Battle cry

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A battle cry or war cry is a yell or chant taken up in battle, usually by members of the same combatant group. Battle cries are not necessarily articulate (e.g. "Eulaliaaaa!", "Alala"..), although they often aim to invoke patriotic or religious sentiment. Their purpose is a combination of arousing aggression and esprit de corps on one's own side and causing intimidation on the hostile side. Battle cries are a universal form of display behaviour (i.e., threat display) aiming at competitive advantage, ideally by overstating one's own aggressive potential to a point where the enemy prefers to avoid confrontation altogether and opts to flee. In order to overstate one's potential for aggression, battle cries need to be as loud as possible, and have historically often been amplified by acoustic devices such as horns, drums, conches, carnyxes, bagpipes, bugles, etc. (see also martial music).

Battle cries are closely related to other behavioral patterns of human aggression, such as war dances and taunting, performed during the "warming up" phase preceding the escalation of physical violence. From the Middle Ages, many cries appeared on standards and were adopted as mottoes, an example being the motto "Dieu et mon droit" ("God and my right") of the English kings. It is said that this was Edward III's rallying cry during the Battle of Crécy. The word "slogan" originally derives from sluagh-gairm or sluagh-ghairm (sluagh = "people", "army", and gairm = "call", "proclamation"), the Scottish Gaelic word for "gathering-cry" and in times of war for "battle-cry". The Gaelic word was borrowed into English as slughorn, sluggorne, "slogum", and slogan.



Middle Ages[edit]

  • During the Scottish wars of independence, Scottish soldiers used Alba gu bràth as a battle-cry, a phrase that means 'Scotland for ever' (literally, 'Scotland until judgement'.) This was depicted in the film 'Braveheart' during which Mel Gibson, playing William Wallace, shouts the phrase to rally his soldiers just before a battle commenced.
  • Each Turkic tribe and tribal union had its distinct tamga (seal), totemic ongon bird, and distinct uran (battle cry) (hence the Slavic urah "battle cry").[7][8] While tamgas and ongons could be distinct down to individuals, the hue of horses and uran battle cries belonged to each tribe, were passed down from generation to generation, and some modern battle cries were recorded in antiquity. On split of the tribe, their unique distinction passed to a new political entity, endowing different modern states with the same uran battle cries of the split tribes, for example Kipchak battle cry among Kazakhs, Kirgizes, Turkmens, and Uzbeks. Some larger tribes' uran battle cries:
    • Kipchak – "ay-bas" ("lunar head").[9]
    • Kangly (Kangars) – "bai-terek" ("sacred tree").[10]
    • Oguzes – "teke" ("mount")[11]
  • Desperta ferro! (in catalan meaning "Awake iron!") was the most characteristic cry of the Almogavar warriors, during the Reconquista.
  • Deus vult! ("God wills it!" in Latin) was the battle cry of the Crusaders.
  • Montjoie Saint Denis!: battle cry of the Kings of France since the 12th century.
  • Santiago y cierra, España! was a war cry of Spanish troops during the Reconquista, and of the Spanish Empire.
  • On 14 August 1431, the whole Holy Roman Empire army (of the 4th anti-Hussite crusade) was defeated by the Hussites in the Battle of Domažlice. Attacking imperial units started to retreat after hearing Ktož jsú boží bojovníci ("Ye Who Are Warriors of God") choral and were annihilated shortly after.
  • Allāhu akbar (الله أكبر, "God is [the] greatest") and Allāhu allāh (الله الله,"God! God!") were used by Muslim armies throughout history. Al-naṣr aw al-shahāda (النصر أو الشهادة, "Victory or martyrdom") was also a common battle cry; the At-Tawbah 9:52 says that God has promised to the righteous Muslim warrior one of these two glorious ideals.[original research?]
  • Óðinn á yðr alla (Odin owns you all) - A reference to Odin's self sacrifice at Yggdrasil. Attributed to Eric the Victorious.


  • When putting out peasants' rebellions in Germany and Scandinavia around 1500, such as in the Battle of Hemmingstedt, the Dutch mercenaries of the Black Guard yelled Wahr di buer, die garde kumt ("Beware, peasants, the guards are coming"). When the peasants counterattacked, they responded with Wahr di, Garr, de Buer de kumt ("Beware, Guard, of the farmer, [who is] coming").
  • The Spanish cried Santiago ("Saint James") both when reconquering Spain from the Moors and during conquest in early colonial America.
  • King Henry IV of France (13 December 1553 – 14 May 1610), a pleasure-loving and cynical military leader, famed for wearing a striking white plume in his helmet and for his war cry: Ralliez-vous à mon panache blanc! ("Follow my white plume!").
  • Burmese soldiers of the Konbaung Dynasty under Alaungpaya were recorded to shout Shwebo-Thar (Sons of Shwebo) during the Konbaung-Hanthawady War.
  • Most of the Jaikaras were popularized by Guru Gobind Singh. The Sikhs have a number of battle cries or jaikara the most popular ones being as follows:
    • Bolna ji (utter) - Waheguru (wondrous enlightener)
    • Deg Teg Fateh (the kettle and the sword are un-conquerable) - Panth ki jit (the entire Sikh society is victorious)
    • Bole So Nihal...Sat Sri Akaal ("Shout Aloud in Ecstasy... True is the Great Timeless One"),
    • Nanak naam charhdi kalaa (Nanaak may Thy name be exalted) - Tere bhaanae sarbatt daa bhalaa (and all people prosper by Thy grace)
    • Waheguru ji ka Khalsa (the brotherhood of pure ones belongs to the wondrous enlightener) - Waheguru ji ki Fateh (victory belongs to the wondrous enlightener)
    • Raj Karega Khalsa - (The Khalsa rules) Aaki Koye Na Hoye (And no one else)
    • Gaj ke jaikara gajaave fateh paave nihaal ho jaavae, Sat Sri Akaal gurbaar akaal hee akaal|| (excerpt from ardas of Buddha Dal prayerbook gutka praising the blessing of uttering jaikara proclaiming supreme truth).
  • The Pashtun soldiers' war cry against the Mughals was Hu, Hu.[12]
  • The Gurkha (Gorkha) soldiers' battle cry was, and still is, Jai Mahakali, Ayo Gorkhali! ("Victory to Goddess Mahakali, the Gurkhas are coming!")[13][14]
  • The rebel yell was a battle cry used by Confederate soldiers during the American Civil War.
  • Finnish troops in the Swedish army in the 17th and 18th centuries, would use the battle cry Hakkaa päälle! ("Cut them down!" in Finnish), lending them the name Hackapell.
  • Irish Regiments of various Armies used and continue to use Gaelic war cries, Faugh a Ballagh ("Clear the way!") or Erin go Bragh (Ireland Forever)
  • The Swedish army in the 18th and 19th century would be issued with the command to attack with "För Fäderneslandet, gå på, Hurra!" (For the Fatherland, onwards, Hurrah!)[15]
  • Argentine general José de San Martín is known in South America for his war cry: Seamos libres, que lo demás no importa nada! (Let's be free, nothing else matters!).
  • In the Texas Revolution, following the Battle of Goliad and the Battle of the Alamo, Texan soldiers would use the battle cry "Remember Goliad! Remember the Alamo!"
  • In the Battle of Dybbøl in 1864, both Danish and German forces used "Hurrah" as a war cry.
  • During World War I in the Italian Front of 1915. Before battle, Italian Soldiers would yell "Savoia" or "Avanti Savoia", which is "Come on Savoy!" or "Onwards Savoy!" in Italian (compare "For the king!" among British soldiers of the same era).


See also[edit]


  • Guilhem Pepin, ‘Les cris de guerre " Guyenne ! " et " Saint George ! ". L’expression d’une identité politique du duché d’Aquitaine anglo-gascon’, Le Moyen Age, cxii (2006) pp 263–81
  1. ^ Burkert, Walter, 1992. The Orientalizing Revolution: Near Eastern Influences on Greek Culture in the Early Archaic Age, p 39f.
  2. ^ Per Hesiod, Penguin Edition of Works and Days
  3. ^ T.J. Craughwell, 2008, The Vikings, Vandals, Huns, Mongols, Goths, and Tartars who Razed the Old World and Formed the New, Fair Winds Press, p. 41, ISBN 978-1-59233-303-5
  4. ^ "Har Har Mahadev Meaning – English Translations and Meaning of Hindi songs – KrazyLyrics". 21 September 2016.
  5. ^ Kalki R. Krishnamurthy's Ponniyin Selvan: The first floods, Macmillan India Limited, 1 January 2000, p. 300
  6. ^ Department of Defence's Public Relations Officer's statement on Veeravel vetrivel warcry.
  7. ^ Shipova E.N., 1976, Dictionary of Türkisms in Russian Language, Alma-Ata, "Science", p. 349
  8. ^ Dal V.I., Explanatory Dictionary of the Live Great Russian language, vol. 4, p. 507, Diamant, Sankt Peterburg, 1998 (reprint of 1882 edition by M.O.Wolf Publisher), (In Russian)
  9. ^ Zuev Yu. , 2002, Early Türks: Essays of history and ideology, Almaty, Daik-Press, p. 76, ISBN 9985-4-4152-9
  10. ^ Zuev Yu., 2002, Early Türks, p. 73
  11. ^ Karpovdun G.I., Тіркмöн uruuluk en tamgalary. maalymattarynyn negizinde, in Karataev O.K., 2003, Kyrgyz-Oguz History (Кыргыз-Огуз Тарыхый – Этникалык Байланыштары), Kyrgyz Utuluk university, pp. 199–207
  12. ^ M. I. Borah (1936). Baharistan-I-Ghaybi – Volume 1. p. 177.
  13. ^ Kanwal, Gurmeet (20 November 2011). "Ayo Gorkhali! The war cry that has done us proud". The Times of India. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  14. ^ "'Ayo Gorkhali!'; 'The Gurkhas are upon you!' Is the battle cry of one of the world's famous hands of fighting men: Nepal's 'happy warriors.' (Published 1964)". The New York Times. 18 October 1964. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  15. ^ "Reglemente – Westgiötha Gustavianer".
  16. ^ p.3, The Cambridge history of Japan, by John Whitney Hall, 1988 Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-22352-0
  17. ^ 鬨・鯨波(読み)とき Kotobank
  18. ^ えいえいおう(読み)エイエイオウ Kotobank
  19. ^ Til Valhall – Norwegian Soldiers Battle Cry. 5 May 2011 – via YouTube.

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