Top 5 Greatest Battles In History - History Key

Top 5 Greatest Battles In History

History was defined by battles, so we think that would be a useful initiative to present some of the greatest battles from history, the ones you should know about and remember, because very probably also the history of your country could be related to them. The top is not built around the number of casualties but is related to the historical importance of the battles. But no more talking and let’s start the list:

5. The Vienna Siege

Everything happened at Kahlenberg Mountain, located near Vienna, on September 12, 1683. The Ottoman Turkish troops had the city under siege for around two months, so that situation had to end somehow. The units in battle were coming from the Habsburg Monarchy, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Holy Roman Empire, being under the command of King John III Sobieski.

The battle was a victory for the combined forces formed by the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nations and the forces of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland. Grand Vizier Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha, counting around 300,000 soldiers, commanded the Ottoman forces. The battle was considered an enormous defeat and failure for the Ottomans, who have lost 20,000 men during the siege, and others 15,000 during the battle, while the other party registered considerably smaller losses (around 5,000 men among dead and wounded).

The Vienna Siege
The Vienna Siege © Wikipedia

4. Waterloo

The battle was fought near Waterloo, in the present-day Belgium, on June 18, 1815. That was the famous battle where Napoleon Bonaparte registered a defeat against two armies of the Seventh Coalition, commanded by the Duke of Wellington, and a Prussian army under the command of Gerhard Leberecht von Blücher, Prince of Wahlstatt.

The battle is considered a turning point in history also because the defeat suffered by Napoleon signaled the end of his reign. After Waterloo, Napoleon abdicated and went in exile, where he died on May 5, 1821.

The moment was so tragic, that even today the expression ”he has met his Waterloo” is related to a decisive and total defeat.

Battle of Waterloo
Battle of Waterloo © Wikipedia

3. Hastings

Fought on 14 October 1066, the battle represented the clash between the Norman-French army led by William, the Duke of Normandy, and the English army, commanded by the Anglo-Saxon King Harold Godwinson, who started the plan for the Norman conquest of England.

The aftermath of the battle meant a very important moment in history, considering that a new feudal order has imposed new rules for England, establishing a political and social context directly related to Continental Europe, and not to Scandinavian ones.

Exact numbers related to the soldiers present in battle are unknown; a modern study attributes around 10,000 men for William and about 7,000 for Harold. King Harold died somewhere near the end of the battle, and his death became a turning point for the entire situation, causing the retreat of his remaining troops. William became King on the Christmas day of 1066.

Painting related to the Battle of Hastings
Painting related to the Battle of Hastings ©

2. Yorktown

We can consider the Battle of Yorktown as the top of the American Revolution, being also the direct background for the Independence of the United States of America. Even if the battle was not among the bloodiest recorded in history, its importance is critically important, considering that the victory of Yorktown became the ramp of today’s America, intended as a military superpower.

The troops led by George Washington and the French troops led by Comte de Rochambeau recorded an important victory over the British Army under the command of Lieutenant Charles Cornwallis. The battle is considered the major event of the American Revolutionary War, and it happened at Yorktown, Virginia, between September 29 and October 19, 1781.

After the American and French artillery began an intense bombardment of British positions, a combined assault was launched on redoubt No.9 and redoubt No.10. The artillery fire coming from the American lines was that heavy to produce the capitulation of the British troops; on October 17 Lord Cornwallis asked for capitulation, but he was absent from the ceremony scheduled for the 19th.

Painting related to the Battle of Yorktown
Painting related to the Battle of Yorktown ©

1. Stalingrad

Maybe it could be considered ”The Battle of Battles”, but in any way, you would look at it the Battle of Stalingrad is an incredible example of a military clash. It took place between August 23, 1942 and February 2, 1943, and the main goal was to take the control of the city of Stalingrad (now Volgograd) by Axis forces.

Everything happened at Stalingrad: air raids close combat confrontations, tank battles, infantry clashes, despair, and death all around. The battle is often considered the single largest military operation and also the bloodiest if we take account of the fact that around 2.2 million soldiers were involved, and around 2 million were wounded, killed or captured.

The German 6th Army together with the 4th Panzer Army and the Luftwaffe’s support launched the attack on the city in August 1942. After the German air raid transformed the city into a mass of shattered bricks, the fighting continued between the ruins, in a house-to-house combat. During November 1942, the Red Army started Operation Uranus, targeting the Romanian and Hungarian positions, which were overrun in short time, permitting to the Soviets to cut out and surround the German 6th Army. During February 1943 the situation was tragically for the German troops: no food or ammunition in order to continue the battle, having the morale crushed by the weather and the incoming defeat, the remaining German units surrendered.

German General Friedrich von Paulus, commander in chief of the German 6th Army at Stalingrad, surrendered on January 31, 1943.

Battle scene at Stalingrad
Battle scene at Stalingrad ©

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