Ages of Battle: 5 Longest Wars in History

(ORDO NEWS) — In the annals of mankind there is one phenomenon that invariably permeates the fabric of time.

This is, of course, a war that from the earliest times to the present day continues to destroy, plunder, kill and generally endanger all the efforts of mankind to achieve lasting peace and cooperation throughout the world.

As a result, contemporary conflicts are often much shorter; for example, the two most destructive wars of the 20th century, World Wars I and II, lasted only 10 years combined. Wars in the modern world are usually of short duration; This is a moment in a person’s life.

However, prior to the modern era, before the mechanical pandemonium that characterizes today’s battles, wars could last several lifetimes, as evidenced by the five longest wars in history.

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The Battle of Var by Otto Albert Koch, 1909

5- Romano-Germanic wars

After Rome destroyed Carthage in 146 BC, the republic enjoyed a period of relative stability in the following decades. It ended in 113 BC. with the invasion of the Germanic tribes of the Cimbri and Teutons in Noricum, on the territory of modern Austria.

In 105 BC. The Germans invaded Gaul in an attempt to forge an alliance against the Roman Republic. In the same year, at the battle of Arausio, the legions of the Roman generals Quintus Servilius Caepio and Gnaeus Mallius Maximius were destroyed by the invaders, which caused a general panic in the kingdom.

However, with the coming to power of the legendary Roman general Gaius Marius, who from 104 BC. five years in a row became the Roman consul, the German danger was suppressed by a series of victorious skirmishes.

In 102 B.C. Marius marched against the Teutonic tribes occupying southern Gaul with six legions of 40,000 men, pursuing them as far as Italy, where he finally defeated them, allegedly killing 100,000 and capturing 60,000 fallen enemies.

However, the next major battle, at the Battle of Teutoburg in 9 AD, ended in a crushing defeat for the Romans. After the conquest of Germany in 12 BC. The Roman emperor Augustus ordered his successor Tiberius to completely romanize the Germanic provinces.

Outraged by the taxes imposed on them by the Romans, the German leader Arminius plotted a rebellion against the Roman governor Publius Quinctilius Varus.

In 9 BC. the Germans staged a devastating ambush on the legions stationed on the border, captured their Roman standards and killed 20,000 soldiers. Varus was so ashamed that he fell on the sword shortly after the defeat of his armies.

In the following years, until 410, the Romans and Germans often fought with varying degrees of success.

For example, in 165-180, during the Marcomannic Wars, the Germans managed to invade some areas of the Roman Empire, which was greatly weakened by the epidemic of the deadly Antonine plague, but the Romans were able to conquer the regions of Germany in 278 under Emperor Probus and in 357 under Julian the Apostate.

However, in 410, Rome was mortally weakened by the sack of Rome by the Visigothic leader Alaric and 40,000 of his men, who sacked and ransacked the ancient capital.

This cataclysmic event seriously destabilized the empire and ended in 476, when it fell under the rule of the German commander Odoacer, who overthrew the last emperor Romulus Augustulus and proclaimed himself king of the Roman possessions.

The Romano-Germanic Wars culminated in the Lombard invasion of Italy in 568-572, during which the Germanic Lombards, led by Alboin, wrested Italy from the weakening Byzantine Empire, which had replaced the classical western Roman Empire. In total, the Roman-German wars lasted 685 years.

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Relief of the Roman-Parthian wars on the arch of Septimius Severus in Rome

4- Roman-Parthian Wars

The first Roman-Parthian war took place between 74 and 62 BC. BC, after the Roman annexation of Armenia prompted the Parthians to put an end to the expansionist aims of their Western opponents.

In 55 BC, dreaming of a Roman presence in Syria, Marcus Licinius Crassus launched an ambitious campaign against the Parthians.

The overconfident Romans were defeated by the Parthians, who seized the Roman standard and beheaded Crassus, allegedly pouring molten gold into the mouth of his decapitated head.

After an unsuccessful attempt by Mark Antony to return the Roman standard in 36 BC, Emperor Augustus in 20 BC. decided to resolve the issue through diplomacy, placing a pro-Roman monarch on the Armenian throne, establishing peace for more than a century.

The Roman-Parthian Wars were renewed in 113 AD. Emperor Trajan, who launched a powerful offensive against the Syrian enemies, who overthrew the pro-Roman ruler of Armenia in favor of his own puppet king.

Trajan successfully conquered Armenia and part of Iraq, which was largely facilitated by the decline of the Parthian Empire, unable to defend itself from 11 Roman legions.

However, revolts in the newly acquired territories in 116 forced Trajan to retreat, and the next emperor, Hadrian, abandoned the Parthian conquests and again made peace with the enemy, restoring the status of a client kingdom to Armenia.

After frequent Roman invasions of Parthia in 165, 198, and 199, the Middle Eastern kingdom experienced a resurgence of fortune in 227 with the rise of the Sassanid dynasty, who quickly moved to recover Parthian losses in Roman Syria between 241 and 272.

In 260, the Roman emperor Valerian was captured by the Sasanian monarch Shapur I, who allegedly used his illustrious captive as a footstool to mount his horse, then burned him alive after years of captivity.

Rome’s fortunes were restored in 298, when the Sasanian king Narses was humiliated by the Roman general Galerius, who recaptured northern Mesopotamia and founded the Roman city of Nisibis.

In 336, Nisibis was taken by the Sassanids after Emperor Julian’s naive foray into the Sasanian lands turned into a disaster, ending not in the acquisition, but in the loss of Roman territory.

Conflict flared up again in 502, when the conquest-hungry Sassanid rulers Kavadh and Khusro I recaptured Roman territories in Persia after being stripped of their defenses by Emperor Justinian’s attempt to reclaim Roman territories in Spain, Italy, and North Africa.

In the last act of the wars, Khusro II, taking advantage of the feud over the succession to the throne in the Byzantine Empire, regained Armenia, Anatolia and Egypt during his reign between 590 and 628, which, apart from Armenia, have mostly remained Muslim territories until today.

The Roman-Persian hostilities were the longest wars of the Romans, lasting 702 years.

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Illustration from the Manasses Chronicle depicting (above) the feast in Constantinople in honor of Simeon I and (below) the Bulgarian attack on the Byzantines during the Byzantine-Bulgarian Wars

3- Byzantine-Bulgarian wars

Decades after the Parthians, the Bulgarian Empire, founded in 680 AD, would become Byzantine Rome’s main antagonist in the Balkans after defeating imperial forces in 681.

Combined with the local Slavic tribes, the Bulgarian leader Asparuh captured the northeastern regions of the Balkans, forcing the Byzantine Empire to recognize his authority, and over the next centuries, many wars and alliances were made between the two great kingdoms.

For example, in 717, during the second siege of Constantinople, the Byzantines were saved from plunder by the Bulgarians, who suddenly attacked the troops of the Umayyad Caliphate. In addition, the Byzantines, who had a strong cultural influence on the Bulgarians, helped introduce Christianity in 864.

Cooperation was rare, however, and between 807 and 811 the Bulgarians again invaded the country, this time under the leadership of King Krum, killing the Byzantine emperor Nikephoros and mortally wounding his son-in-law Staurakios in the neck.

After the death of Krum in 814, an 80-year period of peace was established, which was broken by the Bulgarian monarch Simeon I in 894, whose forces were repulsed by the Byzantine fleet sailing along the Black Sea to attack the Bulgarian rear.

However, in the end, in 896, the Byzantines were defeated at the Battle of Bulgarofigon and forced to pay tribute to the Bulgarians.

By 971 the situation had changed and Bulgaria found itself in a weakened state after unsuccessful wars with the Russians, Croats and Maigars.

Sensing weakness, the Byzantine ruler John I Tzimiskes launched an invasion, turning the hundred-year-old enemy into a subordinate, and by 1018 all of Bulgaria was in Byzantine hands after the landmark victory of Emperor Basil II at the Battle of Claydon in 1014.

In 1185, after unsuccessful uprisings in the 1040s, 1070s and 1080s, the Bulgarians finally broke free from Byzantine fetters, becoming independent again thanks to the leadership of Theodore Peter and Ivan Asen and the weakened state of Byzantium, which was unable to organize a strong defense.

After the official recognition of independence in 1187, the battles for dominance in the Balkans continued until 1396, when all of Bulgaria was captured by the emerging Turkish Ottomans.

By 1453, when the Turks captured Constantinople, both Byzantium and Bulgaria were assimilated into the empire, finally ending the 715-year Byzantine-Bulgarian wars.

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Depiction of the Siege of OrlĂ©ans in 1429, the first major victory of the French royal army in the later stages of the Hundred Years’ War, made in the 15th century

2- Anglo-French wars

The Anglo-French wars began with the conquest of England by Duke William of Normandy in 1066.

Through the marriage between King Athelred of England and the Norman princess Emma in 1002, William the Conqueror, as he is best known, laid claim to the English throne, which he usurped after defeating Harold Godwin at the Battle of Hastings.

Over the next 150 years, his family ruled England, and only in 1154 the Plantagenets were ousted from the English throne by Henry II.

However, by uniting the English and French kingdoms, the Normans unwittingly laid the foundation for centuries of controversy over English fiefdoms in France. Henry II, the new king, for example, was not only Count of Anjou after his succession, but also Duke of Aquitaine after his marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine.

For these territories, the so-called “First Hundred Years War” immediately began, a peace treaty was signed in 1259 between Henry III and Louis IX of France after a hundred years’ war.

The Hundred Years’ War began in 1293 with the confiscation of the English Duchy of Guyenne in France after a skirmish between the English and French fleets.

It finally ended in 1474, when the troops of the English king Edward IV were withdrawn from France, and the French king Louis XI concluded an agreement to resolve differences through negotiations, not battles.

In the future, the Anglo-French conflict will continue, this time beyond the New World and beyond. After decades of skirmishes in North America, England declared war on France in 1756, and in 1758 the British won their first victory at Louisbourg.

After that, a global war began between the two civilizations: the British recaptured Canada, Guadeloupe, West Africa, Manila and India from the French, which Winston Churchill called “the first world war.”

In 1763, a peace was concluded, according to which England wrested Canada and Louisiana from the hands of the French.

The last major battle in the Anglo-French Wars was the Napoleonic Wars, which began with the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte to power in France in 1799.

After conquering Austria, Italy, and Germany, Napoleon turned his greedy eye on England, and in 1805, at the Battle of Trafalgar, he faced the English fleet on the southwestern coast of Spain.

Thanks to the brilliant actions of the English commander Nelson, who cut off the French retreat with 15 warships, and Collingwood, who took command after Nelson’s death, the British won a landslide victory.

Napoleon’s forces were destroyed at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, when an allied army of Dutch, Belgian and German soldiers under the Duke of Wellington, aided by the Prussians, defeated the legendary general’s 72,000-strong army at Waterloo, near Brussels.

After this last battle, the Anglo-French wars ended after 748 years.

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Surrender of Granada” by Francisco Pradilla depicting Boabdil handing over the keys of Granada to the Catholic kings after the Reconquista of Spain

1- Reconquista

The longest war in history was the Reconquista in Spain, which lasted a staggering 781 years. In 801, after decades of Islamic rule in Spain since 718, European rulers finally began to reconquer the lost Christian peninsula after the capture of Barcelona by the French commander Charlemagne.

In the northwest of the peninsula, the Christian kingdom of Asturias, having escaped the Muslim advance, regained its possessions in the 9th century, but by the 10th century, the resurgence of Muslim power delayed the conquest for another century.

The 11th century was more successful: the lands of northern Spain were returned to Sancho the Great, who in 1035 created the Kingdom of Aragon, which became a springboard for further conquests.

In 1118, Alfonso I recaptured Zaragoza, and in 1212, following the call to arms of Pope Innocent III, the crusaders defeated the Almohad emir Muhammad al-Nakhir, paving the way for the complete conquest of Spain.

Andulasia fell next in a series of battles between 1236 and 1248, ending in the surrender of Seville to Ferdinand III, King of Castile.

The Moorish kingdom of Granada, under Castilian suzerainty, was allowed to exist for financial reasons after the collapse of the economy as a result of Ferdinand III’s ill-conceived policy of expulsion of Moorish subjects.

At the same time, King James I of Aragon saved the Balearic Islands in 1235 and Valencia in 1238, and in Portugal Alfonso III retook Faro in 1248. By the end of the 13th century, the Reconquista was largely completed by the Christian rulers.

The last significant Muslim attack on Iberia occurred in 1340, when the Marinid sultan Abu al-Hassan was defeated on the battlefield by the Castilians and the Portuguese. During the remainder of the 14th and 15th centuries, Aragon, Castile and Portugal strengthened their reconquered possessions.

After the marriage of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, the Spanish crown was finally united and in 1492 they expelled the Muslims from Granada, ending centuries of dominance.

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Depiction of a medieval battle around 1200

Infinite Conflict: The Longest Wars

The five longest wars in history illustrate the lengths civilizations are willing to go to not only achieve glory, but also avenge the wounds inflicted by conquest and invasion.

John Steinbeck, the famous American writer, considered war “a symptom of the failure of man as a thinking animal.”

However, in the dusty pages of history, when the world was more cruel and unforgiving, war was a necessary evil that, if required, could last for centuries or more.

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