Top 10 Most Important Battles in History


While unfortunate, it cannot be denied that warfare has had a major role in shaping our world. It has defined our history, created and destroyed entire nations, and repeatedly altered society in both major and subtle ways for thousands of years. While history is replete with battles both large and small, there are a few that have had a bigger hand in shaping the course of history than others. only a hand full have had a major impact on the course of history.

The following list of the ten most important ones may not have been the largest battles ever fought in terms of numbers involved, and not all of them are even land battles, but each of them had major ramifications on history that continue to be felt today. Had any of them gone the other way, the world we live in today would look very different indeed.

10. Stalingrad, 1942-1943

German soldiers clearing the streets in Stalingrad

German soldiers clearing the streets in Stalingrad

This is the battle that effectively ended Hitler’s quest for world dominance and started Germany down the long road towards ultimate defeat in World War Two. Fought between July, 1942 and February, 1943, by the time it was over, 1.5 million men had been killed, captured, or wounded, with 91,000 Germans being taken prisoner and an entire German Army being wiped from the face of the Earth.

So bad were German losses that the German army never fully recovered and was forced to largely take the defensive for the remainder of the war. (With the possible exceptions of the Battle of Kursk in July, 1943 and the Battle of the Bulge in December, 1944, the German Army never mounted a major offensive again.) While it’s unlikely that a German victory at Stalingrad would have cost the Russians the war, it would certainly have extended it by many months, possibly even giving the Germans the time required to perfect their own version of the atomic bomb.

9. Midway Island, 1942

U.S. Navy Douglas SBD-3 "Dauntless" dive bombers from scouting squadron VS-8 from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8) approaching the burning Japanese heavy cruiser Mikuma to make the third set of attacks on her, during the Battle of Midway, 6 June 1942.

U.S. Navy Douglas SBD-3 “Dauntless” dive bombers from scouting squadron VS-8 from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8) approaching the burning Japanese heavy cruiser Mikuma to make the third set of attacks on her, during the Battle of Midway, 6 June 1942.

What Stalingrad was to the Germans, the naval air engagement that raged between Japan and the United States for three days in June, 1942, was for the Japanese. Admiral Yamamoto’s plan was to seize Midway Island—a tiny atoll some four hundred miles west of Hawaii—which he planned to use as a springboard from which to attack the strategic islands later. Much to his surprise, he was met by a taskforce of American carriers under the command of Admiral Chester Nimitz and, in a battle that could have easily gone either way, he lost all four of his aircraft carriers, along with all their aircraft and some of his finest pilots, to Admiral Nimitz’ smaller American fleet.

The defeat effectively spelled the end to Japanese expansion across the Pacific and dealt Japan a defeat she would never recover from. This is also one of the few battles in World War Two in which it was the Americans who were outnumbered and outmatched and yet they still won. Way to go, Chester!

8. Actium, 31 BCE

Image result for Actium, 31 BCE

Imagine how history might have gone differently had Cleopatra and Mark Antony’s fleet carried the day against the smaller naval forces of Octavian. In a sea battle of epic proportions, in the course of a few hours Antony and Cleopatra lost two-thirds of their fleet—about 200 ships—and any chance of ousting Octavian as Emperor of Rome once their soldiers got word of the defeat and began deserting in large numbers. Obviously not agreeable to being martyrs for a lost cause, the couple managed to escape the carnage and make their way back to Egypt to work on plan “B”—which apparently involved committing suicide. Makes you wonder why, if they were intent on ending it all anyway, they just didn’t just go down with their ships; that, at least, would have been the honorable way to lose.

7. Waterloo, 1815

In a total repudiation of Napoleon’s attempt to reclaim his previous glory after a brief vacation to the island paradise of Elba, an undersized force of British, Dutch and Prussian troops under the capable command of the Duke of Wellington threw back Napoleon’s army at the little Belgian town of Waterloo, thereby bringing an ignoble end to his much-touted comeback tour.

Of course, the “Little Corporal” had been on something of a slide since that unfortunate little affair in Russia a couple of years earlier, when he lost most of his army retreating from Moscow in the dead of winter, but this latest setback pretty much ended it for him and sent him packing for another vacation spot; some little place called St. Helena. Of course, it’s not a certainty Napoleon would have ultimately succeeded even if he had bested Wellington, but it’s a certainty losing put whatever plans he had for the future on permanent hold.

6. Gettysburg, 1863

Lose this one, and General Lee probably marches on Washington D.C., sending Lincoln and his staff fleeing and forcing the country to accept the existence of a Confederate States of America. This one was a must win for the Union and, fortunately, the man in charge, George Meade, proved to be up to the task—though just barely.

In a battle that raged for three sweltering days in July of 1863, the two massive armies pummeled each other into dust, but it was the superior Union position—they held the high ground—and Lee’s ill-advised decision to have General Pickett charge the center of the Union line that ended in the worst defeat in Confederate history to that time. While the Union losses were heavy too, the North could better absorb such losses. The South, on the other hand, never recovered from Gettysburg and was forced to begin increasingly fighting a defensive battle to stave off inevitable defeat against a much more populous, industrially advanced, and wealthier North.

5. Battle of Tours, 732

File:Steuben - Bataille de Poitiers.png

Chances are you never heard of this battle, but had the Franks lost it, we might all be bowing towards Mecca five times a day and studying our Koran each night. The battle near the city of Tours pitted about 20,000 Carolingian Franks under Charles Martel against a Muslim force of up to 50,000 soldiers under Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi intent on bringing Islam to Europe.

Though outnumbered, Martel proved to be an especially able commander and routed the invaders, driving them back into Spain and, ultimately (through his son, Pippin the Great) off the continent. Had Martel lost, Islam would probably have become the predominant faith of Europe and, eventually, the main religion around the world today. How this would have impacted western civilization can only be guessed at, but chances are it would have taken a dramatically different tact than it did.

4. Battle of Vienna, 1683

In something of a remake of the earlier Battle of Tours (see no. 5) the Muslims were again on the march in an effort to claim all of Europe for Allah. This time, riding under the banner of the Ottoman Empire, somewhere between 150,000 to 300,000 troops under Kara Mustafa Pasha met a mixed force of some 80,000 troops under the Polish King John Sobrieski near Vienna one fine September in 1683 and somehow lost.

The battle proved to be the end of Islamic expansion into Europe and resulted in their commander, Mustafa Pasha, being executed by the Turks for his mishandling of the siege and battles for Vienna. How close were things? Had Pasha attacked when he first arrived at the city earlier that July, Vienna probably would have fallen; in waiting until September, however, he gave time for the Polish Army and their allies to arrive to break the siege and provide the forces necessary to send the Turks packing. Still, you’d think that with a 2 to 1 or even 3 to 1 advantage, they should have something to show for their efforts.

3. Yorktown, 1781

In terms of numbers, this was a pretty puny battle (8,000 American troops, supported by 8,000 French troops, against some 9,000 British troops) but by the time it ended on October 19, 1781, it changed the world forever. The indomitable British Empire, the super power of its day, should have easily defeated the rag-tag colonists under George Washington, and for most of the war, they generally had the upper hand. By 1781, however, the upstart Americans had learned how to fight and, having acquired the assistance of England’s arch enemy, France, had become a small but professional fighting force.

As a result, the British under Cornwallis found themselves trapped on a peninsula between the determined Americans on the one side and a French fleet on the other that made escape impossible and so, after a couple of weeks of fighting, they surrendered. In doing so, the Americans defeated the world’s premier military power and gained independence for some backwoods country in the new world called the United States of America.

2. Battle of Salamis, 480 BCE

Image result for Battle of Salamis, 480 BCE

Imagine a sea battle today that involved over a thousand ships and one can begin to appreciate the magnitude of this single engagement between the outnumbered Greek Navy under Themistocles and the massive navy of King Xerxes of Persia. The Greeks had used guile to get the Persian fleet to sail into the narrow Straits of Salamis, where they were able to deprive them of taking advantage of their superior numbers, and dealt the Persians a humiliating defeat.

As a result, Xerxes was forced to withdraw most of his army back to Persia, thereby leaving Greece to the Greeks and preserving western civilization in the process. A number of historians believe that a Persian victory would have stilted the development of Ancient Greece, and by extension ‘western civilization’ per se, making Salamis one of the most significant battles in human history.

1. Adrianople, 718

Image result for Adrianople, 718

What The Battle of Tours (see No. 5) was for western Europe, and the Battle of Vienna (No. 4) was for central Europe, the battle of Adrianople was for eastern Europe in that once again, the armies of Islam were stopped in their tracks just as they were prepared to take all of Europe.

Had this battle been lost and Constantinople—at the time the largest city in Christendom—fallen to the Muslims, it would have allowed the armies of Islam to move practically unimpeded throughout the Balkans and into central Europe and Italy. As it was, Constantinople was to act like the cork in a bottle, keeping the armies of Allah from crossing the Bosporus and taking Europe in force—a role it was to play for the next 700 years until the city finally fell in 1453.

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  1. Hi. It’s the following night and I’m back again. I know I’ve listed ten, but the whole history of warfare can’t be reduced to ten; even Cressy listed fifteen, so here are my last five:
    11. Breitenfeld. This probably seems a strange one, but think about it. If Tilly had won, the Edict of Restitution would have been enforced all across northern Europe — Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark. Richelieu would have taken care of the Hugonots (sorry about the spelling) in France, and with the continent dominated by Catholicism The Stuarts would have controlled England with French help. (For you alternate history buffs I refer you Eric Flint’s 1632 series {unpaid ad}). thus no English Civil War (or Charles I winning), no glorious Revolution, and further Papistry under James II. This would have limited British overseas expansion; few American colonies and no British Empire as we know it.
    12. Saratoga. Without French, etc., help we might well not have won our Revolution. It was not only their money and arms, but a French army and especially their navy off Cape Henry. Saratoga proved we could win battles and that brought in the help we needed.
    13. The invasion of Russia. OK, I know, it’s not a battle, but the whole campaign needed to be cancelled. It wasn’t necessary; only Napoleon’s hubris brought it on. Had he not wasted half a million men and his magnificent cavalry mounts on the Stepes, he had enough forces to contain the “Spanish ulcer,” keep the Prussians and Austrians under control and defy England. Even assuming he wasn’t poisoned, he would have lived and reigned until 1821 — by which time the King of Rome would have been a teenager. He could have set up a regency or successor and the army would have kept them in power. How long the dynasty would have lasted is anyone’s guess, but the history or Europe and the world would have been changed. No German Empire for example.
    14 Battle of the Marne. This is shorthand for the failure of the Schliefen plan. Had Moltke the Younger had the guts of his uncle — especially not sending 2.5 corps to the East — this might well have been a German victory. Coupled with Tannenburg WWI would have ended in fall 1914 with a German victory. Wilhelm lived until ’42; Europe stable under German domination. Thus no Versailles Treaty, no rise of Hitler, no WWII and no final solution. Also no Russian Revolution (at least as it occurred) and with Lenin in Swiss exile, very different outcome. Also, with a whole generation of European youth saved from slaughter and European prestige undiminished, the European empires would have lasted considerably longer.
    15. and finally Moscow 1941. Many historians now agree that the allies greatest ally in WWII was Hitler. Had not screwed up by the numbers too many times to count, the Reich could well have won the war — isn’t that a pleasant thought! If he had waited until ’42, or especially if he hadn’t constantly altered the main direction of advance the Germans could have taken Moscow before winter.
    Stalin thought they could since he had his private train ready to head for the Urals. Whether he could have survived that flight is questionable since so many of the Soviets hated him. With Russia defeated or at least contained the Germans could have reinforced N> Africa; can’t you just envision what Rommel could have done with three more Pzdiv? The invasion of Europe couldn’t have taken place against the whole German army in 44; remember D-day was against only one-quarter of the Germans; the rest were on the Eastern front. This would have given the Germans time to perfect the Tiger, the ME262, more rockets and even — wouldn’t we love this — the bomb.
    Well, that’s my list; let me know what you think. Signing off.

  2. 10 most decisive battles must be judged by one criterion: how drastically different the world would have been had the fight gone the other way. With all respect to the peoples of Asia, few if any of their battles were decisive in that sense. In China it was usually one dynasty replacing another; the lives of the vast majority didn’t change. In India much the same; the Europeans with advanced weaponry would have taken control in any case. You will probably accuse me of being Eurocentric, but the development of the world up to the start of the 21st century has largely been controlled by European or Western interests or activities. In short, my list of ten (in chronological order):
    1. Marathon. If Athens had lost, the Persians would have controlled the polis; thus no flowering of Greek (read Athenian) civilization. No Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, hundreds of etcs.
    2. Salamis. Yes it may seem I’m over-doing the Greeks, but a defeat of the Greek navy would have had the same result as above, a reversal of Marathon.
    3. Gaugamela. Alexander’s defeat of Darius Hellenized the entire Middle East. Had A lost, world culture would have been vastly different.
    4. Roman naval victories of the First Punic War. Yeah, I’m cheating a bit here, but Mylae, Ecnomus, and, especially the Agades Islands sent Rome on their way to the empire. Had the C’s retained command of the sea, Rome would have been hard put to supply or reinforce Sicily. By the way, I’m not putting any Hannibal here. After the 1st P.W., with Italy’s vast population and the loyalty of the socii, C never had a real chance
    5. Actium. Augustus; ‘nough said
    6. Teutoberg Forest. Hermann the German kept northern and eastern Europe from being Romanized. Imagine no German nationalism in the 19th and 20th centuries. By the way,, no “fall of the Roman Empire” here. It was bound to come crashing (slowly) down in those times anyway. BUT
    7 Mulvian Bridge. Had Constantine lost, Christianity would have been disgraced; few are going to follow a god who can’t win battles. It would have continued as one of a number of mystery faiths of the time, but never risen to top dog. Who then would have carried classical learning into the middle ages and beyond. Remember the Byzantines were Xian too.
    8. Yarmuk. Assuming everything earlier had gone as before, if the Eastern Romans had defeated the Arab armies in Palestine, Islam (probably) would have been confined to the peninsula.
    9. Death of Ogadai Khan. OK; I’m cheating again, but without the recall of the Mongols at that time, nothing Europe had could have stopped them.
    10. Armada. Yes, it was probably doomed to failure in any case, but we’re playing “what if” here. A Spanish conquest of England would have changed the political/religious history of Europe for centuries. You may be surprised I’s omitting Hastings. A good case could be made for it, but until the Tudors, it really didn’t have a great effect on the world as a whole (The French thinking of the 100 years might disagree)
    I have several more, but that’s enough for tonight. See you later.

  3. The funny thing is the second Punic War isn’t included even though it determined a roman-influenced western world

  4. As expected…….This list is full of eurocentrism.All the battles that shaped asia be damned
    .The battle between arab and persia that ended ancient persian civilization,the battle of tarain that led to establishing of 800 yrs. of muslim rule in most of north india,The battle of rajasthan in which pratihara under nagabhata checked islamic expansion for some 300 yrs. or the battle of kalinga whose repurcurssions resulted in Ashoka the great’s massive campaign of spreading buddhism…..all these battles have greatly affected asia and world but still…….

  5. No.1 has to be the battle of Teutoburg forest. 3 imperial legions wiped out by the Germanic tribes in 9AD. lead to the dam near collapse of the Northen boarder. Heavily increased Romes dependence on Germanic auxiliaries (massive stain on Roman economics). Halted roman expansion. Contributed to the withdrawal from Britain and eventually lead to the northern invasion and the collapse of the Roman empire, the migration period, medieval Europe and western civilization. Arguably a big deal.

  6. is it “top 10 most important battles in history” or “top 10 most important battles in european history”.completely biased,eurocentric and what not?

  7. Errr, the allied army that fought Napoleon at Waterloo was not undersized, the French were actually hopelessly outnumbered, and it’s only becaue Napoleon managed to outmaneuver his enemies that the French lasted so long.

    As usual, the Waterloo campaign, as well as Wellington’s role, are being overly romanticized and exaggerated, the French and Napoleon never stood a chance.

  8. The comments all tend to highlight the fact that this list is both western and US centric.
    Arguing about which pivotal moment in history is the most important is ultimately futile, as ultimately any apparently insignificant event (ie butterfly effect) can completely change the course of history. Like the one about the ww1 german corporal called Adolf who narrowly avoided death in the trenches…

    • I have always been puzzled by the inclusion of the battle of Actium on lists like these as the only thing it seemed to settle was who was going to assume the totalitarian legacy of Julius Ceasar.

  9. This list is utter BS. Why? It does not include the battle of Yurmouk 636 AD. Heralded the spread of Islam and the last days of the Byzatine empire.

  10. So… The list contains 0 battles of survival fought by the early Muslims, any of which had they lost, there would be no (and not 1 billion) Muslims today?

  11. Put Yorktown on the 10 most important battle in the history is pure stupidity and brainwash… Only American care about that battle… Where is the battle of Thermopylae or battle of Gaugamela ? Yorktown is important only for American… Rest of the planet don’t care about Yorktown. It is extreme narcissism to pretend that any American battle is important in the history… 5000 years of battle all around the world and USA Has only 200 years… But 2/10 of the best battle in history are American ??? 18 000 American and allies vs. 9 000 British is the best battle American has done ? Or maybe that battle is there only because most American are brainwash as the greatest country ever…

  12. ibrahim_ragab on

    for those who think that Islam spread by force!!!!!!!
    what about now ????????????

  13. Battle of Gaugamela in 331 BC between Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia was a decisive battle in the antiquity.

    • Responding to a whole bunch of folks, not just RIcky:

      In my opinion, measuring the significance of a battle should take into account its overall impact on history. With that in mind, I agree with the previous post which suggested removal of Midway. Yes, it was a major strategic victory, but eventually the US industrial and training capacity would have overmatched that of the Japanese, plus the Japanese would not have had the capacity to control the Pacific long term. Similiarly, the sacking of Constantinople doesn’t rate, even with the introduction of artillery and the spread of some intellectuals. The Byzantine Empire was effectively reduced to a city at that point. Finally, Thermopylae is in the same category, because while this battle may be the stuff of legends, it was merely a delaying action with no real consequence. In contrast, Plataea permanently eliminated the threat of Persian conquest of Greece. WIthout Salamis and Plataea, Western Civilization may have been snuffed. There would not have been a Greece, Rome, Catholic Church, and many other things, at least not in the form we understand. Similarly, Hastings completely altered world history. Borodino and indeed the entire Russian campaign under Napoleon rates very high on my list. Had he preserved his army, Napoleon may well have continued crushing all his opposition, thus altering the course of history leading up to the World Wars and atomic weapons. The German invasion of Russia, culimnating with Stalingrad holds similiar weight in my book. Had Germany kept the peace in the East, countless soldiers, aircraft, tanks, and artillery, not to mention finances and petrolum could have been brought to bear in the West. As for the commentary about US battles, I do agree that Yorktown doesn’t rate, but if we consider the long-term global impact, one can reasonably argue that Saratoga and Gettysburg do have some significance. Had either gone the other way, the US as we know it may never have existed. Consider how that impacts history. Maybe Europe would have been completey altered had the US not entered WWI and the warring parties had agreed to the trenches become the new borders. WIthout the crushing reparations, perhaps Germany wouldn’t have fallen to Hitler and the Nazis and at least the Western part of WWII may have never happened. I’m certainly not equating Saratoga with Plataea, but to me, the significance of a battle doesn’t have anything to do with size, new tactics/weapons, etc., but rather the long-term impact. And thanks to the folks who point out the Eastern battles. Unfortunately our “history” taught in the US conveniently ignores anything east of Persia unless you take a course specifically dedicated to Eastern culture. Your inputs were most appreciated.

  14. This is biased , be fair and mention all kind of war regardless the race or religion ? Have you heard of the defeat of persian empire by arabs ? No ? Read up
    Heard of defeat of istanbul(today) constantinbole (before ) ? How about the battle of saladin against the crusaders ?

    Iam just being fair mentioning one side battle is something and best battles all the time is totally something else .

  15. This list shows a deep hatred by the author for Muslims.

    Battle of Ain Julut one of the most important battle in the history of the planet and it doesn’t even get a top 5 nod????

    Muslim forces defeat the western moving mongols giving them their only defeat which they could not answer to, effectively ending Mongol expansion west of Arabia and causing them to go into complete disarray.

    Following this defeat the Golden Horde Khan of Russia (Muslim Mongol Khan) declared his cousin Hulagu an enemy and when Hulagu returned from Mongolia to avenge the defeat of his forces to the Mamluks at Ain Jalut he was intercepted in route from the army of the Golden Horde suffering his greatest defeat ever, Hulagu would never mount another assault again.

    Also take note that this battle was also the first time in history when Christians were rooting for Muslims to win. The Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem actually allowed Muslim forces to navigate through their Kingdom unmolested to take on the Mongol army.

    If they had failed here all of Arabia would have been captured and the Mongols would have continued west to Europe.

    • Because it was not as important and crucial to ww2. The Germans were already finished, maybe it would have took a little longer to defeat them without D-Day but they were already on the verge of defeat.

  16. ListeningtoAlbert on

    The Battle of Britain has to be the most important conflict of all time. Had the British capitulated the war in the west would have ended there and then. Europe would have been Nazi and the Allies would never have been able to fight back. Who knows what would have happened with Germany’s intent on rockets, jets, and the facilities to obtain heavy water.
    As Churchill said ‘ ‘never have so many owed so much to so few ‘

  17. Yorktown and Gettysburg should be no where near this list as their influence on world history is limited and pales in comparison to battle such as marathon, Vienna and Zama.

  18. Your Islamo phobia and contempt for, vibrant progressive and militarily strong Muslim world is evidently clear from this list.
    Badar the battle if lost there wouldnt have been 1.5 billion Muslims in the world.
    Haittin if lost it would have been hard for Salladin to build an army to recover Jerusalem.
    The battle of Ainal Jalut if Mamlooks were defeated, no one to stop Mongols the entire Islamic

    Why oh why couldnt u see, beyond ur Islamophobia.

    Read more:

  19. The battle of Guagamela is the most important battle in history. The was the battle where Alexander the great essentially defeated the Persian empire. Had he failed, the middle east would have never been Hellenized, which in turn would has greatly affected the histories of the middle east, the Roman republic and even India.

    • Your Islamo phobia and contempt for, vibrant progressive and militarily strong Muslim world is evidently clear from this list.
      Badar the battle if lost there wouldnt have been 1.5 billion Muslims in the world.
      Haittin if lost it would have been hard for Salladin to build an army to recover Jerusalem.
      The battle of Ainal Jalut if Mamlooks were defeated, no one to stop Mongols the entire Islamic

      Why oh why couldnt u see, beyond ur Islamophobia.

  20. With all my respects- the battle of Constantinople is won thanks to the Bulgarian army. Interesting fact is, that while Bulgaria back at that time was pagan country, their ruler was probaly christian.

    One of the many Asian invasions, stopped by Bulgarians actually.

  21. I miss BATTLE OF WARSAW 1920 on the list.

    thanks to Polish army under command of Jozef Pilsudski the Soviet tyranny didn’t come to Western Europe.

    Trotsky and Stalin neglected the Poles who were unexperienced, poor, weak and got their independence just 1,5 years before.

    Just imagine it happen 🙂 imagine France, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Germany as one big DDR. Food shortages, religion forbidden, brainwashing and Big Brother watching you all the time.

    Europe was lucky again.

  22. Totally agree with number one, Muslim siege of Constantinople.

    The win of the Bulgars and Byzantines definitively is the single most important event of all time for today’s civilization. The battle happens in such a critical time in Europe, when there was no strong force to stop the brutal Islamic fanatics.

    This battle is more important than the battle of Tours because here was the first time the Arabians were literally slaughtered in a devastating way, setting the way later for the Franks to totally finish them.

    Thank god for the Bulgars and the great walls of Constantinople. If those two were not there, then as the author put it, we might all be bowing towards Mecca five times a day and studying our Koran each night.

  23. I have to make a case for Manzikert 1071.
    This was a drastic immediate and long-term shake-up for the Byzantine Empire, and after this point, the empire was never as widespread again and began a slow decline. As usual in the later centuries, this was against the Turks and was one major factors in help spurring on the Crusaders fight for control in the holy lands for the next 150 or so years.

  24. Waterloo’s importance is definitely overrated.

    Lets say hypothetically that Napoleon wins, and the first wave of British and Prussians is gone. Now he has to deal with Austrians, Russians, Spaniards, Portugals, Swedes, Germans, Italians, and more British and Prussians. France had already been exhausted from 20 years of war. Therefore, Napoleon had no hope of winning the war. While decisive in the way that it destroyed Napoleon once and for all, it was not decisive in the way it changed history.

  25. The Battle of Adrianople is by far the most significant in history. If you don’t have a good understanding of history your comment carries no weight. I think this list is very accurate, but perhaps the fall of Constantinople should replace Yorktown.

    • Lets start with the easy ones,
      River Kalka 1223, see above post.
      Liegnitz 1241; Shoot the horses out from under the knights, then skewer them with the heavier lancers.
      Ain Jalut 1260. not explaining.
      Bun’ei 1274. first mongol invasion of Japan thwarted. Second invasion sunk by high seas.
      Vochan 1279, Mongols first encounter with elephants and drove them back into the Burmese ranks with their bows.
      Tumu 1449, the Ming looked bad in this one and way outnumbered the Mongols, a logistical nightmare in the Mongols favor. Sort of the turning point to when that particular dynasty turned sour.

  26. What about Bulls vs Lakers in 1991 NBA finals? Michael Jordan vs Magic Johnson

    That was a great battle. If Lakers won, it would have given them 6 championships from 1980s to 1991

    huh huh huh?

    • The Boston Celtics run of eight consecutive titles I think it the greatest sports feat ever.
      The Bills 4 straight Superbowl losses is pretty damn good (or bad) too.
      On an individual basis, Cy Youngs 749 complete games will never come down, and John Vander Meers 2 consecutive no-hitters will not be surpassed. Humans will evolve into a different species before somebody gets 3 in a row (playing on a console doesn’t count) or 750 CG
      For batting, one player will never hit 3 grandslams in the same inning.
      Chamberlain and Gretzky each hold some stupid-ridiculous untouchable records as well.
      King Richard’s 200 race wins? Second place is 105, that’s not coming down.
      Yea, I like sports too.

      • You forgot Sir Don Bardman’s ridiculous batting average of 99.94. The second best is Garfield Sobers I believe at ~ 60 (which is ridiculous in itself).

  27. There’s some hits and misses with this list.

    NUMBER 10:
    For the sake of simplicity (and selecting one WW2 battle) I’ll go along with this pick…..
    But… If I have to include one battle from the 20th century, I would choose the first battle of the Marne in 1914. A battle in which the Germans lost. A battle by which by the Allies winning forced the Great War to drag on for another 4 years and turned it into a trench warfare with the ridiculously high casualties. A war in which the Germans lost. A result which produced Nazism in the turmoil that immediately followed within that country. A political party which then wanted to control all of Europe and do the whole charade all over again.
    However, had the Germans won at the Marne and grabbed Paris, the war likely would have ended very early. No grief after the war, no Nazi party rising up.

    NUMBER 9:
    I’d remove Midway ’42. There is no way that should in the top 10 of all the historic battles that have occured. If Japan won at Midway, it would have just stalled the U.S. in the Pacific theatre, and perhaps more material and effort from US may have been sent to the European theatre instead rather than the Pacific. Alaska would of bulked up had Midway and Hawaii fell. The Pacific campaign for Imperial Japan is one they still would have never won in the long run. The Industrial capacity was just too lopsided in the Allies favor with the United States involved.

    NUMBER 8:
    I’ll play along.

    NUMBER 7:
    This one is tough as there are four significant battles during the Napoleanic Wars that get juggled around, depending on who you ask, as to which was the most important:
    Austerlitz 1805, Borodino 1812, Liepzig 1813 and Waterloo 1815.
    Waterloo, of course, ended the whole thing and Europe finally settled down into normalicy with no further engagements until Crimea in the 1850s. Obviously, had Napolean won at Waterloo, campaigns and warfare would have continued.
    I would replace Waterloo with Borodino. This was really the turning point of the whole mess, but they had no idea of it back then. Though Napolean won, it was a phyrric victory and cost the French dearly. Even after the battle as the French retreated (due to lack of supplies, etc) the Russians skirmished and harassed the French to the point where Napolean had a very small fraction of able troops remaining. In short, Borodino, mainly the Russians, showed that Napolean could be defeated and this encouraged the other allied nations to press their attacks upon the French again, with Leipzig following soon after.
    But consider this, Austerlitz would be the most significant of the four had the British Navy lost at Trafalgar in 1805.

    NUMBER 6:
    I’ll take a ride.
    However, I’m not so sure this one should be in the top 10 of all time.

    NUMBER 5:
    Yes, this one was pretty epic. The highwater mark of the Muslim invasion of Europe. Consider if the Franks had been subdued. No great Carolingian dynasty, no Charlemagne, no father of European chivalry.

    NUMBER 4:
    I agree, but Vienna 1683 is another juggle toss mixed up with Lepanto 1571 and the earlier Siege of Vienna in 1529. I this one more as the Ottoman failure to capture Vienna in 1529 turned the tide against almost a century of unchecked conquest throughout eastern and central europe. It was a milestone which marked the beginning of the stagnation and decline of the Ottoman Empire as the dominant power of the Renaissance world. Thereafter, 150 years of bitter military tension and reciprocal attacks ensued.
    While 1683 broke the Turks backs, 1529 was the punch in the nose that stunned them and turned the tables. Lepanto, of course, removed their naval presence from the Meditterranean.

    NUMBER 3
    Yes, this was pretty damn important, but Saratoga 1777 deserves the spot for most important conflict relating to the United States. I would put Yorktown second though. Saratoga was certainly the turning point of the American war for independance. The British surrender at Saratoga convinced the French to enter the conflict on the side of the Americans.
    Without the French, there is no naval blockage around Yorktown in ’81, Cornwallis gets his supplies and defeats the Americans at Yorktown.

    NUMBER 2
    Yes, this or Marathon 490 BC.

    NUMBER 1
    Pretty significant too. This pretty much ended the western Roman Empire. During this time and a few decades earlier, Emporer Constantine set the foundations for the Eastern Roman Empire in Byzantium changing the capital to Constantinople and began building the huge walls that surrounded the capital, a city that remained impregnable for 1000 years. Which leads me to my next suggestions…

    Where’s the Siege of Constantinople 1453 ??

    The end of the medieval ages. The decisive use of artillery on the battlefield destroying the walls and allowing the Turks to invade Europe for the next two centuries. Escaping intellectuals from the city also helped fuel the Renaissance in Europe.

    Hastings 1066 has to be on this list.
    As if English history had no effect on world politics and economics since the last 1000 years.

    Lechfeld / Augsburg 955 ??
    Symbolic victory for the knight cavalry who would define European warfare in the high middle ages, over the nomadic, light cavalry warfare (horse archers, etc) which characterized warfare in the Dark Ages in Europe. Ended 90 years of pillaging, and convinced survivors to settle down.

    Where’s Ain Julat 1260.
    The Mongols at their peak and decisively defeated. In previous battles, the Mongols had always returned and avenged their loss but were unable to do so at Ain Julat. Also, the earliest known battle where explosive hand cannons were used.

    Yarmouk 636 ?
    Western-only “historians” always forget this one on their list.
    Muslims ended Byzantine rule in Syria. The death of Muhammad heralded in the great wave of Islamic conquests.

    Teutoberg Forest 9 ?
    This is Hastings 1066 for the Germans.
    Romans cannot defeat the “barbarians”. No roman influence, Germanic-based culture develops on its own. Again, as if the Germans never had any influence on world politics and economics.

    Metaurus 207 BC ??
    Another one many dont know about.
    Rome is in a world of $#it if Hasdrubal had delivered the extra troop formations and siege equipment to Hanibal, then linking up together and proceeding to sack the capital.
    Imagine the Roman Empire finished off that early in the game….
    Of course, Hasdrubal’s force was defeated and Hannibal was stranded in Italy without enough manpower and equipment to continue the march to Rome.

    • Great rebuttal.

      I was wondering where the Lapanto reference was going to come in. You can’t really leave it out.

      You are on the spot about Yorktown. Saratoga was the more decisive and influential battle.

      Midway was a significant victory, it was the end of japanese expansion, after that they were retreating. Top ten of all time? I don’t think it is. I would put Vicksburg in it’s spot.

      • Personally, I like to judge land battles to just land battles and sea battles only to sea battles, but I guess you do have to balance it all together.

        I mentioned Lepanto under #4, that gets mixed up in the bag with the Ottomans trying to sack all of eastern europe in 1529, and 1683. I will say though, that Lepanto’s definitely in the top 5 naval battles of all time, with Actium, Salamis, Trafalger and Gravelines. (off the top of my head, and I may be forgetting others a.t.m) That’s obviously a western influenced point of view, im sure the far eastern cultures would pick differently. Failed Mongol Invasion of 1281? Battle of Red Cliffs?

        Again, overall it’s a nice list, but my two major gripes;
        I still think Hastings has got to be up on that list, and,
        Waterloo really should be replaced with Borodino or Liepzig. Just look at the reserve troop counts of the allies vs Napolean’s after Waterloo. Too lopsided even if Napolean would’ve won. Waterloo is definitely the most romanticized battle of that war. Though in all honesty, I could even say Valmy 1792 is the most signicant in that context.

        Another battle I’d like to mention is Gaugamela 331 BC.
        One of the most underdogged lopsided victories ever, brilliant tactical work, right up their with Cannae(ultimate envelopement)
        and Austerlitz (ultimate bait)
        and River Kalka(ultimate feint).
        Plus Alexander never lost after he got his first win (though this wasn’t his first)

  28. A quick check through wikipedia (or any encyclopedia) nets a list of errors:
    7. Waterloo – 72,000 French vs 118,000 Allies. France was extremely outmatched. Not just in numbers, but artillery and more improtantly cavalry lost in the retreat from Moscow as well. Those numbers are debateable, since Napoleon really had something of 50,000-60,000 men trained.
    5. Tours – Actually fought by the Gascons (Basques from northern Spain and south-western France) initially, and then with Frankish help. the Moors went on to occuppy parts of Spain until 1492 when they were finally kicked out, by the Spanish.
    4. Battle of Vienna – This has so many errors, just go back and re-read. King John III had a highly trained 20,000 force, everything else was pretty much inside Vienna and didn’t partake much of the fight. A 20,000 cavalry charge downhill will pretty much wreck havok and fear into anything. Battle over.

  29. Nice list, but room for improvements. 😉

    I certainly miss the Battles of Brittain, Hastings and Jutland, and at least one of the Battles of the 100 Years War (Azingcourt is my favourit).

    • Yes. I’m an American, and The Battle of Hastings, and Britain, if they had gone differently, could make this, almost like another planet(The way it would have turned out). So, to not include them, is illogical, at best..

  30. Saratoga was more important than Yorktown to the American Revolutionary War. The writer of the list is equating the entire Revolutionary War to the final major battle of the War and that is completely inaccurate.

    Saratoga proved to the French and the Spanish that the Colonist were capable of defeat a major British Army in the and capable of winning the war. This provided the impetus for the French and Spanish to join the colonists in a Coalition against Britain, which in turn lead to the dispersal of British focus between America and Europe, a weakening of British strenght against the Colonist, the breaking of British dominance on the oceans in the war and the eventual Colonial Victory in the War itself.

    Without victory at Saratoga there would have been no Yorktown, no French and Spanish aide and probably no successful American Revolution.

  31. Well of course since this is a web site devoted to trivia there would be a thread devolved into Mohammed vs Jesus 🙂 If you think that this imagery aversion is unique to Islam recall this hysteria over the paining ‘Piss Christ’ a few years back. It was actually damaged recently when a man attacked the painting in a gallery where it was on display. And just as there are liberal and strict Christians you can both be Christian (to some) and for instance, “take the name of thy lord thy god in vain.”

  32. Hello. Yes, obviously these were different times. In Muhammad`s day, (If he is even real) there was no such thing as war-crimes. Mass-murder, genocide, ethnic cleansing were the norm. If he was around today, he`d be a fugitive, like Colonel Gaddafi now is. And as for Muslims saying you “Can`t show images of muhammad.” Well, that`s baloney. On a website called Muhammad images, it shows pictures of Muhammad. And there done by Muslims. And their`s images of him done from other countries. My personal favourites are the ones from Dante`s Inferno where he`s ripping his chest open and the one where a demon is dragging him into Hell, and the statue where Angels are stamping on him. It also shows the cartoons which caused Muslims to go barmy a few years ago. BUT if you`re a Muslim do not go there unless you want to be offended..

    • First of all yes he did exist his tomb is located in Saudi Arabia, secondly any pictures made of him are not accurate because nobody actually drew a picture of him while sitting across from him. Any pictures made of him either by Muslims or non Muslims were done after the fact. Third people on this site need to get a grip hating on Muslims, all the battles listed here he had no part in so blaming it on him is foolish and calling him a warlord shows your general lack of Islamic history.

    • More nonsense. If the Jews (and their loved ones) were not under threat of death, they would never have converted. Of all the races and religions, in history, the Jews showed the most steadfastness to their faith, under the most dangerous circumstances. The only single Muslim area where a certain amount of toleration was practiced was in Moorish Spain, The Moors, mostly originally Berbers were not really Arabs, although muslims, and became civilised far more than Feudal Europe whichwas in the really DARK Ages. Many famous scientists doctors and philosophers were produced from this area, and in the prevailing religious groups.

  33. No, when you consider ancient prophets you also have to consider the times they were placed in. Jesus was a conquered person completely under the control of the Roman Empire during the Pax Romana. Look how effective the Jewish Revolt was and perhaps you understand why he didn’t try to lead Christian Soldiers marching off to war.

    Mohammed lived in a time of conflict and fractured internecine tribal warfare. Unification and peace was brought by yes the sword. As for he did this or he did that, meh. Do you believe in the Night Flight to Jerusalem? Further pictures of Mohammed are strictly forbidden in Islam. What pictures do you speak of? And last, the Islamic Armies kicked the Persian’s butts. You expect them to draw pretty pictures about it?

    Christianity is alone in glorying in gory images of their god. If anyone has a counter example I’d love to see it.

  34. islam was not spread by sword if it would today islam would be dominant religion of world.
    if it would today all spain would be Muslim
    there was religious freedom everywhere during their rule

    • Yet, scholars have estimated that overall about 270 million people have been killed by Islamic Jihad.

      Muhammad himself fought a number of pitched battles and was all together involved in 28 Jihads, while personally planning around another 80.

      For instance, the following are some of the actions by Muhammad

      570 – Born in Mecca
      623 – Orders raids on Meccan caravans
      624 – Battle of Badr (victory)
      624 – Evicts Qaynuqa Jews from Medina
      624 – Orders the assassination of Abu Afak
      624 – Orders the assassination of Asma bint Marwan
      624 – Orders the assassination of Ka’b al-Ashraf
      625 – Battle of Uhud (defeat)
      625 – Evicts Nadir Jews
      627 – Battle of the Trench (victory)
      627 – Massacre of the Qurayza Jews
      628 – Destruction and subjugation of the Khaybar Jews
      629 – Orders first raid into Christian lands at Muta (defeat)
      630 – Conquers Mecca by surprise (along with other tribes)
      631 – Leads second raid into Christian territory at Tabuk (no battle)
      632 – Dies.

      • ”Yet, scholars have estimated that overall
        about 270 million people have been killed
        by Islamic Jihad.”

        May i know which scholars yer’re referring to? And could yer please attach link to the source of yer statistics?

        • There is no argument that in the centuries after the death of The Prophet his followers conquered most of the Mediterranean nations not in Western Europe. The question is did the conquered peoples convert under threat of the sword or not?

          The usual answer is no. I can believe this for two reasons. Islam preached tolerance of Christianity and Jews in theory if not always in practice. There was an open door, some took it for comfort others for profit. Also people that have been steamrolled by an opposing army are usually open to suggestion as to ‘why’ and Islam was open to new converts and giving answers (whether you believe the reasons now or not)

          After ~400AD, Christianity was distributed around the world by armies and colonization. In many of those colonies, namely Central and South America not becoming Roman Catholic was not an option. There is no respect for other faiths written into the bible.

        • So Muhammad, after reading all these battles he was involved in, he was some kind of warlord. He was like Herod or Nero. But then again, when you look at Persian images of him, he`s doing some pretty ghastly things. Like chopping peoples heads off because they spoke ill of him and hanging women from their TONGUES, because they`ve shown their faces.. Muhammad was a great guy.

      • ignorantbastard on

        270 million kill by Muslim Jihad?

        How bout the bloody crusades?
        The inquisitor?
        The killing of native Americans?
        The destruction of the Incas/Aztecs civilisation?
        May I add the holocaust because Heinrich is a Christian?

        If u say 270 million kill during Muhamad’s time,I say it’s utter bull.
        Even the whole Arabia don’t have 270 million peoples at that time.
        And Ottoman Empire just because it’s a Muslim empire doesn’t mean they kill by Islam name,it’s like saying Nazi German is a great Christian Empire.

        • The first Crusade took place 400 years after the Muslims had begun to attack the Christian West; and the last one ended 400 years before the Ottomans were defeated in front of Vienna. Also contrary to the legend of Inquisition – most the result of anti Catholic propaganda by Protestant writers. In reality, it’s estimated that only about 20,000 people were killed in the 350 years of the Inquisition. As for Native Americans and the Aztec and Inca civilizations, most of the death among them was caused by the introduction of diseases to which the Native Americans had no immunity. And the Holocaust was the work of Nazis who were pagans more than anything else, and activily hostile to Christianity, which Hitler believe weakened the spirit of the German people. When speaking about Muslim atrocities you really need to include India. Unlike Christians, Muslims considered the Hindus “Idolators”, and fit only for conversion or death. The Muslims killed upwards of millions in a number of massacres of Hindus.

      • With all my respects,
        The eviction of the tribes: Nadhir, Qainooqa and Quraizah was because they had rejected the treaty that Muhammed (S.A.W) had made with them.
        The treaty had included
        1. The muslims and Jews shall live as one people.
        2. Each party shall keep to its own faith
        3. In the event of war with a third party, each was bound to help the other, provided the latter were an aggrieved party, and not the aggressor.
        4. In the event of an attack on Madinah, both would join hands to defend it.
        5. Peace, when desirable should be made in consultation with one another.
        6. Madinah should be regarded as sacred by both resulting in bloodshed being forbidden.
        7. In the case of dispute, the final arbitrator would be Muhammed (S.A.W)

        The first expulsion was of the Qainooqa tribe as some men from their tribe had interfered with a woman from Medinah whicb resulted in the death of a muslim and a jew. This was not the only reason as they had not defended Madinah alongside the Muslims in the battle of Badr. When the muslims returned from the battle, they enquired about the absence of help but the Qainooqa tribe were not prepared to talk about it and they locked themselves in their forts. The muslims surrounded the forts for 15 days until the Qainooqa surrendered. The leader of the Qainooqa tribe was Abdullah ibn Ubay and he pleaded for the lives of the Qainooqa be spared. This was permitted and they settled in Syria.

        The second expulsion took place in 4 A.H and was of the Nadeer tribe because they had broken the agreement with the Muslims as they had plotted a plan to kill Muhammed. But they were still given a choice. They would accept Islam or leave Madinah in 10 days.

        The third expulsion was of the Quraizah tribe in 5 A.H during the Battle of Trench because they had gone against the Muslims and became hypocrites by joining forces with the non- muslim Mecanns.

        They too locked themsleves in their forts and the muslims surrounded them for a month. They accepted Sa’ad ibn Mu’aaz (R.A) as the judge in the matter. He gave the verdict that all the men should be killed and their goods and possessions should be divided amongst the muslims. This punishment was according to Mosaic Law.

        It is also quoted in the Qu’raan:
        ” And we revealed the Tauraah (Jewish book) in which there was guidance and light. The prophets, Rabbis and Preists who surrendered (unto Allah) judged the Jews by it.”

        If you are still not satisfied with this comment about the Expulsion topic then please go and learn from both sides of the story.
        A proud Muslim

    • That’s completely incorrect in fact at the end of the the third chrusade the combined muslim forces were forced into signing a treaty with Richard the Lionheart who have fewer troops and resources. You say there was religious freedom everywhere in the Muslim world…… Well they don’t even have that now let alone hundreds of years ago.
      Please read a book or support with fact before you write

    • You’re talking pure nonsense. History from both sides is CLEAR. Islam was spread by the sword. numerous descriptions in the Koran testify to this by themselves, without the other ample historical evidence. Look it up.

      • What religion was not spread by the so-called sword? Answer none.
        What religion is rapidly diminishing in number of followers today? All but Islam.

  35. Remember a few years ago, when the Pope said Islam was, “spread by the sword,” and Muslims went insane? I think they should read this..

      • i believe talking about the german defeat of roman legion i believe the ninth, during augustus ceasar’s rule ended roman conquest into german lands, and could be argued allowing for the eventual german conquest of the roman empire 400 years later

        • Not only opening the way for the barbarian’s way from the north, but also checking Rome’s expansion to the North and East. Imagine if German and Russian were Romance Languages?

        • According to Seutonius, (The 12 Caesars) Augustus used to have a habit when he was out walking, of moaning “Varus Varus, give me back my legions”. It was Varus who was the general who had his 3 legions destroyed by Armin the German. Pretty useless wish since Varus was also killed.

  36. Great discussion, obviously a smart crowd reading.

    I am far from being an expert in the area, but as important as Adrianople was, I would move it to #3, and move Yorktown to #6. I would take Gettysburg out of this list because as important as it was, it pales in comparison in terms of the effect that most (but not all) battles mentioned here had on the development, or even the existence of western civilization as we know it. Maybe the article should be called “Ten Most Important Battles for Western Civilization” since it does not touch on great battles in the East…just a thought.

    Given that, I think that the battle of Salamis should be #1.

    The battle of Thermopylae, although militarily a lost battle, set an example of Western civilization virtue used as a source of inspiration many times by Western leaders, where free men, willingly fight for freedom, family and country against immense odds, and that of an honorable leader willing to fight and die with his warriors. Maybe it deserves an honorable mention because of its effect on Western civilization ethos?

    IMHO I would include the battle of Gaugamela as #2 because it forced the eventual demise of Darius, the taking of Persia, and the beginning of Western civilizations’ great world expansion under Alexander.

    • Paul Agathen on

      I totally agree that Gettysburg does not belong in this list. Important as this battle was in the history of the US, it’s influence on world history is significantly less than others on the the list.

      • Gettysburg not important?

        The US only became the most dominant force on the planet, shaped history and then became the lone super-power.

        This battle cemented the US as not just a collection of disparate States but the most powerful industrial and military might on the planet…in the next century…and now.

        It shaped Western Civilization and economics, policy, etc. If the US had become a middling player in world affairs during the 20th century…then yeah…but you are taking a myopic view…the US became a juggernaught…in economics and military might and it started after Gettysburg.

        It’s the most important battle to where we are now as a world.

    • War of 1812 was a great strategic success for the U.S., despite all the lost battles because of Andrew Jacksons hugely important victory at New Orleans that gained America control of the Mississippi.

  37. “In something of a remake of the earlier Battle of Tours (see no. 5) the Muslims were again on the march in an effort to claim all of Europe for Allah”.

    OBJECTION. The Ottomans were not waging a religious war. In fact, by the standards of the time, the Ottoman Empire could almost have been described as secular, and the emphasis on science and the arts was enormous. Religious freedom existed at this time in the Ottoman Empire that didn’t exist in most of Europe for another 150 years, and the Ottoman army would have likely contained Jewish and Christian soldiers fighting alongside their Muslim compatriots.

    This was simple imperial expansion, and nothing more. The Ottomans were something of a super-power at the time, and this was them flexing their muscles and attempting to prove their supremacy. The victory was a fantastically important one for both European and west Asian history (the two really shouldn’t separated that much, as they are intertwined), but just because the Ottomans were predominantly Muslim does not mean that every expansionist war they waged was a religious war.
    The French and the British did not wage wars and acquire empires stretching around the world to spread their versions of Christianity. That was a by product, where it happened at all . Imperial expansion is concerned with territory, power and the acquisition of wealth – not religion, even though this is how the panicked and fearful European chroniclers presented it at the time.

    • You seem to know your history, so if you come back and check these comments feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. Didn’t England have just as formidable (if not so) army than the French during those times? Also, they were separated by the English Channel which would have made invasion by the Ottoman forces even more costly. By this assumption, the English would have had a chance to drive them back.

      Like I said, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

      • It’s debatable how far the Ottomans could have gone. France did have a vast standing Army at that time, but there were internal troubles. You’re absolutely right about England, though. Aside from the Dutch, they were by this time the pre-eminent naval power in Europe, and this certainly would have prevented any successful invasion. Personally, I doubt they would have got that far, nor would there have been any incentive to do so. Eastern and Central Europe would certainly have been drastically changed had the Ottomans won at Vienna, but Russia were in the ascendency to the North East, and things could have got complicated.

        • Just a “butt-in” comment. European countries didn’t have “standing” armies in those days. This was The Feudal Era, the early Middle Ages, and I believe that apart from kings’ guards and some local “law enforcers” the armies were levied in accordancew with their feudal loyalties, by rank from the serfs all the way up to royal dukes.

    • Most Christians in Ottoman service were galley slaves, chained to their oars.

      Large numbers of Christian boys were also demanded as tribute from the Balkans and forced to become Muslim Janissaries – the elite of the Ottoman army. Are those the Christians in Ottoman armies you speak of?

      They were forced to convert to Islam, so freedom of religion wasn’t so available if you were a soldier slave of the Ottomans. Many ordinary Christian slaves did indeed convert to Islam to obtain better treatment – but not freedom.

      Are you referring to Christians from conquered/vassal states, in the Balkans, under Ottoman rule that were forced to fight for their conquerors?

      By the way, religious ‘freedom’ extended only to the people of the book (Jews & Christians). They were however clearly inferior to Muslims in every way in an Ottoman state.

      1. They had to pay a special tax and kneel and have a sword ceremonially strike their neck as they paid their annual tribute.
      2. They were not allowed to give Muslims orders in any way.
      3. They were not allowed to ride a horse – a donkey was fine.
      4. Weapons of any sort to defend themselves from bandits were prohibited.
      5. The word of a Muslim would automatically be believed above that of a Christian in a court of law.

      Followers of any religion other than Christianity and Judaism were likely to be forcibly converted or put to death if they refused, in accordance with the Koran and Sharia.

      • Good joke with that last sentence. Apparently you have no idea whatsoever about the practices of Christians in Europe regarding anyone who wasnt a member of their church. Take for example, the basically once or twice a century expelling of Jews from a region whenever anything bad happened. Or how anyone who wasn’t perfectly in line was a witch, and burned at the stake. In fact, one of the reasons Islam and the early Islamic Empire spread so quickly, was that it absorbed a number of Christian sects that had been severely persecuted under the Byzantine Empire, for believing in a somewhat different interpretation of the bible. And you’re wrong with some of those points. Many boys brought from the Balkans rose to positions of high prominence within the Empire.

      • My point was that the religious freedoms which existed in the Ottoman Empire at that time were greater than those in the rest of Europe. You’re response, accurate as it was, does not contradict my statement.

        Non-muslims in the Ottoman Empire could still own property. In various European nations, Christians of denominations different to that sanctioned by the state were not. Catholics in post reformation England, for example, were forbidden to own property until 1778. Jews had only recently been allowed to exist legally in England several hundred years after the medieval expulsions. The Inquisition was still ongoing in Spain and the forced conversion of the native inhabitants of the New World needs no exaggeration when highlighting its brutality. This was also the time of the expulsions of Protestants from France and the aggressive eastwards expansion of Orthodox Russia into ‘heathen’ lands.

        I stand by what I said. In 1683 non-Muslims were better off in the Ottoman Empire than non-Protestants (Catholic and Jewish) were in England (and her fledgeling Empire), or non-Catholics (Christian or otherwise) were in Spain and her Empire, Portugal and her Empire or France. Christians and Jews were allowed to exist in the Ottoman Empire, and worship as they pleased. Such religious heterogeneity was expressly, specifically and strictly forbidden in the European kingdoms mentioned above.

        Obviously, by current standards all sides were horrifically restrictive and Draconian, but applying modern ethics to the past prohibits understanding of it and is, frankly, an absurd endeavor.

      • Yeah, a large majority of the Ottoman Empires elite units were “slaves” taken from south eastern Europe. The best were even high ranking officials, I believe the Grand Vizier was often promoted up through the Janissaries corps and was pretty much the highest ranking adviser, if I remember correctly. I think as far as the traditional image of a slave goes, they were better off than most.

        As far as Empires go the Ottomans at the time were about as secular as you can get.

        Middle eastern history is extremely complicated in my opinion, especially when it comes to how it impacted European history. I think people often mistake Ottoman conquest with the desire to spread the muslim faith because the Koran teaches that Muslims should spread Islam.

        • I strongly disagree with your statement that the Ottoman Empire was almost secular. They strictly followed the Koran and fought jihad for hundreds of years displacing or subjugating Christians and all non-Muslims. I will allow you that it was a bloody time all over and Christians were sometimes brutal to other Christians such as the Fourth Crusade but you can in no way call the Ottoman Empire secular. Non-Muslims were either slaves or mercenaries or served at the pleasure of their conquerors. Muslims always claimed superiority and stole much of their science and art from the Far East, Greeks and Romans. If they were so secular, why was Constantinople brutalized in 1453 just so Mehmet could have another prize. If not a true Muslim, why were he take away or destroy all Christian holy sites and their culture. No telling how marvelous Anatolia and Constantinople would be today if they have not been raped and pillaged by near backward Muslims.

        • Just a xomment here to interject. The Ottoman Empire had been in a decline for many centuries, except for a very rare intelligent sultan. The heir had the benevolent custom of murdering his male siblings and the empire was actually run by ministers. The heir was locked up in a confined area in Istanbul, (which is a tourist sight today) and generally when he succeeded, was pratically an imbecile and didn’t really rule. The empire came to be called “The sick Man of Europe” by the other great powers who would often go to war in alliance with Turkey against anotheer freat power which might attack it, like Russia for example (Crimean War) to keep to ‘balance of power at an equilibrium……. For what it was worth.

    • Religious freedom in the Ottoman empire!? No such thing my friend. They were Islamic fanatics, and they converted other religions into islam by force! Have you heard of the Janissaries? They were young christian boys taken from their homes via so called “blood tax” and converted into islam then send as Otoman soldiers to their home lands and for further quests. I don’t even want to start to talk about what you say for ‘their pasion for science and arts” . Ottomans were not the arabs from the Middle Ages and didn’t have their persuit for science. The ottomans were war hungry fanatical Islams with goal to coquer the world and turn more people into islam, even by force. So yes thank God they didn’t manage to continue their quest.
      P.S I am from Bulgaria and my people were one of the first to fall under Ottoman rule. Losing all of our science and art contribution and my people turned into peasent with no human rights treated like animals killed and robed for fun. So don’t talk to me for the high culture of the Ottomans I’m trying not to be
      prejudiced but The Ottomans ruined Eastern Europe and took it in development hudreds of years back.
      Sorry for my grammar.

    • Take a look at Turkey now. In fact, take a look ANYWHERE Islam holds sway and you will see that any battle that checked Islam was of huge importance to civilization. Just because the Ottoman empire was relatively secular then does not mean they weren’t worse than even the most backward states of Christendom and it would have been only a matter of time before it (and any part of Europe unfortunate to be conquered by them) before it slid into the total barbarism that is characteristic of all lslam.

      By the Bye – There are roughly 7 billion people on Earth – 1.5 billion are gentle, peaceful Muslims. That leaves about 5.5 Billion Non Muslims on Earth. The Muslims may score successes and may even destroy the United States (not Israel, that will never happen).

      However, it is only a matter of time before the worlds 5.5 non Muslims will have had enough and then…. bye bye Islam.