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3 - The Brave

from Part II - Avatars

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 February 2022

Lara Kriegel
Affiliation:
Indiana University
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Summary

Introduced in 1856 as the highest award for British military valor, the Victoria Cross is a product of the Crimean War. Instituted by Royal Warrant, the honor sought to unite public opinion in the face of wartime discontent. The award celebrated military masculinity, honoring those few who had had performed exemplary acts of bravery in battle. Battle technologies have changed across centuries, but the award remains Britain’s rarest military honor, with fewer than 1400 crosses granted to date. The Cross has bestowed fame and fortune on many recipients. Across the ages, it has thus been an object of desire for veterans, regiments, and families. Even today, museums and collectors seek out Crosses to buy and display. The award never carried the talismanic power that its champions hoped, however. The Cross could not quell radical critique during the Crimean War. It did not upend the disillusionment that came with World War I. Nor did it allay the discontent of the colonized in their pushes for independence across the twentieth century. While the honor has sated appetites for heroism, its fetishistic promises have remained unanswered, from Crimean times to our own.

Type
Chapter
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The Crimean War and its Afterlife
Making Modern Britain
, pp. 89 - 122
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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  • The Brave
  • Lara Kriegel, Indiana University
  • Book: The Crimean War and its Afterlife
  • Online publication: 10 February 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108906951.004
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  • The Brave
  • Lara Kriegel, Indiana University
  • Book: The Crimean War and its Afterlife
  • Online publication: 10 February 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108906951.004
Available formats
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To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • The Brave
  • Lara Kriegel, Indiana University
  • Book: The Crimean War and its Afterlife
  • Online publication: 10 February 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108906951.004
Available formats
×