Period of Warring States (China)

475 BC - 221 BC
  • The Sun Tzu (not actually written by General Sun Tzu) on military tactic and strategy
  • Regional armies with equal resources and weaponry (technology had not yet evolved drastically)

Gunpowder Revolution

1044 - Approx. 1815
  • Gunpowder (made of saltpeter, charcoal and sulfur) discovered in China in 1044 --> led to artillery, artillery fortresses and ship canons (ships of the line)
  • innovation in naval battle - dominant mode of fighting was on water ("Age of Sail")

Conquest of Aztec Empire

  • Spain led by Cortés and eventually Alvarado (when Spain believed Cortés was not doing a good job) conquered the land after small pox swept Tenochtitlan
  • Alvarado massacred many people in Tenochtitlan which led to a rebellion
  • Motecuhzoma II allowed himself to be captured and was seen as a "puppet" by the population

Conquest of Inca Empire

1532 - 1572
  • Francisco Pizzaro and native allies captured the "Sapa Inca Atahualpa" in 1532 with a long military campaign to follow until 1572

Louis XIV

1635 - 1715
  • Abolished last remains of feudalism
  • took power away from aristocracy to form centralized monarchy
  • attempted to suppress French revolution w/ military strength, but backfired and led to larger revolution and Levee en Masse

Age of Absolutism

1650 - 1750
  • large countries had established overseas empires due to exploration and colonization
  • characterized by absolutist monarchies
  • came from artillery fortresses and larger ships (capital, ships of the line etc.)

Peter the Great

1689 - 1725
  • Created absolute monarchy as Tsar of Russia (Russia was detached from Europe and not as technologically advanced)
  • Increased military expenditures
  • Modernized Russian navy/army to match Western Standards
  • Strengthened standing army/navy (Russia beat Sweden in Northern War, which established the former as a major European power)
  • Cultural revolution b/c contemporary to Enlightenment

Frederick The Great

1712 - 1786
  • “Servant of the state”
  • Secured power by taking money from nobility to build standing army
  • Gained nobility’s loyalty by appointing them court positions
  • Strengthened military to expand/consolidate Prussian territories ⇒ Prussia became major military power

7 Years' War

1756 - 1763
  • Russia, France and Austria fought absolutist Prussia to destroy Prussia and divide it up, but lost to England, which emerged as largest and most powerful power (imbalance of power in Europe)
  • Very expensive - lots of places taxed citizens, which caused resentment against absolutists ⇒ French and American Revolution

American Revolution

1765 - 1783
  • separation from British rule / monarchy
  • new government strayed away from absolutist monarchy

Napoleon Bonaparte

1769 - 1821
  • Napoleon used Nationalism to build and strengthen Grand Armee, but didn’t anticipate coming face-to-face with other forms of nationalism opposed to France (ex. Spain and Russia)
  • Spanish Ulcer
  • Put brother in charge of Spain (King)
  • Lots of revolts and uprisings in the form of brutal guerrilla warfare
  • Difficult to resupply/aid troops
  • Russian Haemorrhage
  • Napoleon invaded in hopes of bringing (now) independent Russians back into French empire
  • Tactically, he rushed his troops towards Russian positions
  • Russians burned Moscow so that Napoleon’s army couldn’t reap benefits ⇒ French retreat

French Revolution

1789 - 1799
  • ended Age of Absolutism by overthrowing monarchy and establishing a republic/liberal democracy
  • radical social change grounded in Enlightenment thought and liberalism
  • rise of Napoleon
  • (1793) Levee en Masse - universal conscription to aid revolution effort

Haitan Revolution

1791 - 1804
  • First successful slave revolt
  • First successful guerrilla insurgency w/o foreign sponsorship

Napoleonic Wars

May 18, 1803 - November 20, 1815
  • Rise of Napoleon's Empire with the Grand Army
  • Britain funded various European coalitions in the hopes of suppressing French ambitions
  • Peninsula Wars, Russian Hemorrhage and Spanish Ulcer led to Napoleon's decline

Crimean War

1853 - 1856
  • Aftermath of fall of Ottoman Empire
  • Alliance of Britain and France v. Russia (territorial allowance and religious dispute)

American Civil War

1861 - 1865
  • North v. South regarding issues of slavery, and the union/confederacy

Meiji Restoration

1868 - 1912
  • Under Emperor Meiji, practical abilities and consolidation of the political system
  • education was made compulsory for both boys and girls at minimal fees
  • responsible for the emergence of Japan as a modernized nation in the early twentieth century, and its rapid rise to great power status in the international system

Franco Prussian War

1870 - 1871
  • Between France and Prussian Empire regarding the balance of powers in Europe - France feared a shift in power if Prussia extended its land empire

Anglo-Zulu War

January 1879 - July 1879

British defeated Zulu in Zululand, South Africa after Zulu king disrespected ultimatum from British Generals.

Boer War

1899 - 1902
  • British were ill-prepared and overconfident when they arrived
  • Eventually won and gained control over South African region

Russo-Japanese War

1904 - 1905
  • War between Russian and Japanese Empires for ambitions in Korea and Manchuria
  • Russia was the expected victor (was in expansionist era), but Japan defeated leading to its presence on the world stage as an asian threat and power

World War I

1914 - 1918
  • Allies v. Central Powers
  • Triggered by Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria's assassination, which set off a diplomatic crisis involving allies of Austria-Hungary and Serbia
  • Trench warfare
  • War of Attrition/stalemate

Joseph Stalin

1924 - 1953
  • Great Purge (victims were primarily Communist officers who challenged Stalin's regime) repressed officials and peasants within the USSR
  • Centralized power under his control
  • Wanted to transform USSR into a military/industrial power

World War II

1939 - 1945
  • Rise of Nazi party
  • Scientific Racism and genocide
  • European and Pacific Theaters
  • Atom Bomb

Cold War

1947 - 1991
  • U.S. v. Soviet Union regarding communism
  • series of proxy wars (Chinese Civil War (1945-49) Korean War (1950-53), Vietnam War (1954-75), Middle East Conflict (1973-89))


September 11th, 2001

Technology, Organization and Logistics

Guerrilla Warfare

600 BC - Present
  • a form of irregular warfare in which a small group of combatants such as paramilitary personnel, armed civilians, or irregulars use military tactics including ambushes, sabotage, raids, petty warfare, hit-and-run tactics, and mobility to fight a larger and less-mobile traditional military (American Revolution, Haitian Revolution, Zulu War, Boer War, Vietnam War)


1044 - 1815
  • destroyed aristocracy (fortresses couldn't protect against) - unified military under monarch
  • led to artillery (canon, matchlock musket, flintlock musket, riffling/rifle)
  • polygonal fortifications

Capital Ship

Approx. 1500 - Present
  • Full rigging
  • Allowed for longer overseas voyages (Atlantic Exploration)
  • Equipped with canons and other forms of artillery

Artillery Fortresses

Approx. 1515 - Approx. 1800
  • Designed to protect against artillery (canons, guns etc.) because older castles and buildings would crumble
  • creation of Italian "Bastion" (15th c) meant that artillery fortress walls had quadrilateral projections to provide a more difficult target against artillery
  • abolished aristocracy (took more money and men to create so militaries became centralized) - along with capital ships & ships of the line
  • alongside Gunpowder Revolution
  • abolished sieges


1712 - Present
  • Came about during Industrial Revolution
  • Played major role in U.S. Civil War (North had advantage over South)

Tanks and Airplanes

1914 - Present
  • Used during WWI, but ineffective as they were slow, short-range and conditions inside were terrible
  • developed after stalemate on Western Front (France and Germany)


1919 - Present


1920 - Present
  • Innovations in communication
  • allowed direct transmission from generals to soldiers on battle field
  • helped transport intelligence through code
  • allowed government to inform public on various affairs more quickly than before

Atom Bomb

1942 - Present

Date refers to The Manhattan Project - developed first nuclear weapons
Hiroshima and Nagasaki (1945)