back to top

    The 25th decisive battle in the history of the world

    Since the 19th century, historians have been trying to establish a list of the most important battles in world history. The first of them was Edward Shepherd Creasy, who in the middle of the 19th century created a list of, in his opinion, 15 key clashes. This was supplemented after World War I by three battles by Edgar Vincent D’Abernon. D’Abernon is well remembered in Poland for including the Battle of Warsaw among these 18 most important battles. The American historian Joseph Mitchell tried to update this list in the 1960s.

    Unfortunately, he completely erroneously threw out the Battle of Warsaw, but rightly added the Battles of Midway and Stalingrad and several other battles from the 19th century. The problem with these historians was that they were too Anglo-Saxon-oriented, and quite serious events could escape them in favour of less important battles. While I can still agree that the Battle of Grunwald should not be included in the top 20 (we didn’t exploit it politically as much as we could have), I completely fail to understand why the Battle of Vienna, without which at least half of Europe would have fallen under Turkish rule, was never included. Also conspicuously missing is the Battle of Kalka. The Mongols, led by Batu Khan, defeated a coalition of Rus princes then. This began a quarter of a millennium of Mongol occupation of the territories from which Russia was born. By the way, it forced integration within the First Republic, the only noble republic in the world. It is no coincidence that the answer to Eastern imperialism was the creation of a republican empire. 


    Perhaps, of all the battles mentioned by the three historians, a few were not of such great importance. But where am I to belittle the historians. Together these thinkers proposed a list of 22 decisive battles in the history of the world (including the Battle of Warsaw). After adding the battles at Kalka and at Vienna (this may be considered a lack of modesty, but it is better this way than to allow for nonsense), we have 24 key battles. 


    The question remains as to how the battle of Kyiv will be assessed. The war in Ukraine is still going on, and anything is possible. However, it seems that its geopolitical impact will be enormous. 


    First, by winning the battle in the first days of the war, the West came to believe in Ukraine’s ability to at least partially repel Russia. This has kick-started, albeit still hollow, sanctions against Moscow and aid to Kyiv. Second, the Russians realised that they were not in power and needed to revise their appetites. The whole row will likely end in Russia’s military, economic and political defeat. Certainly, its march to the West has been halted for a long time, if not forever. Perhaps after some time another creation, less aggressive, will emerge in the place once occupied by Batu Khan (the Golden Horde, the Russian Empire, etc.). But our children, or perhaps grandchildren, will find out. Undoubtedly, the battle of Kyiv will claim to be the 25th battle in the history of the world. Its course, like that of the entire war, has so far surprised many analysts and politicians, but most of all the aggressors themselves. This is how the Ukrainians changed world history. 

    More in section