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.

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, 49/4 (2019), 553-569

Alessandro Saluppo, ‘Strikebreaking and Anti-Unionism on the Waterfront: the Shipping Federation, 1890-1914’, European History Quarterly, 49/4 (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, 49/4 (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, 49/4 (2019), 625-649

Claire Morelon, ‘Social Conflict, National Strife, or Political Battle? Violence and Strikebreaking in Late Habsburg Austria’ European History Quarterly, 49/4 (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

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-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).

Want to get in touch with us? Drop us an email at research@prewaras.eu