My research examines the ‘Intellectual History of War’, taking the example of the Prussian King Frederick II (reigned 1740 – 1786). 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 eighteenth-century warfare, showing that the search for order inspired by the political culture of monarchical states was a much more important driver in shaping war than Enlightenment ideas. I also examined how military 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 PhD dissertation was awarded the André Corvisier Prize 2019 by the International Commission of Military History. The Corvisier Prize is awarded for the best doctoral thesis on military history defended at any university anywhere in the world during the previous calendar year.
My article ‘‘Le Siècle de Louis XIV’: Frederick the Great and French Ways of War’ is forthcoming with German History.
In Göttingen, I will complete the manuscript for my first book. I will also extend my research on Frederick’s military ideas, focusing on the links between Prussian military medical services and contemporary ideas of welfare.
I completed my BA (2004), MPhil (2007) and PhD (2018) at St. John’s College, Cambridge. My PhD supervisor was Professor Sir Christopher Clark. My research has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, the Leibniz-Institut für Europäische Geschichte, the Bühler-Bolstorff-Stiftung Berlin, the Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz, and the Stiftung Preußischer Schlösser und Gärten.
Before starting my PhD, I worked in the British government, including at the Department of Health and Department for Education. I also spent seven months in India working as a volunteer for LEPRA, a charity helping people affected by leprosy and other diseases of poverty.