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The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World

  1. The Battle of Marathon, 490 BC
  2. Defeat of the Athenians at Syracuse, 413 BC
  3. The Battle of Gaugamela, 331 BC
  4. The Battle of the Metaurus, 207 BC
  5. Victory of Arminius over the Roman Legions under Varus, AD 9
  6. The Battle of Chalons, AD 451
  7. The Battle of Tours, AD 732
  8. The Battle of Hastings, AD 1066
  9. Joan of Arc's Victory over the English at Orléans, AD 1429
  10. Defeat of the Spanish Armada, AD 1588
  11. The Battle of Blenheim, AD 1704
  12. The Battle of Pultowa, AD 1709
  13. Victory of the Americans over Burgoyne at Saratoga, AD 1777
  14. The Battle of Valmy, AD 1792
  15. The Battle of Waterloo, AD 1815

Source: Wikipedia

"The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World" is a book written by British historian Edward Shepherd Creasy (1812-1878) and published in 1851. Creasy intended for the book to describe the circumstances of the fifteen battles that he determined had the greatest impact on world history. Historians today view the book as too focused on European and, more specifically, British history, neglecting to include battles elsewhere that had significant impacts on world history. The impact of the book though has been large in military history with several books published since attempting to add to or amend Creasy's list or simply following the structure of Creasy's book, such as Victor Davis Hanson's Carnage and Culture (2001).

How It's Used

"It is fair to suggest that this book [Victor Davis Hanson's Carnage and Culture] is a modern and more pervasive version of the Duke of Wellington's purported saying that the battle of Waterloo was won 'on the playing fields of Eton'. Moreover the book is a version of Corelli Barnett's argument that the First World War was partly won in the machine shops of the United States and almost lost by the prevailing culture in Britain. In a more visible sense Why the West has Won is a new model of Edward Creasy's The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World, a book that, now 150 years old, was a classic by the time Creasy left England to become the chief justice of Ceylon.

"Whereas Creasy described 15 decisive or symbolic battles, Hanson describes nine."

—Geoffrey Blainey, "Battles For Supremacy," The Age, January 26, 2002.

"President Bush's former speechwriter, David Frum, writing on this page yesterday, suggested that America could - and should - introduce democracy into Iraq after overthrowing Saddam, and that thence to the rest of the Middle East. At least, I think that was what he meant.

"I hope he is right. If so, a chapter on Iraq would deserve to be added to a Victorian classic: Edward Creasey's Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World."

—Frank Johnson, "Ulrika completely ignored me - it was as if I didn't exist," The Daily Telegraph, October 26, 2002.

"Skelton spent weeks putting together and reshuffling a collection of titles, all of which he has read. At the top of his list, which is posted on his Web site,, is the Constitution. Twenty are biographies, including ones on Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Winston Churchill and Harry S Truman, and autobiographies by Ulysses S. Grant and Douglas MacArthur, and he cited them as valuable for citizens wanting to get a somewhat briefer introduction.

"The most important book, Skelton said, is Edward Sheperd Creasy's 'Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World: From Marathon to Waterloo,' written in 1850, because it outlines key battles that shaped the world."

—Philip Dine, "War by the Book: Rep. Skelton Suggests Reading List to Help School Nation's Leaders on Military Matters," The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 12, 2003, p. A10.

"This incredible volume contains 15 of the greatest adventure stories of all time. The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World from Marathon to Waterloo was written in 1851 as the Great Exhibition opened and the Victorian age was being coined...

"Creasy's style is honest and lucid and unwittingly opens his own age to our understanding. He talks freely about race, culture and common ancestry and reveals the values of his day and the partiality of his class. Throughout is an overwhelming sense of belief. Not for him the cringing doubt of postmodernism. He talks of nations and empires now lost to the tides of history, but the common thread of liberty survives to the present day and binds us all to these illustrious men.

A top read, a man's book."

—Hal Iggulden, "The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World from Marathon to Waterloo: Boys' (and dads') own stories," The Times (UK), June 16, 2007.

"The battle of Tours in 732 is to [Hugh] Kennedy [in his book The Great Arab Conquests] less one of Edward Creasy's Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World (1915) [sic] than a thwarted armed reconnaissance, what the Americans call a 'thunder-run'."

—James Buchan, "Review: History: Children of empire: James Buchan learns how the Muslim world's past feeds into the present: The Great Arab Conquests: How the Spread of Islam Changed the World We Live In," The Guardian (UK), July 21, 2007.


Beyond eAlmanac
Wikipedia article on "The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World"
Free electronic version from Project Gutenberg

Product Links
The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World: From Marathon to Waterloo by Edward Creasy
Battle of Waterloo

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