Julian Corbett and the Development of a Maritime Strategy
Rogers, Samuel E
Sir Julian Corbett (1854-1922) is one of the two most influential theorists of sea power. He defined maritime operations, limited war, and our understanding of the "British Way of War," while also foreshadowing the Great War at Sea. Corbett's lasting theoretical contributions to strategic thought are captured in Some Principles of Maritime Strategy (1911). It remains a centerpiece of military and international relations theory and continues to be studied in professional military education alongside Thucydides, Sun Tzu, Antoine-Henri Jomini, Carl von Clausewitz, and Alfred Thayer Mahan. Corbett's influential theories were shaped by multiple influences, including Mahan, Corbett's own study of British sea power, his reading and understanding of Clausewitz's On War, and Admiral John Fisher's naval revolution at the turn of the twentieth century. While Mahan linked sea power with national power, Corbett illuminated this relationship and displayed a keen understanding, developed through his own historical study, of the limits of sea power, and war more broadly, as an instrument of national policy. His influential theory on the role of sea power in the geopolitical context of the European balance of power at the turn of the twentieth century is a clear reflection of Britain's rapidly changing strategic environment and the equally rapid changes in military technology. Heavily influenced by Admiral Fisher, Corbett, building on the work of Mahan and military theorist Carl von Clausewitz, defined maritime strategy, limited war, command of the sea, and, at the height of the British Empire, laid the ground work for understanding a "British way of war." Corbett was first and foremost a historian and a professional military educator. Corbett tied the study of history to the development of theory with a constant focus on the role of education in developing a leader's critical thinking and judgment. Corbett introduced new interpretive approaches to the study of military history based on his interaction with the burgeoning military theory of the nineteenth century. Corbett's historical writing evolved over a prolific decade of multi-volume works from 1898 to 1911 and directly influenced his conception of maritime strategy that underpinned his lasting contribution to military theory. Corbett was one of the earliest and most enduring contributors to fully establish the link between history, theory, and professional military education. Some Principles of Maritime Strategy was the culmination of Corbett's study of history and his lasting achievement. Ultimately, however, Corbett wrote Some Principles of Maritime Strategy, at Fisher's behest, to educate officers and statesmen about the Royal Navy's maritime and economic doctrine for dealing with the rising threat of Imperial Germany.
Rogers, Samuel E. (November 2018). Julian Corbett and the Development of a Maritime Strategy (Master's Thesis, East Carolina University). Retrieved from the Scholarship. (http://hdl.handle.net/10342/7028.)
Rogers, Samuel E. Julian Corbett and the Development of a Maritime Strategy. Master's Thesis. East Carolina University, November 2018. The Scholarship. http://hdl.handle.net/10342/7028. July 24, 2021.
Rogers, Samuel E, “Julian Corbett and the Development of a Maritime Strategy” (Master's Thesis., East Carolina University, November 2018).
Rogers, Samuel E. Julian Corbett and the Development of a Maritime Strategy [Master's Thesis]. Greenville, NC: East Carolina University; November 2018.
East Carolina University