Mankind is well known for warring. It’s rare for any civilisation in history to not have been affected by war of some kind. Many are short-lived conflicts, but there are some that stand out not only for their bloodiness, but also for their length. In this post we reflect upon 5 of the longest wars in our known history. Let’s begin!
5. Peloponnesian War (431 to 404 BC)
Started by the Spartans, this war, lasting 27 years, took place between the Peloponnesian League, led by the Spartans, and the Athenians of Ancient Greece. According to the history books Sparta decided to try and undermine the power of Athens to become the dominant force within the Ancient Greek world. Indeed after the third phase of fighting, Athens had been reduced to almost nothing, whilst Sparta did in fact become the power of the Ancient world at that time.
Historians usually divide this war into three parts: the Archidamian War, The Second War, which began in 415 BC and the third, called the Ionian War in 413 BC, ending in 404 BC with Sparta emerging victorious.
4. Wars of the Roses (1455 AD to 1487 AD)
These civil wars, that were fought in medieval England between the House of Lancaster and the House of York, were an attempt to seize the crown of England from one another. Seemingly, both houses had a claim to the throne, but obviously couldn’t agree on who should have it! So, like any civilised people – they had a fight. The name Wars of the Roses comes from the fact that both houses had roses on their family crests. Lancaster had a red rose, whilst York had a white one.
The war came to an end when Henry VII married Elizabeth of York and together they had a son, Henry VIII, who was then heir to both houses.
3. Wars of the Diadochi (322 BC to 275 BC)
Alexander The Great – His death caused quite a ruckus
Like the Peloponnesian War, the Wars of the Diadochi can be broken down into different phases, with nine in total. When Alexander the Great died, he left a vast empire with no chosen successor to rule over it. This naturally led to much arguing as to who should take his place. The actual fighting took place between two main protagonists Meleager and Perdiccas, each of whom supported a different relation of Alexander’s in their fight to take the empire. Peace did eventually reign in 275 BC.
2. Hundred Years’ War (1337 AD to 1453 AD)
The Hundred Years’ War was more like 116 years, but whose counting? Started by King Edward III of England in 1337, when he strolled on over to France and claimed the throne for his own, this war carried on with his descendents for decades to come. This was also the war that made Joan of Arc famous when she teamed up with the Scots (who hated the English at that time) and gave the English a bit of a pasting in 1429.
Eventually the English were defeated and high-tailed it out of France in 1453, thus ending the war.
1. Punic Wars (264 BC to 1985 AD)
This is an awesomely controversial war. But not for the reasons you might think! Yes it was a nasty, bloody battle between the Romans and Carthage that ended with Carthage being completely obliterated, but the controversy lies around the actual length of time this war is supposed to have continued for. It started in 264 BC, that is something that historians can generally agree upon.
What they can’t agree on is when it ended. When Carthage was destroyed in 146 BC, common sense would dictate that this was a natural end to the conflict, but no! The official treaty that marked the end of the Punic Wars was not actually signed until 1985 AD! 2,248 years later! Officially Rome and Carthage were at war for millenia, unofficially it was 43 years!