DIADOCHI: MACEDONIAN GAME OF THRONES

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Long before George R.R. Martin penned his tale of war, intrigue and treachery the ancient world was scene to its own version of The Game of Thrones.

When Alexander the Great died in Babylon 323 BC, he left the greatest empire the world had yet seen with no clear successor. While both of his wives (Roxane the daughter of Oxyartes of Bactria; and Stateira , daughter of Darius) were pregnant, he had no (legitimate) children yet born; though a four year old son of his former mistress Barsiné, named Heracles, was claimed by some to be Alexander’s illegitimate son. Alexander had made no provision for what was to happen in the case of his death. For a ruler who habitually took unnecessary risks; leading his Army, literally, from the front this was particularly irresponsible. But it was completely in character for Alexander, who ever refused to acknowledge his own mortality.

(To continue reading, go here)

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GREAT WARSHIPS OF HISTORY: THE BISMARCK

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As Hitler prepared for World War II, he planned to interdict British shipping with both submarines (U-Boats) and surface raiders. Of these, the greatest and most celebrated was the Bismarck-class of battleships. Larger than any built by Europe during the war (though smaller than the largest Japanese and American Battleships)the Bismarck and its sister-ship, the Tirpitz caused great concern among Allied naval planners in the early years of the war in Europe.

Launched in February 1939, the Bismarck spent only eight months and one offensive operation at sea before being hunted-down by the British and so wounded its crew scuttled the great ship on May 27, 1941. But that single attempt by the Germans to slip past the Royal Navy in the North Sea and enter the North Atlantic caused near panic in Britain and led to one of the great naval chases in history; becoming the source of books, song and film….

(To continue reading, go here)

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THE AGE OF ARTHUR: PART THIRTEEN

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This is the Thirteenth-part of our discussion of Britain in the so-called Age of Arthur: the 5th though the mid-6th Century A.D. It is a fascinating period, with the Classical civilization of Greece and Rome giving way to the Germanic “Dark Ages”. It was the sunset of Celtic-Roman culture in Britain; it was the Age of Arthur!

(Read Part Twelve here. Or start from the beginning, with Part One!)

ARTHUR’S NORTHERN CAMPAIGN

In the last few parts of our discussion, we have attempted to create a hypothetical reconstruction of Arthur’s rise to power; based in part upon clues found in the narrative of Nennius, the 9th century Welsh monk. In the 56th chapter of his  Historia Brittonum, Nennius speaks of twelve battles fought and won by Arthur; whom he calls dux bellorum (war leader or warlord) of the Celtic British:

At that time, the Saxons grew strong by virtue of their large number and increased in power in Britain. Hengist having died, however, his son Octha crossed from the northern part of Britain to the kingdom of Kent and from him are descended the kings of Kent. Then Arthur along with the kings of Britain fought against them in those days, but Arthur himself was the military commander [“dux bellorum”]. His first battle was at the mouth of the river which is called Glein. His second, third, fourth, and fifth battles were above another river which is called Dubglas and is in the region of Linnuis. The sixth battle was above the river which is called Bassas. The seventh battle was in the forest of Celidon, that is Cat Coit Celidon. The eighth battle was at the fortress of Guinnion, in which Arthur carried the image of holy Mary ever virgin on his shoulders; and the pagans were put to flight on that day. And through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ and through the power of the blessed Virgin Mary his mother there was great slaughter among them. The ninth battle was waged in the City of the Legion. The tenth battle was waged on the banks of a river which is called Tribruit. The eleventh battle was fought on the mountain which is called Agnet. The twelfth battle was on Mount Badon in which there fell in one day 960 men from one charge by Arthur; and no one struck them down except Arthur himself, and in all the wars he emerged as victor. And while they were being defeated in all the battles, they were seeking assistance from Germany and their numbers were being augmented many times over without interruption. And they brought over kings from Germany that they might reign over them in Britain, right down to the time in which Ida reigned, who was son of Eobba. He was the first king in Bernicia, i.e., in Berneich.

In previous installments, we have constructed a working hypothesis as to the locations and details of the first five of Nennius’ 12 battles of Arthur. We are now prepared to continue, with Nennius’ sixth and seventh battle.

Following his victories in Lindsey over the Angles, Arthur and his combrogi likely returned to Eboracum (York), the Elmet capital; to feast and celebrate their victory over the Angles. Perhaps while here word came of rebellion in the north.

(To continue, go here)

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THE ART(WORK) OF WAR: WARRIORS OF THE PHARAOH

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Much of our perception of history is influenced by the artists who have drawn and painted scenes from out of the past. This is the start of a series in which we will look at historical armies and warriors through the images artists have given us.

Our knowledge of the warriors of the Pharaoh comes, in large part, from their own artistic renderings.

Here the Pharaoh Thutmose III is depicted in ancient Egyptian art; leading his soldiers against the Canaanite fortress of Megiddo. Atop his head is the Khepresh, the Blue War Crown worn by the Pharaohs in battle. Thutmose rides the light, two-horse Egyptian chariot; a platform for mobile archery.

(To continue reading, go here)

 

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DIADOCHI: MACEDONIAN GAME OF THRONES

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When Alexander the Great died in Babylon 323 BC, he left the greatest empire the world had yet seen with no clear successor. While both of his wives (Roxane the daughter of  Oxyartes of Bactria; and Stateira , daughter of Darius) were pregnant, he had no (legitimate) children yet born; though a four year old son of his former mistress Barsiné, named Heracles, was claimed by some to be Alexander’s illegitimate son. Alexander had made no provision for what was to happen in the case of his death. For a ruler who habitually took unnecessary risks; leading his army, literally, from the front this was particularly irresponsible. But it was completely in character for Alexander, who ever refused to acknowledge his own mortality.

 

The decision was thus placed into the hands of the Macedonian army, who by the traditions of their homeland had the sole right to select their ruler. But the generals who led them dictated events, and they soon fell out with each other. Alexander’s Diadachi (“Successors”, as they came to be called) spent the next 40+ years (from the first squabbles in Alexander’s death chamber to the Battle of Corupedion in 281 BC) attempting to settle the issue by intrigue and force of arms.

The stage upon which the drama played out was vast indeed: stretching from the Pindus Mountains to the Caspian Sea; from the Bosporus to the Nile River.  Roughly speaking the struggle was between the forces of the “dynasts”, satraps and generals who sought to carve up for themselves a portion of the empire as their personal demesne; against those representing a central authority seeking to hold the empire together. This latter was represented until 316 by various Regents for the Kings; and from that year till 301 by Antigonus Monophthalmus, who sought to make himself sole ruler. (Arguably, this cause was taken up late in his life by Seleucus Nicator, who after Corupedion found himself in the same place as Antigonus in 316; and may have, briefly, entertained the same ambition.)

THE PLAYERS TAKE THE STAGE

The leading men present at Babylon that summer of 323 BC, and in attendance at Alexander’s bedside when he breathed his last, all bore the title of “Bodyguards” (Somatophylakes); less a job description than an honorific, meaning men trusted by the king with his life. There were traditionally seven of these, but their number was raised (temporarily) to eight in India. Some had commands in the army, or governorships of provinces. They all functioned effectively as Alexander’s Field Marshals; frequently given independent commands.

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First among those at Alexander’s death bed was Perdiccus son of Orontes, the senior Hipparch (cavalry leader) and Alexander’s acting Chiliarch (Vizier). He was a prince of the House of Orestis, one of the petty-kingdoms which comprised the original Macedonian Kingdom. At the storming of Thebes…

(To continue, go here.)

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DEADLIEST BLOGGER’S GREATEST QUOTES ON WAR PART 6

quotes 6We all love lists; and Deadliest Blogger is no different! Here is sixth installment in our presentation of thought-provoking quotes on my favorite subject; from minds far greater than my own (in most cases)!

War ought to be the only study of a prince. - – Niccolò Machiavelli

The cunning of the fox is as murderous as the violence of the wolf. - – Thomas Paine

(To continue reading, go here.)

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GREAT CAPTAINS OF WAR: HANNIBAL BARCA

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This is the third in a series of posts in which the “Great Captains” of military history will be examined. Unusually, this will be in video format; posting compelling biographical material.

Arguably the greatest general of antiquity, Hannibal Barca fought and nearly overcame the greatest power of the ancient world, Rome, on its own soil. Of all the “Great Captains” in history, only Hannibal fought against another “Great Captain” (Scipio).

Hannibal was raised by his formidable father, Hamilcar Barca, the foremost Carthaginian commander to emerge from the debacle of the First Punic War; groomed from childhood to command troops in battle. Hannibal grew-up in his father’s military camp and headquarters, as Hamilcar spent the last half of his life in subduing Spain for his native city. Hannibal and his brothers, Hasdrubal and Mago, swore a sacred oath to avenge Carthage’s humiliation at the hands of Rome; and to destroy this hated enemy.

(To continue, go here)

 

 

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