EconPapers    
Economics at your fingertips  
 

A game-theoretic analysis of the Waterloo campaign and some comments on the analytic narrative project

Philippe Mongin

Cliometrica, 2018, vol. 12, issue 3, No 4, 480 pages

Abstract: Abstract The paper has a twofold aim. On the one hand, it provides what appears to be the first game-theoretic modeling of Napoléon’s last campaign, which ended dramatically on June 18, 1815, at Waterloo. It is specifically concerned with the decision Napoléon made on June 17, 1815, to detach part of his army and send it against the Prussians, whom he had defeated, though not destroyed, on June 16 at Ligny. Military strategists and historians agree that this decision was crucial but disagree about whether it was rational. Hypothesizing a zero-sum game between Napoléon and Blücher, and computing its solution, we show that dividing his army could have been a cautious strategy on Napoléon’s part, a conclusion which runs counter to the charges of misjudgment commonly heard since Clausewitz. On the other hand, the paper addresses some methodological issues relative to “analytic narratives”. Some political scientists and economists who are both formally and historically minded have proposed to explain historical events in terms of properly mathematical game-theoretic models. We liken the present study to this “analytic narrative” methodology, which we defend against some of objections that it has aroused. Generalizing beyond the Waterloo case, we argue that military campaigns provide an especially good opportunity for testing this new methodology.

Keywords: Napoléon; Waterloo; Military history; Rational choice theories; Game theory; Zero-sum two-person games; Analytic narrative (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: N43 C72 B49 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link)
http://link.springer.com/10.1007/s11698-017-0162-0 Abstract (text/html)
Access to the full text of the articles in this series is restricted.

Related works:
Working Paper: A Game-Theoretic Analysis of the Waterloo Campaign and Some Comments on the Analytic Narrative Project (2017) Downloads
Working Paper: A game theoretic analysis of the Waterloo campaign and some comments on the analytic narrative project (2009) Downloads
Working Paper: A game theoretic analysis of the Waterloo campaign and some comments on the analytic narrative project (2009)
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:spr:cliomt:v:12:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s11698-017-0162-0

Ordering information: This journal article can be ordered from
http://www.springer.com/economics/journal/11698

DOI: 10.1007/s11698-017-0162-0

Access Statistics for this article

Cliometrica is currently edited by Claude Diebolt

More articles in Cliometrica from Springer, Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie) Contact information at EDIRC.
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Sonal Shukla () and Springer Nature Abstracting and Indexing ().

 
Page updated 2021-01-13
Handle: RePEc:spr:cliomt:v:12:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s11698-017-0162-0