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Conquest vs. War: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on December 10, 2023
Conquest is the act of gaining control over a place or people, often through force; war is a state of armed conflict between different nations or states or different groups within a nation or state.

Key Differences

Conquest refers to the successful acquisition and subjugation of a territory or people, typically through the use of military force, with the primary goal of expansion or control. War, however, is a broader term that encompasses any large-scale, violent conflict between states, nations, or organized groups, often driven by a variety of motives like political, territorial, or ideological disputes.
Conquest is an outcome, achieved through military means, for gaining control over territories or resources, while war is the process, often involving prolonged armed conflicts, strategies, and battles. Conquest is the goal in many wars, but not all wars result in conquest, and not all conquests necessarily involve protracted wars.
A conquest often implies a change in control and governance of the conquered area, suggesting a shift in political power or cultural dominance. War, on the other hand, can occur without any change in political boundaries or control, as it may also involve battles for ideological dominance, self-defense, or rebellion without territorial ambitions.
Conquests often leave a lasting impact on the conquered society, including cultural assimilation or suppression, whereas wars may conclude with or without significant social or political changes. The aftermath of conquest is typically more directly focused on the integration or management of the conquered, whereas post-war scenarios can vary widely, from reconstruction to continued hostility or even preparation for future conflicts.
The term 'conquest' usually carries a historical or imperial connotation, often associated with empires and colonization, whereas 'war' is a more general term that applies to conflicts in both historical and modern contexts, encompassing everything from tribal skirmishes to global world wars.

Comparison Chart


Gaining control over a territory or people through force.
Armed conflict between different groups or nations.

Primary Goal

Expansion, control, or subjugation.
Various, including political, territorial, or ideological.

Duration and Scope

Often the result of a war, may not be prolonged.
Can be prolonged with a wider scope.


Change in control, governance, or cultural dominance.
Can be varied, not always resulting in territorial gain.

Historical Context

Associated with empires, colonization, and historical expansions.
Broad application in both historical and modern contexts.

Conquest and War Definitions


The overcoming of a problem or weakness.
His conquest of his fear of heights was truly inspirational.


A sustained effort to deal with or end something undesirable.
The war against poverty requires concerted efforts from all sectors of society.


A territory gained through the use of force.
The newly acquired island became the latest conquest of the expanding kingdom.


A state of armed conflict between different countries or different groups within a country.
The war lasted for four years, leaving the region devastated.


The successful achievement of something challenging.
The conquest of the mountain peak was the highlight of the climber's career.


An active struggle or campaign against something.
The environmental war against plastic pollution is gaining momentum.


Winning something, such as a prize or recognition, through effort.
Her conquest of the national science award was a proud moment for the school.


A period of such armed conflict.
During the war, many families were separated and displaced.


The act of conquering.
The conquest of the ancient city marked a significant turning point in the empire's history.


A situation of competition or conflict.
The two companies were at war for market dominance.


The act or process of conquering
The Spanish conquest of Mexico.
The conquest of an infectious disease.
The conquest of shyness.


A state of open, armed, often prolonged conflict carried on between nations, states, or parties.


Something, such as territory, acquired by conquering.


The period of such conflict.


Is conquest always the result of a war?

No, conquests can occur without a full-scale war, through other means like diplomacy or coercion.

Can a war occur without a conquest?

Yes, wars can occur for reasons other than conquest, such as political or ideological disputes.

How does conquest differ from war?

Conquest is a specific outcome, usually territorial gain, while war is the broader process of armed conflict.

What are some examples of conquest in history?

Examples include the Roman conquest of Britain and the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire.

Can a war be justified?

Justification depends on perspective and can involve factors like self-defense or humanitarian intervention.

What is the primary goal of war?

Goals vary, including political control, territorial expansion, or defense against aggression.

What are the impacts of war?

Impacts include loss of life, economic damage, social upheaval, and psychological trauma.

Are conquests always successful?

Not always; some conquest attempts fail due to resistance, lack of resources, or international intervention.

What is conquest?

Conquest is the act of gaining control over a place or people, often through military force.

What is the difference between a battle and a war?

A battle is a single fight within a larger war.

How does modern warfare differ from historical wars?

Modern warfare often involves advanced technology and can have global implications.

What role does propaganda play in war?

Propaganda is used to influence public opinion, boost morale, and discredit the enemy.

Can war lead to positive outcomes?

In some cases, war can lead to positive change, like ending oppression or colonial rule.

How is war legally defined?

Legally, war is defined by criteria such as scale, duration, and the parties involved.

Can conquest be peaceful?

While usually involving force, conquests can also occur through peaceful means like treaties or marriages.

What is the role of the United Nations in war?

The UN aims to prevent conflict, resolve disputes, and facilitate post-war reconstruction.

How do international laws regulate war?

International laws set rules on the conduct of war, aiming to limit its destructive effects.

Can wars be prevented?

Prevention is possible through diplomacy, treaties, and international cooperation.

How do conquests affect the local population?

Effects can include cultural assimilation, oppression, or resistance movements.

What are war crimes?

War crimes are serious violations of the laws of war, including atrocities against civilians.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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