Thursday, 17 July 2014

Obscure But Important Battles: From Guadalete to Khalkhin Gol

History is full of famous battles, such as Hastings, Waterloo and Poltava, all of importance. However, there are also many battles that are of similar significance that are nowhere near as well known. This post aims to introduce a few of these battles and provoke interest and further research into the battles. By no means will the detail in this post be comprehensive, as the post aims to briefly describe these battles and the impact that they had. Also, the Battle of Ain Jalut, one of the many obscure but important battles, has not been mentioned as it may have a post by itself.

The Battle of Guadalete

The Battle of Guadalete was fought between Christian Visigoths and an invading force of Muslim Arabs and Berbers on the southern shore of the Iberian Peninsular in 711 AD.  The Visigothic King of Hispania, Roderic was informed of the attack, while he was fighting the Basques, forcing him to march south. Although numbers for the battle vastly differ, one suggestion is that there 33,000 on the Visigothic side and 12,000 on the side of the Umayyads  (Lewis suggests this). The Muslims carried out hit and run attacks while the Visigoths moved en masses (in one body). A cavalry wing that had pledged to betray Roderic did and stood aside, allowing the Muslim cavalry to exploit the break. The Visigoth army was eventually routed and King Roderic was slain. Following this much of Iberia fell under the control of Muslims, with Islam only finally being driven out of Iberia with the end of the Reconquista and the Fall of Granada in 1492, over 780 years later.

The Battle of Molodi

The Battle of Molodi was fought in 1572  between a Russian army and the Crimean Khanate, a vassal of the Ottoman Empire. The Russians had an army of around 60,000-70,000 men led by Prince Mikhail Vorotynsky against an army of about 120,000 lead by Khan Devlet I Giray. The battle was a resounding success for the Russians, as the horde was defeated so badly that the Sultan and the Khan gave up any hope of expanding upwards into Russia, thus preventing Ottoman or Crimean expansion northwards and possibly saving Russia as a whole. The map is of the Crimean Khanate in 1600, after the battle took place.

The Battle of Blenheim

The Battle of Blenheim was a pivotal battle of the War of the Spanish Succession, with the French and Bavarians fighting against multiple forces including those of the Emperor, England and the United Provinces in the year of 1704.Louis XIV had hoped to knock Emperor Leopold out of the war by seizing Vienna and therefore leading to a favourable peace settlement. The defeat of the French was of much importance, ending Louis XIV's hope for a quick victory, maintaining the Grand Alliance and putting Bavaria out of the war. As a turning point in the war, one could argue that if the battle had gone the other way, the Bourbons may have won the war and therefore a French-Spanish nation or union could have been eventually formed.

The Battle of Warsaw

The Battle of Warsaw of 1920, although not part of World War I and World War 2, is still probably one of the most important battles of the 20th century. When Soviet forces invaded Poland in 1920, the Polish army disorderly retreated westwards, with their forces on the verge of disintegration. As Soviet forces approached Warsaw and the nearby Modin Fortress, a Polish counter-attack lead by Józef Piłsudski, disrupted the Soviet offensive and forced them to retreat eastward, in a disorganised manner, across the Neman River. The battle had huge implications, if the Bolsheviks had successfully taken Poland, a Germany weakened by WWI would have also been vulnerable to a Soviet attack and therefore the installation of a Marxist system. This may have eventually resulted in Marxist governments throughout Central and Western Europe, obviously vastly affecting events, such as the possibility of a different or even no World War 2.

The Battle of Khalkhin Gol

The Battle of Khalkin Gol was fought in August 1939, weeks before the start of WW2 and it was fought by the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of Mongolia against the Empire of Japan. It was part of the undeclared Soviet-Japanese border conflicts, which were the result of the Japanese occupations of Korea and Manchuria. After the occupations, the Japanese turned their attention north leading to these conflicts. The battle, a Japanese defeat helped to prevent any further expansion north, dictating policy for WW2. It may also have played a factor in Japanese expansion in the Pacific, as expansion north-west no longer seemed to be an option. The battle was also the first victory for the soon-to-be famous General Georgy Zhukov, winning him his first of four Hero of the Soviet Union awards.


"Major Battles." Islamic Spain. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 July 2014. <>.

"Молодинская битва." Молодинская битва. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 July 2014. <>.

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. "Battle of Blenheim (European History)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 17 July 2014. <>.

"Polish-Soviet War: Battle of Warsaw." History Net Where History Comes Alive World US History Online PolishSoviet War Battle of Warsaw Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 July 2014. <>

"Khalkhin-Gol: The Forgotten Battle That Shaped WW2." History of Russia. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 July 2014. <>.

Image Credit goes to Wikipedia

No comments:

Post a Comment