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Can a battle change the world history?

13/08/2015

Can a short term one time event like a battle change the world history?
The answer is not so obvious as it may seem. Let’s take some historical examples, and I will try to do it chronologically.
The most important battle from the ancient times that comes to my mind is the battle of Kadesh, fought between Ramses the second and the King Muwatalli II of the Hittite Empire, dated between 1274-1290 b.c. The battle was the most important one fought between the two superpowers of the ancient world, and ended actually in draw. Thanks to this result, the young Egyptian pharaoh understood the limits ot military power, and agreed to sign a peace treaty with the Hittites that lasted for the remainning of his whole long reign of at least 60. And still surprisingly nothing is writen about this battle, not in greek historical sources and not in bible, which is even more interesting, since in the bible is mentioned the name of Ramses as a name of city built by the Hebrews. More to this, according to the bible chronology, presumably the epoch of the judges is very close to the epoch of reign of Ramses, and Kadesh is very close to the northern borders of Israel, and still nothing. But i will rather not comment on the historical genuineness of the bible, which get it’s writen form about half millennium later. If not “Napoleon’s” egyptologists, nobody would remember the battle of Kadesh. So this is a historical event, that had no importance what so ever for the future developments.
On the other hand the Greek victories upon the Persians at Marathon, did have a long term influance, obvious even today. Why it is so? It definitely is not due the fact that this battle ended with clear victory of the Greeks against the persians, and this happened against all the odds. I would say the reason this victory is so well remembered is due to it becoming part of Clasical Greek epical memory, which is the basis of the European culture, its influence on human consciousness is profound. So not with the battle itself won the Greeks the war, but turning it to an iconic cultural event.
There is an other example of different category, the battle of Hastings, in which William the conqueror won aganst Harold a relatively small battle, with less than 15,000 fighters all together, and changed the future of England and France. If not this battle, England would remain probably Saxon, without Norman influence and Norman Kings. Since the Normans rulled also parts of France, this victory paved the road to claim of English kings on French territories. It may sound strange, but the whole regional but also European history would be very different, if this battle would end differently or never happened.

From → History, MENUE

One Comment
  1. Can a battle change world history? It depends which battle. But yes. Marathon is the obvious example.

    The battle of Kadesh is known in detail (Ramses saved the day, in the end, barely). However, frankly, I doubt it would have changed anything: Egyptians and Hittites were not dissimilar. The alphabet arose around Tyr, Phoenicia (a few minutes flight time from Kadesh). The People of the Sea wiped out the Hittites, but then they were defeated and enslaved by the Egyptians (once again, barely).

    Kadesh was mild plutocracy against mild plutocracy.

    Marathon was Direct Democracy (Athens) versus invasive giant plutocracy (Persia). The Persian defeat was crushing. Democracy gained nearly two centuries. I warn you against falling in the same sort of mood as Michel Foucault (the medium is the message, as the equally clueless Marcuse proposed, in a bleating echo of “French Theory”).

    The Normans did NOT rule part of France. Guillaume’s army was full of French barons. The Normans; had accepted the king of France as suzerain in the early tenth century. Claims of English kings on French territories never happened. It was more like claims of French on French. For example Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine married the king of France, had 3 daughters, then married the king of England, had 5 children, including 3 sons. One of those Richard Coeur de Lion (Lion Heart), is in front of Westminster (Whom his mother vastly improved). However, in his entire life, he spent less than 3 years in England. Richard was a French king, mostly.

    The Duchy of Aquitaine was bestowed originally as a division of the late Roman empire (before the Frankish Renovation)…. So its infeodation to Paris was not clear.

    Edward III of England (who launched the 100/485 years war between France and England) was the grandson of Philippe Le Bel. His mother, the queen of England, was also nicknamed the “SHE WOLF OF FRANCE”, and, legally speaking, OUGHT to have been made Queen of France.

    It’s flattering the Brits to call the wars with France the way they are usually called. Actually they were Franco-French wars.

    A little more on the period, my way:
    https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/joan-of-arc-roasted-too-late/

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