Dr Matteo Millan is Associate Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Padova (Italy).
The project seeks to compare the practices, social backgrounds and political cultures of armed associations, and their connections with more general contexts, such as State, Church, other social movements and political cultures, in all major states of pre-WWI Europe.
The practice of organised violence represents a mass transnational experience in an era – the so-called Belle Époque – which has generally been seen as characterised by peace and progress. Hundreds of thousands of male Europeans engaged in various violent practices as members of these groups. Examples are the Spanish militia Somatén (44,000 members in 1909); the Ulster Volunteer Force, a paramilitary organisation which fought against the Irish nationalists (100,000 men, at least); and the large number of shooting clubs and military training societies which characterised the daily life of European citizens all over the continent [banner image | Author: Achille Vildi, Caffè Gambrinus, Naples, Courtesy of Italia liberty].