Dark, Bloody, and Savage: 20th-Century European Violence and Its Narratives

Examining major European twentieth-century narratives and interpretations that have seen it as an age of violence, terror, and genocide. Abstract This paper[1] looks at major European twentieth-century narratives and interpretations that have seen it as an age of violence, terror and genocide. Using examples from historiographical debate and the analysis of specific historical processes (including[…]

Ancient Etruscan Warfare and Their Conquest by Rome

The Etruscan armies of part-time soldiers proved to be no match for the more professional and tactically dynamic Roman army. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Etruscan civilization, which flourished in central Italy from the 8th to 3rd century BCE, gained a reputation in antiquity for being party-loving pushovers when it came to warfare, but the[…]

The Spartan Krypteia: A Form of Ancient Guerrilla Warfare

The nature of the krypteia very much reflects the roots of its name. By Brandon D. Ross Introduction The night was still, the moon hanging with translucent beauty in the blackness of the sky. Wraiths emerged stealthily from the shadows, swooping down upon the unsuspecting peasants on the beaten path. The moonlight glistened on the[…]

The Armies of the Crusades

The armies could have involved over 100,000 men on either side who came from all over Europe. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The armies of the Crusades (11th-15th centuries CE), which saw Christians and Muslims struggle for control of territories in the Middle East and elsewhere, could involve over 100,000 men on either side who came[…]

Knights in Medieval Europe

To reach this elevated status became more and more challenging as the Middle Ages wore on. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Knights were the most-feared and best-protected warriors on the medieval battlefield, while off it, they were amongst the most fashionably dressed and best-mannered members of society. To reach this elevated status, however, became more and[…]

Artillery in Medieval Europe

Artillery machines were used to good effect throughout antiquity and the medieval era. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Artillery weapons in medieval Europe included the mounted crossbow (ballista) and single-arm torsion catapult (mangonel), both similar to ancient Roman machines. As armies battled further afield such as in the Byzantine Empire and against the Arab caliphates, in[…]

Viking Raiding and Warfare

Viking warfare connected with the expansion of Scandinavian influence along the North Atlantic and into the Mediterranean. By Emma GroeneveldHistorian Introduction Viking warfare, along with its key component of raiding, is inextricably connected with the expansion of Scandinavian influence along the North Atlantic and into the Mediterranean in the Viking Age (c. 790-1100 CE), where the Vikings’ heavy use of[…]

Annihilation of a Roman Army – The Battle of Teutoburg Forest

A combined force of Germans annihilated a Roman army consisting of three legions. Introduction At the Battle of Teutoburg Forest (aka Battle of Varus), c. 9 CE, a combined force of Germans annihilated a Roman army consisting of three legions including three squadrons of cavalry and six cohorts of auxiliary troops. As some soldiers must have been left behind[…]

Cause and Effect: The Outbreak of World War II

What were the causes of the Second World War? Pinpointing the causes of a vast, global event like the Second World War is a challenging task for the historian. Events—especially enormous, multifaceted events—have multiple causes and multiple inputs. To help analyze the effects of those different inputs, historians often classify an event’s causes into different[…]

How World War I Changed America and Transformed Its Role in International Relations

The entry of the United States into World War I changed the course of the war, and the war, in turn, changed America. By Meredith Hindley The American Expeditionary Forces arrived in Europe in 1917 and helped turn the tide in favor of Britain and France, leading to an Allied victory over Germany and Austria[…]

Aerial Warfare during World War One

From Zeppelin airships to propaganda leaflet drops, exploring the significant role of aerial warfare in World War One – where it was used on a large scale for the first time. Introduction Aerial warfare was by no means a First World War invention. Balloons had already been used for observation and propaganda distribution during the[…]

Ancient Chinese Warfare: Confucianism and Absence of Glory

The absence of a glorification of war in China was largely due to Confucian philosophy and literature. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction In ancient China warfare was a means for one region to gain ascendancy over another, for the state to expand and protect its frontiers, and for usurpers to replace an existing dynasty of rulers.[…]

Behind the Rocket Cat: Animals in Warfare from Hannibal to World War One

War animals have been with us for a very long time. There’s a good chance you’ve come across the bewhiskered warrior above on the web: it’s been featured on the Guardian and ABC News. And for good reason: the image is the best combination of cats and history since those inky pawprints on the medieval manuscript. The so-called “rocket[…]

‘Werre’: Warfare in the Ancient World

Throughout history, individuals, states, or political factions have gained sovereignty over regions through the use of war. Introduction The word ‘war’ comes to English by the old High German language word ‘Werran’ (to confuse or to cause confusion) through the Old English ‘Werre’ (meaning the same), and is a state of open and usually declared[…]

The Napoleonic Wars

The Napoleonic wars illustrate how warfare, seemingly the most conventional object of history, defies history’s most conventional questions. Abstract Trying to locate the Napoleonic Wars as an event, or a constellation of events in time and space, only reveals the historical dislocations produced by war on a global scale. Like many of the wars of[…]

The History of Body Armor, from the Medieval World to Today

There has been a true arms race, where every advance in body armor has required a more penetrating round to overcome it, before these more powerful rounds are again defeated by better body armor. By Sam BocettaProfessor of EngineeringAlgonquin Community College Introduction When writing about the history of military weapons and equipment, most people tend[…]

Siege Warfare in Medieval Europe

Siege tactics were a crucial part of medieval warfare. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Siege tactics were a crucial part of medieval warfare, especially from the 11th century CE when castles became more widespread in Europe and sieges outnumbered pitched battles. Castles and fortified cities offered protection to both the local population and armed forces and[…]

Greek Fire: A Byzantine Weapon Lost to the Ages

The weapon ceased to exist by the time the Ottoman Empire finally conquered Constantinople in 1453. September 1, 718. With the clear motivation to defend Constantinople, Byzantine ships filled with anxious soldiers were surrounding the mainland. On the horizon, Arab Muslim forces, bringing with them a fleet of large and robust wooden ships, started to[…]

War Machines of Archimedes

One area in which Archimedes excelled was in the design and construction of great war machines. By Martyn ShuttleworthHistorian of Science Introduction Archimedes (c. 287 BCE – c. 212 BCE) was a truly great inventor, mathematician and philosopher, writing many insightful and extensive treatises on geometry and applied mathematics. His work on pulleys and levers[…]