I completed my BA, MPhil and PhD at St. John’s College, Cambridge. I received my PhD in 2018 for a dissertation entitled ‘Frederick the Great and the Meanings of War, 1730-1755’, supervised by Professor Sir Christopher Clark.
From October to December 2015, I was Stipendiat of the Bühler-Bolstorff-Stiftung Berlin and the Stiftung Preußischer Schlösser und Gärten (SPSG). I was delighted to return to the SPSG as RECS-Voltaire-Fellow in December 2018. I have also held fellowships from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz, the Leibniz-Institut für Europäische Geschichte, and the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst. From October 2019, I will be Early Career Fellow at the Lichtenberg-Kolleg – The Göttingen Institute for Advanced Study.
My research examines King Frederick II of Prussia (1740-86) from the perspective of the intellectual history of war. My doctorate fundamentally re-interpreted the much-studied Prussian king by examining not so much Frederick’s military actions or his military writings but rather the intellectual influences inspiring him. I showed Frederick as a backwards-looking military thinker, who exemplified the long eighteenth century’s search for order to prevent the destruction of religious and civil wars. Whereas Frederick has been depicted as a classic example of ‘German militarism’, I showed that Frederick’s military ideas were primarily French, reflecting the towering influence of King Louis XIV of France. I challenged long-held claims about the influence of the Enlightenment on war, showing that, at least in the early eighteenth century, the search for order inspired by the political culture of monarchical states was a much more important driver in shaping war than Enlightenment rationality and calculation. I also examined how ideas are created, showing that Prussian strategy and tactics during Frederick’s campaigns were produced collectively by several figures within the Prussian military hierarchy, so that ‘Frederick’s military ideas’ were not necessarily his own.
My article ‘‘Le Siècle de Louis XIV’: Frederick the Great and French Ways of War’ is forthcoming with German History.