From the dawn of time to the new era, a great many lives had been lost on the battlefield. It is not only about the victory; it is about those who died fighting for it. Every battle has a significance and impact over the world history, so let’s check out those three ancient clashes, where victory cost hundreds of thousands of lives.
The Kalinga War – c. 262 – c. 261 BCE
Ashoka, leader of the Maury dynasty and the greatest emperor of India and his battle against the Kalinga republic has inscribed the pages of ancient history with the blood of few hundred thousand people. Although many consider this part of history to be mythical, it is worth looking into for it caused a tremendous change in the heart of a powerful Emperor and the life of ancient Indians.
For Ashoka, it was of utmost political and economic importance to take over the feudal republic and strengthen the rule of his dynasty. Kalinga, also referred to as Odisha, was a significant trade center, an aspiring republic of freedom, and arts, a flourishing culture that had a great impact on the entire Indian subcontinent.
Before his final decision to conquer Kalinga by force, Ashoka the Great sent a letter to the king demanding full submission. King Raja Anantha Padmanabhan declined, sealing the fate of his republic. As a result, Ashoka the Great led a huge army to the lands of the free folks. An army of approximately 400,000 followed their emperor into a war. Ashoka was eager to outdo his father Bindusara and grandfather Chandragupta and accomplish what they never could – take over the Republic of Kalinga.
The Republic was greatly outnumbered, they had only 60,000 infantry, 10,000 cavalry, and 700 war elephants to protect their land, and possibly numerous civilians who had taken whatever weapon they could, in order to protect their homes and families.
In c. 261 BCE, on the Dhauli hill next to the Daya River, the army of Ashoka and that of Kalinga met. The battle was so fierce and devastating that the Daya River waters turned red from the blood of both Kalinga warriors and Magadha warriors. The land was completely destroyed and plundered, the people massacred. 250,000 were killed and and another 150,000 enslaved. Ashoka even thought he was the winner at the end the victory was so bitter, that he turned his heart to Buddhism and peace. In the next 40 years of his rule, he did not pick up the sword even once and preached non-violence and peaceful prosperity.
Battle of Watling Street – AD 60 or 61, Boudica’s uprising
The battle of Watling Street is a significant fight between the British led by the infamous Boudica and the roman army under the command of Gaius Suetonius Paulinus. This battle is a turning point for the Island, as it marks the end of the British resistance for the next 350 years. Boudica was the widow of the late king of the Iceni. After the death of her husband, she and her daughters suffered great humiliation and terror in the hands of the Romans, and so did her kingdom. Thus, as the roman governor was on his quest to subdue the Island of Mona the spark of revolt was lit.
Boudica sought an alliance with her neighbors the Trinovantes, who accepted without a doubt, as they too had a grudge against the Roman invaders. Afterward, the allied rebelling forces won against the Romans in the Battle of Camulodunum and ambushed the Ninth Spanish Legion, Boudica headed to Londinium. However, the Roman governor got to the city firsts and evacuated it. The allied forces, once again razed the city, leaving no survivors.As Boudica’s forces continued their revolting march, Suetonius Paulinus’ army managed to regroup, although without some of the legions.
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