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The Prussian Fathers of Greek Military History

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PFoGMH (The Prussian Fathers of Greek Military History)

Reporting period: 2018-10-01 to 2020-09-30

This project examines the nineteenth-century German authors of the first academic works on Ancient Greek warfare. These scholars pioneered the writing of the military history of the Greeks, creating the methods and narratives that would dominate the subfield of history and Classics for more than a century. This work may seem like an esoteric pursuit, of interest only to academics - but in fact it was a matter of wide and deep controversy, prompting decades of feuds between the highest intellectual institutions of Imperial Germany.

In the German-speaking world of the second half of the nineteenth century, military history was not the domain of university professors. It was the soldier-scholars of the Great General Staff who claimed absolute authority on the subject. Their towering status and prestige in a thoroughly militarised society allowed them to challenge classicists and historians on an area of expertise on which they tolerated no rivals. They, the professional soldiers, were the only ones who understood war, in all its ages and forms. They were the practitioners. What could academics really learn about it from reading old books in dusty libraries?

Most scholars accepted the argument and refrained from writing military history - even that of societies as far back as the Ancient Greeks. The academic world accepted that it was out of its depth and discouraged its members from crossing the boundaries of their expertise. The few who did were guided in their efforts by the example of the Great General Staff; they accepted its narrow understanding of military history as a question of weapons, tactics, battles, and lessons in leadership for the present day. The template they set for the study of military history was shaped by this tight, technical, practical focus. The studies of Greek warfare produced in this period - few as they are - present us with a case study of the way questions of authority can shape academic disciplines, and the way attitudes to war can shape the way we write history.

Through the study of published work (books, essays and reviews) as well as archival research, this project hopes to answer basic questions about the intellectual context of the first scholarly works on Greek warfare: why were they written? How were they justified, and to whom? What legacy did they build for the future of this subfield of Greek and military history?
"October 2018 - February 2019
Initial task producing a major publication building on my research monograph.
Credit to Horizon2020 in:
- 'Risk, chance and danger in Classical Greek writing about battle', Journal of Ancient History 8.2 (2020), 1-12
- 'Playing dice for the polis: pitched battle in Greek military thought', Transactions of the American Philological Association 151.1 (2021), in press

December 2018
Participation in the British Academy/Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (Delhi) meeting titled 'Violence and Democracy', resulting in 1 deliverable:
- 'Democracy as protection against intra-communal violence in Classical Greece', in British Academy (ed.), Violence and Democracy (London, 2019), 44-47

March - August 2019
Initial review of secondary literature. Compilation of preliminary findings.
Credit to Horizon2020 in:
- 'For the use of soldiers: the study of Greek warfare in nineteenth-century Germany', paper delivered at the Institute of Classical Studies Ancient History Seminar, London, 23 May 2019

September - December 2019
Work to complete 2 edited volumes (previous commitments), now submitted to academic publishers for review.
Other work based on previous research:
- 'Improvisers in soldiering: the amateurism of Classical Greek warfare', paper delivered at Nagoya University, Nagoya, 21 October 2019

January - March 2020
Work on aspects and offshoots of the main project.
Credit to Horizon2020 in:
- 'Foundations: Max Weber as an ancient historian', paper delivered (with Dr J. Bouterse) at the Institute of Historical Research Philosophy of History Seminar, London, 20 February 2020
- 'Who wrote Kromayer's survey of Greek warfare?', History of Classical Scholarship 2 (2020), 1-17
- 'Max Weber, the rise of the polis, and the hoplite revolution theory' (with F. Echeverría), Journal of the History of Ideas (under review)

April - July 2020
Work on aspects of the main project.
Credit to Horizon2020 in:
- 'Greek warfare and historiography', paper delivered for the Wolfson Ancient Warfare Wednesdays seminar series, Cambridge, 1 July 2020
In addition, Horizon2020 is credited in Twitter threads about Wilhelm Rüstow (25 April 2020, 115,869 impressions) and Hans Delbrück (14 July 2020, 8404 impressions).

August 2020
Fieldwork in archives and library collections in Liestal, Zürich and Vienna, studying the surviving personal documents of Wilhelm Rüstow and Adolf Bauer.

September 2020
Compilation of a discussion of the controversy between Delbrück and Kromayer (1900-1905), including biographical and methodological study.
Compilation of research notes; identification of last elements of secondary literature to be studied.

I am under contract to present the final results of this project as a monograph in the Brill Research Perspectives on Ancient History series, titled ""Foundations of Greek Military History"" (2021)."
"The works examined in this project have never been the subject of academic study. Many of their authors are obscure, or known and studied mainly for other reasons. As such, both the biographical aspect of this project and the study of the content, methodology and reception of the key academic works will produce entirely new insights into the genesis of a subfield and its contribution to the study of Classics and military history as a whole.

The intended end result is not just a window into the intellectual environment of nineteenth-century Prussia and Imperial Germany, but also a study of the afterlife of a particular, militarised perspective. The limitations placed on the study of military history in this period resulted in a very particular approach to the subject, which emphasised the practical use of knowledge of past wars for modern officers. This left a huge mark on the study of Greek warfare as well. I hope to trace the legacy of ""Prussian"" ideas and approaches on the subfield: the way their militaristic perspective has defined the questions we ask and the answers we seek. It is my hope that such a study will help my colleagues in the study of Greek military history to reframe and rethink their efforts, and to be more aware of its peculiar roots.

At the same time, I will work continuously in public engagement and knowledge transfer. I am one of the moderators of the largest public history forum on the internet, where my research directly informs my answers to questions from users about history. I use my social media platform to broadcast my findings and increase awareness of the role of personalities and their unique perspectives in shaping our understanding of Greek warfare. I am a script consultant for several major YouTube channels working on videos about the ancient world (Invicta, Kurzgesagt). I participate in podcasts (AskHistorians, Greek History Podcast) to broadcast the importance of historiography as an aspect of the study of history, and the way it can change interpretations of a subfield like the warfare of the Greeks."