What do boys play in childhood? They love tinkering with plastic armies, storming fortifications, and acting out battles. However, with age, the passion for the army and battles usually disappears.
But history knows many examples when children's fantasies come true at such an early age. In our list, we will tell you about those young generals who managed to lead powerful armies even before their twenties.
Michael II Assen. Most of our young leaders were successful, but the Bulgarian ruler was too small and inexperienced. This prevented him from becoming great. At two years old, the boy was crowned as a co-ruler to his parents to designate an heir. Already at the age of seven, Michael ascended the throne after the death in battle of his father, Konstantin Tykh. However, the boy could not really rule, his mother, Maria Cantacuzina, was doing this. True, the power of the family was limited to only one capital. During this time, several rebel groups expressed their claims to the throne. The young king had to take a place at the head of his army. And although his actual contribution was minimal, the boy appeared on the battlefields several times in a special outfit created especially for him. And in 1279, when the king was only 9 years old, the Byzantine emperor decided to put on the throne a leader more suitable for Bulgaria. The army of an influential neighbor quickly took the capital, Mikhail II Assen was sent into exile along with his mother. Once again in history, the former king emerged in 1302 when, with the support of the Bulgarian nobility, he tried to assert his claim to the throne. But the attempt to regain power failed, and the date of Mikhail's death remains unknown.
Gregorio del Pilar. During the Philippine Revolution and the subsequent war with America, del Pilar managed to become a general. And even if this happened a little later than his 20th birthday, it should be borne in mind that the Filipino lived much later than the rest of the members of the list. It is becoming more and more difficult to show oneself at an early age. Gregory was born in 1875, the fifth of six children. The young man became a bachelor in 1896 and did not think of becoming a military man. But immediately after he graduated from college, a revolution began in the country. Gregorio del Pilar immediately joined those who fought against the Spaniards. A few months later, for his courage and bravery in battle, the Filipino received his first military rank. At 21, already a captain, Gregorio proposed a daring attack on the Spanish garrison. The daring plan was crowned with success - the revolutionaries seized many weapons. And Gregorio himself received the rank of lieutenant colonel. And after the conclusion of a peace treaty under its terms, del Pilar, along with other leaders, went into exile in Hong Kong. Only a couple of years later, when the Spaniards got bogged down in a war with America, Gregorio and his comrades returned home to finish what they had begun. In June 1898, he forced the Spaniards to surrender in his hometown of Bulacan, which earned him the rank of general. And this is 23 years old! Gregorio was nicknamed "the boy general" and was highly respected in the Philippines. A little later, the hero took an active part in the Philippine-American War. Gregorio del Pilar was killed in action on December 2, 1899, while leading his soldiers into the attack. Today, the young general is considered a national hero; in the Philippines, several statues and monuments have been installed to him.
Okita Souji. This young man was not strictly a military man, but he was one of the leading members of the police force during the late shognunate period in Japan. Soji was a captain, one of the best swordsmen of his time. And he began to train a hereditary samurai at the age of 9 years. The child prodigy, at the age of 12, has already begun to defeat his school teachers. And at the age of 18, Okita was already a senior teacher. The following year, he became one of the founders of the Shinsengumi Special Forces and the first captain. Okita was known for his kindness in life, but in battle he was merciless. Soji was not afraid to personally lead the militants to work. Over time, the Shinsengumi division began to play an increasingly active role in the military affairs of the government. Likewise, Souji constantly appeared on the battlefield. But, like many other young generals, he died young, although not in battle. In 1867, Okita became seriously ill and died of tuberculosis at the age of 24. In Japan, Soji is still considered one of the greatest fencers in the country's history. Even today, Souji is a popular hero of popular culture, he participates in comics, anime, video games.
Henry IV. Henry of Navarre was the first monarch of the Bourbon dynasty, its actual founder. He was originally a Protestant and even led the Huguenots during the Religious Wars. However, over time, Henry was forced to become a Catholic, which opened the way for him to the throne of France. Even as a child, Henry's mother prepared him for great deeds. In 1563, at the age of 10, he had already become governor of Guienne. At the age of 15, Heinrich took part in his first military campaign. During the third religious war, he even fought several battles. As a teenager, Henry became a bright and courageous leader for the Huguenots and personally led troops into battle on several occasions. At the age of 19, young Heinrich almost died during the St. Bartholomew's Night. He spent the next four years in virtual captivity with the Catholics until he fled in 1576. Having again switched to Protestantism, the king of Navarre immediately gets involved in another religious war, already the sixth in a row. And in 1587, Henry defeated the royalists, which opened the way for him to the throne. In 1589, Henry IV became the new king of France. Despite his kindness, compassion and cheerful character, the monarch was killed by a fanatic in 1610.
Vladislav III Varnenchik. This is another example of how you can become a monarch at an early age. Vladislav became the King of Poland at the age of 10. But the monarch's weakness led to intrigues within the court - everyone wanted to seize power and influence. In 1440, when the king was only 17 years old, it turned out that the throne was vacant in the neighboring kingdom of Hungary. Then Vladislav, with the support of the armies of other countries and with the blessing of Pope Eugene IV, opposed the regent of Hungary, Elizabeth of Luxembourg. After her defeat, it was Vladislav III Varnenchik who became the new king of Hungary. Soon, his dominions were threatened by the growing Ottoman Empire. Then, with the support of the Venetian fleet, Vladislav set out on a sacred campaign. In 1444, a battle between the Polish king and the Turks took place near Varna. Unfortunately, his allies betrayed him and helped to cross the main forces of the enemy from Asia to Europe. The 20,000-strong crusader army was taken by surprise by the 60,000-strong Turkish army. The king of Poland decided that the only chance for victory was an attack by the sultan himself. And Vladislav personally led the march of his cavalry into the thick of the battle. Although the enemies celebrated the king's bravery, this was not enough to win. The Janissaries cut off Vladislav's head, lifting it on a spear over the battlefield. The body and armor of the monarch was never found. This even gave rise to rumors of his miraculous salvation, which made the coronation of the heir to be postponed. And the head of Vladislav was kept for a long time as a trophy of war by the Turkish sultan in a vessel with honey.
Octavian August. The great commander was born in 63 BC. In his will, Julius Caesar adopted this grand-nephew of his. It was Caesar who prompted the future emperor to think about the career of a politician. Octavian paid particular attention to public speaking, making his first speech at the age of 12. At the age of 15, the teenager was already carrying out state orders with might and main and even managed to visit the prefect of Rome. But at the age of 18 he was sent to Apollonia, in the territory of modern Albania. There Octavian continued his education and prepared for the war against Parthia. At the age of 18, the young politician learned about the murder of Caesar. Contrary to the advice, Octavian returned to Rome at the head of the three thousandth army and entered into the inheritance rights. Although Caesar's assassins were in a truce with the consul Mark Antony, this did not stop Octavian from revenge. With the support of the Senate, he first expelled the murderers from Rome, and then Antony. At the age of only 19, Octavian became a senator. He continued to make friends, bribing and luring enemies to his side. Later there was the conquest of Egypt and the destruction of Antony. Thanks to his politics and military leadership, Octavian Augustus became the first emperor of Rome. The great man died at the age of 75.
Scipio African. This commander proved himself as a general during the Second Punic Wars. And the glory was brought to him by the command over the Roman troops who captured Hannibal himself at the battle of Zama. True, Scipio himself at that time was already 32 years old. The commander's father was also a Roman general. It was next to him that young Scipio began his military career. It is believed that he began to fight at the age of 16 as commander of one of his father's platoons. At 19 years old, in 218 BC. Scipio participated in the Battle of Titinus. Then he led his troops into a suicidal attack to help his encircled father. At the age of 19, he already fought as a tribune, albeit unsuccessfully, at Cannes. Historians of the time noted the exceptional courage and recklessness of the young Scipio. However, the armies of his father did not crown themselves with glory, Scipio himself experienced many severe defeats. Such losses have developed in him from his youth the qualities of a leader. Once Scipio was appointed commander of his own army at age 25, he never again knew defeat on the battlefield. And after the capture of Hannibal, the Roman people wanted Scipio to become a dictator, but he himself refused such an offer. Until his retirement in 187 BC. he continued to wage victorious wars. Scipio died at 53 and is still considered one of the greatest military leaders in history.
Muhammad ibn Qasim. This Arab commander went down in history as a legend of the Arab Caliphate. After the death of the Prophet Muhammad, the Islamic Caliphate fell into four major parts. Muhammad ibn Qasim himself was born in 695 in Syria. He learned the art of government and war from his uncle the governor. For some time, Ibn Qasim was the governor of Persia and even managed to brutally suppress the rebellion there. The young Arab entered the battlefield at a very early age, having received command of the army at the age of 17. It was with her that the main conquests of Ibn Qasim began. He conquered the Sindh and Punjab regions, reaching the Indus River and spreading Islam in these lands. This was the third attempt by the Arabs to conquer the region; the previous two ended in a deafening fiasco. However, Kasim was successful. His army occupied city after city. At first, the corps numbered only 6 thousand soldiers, but the glory of the young general flew ahead of him, the army quickly grew to 25 thousand. Interestingly, even at such a young age, the general was distinguished by ruthlessness towards enemies. He did not hesitate to take family members of the rebels hostage to force them to lay down their arms. The success of the troops consisted in strict discipline and the use of excellent technology. The Arabs used Mongol bows and siege machines. And after the conquest of the eastern lands, Kasim began to skillfully rule there. He managed to impose bloodless power on Muslims in response to religious tolerance and adherence to local religious customs. The general was preparing the army for new conquests when there was a change of power in the caliphate. The new leader appointed a new governor, and Kasim himself was arrested. At the age of 19, the young general was executed. According to one version, he was wrapped in the skins of oxen and so was taken through the desert, where Kasim suffocated. On the other hand, he was simply tortured to death.
Joan of Arc. Today, this national heroine is considered sacred, and after all, at one time she was executed precisely on charges of connection with the devil. And although Jeanne was not as skilled in combat as other members of the list, it is worth considering her successes, if only because she was a woman. Unthinkable - a teenage girl led one of the leading armies in the world at a time when women did not fight at all on the battlefield. Jeanne gave birth in the small French village of Domremy in 1412. A museum of the famous compatriot has been created in her house. At the age of 13, Jeanne, according to her, heard the voices of the Archangel Michael, Saint Catherine of Alexandria and Margaret of Antioch. Then they began to appear to the girl already in visible images. The saints claimed that it was she who was destined to drive the English invaders from the territory of France. At the age of 17, Jeanne was able to get an audience with King Charles VII, amazed him with her prediction about the lifting of the siege from Orleans, which seemed impossible. The impressed king, after much hesitation and verification of Jeanne, entrusted her with command of the army. Armor was made especially for the girl, she was even given special permission from the church to wear men's clothing. And to test her assertion in the divinity of the mission, Jeanne was sent to lift the siege from Orleans, where she arrived in April 1429. Historians continue to argue whether Jeanne really took a direct part in the hostilities or was simply raising the morale of the French. Nevertheless, in the conditions of the battle, the girl showed fearlessness. She was in the thick of things and was even wounded by an arrow in the neck. There was no doubt that it was Jeanne who became the main heroine of the battle that freed Orleans from a long siege. Those victories made Jeanne d'Arc a hero. The army led by her began to attack the fortified points of the British, expelling the invaders from there. In the decisive battle of Path, the English army was defeated in a humiliating manner. With the support of the popular favorite, Charles VII was anointed in Reims. In the spring of 1430, the fighting became sluggish. The 18-year-old warrior herself went to Compiegne to help the besieged city. During the retreat, she was the last to leave the battlefield, Jeanne was surrounded and captured by the Burgundians. Charles VII, obliged to her, did not bother to save his heroine, and Jeanne herself was sold to the British. Several escape attempts failed. A church trial was held over a young French woman, which accused her of heresy. A 19-year-old girl was sentenced to be burned at the stake, according to an eyewitness, she did not show any fear during the execution. Even the executioner, afraid of becoming damned, hesitated. In 1456, the good name of Jeanne d'Arc was officially restored, and already in our time, in 1920, the Virgin of Orleans was canonized. In France, this saint is one of the most revered.
Alexander the Great. It is not difficult to name the name of the main conqueror and commander in the history of civilization. It is surprising that he managed to prove himself at a young age. Alexander was born in 356, his father was the Macedonian king Philip II. According to legend, at the age of 10, Alexander tamed the unbridled horse Bucephalus. And at the age of 13, the future king begins to study with Aristotle, along with Ptolemy, Cassander and Hephaestion. At the age of 16, Alexander returned to his native Macedonia to rule in place of his belligerent father. It was then that Alexander first showed himself as a military leader. A small Thracian tribe rebelled against him. The young heir brutally suppressed the rebellion, and on the site of the settlement created a city named after himself. Alexander managed to fight with his father.The Macedonians successfully fought the Greek city-states, subjugating everyone except Sparta. This is how the Hellenic alliance under their control appeared. But in 336, Philip was killed in a conspiracy. Alexander cracked down on rivals harshly, becoming the legitimate king at the age of just 20. The news of the death of Philip made the Greeks jolt, they immediately revolted. Alexander, at the head of 3 thousand horsemen, set off on his first independent campaign. The rebels were severely punished - the ancient city of Thebes was plundered, and all its inhabitants became slaves. Then there was a story that made Alexander a military genius. At least he was twice inferior to the Persians in a two-to-one ratio of forces, but came out victorious (battles at Issus and Gaugamela). But then the young king was not even thirty. By the time of his death at 32, Alexander had conquered most of the ancient world. But the greatest commander began his path to glory at a young age.