331 BCE — Alexander the Great defeats Darius III at Arbela

In the short, glorious history of Alexander the Great’s empire-building, this victory was probably the most significant. The battle is variously known as either Arbela or Gaugamela, by either way, it was the decisive encounter of Alexander’s Persian campaign. On a battlefield that he chose, the numerically superior forces of Darius III’s Achaemenids were mowed down without mercy by the Macedonians and their allies.

Despite being outnumbered two to one, Alexander’s forces inflicted massive casualties – possibly as many as 90,000 Persians were killed – while losing less than 10% of their own number that day. Although Darius escaped, his defeat here ceded half of his territory to Alexander, and left the remainder in disarray. Darius would die in a subsequent battle the following year, disappointing Alexander who had wished to take him alive.

Referenced in:

Alexander the Great — Iron Maiden

1189 — Templar Grand Master Gerard de Ridefort dies in battle at Acre

The Siege of Acre was the first major military encounter of the Third Crusade. It began on August 28, 1189 and concluded with the surrender of the Moslem forces under Saladin on July 12, 1191. For their part, the Christian Crusaders had suffered great losses, exacerbated by the stubbornness of England’s King Richard I, upon whom overall command of the invading forces had devolved.

The death of Gerard de Ridefort, Grand Master of the Knights Templar, and one of the most militarily experienced commanders among the fractious ranks of the Crusaders, took a toll on both the unity and organisation of their forces. After his death, an inconclusive battle broke out on the 4th of October, killing thousands on both sides, but not advancing either cause particularly.

Referenced in:

Templar — Ancient Rites