A história

Chame a cavalaria: Cavalarias famosas do mundo antigo


"Chame a Cavalaria" tornou-se um provérbio para reverter à assistência especializada de controle de danos quando as coisas saem do controle. Ainda assim, a citação está embutida na história de uma unidade nobre e freqüentemente de elite originalmente formada para fornecer apoio à infantaria. Antes que o tanque entrasse nos anais da história militar, havia a cavalaria; o cavalo e seu cavaleiro. Como toda nação moderna hoje, os reinos antigos também tinham algum tipo de suporte terrestre móvel, projetado para perfurar as linhas inimigas, mas apenas um punhado de nações tinha a cavalaria mais bem treinada, e suas reputações resistiam ao teste do tempo.

Guerreiro dos citas, segunda parte do século VII e VI aC (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Cavalaria leve dos citas

Os citas (atual Ucrânia) podem não ter sido os inventores originais da guerra assimétrica, mas pode-se argumentar que eles a aperfeiçoaram. Os citas eram antigos guerreiros nômades a cavalo, mencionados pela primeira vez pelos assírios durante o reinado de Sargão II (722 - 705 aC). O que tornava esses cavaleiros tão poderosos era que eles eram criados na sela e usavam um arco muito característico.

A arma escolhida foi o arco composto. Os arcos citas e cimérios eram únicos e reverenciados em todo o mundo antigo por reis, historiadores e um filósofo. O rei Esarhaddon da Assíria tinha um arco cimério, os exércitos babilônios de Nabucodonosor II e Nabonido foram equipados com seus arcos e flechas, e até mesmo o retrato grego de Hércules o mostra armado com um arco cita. O filósofo grego Platão comentou: “Os costumes dos citas prova nosso erro; pois eles não apenas seguram o arco com a mão esquerda e puxam a flecha para eles com a direita, mas usam qualquer uma das mãos para ambos os propósitos ”.

Batalha entre os citas e os eslavos por Viktor Vasnetsov. (1881) (domínio público)

Quando se examina o estilo de vida cita, pode-se facilmente obter uma compreensão do tipo de guerra que empregavam, em oposição às pessoas mais sedentárias (não migratórias), como as da Mesopotâmia. O cita adotou uma abordagem de guerrilha para a guerra como seu método, não deve ser confundido com terrorismo. O termo "guerra de guerrilha" significa guerra irregular e sua doutrina defende o uso de pequenos bandos para conduzir operações militares de ataque e fuga. Heródoto menciona seu método de guerra quando o rei Dario da Pérsia fez campanha contra eles


Operações de cavalaria no mundo grego antigo

Gaebel (doravante G.) juntou-se a um grupo de estudiosos que recentemente abordou o tópico da cavalaria grega antiga: G.R. Bugh, Os Cavaleiros de Atenas, Princeton, 1988 I.G. Spence, A cavalaria da Grécia clássica: uma história social e militar, Oxford, 1993 e L.J. Worley, Hippeis: a cavalaria da Grécia Antiga, Boulder, CO, 1994. A cavalaria da Grécia Antiga tornou-se recentemente um tema quente, mas ele propõe que & # 8220 ainda há espaço para um estudo puramente militar do assunto desde o início do período clássico até o final da independência grega [ca. 150 aC], especialmente porque muito do conteúdo das obras recentes é dedicado à história social & # 8221 (xi). A reconstrução de batalhas ou operações no campo de batalha na antiguidade, em última análise, baseia-se em uma coleção de algumas narrativas históricas sobreviventes, por exemplo, Heródoto, Tucídides, Xenofonte, Políbio, a que ponto G. admite a & # 8220 inexatidão inerente e incompletude de todos os relatos de batalha & # 8221 (pág. 8). Suas declarações a seguir são, no entanto, intrigantes: & # 8220 Adotei como hipótese de trabalho a premissa de que o exame das fontes originais no agregado revelaria uma quantidade suficiente de informações corretas e consistentes sobre as operações de cavalaria e o estilo de luta para permitir uma visão razoavelmente clara compreensão do uso do braço montado na antiguidade & # 8221 (p. 8). Sugerir que essa abordagem é algo novo, que os comentaristas modernos de batalhas antigas impõem & # 8220racionais, princípios acadêmicos e lógicos às fontes primárias & # 8221 é um espantalho. G. está fazendo exatamente o que os empiristas fizeram antes dele, ordenhar as fontes primárias esparsas e fragmentárias e então reconstruir a batalha. O que G. produz, então, pode ser resumido em suas próprias palavras, & # 8220 um estudo cronologicamente organizado de narrativas de batalha e comentários cobrindo o período de cerca de 500 a 150 & # 8221 (p. 9). Este é, puro e simples, um livro para historiadores militares.

O livro está dividido em quatro grandes seções cronológicas: Parte 1: Contexto: Cerca de 2.000 a 500 a.C. Parte 2: A Cavalaria Grega: 500 a 360 a.C. Parte 3: A Idade de Filipe e Alexandre: 359 a 323 a.C. e Parte 4: The Aftermath: 323 a 150 a.C. Segue-se uma conclusão, uma lista de batalhas, uma seleção de mapas e planos de batalha, um glossário, bibliografia e índice. Não está claro para mim por que G. precisou devotar quase 30 páginas aos capítulos 2 e 3 da Parte 1, material cobrindo períodos de tempo muito anteriores e cavalarias não gregas. É inteiramente derivado e poderia ter sido condensado. Embora o período arcaico (800-500 a.C.) seja pequeno em relatos de batalha (fora dos poemas homéricos), ele é rico em cerâmicas de figuras pretas e vermelhas, uma grande quantidade das quais retratam cavaleiros em várias atividades. G. aceita razoavelmente P. A. L. Greenhalgh & # 8217s ( Primeira Guerra Grega. Cambridge, 1973) tese básica de que os hoplitas montados tendem a monopolizar as evidências de cerâmica do século sétimo, enquanto a verdadeira cavalaria aparece cada vez mais no sexto. Seu comentário, & # 8220.Talvez seja improvável que por volta de 500 a cavalaria tenha desempenhado um importante papel militar em qualquer lugar ao sul da Tessália, onde a cavalaria tradicionalmente dominava, mas pode haver pouca dúvida de que havia cavaleiros aristocráticos nos campos de batalha em alguns estados, se não em Atenas e # 8221 (p. 59) é consistente com as evidências.

Na Parte 2, G. constrói pequenos capítulos em torno de segmentos históricos de tempo, por exemplo, Guerras Persas, 500-479 aC, a Pentekontaetia, 479-432 aC, a Guerra do Peloponeso, 431-404 aC, A Marcha dos Dez Mil, 404-399 a.C., etc., até 360 a.C. Esse esquema me parece um pouco enganador; não se deve presumir que as mudanças nas operações de cavalaria justificam essas divisões estreitas. Diversas teses emergem desses capítulos: 1) a verdadeira cavalaria, limitada à Sicília hipotrófica e ao norte da Grécia, ou seja, Tessália e Macedônia, até o período das Guerras Persas, começam a aparecer nos exércitos das pólis do sul da Grécia em meados - século quinto aC - talvez com as lições aprendidas nas mãos da formidável cavalaria Persa e Boeotian 2) a Guerra do Peloponeso marca a grande divisão, o ponto de viragem para o uso regular e respeito pelas capacidades da cavalaria na guerra grega, a saber, que o mundo não começou e terminou com o guerreiro hoplita 3) desde a Guerra do Peloponeso até a época de Filipe da Macedônia, a cavalaria grega era militarmente mais importante do que anteriormente concedida pelos estudiosos modernos. Além disso, a introdução gradual de um combate corpo-a-corpo mais agressivo da cavalaria com lança ou espada - em contraste com o arremesso de dardos de uma distância segura e depois galopando para a segurança de um hoplita linhas - geraram uma vantagem mais áspera e possibilidades decisivas para o combate da cavalaria, isso foi conscientemente cultivado pelos tebanos sob seu famoso comandante de cavalaria Pelópidas e pelos macedônios sob Filipe II e Alexandre o Grande (cf. p. 310) e 4) a crença comumente aceita que a falta de estribos e selas limitava a eficácia da cavalaria grega antiga (em contraste com os famosos cavaleiros medievais fortemente armados com lanças) é questionada por G., que obviamente usa sua própria experiência equestre.

As duas primeiras proposições não representam nada particularmente original, tendo sido notadas por outros escritores modernos sobre cavalaria neste período, mas as duas últimas merecem comentários adicionais. É perigoso generalizar quando G. comenta depois de examinar os relatos de batalha incompletos da Guerra de Corinto (395-386 aC) que & # 8220 Cavalaria grega desse período quase certamente carecia de coragem - uma mentalidade destemida e agressiva que era essencial se os cavaleiros se engajassem em combate corpo a corpo com lança e espada. Essas qualidades não parecem ter sido comuns entre os cavaleiros até a ascensão da Macedônia sob Filipe. Sua ausência no 394 pode refletir um nível inferior de treinamento e disciplina ou talvez uma consciência incompleta do pleno potencial da cavalaria & # 8221 (p. 120). Dexileos, um jovem cavaleiro ateniense que morreu no campo de batalha em 394 e foi homenageado em uma inscrição e um magnífico relevo de cavalaria encontrado no antigo cemitério, certamente não faltou & # 8216nerve & # 8217, nem presumivelmente seus colegas soldados cujos nomes estão orgulhosamente registrados em um monumento funerário de cavalaria no Museu Nacional de Arqueologia. Em segundo lugar, G. tem que rejeitar o próprio discurso de Xenofonte & # 8217 às suas tropas na marcha do país da Pérsia (Anabasis 3.2.18-19), no sentido de que os hoplitas tinham vantagem sobre a cavalaria (persa) porque a infantaria estava firmemente no solo, enquanto os cavaleiros eram vulneráveis ​​a uma falange de lanças e tendiam a cair de seus cavalos no corpo a corpo. Claro, os antigos cavaleiros gregos e macedônios cavalgavam e lutavam bem sem o benefício de estribos e selas, mas sugerir que era uma vantagem em combate (p. 165) é romantizar a cavalgada sem sela ao extremo (e eu fiz um bom trabalho de andar sem sela).

A Parte 3 trata da idade de Filipe e Alexandre. G. está correto ao sugerir que as inovações militares frequentemente atribuídas a Filipe e seu filho famoso foram o culminar dos desenvolvimentos progressivos da cavalaria, começando já na Guerra do Peloponeso e se estendendo até meados do século IV. G. argumenta que Philip e Alexander implementaram um regime de treinamento mais rigoroso que integrou as diversas armas de infantaria, cavalaria e tropas armadas leves de forma mais eficaz e que capitalizaram a vantagem de forças & # 8216assimétricas & # 8217 no campo de batalha. & # 8220A assimetria ocorre no campo de batalha quando uma ou mais diferenças existem entre dois exércitos de tal maneira que um lado é capaz de explorá-los em seu próprio benefício & # 8221 (p. 4). O comando pessoal de Alexandre de uma força de ataque de cavalaria e sua brilhante coordenação de infantaria e cavalaria contra os exércitos persas são interpretados como um exemplo perfeito de sua exploração dessa & # 8216asimetria & # 8217.

Curiosamente, G. adotou uma sugestão de P. Rahe ( AJA 85, 84-87) e J. Buckler ( Tirésias 20, sup. 3, 75-80) que o Alexandre de dezoito anos liderou uma força de infantaria para a vitória contra a elite da Banda Sagrada de Tebas na batalha de Queronéia em 338 a.C. (pp. 155-57, 261, 278, 286). Essa ideia contrasta fortemente com as famosas façanhas de cavalaria de Alexandre & # 8217, glorificadas na arte e na literatura, durante as campanhas persas. Embora seja verdade que nenhuma fonte antiga associe explicitamente a cavalaria a Alexandre em Queronéia, geralmente se pensa que ele comandava a Cavalaria Companheira da Macedônia naquele dia. Em suma, acho que G. está muito ansioso para aceitar a reconstrução revisionista, e ele conhece muito bem a escassez de nossos antigos relatos da batalha. Filipe certamente estava com a cavalaria, precisamente porque sabia que as planícies da Beócia eram ideais para operações de cavalaria (como Mardônio concluíra em 480 aC), que tanto os tebanos quanto os atenienses tinham forças de cavalaria respeitáveis ​​e que a área ao redor de Queronéia era bem adequado para seu uso (contra p. 157). Pode ser útil comparar a narrativa de Plutarco & # 8217s (Sulla 11-21) de Bruttius Sura & # 8217s e as campanhas de Sulla & # 8217s ao redor de Queronéia e Orquomenos em 86 a.C. onde as operações de cavalaria são apresentadas com destaque.

G. rejeita a teoria avançada por M.M. Markle ( AJA 81, 323-39 AJA 82, 483-97) que a cavalaria macedônia empunhava uma lança longa, com mais de 20 pés de comprimento, análoga à sarissa mantida pela infantaria macedônia, argumentando, em vez disso, que a lança de cavalaria macedônia tinha apenas 2,10 metros de comprimento. A única força de cavalaria que poderia ter transportado uma longa lança ( sarissa) teria sido o prodromoi, às vezes chamado Sarissophoroi - avançar forças montadas e escaramuçadores / batedores que Alexandre implantou durante suas primeiras campanhas persas (pp. 172-79). G. menciona de passagem que também havia uma força de prodromoi em Atenas neste período (p. 178), mas ele aparentemente perdeu o artigo recente que questiona seu status social inferior (G.R. Bugh, Hesperia 67, 81-90). Além disso, G. afirma que a preferência percebida de Alexander pela cavalaria em relação a outras armas militares não é sustentada pelas evidências, e que seu sucesso estava em sua & # 8220tática abertura de mente e excepcional adaptabilidade & # 8221 (p. 196).

G. continua seu levantamento das batalhas após a morte de Alexandre na Parte 4, particularmente as travadas por seus generais (reis posteriores) e seus descendentes. G. avança a ideia iconoclástica de que a cavalaria não se tornou o braço militar preferido dos sucessores, que de fato a infantaria manteve sua preeminência no campo de batalha helenístico (pp. 261-62, 295, 298, 311), e que as lições de O sucesso militar de Alexandre foi encontrado em sua capacidade de coordenar a cavalaria com eficácia e infantaria. A verdadeira novidade na guerra helenística foi a cooptação do elefante de guerra, e G. avalia muito bem seu papel no campo de batalha no período helenístico. É lamentável, no entanto, que G. optou por não comentar em detalhes semelhantes sobre o valor de duas forças de cavalaria distintas no campo de batalha helenístico, os Tarentinos (pp. 216-17, 230, 244) e os chamados & # 8216cataphracts & # 8217, os cavaleiros pesados ​​totalmente blindados (pp. 173, 245, 251-52). G. gostaria que o leitor acreditasse que a cavalaria tarentina era uma cavalaria mercenária leve de Tarento (no sul da Itália), mas essa descrição é obscurecida pela presença da cavalaria tarentina no século II a.C. Atenas sob o comando de hipparcas atenienses, isso pode sugerir que & # 8216Tarentino & # 8217 era um estilo, um tipo de cavalaria leve (originalmente do Tarento) que se tornou cada vez mais popular no período helenístico. G. polvilha referências a catafratos ao longo de seu texto, mas não explica suficientemente suas origens nem significado para as operações de cavalaria no período pós-Alexandre. Mais curioso, no entanto, é que G. nem mesmo se preocupa em incluir uma entrada para as catafratas em seu índice, enquanto faz para o prodromoi e tarentinas.

G. retorna ao seu tema principal de & # 8216asimetria & # 8217 e & # 8216simetria & # 8217, argumentando que os exércitos dos sucessores eram tão uniformemente combinados & # 8220 imagens espelhadas virtuais umas das outras, cada uma exibindo os mesmos pontos fortes e fracos & # 8221 (pp. 219, 233, 264, 295) que nenhum deles tinha uma vantagem decisiva e, conseqüentemente, as vitórias não foram decisivas. No entanto, a pesquisa G. & # 8217s de antigos tratados militares (pp. 303-310), principalmente xenofônticos, para testar a hipótese de que os comandantes gregos realmente pensaram nesses termos e os aplicaram no campo de batalha dificilmente é persuasiva e ameaça reduzir seu comentário aos mesmos modelos racionais e racionais que ele acusa os modernos estrategistas de poltrona de impor batalhas antigas. No entanto, G. tem alguma justificativa para alegar: & # 8220 uma consciência do efeito da simetria nem sempre foi reconhecida como um fator determinante das opções táticas & # 8221 (p. 301). G. não pode resistir à atração de Hannibal, o grande general cartaginês. Embora G. dificilmente esteja desbravando novos caminhos quando conclui que Alexandre, o Grande e Aníbal foram gênios militares, ele adiciona um pouco de cor aos retratos padrão, explicando que esses dois são excepcionais porque & # 8220 eles foram capazes de reconhecer e explorar a assimetria entre seus exércitos e os de seus inimigos para alcançar vitórias decisivas com táticas de cavalaria aparentemente espetaculares & # 8221 (p. 310). A simetria de exércitos e generais helenísticos uniformemente combinados levou a poucas outras oportunidades desse tipo.

O livro está relativamente limpo, mas ainda existem alguns erros de digitação e erros: p. 90 (& # 8216Peloponnesiano & # 8217 para & # 8216Pelopennesiano & # 8217) p. 96 (& # 8216Thracians & # 8217 for & # 8216Tracians & # 8217) p. 297 (& # 8216Antiochus I & # 8217 for & # 8216Antiochus III & # 8217) pp. 313-314 (uso confuso de & # 8216Cynoscephalae I & # 8217 e & # 8216Cynoscephalae & # 8217 - deveria & # 8217t ser & # 8217Cynoscephalae II? p. 317, no mapa (& # 8216Coronea & # 8217 para & # 8216Choronea & # 8217) p. 318, no mapa (& # 8216Pherae & # 8217 para & # 8216Pharae & # 8217 e & # 8216Aegae & # 8217 não está localizado corretamente em relação a Pydna) p. 325, Glossário ( prodromoi refere-se apenas às unidades de cavalaria de Alexandre & # 8217, nenhuma referência a Atenas, embora a infantaria ateniense seja referida em & # 8216taxis & # 8217) p. 329 (& # 8216I. Worthington & # 8217 para & # 8216I worthington & # 8217) p. 344 (uso inconsistente de epítetos reais para Ptolomeu I, III e IV - nenhum para Ptolomeu III). Finalmente, este livro é terrivelmente repetitivo: a & # 8216Conclusão & # 8217 é mais longa (34 páginas!) Do que qualquer um dos capítulos e repassa continuamente muito do que foi abordado neles. O editor deveria ter puxado as rédeas e insistido em mais moderação.

Este livro cobre muito terreno familiar - as fontes primárias são padrão e a maioria das batalhas travadas muitas vezes antes - mas é cuidadosamente pesquisado e justo o suficiente em sua argumentação para o leitor geral (sem grego) descobrir uma boa compreensão da cavalaria grega nos períodos clássico e helenístico. É um corretivo bem-vindo para aqueles livros pendurados no período clássico, como se nada de importante tivesse acontecido depois de Alexandre, o Grande. O livro do G. & # 8217s contribui com algumas novas idéias para o campo dos estudos militares da Grécia Antiga em geral, e dos estudos de cavalaria em particular, e o formato diacrônico deve agradar aos estudantes de história militar de mentalidade linear. Nenhum estudo futuro das táticas de cavalaria da Grécia antiga correrá o risco de omitir uma referência à & # 8216asimetria & # 8217, e a tese de que a cavalaria não substituiu a infantaria nos campos de batalha helenísticos deve estimular um debate animado. Estou feliz em incluir este livro em minha biblioteca.


10 The Peltasts


Peltasts eram soldados da infantaria ligeira e escaramuçadores gregos do final do século V. Normalmente recrutados nas fileiras de mercenários e cidadãos trácios, eles constituíam o exército camponês original. Na maioria das vezes, eles estavam armados com lanças, dardos ou fundas e usavam escudos leves chamados de peles, de onde tiraram seu nome.

As forças de peltast iniciariam uma batalha, lançando seus ataques de dardo ou funda e, em seguida, recuariam para permitir que a falange mais protegida se movesse. Conforme a falange abrisse caminho, os peltasts avançariam novamente, e o processo se repetiria até os dois exércitos estavam envolvidos em quartos próximos.

Peltasts geralmente não usavam armadura e se saíam mal se forçados a um combate corpo a corpo. No entanto, esses bravos escaramuçadores lutaram ao lado de suas falanges muito mais protegidas, semeando o pânico e a confusão entre as falanges hoplitas inimigas e mantendo a capacidade de evitar o ataque. Peltasts chegou a lutar com espartanos, desempenhando um papel importante nas Guerras do Peloponeso em 425 a.C. na ilha de Sphakteria, onde os espartanos enfrentaram uma derrota quase sem precedentes nas mãos dos atenienses.


Tipos de cavalaria romana

  • Lancearii ou Antesignani: A cavalaria ligeira romana, o Equites Legionis era geralmente este tipo de soldado.
  • Conttarii: Esses tipos de tropa foram criados sob o reinado de Trajano, provavelmente para combater a cavalaria do povo sármata e carregavam lança pesada (contus).
  • Cataphractii ou Clibanarii: Esta cavalaria pesada foi desenvolvida no leste e provavelmente apareceu pela primeira vez no serviço romano sob Adriano. Eles estavam completamente blindados da cabeça aos pés para enfrentar os arqueiros.
  • Sagittarii: Arqueiros montados.

O coração do sucesso de Alexandre

Para Alexandre, a falange macedônia seria o núcleo de seu exército ao longo de suas conquistas - desde sua primeira vitória em solo asiático em Granicus em 334 aC, até sua batalha final contra Porus, rei dos Parauvas, no rio Hydaspes, na Índia .

Na verdade, a falange macedônia era tão vital para a invencibilidade do exército de Alexandre, que ele até recrutou 30.000 soldados asiáticos e os treinou à maneira macedônia.

Isso forneceu a Alexandre outra formação de falange para rivalizar com aquela formada por veteranos macedônios, que agora resmungavam, e também forneceu a ele um pronto suprimento de piqueiros, disponíveis para futuras conquistas.

A falange macedônia foi, portanto, crítica para toda a vida de campanha de Alexandre. Isso se deveu em parte a uma brilhante tática de batalha que Alexandre usou, que aproveitou ao máximo seus principais soldados de infantaria: o martelo e a bigorna.


CAVALARIA GREGA ANTIGA (1000-350 AC)

Na bacia do Egeu, o cavalo como ferramenta de guerra aparece em 1700 aC. O uso inicial do animal era para tração de carruagem. A importância do cavalo como instrumento de guerra aparece nos poemas de Homero que nomeia os dois cavalos de Ares (Marte) Pânico e Medo (1) e em Hesíodo que também o confirma. (2)

Os nômades das estepes da Eurásia foram os primeiros a desenvolver a arte da equitação, mas sua propagação para os Bálcãs provavelmente se deve aos trácios. A luta dos minoanos e micênicos para estabelecer colônias na Trácia da Idade do Bronze final é provavelmente a fonte do mito sobre os cavalos carnívoros do rei trácio Diomedes. Hércules finalmente conseguiu capturar e trazer para Micenas esses terríveis animais. (3) Do mito, concluímos que a disseminação das habilidades de equitação no sul da Grécia foi um processo longo e árduo. Hércules 9º Trabalho para possuir o cinto da rainha amazona Hipólita (4) nos informa que os gregos foram muito influenciados pelos citas nas questões de equipamentos de equitação.

Muitos acreditam que a cavalaria inicialmente foi usada mais no papel de batedores, já que a tradição da época queria que os cocheiros aristocráticos dominassem o campo de batalha e os pequenos cavalos gregos não podiam carregar homens com armadura. Mas desde o início do aparecimento de cavalos maiores, cavaleiros com armaduras começaram a fazer sentir sua presença no campo de batalha. Enquanto apenas metade dos cocheiros podiam lutar devido à necessidade de um servindo como condutor da carruagem, todos os cavaleiros podiam enfrentar o inimigo. O ataque repentino de lutadores que tinham a habilidade de cavalgar e lutar ao mesmo tempo serviu de base para a lenda dos centauros.

Cavaleiros do período geométrico 1150-900 aC. Fonte A. Salimbeti

Alguns estudiosos dizem que a palavra centauro significa «matador de touros» (5). Eles também argumentam que os cavaleiros ajudaram os doreus na luta contra os aqueus que lutaram sob o emblema do touro. Outros argumentam que os mitos relevantes para a brutalidade dos centauros têm sua origem nos problemas que os dóricos enfrentaram com seus imprevisíveis aliados trácios ou citas que lutaram a cavalo. Também existe a opinião de que a lenda dos Centauros tem a ver com ritos animistas em honra da Lua que foram preservados na área da Tessália. (6)

Com o modo de batalha caótico dominante na Era Geométrica, o uso da cavalaria chegou ao auge. A guerra assumiu a forma de ataques e os cavaleiros foram inestimáveis ​​para aterrorizar os lacaios menos organizados. Eles também eram adeptos de arrebatar rebanhos, tirando vantagem de sua mobilidade superior. O mito dos Dióscuros, considerados protetores dos cavaleiros, está definitivamente relacionado à importância atribuída à cavalaria.

Cavaleiro de era geométrica com escudos redondos. Foto: Arquivo do autor & # 8217s. Ânfora geométrica da Era do Museu de Paros representando cavaleiros com escudos redondos.

Já na hora de Homer reaparece a densa ordem de combate próximo a matriz, o que efetivamente controlou o ímpeto do inimigo. (7) Os soldados de infantaria fortemente armados que mantiveram sua coesão poderiam interceptar e resistir ao ataque da cavalaria. Mas até meados do período arcaico, os hoplitas eram limitados em número, pois eram quase todos procedentes de famílias nobres e constituíam uma pequena parte do número total de combatentes. A cavalaria poderia evitar a frente dos hoplitas e atacar os caças equipados com mais leves. Se os cavaleiros colocassem as tropas leves em fuga, eles revelariam o lado da falange hoplita com resultados desastrosos.

O caso mais típico em que a cavalaria venceu a batalha no período arcaico foi a guerra entre Chalcis e Eretria pelo campo Lelantine. (8) Os «Hippovotae», ou seja, os aristocratas de Chalcis fecharam um acordo com o Cleomachus de Tessália para obter a ajuda dos famosos cavaleiros de Tessália. Os tessálios derrotaram os eretrianos da cavalaria mais leve e seus aliados e, em seguida, flanquearam a infantaria inclinando a balança a favor de Chalcis. Cleomachus foi morto em batalha e os calcidianos o honraram como um herói local.

Figura negra ateniense do século V representando um guerreiro montado. Museu Ashmolean AN 1884 710 Cortesia de J. Conyard

Os cavaleiros tessálios tornaram-se notórios e estão começando a se tornar parte integrante das forças mercenárias servindo os vários tiranos que surgiram no mundo grego durante o período arcaico. Os mais famosos são os cavaleiros das Cineas servindo Peisistratos. Eles dominaram as planícies áticas, evitando assim os ataques dos Alcmaeonides e seus aliados. Conseguiram até repelir a Mora laconiana de Skiritis sob o comando de Anchimolus (aliado dos Alcmeônides) com pesadas perdas. (9)

Cavalaria tessália

Conforme mencionado, os cavaleiros tessálios eram procurados como mercenários. A planície da Tessália era um local ideal para a criação de cavalos. Suas terras férteis enriqueceram os aristocratas locais, então eles criaram fazendas de criação de cavalos. Até a Idade Média, onde foi descoberto um arreio especial que permitia o uso do cavalo para o trabalho, a posse desses animais era privilégio dos ricos, pois não havia outro uso para os cavalos além da caça e da guerra.

Cavaleiro de Tessália em um desenho do século 19

As cidades da Tessália formaram uma federação conhecida como «Comunidade da Tessália». Eles elegeram um comandante militar supremo que foi chamado de “tagos”, ou seja, o homem que comanda as tropas. Duas famílias: os Alevadae de Larissa e Scopadae de Crannon, competiram impiedosamente pelo posto de «Comandante dos Tessálios». Segundo um excerto da obra perdida de Aristóteles “Constituição dos Tessálios”, o primeiro “tagos” foi Alevas, o Vermelho. Ele dividiu a Tessália em quatro regiões (tetrarchiae). Cada tetrarquia foi dividida em lotes de terra (kleroi), cada um deles com a obrigação de fornecer 40 cavaleiros e 80 hoplitas. (10)

O poder de seus cavaleiros fez dos tessálios senhores dos Eniênios e dos Peraivianos, que lutaram principalmente como infantaria leve. Os oponentes dos tessálios enfrentaram sérios problemas, pois a guerra hoplita não estava bem estabelecida entre os fócios e os locrianos. Os fócios, entretanto, derrotaram a cavalaria tessálica perto de Hyampolis usando valas camufladas. (11) No entanto, os tessálios, graças à sua cavalaria, puderam defender suas terras férteis com eficácia.

Os interesses conflitantes dos aristocratas da Tessália causaram o colapso da defesa em Tempe em 480 aC durante as Guerras Persas. Os tessálios, porém, escaparam das consequências de se submeter a Xerxes graças ao apoio dos atenienses. Assim, eles se tornaram seus aliados até a derrota posterior na Guerra do Peloponeso. A queda de Atenas abriu o apetite dos tiranos ferreanos pela hegemonia na Grécia. A força da cavalaria da Tessália atingindo na época 16.000 cavaleiros (12) era uma força a ser contada para os exaustos por conflitos civis no sul da Grécia. O tirano Jason de Pherrae até tentou criar uma frota, mas isso levantou preocupações na Corte Aquemênida. Portanto, o envolvimento dos persas nos assassinatos dos governantes tessálios e no financiamento dos boeotianos para se opor a eles não pode ser excluído. (13) Tessália, dilacerada por conflitos civis, passou para a soberania de Filipe II e sua famosa cavalaria foi incorporada ao seu exército.

Cavalaria ateniense

Embora as famílias aristocráticas de Atenas tivessem a habilidade de manter cavalos, os atenienses demoraram a desenvolver um braço de cavalaria. A maioria dos aristocratas cria cavalos para suas corridas de carruagem ou carruagem. Embora houvesse disposições e regulamentos na legislação de Sólon sobre cidadãos que tinham renda para manter cavalos (triakosiomedimnoi), os resultados foram desanimadores. Os primeiros cavaleiros prontos para o combate podem pertencer ao clã Peonidae de Peisistratos, já que o cavalo aparece como o emblema de seus escudos.

Figura negra Kylix de Ischylus, pintada por Epicteto e retratando um Cavaleiro Ateniense. Datado em 520 aC. Museu Britânico de Londres E 3

Os atenienses, entretanto, lutaram durante as Guerras Persas sem o apoio de sua cavalaria. Por volta de 442 aC, quando o magistrado era Diefphilos, provavelmente com a lei instigada por Péricles o corpo de cavalaria foi aumentado para mil homens. Exceto os hoplitas, cada “tribo” (phyle) ateniense também era obrigada a fornecer vários cavaleiros. Seu líder “tribal” comandava os cavaleiros de cada “tribo”. (phylarchos) Esses oficiais estavam sujeitos aos dois hipparchs (comandantes de cavalaria) que tinham o comando geral da cavalaria e eram eleitos anualmente. O HIPPARCHEION estava perto da Ágora, mas até agora sua localização exata é desconhecida.

Homens e cavalos foram testados para competência todos os anos. Aqueles que falharam na inspeção foram excluídos das listas de unidades. Durante a Guerra do Peloponeso, uma concessão de um dracma foi estabelecida para a alimentação de cavalos. Ao entrar no serviço de guerra, o cavaleiro recebia uma mesada adicional (katastasis), mas ele a devolvia no final da guerra, a menos que o animal tivesse morrido ou incapacitado durante o serviço ativo. Os atenienses tinham unidades de cavalaria pesada e cavalaria leve, nas quais geralmente serviam às classes de idade mais jovem (14). Como cavalaria leve, podemos classificar também os arqueiros a cavalo (hippotoxotes). (15) É quase certo que eles eram citas ou trácios, com os trácios sendo menos prováveis.

Cavaleiros atenienses. Imagem baseada em congelamentos do Partenon

A cavalaria ateniense entrou em ação e se destacou durante a Guerra do Peloponeso. Os líderes de Atenas tinham sérias dúvidas sobre ganhar vantagem sobre os peloponesos, especialmente os hoplitas espartanos. Foi determinado, entretanto, não permitir que eles saqueassem as terras da Ática sem oposição. A infantaria leve ou soldados que deixaram seu equipamento pesado em seu acampamento saquearam as terras inimigas. Para saquear, os peloponesos tiveram que se dividir em pequenos grupos. Os atenienses enviaram contra eles sua cavalaria e infligiram graves perdas (16) Os grupos de invasores deveriam ser apoiados por hoplitas atrás dos quais buscavam cobertura se a cavalaria leve e a infantaria leve de Atenas não os tivessem enfrentado primeiro. The Athenian heavy cavalry provided support in case the light horsemen were attacked from the enemy’s heavy cavalry, especially Boeotian horsemen. Athenian cavalry was particularly useful in hindering the activities of the Peloponnesian camp at Dekelia. (17)

The horsemen of Athens transported by the fleet were a continuous threat to the Peloponnesian coastal cities. (18) They were also useful in small numbers to subdue the mutinous islander allies of Athens, who lacked sufficient hoplites to resist them. The big test for the Athenian cavalry was the Sicilian campaign. The Athenians, despite warnings from their general Nicias underestimated their opponent. (19) They sent horsemen even without mounts with a view to procure horses in Sicily. (20) The defeat in Sicily undermined Athenian power and also their cavalry capabilities. The glorious last action of this corps was the battle of Tamynae at Evoia. (21)

Boeotian cavalry

After Thessaly, Boeotian plains were the most suitable for breeding horses. The Boeotian cavalry made its appearance in the archaic period at the battle Kerissos where the Boeotians repulsed the Thessalian invasion (22). Unfortunately they also proved very effective against Megareans and Phleiasians during the battle of Plataea while fighting alongside the Persians. (23)

Horseman from Beotean black figure pottery made by the «Atalanda painter». Harvard University Art Museums

The rise of the Boeotian cavalry begins with the Peloponnesian War, where it helped to repelling the Thracian mercenaries at Mycalissos. (24) It also offered important services at Delium and later ensured the Theban dominance in the Boeotian plain by defeating Thespians under the Spartan general Phoebidas who was killed during the battle. (25)

The riders with white helmets are valuable instrument in the hands of Pelopidas and Epaminondas after the expulsion of the Spartans from Boeotia and dismantle their hegemony over Greece. (26) Gradually, however, fall short of the Thessalians and Athenians at Mantinea. The battle of Chaeronea marks the end of the Theban cavalry overwhelmed by the onslaught of the Macedonians.

Spartan cavalry

Like other states in Archaic Greece the Spartans also developed horse-riding fighters. Due to the development and perfection of hoplite warfare in Sparta the title of the horsemen (HIPPES) was merely honorary as all elite Laconian fighters fought on foot. The horses were bred only for chariot racing as demonstrated by the tale of Princess Cyniska of Sparta. (27) The issue of developing a unit of horsemen was dramatically with the events of Pylos. (28)

The Spartans looked down upon the cavalry service as fit for those who could not fight on foot and those crippled in war. Xenophon tells us that Spartan cavalry was poorly prepared and that is why its performance was poor. (29) Only the introduction of mercenary horsemen slightly improved the situation. (30) Although at sometime king Agesilaus came to command 1500 horsemen , the fall of Sparta brought elimination of its cavalry.

Other Horsemen.

The Thracian cavalry deserves mention because as mentioned above the Thracians influenced significantly the introduction of the horse in southern Greece. Euripides in his tragedy “Hecuba” calls the Thracians a “cavalry nation«. A text written by Clement of Alexandria (Stromata XV) identifies the Thracians as the first to use a shield while on horseback. Most Thracian horsemen were most probably mounted javelinmen and were widely used as mercenaries in the colonies of the Macedonian and Thracian coast and beyond. The almost endless hordes of Thracian horsemen were a constant problem for the south Greek colonists until their alliance to Philip II .

Although the Greek colonies in Asia Minor were wealthy, their inhabitants avoided military service. Xenophon says that Agesilaus compel the wealthiest colonists to maintain horses. He declared though that one could avoid being called for service, if he could provide a fully equipped horseman to serve in his place. (31) The cavalry thus formed was so good that it managed to successfully stand up to the Thessalians on Agesilaus return from Asia (32)

Coins from Tarentum depicting horsemen

According to Herodotus the Selinountians and Akaragantines were the first to develop cavalry in Magna Grecia. Gelon of Syracuse will repel the Carthaginians with the assistance of his cavalry. The aristocratic class horsemen of Syracuse were treated with suspicion because of their belief in oligarchy. This did not prevent them from fighting hard against the Athenians during the Sicilian campaign. (33) Their contribution to the final defeat of the Athenian army was catalytic. (34)

In the Western Greek colonies, citizens also dodged their military obligations and relied on mercenaries for their defense. Colonist Greeks perceived their mainland compatriots as naive villagers who paid them to risk combat but they suspected them also as potential tyrants. Good cavalry no longer existed in Magna Crecia except in Tarentum. The Tarantine horsemen were heavily armed and were also accompanied by a servant who probably fought too as a light horseman. (35)

Equipment – Tactics

As mentioned above, the Scythians and the Thracians in most matters about horse trappings and harness influenced the Greeks. Horses are depicted wearing their harness in pottery and sculpture. In the National Archaeological Museum there are also bridles that can cause great discomfort to unruly horses though Xenophon disagrees with their use (36) The saddle was known to the Scythians and Thracians and was made of felt. Its adoption by the Greeks was slow, probably because of its cost. Most riders used a simple cloth to cover the horse’s back in order to ride comfortably. Xenophon mentions that some did not use that either (37). This is consistent with some illustrations but because the touch of human flesh with the skin of the horse causes irritation, horsemen began to use cloth or animal skins to sit on them and ride comfortably.

Thacian horseman with saddled horses from the thracian tomb of Kazanlak

The riders executing heavy cavalry missions wore metal or composite armor. Xenophon recommends that riders better use vambraces (epicheirides) and armor their horses. But as this required considerable costs it was rare. (38) Cataphract Greek cavalry appears only in the Hellenistic Era. Xenophon also advises the usage of Boeotean helmet.

The shield appears to have been widespread despite writings the contrary. The riders of Geometric and Classical Greece after contact with the Scythians and Thracians horsemen saw its advantages. The semicircular shield seems to have been quite widespread while the Archaic period a shield of the ‘Boeotian type» seems to have been dominant. The shield was valuable to riders who had to fight against light infantry equipped with ranged weapons.

Classic Era horse armor fragment from the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. Author’s collection.

To execute a charge the horsemen formed ranks 4 men deep per row (39) but there were efforts to increase the depth as the Persian horsemen used a more dense formation. Xenophon advised a rapid headlong charge (40) but also the wise use of outposts and the careful choice of the ground (41) Another fighting method was the “emvolon”. It was a wedge formation that was designed to breakthrough the enemy formations. It was known in Thebes (42) but it is considered to be a Scythian invention and was improved as a rhomboid formation that could attack in any direction by Jason of Pherrae (43).

As mentioned above, the spread of hoplite method of fighting limited the role of the cavalry in scouting, neutralizing skirmishers and raids. This increased the importance of the light cavalry but heavy cavalry re-developed to counteract the enemy horsemen. The Greek cavalry gradually evolved into a shock weapon by Philip II and Alexander the Great in the Hellenistic era.

(1) Homer THE ILIAD 15.110 trn. K. Dukas eds. Georgiadis

(2) Hesiod “Hercules Shield” Loeb Classical Library edition, 1914

(3) Apollodorus II.5.8, Diodorus Siculus 15.3 Loeb Classical Library edition, 1914

Strabo, «Geography» VII.331 Loeb Classical Library edition 1920

(4) Apollodorus II.5.9, Euripides: “Hercules wrath” 408, Loeb Classical Library edition 1914 Pausanias “Description of Greece” V, 10.9 Loeb Classical Library edition 1920

(5) L. de Raunchaud «Dictionnaire des Antiquites Greques et Romaines» 1887

(6) “Crypto” magazine issue 1, article: «Centaurs were real?» Constantine Tsopanis, Dr. History & Philosophy of Religions, pp. 35

(7) Homer THE ILIAD XXIII 131-133, 145-150 trn. K. Dukas eds. Georgiadis

(8) Thucydides “Histories’” I.15, Herodotus V. 99 Loeb Classical Library edition, 1914

Strabo, «Geography» III.448 Loeb Classical Library edition 1920

Plutarch «Heroticus» 17 Loeb Classical Library edition 1920

(9) Androkides «On Mysteries» VII106 Oxford Press

Herodotus “Histories” V.63 Loeb Classical Library edition, 1914

(10) British Museum. Fragment 479 comments. V.Rose

(11) Herodotus “Histories” VIII,28 Loeb Classical Library edition, 1914

Pausanias “Description of Greece” X, 710 Loeb Classical Library edition 1920

(12) Xenophon “Hellenika” VI.5 Classical Library edition, 1914

(13) Diodorus Siculus 15 57, 60, 80, 95 Loeb Classical Library edition 1914

(14) Thucydides “Histories” VII.92, 6 Loeb Classical Library edition, 1914

(15) Thucydides “Histories” V 17.1, Loeb Classical Library edition, 1914

(16) Thucydides “Histories” III.1, Loeb Classical Library edition, 1914

(17) Thucydides “Histories” VII.27, Loeb Classical Library edition, 1914

(18) Thucydides “Histories” VII.42, Loeb Classical Library edition, 1914

(19) Thucydides “Histories” VI.20, 22 Loeb Classical Library edition, 1914

(20) Thucydides “Histories” VI.94, Loeb Classical Library edition, 1914

(21) Plutarch “Phocion” 13 Loeb Classical Library edition 1920

(22) Plutarch “Camillus” 19 Loeb Classical Library edition 1920

(23) Herodotus’ Histories” IX,69 Loeb Classical Library edition, 1914

(24) Thucydides “Histories” VII.29-30, Loeb Classical Library edition, 1914

(25) Xenophon ‘“Hellenika” V.4 Classical Library edition, 1914

(26) Xenophon ‘“Hellenika” V.4 10 Classical Library edition, 1914

Plutarch “Pelopidas”15 Loeb Classical Library edition 1920

(27) Pausanias “Description of Greece” III, 1.16 Loeb Classical Library edition 1920

(28) Thucydides “Histories” IV.55.2, Loeb Classical Library edition, 1914

(29) Xenophon ‘Greek’ ST.4.11, Classical Library edition, 1914

(30) Xenophon ‘Hipparchikus» 9.4 trans. E.Shepherd (1793)

(31) Xenophon “Hellenika” III.4.15, Classical Library edition, 1914

(32) Xenophon «Agesilaus’“ 2.5 trans. E.Shepherd (1793)

(33) Thucydides “Histories” VI.66,68-70 Loeb Classical Library edition, 1914

(34) Thucydides “Histories” VI.84 Loeb Classical Library edition, 1914

(35) Livy “History of Rome” XXXV.28,29 eds JM Dent & Sons, Ltd., London, 1905

(36) Xenophon «On Horsemanship” ‘V trans. E.Shepherd (1793)

(37) Xenophon «On Horsemanship » VII trans. E.Shepherd (1793)

(38) Xenophon «On Horsemanship” XII trans. E.Shepherd (1793)

(39) Xenophon “Hellenika” III.4.13 Classical Library edition, 1914

(40) Xenophon “Hipparchikus” 3 trans. E.Shepherd (1793)

(41) Xenophon “Hipparchikus» 4, 5 trans. E.Shepherd (1793)

(42) Xenophon “Hellenika” VII.5.22 Classical Library edition, 1914

Aelianus «Tactica» XI.2 47.4 trans. E.Shepherd (1793)

(43) Asklepiodotus «Tactica» VII.2-3 6.7 Polyainus «Stratagems» VI trans. E.Shepherd (1793)

Bibliografia:

Aristotle «Constitution of the Athenians» Loeb Classical Library edition 1920

Frontinus “Stratagems” eds JM Dent & Sons, Ltd., London, 1905

The Seventy Great Battles of All Time, Edited by Jeremy Black, Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2005

William Stearns Davis, Readings in Ancient History: Illustrative Extracts from the Sources , the 2nd Vols, (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1,912-1913), Vol. I: Greece and the East.

American Journal of Archeology Vol. 107. # 4 October 2003 (Tom Stevenson article)


Ancient Persian Warfare

The ancient Persian military evolved from the earlier armed forces of the Medes which, in turn, developed from the warrior class of the indigenous people of the Iranian Plateau, the Aryan migrants (including the Persians) who later settled there, and the Assyrian army which was defeated by the Medes. The Achaemenid Empire (c. 550-330 BCE) took the best aspects of these earlier models to create one of the most effective military forces in the ancient world.

Certain aspects of their model would be changed by the Parthian Empire (247 BCE - 224 CE) and improved upon by the Sassanian Empire (224-651 CE) which skillfully integrated the various aspects of their predecessors in forming a military so effective it was able to withstand repeated invasions by the legions of the Roman Empire. The Sassanian Empire only finally fell when its army was faced with a different, and more effective, military paradigm in the form of the Arab cavalry.

Propaganda

Early Military & Development

Information on the earliest armed forces of the region, those who would have been associated with the ancient civilization of Elam and Susiana, is unavailable. According to scholar A. Sh. Shahbazi of Encyclopedia Iranica:

Source materials for a study of pre-Islamic Iranian military concerns fall into four categories: textual evidence archeological finds of actual specimens of martial equipments documentary representations (on monuments and objects of art) and philological deductions for organizational matters. The availability and value of these categories vary according to different periods. (Exército, 1)

There must have been some form of military for defense of the cities of the region, however, as the Sumerian King of Lagash, Eannatum (r. c. 2500-2400 BCE) conquered the area and his inscriptions suggest he met resistance in doing so. Sargon of Akkad (r. 2334-2279 BCE) suggests the same in defeating Luh-ishan, son of Hishiprashini, King of Elam c. 2300 BCE.

Propaganda

Whatever weapons, uniforms, and organization characterized these early armies, they were defined by the 1st millennium BCE as comprised of separate citizen units under the command of a tribal chief who could call upon them to fight in times of war. These armies carried a spear, mace, short sword, simple bow and 30 arrows, a dagger, animal-hide or wicker shield, and a poleaxe.

Aryan tribes had migrated to the region at some point prior to the 3rd millennium BCE and, by the 1st millennium BCE, had established themselves in various areas. The Persians settled east of Elam in the territory of Persis and would later expand from there. The Persians, like the Medes and other Aryan tribes (“Aryan” understood as referencing Indo-Iranians), were superb horsemen, and through them, the concept of cavalry was introduced to the region.

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The Persians offered their services as mercenaries to the various kings who found them effective in hit-and-run engagements. Cavalry units could strike and retreat quickly, inflicting maximum casualties on the opponent while suffering minimal losses. The use of horses in battle was further enhanced by another innovation also brought to the region by the Aryans: the chariot.

Median Standing Army

In the 8th century BCE, the disparate tribes of the Medes were united under their first king Dayukku (known to the Greeks as Deioces, r. 727-675 BCE). His grandson, Cyaxares (r. 625-585 BCE), expanded Median territory and was instrumental in the fall of the Assyrian Empire. The Assyrians had steadily expanded their empire since the reign of Tiglath Pileser III (745-727 BCE) but had overextended themselves to the point where they had few resources for defense when the Babylonians and Medes led the coalition against them in 612 BCE which would topple their cities.

Propaganda

According to Herodotus, Cyaxares was able to accomplish this by reforming the military:

[Cyaxares] was the first to divide his troops into regiments and to make separate units out of the spearmen, archers, and horsemen, who had previously all been jumbled up indiscriminately. (I.103)

The earlier model of drawing up an army was now replaced by the spada – a standing army – which was trained under the direction of the king and led by him. Cyaxares' new army was equipped with spear, bow, short sword, and dagger. The units were separated into infantry, archers, and cavalry chariots were only used for transportation, not in battle. Cavalry units wore a shirt and trousers under a light leather tunic with a girdle-harness around the waist holding weapons. Their headgear was a cloth tiara possibly worn over a leather helmet. Infantry seem to have worn a similar uniform.

Propaganda

Rise of the Achaemenid Army

C. 550 BCE, Cyrus II (the Great, r. 550-530 BCE) overthrew his grandfather, Astyages of Media (r. 585-550 BCE) and founded the Achaemenid Empire (named in honor of Cyrus' ancestor Achaemenes). Cyrus II defeated the Median army and then conquered Lydia (546 BCE), Elam (540 BCE), and Babylon (539 BCE) with an army raised on the levy system known as the Kara. Scholar Stefan G. Chrissanthos explains:

Initially, the Persian army consisted of a militia of the king's Persian subjects. However, not all Persians participated. Only those with sufficient wealth to procure their own military equipment were liable for service therefore, the levy, or kara, represented the wealthier elements of Persian society. (21)

This was not a standing army – like the Assyrians or the Medes had formed – but continued the model of the earlier practice of a chieftain (now the king) calling on those who owed him allegiance to fight. Once Lydia, Elam, and Babylon had been conquered, Cyrus the Great had a great many more resources available to him and, while keeping the Kara system, established the standing army of the spada, whose ranks were filled with conscripts from the different satrapies (provinces) of the empire under the command of their satrap (governor). Chrissanthos writes:

As the empire grew, the kara remained the backbone of the army, but now an imperial levy conscripted not only poorer Persians but also subjugated ethnic groups into the army. Herodotus gives a detailed list of the various ethnic contingents that served in the Persian army, and the list includes practically every group in the empire. (21)

The closer a subject people were to the Persians, the less tribute they were required to pay to the king but they were expected to supply more soldiers. The Medes, closely associated with the Persians, were part of the elite units and served as officers – as with the rank of the hazarapatis – a commanding officer of a given unit – along with Persians.

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Organização

Organization of the army was based on the decimal system, meaning each unit was comprised of ten lesser units:

  • 10 men = a company
  • 10 companies = a battalion
  • 10 battalions = a division
  • 10 divisions = a corps

Each company, battalion, division, and corps had a commanding officer and the whole army was led by a supreme commander, either the king or a noble Persian or Mede who was in the king's trust. The army was divided into infantry (foot-soldiers, archers, slingers) and cavalry and the cavalry further into those who used horses (the asabari – horse-borne) and those who used camels (the usabari – camel-borne). Chariots were also employed in battle but their use depended on the era and ruler. The chariot was commonly used by the supreme commander and the standard-bearers who were responsible for the symbols of the gods Ahura Mazda and Mithra as well as the sacred divine fire which accompanied the troops into battle. The elite of the infantry were the 10,000 troops which made up The Immortals, the king's trusted guard, so-named because, if one fell in battle or could not – for whatever reason – fulfill his duties, another would take his place so their number remained the same, giving the impression they could not be killed.

Different units were identified by different colored uniforms (among the Persians, purple, yellow, and blue). The Immortals wore felt caps (tiaras), brightly-colored, sleeved tunics over shirts and trousers, breast-plate-armor, and carried wicker shields, bows, quivers and arrows, short spears, and daggers (Herodotus 7:61). By the time of Darius I (the Great, r. 522-486 BCE), their spears were longer and ornamented at the bottom by a gold or silver knob.

Training & Battle

Training for the army began at the age of 15 (five for Persian nobility). Youths were divided into 50 classes for military training under an instructor or instructors which included horse grooming and horsemanship, hunting, running, swimming, archery, javelin-throwing, swordsmanship, martial arts, military discipline (such as forced marches, long watches, battle drills, living off the land), and were also expected to contribute to the community by developing agricultural skills. Sons of the king and nobility were also taught to cultivate administrative skills. Military service began at the age of 20 and professional soldiers were allowed to retire at 50 conscripts served for the duration of an engagement or campaign and then, if they survived, could return home until called up again.

Prior to any engagement, a war council was held with the senior staff to solidify the battle plan. Once the enemy was met, archers held the center front of the line with infantry – slingers and foot soldiers – flanking and cavalry on the wings. The archers would begin the battle with support from the slingers hurling small stones and lead pellets and the cavalry would then try to break the enemy lines from either side.

When Darius I invaded Greece in 490 BCE, this was the basic formation which only failed because the Greeks were undeterred by the rain of arrows and, further, had better shields and armor. The Persian army did not pay much attention to body armor or the quality of their shields prior to engagements with the Greeks because, previously, the armies they met had more or less the same equipment and used the same tactics they did. The Macedonian-Greek phalanx, however, was far more effective than the Persian line of formation and the wicker-reed shields of the Persians were no match for the great Greek shields and body armor.

This same basic paradigm held in 480 BCE when Xerxes I (r. 486-465 BCE) invaded Greece in retaliation for Darius I's defeat. The Greeks stopped the Persians at Thermopylae and could have held them there indefinitely if not for their betrayal by one of their own. At Platea, the Persian army was defeated, in part, because of the inferiority of their shields and body armor compared to the Greeks.

Persian Navy

Under Darius I, the Persian navy was expanded. This fleet was not built, nor was it manned, by Persians but by the subject nations of the empire. Cyprus provided 150 ships, Cilicia sent 100 as did Pamphylia, Caria sent 70, and others more or less depending on their resources. The Egyptians and Anatolian Greeks provided a large number but a third of the fleet – at times more but never less – was Phoenician. The Anatolian Greeks, Egyptians, and Phoenicians supplied the great triremes, warships manned by 200 sailors, while other nations shipped and manned smaller vessels, among the most popular being the 50-oar vessel manned by 80 sailors. In battle, in order to prevent defection, 30 Persian Marines were assigned to each ship.

The Persian navy, especially the Phoenician ships, were instrumental in Darius I's campaign to crush the rebellion of the Ionian Greeks which had spread to Cyprus and other regions starting c. 498 BCE. As the revolt was encouraged and funded, in part, by Athens, Darius I launched his massive campaign against Greece in 490 BCE, in which the navy also played a pivotal role but was defeated at the Battle of Marathon. Ten years later, Xerxes I would employ the fleet in his invasion of Greece. The Persian navy was defeated at the Battle of Salamis owing to its reliance on the heavy triremes which were easily outmaneuvered by the smaller and more agile Greek ships.

Parthian Innovations

The Achaemenid Empire fell to Alexander the Great in 330 BCE and, after his death in 323 BCE, was succeeded by the Seleucid Empire (312-63 BCE). The Seleucid Empire was severely compromised following its defeat by the Romans at the Battle of Magnesia in 190 BCE and the resultant Treaty of Apamea in 188 BCE through which they lost most of their territory. The Parthians, who had risen in revolt against the Seleucids in 247 BCE under their king Arsaces I (r. 247-217 BCE), took note of this as well as one of the central reasons for the fall of the Achaemenid Empire to Alexander: unevenly matched weaponry, armor and shields, and tactics. Further, the Parthians realized their own revolt had been able to succeed because the Seleucid military had been unable to respond quickly enough.

The Parthians decentralized the Persian government, instituting a feudal system in which each satrap, who had sworn loyalty to the king, was responsible for a levy of soldiers in times of crisis but no standing army garrisoned, primarily, in a single city (such as at Persepolis under Darius I and Xerxes I) which then had to be mobilized and sent against an enemy. The system of the levy allowed satraps to mobilize an army in their own region and respond directly to a threat, then notify the king of the situation afterwards.

To address the problem of the better body armor and tactics of the Greeks and Romans, the Parthians reduced their reliance on infantry and concentrated their efforts on cavalry. The Parthians, famous for their skills as horsemen, created a powerful force of light and heavy cavalry troops with smaller infantry units for support. The Parthian light cavalry was armed with a bow and arrows, a sword, and probably a dagger and was used in hit-and-run engagements as well as raids and the early stage of battle but they could not contend head-on with heavily armored troops.

In battle, the Parthians relied on their mounted warriors known as cataphracts. These units wore steel helmets and chain mail tunics which went from their necks to past their knees and down the sleeves of the shirt worn under them. They carried composite (compound) bows, which had greater reach and accuracy than the simple longbow, swords, daggers, and a lance. Their horses were equally well-protected with their own chainmail armor.

The most famous battle tactic of Parthian warfare was the Parthian shot in which light cavalry would engage the enemy and then feign retreat, drawing the opponents after them, then turn and fire their arrows back at the enemy, while at full gallop (even more impressive in that they did not have the stirrup). Even after this tactic became known to opposing forces, it still remained effective. Once the enemy was reeling from the shower of arrows, the cataphracts would engage.

The Great Sassanian Army

The Parthian army remained a powerful force but could not finally save the empire from an unexpected threat. The Parthian Empire was not toppled in battle by a superpower like the Roman Empire but by one of its own vassal kings, Ardashir I (r. 224-240 CE), a great warrior who revolted against the Parthian king Artabanus IV (r. 213-224 CE) and founded the Sassanian Empire. Ardashir I was a brilliant general and able statesman and administrator, who learned from the lessons of the past and combined the most effective elements of the Achaemenid, Seleucid, and Parthian empires as well as the tactics of the Romans and the Greeks.

Ardashir I centralized the government and reorganized the military according to the Achaemenid decimal system, bringing it directly under his control. He utilized both the Seleucid and Parthian body armor, kept the Parthian cavalry units, expanded his infantry (again, in line with the Achaemenid system), employed Roman tactics, and also made use of their technology of siege engines and other devices. He also revived the navy, which the Parthians had neglected, although it would play a relatively minor role, after Ardashir I's reign, in battle. Ardashir I's army was so well organized and effective that, under his son, Shapur I (r. 240-270 CE), the Sassanian army not only expanded the empire but defended it against Rome successfully, even capturing the Roman Emperor Valerian (r. 253-260 CE) who was then forced to serve as Shapur I's footstool when he mounted his horse.

Under the later king Kosrau I (also known as Anushirvan the Just, r. 531-579 CE), the Sassanian military was placed under the command of the Minister of Defense who acted in the king's interests. Kosrau I, considered the greatest of the Sassanian kings, continued Ardashir I's basic paradigm for the military and it remained an effective fighting force until the invasion of the Muslim Arabs in the 7th century CE. The Arab armies employed hit-and-run tactics similar to the Parthians, were able to muster larger armies and employ camel-mounted cavalry in greater numbers which performed better than horses on uneven or sandy terrain, and used fast-moving infantry archers, armed with the compound bow, to devastating effect. The Sassanians, last of the ancient Persian empires, fell to the Arabs in 651 CE, and their army and navy were disbanded. In its time, however, the Sassanian army represented the best version of the Persian military, among the greatest fighting forces of the ancient world.


10 Heroic Cavalry Charges

Cavalry charges have proved to be one of the most efficient and devastating battle tactics in history. Even against vastly superior numbers cavalry charges have proved themselves to be dominant shock attack in warfare. It involves soldiers mounted on horseback to charge as quickly as they can into the enemies lines, and engaging in close combat. Armoured knights, and lighter mounted troops have been able to completely route enemy units in the past but it doesn’t always go well. If the unit being charged at stands firm and fortifies it’s position a charge will often fail, the horses may even refused to keep charging at the enemy. Cavalry charges are always a risk.

Battle Of Eylau

This war was so bloody, and damaging on both sides that we don’t even know who won it. Napoleon took on the Russians after a string of victories had given him confidence. He had 75,000 soldiers under his command, and the Russian leader Bennigsen had almost the same. They clashed at a French village called Eylau, and both sides suffered heavy losses. Napoleon attempted a frontal assault early in the battle, which ended with calamitous results for Napoleon. Midway through the battle Napoleon was in grave danger. He was hold up in a church and had just barely escaped being captured. His centre wouldn’t last long, and it was only a matter of time before he was defeated unless he did something. Napoleon then ordered one of the most heroic cavalry charges in history. 11,000 thousand French cavalry charge into the Russian army. They split into two groups, one called Grouchy’s Dragoons which flanked the enemy cavalry, and fought them back until enemy reinforcements made them retreat. This bought the French right enough time to attack, dealt serious damage to the Russian forces. With the Russian army close to destruction it looked as if victory was finally in Napoleon’s hands, but then reinforcements arrived and combated the French right, which saved them from collapse. This allowed the Russian’s to hang on until later that night when they reluctantly retreated.

The Battle Of Poitiers

At the battle of Poitiers the French force, led by King John, got over excited and launched a cavalry charge on the English, led by the Black Prince. The French mistakenly thought the English were about to retreat and rushed in with 100 knights on horseback leading the charge. The English archers began to fire at the enemy but their arrows couldn’t do anything to their armour, so the archers changed position and attacked them from behind, this time aiming for their horses. The French forces were beaten back over and over, losing thousands of men. King John tried to withdraw and escape from the battle but the Black Prince ambushed him with a unit hidden in the woods. He captured king John, 17 lords, 13 counts, 5 viscounts, and 100 knights.

Battle Of Klushino

Polish forces were completely outnumbered against the Tsarist Russian force. The Russian’s numbered 30,000 to 40,000 troops, the Polish only had 4,000 and they were almost entirely Cavalry. The polish cavalry force known as the Winged Hussars were one of the most elite cavalries in the world at the time, famous for wearing wings on their armour. This battle didn’t just have one cavalry charge, it had 10 cavalry charges which eventually whittled down the enemy forces. The battle started with the Winged Hussars making 8-10 cavalry charges on the enemy. The Polish broke the left flank, and destroyed the centre, leaving only the right flank, and some mercenaries on the left. The mercenaries were forced to abandon their position when reinforcements came, and eventually surrendered.

The Battle Of Vienna

In one the largest cavalry charges in history, a coalition of Polish, Australian, and German cavalry spearheaded by 3,000 winged Hussars charged into the Ottoman lines. The battle took place in 1683, when the Imperial city of Vienna had been taken by the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman’s were losing the battle, and the Poles were preparing for a massive cavalry charge. The Ottoman’s tried to turn the situation around, and went on the offensive successfully taking two villages. This gave them an opportunity to attack the Turkish central position, and they were determined to take it. But before they could the Polish cavalry began to emerge from the forest, and battered the Turkish lines. The Ottoma’s were now surrounded and decided to retreat. The coalition was ready to finish them off, and put together one of the largest cavalry charges in history. This devastated the Ottoman’s and the coalition had won the battle.

The Battle Of Gaugamela

Alexander the Great led a small cavalry unit of 1,800 Greco-Macedonian companion cavalry, supported by brigades of hypaspists, and part of his phalanx, charged and broke through the centre of a massive army of 50,000 Persian warriors led by Emperor Darius III. Alexander used an uncommon strategy to do this. While his infantry kept the centre of the Persian army busy, Alexander rode to the end of the right flank with a cavalry unit. This led to an intense battle between Alexander’s cavalry, and the larger Persian cavalry. Even though he was outnumbered Alexander managed to defeat the enemy cavalry, this led to his most important move and he won the battle in the centre. After the centre was taken Darius ran for his life. It was one of the most successful cavalry charges of all time.

Battle Of Salamanca

This is famous for being one of the most destructive cavalry charges in history. The battle was between the Duke of Wellington’s Anglo-Portugese army, and Marshall Auguste Marmont’s French force. The British heavy cavalry consistently flanked the enemy forces. These attacks crushed the left wing of the French forces. The French launched a desperate counter attack on Wellington’s centre, which had been weakened. Wellington sent reinforcements to back up the centre, and the French attack ultimately failed. Wellington prevailed and the French were forced to retreat.

Battle Of Borodino

This battle was one of the bloodiest days of the Napoleonic wars. An allied cavalry force of French, German, and Polish regiments charged the centre of the Russian army. The Russian’s countered with a cavalry charge of their own. And the two cavalry charges led to all out battle between them. Both sides suffered thousands of deaths, and eventually the Russians retreated. It ended in a French tactical victory, but the cost was so severe it was tantamount to defeat. The Russian army failed to stop the advance of Napoleon onto Moscow, which he captured only a week later. Napoleon came close to conquering Russia but ultimately his invasion failed and he had to retreat.

Charge Of The Light Brigade

This is without a doubt one of the most heroic cavalry charged on this list. In the Crimean war at the Battle of Balaclava. A tiny force of 670 British light cavalry were accidentally ordered to charge into an army much larger than theirs with no chance of victory. The force led by Lord Cardigan courageously charged into the centre of the Russian, and succeeded in both breaking through as well as disengaging. They suffered heavy casualties as a result but it’s amazing that such a small force could do so much damage to such a large army.

Third Battle Of Winchester

At the Third Battle of Winchester, the largest cavalry charge of the American civil war tool place. On September 19 th , 1864 Confederate Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early raided the B&O railroad at Martinsburg. Union Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan led an army to defeat Early. The battle went on for hours, with severe casualties on both sides. The confederates were slowly losing ground. Sheridan orchestrated a final charge to end the battle. He organised cavalry charges to attack the confederates on both flanks. Although the journey there was tough, they eventually made it and crushed the enemy flanks due to the immense size of the charge the enemy was completely overwhelmed.

Battle Of Omdurman

Facing an army twice as numerous, General Herbert Kitchener managed to win the battle losing less than 50 people, and killing 12,000 opposing soldiers. It was a coalition of the United Kingdom and Egypt, vs Sudan, and although the British-Egyptian force had only 25,800 to Sudan’s 52,000, they still scored a decisive victory losing only 47 men, while killing 12,000, injuring 5,000, and capturing 5,000 of the enemies men. The battle started and Sudanese forces were completely decimated by the superior weapons of the coalition force. Sudanese spearmen charged straight into the gunfire of quick firing British artillery. Part way through the battle, the British light cavalry known as the 21 st lancers was ordered to charge through a few hundred men and clear a path, but what they thought were only a few hundred men were actually over 2,000. Numbering only 400 strong the 21 st lancers had a tough time of this, but heroically managed to push back the numerically superior force. One of the participants of this clash was Lieutenant Winston Churchill.


Soldiers of Fortune

Some of the best Nordic warriors found employment as mercenaries far from the shores of Scandinavia. As early as the 10 th Century, the Byzantine ruler Basil II brought together a band of Norsemen to serve as his personal guard – the Varangians. But the elite axemen did more than just secure the royal palace – emperors were known to send them on campaign where they would be held in reserve, only to be unleashed at the turning point of a battle (and often with devastating results for the enemies of Constantinople). The Varangians were well paid for their loyalty. And as an added bonus, upon the death of the king, each soldier in the guard was allowed to carry away as much gold as he could from the royal treasury before being discharged. So many Vikings clamoured to join this elite army, Swedish rulers decreed that those who left home to join foreign armies would be legally prohibited from collecting their own families’ inheritances.


Approach of Romans toward black people

Seneca the Younger claimed that people with black complexion were not a surprise in Rome.

In the next place, we ought to conder the whole state of mankind, in order to pass a just judgment on all the occurrences of life: for it is unjust to blame individuals for a vice which is common to all. The colour of an Æthiop is not remarkable among this own people, nor is any man in Germany ashamed of red hair rolled into a knot. You cannot call anything peculiar or disgraceful in a particular man if it is the general character of his nation.

Seneca the Youher, De Ira, XXVI

Romans were not racists at all they did not judge by their skin colour, but rather by their origin.

The Romans used the general term for black inhabitants, describing them as “Ethiopians”. The Ethiopians had their own state – Kingdom of Aksum – which in the first century BCE experienced its “golden period”. Goods were transported from the port of Adulis to the Mediterranean, as well as to India and Ceylon. The Romans maintained commercial contacts with the Ethiopians. Thanks to the fact that the residents of Aksum certainly had a black skin colour, hence the general term for all black people in the Empire.


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