Military & War History

Violent conflict, and the organization of society for such conflict, has always been a vital part of history, often a tragic part. The University of Virginia’s history faculty research and teach about the causes and character of warfare from ancient Greece and Rome, to medieval Europe, to the American Civil War, to the Cold War, to the twilight wars of today. Modern military history includes the study of why some of these pivotal events turned out the way they did, but it is about much more than campaigns and battles. It involves how warfare, or preparation for war, molds countries, societies, and cultural identity. It is about the experience of leaders, soldiers, and civilians and how these experiences are later remembered and understood (or not). Military and war history necessarily explore how societies develop new technologies or change their economies or refashion norms in gender and race relations, or reflect on laws and norms that respect the common humanity of war’s victims. In this last category in particular, there is often an overlap with the history of genocide. Especially in recent generations, military and war history also very much deal with the world of intelligence gathering and the way governments and peoples assess each other, sometimes in fear – hopefully in friendship.