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Game Theory in a Napoleonic Context: Establishing Napoleon's Utility and Application to the 1805 War of the Third Coalition

Abstract
Game theory has existed in the fields of mathematics and economics for over 60 years. This thesis assesses its viability for use in the field of history, and in particular, in the Napoleonic era. It does this by analysing the opening phase of the 1805 War of the Third Coalition, fought between France and the Allies. It starts by examining the existing literature on game theory in the Napoleonic era. It then analyses game theory in order to extract concepts from the theory that have value in a military setting. Third, it makes use of primary and secondary sources to define Napoleon Bonaparte’s motivational drives. Finally, it uses these drives and game theory in order to assess whether Napoleon’s opening strategy in the War of the Third Coalition was the best strategy to select. The study finds that his utility was influenced by a core drive: narcissism, and by his primary drives: ‘thirst for power’, ‘elimination of boredom’, immortality, and glory. It also concludes that ‘opportunism’ affected his decision making processes. The study found that Napoleon selected his opening strategy in the War of the Third Coalition with precision, and that game theory is limited in its current state, but that, despite this, it has value for the study of history.
Type
Thesis
Type of thesis
Series
Citation
Ranger, G. A. (2013). Game Theory in a Napoleonic Context: Establishing Napoleon’s Utility and Application to the 1805 War of the Third Coalition (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/8475
Date
2013
Publisher
University of Waikato
Rights
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DOI
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