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Julian Corbett

(1854-1922)

Staff Histories

in Julian Corbett (Ed.), Naval and Military Essays,


being papers read in the Naval and Military Section at the International Congress of Historical Studies 1913

Cambridge, at the University Press, 1914, pp. 3-22.

Julian Corbett 1854-1922


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sir Julian Stafford Corbett (12 November 1854, Walcot House, Kennington Road, Lambeth 21 September 1922, Manor Farm, Stopham, Pulborough, Sussex[1]) was a prominent British naval historian and geostrategist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, whose works helped shape the Royal Navy's reforms of that era. One of his most famous works is Some Principles of Maritime Strategy, which remains a classic among students of naval warfare. Corbett was a good friend and ally of naval reformer Admiral John "Jackie" Fisher, the First Sea Lord. He was chosen to write the official history of Naval operations during World war I. Early life and education The son of a London architect and property developer, Charles Joseph Corbett, who owned among other properties Imber Court at Weston Green, Thames Ditton, where he made the family home, Julian Corbett was educated at Marlborough College (186973) and at Trinity College, Cambridge (18736), where he took a first class honours degree in law.[2] Corbett became a Barrister at Middle Temple in 1877 and practised until 1882 when he turned to writing as a career. Fascinated by the Elizabethan period, he first wrote historical novels on this period. He became a correspondent for the Pall Mall Gazette, and reported on the Dongola Expedition in 1896. Corbett came to naval history in mid-life and from a civilian background. He was a man of independent means who traveled extensively. Julian Corbett had three brothers, Herbert E. (1876-), Edward M. (1899-) and Frank E. (1881-). In 1899 he Married Edith Alexander, daughter of George Alexander. They had one son and one daughter. Career as a naval historian In 1896 he accepted John Knox Laughtons request to edit a volume of documents on the Spanish war, 1585 87 which served as the start of his career as a naval historian. Corbett became known as one of the Royal Navys leading intellectuals, and from 1901 to 1922 was writing regularly on naval history and strategy. In 1902 he began lecturing at the British Naval War College, founded in 1900. In 1903, he gave the Ford Lectures in English History at Oxford University. In 1905, he became the Admiraltys chief unofficial strategic adviser and served as secretary of the Cabinet Historical Office. Appointed a knight in 1917, he was awarded the Chesney Gold Medal in 1914. Work Like his American contemporary, Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan of the U.S. Navy, Corbett saw naval warfare as part of a nation's larger policies. In this respect, the Prussian military thinker Carl von Clausewitz was an important influence on his work. Another major influence on Corbett was Professor John Knox Laughton, arguably the first naval historian, and of whom Corbett has been described as his 'protg'.[3] Corbett differed from Mahan, however, in placing less emphasis on fleet battle. This stance angered many officers in the Royal Navy, who believed such a view lacked the heroic aspect of Lord Nelson's strategy in the Napoleonic Wars. Corbetts primary objective was to fill the void in British naval doctrine by formalizing the theories and principles of naval warfare. The strategies of naval warfare by Corbett focused on the art of naval warfare and defined the differences between land warfare and naval warfare. He set the initial focus towards the employment of manoeuvre type doctrine. Corbetts principles of sea control, focus on the enemy, and manoeuvre for tactical advantage form the foundation of todays naval manoeuvre warfare. Corbett was working from within the naval community and trying to influence the naval establishment. Corbett believed in studying and developing the theory of war for educational purposes which he felt established a common vehicle of expression and a common plane of thought . . . for the sake of mental solidarity between a chief and his subordinates. Through his lectures at the Naval War College, Corbett was trying to convey to the attending flag-officers his ideas of limited war and the strategic defence which were very different from the accepted norms of naval theory and strategy of the time. Through his publication of Some Principles of Maritime Strategy Corbett was trying to expand the audience for his strategies and teachings to include the general public. Historical context of Corbett's work At the turn of the century Corbett emerged as one of the first authors in the development of modern naval doctrine. Drawing from the influences of Baron de Jomini and Carl von Clausewitz, Corbett was instrumental in attempting to apply the existing theories of land warfare for war at sea. Clausewitzs On War was an invaluable basis and stimulus for Corbetts theoretical work; however, it was not his blueprint. For example, Corbett did not hesitate to take issue with Clausewitz, Jomini or other continental strategists on the importance of the search for the decisive battle and the principle of concentration. The fact that Corbett believed these factors to be far less relevant at sea was a daring departure from the accepted wisdom of his time. In developing his theory of limited war, Corbett again used On War as his point of departure but ended up with his own, unique method of waging a limited war in a maritime environment. Corbetts views about war Corbett offered no general theory of warfare at sea. Instead, Corbett focused his thoughts on the nature of maritime strategy and what the meaning of naval warfare meant to the power of a nation. While many theorists of naval warfare tried to mechanically adopt land warfare concepts to the maritime environment, Corbett countered that the interest and requirement of naval warfare differed in fundamental ways from those of land warfare.a. Corbett felt that protecting lines of communication was much more difficult to enforce at sea than on land. This difficulty was the physical geographical differences of the sea and land. Because of these physical differences, Corbett analyzed naval warfare in its own terms, having its own unique characteristics. Corbett stated that you cannot conquer the sea because it is not susceptible to ownership. This led to Corbett's most important contribution to the early theories of naval warfare. What mattered most was not Mahan's concept of physical destruction of the enemy, but the act of passage on the sea. To Corbett, command of the sea was a relative and not an absolute which could be categorized as general or local, temporary or permanent. Corbett defined the two fundamental methods of obtaining control of the lines of communication as the actual physical destruction or capture of enemy warships and merchants, and or a naval blockade. Today, this concept is defined as sea control. b. Corbett was not infatuated with the search for the decisive battle or with the need for the strategic offensive. In general, he favored the strategic defensive, with an emphasis on the offensive at the operational level. Corbetts strategic defence advocated such measures as an intense local offensive, the projection of land forces, various types of blockades, and raids on enemy trade routes. Moreover, Corbett recognized that once the enemy has been sufficiently weakened on sea and on land, the shift to the strategic offensive should not be delayed. c. Corbett did not believe that the concentration of naval forces at sea was the highest and simplest

law of strategy. On the contrary, he observed that the principle of concentration had become a kind of shibboleth that had done more harm than good. The principle of concentration is a truism no one would dispute it. As a canon of practical strategy, it is untrue. Corbett felt that superior concentration thus not only deterred the weaker opponent from seeking battle but presented him with an opportunity to attack his enemys exposed national lines of communication. Corbett felt that superior concentration of naval forces created yet another serious problem. The greater the concentration of a fleet, the more difficult it was to conceal its whereabouts and movements. d. In the process of adapting Clausewitzs theory to the unique circumstances of naval warfare, Corbett developed his own innovative theory of limited war in maritime strategy. The first of his two main points was that in wartime conditions on the continent, as opposed to those in the maritime and imperial environment, wars were fought mostly between adjacent states. Corbetts second point was that in wars between contiguous continental states there will be no strategical obstacle to his [the enemys] being able to use his whole force. In other words, the nature of continental war makes it difficult to limit political aims, because one or both states are able to use all of the means at their disposal to protect the inevitably threatened vital interests. As Corbett demonstrated, this means that the conditions for the ideal limited war exist only in maritime warfare and can only be exploited by the preponderant naval power: Limited war is only permanently possible to island Powers or between Powers which are separated by sea, and then only when the Power desiring limited war is able to command the sea to such a degree as to be able not only to isolate the distant object, but also to render impossible the invasion of his home territory. e. Like Clausewitz, Corbett shared a belief in the primacy of politics in war and in devising an appropriate strategy to protect the national interests. However, Corbett was interested in the diplomatic alliance systems and coalitions formed before and during a war, and he was concerned with the economic and financial dimensions of waging war as well as with the technological and material aspects of war, which were of no interest to Clausewitz. Works of enduring value Corbetts value for todays military professional lies in four of his concepts: (1) controlling lines of communications, focus on the enemy, and manoeuvre for tactical advantage; (2) the aspects of political, economic and financial dimensions of waging war as well as with the technological and material aspects of war; (3) the primacy of politics in war and in devising an appropriate strategy to protect the national interests and (4) the emphasis on efficiency in battle while preserving costly assets. However, it can be argued that his concept of limited war on isolated countries or nation states would be very difficult to achieve with todays political and economic intricacies between nations in conjunction with current technologies on a symmetric battlefield. However, they could still be applied on an asymmetric battlefield with success. Writing about Corbett Beyond the University of London's annual award of the Julian Corbett Prize in Naval History, the importance of Corbett's contribution to British naval history was largely overlooked until Professor D. M. Schurman published his pioneering work on The Education of a Navy: the development of British Naval Strategic Thought, 1867-1914 (1965). In 1981, Schurman went on to write a full-length biography of Corbett. Further work on Corbett appeared with John Hattendorf's essay 'Sir Julian Corbett on the Significance of Naval History' (1971, reprinted 2000) and Goldrick and Hattendorf's Conference Proceedings, Mahan is Not Enough (1993), followed by the revised biography on Corbett in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004). These works were complemented by Eric J. Grove's definitive, annotated edition of Corbett's Some Principles of Maritime Strategy (Classics of Sea Power series, U.S. Naval Institute Press, 1988), which included Corbett's previously unpublished 'Green Pamphlet' on strategical terms. In addition, D. M. Schurman and John Hattendorf edited and wrote an introduction to Corbett's previously unpublished official study Maritime Operations in the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905 (U.S. Naval Institute, 1994). Published works Novels: The Fall of Asgard. 1886 For God and Gold, 1887 Kophetua XIII, 1889 A Business in Great Water Historical: Monographs on Monk in 1889 and Sir Francis Drake in 1890 for the 'English men of Action' series Drake and the Tudor Navy, a history of the rise of England as a naval power, 1899 The successors of Drake, 1900 England in the Mediterranean, British power within the straight (1603-1713), 1904 Fighting Instructions, 1530-1816. England in the Seven Years War. 1907 Signals and Instructions, (1778-1794) The Campaign of Trafalger, 1910 Some Principles of Maritime Strategy, 1911 The Spencer Papers (1794-1801) Maritime Operations in the Russo-Japanese War 1904-05 (Originally classified secret in two volumes, published for public release in 1994). Official History of the Great War Naval Operations, Vol I April 1920, vol II November 1921, but died before agreeing final corrections to vol III published in 1923 (Longman Green and Co.). References 1. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2. ^ Corbett, Julian Stafford in Venn, J. & J. A., Alumni Cantabrigienses, Cambridge University Press, 10 vols, 1922 1958. 3. ^ Adamiak, Stanley J. 'The Foundations of Naval History: John Knox Laughton, the Royal Navy and the Historical Profession', Review of book by Professor Andrew Lambert, Journal of Military History Vol. 64, No. 4 (October 2000) pp. 1169-1170

'The Times', 22 September 1922, issue 43143, Obituary. Corbett, Julian Stafford. (1914). Naval and Military Essays. Cambridge University Press (reissued by Cambridge University Press, 2009; ISBN 9781108003490) Michael I. Handel, "Corbett, Clausewitz, and Sun Tzu." Naval War College Review (Autumn 2000). pp. 10623. Naval War College. 24 September 2004. Julian S. Corbett, Some Principles of Maritime Strategy. Classics of Seapower series. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1988. Julian S. Corbett, Maritime Operations in the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-05. (1994) D. M. Schurman, The education of a navy: the development of British naval strategic thought, 1867-1914. (1965) D. M. Schurman, Julian S. Corbett, 1854-1922 : historian of British maritime policy from Drake to Jellicoe. (1981) James Goldrick and John Hattendorf, eds., Mahan is Not Enough: The Proceedings of a Conference on the Works of Sir Julian Corbett and Admiral Sir Herbert Richmond (1993), contains a full bibliography of Corbett's writings. John Hattendorf, 'Sir Julian Corbett on the Significance of Naval History', in Hattendorf, Naval History and Maritime Strategy: Collected Essays (2000). Eugene L. Rasor, English/British Naval History to 1815. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004,, pp. 42-43. External links Murray, Williamson. "Corbett, Julian." Reader's Companion to Military History. Houghton Mifflin. 23 September 2004. Corbett Bibliography. "Great Warrior Leaders/Thinkers." August 1999. Air University Library, Maxwell AFB, Alabama. 23 September 2004. Works by Julian Corbett at Project Gutenberg Works by or about Julian Corbett in libraries (WorldCat catalog)

Julian Corbett Prize in Naval History


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Julian Corbett Prize in Modern Naval History was established in 1924 by Mr. H. E. Corbett in memory of
his brother, the great naval historian Sir Julian Corbett (1854-1922).[1] It was first awarded in 1926. The prize has been offered for award annually by the University of London for a piece of original research in the field of naval history. The Institute of Historical Research at the University of London currently describes the prize as 'A prize of the value of 1,000 and known as the Julian Corbett Prize for Research in Modern Naval History, is available annually for award by the Academic Trust Funds Committee, on the recommendation of the Institute of Historical Research, for work not previously published and based on original (Ms. or printed) materials for Modern Naval History'. Julian Corbett Prize Winners 1926 James A. Williamson Notice in Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, vol. V, issue 14 (November 1927), p. 95. 1930 Lieutenant-Commander A. C. Bell, "The Third Dutch War", Summary in Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, vol. 9, issue 26 (November 1931), p. 109-112. 1932 W.G. Bassett, "English Naval Policy 1698-1703", Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, vol. 11, (1933-34), pp. 122-125. 1935 C. Northcote Parkinson, Edward Pellew, 1st Viscount Exmouth, Admiral of the Red, London: Methuen & Co., 1934. 1938 Admiral Sir William James, KCB. 1939 Admiral Sir Herbert Richmond, "The Importance of the study of Naval History". Notice in Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, vol. XVI (1938-1939), p. 100; published in Naval Review 27 (May 1939), 20118, reprinted in Naval Review 68 (April 1980), 13950. 1948 Commander Philip Aubrey, "Preventive Squadron: The Royal Navy and the West African Slave Trade 1811-1868". Summary in Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, vol. 23 (1950), pp. 90-91. 1949 Gordon Connel-Smith, "Forerunner of Drake: some aspects of privateering and piracy during the last French war of Henry VIII", Summary in Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, vol. 24 (1951), pp. 82-84. Later used in Forerunners of Drake: a study of English Trade with Spain in the early Tudor period (London, 1954). 1951 A. N. Ryan, "The British Expedition to Copenhagen in 1807", Summary in Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research,vol. 25 (1952), pp. 231-232. Published as "The Causes of the British Attack upon Copenhagen, 1807", English Historical Review, vol. LXVIII (1953), pp. 37-55. 1952 Piers Mackesy, "The Royal Navy in the Mediterranean from Trafalgar to the Revolt in Spain, 1805-08". Summary published in Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, (May 1954), pp. 98-101. Later used in The War in the Mediterranean, 1803-1810 (London, 1957). 1954 Roy Taylor, "The Reform of the Naval Recruiting System, 1852-1862", summary in Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, Vol. 28, no. 77 (May 1955), p. 99. Published as "Manning the Royal Navy: the Reform of the Recruiting System, 1852-62", Mariner's Mirror, vol. XLIV (1958), pp. 302-313, and vol. XLV (1959), pp. 46-58. 1958 D. E. Kennedy, "Parliament and the Navy, 1642-1648," A shortened version published as "The English Naval Revolt of 1648," The English Historical Review, Vol. 77, No. 303 (Apr., 1962), pp. 247-256. 1965 A. B. Sainsbury, "Vice Admiral Sir John Duckworth and the Dardanelles,1807", Summary in Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, vol. 40 (1967), pp. 112-114.

1966 A. P. McGowan, "The Administration of the navy under the first Duke of Buckingham, Lord High Admiral of England, 1618-1628". Summary in Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, vol. 40 (1967), pp. 225-227. 1968 J. Berryman, "British naval policy and the Sino-Japanese war, 1894-5". Summary in Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, vol. 43 (1970), pp 116-119. 1970 Paul M. Kennedy, "Tirpitz, England and the Second Navy Law of 1900: a strategic critique". Summary in Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, vol. 45 (1972), pp. 145-147.Published under the same title in Militrgeschichtliche Mitteilungen, 1970/2, pp. 33-57. 1970 R. J. B. Knight, "The Administration of the Royal Dockyards in England 1770-90". Summary in Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, vol. 45 (1972), pp. 148-150. 1978 Roger Morriss, "Samuel Bentham and the Management of the Royal Dockyards, 1796-1807, " in Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, vol. 54 (1981), pp. 226-240. 1982 N. A. M. Rodger, "Stragglers and Deserters from the Royal Navy during the Seven Years War", Published in Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, vol. 57 (1984), pp. 56-79. 1984 Rhodri Williams, "Arthur James Balfour, Sir John Fisher and the politics of naval reform, 1904-10". Published in Historical Research, vol. 60 (1987), pp. 80-99. 1986 David Davies, "Pepys and the Admiralty Commission of 1679-84," in Historical Research, vol. 62 (1989), pp. 34-53. 1995 Patricia K. Crimmin, "Letters and Documents relating to the Service of Nelsons ships 1780-1805: a critical report".Published in Historical Research, vol. 70 (1997), pp. 52-69. 1996 Harry Dickinson, "The Origins and Foundation of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich," in Historical Research, vol. 72 (1999), pp. 92-111. 1997 Joseph A. Maiolo, "The knockout blow against the Import System: Admiralty expectations of Nazi Germanys naval strategy 1934-9".Published in Historical Research, vol. 72 (1999), pp. 202-228. 1998 Philip Woodfine, "Proper Objects of the Press: Naval Impressment and Habeas Corpus in the French Revolutionary Wars", published in K. P. Dockray and K. Labourn, eds., The Representation and Reality of War: The British Experience. (Stroud: Sutton, 1999), pp. 39-60. 2000 Oliver Walton, "Officers and Engineers, the integration and status of engineers in the Royal Navy, 1847-60". Published in Historical Research, vol. 77 (2004), pp 178-201. 2003 Keith A. J. McLay, "Combined Operations in the European Theatre during the Nine Years War, 1688-1697", Historical Research, vol. 78 (2005), pp. 506-539. 2004 Nicholas A. Lambert, "Strategic Command and Control for Maneuver Warfare: Creation of the Royal Navy's "War Room" System, 1905-1915", The Journal of Military History, Vol. 69, No. 2 (Apr., 2005), pp. 361-410. 2005 Christopher Martin, "The Declaration of London: a Matter of Operational Capability". 2006 Anthony J. Cumming, "Did the Navy win the Battle of Britain? The Warship as the Ultimate Guarantor of Britains Freedom in 1940". Published in Historical Research, vol. 83 (2010), pp.165-188. 2007 Matthew S. Seligmann, "A Prelude to the Reforms of Admiral Sir John Fisher: the creation of the Home Fleet, 19021903". Published in Historical Research, vol. 83 (2010), pp.506-19. 2008 Erica Charters, " 'The intention is noble': the Western Squadron, Medical Trials and the Sick and Hurt Board during the Seven Years War (1756-63)". 2009 Derek L. Elliott, "Pirates, Polities, and Companies: Global Politics Along the Konkan Littoral, c. 1690-1756". Published in London School of Economics Working Papers Series as No. 136 at http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/economicHistory/pdf/WP136.pdf. 2010 Gareth Atkins, "The politics of influence and the influence of politics: Evangelicals and the Royal Navy, 1778-1815". External Source Current University of London Announcement of the Annual Competition Sources 1. ^ University of London Senate Minute number 1978, February 1924 Publications of the Institute of Historical Research, University of London

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