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Nap Wars Classed As A World War

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  • Nap Wars Classed As A World War

    Do you think the Napoleonic wars should have been classed as a world war?
    It was after all a global conflict, encompassing India, the Middle East, North America, even South America and affected most of Europe. Before WWI it was called "the great war"
    Any opinions?
    Last edited by Post Captain; 17 Sep 07, 10:02.
    Never Fear the Event

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  • #2
    One could call it a world war, but it would be quite confusing because WW1 and WW2 are universally accepted terms for '14-'18 and '39-'45 respectively.

    Consider: among aficionados, purists and revisionists, the first true 'world war' is considered to be the Seven Years War, with fighting going on in the New World, Europe and India, not to forget the battles on the oceans.
    Following your way of thinking, this would make the Napoleonic Wars: WW2; the Great War: WW3 and '39-'45: WW4!
    See how our world view would be shifting?

    You may not be interested in War, but War is interested in You - Leon Trotski, June 1919.


    • #3
      I must agree with Captainsennef on this one...The Seven Year's war was considered the first real World War because it took place on many theater's on the globe ! One may consider the Napoleonic Wars as a World War considering it also took place on different continents, but the question is then, where do we draw the line? Didn't every war from the 17th century on have an effect globally? And wasn't there fighting everywhere, although it were only skirmishes or small-scale confrontations ?????
      The 1st WW and the 2nd WW as they are called in the 20th century were named this way just because it was considered "all-encompassing" if you know what I mean...due to the media (newspapers and eventually radio's) everybody was kept up to date of the atrocities and destruction, even in remote villages in the corners of the world !!!! It was much more destructive then the Seven Year's war, the Napoleonic Wars and the Crimean War...not to be compared to the previous wars where battles took place on remote battlefields of a few miles long and where a few cities were plundered and looted !!!! Actually the name of WW is an "exaggeration" ! These Wars had many more casualties and civilians involved, which is normal, due to the growth of the world population in the end of the 19th century ! So the name given is actually unfair to the other great wars that were fought in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries !!!!

      Death is nothing, but to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily.- Napoleon

      It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.- Herman Melville

      Aut viam inveniam aut faciam



      • #4
        I think both sides have valid points. Both the Seven Years War and the Napoleonic Wars had battles and campaigns waged on several continents, as did the two great wars of the 20th Century. However, the two great wars had enormous direct effects on most of the world and the world's population that the two earlier wars couldn't hope to achieve. Thousands of people fought in the Seven Years War. Hundreds of thousands of people fought in the Napoleonic Wars, and tens of millions variously affected. When the wars touched Asia, Africa, and the Americas, it was an attack on a fort here, or capture of a port there. If the native populations got involved, for the most part it was due to auxiliary units attached to the main army, or else had to adjust to the change from one imperial banner to another.

        By contrast, in the two great wars hundreds of millions of people were directly touched by the war, be it bullets, shells, bombs, genocide, famine, weapons of mass-destruction, revolution, reprisal. It was total war -- everyone participated, be it on the battlefield, high seas, or cities and factories producing weapons and food for the men on the battlefields or high seas. Mass media and mass communication kept the public up to date on the war's (first or second) progress, informing them up to the minute on developments a few miles away or a few thousand miles away. There was no spot on the planet that one could escape the effects of the two great wars, the true world wars, except maybe Antarctica.

        While both the Seven Years War and the Wars against Napoleonic France affected millions in various ways in Europe and various colonial outposts here and there, they didn't have as much a direct impact as the two world wars did on hundreds and hundreds of millions everywhere.

        That being said, I sometimes think the Mongol attacks and conquests have at least some claim toward being a world war.
        Last edited by jelay14; 19 Sep 07, 03:12.


        • #5
          What about Portugal's Independence war in 1640? We're fighting the spanish in at least 4 continents and both of the nation had allies?
          This is however an interesting question. What made the 1914-1918 war special?
          All warfare is based on deception.
          Sun Tzu - Art of war - Chapter One - Laying Plans


          • #6
            Originally posted by Cap. Teancum View Post
            What about Portugal's Independence war in 1640? We're fighting the spanish in at least 4 continents and both of the nation had allies?
            This is however an interesting question. What made the 1914-1918 war special?
            The First World War was significant from the simple scope of the conflict, which dwarfed any prior struggle up to the Napoleonic Wars. Also, it involved virtually every area of the globe. Europe was obvious, but the Ottoman Empire's involvement brought in the Middle East, Britain's colonies in Asia and Australia were important in its victory, America's participation brought in the Western Hemisphere, and Japan also jumped in to scoop up Germany's erstwhile Far East possessions.

            However, more on topic, I think it would be entirely appropriate to refer to both the Seven Years' War and the Napoleonic Wars as "world wars", but the term has such association with the "Big Two" that nothing will change, and would probably only breed misunderstanding.
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            • #7
              Good thread. I agree the wars of the Napoleonic age shaped Europe as had the Seven years war. One must not forget that the two wars helped shape the new world in ways one may never think about.


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