Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

John Rankin

Committee Members

Stephen Fritz, William Douglas Burgess


This thesis examines martial race ideology in the British Army during the mid-nineteenth century. A “martial race” was a group of people that the British considered to excel in the art of warfare due to biological and cultural characteristics. This thesis examines perceived “martial” natures or lack thereof of the Highland Scots and the Irish during this era. Central to this analysis are the Crimean War (1853-1856) and the Indian Mutiny of 1857 which provided opportunities for soldiers to display their “martial” qualities. The Crimean War was the first war where the daily newspapers covered every aspect of the war using correspondents, and it gave soldiers the chance to gain recognition through this medium. The Indian Mutiny represented a crisis for Britain, and it gave soldiers the opportunity to be recognized as “stabilizers of the empire.” However, despite their similarities, the Highland regiments became some of the most revered regiments while the Irish came to be seen as untrustworthy, leading many in the British government to initiate efforts to decrease the role that the Irish played in Britain’s conflicts. This reluctance was due to the turmoil that erupted as a result of the anti-Union Fenian Brotherhood in Ireland during the 1860s. The difficulty in stabilizing Ireland in the wake of Fenian terrorist attacks also exposed old prejudices of the Irish related to religion, race, and class. This was evidenced through parliamentary debates and British newspapers reporting on the crises.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.