Histories great Generals - before 1800

Discussion in 'World History' started by onejayhawk, Sep 21, 2002.

  1. Leglaen

    Leglaen Ajacied

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    All of these posts are mentioning ancient generals, undoubtedly the best during their time, but how would they fare in the 16th/17th century fighting? Who knows? Therefore I believe the greatest general is Frederick the Great. He managed not only to defend the small nation of Prussia, with something like 1 million total soldiers under command, versus three huge nations(France, Russia, and Austria) with armies that easily dwarfed any he could bring(don't know exact figures right now but can get them) against them. Frederick managed to do this for 7 straight years. Although he was near defeat at the end and was saved by the ascension of Czar Paul II to the throne, which stopped the war with Russia, he was still, I believe, the best general before 1800. :)
     
  2. God

    God God

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    I'm forgetting but which war was this in which ol' Fred fought? 7 years war Prussia was allied with Britain which was by far the most powerful nation in Europe. In the War of Austrian Succesion, Prussia invaded Austria. I'm not very sure. I'm assuming you are talking about the Seven Years War?

    And I believe 1 million soldiers was a huge army, and those size in Europe didn't appear till Napoleon, although I'm sure the Indian and Chinese armies were larger. I think they had something more around 200,000 soldiers. I think reading somewhere the some Prussian ruler had about 160,000 foreingers and half that amount locals in order to keep most locals in the labor industries, IIRC.

    A bit more Murad since I felt like pointing out that although most consider Suleyman the Magnificent the greatest Ottoman ruler, simply because he ruled when they were at their height, many historians believe Murad was the greatest. He achieved alot. Conquered but did not kill like crazy unlike Bazjet, his son. He was a sensible man and used the Jannissaries. I don't think he started the Janniessaries though.

    If you have noticed I really don't make the standard Western generals. First of all they were just Western generals and mostly dealt in Europe with a few exceptions (Alexander, Duke of Wellington [but he was after 1800!!!] etc.) who did major conquering around the world. This I do not only to name some great generals that the uneducated may have not heard off, and also that there were many generals other than Genghis Khan and Timur, who seem to be the only two many people have heard off.

    To add to the list:

    Aurengzeb (sp?)- The last great Mughal emperor. Although he was a horrible man and was responsible for the immediate downfall of the Mughals, he brought the empire to its largest in size, but there wasn't any infrastructure to hold it up, thus it collapsed quickly, very quickly.

    Asoka- Another powerful conquerer, although in ancient times. I've seen some movies about him. He went mad at times, killing thousands, but then recovered and became Buddhists.

    Mehmood of Ghazni- Raided India several times around 1000 AD. He was mainly an adventurer and raider but seemed to do his job well.

    Saluddin- Of the Fatamid Dynasty. Defeated the Crusaders but his empire didn't last very long.

    Some more Ottoman warrior-emperors- Osman, Orhan, Murad, Bazajet. They alll came before Mehmet 2 and aren't very well known, but they did most of the conquering and were great warriors.
     
  3. Leglaen

    Leglaen Ajacied

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    First, yes I am talking about the Seven Years' War from 1756-1763. Secondly, note that I said total soldiers under command, not a signle army. Next, the British forces in Hanover were quickly overrun by the French, and Britain never again landed on Continental Europe in strength. The only British contribution to help Prussia was a subsidy(admittedly huge by the standards of that time, but Britain could do this) which was cut off by 1760.
     
  4. Dantius

    Dantius Chieftain

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    I have to disagree with everyone whom states that Alexander the Great only accomplished what he did because of Philip's innovations on the Greek military machine.

    I will agree with the people that state that Philip set up Macedonia with an army that was capable of becoming a worldwide superpower, but to say that anybody could have went into that position and became the legend that Alexander became is pure nonsense.

    The truth is, under Philip, who was known as being an overly-ambitious drunk, the military wouldn't have gotten all the way to India. In fact, it probably would have been thwarted at Persia, and Philip probably would have either died or been murdered by that time.

    Alexander was, himself, a brilliant general. No other general has survived nearly 5,000 miles of pure conquest and reached India and back like Alexander did.

    Adding to this, Alexander was also a brilliant politician. He treated his bitter enemies with grace after their defeat, and when Darius (the infamous Emperor of Persia that eluded Alexander through many military campaigns) was found dead, murdered by proud assassins that told Alexander of this "great act", Alexander had the assassins executed and gave Darius a hero's funeral.

    Would Philip have done this? No, he would have rewarded the assassins, which would have stopped his conquest at Persia, since he would have to leave a huge garrison to quell the resisters.

    Most people, even his enemies, respected and admired Alexander's campaigns. Alexander was a brilliant general, a brilliant politician - a brilliant anything. He far surpasses Caesar and Napoleon as the best general of all time.
     
  5. Knight-Dragon

    Knight-Dragon Unhidden Dragon Retired Moderator

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    I read a biography of Frederick once. In it, it never mentioned any army or total of armies surpassing the size of 1 million, of whichever nation. I doubt not even 100000. Prussia, at this time, simply didn't have the population to come out with those numbers, much less the resources to support and maintain those numbers. I believe the Prussian population numbered perhaps only a few millions, even if including the Silesian territories Frederick had just grabbed fr the Austrians.

    Whereas Frederick was undoubtedly a great general who led in person in the field, nevertheless the command of the Prussian forces were actually divided betw himself and a brother (forgotten name) and maybe one other general. It's a practical requirement, considering the state of communications at the time. His brother did good too.

    Frederick was also lucky in that his enemies never actually came at him at one shot. The French forces kept meandering in Germany whereas the Russians and Austrians never co-opted much in the east. The few times they did, Frederick was almost overrun.
     
  6. Knight-Dragon

    Knight-Dragon Unhidden Dragon Retired Moderator

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    Ming China maintained an army of 1.6 million during Yongle's era. ;) The army maintained itself thru the military agricultural colonies system imposed empire-wide. Europe couldn't field anything like that, until they could solve the food problem, which they could by the Napoleanic times (traders brought back Chinese agricultural techniques and it started an Agricultural Revolution of sorts all over Europe).

    The Jannissaries system was a normal practice of whatever Islamic regime. IIRC, the Muslim rulers had problems maintaining permanent forces composed of their Muslim subjects, as Muslims could not be compelled to do military service. Thus the Muslim rulers bought slave boys (non-Muslims) and brought them up to be soldiers to serve in their armies. The Turks themselves first appeared in the Islamic Caliphate in this manner - as slave soldiers. Later, they grew powerful and ruled in all but name. E.g. the Mameluks of Egypt and the Seljuk Turks.

    Indeed. :goodjob: Chinese history itself is full of good solid field generals unheard outside the historical field. This is the land of Sun Zi after all. You didn't think all those emperors could be everywhere and commanded troops personally on every front, did you? Considering the Chinese field of operations was larger than Europe.
     
  7. Knight-Dragon

    Knight-Dragon Unhidden Dragon Retired Moderator

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    These are the Mongol generals under Genghis Khan. Jebe led one of the columns attacking Jin China. Jelme and Subedei led the Mongol raids into Russia at one time.

    What's my prize? :)
     
  8. joespaniel

    joespaniel Unescorted Settler

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    You get to command a field army in Iraq. :p ;)
     

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