Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

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

Contents:

Author Info

  • Mongin, Philippe

    ()

Abstract

The paper has a twofold aim. On the one hand, it provides what appears to be the first game-theoretic modeling of Napoleon’s last campaign, which ended dramatically on 18 June 1815 at Waterloo. It is specifically concerned with the decision Napoleon made on 17 June 1815 to detach part of his army against the Prussians he had defeated, though not destroyed, on 16 June at Ligny. Military historians agree that this decision was crucial but disagree about whether it was rational. Hypothesizing a zero-sum game between Napoleon and Blücher, and computing its solution, we show that it could have been a cautious strategy on the former's part to divide his army, a conclusion which runs counter to the charges of misjudgement commonly heard since Clausewitz. On the other hand, the paper addresses methodological issues. We defend its case study against the objections of irrelevance that have been raised elsewhere against “analytic narratives”, and conclude that military campaigns provide an opportunity for successful application of the formal theories of rational choice. Generalizing the argument, we finally investigate the conflict between narrative accounts – the historians' standard mode of expression – and mathematical modeling.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.hec.fr/var/fre/storage/original/application/dce1d70d3ee3305fdeda9bafef908dd2.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by HEC Paris in its series Les Cahiers de Recherche with number 915.

as in new window
Length: 44 pages
Date of creation: 01 Apr 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ebg:heccah:0915

Contact details of provider:
Postal: HEC Paris, 78351 Jouy-en-Josas cedex, France
Web page: http://www.hec.fr/
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords: Napoléon; Blücher; Grouchy; Waterloo; military history; rational choice theories; game theory; zero-sum two-person games; analytical narrative;

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

Citations

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ebg:heccah:0915. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sandra Dupouy).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.