Wars are as old as mankind itself. The earliest recorded evidence of a war belongs to the Mesolithic cemetery Site 117, which has been determined to be approximately 14,000 years old. Wars have occurred over much of the globe, causing deaths of hundreds of millions of people. And though these devastating events are usually meant to be fought between nations’ armies, the violence often spills into the civilian realm resulting in the deaths of countless innocent lives (which is why the total numbers of war casualties are so large and heartbreaking). Apart from direct battle results, the statistics from the deadliest wars in human history also include war-related deaths caused by side effects such as induced epidemics, diseases, famines, atrocities, genocides etc. In order to bring awareness as to the devastating impacts of wars, we have compiled a list ranking the 25 deadliest wars in human history. No matter what caused the conflicts, one thing is for sure – these wars cannot be considered anything but absolutely horrifying human tragedies that should have never happened. Let’s hope that by remembering our past, we are not doomed to repeat it.
Napoleonic Wars (death toll: 3.5 – 6 million)
Fought between 1803 and 1815, the Napoleonic Wars were a series of major conflicts pitting the French Empire, led by Napoleon Bonaparte, a French military and political leader, against an array of European powers formed into various coalitions. In his military career, Napoleon fought about 60 battles and lost just seven, mostly at the end of his reign. The European total of the wars may have reached as many as 5 million military deaths, including diseases.
There really is nothing good about war. Not only do they destroy the lives of Millions of people, but they also cost a considerable amount of money. Check out the most expensive wars ever fought here.
Thirty Years´ War (death toll: 3 – 11.5 million)
Fought between 1618 and 1648, the Thirty Years’ War was a series of wars in Central Europe. One of the longest and most destructive conflicts in European history, the war initially began as a conflict between Protestant and Catholic states in the fragmenting Holy Roman Empire but it gradually developed into a much larger conflict involving most of the great powers of Europe. The death toll estimates differ significantly but the most probable count suggests that about 8 million people including civilians died in the war.
Chinese Civil War (death toll: 8 million)
The Chinese Civil War was fought between forces loyal to the Kuomintang (a political party of the Republic of China) and forces loyal to the Communist Party of China. The war began in 1927 and it essentially ended when major active battles ceased in 1950. The conflict eventually resulted in two de facto states, the Republic of China (now known as Taiwan) and the People’s Republic of China in mainland China. During the war, both sides carried out mass atrocities, with millions of non-combatants deliberately killed.
Russian Civil War (death toll: 7 - 12 million)
Fought between 1917 and 1922, the Russian Civil War was a multi-party war in the former Russian Empire that followed the Russian Revolutions of 1917 as many factions competed for power. The two largest combatant groups were the Bolsheviks´ Red Army and the loosely allied forces known as the White Army. There were an estimated 7 – 12 million casualties during the war, mostly civilians. The Russian Civil War has even been described as the greatest national catastrophe Europe has ever seen.
Conquests of Tamerlane (death toll: 8 – 20 million)
Also known as Timur, Tamerlane was a Turco-Mongol conqueror and a military leader. In the second half of the 14th century, he led brutal military campaigns across Western, South and Central Asia, Caucasus and southern Russia, emerging as the most powerful ruler in the Muslim world after defeating the Mamluks of Egypt and Syria, the emerging Ottoman Empire and the declining Delhi Sultanate. Scholars estimate that his military campaigns caused the deaths of 17 million people, which was about 5% of then world population.