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16 Deadliest Wars in Human History with a Death Toll of Over 2 Million

Deadliest Wars in Human History

The world’s history is replete with wars that were fought for many reasons – religious, political or otherwise. Heavy consequences such as massive number of deaths, famine, displacement of population and terrible living conditions always followed them. They have re-drawn the boundaries of many countries, changed the world politics, cultures and trade, and affected the lives of many in innumerable ways.

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The wars we have listed below are called the Deadliest Wars in Human History for a reason. They incurred a mean death toll of above 2 million and were fought at an unimaginable scale.

16. Hundred Years’ War

Hundred Years' War - Battle of Crécy
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Death Toll: 2.3 to 3.3 million; Period: 1337 to 1453; Warring Parties: Kingdom of England and Kingdom of France

The war was waged for 116 years for control over the Kingdom of France and spanned over five generations of kings. After the Norman Conquest, the kings of France were under feudal allegiance to kings of England. For a long time France tried to gain control over itself by decreasing the number of lands under England’s control.

France also interfered whenever the English were at war with Scotland, its ally. This caused further conflict between the two kingdoms and renewed the assertion for claim over French throne by Edward III of England. After over decades of wars, both the kingdoms lost much. The depleted resources, famine and civil wars further put a stop to them.(source)

15. French Wars of Religion

French Wars of Religion
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Death Toll: 2 to 4 million; Period: March 1562 – April 1598; Warring Parties: Catholics and Protestants in France

The wars started with the Massacre of Vassy in March 1562 leading to open hostility between the two religions. Later the parties managed to grudgingly unite to fight against the English who occupied Le Havre. The entire period between 1562 and 1598 was filled with wars, truces, mostly temporary, and the struggle to establish monarchy as the dominant power.

The wars managed to weaken the monarchy during the rules of Francis II and Charles IX, and the famine and disease added to the existing problems. In 1598, it fell to Henry IV to undo all the damage the wars have done who barely managed to bring peace between the religions.(source)

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14. Second Congo War

Second Congo War
Image Source: cbc

Death Toll: 2.5 to 5.4 million; Period: 2 August 1998 to 18 July 2003; Warring Parties: Democratic Republic of Congo, Tutsis, Hutus and a Neighbouring African Countries

The Second Congo War started a year after the First Congo War and in some part a continuation of fight over the same issues. Following the first war and the involvement foreign supporters such as Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola, Chad and Sudan, the second war saw massive genocide and war crimes.

After the assassination of Laurent-Désiré Kabila, the president of Democratic Republic of Congo, his son, Joseph Kabila, was unanimously appointed the president of the Congolese parliament. In 2002, peace agreements were signed and plans were made for legislative and presidential elections within two years time. Later in 2003, the war officially came to an end with the establishment of Transitional Government.(source)

13. Yellow Turban Rebellion

Yellow Turban Rebellion
Image Source: heathenchinese

Death Toll: 3 to 7 million; Period: 184 to 205 CE; Warring Parties: Peasants, Taoists and Han Dynasty

There was a time of famine because of which many peasants and soldiers had migrated from north to south of China. The landowners took advantage of the huge labor inflow to enrich themselves. They were further suppressed because of heavy taxes to fund constructions. Eventually they formed small bands armies, a force that Taoist leader Zhang Jue was quick to cash on to support his own uprising. The Han central government at that time was also weakening because of internal politics.

The rebels wore yellow cloths on their heads, which gave the rebellion its name. The rebels and Zhang Jue followers infiltrated the government but their plan went wrong when the rebel sympathizers were executed. Because of the sheer number of rebels and the victory was hard won for Han dynasty.(source)

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