From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present


RIAT 2022

Fort Nelson

Muckleburgh Collection

Bletchley Park

Military has at least two meanings. It can refer to soldiers who represent their country and constitution or it can refer to armed forces as a whole. Over the years, military units have come in all shapes and sizes. They have been as small as a handful of medieval peasants banded together for battle under their feudal lord or as large as the invasion force created in 1944 for D-Day. They can be as rigidly organized or virtually self contained like the Knights Templar during the Crusades. Some states have even placed military prowess at the heart of government or are run by a military dictatorship. The relationship between the military and the society it serves is a complicated and ever-evolving one. Much depends on the nature of the society itself and whether it sees the military as important as for example in time of threat or war or a burdensome expense as typified by defence cuts in time of peace.

The business of soldiering is older than recorded history itself. Some of the most enduring images of the classical world portray the power and feats of antiquity's military leaders. At about 274Bc the first emperor of unified China, Qin Shi Huang, was so determined to impress the gods with his military might that he was buried with an army of terracotta soldiers. The Romans were keen on military matters, leaving to posterity many treatises and writings as well as a large number of lavishly carved triumphal arches and columns celebrating their victories. In our own era world wars and countless other major conflicts have changed the political landscape beyond recognition. Empires have come and gone; states have grown and expired. Enormous social changes have been wrought and military power continues to dominate international politics. The role of the military today is as central to society as it ever was.

The first recorded use of military or militarie in English, was in 1585. It comes from the Latin militaris from Latin miles meaning "soldier" that is someone skilled in arms, engaged in military service or in warfare. As an adjective military originally applied only to soldiers and soldiering, but it soon broadened to apply to land forces in general and anything to do with their business. The names of both the Royal Military Academy 1741 and United States Military Academy 1802 reflect this. However, about this time it started to be applied to armed forces as a whole and nowadays expressions like "military service", "military intelligence" and "military history" reflect this broader meaning. As a noun the military usually refers generally to a country's armed forces or sometimes, more specifically, to the senior officers running them.

This page will only concern itself with more modern locations. Castles and hill forts for example can be classed as military but have there own pages.