Sir Julian Corbett was at the heart of strategy debates before, during and immediately after the First World War. Educator of the British Royal Navy, he was strongly influenced by Prussian General Carl von Clausewitz, but adapted Clausewitz’s theories to include the naval dimension that was missing in most Prussian writings. In his theories of 'maritime strategy', which were inherently ‘joint’, he combined the traditional Prussian emphasis on land warfare with his own naval concepts and thinking about economic warfare.
In the first episode of this new series of podcasts, Professor Andrew Lambert joins hosts Professor Beatrice Heuser and Paul O'Neill. Andrew sees in Corbett the defender of a distinct British role in the world, advocating a 'British Way of War' detached from the European continent, privileging war at sea over war on land. Can this be reconciled with Corbett's famous dictum that ‘since men live upon the land and not upon the sea, great issues between nations at war have always been decided – except in the rarest cases – either by what your army can do against your enemy’s territory and national life or else by the fear of what the fleet makes it possible for your army to do’?
Julian S Corbett (1907). England in the Seven Years War.
Julian S Corbett (1911). Some Principles of Maritime Strategy.
Andrew Lambert (2021). The British Way of War: Julian Corbett and the Battle for a National Strategy. Yale.
Director, Military Sciences
Senior Associate Fellow