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The Mandate of Heaven

Strategy, Revolution, and the First European Translation of 'Sunzi’s Art of War' (1772)

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Adam Parr

The Mandate of Heaven examines the first European version of Sunzi’s Art of War, which was translated from Chinese by Joseph Amiot, a French missionary in Beijing, and published in Paris in 1772. His work is presented in English for the first time. Amiot undertook this project following the suppression of the Society of Jesus in France with the aim of demonstrating the value of the China mission to the French government. He addressed his work to Henri Bertin, minister of state, beginning a thirty-year correspondence between the two men. Amiot framed his translation in order to promote a radical agenda using the Chinese doctrine of the “mandate of heaven.” This was picked up within the sinophile and radical circle of the physiocrats, who promoted China as a model for revolution in Europe. The work also arrived just as the concept of strategy was emerging in France. Thus Amiot’s Sunzi can be placed among seminal developments in European political and strategic thought on the eve of the revolutionary era.

The World of the Siege

Representations of Early Modern Positional Warfare

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Edited by Anke Fischer-Kattner and Jamel Ostwald

The World of the Siege examines relations between the conduct and representations of early modern sieges. The volume offers case studies from various regions in Europe (England, France, the Low Countries, Germany, the Balkans) and throughout the world (the Chinese, Ottoman and Mughal Empires), from the 15th century into the 18th. The international contributors analyse how siege narratives were created and disseminated, and how early modern actors as well as later historians made sense of these violent events in both textual and visual artefacts. . The volume's chronological and geographical breadth provides insight into similarities and differences of siege warfare and military culture across several cultures, countries and centuries, as well as its impact on both combatants and observers.

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Anke Fischer-Kattner