Máire MacNeill
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‘More expensive of their powder, than of their lead’
Fops, theatre and the late Stuart military
in Changing satire
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Against the backdrop of the War of the Spanish Succession, popular debate in England frequently centred on interrogating the fop officer. A variant on the classical miles gloriosus, this comic antagonist typically prized the physical glamour of his uniform – which he used to bolster a reputation for bravery and honour – but shrank from participating in the danger and discomfort of actual warfare. This paper will focus on the fop-officer onstage during the 1700s, using three popular plays to understand how he helped to define contemporary ideas about ideal and deviant models of military masculinity and respond to contemporary anxieties about the vain young officers who promenaded through London during these decades. It will also examine additional issues, including the financial problems encountered by soldiers, the politics of acquisition, the standing-army debate and the consequences of peace.

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Changing satire

Transformations and continuities in Europe, 1600–1830


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