On Saturday 14 January 2017 at the Nottingham Mechanics, 3 North Sherwood Street, Nottingham NG1 4EZ at 2.30 pm Rev Stuart Bell of the University of Birmingham will present The Nottinghamshire History Lecture (2016) on the subject of local churches in World War I.
A notable feature of the Great War was the alacrity with which the vast majority of the population became supportive of Britain’s engagement in the conflict. Most church leaders acted similarly and the Church played an important role in promoting the moral case for the declaration of war. A primary cause was the belief that Britain had a special role in God’s purposes for humanity. As the number of casualties grew, the identification of the conflict as a ‘Holy War’ was exemplified by the representation of the fallen as martyrs. The Edwardian ideals of chivalry, fair-play, justice and sacrifice which undergirded support for the conflict all had a Christian ethical basis. Drawing largely on primary sources from the counties of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, Stuart Bell will argue that the nationalism of the First World War cannot properly be understood without taking very seriously its religious dimension – something which too many younger historians, themselves unfamiliar with Christian language and culture, have failed to recognise.