Battle of Thermopylae: 480 BC
Despite their defeat in 490 BC to the Athenians at the Battle of Marathon, the Persians led by King Xerxes were still determined to conquer Greece though they had control of almost the entire world. Led by King Leonidas of Sparta, the Athenians and Spartans combined forces with other 29 city-states with only 10,000 warriors to fight off the invading colossal armies of King Xerxes. This battle became an epic story when due to treachery, the Persians were able to go behind the Greek lines, forcing Leonidas along with 300 Spartans, 900 Helots, 400 Thebans and 700 Thespians to give their last stand against the massive Persian forces in a pass in Thermopylae.
The Battle of Gaugamela: 331 BC
October 1, 331 BC marked one of the finest victories of Alexander the Great. Also known as the “Battle of Arabela,” it resulted in the crucial victory of the Macedonians under Alexander’s rule against the Persian Empire under Darius III. The 47,000 strong Greek force routed a Persian army over twice its size.
The Battle of Zama: 202 BC
On October 19, 202 BC, the battle of Zama, an ancient town in North Africa, was the final and decisive encounter that ended the Second Punic War. It also marked the end of Hannibal, the most famous general of Carthage, who was able to defend his country for 16 years out of the 60 years that the Romans and Carthaginians were fighting for world power.
The Battle of Pharsalus: 48 BC
A crucial battle of Caesar’s Civil War, it was fought by two great military tacticians who were once allies – Pompey Magnus (“Pompey the Great”) who had the backing of Roman senators, and Gaius Julius Caesar. Pompey, who was fighting for the people and the Republic against Caesar’s aim of aristocratic rule, was defeated by the well-rested and tactically placed Caesar’s army. This battle has historical significance as it paved the way for the Roman Republic to become an empire.
The Battle of Tours: 732 AD
One of the most important eras in the history of the world, the battle of Tours or the ‘Battle of Poitiers,’ occurred in October 732 AD in north central France near the city of Tours. The battle was between the 20,000 combined Frankish and Burgundian forces led by Charles Martel against the 50,000 soldiers of Abdul Rahman al Ghafiqi, who was intent on bringing Islam to Europe. The victory of Charles Martel led to the preservation of Christianity in Europe, which may not have been the case given a different outcome to this critical battle.