6 World Wars You Probably Never Heard Of

6. The War of the Sixth Coalition (1812–1814)

WHAT IT WAS: Napoleon’s Mexican standoff with the rest of the planet following his epic pwnage by the Russian Empire.

What a bad idea looks like.

WHY IT WAS A BIG DEAL: Because the War of the Sixth Coalition was the Battle of Yavin of the Napoleonic campaigns: it shows that the bugger could be defeated if you threw enough of the world’s most powerful countries at it and added a little bit of the Force.

The dog pile.

WHY NOBODY CARES: Because of freaking Napoleon. The bastard was given his own private Italian island if he promised to stop playing war with Europe, but apparently living like George Clooney is not good enough for some egos.


The ingrate eventually sneaked out of Elba and relaunched his campaigns against Europe, thus making all the victories of the War of the Sixth Coalition moot. This resulted in the Hundred Days campaign, Napoleon’s much-more famous defeat at Waterloo, and Napoleon’s eventual exile on Saint Helena: a rock 2,000 kilometers from the nearest landmass.

Saint Helena, the Atlantic’s Idaho.

5. The Seven Years’ War (1756–1763)

WHAT IT WAS: The war for control of the American continent which Winston Churchill described as “the first world war” in A History of the English-Speaking Peoples.


WHY IT WAS A BIG DEAL: The war served as the catalyst for the American Revolution and more than one bad movie on the subject—not counting The Last of the Mohicans, which was awesome.

Not pictured: The Last of the Mohicans.

WHY NOBODY CARES: Because nobody wants to remember it. The war was such an embarrassment for the French and—in the long run—the English that both sides would probably be content if the most we ever learn about it is whatever Ubisoft improvises about Templars for Assassin’s Creed III.

4. The War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714)

WHAT IT WAS: The epic war for the throne of a king so inbred that he couldn’t chew his own food, let alone put his own hardware to work producing heirs.

Reason # many why uncles should not marry their nieces.

WHY IT WAS A BIG DEAL: It’s the reason why the world doesn’t belong to a bunch of inbred kings today.

WHY NOBODY CARES: Let’s put it this way: The less we have to hear about the Habsburgs, the better it is for all of us.

The Habsburg family bush.

3. The Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648)

WHAT IT WAS: One of the most brutal wars in human history fought between the largest powers in Europe for control of the ocean. In a nutshell, it was Spain vs. everyone else.

WHY IT WAS A BIG DEAL: While most of the fighting was done on mainland Europe, its naval engagements spanned around the globe. The Thirty Years’ War prevented Spain from becoming the naval superpower of the planet, and also laid the foundation for the colonial system that most of the modern world, including the United States, exists because of.

For some reason, the war also featured a lot of awkward fops on shiny horses.

WHY NOBODY CARES: Because the winners were Bourbons, the Swedes, and the Dutch, and they never became powerful long enough for their victory to matter.

2. The Ottoman–Habsburg Wars (1526-1791)

WHAT IT WAS: The final showdown between the Ottoman Turks, the Habsburg Dynasty and its allies for control of the European continent—and by association, the planet attached to it.

The closest Europe ever came to being overrun by Ivan Ooze.

WHY IT WAS A BIG DEAL: Had the Ottomans won, the world would be Muslim. Had the Habsburgs won, the world would have continued to be… um, more open to inbreeding?

Seriously, what was the matter with these people?

WHY NOBODY CARES: Neither side really won. Although the Holy League was able to check Ottoman expansion into the Mediterranean, both the Habsburg and Ottoman dynasties declined as a result of the war.

Out of options, Sultan Murad III quit his business and became a baker.

1. The Crimean War (1853–1856)

WHAT IT WAS: The first “modern war” in terms of modern warfare.

It’s only a matter of time before Infinity Ward catches on to us.

With the Ottoman Empire more yesterday than an army of boy band game shows, Russia was in a prime position to conquer all their holdings the Balkans to the Bosphorus to Iraq. Since this would have established Russia as the dominate superpower of the planet, a coalition of English, French and Sardinians came to the Ottomans’ aid just to keep Russia from leveling up.

Hail Sardinia!

WHY IT WAS A BIG DEAL: Because it was a grizzly sign of what wars would be like for the next century. It marked the end of Napoleonic warfare in Europe in the advent of newer—and deadlier—technologies, and provided a frightening omen of what the American Civil War would look like. The war ranged from the Crimean peninsula to the Pacific Ocean, and saw the rise of railroads, telegraphs, nurses, and even photographers on the battlefield.

Naturally, it took them a while to figure out what they should be taking pictures of.

WHY NOBODY CARES: The purpose of the war was to keep things in Europe exactly as they were. As a result, with the Russian Empire defeated, things went back to being… well, pretty ordinary. Plus there was that whole American Civil War thing right after it. That seems to be kind of popular, what with Abraham Lincoln and all that.

Jacopo della Quercia is now on Twitter.  Follow him!

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