The Ten Most Important Battles
10. The Battle of Waterloo
The Seventh Coalition vs France, 1815
Napoleon’s return from exile came to an end at Waterloo, as did his empire and conquest of Europe. Waterloo actually brought peace to Europe for almost 50 years and it really set up the political climate f Europe which would define the 19th century. The alliances and powers which arose from the aftermath of Waterloo would build an interesting political climate lasting until the 20th century and resulting in the two World Wars.
9. The Battle of Gravelines
England and Netherlands vs. Spain, 1588
When the British navy defeated the Spanish Armada, a shift in world power occurred. Spain, the world’s greatest explorers and colonizers were diminished which Britain would grow to become the greatest naval force in the world for centuries. This would eventually result in the massive British Empire, the largest empire in the history of the world.
8. The Battle of Actium
The forces of Octavian Ceaser vs. the Forces of Mark Antony, 31BC
Why is this battle important? Because when Octavian defeated Antony, he took supreme rule of Rome, becoming the first true Emperor and turning Rome into an Empire, one of the most influential empires the world has known.
7. The Battle of Saratoga
United States vs. Great Britain, 1777
The turning point in the American Revolutionary War, allowing the United States to completely separate from Britain and become their own country. And of course, the USA went on to be the most powerful nation in the world, spreading their influence across the globe.
6. The Battle of Zhuolu
Huaxia vs. Jiuli, 2500BC
This may seem like an odd addition to this list, especially since it was so long ago and most people have never heard of it. Why I included it is because this battle created the foundation for Han Chinese culture and civilization, which is one of the oldest cultures in the world and today makes up almost a 5th of the worlds population. China is one of the most powerful countries in the world, with a rich history and an almost certain role in the events of the near future.
5. The Battle of Normandy
Allied Forces vs. Germany, 1944
The 1940’s saw the largest conflict in the history of the world when the Allies battled the Axis powers in the Second World War. On June 6th, 1944 the Allies launched a massive invasion on the beaches of Normandy, gaining a foothold in Nazi-occupied Europe. This allowed us to turn the tide and begin work towards the defeat of Nazi Germany.
Now I know this will be a controversial choice, as many will say that Stalingrad is the most important battle of WWII, others will debate other great battles. Hopefully this will lead to a really good discussion, as that’s really my purpose here.
4. The Battle of Hastings
Normans vs. Anglo-Saxons, 1066
When William the Conqueror conquered the island of Britain, it would be the last time in history that the British shores would be breached. The mix of Angles and Normans had a huge impact on English culture, government, and language, which would grow to be one of the dominant cultures in the world. When Britain became an Empire, they spread there culture around the globe, most notably to North America, and the English language is rapidly becoming the dominant language of the world. And it all stems back to the Norman invasion.
3. The Battle of Marathon
Athens vs. Persia, 490 BC
The Greek civilization, which we have come to see as the foundation of many cultures around the world today, was almost crushed just as it was beginning to take form. The Persian empire had plans to move west and absorb Greece and the rest of Europe into its realm. They seemed like an unstoppable force until the Battle of Marathon, where the Athenians trapped the Persians on the battle plain and won victory, giving hope to all of Greece that the Persians could be defeated and Greece could prosper.
2. The Battle of Tours
Franks vs. Umayyad, 732
The Battle of Tours is often recognized as saving Christianity from annihilation, or at least subversion, by the Islamic conquerors. Imagine what a different world we would be living in if Islam became the dominant religion in Europe and Christians suddenly lost their power. For this reason, this monumental battle is the second most important battle in world history.
1. The Battle of Salamis
Greece vs. Persia, 480BC
The Battle of Marathon gave hope to the Greeks and the belief that they could stem the Persian conquest, but the Battle of Salamis is when that actually happened. Outnumbered, the Grecian fleet defeated Xerxes navy and won the Greco-Persian wars. Yet this victory has far more significance than that, as it is also credited with saving the whole of western civilization.
If the Persians had conquered Greece it is likely that all of the political, philosophical, and scientific ideas which emerged from Greece and grew to shape the world we now know would have been defused. But Greece won the wars and were able to flourish, creating what we call western civilization, the most powerful man-made agent of change the world has likely seen.