Top 10 Longest Wars In History

Among the longest wars in history, one such struggle stretched for almost eight centuries between Christians and Muslims from across the Strait of Gibraltar. Even little fights might feel unbearably long to those involved. Unfortunately, many of those who fought in the conflicts mentioned here had to endure such agony for decades, if not centuries. Some soldiers fought their whole lives in a fight they would never see finished, even if it had started before they were born!

Longest Wars In History
Longest Wars In History ( Image Credit: Flickr )

10. Karen Conflict (1949-Present; 67 years ongoing)

The Karen Conflict, which began in 1949 and is still ongoing today, is the world’s longest civil conflict. The Karen people, one of Southeast Asia’s largest ethnic groupings, have been battling for generations for a unique Karen homeland in Myanmar (Burma). The Karen National Union and the Burmese Tatmadaw are the main actors in this civil war. The Karen National Liberation Army is a political organization of the Karen people, whereas the Tatmadaw is Myanmar’s official military organization. The majority of the fighting takes place in Myanmar’s Karen state, which was established by the Burmese government in 1952. Thousands of people have died as a result of the fighting, which has forced many Karen to escape to neighboring nations.

9. Dutch War for Independence (1568-1648; 80 years)

The Dutch Revolt, often known as the Eighty Years’ War, lasted 80 years, from 1568 to 1648. The Seventeen Provinces’ revolt against the Spanish King in the Netherlands characterized the period. Around the outset of the Revolt, the king’s troops conquered and defeated the rebels. The insurrection, however, became stronger, and in 1572, the rebels captured Brielle, inflicting a terrible defeat on Spain. Finally, in 1648, the Seventeen Provinces declared independence as the United Provinces of the Netherlands, often known as the Dutch Republic.

8. Seleucid-Parthia War (238 BCE-129 BCE; 109 years)

The Seleucid-Parthia War was a series of clashes between Persia’s Seleucid Empire and the state of Parthia that ended in the latter’s expulsion from its stronghold in Persia and the establishment of the Parthian Empire. Previously, the Seleucid Empire stretched from Syria to the Indus River. Maintaining such a huge domain was difficult, and the Seleucids were often attacked by both Hellenistic and Iranian countries. Taking advantage of the upheaval, the Seleucid Satraps of Bactria and Parthia declared their outlying territories to be independent nations. However, in 238 BCE, the Iranian Parni tribes of Central Asia invaded and conquered Parthia, dubbing themselves the Parthians. The Seleucids, who were too concerned at the time with fighting Ptolemaic Egypt, lost huge swathes of land east of Persia and Media to the Parthians. In 209 BCE, Antiochus III, an ambitious Seleucid emperor, started a fight against the Parthians in order to reclaim his previous empire’s lost territories. In this manner, Antiochus III was able to vanquish them, reducing them to vassal status inside their original seized province of Parthia. When Antiochus was beaten by the Romans in the Battle of Magnesia, the Seleucids began to lose control of the area. The Arsacids now ruled over Parthia, and the new Parthian monarch began seizing Seleucid territory. The Parthians destroyed the Seleucids in a great battle in 139 BCE, resulting in the capture of Seleucid King Demetrius II and establishing the Parthians as the new rulers of the region.

7. Plantagenet-Valois/Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453; 116 years)

The Hundred Years’ War was a long-running conflict between two royal houses claiming to be the rightful successors to the French throne. The conflict arose as a result of the extinction of the elder Capetian family of French monarchs, which left the French throne vacant. The chief challengers for the throne were the House of Plantagenet (or House of Anjou) and the House of Valois. The former were 12th century English rulers descended from French territories in Anjou and Normandy. The House of Valois claimed to be the rulers of both England and France, but the Plantagenets claimed to be the rulers of both. Between 1337 to 1453, five generations of kings from these two rival dynasties fought for the French throne, with both sides reaching new heights of triumph and valor. Joan of Arc was essential in rebuilding the Valois monarchy after the end of the war. She inspired a fighting spirit in Charles, the disinherited Valois prince, and prepared the path for him to be crowned when her efforts helped break the English siege of Orleans, the typical place of Valois dynasty coronations. In 1431, Joan was captured by the English, accused of witchcraft, and burned at the stake. Joan’s efforts were not in vain, as Charles was able to retain his throne.

6. Byzantine-Ottoman (1265-1479; 214 years)

From 1265 until 1479, the Byzantine-Ottoman Wars were a pivotal series of conflicts. The Byzantine Empire fell as a result of this struggle, and the Ottoman Empire rose in the former Byzantine lands. By 1204, the Fourth Crusaders had conquered Constantinople, the Byzantine capital. This gave the Sultanate of Rum the opportunity to seize Byzantine holdings in Western Asia Minor. The Nicaean Empire, however, reclaimed Constantinople from the Latin Empire in 1261. During this period, the Byzantine Empire faced a number of adversaries, the most significant of whom was a Turkish Bey named Osman I. He would go down in history as the Ottoman Empire’s founder. Osman I declared himself Sultan of the Ottoman Beylik and had taken Thrace from the Byzantines by 1380. By 1400, the original broad kingdom of the Byzantines had been reduced to relatively tiny borders, and by 1479, with the conclusion of the Byzantine-Ottoman wars, Ottoman control had become fully entrenched throughout the Eastern Mediterranean.

5. Byzantine-Seljuq (1048-1308; 260 years)

The Byzantine-Seljuk Wars were a 260-year-long series of battles that saw the Byzantine Empire relinquish sovereignty of Asia Minor and Syria to the Seljuk Turks, as well as the start of the Crusades. Following their conquest of Baghdad in 1055, the Turks stretched their power westward, and in 1064, the Seljuk Sultan, Alp Arslan, defeated the Byzantines in Armenia. In 1067, the Turks attempted to conquer Asia Minor, but were met with a Byzantine counter-attack. In contrast, the Seljuk Turks won the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, crushing the Byzantine army and seizing the Byzantine Emperor himself. Despite this massive victory, Byzantine dominance in Asia Minor remained intact, and the Turks had to wait another 20 years before taking total control of the Anatolian Peninsula. When the Seljuk Turks took Jerusalem, the invitation for the First Crusade was issued. Within a century following the Battle of Manzikert, the First Crusades had pushed the Seljuks from the coastlines of Asia Minor, and the Byzantines had reclaimed some of their lost provinces. However, the subsequent Crusades did more harm than benefit to the Byzantines, as the Crusaders ravaged Byzantine cities and villages along the journey, usually disregarding or abusing their companions.

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4. Arauco War (1536-1818; 282 years)

The Arauco War, which lasted 282 years from 1536 to 1818, was one of the world’s longest wars. The Spanish attempted to conquer the Mapuche people, the region’s original inhabitants, several times in their attempts to rule South America. While the Spaniards were thoroughly investigating the Strait of Magellan in 1536, the Mapuche refused to let them proceed and attacked the little Spanish Army. Despite being outnumbered, the Spaniards were well-armed with more modern weaponry, allowing them to slaughter a huge number of Mapuche and compel the survivors to flee. Battles raged on, and the Mapuche managed to retain their independence, owing largely to the natural obstacles provided by the terrain. Despite the conflicts, economic contacts between the two sides were formed. The Spaniards were defeated by the Chileans during the Chilean battle of Independence, and Spanish power in Chile was fully ejected, essentially ending the battle between the Mapuches and the Spaniards. The Mapuches, on the other hand, were opposed to the transfer of power, and their worst fears were realized when the new country of Chile used force and diplomacy to push the Mapuches out of their areas, resulting in numerous deaths from famine and illness, as well as catastrophic economic losses.

3. Dutch-Scilly War (1651-1986; 335 years)

The Three Hundred and Thirty-Five Years’ War is one of the world’s longest, and probably strangest, battles, defined by a complete lack of violence and devastation. The fighting began on March 30, 1651, as a result of the English Civil War. Long-time English friends, the Dutch, chose to back the Parliamentarians. The Royalists, with whom the Dutch had previously enjoyed close relations, perceived this as a betrayal and attacked Dutch cargo ships in revenge for forsaking their allies. By 1651, however, the Royalists had been pushed out of England, with the exception of a tiny group of islands known as the “Isles of Scilly.” The Dutch, who had suffered commercial losses at the hands of the Royalists, planned to punish them by deploying naval troops to the region to threaten the Royalists. The Dutch commander, Tromp, was also given orders to go to war if the Royalists did not pay up. The Royalists then denied the money, according to popular belief, leading Tromp to declare war. However, because to the significantly reduced Royalist soldiers and the prospect of poor gains from them, Tromp abandoned his pursuit of conflict and returned without a fight being fought. The Royalists surrendered to the Parliamentarians soon after, and the Dutch had almost forgotten that they had declared war. More than three centuries later, a local historian named Roy Duncan happened onto a historical footnote about the conflict in Scilly, and he urged the Dutch ambassador to Great Britain to visit Scilly and negotiate an armistice. On April 17, 1986, the peace treaty was signed, thereby ending the ‘fake war’ between the Dutch and the Scilly Isles.

2. Persian-Roman Wars (92 BCE-629 CE; 721 years)

The Roman Persian wars were a 721-year-long conflict between the Roman world and two subsequent Iranian empires, the Parthians and the Sassanids. In 92 BCE, the Roman Republic battled the Parthians in the first battle of this war. After defeating the Parthians, the Romans turned their focus to the Sassanids, the next Iranian nation to face them. The struggle was ended by the Arab Muslim invasions of 629 CE, which destroyed both the Byzantine Eastern Roman Empire and the Sassanid Empire. Despite the fact that towns, castles, and provinces along the borders were repeatedly conquered and re-captured by these two fighting rival empires, the line remained fairly stable during the protracted battle between the Persians and Romans. The struggle, on the other hand, had severe economic implications for both the Romans and the Persians (first Parthian, then Sassanid), leaving both especially vulnerable to the Arab Muslim attack.

1. Iberian Religious Wars (711-1492; 781 years)

The Iberian Religious Wars, often known as the ‘Reconquista,’ lasted around 781 years, from 711 to 1492, in the history of the Iberian Peninsula (which comprised modern Spain and Portugal). The period was defined by a protracted series of battles for Peninsula sovereignty between Christian rulers and Muslim Moors. The Moors, northern African Muslims who now dwell in Morocco and Algeria, crossed the Mediterranean Sea in 711 and eventually marched into Europe, establishing their own territories whenever and wherever possible. The Christian King Pelayo of the Visigoths defeated the invading Muslim army near Alcama in 718, marking the true beginning of the Reconquista in full force. Several confrontations ensued between Christians and Moors throughout the following several centuries, with both sides winning and losing. Later in the Reconquista, the Catholic Church recognized the combat as a “holy war,” analogous to the Crusades, and other military orders of the Church also participated in the warfare. Finally, by the 1400s, the Moors controlled just a few territories. When King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castille fought together against the Moors in 1469, a historic marriage between King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castille signaled the end of the Muslim incursion into the Iberian Peninsula. They were successful in recapturing Grenada from them in 1492, therefore ending the Reconquista.

What Was the Longest War in Human History?

The Iberian Religious Wars were the longest war in history, lasting 781 years.

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