The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World: From Marathon to Waterlooby Edward Shepherd Creasy
Undoubtedly the most famous work of military history of the nineteenth century, Edward S. Creasy’s Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World has been read and re-read for close to 150 years. It is not only the authoritative account of each battle that makes Creasy’s work such a classic—it is his command of narrative, his interest in human struggle, his profound deductions as to effects of the battles, and his striving after truth. Furthermore, his selections seem as wise and well-considered today as when Fifteen Decisive Battles first appeared in 1851: Nobody since has made better ones, nor given us better accounts. Apart from the scholarship and literary skill of Creasy’s book, there is another reason it has endured: Creasy was essentially fair-minded. He had been a judge, and when he became England’s great military critic and historian, he maintained a thoroughly judicial attitude. He was not a British partisan, nor French, nor German—he was a cosmopolitan observer of great events.Out of 2300 years, Creasy only found fifteen battles which he called decisive in the highest sense. He chose them not for the number of killed and wounded, nor for their status in myth and lore, but because they fundamentally changed the course of world history. In doing so, he made his book a miniature military history of the western world, a classic that will repay continued study for generations to come, as it has for generations.
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Meet the Author
Sir Edward Shepherd Creasy (1812-1878) was a British historian. He was educated at Eton College and King's College, Cambridge and called to the Bar in 1837. In 1840, he began teaching history at the University of London. He was knighted in 1860 and assumed the position of Chief Justice of Ceylon. His best known contribution to literature is his Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World (1851). Other works include; Historical and Critical Account of the Several Invasions of England (1852), History of the Ottoman Turks, The Rise and Progress of the English Constitution, and Imperial and Colonial Institutions of the British Empire (1872). He died in London on Jan 17, 1878. Academically, Creasy's work is of a high standard, featuring original texts among his writings. For example, the quoted comment 'without horse' is followed by a Greek text to that effect in the Marathon Battle account. This feature, along with his detailed explanations of sources, and often of their sources, makes his work of enduring value. Creasy's most famous work, the Fifteen Battles, reveals much about 19th century white-supremacist European sentiment, being laced with explicit references to the deplorable barbarism and immorality of non-Europeans. Indeed, the reason Creasy gives for the significance of most of the fifteen battles, is the very fact that they denied Middle Eastern / Far Eastern people groups access to European soil. For example, Attila the Hun's defeat at Chalons, defeat of the Moors at Tours, Babylonian defeat at Arbella, Defeat of Hasdrubel at Metaurus, other Carthaginian defeats in Mediterranean and the first battle Creasy describes, Marathon. Coming as he does, just before Darwin, Creasy's world-view is notably one of 'enlightenment', and he sees Europe as the origin of civilization. His logic is ephemeral, as he ascribes the Christian Gospel as a gift to Europe, which she alone could deserve. He shares with most Post-Waterloo, 19th century writers the illusion that world peace has been achieved by enlightened Man.
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