History’s Biggest Battles You’ve Never Heard Of

10 History’s Biggest Battles You’ve Never Heard Of 10 The Battle Of Bouvines Very few people have heard of it, yet the Battle Of Bouvines changed the history of England, and Europe, forever

Everything began with King John determined to reclaim the French lands he had lost in Normandy and Anjou His opponent was the King of France Philippe-Auguste, equally determined to establish French power and prestige The battle was fought on July 27th 1214, near the town of Bouvines in the County of Flanders, at the end of the Anglo-French War of 1213 – 1214 A French army of approximately 7,000 men commanded by King Philip Augustus defeated an Allied army, of approximately 9,000 commanded by Holy Roman Emperor Otto IV In the end, the French prevailed and the German emperor fled

Afterwards, 700 captured mercenaries from Brabant were put to the sword According to John France, professor emeritus in medieval history at Swansea University, "Without Bouvines there is no Magna Carta and all the British and American law that stems from that It's a muddy field, the armies are small, but everything depends on the struggle It's one of the climactic moments of European history" 9

The Battle Of Cape Bon The battle of Cape Bon took place during a joint military expedition of the Western and Eastern Roman Empire, led by emperor Basiliscus against the Vandal capital of Carthage Vandals had been damaging the Roman Empire for years, invading its territories with 1,113 ships and over 50000 soldiers: One of the largest maritime operations in antiquity By 435, the Vandals had already established the Vandal Kingdom of Africa and, in 455, they sacked Rome, the former capital of the Western Roman Empire Then, in 468 a Roman fleet was sent to recapture North Africa from the Vandals, but, while attempting to land near Carthage at Cape of Mercury – now Cape Bon – the fleet was surprised by a Vandal fireship attack

The Vandal fleet sunk over 100 Roman ships and about 10000 Roman soldiers died in the battle The battle made the fall of the Roman Empire in the West inevitable With no access to the resources of Africa, the west could not sustain an army powerful enough to defeat its numerous enemies It was, for all intents and purposes, the beginning of the end

8 The Battle Of Prokhorovka As part of the Third Reich’s Operation Citadel, the battle of Prkhorovka is one of the largest tanks battles in history German began preparing for the Operation in April 1943, intending to destroy the Soviet forces by attacking them from north and south simultaneously The decisive battle was delayed several times since both parts were struggling with equipment supplies and the vacillation in their leadership Finally, on July 5th 1943 German Tank Army marched through the Soviet defensive lines

After a week, the Soviets launched the counter-offensive and on July 12th 1943 the Battle of Prokhorovka started With an estimation of 5000 Soviet tanks vs 1000 German Tanks The conflict swallowed a total of 2

648 of the military machines The German high command suffered significant losses, and it cancelled the operation and began redeploying its forces elsewhere The Soviet Union went on a general offensive and seized the Eastern Front, which was held for the rest of the war However, some historians are now reconsidering the magnitude of the battle, since the Soviet Union may have inflated the numbers to make their ploy look even more majestic 7

The Battle On The Ice Many of you will probably know that George RR Martin’s fantasy books are full of Medieval references In fact, the Battle On – or Of- The Ice would fit perfectly the fights behind the Wall The battle was fought between the Republic of Novgorod, a Medieval East Slavic state, and the Livonian Order, a branch of the Catholic religious military Teutonic Order, in 1242

The battle is notable for having been fought on frozen Lake Peipus But what exactly were they fighting about? In 1240 the Teutonic Knights invaded the Novgorod Republic and started to conquer territories Unfortunately for them, Prince Alexander Nevsky [NEF-ski] managed to take those territories back, in only two years The counter-offensive culminated with the Battle On The Ice Alexander retreated, in an attempt to draw the crusaders onto the frozen lake

At that point, the thin ice broke and many of the Teutonic Knights drowned under the weight of their heavy armour However, as epic as this battle may sound, there are still many historians who believe it may have been exaggerated by 1938 film “Alexander Nevsky” 6 The Football War Well, football fans may get a bit intense at times – to say the least- but, can a football match cause an actual war? Apparently, it can… In 1969, El Salvador had a population of about 3 million Most of the country was controlled by a landowning elite, forcing poorer farmers to emigrate to the closest bigger country: Honduras

Similarly dominated by a small number of landowners, the country was five times as large, with a population of about 23 million By 1969, roughly 300000 Salvadorans were living in Honduras President Oswaldo López Arellano [os-val-do LO-pes a-rel-lie-a-no] began to deport thousands of Salvadorans home, leaving the Salvadoran government struggling to cope with them

It was in the midst of this rising anger that the countries met on the football pitch, on June 27th 1969 Qualification for the 1970 World Cup was at stake El Salvador won the game 3 – 2 From fans violence, military action began In two weeks the two nations were at war

By the time the Organization of American States managed to arrange a ceasefire in July, 3000 people had already died 5 The Pastry War Fancying a tasty croissant, in the middle of a civil revolution? Why not both? In 1828, mob groups were fighting all over Mexico City, during a military coup, which, of course, was already bad itself But, the coup wasn’t good for business – any kind of business

Poor French Chef Remontel experienced it firsthand: his small pastry café was destroyed by looters Remontel presented several complaints to Mexican officials, who promptly ignored them At that point, the chef had no choice but to reach out to the French government

Finally, a decade later, King Louis-Philippe welcomed Remontel’s complaints and demanded Mexico to pay 600000 pesos to refund the pastry chef for his losses Mexico refused and so the Pastry War broke out General Antonio López De Santa Anna even came out of retirement to lead the Mexican army against the French – and lost a leg However, following the intervention of the British government, the two countries signed a peace deal in March 1839, forcing Mexico to repay the French pastry chef

4 The Anglo-Zanzibar War In the late 19th century, Britain extended its influence over East Africa in general, and Zanzibar in particular So, when, in 1869, Prince Khalid bin Barghash ascended the throne, following the death of the pro-British Sultan Hamad bin Thuwayn, things got a bit intense Unfortunately, the new Sultan did not fulfil all the British requirements for stepping into the leadership role So, Britain decided to send him an ultimatum, demanding him to stand down and leave the palace

Of course, Khalid wasn’t pleased by the British government sticking its nose into his country's business, so he called up his guards and barricaded himself inside the palace And so began the Anglo-Zanzibar War, ending with 500 of the Sultan’s men killed and only one British sailor injured But the most astonishing part is that the entire operation lasted only 38 minutes! 3 The Siege Of Candia If the Anglo-Zanzibar War is the shortest battle in history, the Siege Of Candia is definitely the longest one In fact, it is believed that the battle lasted 21 years

The siege of Candia began in May 1648 The Ottomans spent three months laying siege to the city, cutting off the water supply, and disrupting Venice's sea lanes to the city For the next 21 years, they would bombard the city to little effect The Venetians, in turn, received more aid from other western European states, while blocking the supplies Ottoman expeditionary force on the Dardanelles The prolonged conflict led the Ottoman Empire to sacrifice countless lives and treasures, but in 1669, the Venetian Republic finally decided to sign a peace treaty

Just when the war was so close to the greatest turning point of all Apparently, the Venetians had been working on a perfectly organized pandemic plan aimed at lifting the siege by infecting the Ottoman soldiers with plague by attacking them with a liquid made from the spleens and buboes of plague victims But there was no need for THAT plan to ever be carried out 2 The Battle Of Diu A key waymark on the rise of Europe to global power, the battle of Diu was fought in the Arabian Sea between an assortment of Islamic powers and a Portuguese fleet

At the beginning of the 16th century, the Portuguese were aggressively establishing a trade empire in the Indian Ocean Just think of the Cape of Good Hope new route So, with Muslim and Arab merchants, and Venetian middlemen controlling the trade routes from China and India to the Middle East and Europe, the Portuguese were soon at war However, one battle – and only one battle – turned the tide of their Asian trade forever Victory for the Portuguese enabled them to establish their Asian empire

The Battle of Diu in 1509, saw the Portuguese advancing along the northwest Indian coast At the time the area was controlled by the Mamluk Sultanate and their allies, the Gujarat Sultanate, so a war was inevitable But, the Portuguese won the battle that gave them the perpetual control of a key Indian Ocean port, and a dominant position in the regional spice and silk trade for nearly five centuries 1 The Battle Of Koniggratz The Battle of Koniggratz in 1866, was the decisive battle that concluded the Seven Weeks’ War between Prussia and Austria

The war erupted as a result of the dispute over the administration of Schleswig-Holstein [shles-vig hole-stein], which they had conquered from Denmark and agreed to jointly occupy in 1864 The battle was the largest of its time, with nearly half a million troops involved Austrian forces on the Bohemian front numbered about 240,000 men, the Prussians a total of 285,000 It was also the first battle where the outcome was directly determined by the availability of new technologies, such as the breech-loading rifle of the Prussian troops, or railroad transports and the telegraph The Prussian 7th Infantry Division attacked and destroyed 38 out of 49 infantry battalions of the Austrian corps, forcing them to retreat before they could even engage with any Prussian reinforcements

Prussia’s victory established the reign as Europe’s greatest military power, cleaning the path to German unification

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