10 Biggest Wars of All Time

Biggest Wars of all time

A war is a large-scale armed conflict that’s fought between two or more factions with differing motives. Wars have been with us since time immemorial. But theoretically, it’s possible for the whole world to live in peace without war.

However, if you weigh the amount of selfishness in the world in terms of politics, religion, territories, and socioeconomic dimensions, it’s obvious that our civilization is far from seeing everlasting peace. Wars are bad in general, but some wars are bigger than others. Here are the 10 biggest and deadliest wars in history.

World War II

World leaders in the 1930s failed to learn lessons from the First World War. This provided a conducive atmosphere for World War II to break out in 1939. The war was fought by two opposing military alliances: the Axis (Nazi Germany, Italy, Japan) and the Allies (mainly France, UK, USA, Soviet Union)

In 1945, when the United States of America introduced a new weapon called the atomic bomb, it changed the entire dynamic of the war. At once, people could tell that mankind had come of age. Destructive war machines such as the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs showed that man has the ability to destroy himself. By the time Japan surrendered to end World War II in 1945, over 85 million lives had perished as a result of the war. This unbelievable (shocking actually) death toll makes World War II the biggest war in human history.

Mongol Conquests (Invasions)

10 Biggest Wars of All Time | Mongol Conquests

During the 13th century CE, the rapid expansion of the Mongol Empire came with high bloodbath. As early as the 1300s, the Mongols conquered almost 20% of the earth’s land area, and expanded their empire through Eastern Europe and Asia. Without a morsel of a doubt, it was such a dangerous time to live in Asia.

Historical legends recall that when the powerful Mongolian Army neared China to conquer it, about 100,000 Chinese citizens committed suicide. They knew that an inescapable death was about to visit them— suicide was deemed a better a way to die than to be captured and killed by the Mongolians.  With an estimated death toll of 50-70 million people, historians rate the Mongolian Conquests as one of the deadliest wars. And the man to have started all that carnage was none other than Genghis Khan – the greatest leader of the Mongol Empire.

World War I

In 1914, the single event that triggered the First World War was the assassination of the Austria-Hungarian heir known as Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Serbia sponsored thugs to murder Ferdinand due to political reasons. The existence of military alliances at the time then fueled the war to expand broadly, leading to declarations of war on a global scale.

In the war, the Allied Powers (Great Britain, France, Russia, United States of America, Japan) fought against the Central Powers (Austria-Hungary, Germany, the  Ottoman Empire). Ending in 1918 with an Allied victory, World War I (the Great War) claimed precious lives of over 16 million people.

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Second Sino-Japanese War

10 Biggest Wars of All Time | Second Sino-Japanese War

Lasting from July 1937 to September 1945, the Second Sino-Japanese War was a bloody confrontation between the Japanese Empire and the Chinese Republic. Considering how brutal the Second Sino-Japanese War was, many historians consider it the greatest war of the 20th century in continental Asia. The imperialistic Japanese, in their attempt to dominate over the Republic of China, were met with the Eighth Years War of Resistance from the Chinese.

The Japanese lost the war and surrendered in 1945. In the aftermath of the war, Chinese casualty figures stood at around 20-35 million. About 1.77 million Japanese troops were killed.

The Ming to Qing Dynasty Transition

In ancient China, the Ming to Qing transition didn’t happen without bloodshed. Starting in 1618, a rebellion built up in northeast of China and later pushed the country into a bloody conflict. After more than 60 years of wars between the Qing Dynasty, Ming Dynasty and other rebels, 25 million deaths were recorded in China. When rebel leader Li Zicheng mounted pressure on Emperor Chongzhen of the Ming Dynasty, the emperor committed suicide. Emperor Chongzhen’s death marked the end  the end of the Ming Dynasty.

Taiping Rebellion

Taiping Rebellion

During the 19th century CE, China was again shaken up by political and religious events. Lasting for over a decade (1850-1864), the Taiping Rebellion changed the destiny of the Qing Dynasty and took away about 20 million lives. The war ignited when the God Worshipers’ Society (also known as the Bai Shangdi Hui) rebelled against the Qing Dynasty.

The Russian Civil War

Between 1917 and 1922, the Red Army and the White Army of Russia fought each other in a political conflict that was pursued with socialist, capitalist and other agendas. The war immediately followed the 1917 Russian Revolutions. In all, the war-related deaths numbered around 7-12 million people. After the Russian Revolution was over, three key Russian leaders emerged: Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, Leon Trotsky, and Joseph Stalin. The latter would go on to rain down hell and terror on the Soviet Union for close to three decades.

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An Lushan Rebellion

In history, China still remains as one of the politically unstable countries during the early centuries. The An Lushan Rebellion was a revolutionary action against the Tang Dynasty; the war started in 755 and ended in 763. The bloody conflict arose when General An Lushan tried to establish a brand-new empire to be ruled by himself.

The Thirty Years’ War

10 Biggest Wars of All Time | Thirty Years’ War

In Central Europe, the years between 1618 & 1648 saw the Protestant states fight against the Catholics. With time, the war attracted other great European powers to its center and created a hostile conflict that would last till some 8 million military men and civilians were gone.

Napoleonic Wars

By the close of the French Revolution, which was around 1793, Napoleon Bonaparte had emerged as France’s undisputed ruler. However, France got plunged into a series of wars around Europe. The Napoleonic Wars (1803-15), as they were called, were fought between France and other European powers. In fact, they were a series of wars fought by the French Empire against the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th coalitions. The coalition powers comprised the  British, Portuguese, Spaniards and others — all against France and its allies (including some amount of help from the United States). The deadly Napoleonic Wars claimed about 3-6 million lives.

At the end of the day, wars are devastating. And as the world gets increasingly sophisticated with terrible weapons of mass destruction and chemical weapons, the fear of another break out of a global war becomes more pronounced.

Why do countries spend heavily on their military? The answer is — they’re preparing for war. Military superpowers such as America and Russia, believe in peace through strength. That is to say that, a nation can only be peaceful provided its military defense is strong. Let’s hope World War 3 isn’t around the corner.

 

FACT CHECK: At worldhistoryedu.com, we strive for utmost accuracy and objectivity. But if you come across something that doesn’t look right, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.

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