|Citation||33 & 34 Vict. c.90|
|Royal assent||9 August 1870|
|Text of the Foreign Enlistment Act 1870 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from legislation.gov.uk.|
The Foreign Enlistment Act 1870 (33 & 34 Vict. c.90) is an Act of Parliament of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that seeks to regulate mercenary activities of British citizens.
An act of parliament, also called primary legislation, are statutes passed by a parliament (legislature). Act of the Oireachtas is an equivalent term used in the Republic of Ireland where the legislature is commonly known by its Irish name, Oireachtas. It is also comparable to an Act of Congress in the United States.
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known internationally as the UK Parliament, British Parliament, or Westminster Parliament, and domestically simply as Parliament, is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK and the overseas territories. Parliament is bicameral but has three parts, consisting of the Sovereign, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. The two houses meet in the Palace of Westminster in the City of Westminster, one of the inner boroughs of the capital city, London.
A mercenary, sometimes known as a soldier of fortune, is an individual who takes part in military conflict for personal profit, is otherwise an outsider to the conflict, and is not a member of any other official military. Mercenaries fight for money or other forms of payment rather than for political interests. In the last century, mercenaries have increasingly come to be seen as less entitled to protections by rules of war than non-mercenaries. Indeed, the Geneva Conventions declare that mercenaries are not recognized as legitimate combatants and do not have to be granted the same legal protections as captured soldiers of a regular army. In practice, whether or not a person is a mercenary may be a matter of degree, as financial and political interests may overlap, as was often the case among Italian condottieri.
It received the royal assent on 9 August 1870.
Hansard has reference to "Foreign Enlistment Bill" discussions from 1819 to 2006.Stephen presents late 19th century establishment views. Lorimer publishes the law of 1870 as it was originally enacted.
Sir James Fitzjames Stephen, 1st Baronet, KCSI was an English lawyer, judge and writer.
James Lorimer of Kellyfield, FRSE LLD was a Scottish advocate and professor of public law. He was an authority on international law.
Numerous former members of the UK armed forces had fought in the South American wars of independence against Spain. In those conflicts, trained officers of what was then regarded as the strongest military in the world successfully organised insurgents against Spain and caused major headaches for the Spanish expeditionary forces. Ultimately, Spain lost most of her territorial possessions in the Western Hemisphere and Anglo-Spanish relations were left strained for several decades. A law was passed in 1819to prohibit British subjects from participating in foreign wars, but during the American Civil War it was found to be ineffective.
Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a country mostly located in Europe. Its continental European territory is situated on the Iberian Peninsula. Its territory also includes two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean.
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865, between the North and the South. The most studied and written about episode in U.S. history, the Civil War began primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people. War broke out in April 1861 when secessionist forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina shortly after Abraham Lincoln had been inaugurated as the President of the United States. The loyalists of the Union in the North proclaimed support for the Constitution. They faced secessionists of the Confederate States in the South, who advocated for states' rights to uphold slavery.
On 19 July 1870 Napoleon III of France declared war on the Kingdom of Prussia. The outbreak of hostilities put the UK in a delicate diplomatic position. Although relations between the UK and France had steadily improved since the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the UK's relations with Prussia were also close at the time due to the then-recent marriage of Queen Victoria's eldest daughter to Prussian Crown Prince Frederick.
Napoleon III, the nephew of Napoleon I, was the first elected President of France from 1848 to 1852. When he could not constitutionally be re-elected, he seized power in 1851 and became the Emperor of the French from 1852 to 1870. He founded the Second French Empire and was its only emperor until the defeat of the French army and his capture by Prussia and its allies in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. He worked to modernize the French economy, rebuilt the center of Paris, expanded the overseas empire, and engaged in the Crimean War and the war for Italian unification. After his defeat and downfall he went into exile and died in England in 1873.
The Second French Empire, officially the French Empire, was the regime of Napoleon III from 1852 to 1870, between the Second Republic and the Third Republic, in France.
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the War of 1870, was a conflict between the Second French Empire and later the Third French Republic, and the German states of the North German Confederation led by the Kingdom of Prussia. Lasting from 19 July 1870 to 28 January 1871, the conflict was caused by Prussian ambitions to extend German unification and French fears of the shift in the European balance of power that would result if the Prussians succeeded. Some historians argue that the Prussian chancellor Otto von Bismarck deliberately provoked the French into declaring war on Prussia in order to draw the independent southern German states—Baden, Württemberg, Bavaria and Hesse-Darmstadt—into an alliance with the North German Confederation dominated by Prussia, while others contend that Bismarck did not plan anything and merely exploited the circumstances as they unfolded. None, however, dispute the fact that Bismarck must have recognized the potential for new German alliances, given the situation as a whole.
Following the French declaration of war public opinion in the UK was on the side of Prussia and her German allies, and in other European states (especially Italy) men attempted to volunteer in considerable numbers to fight on the Prussian side. In addition, contrary to the eventual result of the conflict, many neutral military observers thought the French Empire to be stronger than Prussia. Given such considerations, the British government was keen on maintaining neutrality in the conflict at all costs and wary of any actions by its subjects that might have antagonised Napoleon III.
Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a country in Southern Europe. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia and the enclaved microstates San Marino and Vatican City. Italy covers an area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) and has a largely temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. With around 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth-most populous EU member state and the most populous country in Southern Europe.
The Act made it a crime for any subject of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland to enlist themselves in the military of any foreign power at war with any state with which the UK was at peace.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was established by the Acts of Union 1800, which merged the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland.
The last successful prosecution occurred in 1896 in the Leander Starr Jameson trial. A Privy Council report claimed that no successful prosecutions came from the act,[ citation needed ] however this report must have predated the Jameson trial.
Problems with evidence prevented the British government from convicting enlistees to the French Foreign Legion or those thousands who joined the fight against Francisco Franco in Spain.
The Privy Council has claimed the act to be an "antiquated piece of legislation...passed on the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war."
The British Foreign Enlistment Act of 1870 applied throughout the British Empire until the various colonies and dominions formally repealed it. The British statute was not repealed in Canada until 1937 due to concerns that the British statute would not allow for the successful conviction of the Communist Party of Canada's ongoing effort to recruit Canadians for the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War. The Canadian Foreign Enlistment Act of 1937 was passed in April 1937 and formally applied to circumstances in Spain by an order-in-council in July 1937. An investigation was conducted, prosecutors were hired, and warrants were issued for the arrest of participants in the recruiting network, but ultimately there were no prosecutions under the statute.The Canadian Foreign Enlistment Act of 1937 remains a valid statute.
The German Empire, also known as Imperial Germany, was the German nation state that existed from the unification of Germany in 1871 until the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1918.
The Statute of Westminster 1931 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom whose modified versions are now domestic law within Australia and Canada; it has been repealed in New Zealand and implicitly in former Dominions that are no longer Commonwealth realms. Passed on 11 December 1931, the act, either immediately or upon ratification, effectively both established the legislative independence of the self-governing Dominions of the British Empire from the United Kingdom and bound them all to seek each other's approval for changes to monarchical titles and the common line of succession. It thus became a statutory embodiment of the principles of equality and common allegiance to the Crown set out in the Balfour Declaration of 1926. As the statute removed nearly all of the British parliament's authority to legislate for the Dominions, it had the effect of making the Dominions largely sovereign nations in their own right. It was a crucial step in the development of the Dominions as separate states.
The 1860s was the ten-year period from the years 1860 to 1869.
The Austro-Prussian War or Seven Weeks' War was a war fought in 1866 between the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia, with each also being aided by various allies within the German Confederation. Prussia had also allied with the Kingdom of Italy, linking this conflict to the Third Independence War of Italian unification. The Austro-Prussian War was part of the wider rivalry between Austria and Prussia, and resulted in Prussian dominance over the German states.
The Alabama Claims were a series of demands for damages sought by the government of the United States from the United Kingdom in 1869, for the attacks upon Union merchant ships by Confederate Navy commerce raiders built in British shipyards during the American Civil War. The claims focused chiefly on the most famous of these raiders, the CSS Alabama, which took more than sixty prizes before she was sunk off the French coast in 1864.
A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state in which Queen Elizabeth II is the reigning constitutional monarch and head of state. Each realm is independent from the other realms. As of 2019, there are 16 Commonwealth realms: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and the United Kingdom. All 16 Commonwealth realms are members of the Commonwealth of Nations, an intergovernmental organisation of 53 member states. Elizabeth II is Head of the Commonwealth.
The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom that constituted the state of Prussia between 1701 and 1918. It was the driving force behind the unification of Germany in 1871 and was the leading state of the German Empire until its dissolution in 1918. Although it took its name from the region called Prussia, it was based in the Margraviate of Brandenburg, where its capital was Berlin.
Prussia was a historically prominent German state that originated in 1525 with a duchy centred on the region of Prussia on the southeast coast of the Baltic Sea. It was de facto dissolved by an emergency decree transferring powers of the Prussian government to German Chancellor Franz von Papen in 1932 and de jure by an Allied decree in 1947. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organised and effective army. Prussia, with its capital in Königsberg and from 1701 in Berlin, decisively shaped the history of Germany.
Ireland has been neutral in international relations since the 1930s. The nature of Irish neutrality has varied over time, and has been contested since the 1970s. Historically, the state was a "non-belligerent" in the Second World War and has never joined NATO, although during the Cold War it was anti-communist and aloof from the Non-Aligned Movement. The compatibility of neutrality with Ireland's membership of the European Union has been a point of debate in EU treaty referendum campaigns since the 1990s. The Seville Declarations on the Treaty of Nice acknowledge Ireland's "traditional policy of military neutrality", reflecting the narrow formulation of successive Irish governments. Others define Irish neutrality more broadly, as having "a strong normative focus, with a commitment to development, United Nations peacekeeping, human rights and disarmament".
The Fourth Coalition fought against Napoleon's French Empire and was defeated in a war spanning 1806–1807. Coalition partners included Prussia, Russia, Saxony, Sweden, and Great Britain. Several members of the coalition had previously been fighting France as part of the Third Coalition, and there was no intervening period of general peace. On 9 October 1806, Prussia joined a renewed coalition, fearing the rise in French power after the defeat of Austria and establishment of the French-sponsored Confederation of the Rhine. Prussia and Russia mobilized for a fresh campaign, and Prussian troops massed in Saxony.
The Order of the Red Eagle was an order of chivalry of the Kingdom of Prussia. It was awarded to both military personnel and civilians, to recognize valor in combat, excellence in military leadership, long and faithful service to the kingdom, or other achievements. As with most German orders, the Order of the Red Eagle could only be awarded to commissioned officers or civilians of approximately equivalent status. However, there was a medal of the order, which could be awarded to non-commissioned officers and enlisted men, lower ranking civil servants and other civilians.
The Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1942 is an Act of the Australian Parliament that formally adopted sections 2–6 of the Statute of Westminster 1931, an Act of the British Imperial Parliament enabling the total legislative independence of the various self-governing Dominions of the British Empire. The Statute of Westminster further restricted the ability of the Parliament of the United Kingdom to legislate for the Dominions.
The causes of the Franco-Prussian War are deeply rooted in the events surrounding the German unification. In the aftermath of the Austro-Prussian War (1866), Prussia had annexed numerous territories and formed the North German Confederation. Prussia then turned its attention towards the south of Germany, where it sought to expand its influence.
The Neutrality Act of 1794 makes it illegal for an American citizen to wage war against any country at peace with the United States. The Act declares in part:
If any person shall within the territory or jurisdiction of the United States begin or set on foot or provide or prepare the means for any military expedition or enterprise ... against the territory or dominions of any foreign prince or state of whom the United States was at peace that person would be guilty of a misdemeanour.
British–Danish relations are foreign relations between the United Kingdom and Denmark. The United Kingdom has an embassy in Copenhagen and Denmark has an embassy in London. Both countries are full members of NATO and of the European Union, although the United Kingdom plans to leave the European Union.
The European balance of power referred to international relations between European countries during the First World War, which evolved into the present states of Europe. The Nineteenth Century political concept emerged at the Peace of Paris in 1815. It is often known by the term European State System. Its basic tenet is that no single European power should be allowed to achieve hegemony over a substantial part of the continent and that this is best curtailed by having a small number of ever-changing alliances contend for power.
The Anglo-Prussian Alliance was a military alliance created by the Westminster Convention between Great Britain and Prussia which lasted formally between 1756 and 1762 during the Seven Years' War. It allowed Britain to concentrate the majority of its efforts against the colonial possessions of the French-led coalition, while Prussia bore the brunt of the fighting in Europe. It ended in the final months of the conflict, and despite its end, strong ties between the two remained.
A Dominion was the "title" given to the semi-independent polities under the British Crown, constituting the British Empire, beginning with Canadian Confederation in 1867. "Dominion status" was a constitutional term of art used to signify an independent Commonwealth realm; they included Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland, South Africa, and the Irish Free State, and then from the late 1940s also India, Pakistan, and Ceylon. The Balfour Declaration of 1926 recognised the Dominions as "autonomous Communities within the British Empire", and the 1931 Statute of Westminster confirmed their full legislative independence.
This timeline covers the main points of British foreign policy from 1485 to the early 21st century.
The Franco-Irish Ambulance Brigade was a volunteer medical corps sent from Ireland to assist the French Army in the 1870–71 Franco-Prussian War. At the time Ireland was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and parliament had passed the Foreign Enlistment Act 1870 which, in most circumstances, prohibited British citizens from enlisting in foreign armies. As a non-combatant force the ambulance brigade was not covered by the act. Around 280 men joined the brigade which arrived in France in early October 1870. They served with the French armies of the North and of the Loire until the signing of the armistice in January 1871. The unit was controversial as only a minority of the men who enlisted were retained for ambulance service, with many choosing instead to fight in the French Foreign Legion. The British government investigated the unit for breaches of the 1870 act but no prosecutions were brought.