Dr Adam Storring’s article ‘‘The Age of Louis XIV‘‘: Frederick the Great and French Ways of War, published in German History, demonstrates that the military ideas of King Frederick the Great of Prussia up to the Seven Years War (1756–1763) were primarily inspired by France, and particularly by the towering figure of King Louis XIV. It examines the intellectual inspirations for Frederick’s military ideas, showing that French military influence reflected the strength of French cultural influence in the long eighteenth century and the importance of Louis XIV as a model for monarchical self-representation. Frederick’s famous personal command of his armies reflected the Enlightenment concept of the ‘great man’ (grand homme), but Frederick thereby sought primarily to outdo the Sun King, whom Voltaire had criticized for merely accompanying his armies while his generals won battles for him. The example of Frederick thus demonstrates that not only rulers but also enlightened philosophers often looked backwards toward older monarchical examples.
Frederick sought to create his own ‘Age of Louis XIV’ in the military sphere by imitating the great French generals of the Sun King. Frederick’s famous outflanking manoeuvres followed the example of famous French generals, reflecting the practice of the more mobile armies of the mid-seventeenth century. Frederick used French practice to justify his attacks with the bayonet, and his ‘short and lively’ wars reflected French strategic traditions. The evidence of French influence on Frederick seriously challenges concepts of a ‘German Way of War’, and indeed of supposed national ‘ways of war’ in general, emphasizing the need for a transnational approach to the history of military thought.
Adam Storring completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge under the supervision of Professor Sir Christopher Clark. From October to December 2015, he was Stipendiat of the Bühler-Bolstorff-Stiftung Berlin and the Stiftung Preußischer Schlösser und Gärten (SPSG), and he returned to the SPSG as RECS-Voltaire-Fellow in December 2018. He is currently Early Career Fellow at the Lichtenberg-Kolleg – The Göttingen Institute for Advanced Study.
Es gibt wohl keine Persönlichkeit der friderizianischen Geschichte des achtzehnten Jahrhunderts, deren Lebensbeschreibung stärker von Legenden und Anekdoten durchzogen und geprägt ist, als die des Generals der Kavallerie Hans Joachim von Zieten. Berühmt ist er vor allem als „Zieten aus dem Busch“, ein Bild, das ihn mit der für die Husarenwaffe im Krieg so wichtigen Kühnheit, Verwegenheit und Überraschung personifiziert. Wann dieser ehrenvolle Name zum ersten Mal gefallen ist, lässt sich vor dem Hintergrund der leider nur spärlichen Überlieferung nicht mit Bestimmtheit sagen. Doch das Gerücht geht, es sei 1744, zu Beginn des Zweiten Schlesischen Krieges gewesen.
RECS is delighted to congratulate Dr Adam Storring, who has been awarded the André Corvisier Prize by the International Commission of Military History (ICMH) for the best doctoral dissertation on military history defended anywhere in the world in 2018.
Dr Storring completed his dissertation – ‘Frederick the Great and the Meanings of War: 1730 – 1755’ – at St. John’s College, University of Cambridge, under the supervision of the Regius Professor of History, Sir Christopher Clark. The key stage of his archival research in Berlin was funded by a joint fellowship from the Stiftung Preußischer Schlösser und Gärten and the Bühler-Bolstorff-Stiftung Berlin. In December 2018, he returned to RECS as Gastwissenschaftler für Foschungen zur friderizianischen Geschichte.
The Jury praised Dr Storring’s dissertation as ‘an ambitious but not reckless effort to re-interpret King Frederick the Great of Prussia as military commander and military thinker, and, from the perspective of his personality to cast new perspectives on the warfare of his time’. It noted that, ‘the author maintains that Frederick’s “personal rule” of his army looked not only backwards toward the age of Louis XIV but also forwards toward the Enlightenment and the public sphere. Dr Storring’s balanced, well-argued and documented conclusion is that certainly Frederick was an able commander, but military histories overwhelmingly focusing on the King himself must be corrected, since the development of Prussian military ideas was a collective effort, as shown by the monarch’s unpublished manuscript correspondence with his generals.’
Dr Storring will be presented with the prize at the ICMH Congress, held in Sofia, Bulgaria, from 18 to 23 August.
Der Prinz von Preußen August Wilhelm starb am 12. Juni 1758 auf zweifache Weise: Er starb an Atemnot, an einem „Catarrhe suffocativ“, wie seine Schwester Amalie bezeugte. Und er starb aus Gram über die Behandlung, die er durch seinem Bruder Friedrich erdulden musste, wie ein Gerücht besagte, das sich bis in den Anfang des 20. Jahrhunderts hielt. Dass aber Krankheit und Tod des Prinzen die Nachwelt stärker beschäftigten als sein Leben, lag an den Umständen, die dem Ende August Wilhelms vorausgegangen waren. Denn die letzten zwölf Monate seines Lebens wiesen mehr Dramatik auf als die vorausgegangenen fünfunddreißig Jahre. Sie boten reichlich Stoff für Diskussionen, in deren Mittelpunkt das Verhalten des Königs und die Ehre des Prinzen standen. Das Geschehen, Friedrichs Verhalten, August Wilhelms Charakter und Verteidigung sollen in den folgenden vier Kapiteln neu betrachtet und bewertet werden. „Texte des RECS #33: Die verlorene Ehre des Prinzen von Preußen“ weiterlesen
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.