Hello all, welcome to the first of our grand list series. This one focuses on the seven greatest battles in history - always a subject of much debate, and a very tough question to answer. So, we called in a favour and asked the commissioning editor of the Campaign series, Marcus Cowper to provide his list of the seven most important battles in history.
And this is what he came up with:
"In terms of a beauty contest this is always a tricky one. Every battle has to be seen in the context of its own historical conflict, the significance of any given historical event is often overplayed at the time – and for years afterwards – and history is constantly revised in the light of new evidence and different schools of historical thought. In the end, every such list is always enormously subjective. That being said one of the most influential, and best written, of such lists is The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World: from Marathon to Waterloo by Sir Edward Shepherd Creasy. This was originally published in 1851 and, though some of the battles – notably Tours – no longer seem as significant as they once did, it remains a well-argued and coherent list.
Below is my own, completely subjective, version based on titles in the Osprey Campaign list:
Although Salamis did not win the Persian War for the Greeks, had they lost the battle it would have led to Persian domination of the Greek-speaking world and it is difficult to see the classical civilisation that flowered in Athens, and was such an important part of the formation of Roman culture, happening under those circumstances.
It is rare that the fate of an entire system of government rests on a single encounter, but that is what happened at Hastings in 1066. In one battle an entire ruling class was changed and England turned from a country that looked more to Scandinavia to an integral part of the European continental medieval system.
The battle of Trafalgar in 1805 was that rare beast, a truly decisive encounter. The scale of the destruction inflicted on the Franco-Spanish fleet by the Royal Navy under Nelson removed the threat of a French invasion of the British Isles at a stroke and ensured the domination of the Royal Navy over the world’s oceans for over a century.
One of the great “what ifs” of history, a Confederate victory could have seen a negotiated peace or even a European intervention in the war. As it was the Union prevailed and the end when it came was inevitable as the superior Union industrial and population base was made to tell.
CAM 221 The First Battle of the Marne 1914
A French defeat at the Marne would almost certainly have knocked her out of the war, leading to a settlement in the style of the Franco-Prussian War. The French, and Allied, victory led to the Germans committed to a war on two fronts and the stalemate of trench warfare on the Western Front.
Nominating a single, decisive Eastern Front battle is always risky. However, the German defeat at the doors of Moscow ended the chance for a swift victory in the war on the Eastern Front and ensured that the Soviet regime survived into 1942. This gave the Russians a vital chance to recover their equilibrium.
As with Trafalgar, Midway was a truly decisive encounter in that the destruction some of the Imperial Japanese Army’s major warships caused a shift in the balance of power to the US Navy, a balance that was never truly threatened again in the course of the war."
So, there you go - Campaign series editor Marcus Cowper's list of the seven greatest battles in history, which he has rather neatly aligned with his own series books - something which the marketing dept here at Osprey towers had absolutely nothing to do with. Honest!
What would be your picks for the top seven. Do you agree with us. Do you think we are waaaay off? Have we missed something blindingly obvious? Let us know!
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