Ever wondered whether Japanese Samurai could beat Spanish Conquistadors? Or if the Roman Legion could fight an ancient Chinese army, or if an army of War Elephants would stand a chance against modern artillery?
Some of those “who would win” battles that we love to wonder about do not have to be imagined—they have played out in real life. Scattered throughout history, there are moments when fighters and armies that no one would ever have expected to meet, stared each other down across a battlefield. And only one side walked out alive.
10. Japanese Samurai vs. Spanish Conquistadors
In 1582, a group of Spanish Conquistadors found themselves face to face with a band of armored, katana-wielding Ronin Samurai.
The Spaniards had been trading in the Philippines when Japanese pirates started raiding the countryside. Determined to protect their trade partners, 40 Spanish men moved out against the Japanese pirates. They spotted an incoming ship, engaged it in battle, and boarded the ship —and there, they found a group of Samurai waiting for them.
The Samurai wielded katanas, backed by Japanese pirates carrying muskets. The Conquistadors had pikemen, backed by Spanish Musketeers. For the first time in history, European pikes clashed with Japanese steel.
Winner: Decisive Spanish Victory
The Samurai did not stand a chance. The Conquistadors had stronger armor that they could not penetrate, and the Musketeers backing them up were better shots, with more reliable weapons. Not only did they beat the Samurai, but the 40 men went on to fight off a fleet of ten Japanese ships commanding thousands of men.
When it ended, the Spanish leader, Juan Pablo de Carrion, threatened to bring over 600 more men if the Japanese did not leave the Filipinos alone. The Japanese, without firing another shot, ran for their lives and stayed as far away from the Philippines as they could.