Intrepid Women

Intrepid Women

Cantinières and Vivandières of the French Army
Thomas Cardoza
Distribution: World
Publication date: 3/23/2010
Format: cloth 312 pages, 12 b&w illus.
6 x 9 x .96875
ISBN: 978-0-253-35451-8
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Cantinières and vivandières were women who served as official, uniformed combat auxiliaries of French army units from 1793 to the eve of World War I. Technically non-combatant spouses of active-duty soldiers, they fought and died in every conflict from the wars of the Revolution through colonial campaigns in Algeria, Mexico, West Africa, and Indochina. At a time when women were strictly controlled by the Napoleonic Code, cantinières owned property, traveled widely, and exercised a fierce independence from their husbands. However, despite their actions, they passed largely under the radar of the growing feminist and anti-feminist movements that flourished in France from 1792 onward. Based on extensive archival research as well as published sources, Intrepid Women is the first serious book-length study of a previously ignored aspect of women's and military history.

Author Bio

Thomas Cardoza is Professor of Humanities at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada.


"A richly detailed account, well written and continually engaging from start to finish." —Margaret Darrow, Dartmouth College

"This is an excellent, pioneering, and always interesting study of an area of French military history that has now found its historian." —Alan Forrest, University of York

"[The author] is to be congratulated on his attempt to shed some light on the role of the cantinière in both war and peace. The role of women in war has been overlooked for far too long." —

"... a major and valuable accomplishment. It is gratifying to see these formidable women given their story and their due." —American Historical Review , June 2011

"Overall, this is a well-written, richly detailed and satisfying book on a topic that has been unfairly ignored, and deserves greater attention. . . . With this book, [Cardoza] dispels many shadows surrounding the French
cantinières and provides an engaging and insightful portrayal of their lives." —H-France Review

"[T]his is a well-researched and innovative account. The 'intrepid women' of the French army have found their historian." —European History Quarterly

"This exemplary work is a riveting account, written in a very accessible style that shows the benefits of women’s history to readers of many disciplines." —Women's History Review

"Cardoza's book is well-written, thorough, very readable, and most of all, original. As a result of his painstaking research, Cardoza easily convinces his readers of the importance of the cantinières to both military and feminist history. He corrects questionable assertions that had remained unchallenged until now and rightfully points out what other historians and feminist scholars blatantly missed or ignored altogether." —Women's Studies Intnl Forum

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Table of Contents

1. An Uncertain Existence: Vivandières in the Royal Army
2. "Absolutely Necessary": Vivandières in the Armies of the French Revolution
3. Expanded Opportunities: Cantinières in the Armies of Napoleon
4. "Useful and Necessary": Cantinières and the Constitutional Monarchies
5. The Second Empire: The "Golden Age" of the Cantinières
6. The Third Republic and the End of the Cantinières
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