In a newly-released podcast, published by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), former RECS Voltaire Fellow Dr Adam Storring (now at King’s College London) discusses the military strategy of King Frederick II of Prussia in its wider political, social and cultural context.
Dr Storring discusses how Frederick’s war-making related to his interest in the Enlightenment, presents the place of the Prussian army within Prussian society, and explains how Frederick was influenced both by the classics and by the contemporary world of dynastic states. He discusses Frederick’s strategy of ‘short and lively’ wars, explains how it was substantially learnt from French examples, and sets out the cautionary lessons that it holds for modern strategy-makers.
Adam Storring was a fellow of the Bühler-Bolstorff-Stiftung Berlin and the Stiftung Preußische Schlösser und Gärten Berlin-Brandenburg (SPSG) from October to December 2015, and returned to the SPSG as RECS Voltaire Fellow in December 2018. He is currently Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College London.
So far, the long-running Military Revolution debate has focused primarily on changes in military technology and the growth of states in early modern Europe. In his new essay “Our Age”. Frederick the Great, Classical Warfare, and the Uses and Abuses of Military History, recently published in the International Journal of Military History and Historiography, Dr Adam Storring adds a new perspective. He uses the example of King Frederick II (“the Great”) of Prussia to highlight how changes in the character of war were perceived by contemporaries, and how they used narratives of change for rhetorical purposes. Frederick and his contemporaries saw their own time as more intellectually advanced than any previous age, and this narrative of intellectual progress existed alongside a narrative of states bringing order. Frederick articulated largely consistent ideas about military history, but also used concepts of the superiority of “our age” to extoll the virtues of his own oblique order of battle, and manipulated narratives of technological change to apologise for his own mistakes. Frederick also turned to an idealised classical world – particularly Julius Caesar – to envisage conquests that went beyond the limits of his own day.
Adam Storring completed his PhD at St Johnʼs College, University of Cambridge, under the supervision of Professor Sir Christopher Clark. From October to December 2015, he was scholarship holder of the Bühler-Bolstorff-Stiftung Berlin and of the Stiftung Preußische Schlösser und Gärten Berlin-Brandenburg (SPSG). He returned to the SPSG as RECS-Voltaire-Fellow in December 2018. Currently, he is Early Career Fellow at the Lichtenberg-Kolleg – The Göttingen Institute for Advanced Study.