College of Arts and Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy in History (PhD)


David White


Jena, Auerstadt, Prussia, Prussian military, German military, Wehrmacht, Clausewitz, Frederick II, reorganization of the Germany military, Napoleonic Wars, German military history, Prussian military history




The twin battles of Jena and Auerstadt in 1806 and the defeat of the Prussian army by Napoleon I set in motion a series of reforms that transitioned Prussia into a modern state both economically and militarily. From these reforms and key reformers, the Prussian state established itself amongst other European powers of the time helping defeat Napoleon in 1815 ending the Napoleonic period. After the Napoleonic age, the Prussian state again faced a dire situation during the 1848 revolutions and whether it would continue the reforms through a conservative or liberal approach. The military reforms of the 1850s during the Bismarckian era eventually succeeded in the successful wars accumulating in German unification in 1871. From this period forward, Prussian reforms transitioned into Imperial Germany during World War I (1914-1918) and finally climaxed with the creation of the Wehrmacht in World War II (1939-1945). The battles of Jena and Auerstadt in 1806 are significant in that they translate and connect to the creation of a modern Prussian army which then transitions to the modern Wehrmacht in the 1930s. The symbolism of the Prussian reforms in 1807-1813 is evident in the history of German and Prussian militarism and the events in Europe from 1807-1945.

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