Monthly Archives: October 2015

Carl and Marie von Clausewitz: A historical love story


Koblenz, where Carl and Marie spent some of the happiest years of their lives together. Maybe they once walked by this building? Who knows? Image courtesy of jfelias, Morguefile.

Once upon a time in Prussia, there lived a young noblewoman called Marie von Brühl. Marie was a plain-looking but bright woman, who fell in love with a handsome but poor soldier, Carl von Clausewitz.

It took them a while to get married – Carl was busy with wars and needed legal permission to marry. Marie had the obstacles of her mother’s objection to the marriage and her noble status as a lady-in-waiting in the royal court meant that she was under pressure to marry someone of equal social status.

But marry they did, and they had a good life together. Carl would go on to become famous as the author of an important book on military strategy, On War. Many of its theories still influence today’s military strategy.

I’ve just read a great book by Vanya Bellinger, called Marie von Clausewitz: The Woman Behind the Making of On War. I’m so impressed with Marie. In an era where your biggest job as a female was to acquire housewifely skills and marry a man of wealth and high social status, she was a standout. Marie was smart, an astute observer of people and political situations, and a skilled networker.

Both were talented, ambitious, and really in love with each other. Carl’s career didn’t go as great as it could have, and Marie comforted and supported him. Carl did the same for her. Their society was also in turmoil due to different wars going on, which didn’t help much either.

From the book, though, it sounds that they had the best life they could. I liked her and found myself rooting for her and Carl. They would have been interesting people to meet.

I’m thinking Marie would have been great as a journalist and political analyst. She was a talented painter, too.

Carl von Clausewitz

Lookin’ sharp there, Carl! Guess Marie just couldn’t resist a man in uniform. Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Marie von Clausewitz

Marie rockin’ the Jane Austen bonnet look. Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Carl wrote On War – his thoughts on war and military strategy – when time permitted. He died suddenly from contracting cholera, which was a nasty shock for Marie; Carl was alive on one day and gone the next. Poor lady.

After his death, Marie took on the task of getting the manuscript organized, edited and published, which was not an easy task. She acted as copywriter and managing editor, getting her friends to help her proofread Carl’s work, which became a major classic. Marie wanted to ensure that Carl got the recognition that he deserved, not just in the military but in society as well.

Could she have predicted that Carl’s book would rank up there with Sun Tzu’s The Art of War? Maybe she did.

If you like good stories, history or military strategy, you’ll like this one.


Filed under Writing