They came, they saw, they conquered. It takes skill, determination and leadership to win a military engagement and these men won quite a few…
The winners of past conflicts have come to change the world forever. From the empires of the ancient world to the bitter modern conflicts of The Middle-East we have a definitive list of the greatest military leaders to ever live, well, the first five…
10. Vo Nguyen Giap.
Possibly the least known name on this list, Vo Nguyen Giap is history’s forgotten man. The commander of the People’s Army of Vietnam during conflicts with Japan and then America, Giap showed himself to be a resourceful and adept commander. Fighting against larger and more technologically advanced armies in both conflicts, Giap was still able to claim victory.
Finest hour: The Battle of Dien Bien Phu, 1954. Giap’s boldness in moving anti-aircraft guns through difficult terrain to cripple the French airbase stood as a lesson that no one should underestimate his abilities. The USA wouldn’t learn that lesson…
The great leader of the Muslims and the answer to the Crusader’s Richard the Lionheart. Saladin was an unprecedented military leader who won several crucial victories. He eventually re-took the city of Jerusalem after 88 years of Frankish rule. By the time of his death in 1193, he had conquered much of Eygpt, Syria, Mesopotamia and the old Crusader states.
Finest hour: The Horns of Hattin, 1187. Saladin’s absolute defeat of the Christian’s saw them lose influence in the Middle-East for centuries. Saladin’s brazen tactics carried the day, once the Frank Guy Lusignan had marched for miles into the desert away from water supplies.
8. Henry V.
No one embodied the idea of chivalry or English Medieval might as well as Henry V. Having already proved his worth during internal conflicts against the Welsh and the Earl of Shrewsbury, Henry was able to embark on an emphatic campaign against France. After his many victories, Henry was recognised as the heir apparent to the throne of France. Bringing the Hundred Years War, temporarily, to a close.
Finest hour: The battle of Agincourt, 1415. 25,000 heavily armoured French knights against 5000 English long-bowmen. Not many could win such a resounding victory with those odds but Henry did.
7. Julius Caesar.
He came, he saw, he conquered. The first Roman to breach both British shores as well as the peoples across the Rhine, Caesar was arguably the most capable military mind of all the Romans. Conquering the entirety of Gaul in 52 BC he would promptly enter Italy two years later and beat all of his opponents to establish himself as dictator of Rome.
Finest hour: Siege of Alesia, 52BC. The final hammer blow against the Gallic tribes and a classic example of masterly siege warfare, Alesia epitomised Caesar’s brilliance. Vercingetorix was defeated. Gaul fell to Rome.
6. Mehmed II, The Conqueror.
At the age of 21 Mehmed II, had taken Constantinople and, in doing so, brought the Byzantine Empire to its end. Mehmed’s 1453 victory marked the first breach of the great city’s walls and opened up the east to Ottoman imperial dominance. Mehmed would continue to hoover up the eastern European kingdoms until his death.
Finest hour: Siege of Constantinople, 1453. No one had ever brought down this mighty city until Mehmed came along. His use of modern cannons and advanced tactics decimated the Medieval expectation that castles and walls could repel invaders.
Our final top 5 military leaders will be coming to you soon. Watch this space.