Sun Tzu said: We come now to the question of encamping the army, and observing signs of the enemy. Pass quickly over mountains, and keep in the neighbourhood of valleys.

When in difficult country, do not encamp. In country where high roads intersect, join hands with your allies. Do not linger in dangerously isolated positions. In hemmed-in situations, you must resort to stratagem. In desperate position, you must fight.

Sun Tzu said: In war, the general receives his commands from the sovereign. Subutai, was Genghis Khan’s most astute and brilliant general. His great discipline and intelligence when carrying out his ruler’s orders allowed him to execute them successfully and help the Mongols create one of the largest empires in history.

Sun Tzu said: Whoever is first in the field and awaits the coming of the enemy, will be fresh for the fight; whoever is second in the field and has to hasten to battle will arrive exhausted.

Sun Tzu said: The control of a large force is the same principle as the control of a few men: it is merely a question of dividing up their numbers.

Sun Tzu said: The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then wait for an opportunity to defeat the enemy.

Sun Tzu said: In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy's country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is better to capture an entire army, a regiment or company rather than to destroy it.

When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men's weapons will grow dull and their ardour will be damped. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength. In 1779, the Spanish and French attempted to seize a British fortress in the Siege of Gibraltar during the American War of Independence. Despite assaulting the city with heavy guns, ships and thousands of troops, the British held firm retaliating with heated shots from cannons, causing mushroom clouds and forcing the enemy to finish the assault. After nearly four years of fighting, the Spanish and French forces retired and Gibraltar was held.

Sun Tzu said: The art of war is of vital importance to the State. Philip II of Macedon inherited a weak country but moulded his army into a formidable and efficient force. He used warfare to secure his kingdom before instigating a conquest of Greece. After his death, the empire was passed onto his son Alexander the Great who ruled over a military campaign that created one of the largest empires of the ancient world.

William Shakespeare and Marcus Aurelius (the great stoic philosopher and emperor) have more in common than you might think. They share a recorded birth-date, with Shakespeare baptised on 26 April 1564, and Marcus Aurelius born on 26 April 161 (Shakespeare’s actual birth date remains unknown, although he was baptised on 26 April 1564. His birth is traditionally observed and celebrated on 23 April, Saint George’s Day).