E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Professor Creasy says there are fifteen decisive battles; that is, battles which have decided some political change: B.C. 490, Marathon; 413, Syracuse; 331, Arbela; 207, Metaurus; the defeat of the Romans by Varus, 9; Chalons, A.D. 451; Tours, 732; Hastings, 1066; Joan of Arcs victory at Orléans, 1429; the Armada, 1588; Blenheim, 1704; Pultowa, 1709; Saratoga, 1777; Valmy, 1792; and Waterloo, 1815.
Battle royal. A certain number of cocks, say sixteen, are pitted together; the eight victors are then pitted, then the four, and last of all the two; and the winner is victor of the battle royal. Metaphorically, the term is applied to chess, etc.
Battle scenes. Le Clerc could arrange on a small piece of paper not larger than ones hand an army of 20,000 men.
The Battle-painter or Delle Battaglie. (See MICHAEL ANGELO.)
Battle of the Books. A satire, by Dean Swift, on the contention among literary men whether ancient or modern authors were the better. In the battle the ancient books fight against the modern books in St. Jamess Library.
Battle of the Giants; i.e. the battle of Marignan (Ma-rin-yan) in 1515, when François I. won a complete victory over 12,000 Swiss, allies of the Milanese.
Battle of the Herrings, in 1429. A sortie made by the men of Orléans, during the siege of their city, to intercept a supply of salt herrings sent to the besiegers.
Battle of the Moat. A skirmish or battle between Mahomet and Abu Sofian (chief of the Koreishites) before Medina; so called because the prophet had a moat dug before the city to keep off the invaders; and in the moat much of the fighting took place.
Battle of the Standard, in 1138, when
the English overthrew the Scotch, at Northallerton, in Yorkshire. The standard was a high crucifix borue by the English on a wagon.
Battle of the Spurs (1302), in which the allied citizens of Ghent and Bruges won a famous victory over the chivalry of France under the walls of Courtray. After the battle more than 700 gilt spurs (worn by French nobles) were gathered from the field.
In English history the Battle of Guinegate (1513) is so called, because the French spurred their horses to flight, almost as soon as they came in sight of the English troops.
A close battle. A naval fight at close quarters, in which opposing ships engage each other side by side.
A line of battle. The position of troops drawn up in battle array. At sea, the arrangement formed by ships in a naval engagement. A like-of-battle ship is a ship fit to take part in a main attack. Frigates do not join in a general engagement.
A pitched battle. A battle which has been planned, and the ground pitched on or chosen beforehand, by both sides.
Half the battle. Half determines the battle. Thus, The first stroke is half the battle, that is, the way in which the battle is begun half determines what the end will be.
Trial by battle. The submission of a legal suit to a combat between the litigants, under the notion that God would defend the right. It was legal in England till the nineteenth century.
Wager of Battle. One of the forms of ordeal or appeal to the judgment of God, in the old Norman courts of the kingdom. It consisted of a personal combat between the plaintiff and the defendant, in the presence of the court itself. Abolished by 59 Geo. III. c. 46.