in Corporate Policing, Yellow Unionism, and Strikebreaking, 1890-1930: In Defence of Freedom, edited by Matteo Millan and Alessandro Saluppo (Abingdon: Routledge, 2021)

Alessandro Saluppo, ‘Vigilant citizens. The case of the Volunteer Police Force, 1911–14’, in Corporate Policing, Yellow Unionism, and Strikebreaking, 1890-1930: In Defence of Freedom, edited by Matteo Millan and Alessandro Saluppo (Abingdon: Routledge, 2021)

Claire Morelon, ‘Respectable Citizens: Civic Militias, Local Patriotism, and Social Order in Late Habsburg Austria (1890‒1920)’, Austrian History Yearbook, 2020, 193–219.

Romain Bonnet, ‘The Making of Counter-Internationalism. Political Violence, Strikebreaking and the Yellow Movement in Pre-1914 Europe’, Partecipazione e conflitto 13, no. 1 (2020)

Romain Bonnet and Amerigo Caruso, ‘Europe Industrielle et Contre-Internationalisme: Le Mouvement Jaune Dans l’espace Franco-Allemand Avant 1914’, [email protected] 39 (2019)

Matteo Millan, ‘Sostituire l’autorità, riaffermare la sovranità. Legittima difesa, corpi armati e crisi dello Stato nell’Italia giolittiana’, Studi storici 1 (2019), 139-166

Matteo Millan, ‘Introduction – Strikebreaking in Europe’s Belle Époque’, European History Quarterly 49, no. 4 (2019), 553-569

Alessandro Saluppo, ‘Strikebreaking and Anti-Unionism on the Waterfront: the Shipping Federation, 1890-1914’, European History Quarterly 49, no. 4 (2019), 570-596

Amerigo Caruso, ‘Joining Forces against “Strike Terrorism”: The Public-Private Interplay in Policing Strikes in Imperial Germany, 1890-1914’, European History Quarterly 49, no. 4 (2019), 597-624

Matteo Millan, ‘”The public force of the private state” – strikebreaking and visions of subversion in liberal Italy (1880s to 1914)’, European History Quarterly 49, no.4 (2019), 625-649

Claire Morelon, ‘Social Conflict, National Strife, or Political Battle? Violence and Strikebreaking in Late Habsburg Austria’ European History Quarterly 49, no. 4 (2019), 650-676

Periodic workshops will be organized to discuss the partial results of PREWArAs. Project team members will discuss their research with leading scholars in order to improve and perfect methods and strategy of enquiry. Moreover, throughout the project, a series of seminars will cover a broad range of topics related to political violence, with the participation of international speakers.

Seminar Cecilia Biaggi

Seminar Fulvio Cammarano

Seminar Dmitar Tasić

Seminar Dominique Kalifa

Seminar Cerezales and Johanses

Seminar Luigi Lacchè

Seminar Robert Gildea

Seminar Eric Fournier

Seminar Katrin Bromber

Seminar Eugenio Biagini

PREWArAs will stimulate the debate on pre-WWI political violence and armed associations through the organisation of two international conferences. The first conference (2019) will deal with the multi-faceted phenomenon of political violence in pre-WWI Europe. The second conference (2021) will be compare the practices, forms of organization and political cultures of pre-WWI armed groups with post-WWI ones.

PREWArAs workshop: “Violence, Democratization, and the Rule of Law in the Late Habsburg Empire” [16 April 2021 Padova – online event]

PREWArAs-FRAGMON co-organised workshop: “A Fragile State Monopoly? Policies and Practices of Gun Control and the Redefinition of State Prerogatives on the Global Stage, 1890s-1940s” [25-26 March 2021 Padova – online event]

 From the violent tensions of the fin de siècle to the troubled institutional postwar reconstructions, from the militarization of society produced by two world wars to the rise of new mass political movements, the series of traumatic events that took place between the 1890s and the 1940s reshaped the relationship between the State and the civilian population dramatically. Limits and norms of State intervention in the private sphere were rewritten by the new necessities of modern societies, which led to a general expansion of the institutions’ claims to regulate the lives of their citizens more strictly.

This conference seeks to reflect on the relationship existing between private gun ownership and the processes of imposition (or re-imposition) of State legitimacy in peacetime as much as during or in the aftermath of armed conflicts. It intends to do so specifically by addressing how the process of modernization and its ensuing tendency to codification and the world wars and their long shadows have had an impact on three aspects of these processes: institutional regulations on civilian possession of firearms from above; juridical debate on limits and rights of State control; practices and culture of gun ownership on the ground. 

PREWArAs-École Française de Rome co-organised workshop: “Armed groups, organized violence and the Euro-Mediterranean spaces (1870-1914)” [23 January 2019, Rome, École Française de Rome]

Within the framework of the European Research Council (ERC) project “The Dark Side of the Belle Époque. Political Violence and Armed Associations in Europe before the First World War” (http://www.dissgea.unipd.it/erc-prewaras, PI prof. Matteo Millan), the Università degli Studi di Padova – Department of Historical and Geographic Sciences and the Ancient World – and the École Française de Rome (EFR) is holding an international workshop in Rome (EFR) on 23 January 2019. This scientific event aims to create an original dialogue, both comparative and transnational, around a topic that is relatively new for the period 1870-1914, namely armed groups. This subject will be considered in relation to political violence and with a relatively flexible geography: Euro-Mediterranean spaces, understood in a broad sense. By focusing on armed groups and their forms of legitimization, action and organization, the study of political violence can empirically deepen our knowledge of the so-called “State monopoly of legitimate violence”. Armed groups and their forms of legitimacy were not unrelated to the power of the State, even though these groups were not integrated into national armies (at least, not directly). The main question addressed is the relationship between armed groups and the legitimate use of violence, by analyzing similarities, differences, transfers and their influences on the social world at large (associations, coteries, clans, the nation, etc.), throughout the Euro-Mediterranean region between 1870 and 1914. The Euro-Mediterranean spaces are situated at the crossroads of various national and imperial constructions. In addition to the Italian, Iberian and Balkan peninsulas, these spaces include North Africa and the Near East, where the First World War put an end to the power of the Ottoman Empire. In addition, empires or political entities which were not directly located in the Euro-Mediterranean region often sought to affirm their interests there through armed groups and political violence. Projections, overlaps and transfers could occur, linking external (colonial) and internal (metropole) spaces via armed groups. The geography of Euro-Mediterranean spaces was a flexible and plural one.

PREWArAs-Oxford co-organised workshop: “Industrial vigilantism, strikebreaking and patterns of anti-labour violence, 1890s-1930s. A comparative and transnational perspective” [23-24 October 2018, History Faculty, Oxford]

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Europe, North America and large areas of the globe experienced labour unrest and multiple strike waves, some of which developed a quasi-revolutionary momentum. Although considerable research has been done on the formation of labour movements and on the social, economic and institutional realities of labour conflicts, rather less attention has been paid to the repressive policies and practices of employers, and of local and national state authorities. In response to the steady growth of socialism and a renewed burst of revolutionary fears, exacerbated by the long drawn-out effects of economic competition, industrial firms and corporations increasingly resorted to the employment of paramilitary units, special police, vigilantes, professional strikebreakers and private detective agencies against organized labour and in the protection of their assets and investments. These groups typically operated on the frontiers between the legal and the extra-legal, drawing their strength from the language of the law, but often stepping outside it to carry out acts of violence, intimidation, and subversion.

All these quite underestimated topics have been examined in a two-day joint workshop held at the History Faculty of the University of Oxford.

Workshop Armed Associations

Conference Armed Groups


This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 677199).

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