Most Violent Century

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by jack-daniels, Nov 27, 2008.

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  1. Whilst sat in Johnny Gurkhas last night with Mrs JD the conversation turned to violence (as it often does!) and the question posed 'was the 20th Century the most violent on record'?
    I reckoned that it was but Mrs JD seemed to think that the times around the Crusades were, her argument being that when you take the percentage of people killed against the population at the time that it was the most violent.
    Having Googled this all I can find is a lot of peoples thoughts but no hard facts.
    So do any of you History buffs have and ideas?

    PS. Next time we go to Johnnies we're just going to talk about beer!
  2. i Read something very similar to this in a magazine. Think it was the BBC's science one (Focus?). If i remember the jist of it the most violent time was when the attila the hun was rampaging through china with his mongol hoards.
  3. Chinngis Khan's period on earth and the sheer death toll he accounted for would take some beating. When you consider that he had put to death more people over the period of a few days than the Huttu v Tuttsi conflict which is reckoned to have a body count of 1 million + using blades to boot.
  4. I think the 17th century must have been pritty crappy, the Thirty Years War destroyed almost every major city in europe. And our Civil War was not a walk in the park. But then in the 19th you had the TIA PING war witch I think had the highest death toll of any war.
  5. How the hell did i mix up attila and Ghengis. Havn't had my wheatabix this morning.
  6. The most violent century?

    I think it was probably the Australian Stanley Joseph McCabe's 167 not out, in the first test of the 1932/32 Ashes (Bodyline) Series. Just over four hours of playing 'dodge ball' must have been tough. :wink:
  7. Yeah The Taiping rebellion around 1860's was the highest recorded death toll of any war with an estimated 20,000,000 soldiers and civilians killed in the space of 14 years. If you couple that with our colonial wars and other conflicts it does make a startlingly bloody era.

    Although not forgetting two of the most disastrous wars ever fought have been in the 20th century.
  8. By violent I assume we just mean sheer death count rather than brutality? Even then, can we just include death count, with consideration of medical advances, meaning those caught up in war may not necessarily be killed?

    The World Wars dwarfs the other wars in terms of it's scale and the death count but that isn't so much to say that the other wars of the century were small but that the 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 conflicts were so colossal!

    My vote goes towards the 20th century. The clash of Empires. The fall of Empires. The clash of extreme ideologies, numerous civil wars, genocide and and the changing nature of warfare!

    In 1932 was a famine in the Soviet Ukraine, resulting in ten million deaths, as a result of Soviet food requisition acts. Though not an outwardly violent act it was still a cold and brutal one.

    All before the end of the first half of the century there were some one hundred and ten million deaths, with a further fifty million by the end of the century.
  9. 20th century I'd say. Your wifes argument that that the violence scale should base itself on the worlds population only stands if she reckons the value of human life decreases as population increases. Hit her with that.
  10. In scale, XX Century as we have the WWs but also the extension of conflict to all parts of the globe, even S America had its conflicts. It is difficult to find a place that was unaffected at some point in the Century.
    The sheer number of deaths by external actions is staggering.

    However if you are talking about areas affected then yes the 30 Years War was a biggie and left parts of Europe devastated, but I would mention the Viking era as they affected All of Europe and out to Russia and the Ukraine down to the Black Sea.
    But when you think that other parts of the world may have been relatively peaceful during this time, then I would say that the XX century tops them simply because conflict touched (almost) all of the population of the world at that time.
  11. Hang on, we think of the viking era as being violent because the British Isles were their "bitch"...however elsewhere in the world, the dark ages were romping along - albeit with a bit more science and culture and perhaps more subshine! A UK-centric view of history can sometimes be a hindrance!

    As for C20th, it was without doubt the most violent, not because of the scale of population versus casualties but because of the development of ethical principles and philosophy versus casualties! Or does that just mean we had become supremely good at justifying horrific violence!
  12. Second paragraph is extremely well said.

    Vikings actually extended through europe raiding up and down all the major rivers. Normandy and Scily/S Italy were settled by them. They went down the Volga and out to the Caspian Sea, quite a bunch of rovers.

    I would say that the bigger a slice of population affected by war then the worse that conflict is. The Viking did their best, but XX Century is worse as exemplified by your second paragraph.
  13. i think it may come down simply to technology available and also how many people were affected. Let's not forget the first and second nuclear bombs ever were dropped in the 20th century of which the effects are still being felt today.
  14. No one has mentioned Joe Stalins post war purges which it is estimated to be about 20,000,000 lives. Even that makes Pol Pot look like an amateur.
  15. I think you must also consider the ability for mass violence (WMD, weaponry development), the improvement in communications (ability to attack further away etc movement) and the ability to record and make the violence known.

    Most of the 20th C had weapons that could kill quickly and on a massive scale, transport to take violence anywhere and to record the levels. While other centuries had extreme violence I don't think the 20th C can be matched on the ferocity of weapons (Nagasaki, Dresden, Somme etc) and the willingness to deliver this to the civilian populations on such a scale.

    The non-warfare violence of Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Rwanda, SE Asia under Japan and so on does stand the 20C out alone as the most violent as unlike warfare these people could not surrender and end the violence. Other attacks on population have generally been to conquer or gain subservience - not just hateful elimination.