10 Of The Toughest Warriors in History

1. Viking Warriors

When you picture a Viking warrior, you picture a large burly warrior with animal skin clothing, wielding a double-sided ax and a freakish horned helmet. With the exception of the horns on the helmet (which historians claim were strictly for ceremonial purposes), you’d be right. Sailors and pirates by trade and hailing from Scandanavia, these broad-shouldered brutes raided and roamed the region on long wooden boats and considered “hand weapons” to be far more honorable than bows and spears – a much more intimate way to kill.

Primary Weapons: Battle Axe and Shield
Secondary Weapons: Sword and Spears
Era: 800 – 1100AD

Viking warrior

2. Knights

Immortalized by the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, a true knight is a “gentleman soldier” ruled by integrity and honor. Though they may not be as savage as the rest, they were elite warriors with an unwavering commitment to values, faith, loyalty, courage and stewardship over the weak. Universally skilled horsemen, they wore ironclad armor, enclosed helmets and chainmail as they fought fearlessly with swords and pride.

Primary Weapons: Swords and Shield
Secondary Weapons: Spears and Daggers
Era: Middle Ages (400 – 1400AD)

3. American Indians

For a simple white man roaming the prairie, it must have been a terrifying sight to watch as a swarm of Indian warriors closed in. Highly skilled in both hand-to-hand combat and weapon wielding, the tribes of America were spiritual warriors with a great spiritual respect for their opponents but a keen sense of survival. Though the methods of the tribes varied by region, the wartime wardrobe was typically very ornate and artistic and they fought with hatchets, spears, war clubs and, of course, the bow and arrow. Widely successful with the element of surprise, a skilled Native American warrior was able to throw a hatchet end-over-end with an accuracy of 30 feet and open up the chest of their opponent with a single blow. Between the feathers, ivory adorned weapons and ritualistic face paint, they were proud warriors and an artistic sight to see on the battlefield.

Primary Weapons: Bows and Hatchets
Secondary Weapons: Spears and later the rifle
Era: 1500 – 1900AD (referring to the era of largest conflict)

Blackfoot Indian 1840-1843

4. Spartans

The advantage of the Spartan warrior was the fact that they were crafted as soldiers starting on day one. At birth, infants are bathed in wine. If a child was considered suitable for life, they were raised properly in the militant society; however, if the infant was considered undersized or deformed, they were cast into the chasm of Mount Taygetos. In battle, this purebred race carried swords and spears and wore decorative helmets, breastplates, leg armor (greaves) and the ever-important shield that was presented to them by their wives before the battle. The shield was of large importance because it was linked to honor – he was expected to return home with it or die with it. If he returned home without his shield, it was believed that he abandoned his shield to flee for his own life and thus dishonoring and endangering his brothers in arms.

Primary Weapons: Swords and Shields
Secondary Weapons: Spears
Era: 650 – 195BC

5. Gladiators

The gladiators of Rome were not there by choice – they were slaves, criminals and prisoners that were exploited for the public’s entertainment. There were many degrees and varieties of gladiator activities, but the common theme was life or death. Depending on the wishes of the emperor, the gladiators were thrust into the ring with various opponents; however, they were often given minimal armor and insufficient weapons for their defense. Faced with the option of life or death and left to fend for themselves, the Gladiators were a rare breed of Warrior with nothing to gain and everything to lose.

Primary Weapons: Sword and Shield
Secondary Weapons: Spears, daggers, and random weaponry
Era: 3rd century BC – 5th century AD

6. Samurai Warriors

A staple in the history of Japan, the Samurai warrior was a representation of the upper echelons of the warrior class. Founded on “the way of the sword,” the Samurai believed wholeheartedly that the purpose of the warrior was enduring honor and duty to one’s master. With the finest sword in hand and dressed in the signature sleek black armor of the Samurai, they were a most dangerous combination of physical and mental capabilities. As students of Zen Buddhism and firm believers in the concept of loyalty and honor in life, the warriors were of impeccable character and particularly dangerous because of their fearlessness – indifferent to the fear of death and killing.

Primary Weapons: Katana (Samurai Sword)
Secondary Weapons: Wakizashi and Tanto (smaller swords and knives)
Era: 700 – 1800sAD

7. The Romans

Considering the word decimation was created as a result of the actions of the Roman soldiers, one must believe they were a force to be reckoned with. Derived from a form of discipline within the Roman military for anything “mutinous or cowardly,” a unit of ten soldiers would draw lots and the loser would be executed by the other nine – regardless of who was at fault. Couple this ingrained drive for loyalty with the most innovative and industrious minds of the era, it is no wonder the Roman Empire had the stronghold that it did. During the earlier years of the empire, historians say that the soldiers were originally unarmored and wore only a tunic and carried only a spear; however, as the empire expanded the soldiers were noted for their helmets with horsehair plumes, bronze cuirass, oval shields and lengthy spears. Much like the LA Lakers or the NY Yankees, the Roman soldiers were definitely tough but the intimidation of their reputation preceded them.

Primary Weapons: Spear and Shield
Secondary Weapons: Sword and Dagger
Era: 500BC – 1400sAD

8. The Huns

Quite the opposite of the “pretty boy” Romans, the Huns found great success with intimidation through their utterly repulsive nature. By all accounts, journal entries from former opponents use colorful phrases such as, “a savage race … a stunted, foul and puny tribe, scarcely human and having no language save one which bore but slight resemblance to human speech … a sort of a shapeless lump, not a head, with pin-holes rather than eyes” to describe the Huns. Nomadic by nature, these tribes lived off the land and developed very hard and brute tendencies as a result of their poverty. Dressed in round caps, trousers or leggings made from goatskin and rodent skin tunics that were worn until they fell apart, the only hint of a civilized nature was that their main military technique was mounted archery. Aside from that, they carried double-edged swords and jagged daggers for their blunders.

Primary Weapons: Bow and Arrow
Secondary Weapons: Crude Swords and Daggers
Era: 370 – 454AD (height of power)


9. Delta Force

Historical warriors were no doubt impressive men in their own right but they simply cannot compare with marriage of modern technology and tactics. No list of skilled warriors can be created without the mention of Special Forces such as Delta Force and the Green Beret. Literally, the cream of the crop in the world of military achievements, the men from Delta Force are hand picked and trained by the greatest minds known to the industry and educated on combat on a deeper level. Bred for the sole purpose of national defense, they are trained killers that are able to use the gun as an extension of their hands – landing bullets were their mind believes it will go. Combine the necessary prerequisites with the extensive training within the specialized field, the modern men of Special Forces are easily on the upper tier of history’s warriors.

Primary Weapons: The Gun
Secondary Weapons: Their Team Member’s Gun
Era: 1977 to present


10. The Navi Warrior (Avatar)

Combine the advanced physical capabilities of modern man with the spiritual heightening of the Native American warrior and host these attributes in a body that is twice as tall and you’ll have a Navi Warrior. Yes, they’re a fictional character from the recent James Cameron film Avatar but they are deserving of the nomination. Primal animal characteristics and human intelligence aside, they have Mother Nature on their side and have formed an alliance with flying dragon beasts – as the movie suggests, a Navi tribesman is a true warrior if ever there was one.

Primary Weapons: Bow and Arrow
Secondary Weapons: Spears
Era: 2154AD

8 thoughts on “10 Of The Toughest Warriors in History

  1. there is no photo for the american indians. They were very the most recent form of spiritual warrior.

  2. We will need to do a follow up to this at some point and make sure to add that image. Great feedback!

  3. You are right about the Vikings. The first i thought of was Norwegian Vikings

    I am sure the Vikings never had horns on their helmets whatever the historians claims even if they say it was strictly for ceremonial purposes

  4. What about the Mongolians, they were pretty fierce, organised and strong. Even though they reign as long as the others, they were still very powerful over their period of time.

  5. The Spartans should be number one, hands down!! They were dedicated and loyal to their state and were not afraid of death in battle. They were honorable, gentlemen, religious, educated, appreciated the arts and had a witty sense of humor. Their reputation has lived in history for thousands of years, yet the largest Spartan army ever committed to battle numbered a mere 5,000 soldiers, at the battle of Platea.

    The Romans, Persians, Mongols, Huns and others had the luxury of fielding armies sometimes numbering in the hundreds of thousands. Think if the Spartans had an army in excess of 100,000. They would have been unstoppable!!!

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