Resistance in Upper Normandy, 1940-1944


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis aims to make an original contribution to knowledge by looking at the phenomenon of resistance in the French region of Upper Normandy between 1940 and 1944 from a perspective of ˜history from below', by looking principally at the testimonies of former resisters, and demonstrating a political history of resistance.
The introduction defines what is meant by Upper Normandy and justifies its choice as a region for this study, before analysing both the historiography and the epistemology of resistance, both locally and nationally, and then giving a justification and an analysis of the methodology used.
The main body of the thesis is then divided into four chapters. Chapter one looks at resistance that was designed to revolutionise society, by looking at Communist resisters and the idea of the grand soir, as well as the sociological origins of these resisters, and how this influenced their resistance action. Chapter two looks at more gradualist forms of resistance, which were conceived to slowly prepare for an eventual liberation and the struggle against Vichyite hegemony, arguing that these resisters formed a ˜resistance aristocracy', aiming to slowly forge a post-Vichy vision of the polis. Chapter three analyses resistance purely from a patriotic angle, and identifies three different forms of patriotism, before arguing that resistance was part of a process to ˜remasculate' France after the defeat of 1940, and that these resisters saw their engagement as primarily being one of serving France. Chapter four looks at auxiliary resistance, or resistance actions that were designed to help people, whether they were fleeing persecution or were active resisters, aiming to show that resistance went beyond just organisations and networks, and could be about facilitating other actions rather than direct confrontation.
The conclusion then argues for a new understanding of resistance, not as une organisation or even un mouvement, but as a form of la cité, or polis, engaged in creating a new form of polity. It shows that the political history of resistance is a combination of institutional politics and expression politics, and that resistance, even if not necessarily politicised, was political by its very nature.
Date of Award28 Jun 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Edge Hill University
SupervisorDANIEL GORDON (Director of Studies) & ROGER SPALDING (Supervisor)


  • France
  • Normandy
  • Twentieth Century
  • Second World War
  • Political History
  • Resistance

Cite this