Here we look into list of most decisive military battles in history which, if the result were different, we would have lived in a completely different world.

1. Battle of Thermopylae (480 BC)

Led By - King Xerxes I (Persia) and King Leonidas I (Greeks)

Result - Persians Beat The Greeks

This battle was the subject of the movie, 300 (2007). It took place for three days between Spartans and the large invading Persian army. Spartans were able to hold the massive Persian army at a narrow coastal pass at Thermopylae for two days, but they were finally breached on the third day. The battle is used as an example of the defenders advantages of training and equipment, when they are massively outnumbered. The victory was not decisive for Persian invasion as they were defeated few weeks later at the Battle of Salamis. If the Persians had not been defeated at the battle of Salamis which was possible because of the holdup at Thermopylae, which helped Spartans borrow time and assemble the troops,  historians feel that the Ancient Greek culture which was the basis for Western civilization would have never developed.

2. Battle of Gaugamela (331 BC)

Led By - Alexander the Great (Greeks) and King Darius III (Persians)

Result - Greeks Beat The Persians

It was the second and final battle between the two kings, and it took place in Gaugamela, which is now located in modern-day northern Iraq. It resulted in the final blow to Achaemenid Empire, which was then the dominating force on Earth and completed the whole invasion of the empire by Alexander. After the defeat in the battle, Darius III was killed by one of his subjects. Persians never recovered from this downfall.

3. Battle of Corinth (146 BC)

Led By - Lucius Mummius (Romans) and Diaeus (Greeks)

Result - Romans Beat The Greeks

It was fought between the Roman Republic and the Greek city-state of Corinth and its allies in the Achaean League. The superior Roman forces beat the vastly outnumbered Achaeans, and the city of Corinth was sacked in the aftermath. It resulted in the Rome’s conquest of Greece and the end of Hellenistic period. Greeks were never the dominant power ever again. It also marked the beginning of the new Greco-Roman culture.

4. Battle of Nahavand (642 AD)

Led By - Piruz Khosrow (Persians) and An-Numan ibn Muqarrin (Arabs)

Result - Arabs Beat The Persians

The battle is known to Muslims as the “Victory of Victories,” in which the Persians were defeated by the invading Arabs. It ended in the Arab Conquest of Iran and resulted in the Islamization of Iran. Persian culture also got assimilated by Islam. According to Sir Muhammad Iqbal, conquest of Persia gave to Islam what the conquest of Greece gave to the Romans.

5. Battle of Tours (732 AD)

Led By - Charles Martel (Franks) and Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi (Arabs)

Result - Franks Beat The Arabs

The battle was fought at Tours between the invading Moorish General of Spain, Al Ghafiqi, and the Frankish forces led by Charles Martel. The Moorish General was captured and killed, after which the invading army retreated. Historians claim that Charles saved Christianity and Edward Gibbon was of the opinion that if not for the defeat of Arabs at Tours, Islam would have become the dominant religion in Europe.

6. Battle of Hastings (1066 AD)

Led By - William The Conqueror (Normans) and Harold Godwinson (Anglo-Saxon)

Result - Normans Beat The Anglo-Saxons

It is fought between Norman-French army of William, the Duke of Normandy, and an English army under the Anglo-Saxon King Harold Godwinson. Duke William of Normandy, with only a few thousand troops behind him, crossed the English Channel to beat the newly crowned king, Harold Godwinson, and proceeded to became the ruler of England. This was the last time any foreign invasion of England has been successful. It profoundly influenced all subsequent English history. It also led to the development of English language, which had a large infusion of French words.

7. Battle of Waterloo (1815 AD)

Led By - Napoleon Bonaparte (French) and Duke of Wellington (British and Prussian)

Result - The French Lost

Napoleon’s forces were defeated by a coalition of British and Prussian troops led by the Duke of Wellington, on June 18, 1815, at Waterloo, in what is now Belgium. The battle marked the end of the Napoleonic Wars and Napoleon abdicated from throne to go to exile in St. Helena, where he died in 1821. If Napoleon had won, then French and not English would have been the foremost language in the world. This war also left the British without any serious international rival.

8. Battle of Stalingrad (1942 AD)

Led By - Adolf Hitler (Nazi Germany) and Joseph Stalin (Soviet Union)

Result - Soviet victory

It is the bloodiest and according to some the greatest battles of all time. It was the key battle of World War II, and sealed Adolf Hitler’s fate. The battle raged on for six months and there was an estimated 2 million casualties. One of the reasons for German defeat was their inability to deal with Russian cold and it stopped the German advance on the eastern front. If Germans had won, we would all be in control of the Nazis now, and German would have been the foremost language in the world. God knows what Nazis would have done to all of us.

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