** school uniform : military schools country trends

School Uniform: Military Schools--Country Trends

Information on military schools in individual countries includes the following. As explained above, there are different kinds of military schools and the types of schools which developed varied from country to counbtry. National military accademies began to appear in the 18th century. These were formal schools for boys intending to persue military careers and reflected the increasing technical aspects of war. Most of the boys attending these schools in the 18th century were drawn from the nobility. Information is generally easily available on national military accademies to prepare professional soldiers. Less available is information on private often boarding schools for children on the U.S. model.


I'm sure that military schools existed in Austria at least by the 18th Century, although I have few details at this time. Some of the early choir schools were run somewhat like military schools with army uniforms. Several movies have been set in Austrian and German military academies.


I have no information on Belgian military schools at this time.


Britain established the Woolwich artillery school in 1741. Notably artillery was the most technically demanding branch of the military. Schools for boys were much more limited. England appears to have the most limited number of military schools of any major European country. While it was more common for English boys to go to boarding school than elsewhere in Europe, almost none of the schools were military schools. This does not, however, seem to have always been the case. There were numerous naval training schools located throughout England before World War I.


France founded L'Ecole Militaire in Paris during 175I. Napoleon as a boy attended a military school and subsequently a national military school for older teenagers just before he received his commission. As he was a Corsican, he was teased by the other boys. Even so his talent for leadership emerged even at this early age. I have also seen images of French boys in military uniforms, but have no details at this time on the schools.

Figure 2.--We at first thought that these wee boys at a German military school. We then recognized the boys as the the Kaiser's grandsons. They seem to be just wearing the uniforms, but were not cadets at a milutary school.


Brandenburg and subsequently Brandenburg-Prussia was a relatively poor German principality. The ruling family's origins lay with the Teutonic Knights, a martial order. Frederich Wilhelm, the Great Elector, helped forge the military tradition of Prussia. He made Prussia a state primarily designed to support an army. This was in part necessary for Prussia to maintain itself in a region surounded by more powerful states. Prussia in 1717 established a school and Cadet Corps in Berlin to instruct officers. This is the earliest formal military school we know about. Prussia became the core which the German Empire was built around. Germany in the last half of the 19h century and first half of the 20th century had the most powerful army in the world. Thus it is understandable that their might be a number of military schools in the country. Quite a number of important German officers attended military schools as boys. We also note that German statesman Ottom von Bismarck attended a military school as a boy. We know, however, very little about these schools. I believe that military schools were more common in Germany than elsewhere in Europe. Strangely they appear to have been most common in America, the reasons for which we do not fully understand. Many biographies of well know Germans before 1945 mention attending military schools. Discipline was very strict at these schools, especially the Prussian schools. Many of the most prestigious schools were in Prussia. We do not yet have detailed information on these school and would be interested in any information that readers may have.


Hungary was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1918. We know that some Hungarian boys attended military school. We do not, however, know if there were military schools actually located in Hungary and conducted in the Hungarian language or if Hungarian cadets attended Austrian schools and studied in German. At this time HBC has little information on the military and educational system of Austro-Hungary. As a result of the revolution of 1848, the Empire was made a dual monary with the Emperor holding both the Hungarian and Austrian crowns. We areunsure, however, to what extent the reforms were really window dresing as opposed to fundamental reforms.


Reports exists of military schools in Italy in the 18th century, well before the founding of modern Italy. HBC has, however, little information on Italian military schools available yet.


HBC has little information about military schools in Romania. We have noted, however, a postcard describing the Mountain Hunters School taken in 1919-1920. We know nothing about the school. Hopefully our Romanian readers can provide some information. The boys wear military uniforms with very large berets. Romania at the time had just become an independent country which was fprmed out of the breakup of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire.


One of the earliest European military schools as we now know them was founded in Russia. Peter the Great fomded a miliary academy in 1698. Another source mentions a school founded in 1732. There was compulsory military training of boys in the old Soviet schools. This fell into abeyance following the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991, President Putin reportedly wants to bring it back in order put to some backbone into "wayward" Russian youth. Hopefully our Russian readers will provide us more information.

United States

America has a rather limited history of boarding schools, but for some reason quite a number of the military schools that did exist were military schools. I'm not sure why this was, but by the mid-19th Century several such schools were in operation. There are some tragic stories of the boys even being deployed in Civil War battles. Most of the American military were boarding schools. There were, however, also some day schools. Unlike many of the European military schools, American boys were generally sent to military schools for the beneficial impact of discipline and not in preparation for a career in the military. Often it was unruly boys who might be sent to a military school. Many parents decided on military schools as a way of instilling discipline in their children. Most military schools are secondary schools, but there are some elementary military schools as well. Almost all military schools are private fee paying schools. Military schools continue to florish in America. One urban school district (Chicago) has even established a public (state) boarding school.


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Created: October 27, 1998
Last updated: 10:36 PM 6/2/2008