List of civil wars

List of civil wars

Military history

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The Latin term bellum civile was first used of the Roman civil wars of the 1st century BC. The term civilis here had the very specific meaning of "Roman citizen". The English term civil war was first used in 1651 to refer to the English Civil War.[1] Since the 17th century, the term has also been applied retroactively to other historical conflicts where at least one side claims to represent the country's civil society (rather than a feudal dynasty or an imperial power).[2]

The terms intestine war and domestic war are often used interchangeably with "civil war", but "intestine war" can be used in a wider meaning, referring to any conflict within a single state, regardless of the participation of civil forces. Thus, any war of succession is by definition an intestine war, but not necessarily a civil war. In modern geopolitics since 1945, "civil war" is also used in a loose sense to refer to any large scale military conflict within a single country (i.e. used as a strict synonym of the generic term "intestine war"), creating terminological overlap with insurgencies or coups d'état.


Past civil wars

Ancient and medieval

Only civil wars involving popular or civil forces are listed here. Not covered are wars between clans, warlords or dynasties, wars of succession, etc. Such wars of succession are sometimes also described as "Civil Wars" in modern literature, see e.g. Ottoman Civil War or Islamic Civil War.

Early Modern (1550–1800)

Modern (1800–1945)

Post-WWII (1945 to present)

Ongoing civil wars

The following civil wars are ongoing as of 2011. Only ongoing conflicts meeting the definition of a civil war are listed. See list of ongoing military conflicts and lists of active separatist movements for lists with a wider scope.


  1. ^ Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan: "Sidney Godolphin, who [...] was unfortunately slain in the [...] late Civill warre" (p. 390).
  2. ^ OED: "war between the citizens or inhabitants of a single country, state, or community". Early use of the term in reference to neither the Roman Republic nor the English Civil War include the War in the Vendée (1802) and the civil war in Portugal (1835, 1836).
  3. ^ F. Warner, 1768
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ [2]

See also

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