Nothing changes the world as quickly and inexorably as war. In warfare, the future course of entire civilizations, regions, and continents can be determined in as little as a few hours.
Throughout history, specific individual battles have turned the tide of historical events, triggering changes that have given us the world we know:
- The 7th-century battle of Badr transformed the prophet Mohammad into a major political force, establishing Islam firmly as a legitimate religion that could not be suppressed.
- The 1066 Battle of Hastings impacted world history by creating a new fusion of peoples and cultures in England and orienting the country permanently toward Europe.
- The 1759 Battle of Quebec determined the future of North America, shifting power such that the English language and British culture would predominate.
In addition to causing changes on a global scale, military engagements have often produced monumental effects within individual cultures:
- The outcome of the 4th-century battle of the Frigidus River established Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire.
- The 16th-century battles of Panipat established Mughal domination over the Indian subcontinent that would last for centuries.
- In 1836, a battle that lasted a mere 18 minutes resulted in the U.S. acquisition of nearly one-third of its continental land mass.
In these battles and many others, if it were not for the particular outcome that transpired, history might have turned out very differently. As such, looking closely at military engagements provides a vital key to historical causation—showing us how and why events unfolded and civilizations developed as they have.
A penetrating look at military conflicts also acts as a corrective, allowing for a more accurate view of major events and the forces underlying them. As a case in point, the Battle of Waterloo is commonly thought of as the downfall of Napoleon; yet his losses at the earlier Battle of Leipzig unquestionably doomed his ambitions and were the true marker and determinant of his fall. Similarly, a 1939 battle in Mongolia that is all but forgotten played an extremely significant role in both the outbreak and the outcome of World War II.
For these reasons and more, the study of pivotal battles is a highly revealing analytical tool and a key component for understanding world history. Offering eye-opening insights into humanity’s past, a knowledge of mankind’s most critical military engagements enriches and deepens any view into civilizations and their evolution.
In the dynamic lectures of The Decisive Battles of World History, Professor Gregory S. Aldrete of the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay guides you in a discovery of the military conflicts that have had the greatest impact in shifting the direction of historical events and shaping our world. Covering nearly 4,000 years of history, this course explores more than three dozen history-making military engagements, from the landmark battles of the Western world to their counterparts across Asia, India, and the Middle East. These 36 lectures feature vital historical background, vivid accounts of the campaigns themselves, and a thorough look at their influence on the unfolding of history.
Military Encounters that Changed the World
Through his powerfully evocative words, aided by specially made maps and animations of the engagements, Professor Aldrete brings the battlefield events alive with gripping vividness, taking you blow-by-blow through the unfolding of each conflict. Throughout the lectures, he reveals rich historical background material that highlights the high drama, poignancy, and scope of the human experience of war.
In The Decisive Battles of World History, you’ll trace the critical pivot points where key military engagements determined the course history has taken. This enthralling learning experience provides far-reaching insights into the story of world cultures by revealing the foundational impact of military battles in human affairs.
Visit The Decisive Battles of World History (The Great Courses) to read more...