cavalry

The beginning of the Norman conquest of England. September 27, 1066.

Since 1050, William had been the pretender to the English throne, at the time in the hands of his cousin, Edward the Confessor, who had no descendants. However, he was not the only one to claim the English throne. His most powerful rival was an English count, Harold Godwinson, who was appointed successor by the Edward himself on his deathbed in 1066. William argued that Edward had promised the throne to him earlier, and that Harold had sworn support. Because of this “betrayal”, the Norman duke activated a military intervention. He prepared a great fleet that set sail from the mouth of the Somme River, and on September 27, 1066, one of the most powerful armies ever seen landed on Pevensey, in the south of England and defeated Harold´s army in the Battle of Hastings on October 14. Harold had...

The Battle of Cannae. August 2, 216 BC.

The Battle of Cannae, an historic and decisive battle of the Second Punic War, took place on August 2, 216 BC between the Punic army, led by Hannibal Barca, and Roman troops, commanded by consuls Gaius Terentius Varro and Lucius Aemilius Paullus. The battle took place in the city of Cannae in the Apulian region to the southeast of the Italian Peninsula, and ended with the victory of the Carthaginian army, despite being clearly outnumbered by the Romans. After the Roman defeat, several city-states abandoned the Roman Republic side. Although the battle didn´t bring the Carthaginians final victory in the Punic War, it is nevertheless remembered as one of the most incredible battles in military history, and the biggest defeat of Roman history up until that moment, though the future would deliv...

The Battle of Silva Arsia. March 1, 509 BC.

The Battle of Silva Arsia was a battle that confronted the forces of the Roman Republic and the Etruscans from Tarquinii and Veii, led by the deposed Roman king Tarquinius Superbus. The battle took place in Roman territory, in the Arsian forest. The battle was one of the several attempts of Tarquinius to recover the throne, and may also be analyzed as part of the permanent conflict between the Etruscan cities and a Roman Republic that was growing both in strength and in territorial expansion. The battle is part of the ancient history of Rome, most probably, a legend in great part. In 509 BC, Roman monarchy was overthrown, and the Roman Republic started as the first elections of the first consuls took place. The deposed king, Tarquinius Superbus (Tarquinius “The Proud”), whose family came f...

The Battle of Berezina. November 27, 1812.

As the surviving masses of the Grande Armée struggled on for the perceived safety of the west, the Russian armies closed in on them. The French had suffered a defeat just two weeks earlier during the Battle of Krasnoi. However, reinforcements who had been stationed near the Berezina during Napoleon’s initial advance through Russia brought the numerical strength of the Grande Armée back up to some 30,000 to 40,000 French soldiers capable of fighting, as well as 40,000 non-combatants. The Russians had approximately 61,000 troops at the Berezina, with another 54,000 under Kutuzov just 40 miles (64 km) to the east who were approaching the river. Napoleon’s plan was to cross the Berezina River and head for Poland, while his enemies wanted to trap him there and destroy him. The origi...

The Battle of Pinkie. September 10, 1547.

The Battle of Pinkie, also known as the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, took place on 10 September 1547 on the banks of the River Esk near Musselburgh, Scotland. The last pitched battle between Scotland and England before the Union of the Crowns, it was part of the conflict known as the Rough Wooing and is considered to have been the first modern battle in the British Isles. It was a catastrophic defeat for Scotland, where it became known as “Black Saturday“. A highly detailed and illustrated English account of the battle and campaign authored by an eyewitness William Patten was published in London as propaganda four months after the battle. In the last years of his reign, King Henry VIII of England tried to secure an alliance with Scotland by the marriage of the infant Mary, Queen of...

The Battle of Leuctra. July 6, 371 BC.

The Battle of Leuctra was a battle fought on 6 July 371 BC between the Boeotians led by the Thebans, and the Spartans along with their allies amidst the post-Corinthian War conflict. The battle took place in the neighbourhood of Leuctra, a village in Boeotia in the territory of Thespiae. The Theban victory shattered Sparta’s immense influence over the Greek peninsula, which Sparta had gained long before its victory in the Peloponnesian War a generation earlier. In 371 BC, the newly established democracy of Thebes had elected four Boeotarchs, the traditional title of the generals of the Boeotian League, and so proclaimed their intention of reconstituting the aforementioned league that Sparta had disbanded. During this period, Thebes had had an ally in Athens, but Athens was far from h...

The Battle of Raphia. June 22, 217 BC.

The Battle of Raphia, also known as the Battle of Gaza, was a battle fought on 22 June 217 BC near modern Rafah between the forces of Ptolemy IV Philopator, king and pharaoh of Ptolemaic Egypt and Antiochus III the Great of the Seleucid Empire during the Syrian Wars. It was one of the largest battles of the Hellenistic kingdoms and was one of the largest battles of the ancient world. The battle was waged to determine the sovereignty of Coele Syria. This is the only known battle in which African and Asian elephants were used against each other. Due to Polybius‘ descriptions of Antiochus’ Asian elephants (Elephas maximus), brought from India, as being larger and stronger than Ptolemy’s African elephants, it had once been theorized that Ptolemy’s elephants were in fact...

The fratricidal Battle of Forum Gallorum. April 14, 43 BC.

The Battle of Forum Gallorum was fought on 14 April 43 BC between the forces of Mark Antony, and legions loyal to the Roman Senate under the overall command of consul Gaius Vibius Pansa Caetronianus, aided by his fellow consul Aulus Hirtius and the untested Caesar Octavian (the future Augustus). The consul Mark Antony, the erstwhile close ally of Julius Caesar had briefly dominated Rome shortly after the assassination of Julius Caesar, but had gradually lost power since the summer of 44 BC due to the increasing popularity among veterans and the Caesarian faction of the dictator’s young heir, Caesar Octavian, and the rebuilding of a Pompeian Senatorial faction led by Marcus Tullius Cicero. The coalition against Mark Antony also included some of Caesar’s murderers, including Deci...

The Battle of Cascina. July 28, 1364.

On 28 July 1364, the Florentine army under the command of Galeotto Malatesta advanced to Cascina, a few miles from Pisa. The road was open, but the temperature was unbearable. The armor of the warriors were burning hot in the blazing sun; many removed their armor to take a bath in the Arno River. The elderly Malatesta, convalescing from fever, fell asleep, leaving the camp unguarded and the defense disorganized. Pisan spies reported the situation to their commander, John Hawkwood (Giovanni l’Acuto). Hawkwood‘s forces were outnumbered three to one, so he decided his best chance of victory was to launch a surprise attack while the enemy was unprepared. However, Manno Donati and his friend Bonifacio Lupi, Marquis of Soragna had organized the Florentine defences by the time the Pis...

The Battle of Mantinea. July 4, 362 BC.

After the Battle of Leuctra in 371 BC, the foundations of Spartan hegemony stumbled. Thebes‘ chief politician and general Epaminondas attempted to build a new hegemony centered on his city. The Thebans marched south, into the area traditionally dominated by the Spartans, and set up the Arcadian League, a federation of city-states of the central Peloponnese, to contain Spartan influence and thereby maintain overall Theban control. In years prior to the Battle of Mantinea, the Spartans had joined with the Eleans (a minor Peloponnesian people with a territorial grudge against the Arcadians) in an effort to undermine the League. When the Arcadians miscalculated and seized the Pan-Hellenic sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia in Elis, one of the Arcadian city-states, Mantinea, detached itself fro...

The Battle of Gaugamela. October 1, 331 BC.

The Battle of Gaugamela was the decisive battle of Alexander the Great‘s invasion of the Persian Achaemenid Empire. In 331 BC Alexander’s army of the Hellenic League met the Persian army of Darius III near Gaugamela, close to the modern city of Dohuk (Iraqi Kurdistan). Though heavily outnumbered, Alexander emerged victorious due to his army’s superior tactics and his deft employment of light infantry. It was a decisive victory for the Hellenic League and led to the fall of the Achaemenid Empire. After the failure of the second negotiation attempt, Darius started to prepare for another battle. Even so, he made a third and final effort to negotiate after Alexander’s departure from Egypt. Darius’ third offer was much more generous. He praised Alexander for the tr...

The Battle of Dyrrhachium. July 10, 48 BC.

The Battle of Dyrrachium (or Dyrrhachium) on 10 July 48 BC was a battle during Caesar’s Civil War that took place near the city of Dyrrachium (in what is now Albania). It was fought between Julius Caesar and an army led by Gnaeus Pompey who had the backing of the majority of the Roman Senate. The battle was a victory for Pompey, albeit not a decisive one. The battle preceded the Battle of Pharsalus which was the decisive battle of the Civil War. Caesar did not immediately give chase to Pompey and instead consolidated power in Rome and Italy. He had other problems as well; Pompey had left him with no ships to cross the Adriatic, and Spain had begun to mobilize against Caesar. After gathering the remainder of his forces from Transalpine Gaul he marched into Spain and subdued enough of ...

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