Intertwined stories of war humanitarianism
The British Order of St John of Jerusalem and the Red Cross in the Spanish civil wars of the 1870s
in The Red Cross Movement
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The Third Carlist War confronted the Spanish liberal Government’s troops with legitimist rebels between 1872 and 1876, and was a baptism of fire for both the Spanish Red Cross and other, non-Spanish Red Cross organisations that committed resources to the humanitarian relief effort. Though the British National Aid Society appears to have refrained from involvement in this long and bloody war, several members of the British Order of St John of Jerusalem were active in the theatre of war as volunteer humanitarians. While some of them, such as Vincent Kennett-Barrington (1844–1903), went to Spain on behalf of a Society for the Relief of the Sick and Wounded of the Spanish War, others, such as John Furley (1836–1919), chose to work on behalf of the Société des Secours aux Blessés Espagnols – a committee settled in Paris with the unofficial support of the Spanish and French Red Cross. This chapter examines the mixed motives, activities and ideas of these international humanitarian volunteers, offering a snapshot of the confused – and far from unified – ‘spirit of Geneva’ at work in the years immediately following the signing of the Geneva Convention in 1864.

The Red Cross Movement

Myths, practices, turning points

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