History of War and Conflict
Warfare in Ancient Times
Wars in Ancient times were fought mainly to defend (defensive wars) or to invade and gain more land (invasive wars). Greek city-states (polis) fought mostly to defend their territory. Ancient Romans carried out lots of conquests across Europe, Middle East and North Africa, and created a great empire, called Pax Romana (Roman Peace) which lasted 1000 years.
In Ancient Greece, hoplites were foot soldiers who were organised into phalanx, which were formations of 8 soldiers in 8 rows. The middle of the army was called the centre and the sides were called flanks.
In Sparta, young boys since the age of 7 were trained in warfare and it was the greatest honour for them to die in battle.
Roman army was very efficient and almost invincible. It was organised into legions led by generals, which then were organised into centuries (100 soldier groups) led by centurions. The most common fighting formation was the turtle (long rectangular shields were held above the soldiers’ head and on all sides to protect them against arrows).
Armour and weaponry
The hoplites used bronze spears, swords and round shields. Archers used bows and arrows to attack the enemy from a distance.
Roman soldiers had short broad swords and large rectangular or oval shields. They wore red woollen tunics and body armour, which included a helmet, shoulder pads and breast plates.
The battle of Marathon was fought in 490BC between Greece and Persia upon Persia invading Greece. The Greeks, mostly Athenians, defended a mountain pass leading into Athens. The Greeks were led by General Miltiades and the Persians by Darius. Ten thousand (10,000) Persian light infantry (foot soldiers) attacked the Greek heavy infantry, called the Immortals. The Persians began gaining ground when Miltiades weakened his centre by separating two flanks.
One of the Greeks, called Pheidippides carried the message to Athens, running 42 km. The Olympic event called “marathon” is named after his run. He died when he delivered his message to warn the Athenians of the approaching Persian army.
Alexander the Great was a fantastic tactician, which means he planned his battles very cunningly taking into account the enemies’ formation, the areas surrounding the battlefield (topography), the supply sources and everything that would take the enemy by surprise.
He was a Macedonian general and he conquered Persia, taking its capital Persepolis in 331BC and becoming the king of Persia. He then proceeded further east to India where he confronted the Hindu king Porus at the Hadespes River. The Greeks defeated Porus’ army by taking advantage of Porus’ error when he split his cavalry into two 1,000 strong wings. Alexander’s 4,000 men strong cavalry destroyed both of them in turns. Alexander showed his greatness by letting Porus lead his people and keep his lands.
Julius Caesar was a famous Roman general and emperor. He conquered most of Europe and North Africa, and in 43AD landed on the shores of Britain. He was powerful leader and a great tactician. He demonstrated his skills in the battle of Alesia where he held a Gaul city under siege for many weeks until they were starved and weak. Then he defeated a much bigger army by using brilliant attack tactics. That win gave Caesar control over most of Gaul (today’s France).
The Medieval Crusades (1095-1291)
The Crusades began in November 1095, when Pope Urban II declared that if the Christian knights took part in the crusades they would get a direct ticket to heaven. This united the Christian world.
The Crusades (the Wars of the Cross) were the result of Turkish Muslims taking over Jerusalem, which was the Holy Land and a place of pilgrimage for Christians.
The knights were reckless and hungry for a war. They believed that if they fought, God would purify their souls.
(Alice, Year 6 2011)
THE CRUSADES AND THEIR LEADERS
In 1096 Duke Godfrey led English, French, Italian and German knights on an epic 3,000 mile march to reclaim Jerusalem. Once they reached Jerusalem they had to overcome the 50 ft high and 10ft thick walls. Luckily, the Crusaders found some timber wood and built two siege towers – they said it was a gift from Heaven.
The Muslims aimed flamed arrows and one of the siege towers was burned down.
The Crusaders re-took Jerusalem and Duke Godfrey was going to be crowned, but refused to and died ten years later. That was the end of the first triumphant Crusade.
(Esme, Year 6 2011)
In 1189 the Third Crusade was launched to take back Jerusalem from the Muslim leader, Saladin. The original leader of the Third Crusade was Fredrick Barbarossa who died in a freak drowning accident.
The famous Richard I (the Lionheart) then took over the leadership of the crusade.
The crusaders went to take coastal towns between Jaffa and Tyre close to Jerusalem, but Richard realised his depleted force of 12,000 men could not take the city of Jerusalem. He then decided to have a truce with Saladin and keep the coastal towns, leaving Jerusalem in the hands of Saladin.
Richard the Lionheart died later (1199) in Europe from an arrow-wound.
(Campbell, Year 6 2011)
In 1202 a crusade got out of control when the knights gave in to greed and looted their own Christian city of Constantinople (today’s Istanbul).
(Alice, Year 6 2011)
The Children’s Crusade began in 1212. Fifty thousand children from all over Europe tried to march to Jerusalem, but sadly they could not make it. Instead, they got captured, enslaved and tragically died.
(Imogen, Year 6 2011)
MEDIEVAL ARMOUR AND WAR STRATEGIES
The body armour started off as protective but very heavy iron plates. The armour protected against slashing and piercing wounds. Then the armour evolved to become lighter because light metal rings, called chain mail, replace the heavy armour.
(Imani Year 6 2011)
The main weaponry was the military flail (a long stick with a spiky ball connected with a chain), a long heavy sword, the bow and arrow and lances (spears which were mostly used on horseback in jousting and open field battle). They also used small round and crest-shaped shields.
(Tyler Year 6 2011)
Sieges were the most common battle types in the Middle Ages. It was when a group of soldiers wanted to take over a castle. The castle defence system would involve: cross-bows, bow and flaming arrows; hot tar would be poured onto the advancing soldiers.
The attacking forces, on the other hand, would catapult severed heads and dead horse carcass to kills of the owners of the castle with disease.
Since the moats separated the attackers from the castle, they would try to climb up the sewer shafts and would appear out of the castle toilets undetected. They would also use ladders and battering rams to storm the castle walls.
(Adam Year 6 2011)
The English Civil War
The Civil War started because Charles I wanted to rule alone, but the Parliament insisted on ruling with the King.
The King believed in his divine power. When he came to the Parliament to demand money to fight the Scottish rebels, the Parliament refused him. Charles I was furious and wanted to arrest some of the Parliamentarians. They escaped and raised their own army against the King.
(Claudia, Pippa, Isabella)
Armies and Weaponry
There were two armies in the Civil War: the Royalists, known as the Cavaliers and the Roundheads, being the Parliamentarians.
The Royalists’ army consisted of mainly cavalry [soldiers on horseback). They fought with rapiers and muskets. The Royalists wore very fancy clothes, such as: feathered hats, capes, lace and silk shirts, and high boots.
The Roundheads wore very plain and simple clothes: brown, buttoned up jacket, brown trousers, yellow sash to identify their loyalties, and round helmet to protect their necks and their faces.
The Roundheads were organised into The New Model Army, which had:
- pikesmen and foot soldiers,
- artillery using canons.
There were about 20,000 soldiers in the New Model Army.
(Jamie, Hannah, Max)
Battles of the Civil War
The Royalists and the Roundheads fought three main battles: the first one was in 1642 at Edgehill, but it went unresolved. The second battle took place in 1644 at Marston Moor the Roundheads won. The third one at Nasby [1645) was won by the Roundheads.
After the Nasby battle the King retreated to Scotland, but the Scottish handed him to the Parliamentarians. In 1649 King Charles I was executed.
Leaders of the Civil War
The leader of the Royalist army was Charles I. One of the general for the Parliament was General Fairfax.
Oliver Cromwell was the main leader in the Civil War. He led the Parliamentarians. He took over the rule of the country from Charles I after his execution in 1649. When the war was won, Oliver Cromwell took on the title of Lord Protector of the Land .
After Cromwell’s death Charles II came back to power and brought with him the English monarchy .
(Joe, Jamie, Deanne, Max]
The Great War, also known as World War One (1914-1918)
THE CAUSES OF WWI
World War I started because of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary. But Germany, who was Austria-Hungary’s ally, used the assassination as an excuse to start a war. They did this because they wanted more land and colonies, and to show the world that they had the best Navy.
THE SIDES IN THE GREAT WAR
There were two sides in the Great War: the Central Powers and the Allied Powers. Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey were the Central Powers. Russia, Britain and France (and later the USA) were the Allied Powers. The Central Powers were called that because they were located in the middle of Europe.
This war was a world war because people from all over the world were fighting in it. The British Empire had colonies all over the world and the war was fought across the British Empire.
(Hannah and Jamie)
BATTLE TECHNOLOGIES USED IN WWI
In WWI the men carried out battles on land, in the air and on high seas – it was a totalitarian war. On land there was a thing called “trench warfare” where men would dig out trenches facing each other. The men would fire their artillery (bombarding with huge shells) to kill the enemy hiding in trenches, and then they would do infantry charge with machine guns and tanks to kill the rest of them, but artillery was not accurate in those days so the enemy would shoot the charging soldiers with big machine guns.
In WWI the British first made tanks to go across rough ground. It was the first time that the Germans used poisonous gas. Also aircrafts and Zeppelins were used to drop bombs.
(Joe, Max, Hannah and Ellie)
THE MAIN BATTLES OF WWI
The battle of Somme (1916) was carried out in trenches. The two sides used artillery bombardments, infantry attacks, machine guns, barbwire and tanks. In the battle of Ypres chemical weapons were introduced. The poisonous gases burned your eyes, collapsed your lungs and killed you. The battles of Falklands and Jutland were navy battles with warships, u-boats and armoured boats. Periscopes were used for the first time.
The Gallipoli battle (1915) was fought by ANZACs – Australians and New Zealanders against the Turkish army.
The battle of Verdun (1916) was a fortress siege where a few soldiers were guarding Paris from the Germans.
(Isabella and Max)
LEADERS OF WWI
Keiser Wilhelm II was the German leader (he had weak arms and was part deaf). Tsar Nicholas II was the Russian leader, but later Russia had a revolution so they pulled out of the war. George V and Lord Kitchener (the prime minister) were both from England, while Kemal Ataturk was the Turkish leader.
(Jamie and Isabella)
THE OUTCOMES OF WWI
On 11th November 1918 Germany asked for an Armistice (truce) and later signed the Treaty of Versailles. This meant that Germany had to give back some of their land and all of their colonies. They also had to pay compensation so they had to print lots of money and as they printed more money the goods in shops started to go very quickly. Germany had a huge inflation (lots of money and nothing to buy in shops).
The most tragic outcomes of WWI were 10 million people dead and 20 million people injured.
Women became more empowered and important because all the men had gone to war and no one was left to do all the jobs. Women won the right to vote because they men were all out at war and women had to take over men’s jobs. So they said they should be able to vote like men. This is called “emancipation”.
The League of Nations was formed after the war finished to keep peace in the world, but not all countries joined in so it did not work.
(Ellie, Hannah and Isabella)
World War II
CAUSES OF WWII
In World War I German lost lots of land and were told that they could never have an army again, so they decided to start another war to build their army and to gain some of the lost land back.
WWII started when Adolf Hitler attacked Poland on 1st September 1939 and Russia attacked Poland from the east on 17th September 1939. Three days after Germany’s invasion of Poland, Great Britain and France declared war on Germany – 3rd September 1939.
Fiona and Jamie.
MAIN EVENTS AND BATTLES IN WWII
In July 1940 Battle of Britain began. It ended on 31st October 1940 – Germany did not manage to overcome the British Isles.
In June 1941 Operation Barbarossa started when Germany attacked the Soviet Union (Russia). This led to the battle of Stalingrad when in February 1943 Germany was defeated by Russia.
On 7th December 1941 Japan attacked USA at Pearl Harbour, and from that point on the USA joined in the war.
On 6th June 1944 called D-Day, the Allies started their invasion against Germany when they landed in Normandy (France).
In April 1945 Hitler committed suicide and on 8th May 1945 Germany surrendered.
Japan surrendered after atom bombs were dropped by the USA on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing many civilians and destroying the cities.
COUNTRIES IN WWII AND THEIR LEADERS
Allies: Great Britain, France, Poland, Soviet Union, USA, Australia, Beligium, Greece, India, Denmark, Brazil, Greece, The Netherlands. Winston Churchill led GB, Theodore Roosevelt led USA, Charles de Goulle led France, and Joseph Stalin was the leader of the Soviet Union.
Axis: Germany (led by Adolf Hitler), Italy (led by Mussolini) and Japan.
WHAT HAPPENED IN THE UK DURING THE BLITZ?
The Blitz was the bombing of British ships, docks, airports, factories and cities. People build Anderson shelters for protection in air raids. Blackouts stopped the German bombers from knowing where to drop bombs. Children from the cities were evacuated to the country to keep safe.
The blockade on the seas led to rationing of food, which means that certain foods could only be bought by using food tokens as there was shortage of food across the country.
Fiona, Claudia and Pippa.
Holocaust was the extermination of the Jewish people based purely on their racial differences. It is still very important to learn about the Holocaust today because it was the worst event in WWII and it had a devastating effect on the human world.
Claudia and Fiona.
EVALUATION OF WWII AND ALL OTHER WARS IN HISTORY
Wars have been going on since the Bronze Age (2300BC-800BC). I find it outrageous that in World War I 10 million people died and millions were injured or killed in just one battle!
Firstly, wars have never achieved anything except mass destruction of cities and loss of life. It is unbelievable that some people think war is “ok” and “cool” even though the loss of life is huge. Ask yourself – would you like to be involved in a huge war?
Furthermore, due to so many wars weapons have been improved to nuclear bombs, more advanced guns and artillery that could destroy entire countries.
In conclusion, I think wars are a disgrace to the human kind, and should be abolished!
Firstly, I strongly believe that wars sort out nothing because the Civil War for example led to more wars and both world wars were horrific. WWII was known as the Great War because it was the bloodiest war ever. In WWII around 60 million people around the world were killed, and about half of them were civilians. 60 million people is the same as 2.5% of the world’s population!
Secondly, all wars terrify civilians. I find it shocking that in all wars civilians end up hiding, terrified of what might happen to them. Wars leave adults and children dead though they have done nothing wrong. Families are dead, split up or homeless.
Furthermore, it is outrageous that the Nazis thought that Jewish civilians were a bit different to them so the Nazis tried to kill them off. The Nazis told the Jewish people to get on a train to go to work, but they actually took all their possessions, split up the families and stripped them down and took them on a death march either to a concentration camp to do impossible work, or to a gas chamber to be gassed. In Holocaust 4-5 million children and adults died.
In conclusion, war should not be allowed and all countries should sign an agreement saying that they will not start wars because there is no point in them and lots of people get killed. So let there be a sign that all countries must sign: STOP WARS! WARS ARE SAD!