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The Impact of the Wars on Western Civilization


History is full of wars and regardless of the fact that this phenomenon is considered to be negative, many of them are the basis of significant historical events. The consequences of some wars still affect the population of the modern world. They manage to turn history in a different direction, thus, the given paper will discuss three important wars and their effect on the development of Western Civilization.

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Franco-Avar War

In the system of interstate relations of VI-VIII centuries, The Avars played the role of a kind of catalyst for changing the state of the socio-political and cultural-religious situation in Europe. The Avar military art (tactics of warfare, new types of weapons), which were introduced by the Avars from the Asian region and then borrowed by the Slavs and Franks, is of great importance.

In 788, the Bavarian Duchy was incorporated into the Kingdom of the Franks. As a result, the Turkic tribe Avars appeared on the borders of the kingdom of Charlemagne, representing a serious threat to the kingdom. The war with the Avars was one of the longest during the reign of Charlemagne. The first campaign took place in the summer of 791, but, despite the success, it did not bring the final victory (Dopsch 18). The decisive defeat of the Avars was inflicted in 796 when the main fortress of the khaganate was captured. Karl got treasures plundered by the Avars during their raids. The Avars did not immediately admit defeat, several more campaigns were made against them, but by 803 the uprisings stopped, and the remaining Avars retreated across the Tisu River. To preach Christianity to the conquered people, Karl organized the Archbishopric of Salzburg in 798.

Throughout the Avar-Byzantine contacts, there is a constant alternation of the active phase of military campaigns with an extremely unstable peace and material conditions of peace agreements unfavorable for Byzantium. These agreements did not bring the expected result to either side and led to their weakening. In general, the European international position of the V-VIII centuries is determined by fundamental changes in the complex of socio-economic, military-political, diplomatic, and cultural-ideological aspects of social development. This period is characterized by the formation of tribes and nationalities, which against the background of foreign policy and internal struggle, were able to transform into tribal unions and state associations. One of the essential areas of international relations is the strengthening of ties not only between the barbarian world and the Roman Empire but also the development of relations within tribal associations (Dopsch 24). The period affects the moment of transition of tribes to settled life, their acquisition of a “homeland”, changes in the sphere of productive forces against the background of constant, local and large military clashes.

At this time, the process of formation of the Kingdom of the Franks and its transformation into a world power was underway. The unification of the Slavic tribes took place, which, as a result, contributed to the formation and development of the Slavic statehood. The Byzantine Empire yields to the leading positions of the new state formations. The outlines of modern states are gradually taking shape on the political map of Europe. Thus, the Avar Khaganate turned out to be an original, albeit short-lived element in the historical arena of the turn of late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, which did not find a successor who could have managed to build a new viable state on the ready-made foundation of the destroyed one.

The Peloponnesian War

It is possible to find many informative records about the Trojan War and the wars between the Greeks and the Persians; however, the Peloponnesian War is undeservingly paid much less attention to, though it contributed to Greece’s downfall. Two main Greek cities, Sparta and Athens, fought with each other while the classical culture of Creece was thriving. The conflict between two flourishing cities seems unavoidable. After the victory over Persians, both centers became influential, started a struggle for domination in Greece, and this rivalry led to the Peloponnesian War.

By the end of the war, both sides were exhausted; Attica, the source of bread supply for Athenians, was attacked by the Spartans three times. A cholera epidemic in Athens led to the death of many influential citizens, who were responsible for its military strategy. The city suffered from attacks, Athens lost many allies, and their risky expedition to Sicily was also unsuccessful. Sparta was short on resources as well, thus it had to call on the Persians, their enemies, and ask to help defeat their compatriots. Persians provided Sparta with resources needed to build a fleet and the Spartans managed to defeat the Athenians at sea in the crucial Battle of Aegopostomas in 405 BC. After the battle, the Athenians had to surrender; the Spartans won but the price for this victory was too high (Thucydides and Charles).

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After the Peloponnesian War, Greece, led by Sparta, lost its influence and collapsed into an economic and political crisis. The Spartans did not know the fundamentals of economics and how to build diplomatic relations and quickly lost allies. The war had terrible consequences: after it, Greece has never been so prosperous through the history.

The Centenary War

The name “Centenary War” appeared in the historiography in the first half of the 19th century, before the war was viewed as a long-term military-political conflict of a pan-European scale, the central axis of which was the contradictions between the royal houses of England and France. The generally accepted time frame of the Anglo-French Centenary war is from 133 to 1453. During such a long period, hostilities were not conducted continuously; bloody battles were replaced by the periods of the long armistice (Fyffe 34). However, this conflict was only the final act of a longer historical drama of the rivalry between the two royal houses (Lembright 41). According to historians, its origins must be sought in the events of the 11th and 12th centuries. Considering the causes of The Centenary War, two main groups can be distinguished: territorial causes and dynastic causes.

By the middle of the XIV century, a situation arose in which a large number of French territories had close economic and political ties with England but were formally the possessions of France. The preservation of English domination in the south-west of the country not only made the position of the French Capetian precarious but also prevented the real political centralization of the country. For the English king, these territories could serve as a springboard in attempts to restore the power on the continent. Having strengthened his position on the throne, Edward III returned to an active foreign policy and declared war with France.

The Centenary War became the largest war of the High Middle Ages, in which the main forces of Western Europe were involved. The first major battle took place at Sluis when almost the entire French fleet was destroyed. By 1360, England had captured about a third of France’s territory, but already in the 1370s, its achievements were reduced to zero. At the beginning of the 15th century, the British subjugated the north of France, and in 1453 they capitulated. The French victory in the war contributed to the further centralization of the country, and the British abandoned claims to the French crown and land.

The Centenary War is a major historical event, as a result of which the national identity of England and France was developed. Before this era, including the XIII century, the peak of the Middle Ages, the concept of a nation did not exist for the population of both countries. In the course of the War, the self-consciousness of two nations, French and English, was born; a very important change took place: a shift from a vassal-fief system to an interstate one. Numerous treaties of the War gradually created the concept of boundaries between the kingdoms that was a huge step towards New History.


The conclusion can be made that the considered wars played a very important role in the development of Western Civilization. Franco-Avar War influenced the process of formation of the Kingdom of the Franks and its transformation into a world power, the Peloponnesian War became the reason of the downfall of Greece, and during the Centenary War the self-consciousness of the two nations, French and English, was born.

Works Cited

Dopsch, Alfons. Economic and Social Foundations of European Civilization. Scholar Select, 2015.

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Fyffe, Charles Alan. History of Modern Europe. Hansebooks, 2016.

Lembright, Robert. Western Civilization. Graw-Hill, 2017

Perry, Marvin, and George W. Bock. Western Civilization., Cengage Learning, 2016.

Thucydides, and Charles Forster Smith. Thucydides: History of the Peloponnesian War. Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1996.

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