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Most decisive battles in all of history

Posted by Helveticum on 04 May 2010, 19:04

Hi
I don't know if you already approched this topic....anyway here it is. :roll:

Which were the most decisive battles in your eyes (politically, religion, espansion , etc)??
Just list 2 of them you think have changed/saved History....and explain why!

Here are mine
1 Battles of TOUR a.d.732
Charles Martel gave a blow to the muslim expansion sending them back to south spain instead of allowing them to sweep across France and who knows where else.
2 Leipzig 1813
The real turnover, in my eyes, for the napoleonic era. The battle that decided Napoleons destiny. No more overall controll of Europe.

Your turn guys...go on.
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Helveticum  Switzerland
 
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Posted by ColeF on 04 May 2010, 19:42

1. Thermopylae 480 BC
Saved democracy.

2. Leipzig 1813 AD
"
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Posted by Paul on 04 May 2010, 19:44

Varus/ Teutoburger forest battle 09.09.09
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Posted by musketier on 04 May 2010, 20:21

Well my two would be this:
Zama
Effectively ended the conflict between Carthage and Rome and from there Rome went on to dominate the Mediterranean sea ( whose expansion really only stopped at the Teutoburger forest some 200+ years later).

Marne 1914
Successfully checked the German advance making the First World War a long and bloody struggle which influenced the next 80 odd years of European conflicts in the 20th century.
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musketier  United States of America
 
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Posted by luchs on 04 May 2010, 20:47

Paul wrote:Varus/ Teutoburger forest battle 09.09.09

:thumbup:
first really defeat of the rome's imperial army..
the teutoburg's battle stopped the exspansion of the roman's empire..
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Posted by T. Dürrschmidt on 04 May 2010, 22:01

Stalingrad....the turning point of WW2.
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Posted by ModernKiwi on 05 May 2010, 01:14

I'll say Moscow, December 1941. The capture of Moscow would have made it very difficult for the USSR to continue to effectively continue the war against Germany.
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Posted by Tantallon2 on 05 May 2010, 19:34

Oh so many from different periods:

Tet offensive: though the VC's actually lost the offensive it dislocated the US and led to the eventual withdrawal.

WW2 Battle of Britain: failure to knock the UK out of the war meant that Hitler was fighting on two fronts and that the USA would inevitably come in at some stage. Failure to win here meant that Hitler could not win the war from this point on (though that wasn't obvious at the time).

Stalingrad: because this was the beginning of the end

Midway: after this it was inevitable that the US would win the naval war.

WW1 The Marne - agreed. Indeed it is pertinent not to ask why France lost the Battle of France in WW2 but ask why it won in WW1 and the answer is the Miracle on the Marne

Waterloo - put a final end to Napoleon's dreams. The only truly decisive battle of the Napoleonic wars

Bannockburn: didn't in itself guarantee Scottish independence but losing the battle might have snuffed out Scottish resistance for ever

Hastings: brought Normans to England and decisively changed the course of English history

Battle of Chalons - stopped the Huns

Fall of Jerusalem: this led to the Jewish diaspora and had profound socio and political ramifications for the Western World for 2000 years after the event (and still does) - see Rome and Jerusalem by Martin Goodman 2007

Zama: effectively ended the Punic wars and allowed the expansion of the Roman Empire after that.

Guagamela: ended the Persian empire
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Tantallon2  Scotland
 
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Posted by je_touche on 05 May 2010, 20:29

Tantallon2 wrote:Waterloo - put a final end to Napoleon's dreams. The only truly decisive battle of the Napoleonic wars


After 200 years of English propaganda you might say that. Even if you are a Scot. :mrgreen:
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Posted by Tantallon2 on 05 May 2010, 21:01

To Je touche - I suspect you are French! :-D

But my comment was non-partisan - name one other Napoleonic battle that was actually decisive ie not just big or masterful but which had a lasting influence on history. Nearest I can come up with is Borodino but this was not in itself decisive as the war continued on afterwards (and the French "won" the battle). Interestingly there were Scottish generals on both sides that day.

So name one and why! :-D
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Posted by Paul on 05 May 2010, 21:05

Tantallon2 wrote:To Je touche - I suspect you are French! :-D

Everyone falls for that one ;-)
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Posted by Ochoin on 05 May 2010, 23:17

Another vote with Paul & Luchs' nomination of the Teutoberg Forest.

A Roman Germany may have allowed the Roman Empire to survive much longer. It is hard to say how much Roman culture would have changed the Germans. No WW1? No WW2?

donald
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Posted by Bourbaki on 06 May 2010, 11:16

Ochoin wrote:A Roman Germany may have allowed the Roman Empire to survive much longer. It is hard to say how much Roman culture would have changed the Germans. No WW1? No WW2?
donald


Well, I guess not, it's the german style, no doble sense or something eh? You are the strong guys in Europe ;)

Sedan 1870- The birth of the 2nd Reich, the end of the French empire, and the birth of the 2nd french republic,WWI french revenge :roll: ,Versalles,ehem ehem...also a cause of the birth of the first republic in Spain(ironic) :mrgreen: :roll:
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Posted by je_touche on 06 May 2010, 12:10

Tantallon2 wrote:To Je touche - I suspect you are French! :-D

But my comment was non-partisan - name one other Napoleonic battle that was actually decisive ie not just big or masterful but which had a lasting influence on history. Nearest I can come up with is Borodino but this was not in itself decisive as the war continued on afterwards (and the French "won" the battle). Interestingly there were Scottish generals on both sides that day.

So name one and why! :-D


Leipzig. That was the ultimate decision. What came afterwards was only mopping up. The 1815 campaign cost many lives but it didn't change the course of history in the least. France did not stand a chance to resurge as a great power at that point of time. If Bonaparte had won Waterloo, three weeks later he would have been defeated by the combined allied armies, including Austrians and Russians. The course of history would not have changed a bit because the Allies were utterly decided on not letting Bonaparte come back. Waterloo has been blown up by the British because it was their biggest battle during the Napoleonic Wars. Waterloo was just one thing - totally superfluous, in a historical sense, as was Bonaparte's second bid for power.

Btw, I don't believe any single battle ever decided about the course of history. For me it's very evident that what brought about Bonaparte's fall was not a battle but his decisions to get entangled in Spain and to invade Russia. In that sense, yes, Borodino was more decisive than Waterloo because it was a huge step in destroying the Grande Armée and France's military resources.

It is equally absurd to name any particular battle as deciding about the course of, say, the First or Second World War. The Germans could have crossed the Marne and would still have lost WWI, they could have taken Moscow or Stalingrad and would still have lost WWII. The Confederates could have won Gettysburg and would still have lost the ACW. I could reiterate that for most wars. The decisive factor is never a battle lost or won but the ability or disability of the sides to carry on. The Allies won't loose Afghanistan through a lost battle but through growing political pressure to draw out.
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Posted by Bourbaki on 06 May 2010, 12:17

Je_touche, I'm totaly agree with you, but I think, the point of this subject is to say wich battle was followed by the inebitable change of history, I don't know if I you understand me,but for example, Gettysburg is the begging of the end, do you know what I mean?
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Posted by je_touche on 06 May 2010, 12:50

Bourbaki, my point was - and obviously I did not make that clear - to say we tend to overrate the historical meaning of battles, or, for that matter, of military history as a whole, since it's military history what most people here are interested in. So if you ask if any single battle ended the rule of this or that king or government, yes, you can name quite a few. But if you ask did it turn the course of history, you have to ask if the outcome of a battle changed the societies and cultures involved in their entirety - then the answer will be quite different in most cases.
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Posted by ColeF on 06 May 2010, 12:55

This is one reason I like the ECW. It was just a ton of little skirmishes dotted with 4 major battles. Interestingly, the Royalists lost all 4 of those and still had a good chance of winning as they won quite a few skirmishes.
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Posted by ZsoltSchaefer on 06 May 2010, 14:25

There were too many important battles in history, so here are just the two of my preferred period (16th-17th centuries), which have in common that both ended up with the death of the victor. je'touche, it rhymes on your post - winning a battle is sometimes the least important factor.

Siege of Szigetvár, 1566 although the Castle was captured and the Hungarian count Nikola Zrínyi was killed in their final charge out of the castle, the Sultan Suleiman I died here as well (not in fight, but of old age). The Turkish expansion did stop at this point, what made possible for the rest of Europe to fight their own wars, in which an other conqueror, Gustavus Adolphus was fighting his way to south, but finally he found his death at Lützen, 1632 after that the Swedes were not able to continue their conquest.
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Posted by Tantallon2 on 06 May 2010, 14:30

You argue very eloquently Je Touche. I won't discuss Leipzig but I have to maintain that Waterloo was THE decisive battle of the Napoleonic wars and it is so simply because it brought them to an end. You are right that Napoleon would PROBABLY have been beaten by the Austrian and Russian armies even if he had won at Waterloo but the fact was that he lost at Waterloo and that was it.

Waterloo had important political ramifications. It strengthened the hand of Britain in Europe and brought peace to Europe (for a while).

I completely agree that few battles are truly decisive but Waterloo was one and Hastings was another. This is not to say that these were the most important drivers of the outcome but that they determined the final outcome. Thus Borodino and Leipzig were more important than Waterloo in deciding the outcome but it was at Waterloo that the Napoleonic wars were ended (and with a bang rather than a whimper) and thus it was the decisive battle.

Another example that springs to mind is Culloden (excuse the parochialism). What killed the Jacobite uprising was the decision to retreat from Derby rather than push onto London and also the failure of the uprising to receive much support in England. But it was Culloden that was decisive because it was here that the Jacobite army was destroyed and that (effectively) ended the Jacobite uprisings and any real hope of the restoration of the Stuart monarchy.

There is also a large number of battles where, had the result gone the other way, history would have been profoundly changed. Bannockburn was one; any of Alexander's battles had he lost them would have changed history: winning Issus wasn't decisive for Alexander but losing it would have been. Had Napoleon won at Waterloo it is unlikely that it would have been decisive but losing Waterloo certainly was.

I rest my case :-D
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Posted by 0wlbear on 07 May 2010, 12:27

Battle/Cannonade of Valmy:
saved the French revolution although it wasn;t much of a battle.

Hastings:
Started the English Medieval Period and made England a part of Europe.
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