Major Sea Battles #
Ancient Times #
The earliest sea-fight in history was between the Corinthians and Corcyraeans, when Corinth asserted its dominance. The cause was the reaction of the Corcyraeans, “that every colony that is well treated honours its parent state, but becomes estranged from it by injustice.
Early Mediterranean history reveals many invasions by sea from King Minos controlling the Cycladian islands and even Athens by his naval superiority. Another alliance is simply known as the sea peoples. The Phoenicians were also known to spread their culture by sea.
The Iliad #
Famous for its trope, “Helen had a face that launched a thousand ships.”
The Persians #
The first Persian invasion of Greece, reulted in a Athenian victory at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC.
By 480 BC, Xerxes had amassed a massive army and navy and set out to conquer all of Greece. The Battle of Thermopylae was fought in 480 BC . A Greek force of approximately 7,000 men blocked the pass seven days before the rear-guard was annihilated.
The Persians were impressed.
Themistocles abandoned Athens to the island of Salamis, where the famous sea battle took place. Xerxes lost most of his ships and men and returned home utterly defeated.
Antony and Cleopatra #
Augustus won the Battle of Actium in the year 31 B.C. when Cleopatra fled the battle. Antony then broke off and with a few ships managed to follow her.
Middle Ages #
Spanish Armada #
The misfortunate and inglorious defeat of the Spanish Armada by England in 1588 turned the tide and gave Britain the supremacy of the seas.
Napoleonic Wars #
Following the defeat of the Spanish Armada, England ruled the sea - “They who rules the waves can waive the rules”.
While the French dominated land battles from 1792, Britain resorted to the Continental System blocading the French from receiving goods. The first significant naval action fought in August 1798 in Aboukir Bay. Napoleon had to abandon his troops in Egypt and retreat to Paris. Horatio Nelson overcame the French again at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805, where he issued his famous command: “England expects that every man will do his duty” before dying from a cannon shot. Blind in one eye Nelson is also famous for “turning a Nelsonian eye”.