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f r o m a n c i e n t e g y p t t o i r a q
CONTENTS The Rise of Rome 30
Roman wars against the Samnites and
DORLING KINDERSLEY the Greek king Pyrrhus establish Roman
Senior Art Editor Gadi Farfour Senior Editor Alison Sturgeon domination of Italy by the 3rd century BCE.

Designers Richard Horsford, Dean Morris Project Editors Tarda Davison-Aitkins

The Punic Wars 32
Elizabeth ONeill, Amy Orsborne Ferdie McDonald, Andrew Szudek
Romes rst ventures overseas. The titanic
Cartography Encompass Graphics Ltd, Editor Patrick Newman
clashes between Rome and Carthage for
Paul Eames, Simon Mumford, David Roberts Editorial Assistant Manisha Thakkar
control of the western Mediterranean.
Picture Research Sarah and Roland Smithies
Creative Retouching Miranda Benzies
Production Editor Tony Phipps
Production Controller Rita Sinha
The Gallic Wars 34
Creative Technical Support Managing Editors Camilla Hallinan ANCIENT WORLD Julius Caesars successfuland protable
Adam Brackenbury, John Goldsmid and Debra Wolter campaigns in Gaul and his two military
Managing Art Editor Karen Self US Editor Chuck Wills 3000 BCE500 CE 10 expeditions to Britain.
Art Director Bryn Walls Associate Publisher Liz Wheeler
Reference Publisher Jonathan Metcalf Introduction and timeline 12 ASPECTS OF WAR: ENGINEERING 36

TOUCAN BOOKS LTD. Wars in Sumer and Egypt 16 Roman Civil War 38
The earliest recorded wars are fought in Rome is riven by power struggles between rival
Senior Designer Mark Scribbins Senior Editor Hannah Bowen
Mesopotamia. The great empire of Sargon of generals, notably the civil wars between Caesar
Designers Nick Avery, Phil Fitzgerald, Editors Natasha Kahn, Donald Sommerville
Akkade. The conquests of the Egyptian pharaohs. and Pompey, then Octavian and Antony.
Thomas Keenes Anna Southgate
Octavian emerges as victor and emperor.
Assistant Abigail Keen Managing Director Ellen Dupont Assyrian Conquests 18
The empire created by the Assyrians stretches WITNESS TO WAR: 40
as far as Egypt. It falls to the Babylonians, who A DISTANT POSTING
Design Manager Mark Batley Managing Editor James Bennett in turn are conquered by Achaemenid Persia.
Designers Joe Conneally, Rick Fawcett Editors Jacqueline Jackson, Ccile Landau The Roman Empire 42
Nicola Hibberd, Brian Rust Anne McDowall, Constance Novis The Greco-Persian Wars 20 In the 1st and 2nd centuries CE the Roman
Picture Research Terry Forshaw Publishing Manager Charles Catton In the 5th century BCE, the Persian empire empire enjoys political stability, but wars
makes two attempts to conquer Greece. The continue, especially along its eastern borders.
EDITORIAL CONSULTANT Greek city-states unite to thwart the invasions.
Saul David The Late Roman Empire 46
The Peloponnesian War 22 The wars that lead to the fall of the Roman
CONSULTANTS Complex conict between Athens and its allies empire in the West. Incursions by Huns,
and the Spartan-led Peloponnesian League. Goths, and Vandals.
Lindsay Allen, Roger Collins, Adrian Gilbert (Directory),
The defeat of Athens and its eclipse as the
Richard Overy, David Parrott, Brendan Simms
dominant power in Greece. The Warring States Period 48
Rival feudal states vie for domination of China.
Conquests of Alexander 24 In the 3rd century BCE victory goes to the First
R. G. Grant with Simon Adams and Michael Kerrigan The spectacular campaigns of Alexander the Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi.
Great of Macedon. He subdues opposition in
Greece, then carves out a vast empire stretching The Three Kingdoms 50
Martin J. Dougherty, Michael E. Haskew, Hunter Keeter, from Egypt to northern India. Fragmentation of China in the 3rd century CE
Chris McNab, David Porter, Robert S. Rice following the collapse of the Han dynasty.
Gary Ombler, Graham Rae Alexanders Successors 28
The wars between Alexanders generals to The Mauryan Empire 54
First American Edition published as War in 2009 decide who will inherit his empire. The spoils Chandragupta founds a north Indian empire.
This edition published in 2012 in the United States
are divided between three major dynasties. His descendant Ashoka renounces war.
by DK Publishing
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Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be
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Published in Great Britain by Dorling Kindersley Limited.

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O WITNESS TO WAR: 78 O GALLERY: SWORDS 104 Korea Resists Invasion 128
WARRIOR SAINT Japans attempts to invade Korea in the 1590s
The End of the Byzantine Empire 106 are thwarted by the Korean navy under Yi Sun-sin.
Japans Gempei Wars 80 The terminal decline of the Byzantium,
The power struggle between the Minamoto successor to the Roman empire. The fall of O WITNESS TO WAR: 130
and Taira clans in 12th-century Japan. Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. SAMURAI ARMORER

Mongol Invasions 82 Manchu Conquests 132

The vast empire created by Genghis Khan and Fall of the Ming dynasty and conquest of China
WAR IN THE his successors. Settled city-dwellers have no by Manchu from the north in the 17th century.
answer to the fast-moving Mongol horsemen.
MEDIEVAL WORLD French Wars of Religion 134
The Wars of Kublai Khan 86 The civil war between French Protestants and
5001500 56 Genghis Khans grandson completes the Catholics, sustained by political power struggles.
conquest of China, founding the Yuan dynasty.
Introduction and timeline 58 Further attempts at expansion end in failure. The Dutch Revolt 138
The United Provinces of the Netherlands ght
The Rise of Byzantium 62 The Conquests of Timur 88 EARLY MODERN for 80 years to win independence from Spain.
The reconquest of North Africa and Italy under The conquests and short-lived empire of The rapid rise of Dutch sea power.
Justinian in the 6th century and the victories Timur, the self-styled Scourge of God. WARFARE
of Heraclius over the Sasanid Persians. The Anglo-Spanish War 140
Guelphs and Ghibellines 90 15001750 108 Naval battles between England and Spain in the
The Ascent of Islam 64 The struggles for control of Italy in the 12th late 16th century. A Spanish invasion attempt is
The great wave of conquests by the Arabs in and 13th centuries, from the wars of Frederick Introduction and timeline 110 called o following defeat of the Armada.
the rst century after the founding of Islam. Barbarossa to the War of the Sicilian Vespers.
The Italian Wars 114 The Thirty Years War 142
Frankish Expansion 68 O ASPECTS OF WAR: 92 French invasions of Italy lead to a personal Multi-sided conict rooted in religious dierences
Battles of Charles Martel, Pepin, and Charlemagne, MERCENARIES struggle between Francis I of France and and opposition to Habsburg domination. The
and the rise of the Carolingian dynasty. Emperor Charles V for dominance in Europe. ghting devastates Germany and Central Europe.
Crusades in Europe 94
Viking Raids and 70 Crusades against hereticsthe Albigensians Spanish Conquests 116 O KEY BATTLE: FIRST BREITENFELD 144
the Norman Conquest in France and the Hussites in Bohemiaand in the New World
The voyages and raids of the Scandinavian against the pagan peoples of the Baltic region. Spain gains a vast empire through its defeats The British Civil Wars 146
Vikings from the 8th century and the rise of of the Aztecs in Mexico and the Incas in Peru. Parliamentarians defeat Royalist supporters
the Normans as a major European power. Anglo-Scottish Wars 96 of Charles I in England, Scotland, and Ireland.
Confused conict in which Scotland managed Mogul Conquests 120
The Rise of the Turks 72 to assert its independence from England in The initial conquests of Babur, followed by the The Anglo-Dutch Wars 148
The Turkish tribal warriors employed by Islamic the 14th century. tireless campaigns of Akbar, establish Mogul Three naval wars are fought for control of
rulers assert their independence, in particular rule across most of India. shipping and trade through the English Channel.
the Ghaznavids and the Seljuks. The Spanish Reconquista 98
The long series of wars in Spain and Portugal Ottoman Expansion 122 The Early Wars of Louis XIV 152
The First Crusades 74 that nally drove out the Muslim rulers Further Ottoman conquests under Suleiman A series of expansionist wars fought by France,
The capture of Jerusalem in 1099 and the from the Iberian Peninsula in 1492. the Magnicent and his heirs. Expansion is chiey on the countrys eastern borders.
foundation of the crusader kingdoms. nally halted in the late 17th century.
O KEY BATTLE: CRCY 100 The War of the Spanish Succession 154
Expulsion of the Crusaders 76 O KEY BATTLE: LEPANTO 124 Dynastic accident threatens to give Louis XIV
from the Holy Land The Hundred Years War 102 control of Spain. A powerful alliance of other
Loss of Jerusalem to Saladin. Later crusades fail Sporadic outbreaks of war in the 14th and Wars of the Sengoku Era 126 European powers opposes French ambitions.
to win back lost territory. The last crusader 15th centuries over English kings claims A long period of civil wars in Japan ends
stronghold, Acre, falls in 1291. to the French throne. with the triumph of Tokugawa Ieyasu. O GALLERY: DAGGERS 156
The Great Northern War 158 O WITNESS TO WAR: 184 End of the US Civil War 236
Sweden fails in its attempt to dominate the THE KINGS RIGHT ARM As conict becomes a war of attrition, the
Baltic. The rise of Russia under Peter the Great. greater industrial resources and superior
French Revolutionary Wars 186 manpower of the North eventually force
O ASPECTS OF WAR: SUPPLIES 160 Alarmed by the French Revolution, the the Confederacy to surrender.
monarchies of Europe attempt to crush
The War of the Austrian Succession 162 the edgling French Republic, but fail. Imperial Wars in Africa 238
In the war between Prussia and Austria, Britain Beginning with the French conquest of Algeria
backs Austria, while France and Spain support The Rise of Napoleon 188 in the 1830s, the European powers divide up
Prussia. Fighting between Britain and France Two successful campaigns in Italy and an THE DAWN OF almost the whole continent between them.
extends to India and North America. ambitious expedition to Egypt help bring the Resistance to colonization by native peoples.
young Corsican general to power in France. MECHANIZED
Wars in China 240
Triumph of the Royal Navy 190 WARFARE In the 19th century imperial China has to face
Throughout the Napoleonic Wars, Britain retains a series of interventions by predatory foreign
command of the sea, blockading French ports 18301914 214 powers. It is also subject to vast popular
and winning the crucial battle of Trafalgar. uprisings such as the Taiping Rebellion.
Introduction and timeline 216
O KEY BATTLE: TRAFALGAR 192 Plains Indian Wars 242
The Crimean War 220 In vain attempts to stop encroachment on
Napoleons Imperial 194 Britain and France go to war to support the their hunting grounds, the Plains Indians clash
Triumphs in Europe declining Ottoman empire against Russian repeatedly with the US Cavalry.
THE AGE OF Napoleons astonishing run of victories against expansion. A focal point of the war is the siege
Austria, Russia, and Prussia, starting in 1805. of the Russian Black Sea port of Sevastopol. O GALLERY: MUSKETS AND RIFLES 244
The Peninsular War 198 O ASPECTS OF WAR: MEDICINE 222 The Zulu Wars 246
17501830 164 French takeover of Spain is resisted by Spanish Formidable, well-organized warriors, the Zulus
guerrillas and the British under Wellington. Wars of Italian Unication 224 inict a humiliating defeat on the British at
Introduction and timeline 166 The 19th-century wars in which Piedmonts Isandlwana, but then submit to superior force.
O ASPECTS OF WAR: 200 House of Savoy acquires the Austrian and Papal
French and Indian War 170 COMMUNICATIONS territories in Italy, as well as Sicily and Naples, The Second Boer War 248
The war in North America between Britain and conquered by Giuseppe Garibaldi. Britain sends a huge army to South Africa
France results in Frances loss of Canada. Napoleons Downfall 202 to crush the determined bid by the Boers
Napoleons fortunes never recover from the The Rise of Prussia 226 to preserve their independence.
The Seven Years War 172 disastrous campaign in Russia in 1812. His Bismarcks plan for a united Germany under
Frederick the Greats Prussia survives against a escape from Elba and nal defeat at Waterloo. Prussian leadership comes a step closer after O WITNESS TO WAR: VELDT DIARY 250
powerful alliance of Austria, Russia, and France. a crushing victory over Austria.
Britain ghts mainly against France at sea. O GALLERY: ARMOR 204 Spanish-American War 252
Franco-Prussian War 228 In this one-sided war, the US has little diculty
O KEY BATTLE: LEUTHEN 174 O KEY BATTLE: WATERLOO 206 Prussias victory over the French leads to in taking Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippine
the fall of Napoleon III in France and the Islands from Spain.
Britains Wars in India 176 The War of 1812 208 creation of a German empire.
The British East India Company wins control of The US and Britain ght an inconclusive war The Russo-Japanese War 254
Bengal in the Seven Years War, then goes on on land and sea. American attempts to invade Mexican Wars 230 Japan defeats Russia in Manchuria both on land
to ght Mysore, the Marathas, and the Sikhs. the British colony of Canada fail. Mexico ghts two disastrous wars, the rst against and at sea. First victory in modern times for a
Texan rebels, the second against the US. These non-European country over a European power.
The American Revolution 178 South Americas Wars of Liberation 210 result in the loss of vast swathes of territory.
In protest against laws and restrictions imposed With Spain distracted by events in Europe, O KEY BATTLE: TSUSHIMA 256
by Britain, the American colonists ght and win Simn Bolvar and other leaders overthrow Start of the US Civil War 232
a war of independence, assisted by France. Spanish imperial rule in South America. Secession of Southern states unleashes civil War in the Balkans 258
war. Early Confederate successes in the eastern The Russo-Turkish War of 187778 and the
The Wars of Catherine the Great 182 The Greek War of Independence 212 theatre do not lead to a decisive victory. two Balkans Wars of 191213 and 1913.
Russias wars against the Ottoman Turks and Greeks win independence from the Ottomans Bulgaria falls out with its allies over division
Sweden in the late 18th century. with the help of Russia and Western powers. O KEY BATTLE: GETTYSBURG 234 of the territory taken from the Ottomans.
The Spanish Civil War 284 South Asian Wars 332
In a rehearsal for World War II, Francos Conict between India and Pakistan.
Nationalists backed by Germany and Italy The Tamil separatist movement in Sri Lanka.
defeat Soviet-supported Republicans.
The Arab-Israeli Conict 334
O ASPECTS OF WAR: PROPAGANDA 286 The wars of 1948, 1967, 1973, and hostilities
that have continued to the present day.
World War II Begins 288
Germanys lightning campaigns conquer The Falklands War 336
ERA OF THE Poland, Denmark and Norway, France and the CONFLICTS AFTER Britain sends a large seaborne task force to
Low Countries, Yugoslavia and Greece. Initial recapture the islands from the Argentinians.
WORLD WARS success of the invasion of USSR in 1941. WORLD WAR II
19141945 260 World War II: 290 1945PRESENT 306
The Turning Tide Wars in Afghanistan 340
Introduction and timeline 262 Americas entry into the war, Allied success in Introduction and timeline 308 From the Soviet invasion of the 1980s, through
North Africa, and Soviet victory at Stalingrad. the Taliban era, to the ongoing conict of today.
Outbreak of World War I 266 US troops ght in Tunisia and the invasion of The Cold War 312
European powers line up for a long-awaited Sicily. Italy surrenders and changes sides. The confrontation between US and USSR Gulf Wars 342
war. In France, Germans are halted at the following World War II. The nuclear arms race. Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s. The First Gulf War
Marne, but defeat Russia at Tannenberg. O KEY BATTLE: STALINGRAD 292 of 1991 following Iraqs occupation of Kuwait.
The Chinese Civil War 314
World War I: Stalemate 268 World War II: The Battle 294 Victory of Maos Communists over Jiang Jieshis O ASPECTS OF WAR: 344
on the Western Front of the Atlantic Nationalists is completed in 1949. ETHICS OF WAR
Neither side can break the stalemate. At the The threat of Germanys surface raiders is
Somme and Verdun hundreds of thousands of neutralized, but the U-boat campaign against The Korean War 316 Post-Communist Wars 346
lives are lost but oensives come to nothing. British and US merchant shipping puts the First Cold War conict. US and UN troops face Regional conicts that followed the collapse
Allied war eort in grave peril. Communist forces of North Korea and China. of Communism in Yugoslavia and the USSR.
World War I: The Wider War 270
The progress of the war on other fronts, World War II: The War in the Air 296 Decolonization in Southeast Asia 318 The Occupation of Iraq 348
principally the Eastern Front, the Balkans, Axis and Allied bombing campaigns against Wars of independence in French Indochina, the After swiftly deposing Saddam Hussein, US and
Gallipoli, the Middle East, and Italy. civilian populations as well as strategic targets. Dutch East Indies, British Burma, and Malaya. UK have less success in countering insurgency.
The Battle of Britain and the Blitz. The bombing
World War I: Air and Sea Battles 272 of Dresden. Germanys V-weapons. O KEY BATTLE: DIEN BIEN PHU 320
Germanys U-boat campaign and the battle of
Jutland. Dogghts over the trenches. German World War II: The Fall of Hitler 298 The Vietnam War 322 DIRECTORY 352
airships and bombers attack London. Allied landings in Normandy and the liberation Massive, but ultimately unsuccessful, involvement
of France. Hitler resists almost to the bitter of US in war between North and South Vietnam. A comprehensive directory of wars,
World War I: The Defeat of 276 end as the Soviets invade Germany from battles, and military statistics from
Germany Poland, and the Western Allies from across O WITNESS TO WAR: 324 ancient to modern times.
Massive German oensives of early 1918. The the Rhine. Soviet forces take Berlin. PRISONER IN VIETNAM
Allies greater resources and the arrival of US War in the Ancient World 354
troops in the line determine the wars outcome. O WITNESS TO WAR: 300 Revolutionary Wars in Latin America 326
War in the Medieval Era 372
WARTIME ODYSSEY Castro in Cuba, the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, and
O GALLERY: ARTILLERY 278 frequent US intervention in the regions conicts. Early Modern Warfare 394
World War II: The War with Japan 302
The Russian Civil War 280 Japans raid on Pearl Harbor and conquest of African Wars of Independence 328 The Age of Revolution 416
Bolsheviks defeat White Army and other anti- the Philippines and Southeast Asia. US ghts Uprisings against European rule, notably in French
revolutionary forces, but lose war with Poland. back at Midway and Guadalcanal. Algeria. Portugal vainly tries to keep its colonies. The Dawn of Mechanized Warfare 436

Era of the World Wars 456

The Sino-Japanese War 282 World War II: The Defeat of Japan 304 Post-colonial Africa 330
Japan launches a full-scale invasion of China. US and Allies slowly win back territory occupied Long-running struggles for power in many new Conicts since World War II 478
After swift initial conquests and victory at by Japan. Total defeat of Japanese navy. Atomic African states, in particular Angola and Congo.
Wuhan in 1938, the war becomes a stalemate. bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Other civil wars and genocidal ethnic conicts. Index and Acknowledgments 498
It is well that war is so terriblewe would grow too fond of it,
wrote the great Confederate general Robert E. Lee in 1862, thus
neatly encapsulating the two conicting emotions that war has
always stirred in the human breast: repulsion and fascination.

War has always been with us as a violent method of resolving

disputes. The earliest communities fought each other for control of
food and land. But war in its strictest denition is the state of armed
conict between nations or states, or between groups within the
same state (otherwise known as civil war). The rst recorded wars
between organized armies were fought by the city-states of Sumer
in the third millennium BCE. Since then, states have habitually used
war as a means of achieving their political ends when all peaceful
options have been exhausted. War, according to the Prussian
military theorist Clausewitz, is nothing but the continuation of
politics by other means.

Scarcely a generation passes in any nation without some exposure

to war. Between 1500 BCE and 1860 CE there were in the known
world, on average, thirteen years of war to every one year of peace.
Virtually all frontiers between nations, races, and religions have
been established by wars, and most previous civilizations and
empires have expired because of them. The history of the world
is primarily the history of war.

The carnage of the 20th centurytwo world wars and numerous

instances of genocideand the advent of nuclear weapons have
made conict between the major powers both undesirable and
unthinkable. Yet for some combatants war has always had its
attraction. Comradeship, wrote a US veteran of World War II,
reaches its peak in battle. In truth, war brings out the best and
worst of people. It mobilizes our resources of love, compassion,
courage, and self-sacrice, but also our capacity for hate,
xenophobia, brutality, and revenge.

One of the strengths of this impeccably researched, well-written and

beautifully illustrated volume is that it covers more than 5,000 years
of warfarefrom the Sumerians to the modern dayin such a
multi-faceted way. It shows how armies were organized, and
equipped; how battles, campaigns, and wars were won and lost; and
how technology has gradually changed the face of battle from brutal
hand-to-hand encounters with axes and swords to the use of
impersonal computer-guided weaponry today. It also looks at war
from the perspective of politicians, generals, ordinary soldiers, and
civilians. And it charts the attemptsnot always successfulto
regulate war and make it less brutal.

Is there such a thing as a just war? Thomas Aquinas thought so,

and those who fought for the Allies in World War II would surely
agree. Wars are sometimes a necessary evilto topple dictators,
curb aggression, and protect the weak. If a nation is unwilling
to ght in what it believes is a just cause, it will not deter others
from going to war.


ff Assyrian triumph over the Elamites
The Assyrian emperor Ashurbanipal commemorated his
victories in reliefs on the walls of his palace at Nineveh.
Here, he crushes the Elamites at Til-Tuba in c.650 BCE.
Most of his army were spearmen and archers who fought
on foot, while he and his elite warriors rode in chariots.

3000 BCE500 CE
Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China saw the
development of complex urban civilizations,
whose rulers protected and increased their
wealth by conquest and exacting tribute.
Their example was followed by the later
empires of the Persians, Greeks, and Romans.


3000 BCE500 CE
hether or not humans should many elite warriors rode in chariots, and permanent force of professional soldiers
be regarded as warlike by nature, in the following millennium soldiers also during the 1st century BCE. The Romans
there is substantial archeological began to ght on horseback. Rulers such extended their rule over a wide-ranging
evidence of organized combat in as the pharaohs of New Kingdom Egypt empire through military skill and ruthless
prehistoric times. Fighting between and the kings of Assyria maintained willpower. The superior exibility of
different groups of people was frequent substantial standing armies and their legion infantry, armed with sword
in societies of hunter-gatherers and Stone campaigned over long distances. and javelin, rendered the phalanx
Age farmers. If some encounters seemed They also developed the obsolete. However, in a long
designed to minimize casualtiestwo science of siege warfare, series of wars, they failed
bands of villagers hurling missiles at one with effective machines to establish supremacy
another from a distancethere is also for battering down or over Persia, where
evidence of genocidal warfare, aimed at storming city walls. mounted archers
the extermination of another people to From the 6th formed a principal
take over its land and resources. century BCE Greek part of the armies
city-states such as of the Parthian and
Warring states and empires Athens and Sparta Sasanid dynasties.
As more complex societies developed, elded armies in which every Scythian horseman
they provided the resources for larger- citizen over a certain age was It was among the nomadic societies The fall of empires
scale armies to be deployed in sustained obliged to serve. The soldiers of Central Asia that horses were first The larger empires proved,
warfare. Wherever early civilizations fought in dense spear-armed domesticated and where they were in the long run, difcult
emergedin Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, infantry formations known as first ridden in battle. to sustain. Varieties of
northern India, or Central America phalanxes. In the eastern catapult and crossbow
military success was the basis of imperial Mediterranean naval warfare developed especially highly developed in China
power. Triumph in war built up the rulers as the Phoenicians and Greeks built eets gave imperial armies a technological
prestige as well as his wealth in plunder, of oared galleys, with rams for sinking edge, as did their engineering skills.
land, and slaves. By 3000 BCE the weapons their opponents. By combining an elite But neither the Roman empire nor that
that would remain in use for millennia cavalry force with an infantry phalanx, of Han China could ever guarantee its
had already been developed: bows, the Macedonian Alexander the Great frontiers against incursions by tribal
slingshots, javelins, spears, clubs, knives, conquered the mighty Persian empire warbands and nomadic peoples. Indeed,
and swords, along with shields and and extended Macedonian-Greek rule the armies of both empires were often
armor. Metals such as bronze and iron from Egypt to India. defeated by steppe horsemen in battle,
largely supplanted stone. Early wars were although they had considerable success
fought exclusively on foot, but in Eurasia The might of Rome in drawing these so-called barbarians
and Africa in the 2nd millennium BCE The subsequent rise of Rome as a major into their service. The ancient empires
power was initially built on the Greek also suffered from the tendency of their
Greek hoplites citizen-soldier concept, although the armies to fragment into independent
In their disciplined phalanxes protected by a wall of shields, Roman army was transformed into a sources of power, leading to destructive
Greek hoplites were a formidable infantry force. They wore civil wars between rival generals or
well-made bronze armor and helmets and their main regional warlords. If warfare created
weapon was the long, stabbing spear. empires, it also undid them.

C.30002500 BCE C.900 BCE C.500 BCE 397 BCE 298 BCE
The city-states of Sumer The rule of the warlike The city of Rome begins to For a campaign against the Mauryan ruler Chandragupta
in Mesopotamia leave Assyrians extends over most of extend its control over the Carthaginians, Dionysios I, dies, having founded an
the earliest evidence Mesopotamia and Lebanon. neighboring Latin-speaking tyrant of Syracuse in Sicily, empire in northern India.
of organized armies. tribes, becoming a local creates the first siege train
power center. in Europe with torsion 298290 BCE
catapults and a proto- Rome is victorious in the
490 BCE crossbow, the oxybeles. Third Samnite war.
Greek hoplites repel a
Persian seaborne invasion
at the battle of Marathon.
Sumerian ceremonial Samnite warriors of
gold helmet the 4th century BCE

C.2300 BCE 480479 BCE 390 BCE 343341 BCE 280275 BCE
Sargon of Akkade builds A large-scale invasion of Rome is sacked by the Gauls. The Romans fight mountain Rome fights a war against
an empire by conquest Greece by Persian emperor This defeat is followed by the peoples of southern Italy King Pyrrhus of Epirus.
in Mesopotamia. Xerxes is defeated by an reform of the Roman army. in the First Samnite War. Pyrrhus fails to prevent Rome
alliance of Greek city-states The legions, a citizen militia, Rome makes substantial from taking control of the
led by Athens and Sparta. abandon the infantry phalanx territorial gains. Greek cities of southern Italy.
770475 BCE for more flexible tactics.
In China the Spring and
Autumn period of the Zhou
dynasty sees conflict between
feudal lords, with battles often
fought with massed chariots.

C.1760 BCE C.700500 BCE 475 BCE 334330 BCE 265262 BCE
Babylon creates an empire Phoenicians and Greeks The Warring States period in Alexander of Macedon Mauryan emperor Ashoka
in Mesopotamia under develop specialist oared China begins; the civil conflict conquers the Persian campaigns against Kalinga in
Hammurabi. warshipspenteconters, lasts until 221 BCE. Warfare empire, including Egypt India; he renounces war.
biremes, and triremes is on a large scale, with the and Mesopotamia, with
C.1700 BCE some armed with rams. widespread use of crossbows victories at Issus in 333
War chariots drawn by horses and heavy siege weapons. and Gaugamela in 331.
are introduced into the
Middle East by the steppe
pastoralists of Central Asia.

Alexander of Macedon, Mauryan cavalryman

known as the Great in ceremonial dress

Model of Greek trireme 327304 BCE

359336 BCE Second Samnite War. After
Philip II rules the kingdom of initial setbacks, Rome defeats
Macedon, transforming it into the Samnites and Etruscans.
a major military power and
imposing his leadership on 326 BCE
the smaller Greek city-states. Alexander invades India and
fights King Porus at the battle
of Hydaspes. Poruss use of
war elephants impresses
the Macedonians, who
later imitate it.

1570 BCE 668627 BCE 431404 BCE

In Egypt, New Kingdom Under Ashurbanipal, the Peloponnesian War pits
emerges. Pharaohs such Assyrian empire reaches Athens and its allies in a land
as Thutmosis III (reigned its greatest extent. and sea war against the
14791425) and Ramesses II Peloponnesian League led by
(reigned 12791213) fight 605 BCE Sparta. Athens is ultimately
campaigns of conquest. The Assyrian empire is defeated after a disastrous
destroyed and the Neo- expedition against Syracuse
Babylonian empire flourishes in Sicily (415413).
in its place.
Seleucus I, one of
Alexanders successors

559539 BCE 323 BCE 264241 BCE

Cyrus the Great founds the Death of Alexander triggers First Punic War. Massive naval
Achaemenid empire in Persia a struggle for the succession battles between the Roman
and conquers Babylon. among his generals. The and Carthaginian fleets. Rome
fighting continues until 276, wins control of Sicily.
by which time the Ptolemys
rule in Egypt, the Seleucids in 260 BCE
Persia, and the Antigonids in In China around one million
Macedonia and Greece. men fight at Changping, a
Qin victory over Zhao in the
period of the Warring States.
Greek bronze helmet
of the 5th century BCE


200 BCE 9188 BCE 4945 BCE

Steppe nomad horsemen, the In the Social War, Rome is Caesar and Pompey fight a
Xiongnu, invade China. The threatened by a rebellion war for control of the Roman
Han, rulers of China since of its Italian allies. Sulla is Republic. In 48 Pompey is
202 BCE, survive through one of the generals who defeated at Pharsalus.
military action and diplomacy. suppress the rebellion.

Chinese emperor Shi

Huangdis terracotta army Gnaeus Pompeius
(Pompey the Great)

149146 BCE 8882 BCE 9 CE

Third Punic War. The Romans Civil war between legions Germanic tribes under
send an expedition to destroy loyal to Sulla and those Arminius massacre Roman
the city of Carthage. supporting Marius. Sulla wins legions under Varus at the
and is dictator of the Roman battle of the Teutoburg Forest.
119 BCE Republic for two years.
Han China launches a major
offensive into the Mongolian 7370 BCE
territory of Xiongnu nomads. Spartacus leads a slave
uprising in Italy.

Coin of Julius Caesar

221 BCE 197 BCE 112106 BCE 44 BCE 1416 CE

Qin Shi Huangdi declares Roman army defeats Rome fights a war against Assassination of Julius Caesar Germanicus, nephew of
himself first emperor of Philip V of Macedon King Jugurtha of Numidia in Rome triggers a new round Emperor Tiberius, leads
a unified China. Qin dynasty at Cynoscephalae. in North Africa. The war of civil wars. punitive campaigns against
rules only until 206 BCE. advances the transformation Arminius that end with
192189 BCE of the legions into a 42 BCE heavy losses on both sides.
218 BCE The Romans wage war on professional standing army. Caesars assassins Brutus and
Carthaginian leader Hannibal Seleucid King Antiochus III Cassius are defeated by Mark 43 CE
invades Italy across the Alps, in Syria, winning a notable 111 BCE Antony and Octavian at The armies of Han China
precipitating the Second victory at Magnesia. The armies of Han China Philippi. Rome is ruled by crush nationalist uprising
Punic War. invade and conquer Vietnam. a triumvirate. in Vietnam led by the
Trung sisters.

216 BCE 168 BCE 3230 BCE 4347 CE

Hannibal inflicts a defeat Roman legions again defeat Octavian fights a war with During the reign of Emperor
on the Romans at Cannae. the Macedonians at Pydna. Antony and the Egyptian Claudius, the Romans invade
This gives Rome effective ruler Cleopatra. After a naval Britain and gain control of
202 BCE control of Greece. defeat at Actium in 31, southern England despite
Roman forces invading North Antony and Cleopatra flee the opposition of Caratacus.
Africa defeat Carthaginians at to Egypt, where both
the battle of Zama. Carthage commit suicide.
surrenders the following year,
ending the Second Punic War.
Vercingetorix, Gallic
chieftain defeated by
Julius Caesar

War elephant, adopted 5850 BCE 27 BCE

by the Greeks and The Gallic Wars. Julius Caesar Octavian is given the title
Carthaginians by
the 3rd century BCE campaigns in Gaul, invading Augustus and granted imperial
Britain on two occasions and powers by the Roman senate.
defeating the Gallic leader Under his rule (to 14 CE) the
Vercingetorix at Alesia. Roman legions take on a
permanent structure.

Battle of Actium, key victory

in Octavians rise to power

109 BCE 53 BCE

Han China conquers northern The Parthians defeat a
Korea, destroying the state of Roman army at Carrhae;
Wiman Joseon. Crassus, the Roman
commander, is killed.
105101 BCE
Rome fights a war against the
barbarian Cimbri and
Teutones. Roman general
Marius defeats the Teutones
at Aquae Sextiae in 102.


6061 CE C.100 CE 208 CE 312 CE 410 CE

In Britain the Iceni tribe led The Moche civilization Han general Cao Cao fights Constantine defeats Maxentius Gothic Roman army auxiliaries,
by Boudicca revolt against emerges in the Andes, the battle of the Red Cliffs at battle of the Milvian Bridge led by Alaric, sack Rome.
Roman rule. The uprising South America. Its soldiers (Chibi) against his rivals Sun outside Rome to become
is suppressed. fight with clubs, maces, Quan and Liu Bei. emperor in the West. 434453 CE
slingshots, and javelins. Attila is ruler of the Huns,
319 CE steppe horsemen from
Chandragupta I founds Central Asia. He leads them
the Gupta empire in on aggressive campaigns,
northern India. including incursions into the
Roman empire from 441.
Cao Cao on the eve
of his defeat at Red Cliffs

6673 CE 101106 CE 226 CE 324 CE

A Jewish rebellion in Judaea Roman emperor Trajan The Persian Sasanids Constantine defeats his
is suppressed by a Roman fights two Dacian Wars, under Ardashir I defeat co-emperor Licinius to
army under Titus. Jerusalem incorporating Dacia into the the Parthians. become ruler of the whole
falls in 70 and the rebels Roman empire. The Roman empire.
final stronghold, the fortress campaigns are recorded on 244 CE
of Masada, is captured in 73. Trajans Column in Rome. Roman emperor Gordian III is
defeated by the Sasanids and
dies in Mesopotamia.

Roman legionaries make

camp (from Trajans Column)

C.154 CE 251 CE
Construction of the Antonine Roman emperor Decius is
Wallnamed for Roman defeated and killed by the
emperor Antoninus Goths at Forum Trebonii.
Piusacross the middle
of Scotland. 260 CE
Roman emperor Valerian is
defeated and captured by
the Sasanid king Shapur I
at Edessa.

69 CE 161166 CE 375 CE Attila the Hun

Year of the Four Emperors: Romans fight the Parthians Death of Samudragupta,
Rome is again plunged into for control of Armenia. ruler of the Gupta empire, 455 CE
civil war as legions support who has conquered much Vandals sack Rome.
different candidates for the 166180 CE of India through his victories
imperial throne. Vespasian Roman emperor Marcus over 21 kings. 476 CE
wins the struggle. Aurelius campaigns against Emperor Romulus Augustus is
Germanic tribes threatening deposed by Germanic general
Romes Danube frontier. Odoacer. The end of the
Roman empire in the West.

Roman legionarys 113117 CE 184 CE 378 CE 493 CE

short sword and Trajan campaigns successfully The Yellow Turban peasant Valens, Roman emperor in Odoacer is defeated by the
against the Parthians in revolt led by Zhang Jiao the East, is defeated and Ostrogoth Theodoric, who
Mesopotamia. devastates Han China. killed by the Goths at the rules the kingdom of Italy
battle of Adrianople. until his death in 526.
117138 CE 190 CE
Hadrian is Roman emperor. In China warlords begin
From 122 Hadrians Wall is competing for control of the
built to mark the northern disintegrating Han empire. Two of Romes quartet
boundary of Roman Britain. of rulers, the tetrarchs

132135 CE 193 CE 284 CE 394 CE

Simon bar Kokhba leads Rome enters a new period of Diocletian becomes Roman Emperor Theodosius
another Jewish revolt against civil wars and violent changes emperor. He stabilizes the wins a victory over the
Roman rule in Judaea. The of emperor after a century of empire, creating the Tetrarchy usurper Eugenius at
revolt is crushed with great firm government and security. (rule of four people), with Frigidus thanks to his
severity; most Jews in Judaea two emperors and two Vandal general Stilicho.
are killed, enslaved, or junior co-emperors.

Stilicho, a powerful
Romanized Vandal

3000 BCE500 CE

Wars in Sumer and Egypt


The valleys of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in Mesopotamia and the Nile in Egypt were the birthplaces of
hierarchical societies, with powerful rulers who used warfare to found empires at the expense of weaker
neighbors. War brought a rich reward in plunder and slaves, as well as glory to the victorious leader.
1 Empire of 2 Egypt under

Sargon of Akkade Ramesses II he rst recorded wars Egyptian sword the New Kingdom, dated from
Dates c.23002215 BCE Dates 12791213 BCE between organized This double-edged copper sword was crafted for 1570 BCE, resumed and extended
Location Mesopotamia Location Egypt,
to the Mediterranean Palestine, and Syria
armies were fought by an elite soldier during the New Kingdom era in the Egyptian tradition of imperial
the city-states of Sumer in Ancient Egypt. It was a thrusting weapon, worn conquest. Their campaigns
southern Mesopotamia in on a belt around the warriors waist. exhibited the very latest
around 30002500 BCE. Even development in military
B E F OR E the largest of these states was building became the impulse behind technology: the horse-
only capable of elding a small war-making. Sargon seized power in drawn two-wheeled
army for a short campaign. The Kish, a Mesopotamian city well to war chariot.
The rst farming communities in the bulk of their forces consisted of the north of Lagash, and then The civilizations
Nile Valley, Mesopotamia, and the eastern helmeted foot soldiers armed founded his own power base at of west Asia and
Mediterranean fought one another for with spears. There were also Akkade. From there he imposed his the eastern
cattle and women. They also warred with trundling solid-wheeled carts rule on the other Mesopotamian Mediterranean
hunter-gatherers and nomadic pastoralists drawn by asses that carried city-states as far south as the almost certainly
who preyed upon their settled societies. aristocratic warriors or archers Persian Gulf, and then continued learned the use
to the battleeld. his career of conquest northwest of war chariots
WALLED TOWNS Conicts between city-states to the Mediterranean coast of Syria from nomadic
As societies became larger and more complex, were motivated by disputes and eastern Anatolia, and east to pastoralists who
warfare similarly increased in sophistication. The over territory and scarce Elam. If his inscriptions are to be occasionally
earliest evidence of defensive fortications was water supplies. A number of believed, Sargon maintained a irrupted from
inscriptions, including one on a standing army of 5,400 soldiers

59 The number of bodies

found by archeologists
at Jebel Sahaba in Egypt.
Many had been killed by arrows and
monument known as the Stele
of the Vultures, record wars
fought between the aggressive
city of Lagash and its neighbor,
and won 34 battles during a reign
that lasted over 40 years.
Sargons empire outlived him
by more than a century. Its last
were probably victims of warfare Umma, around 2500 BCE. The great leader, Naram-Sin, ruled from
conducted some 13,500 years ago. stele shows Lagashs ruler, the Taurus Mountains in the north
Eannatum, advancing at the to the south of the Persian Gulf.
found at the ancient town of Jericho near the head of his troops, who have The Akkadian empire founded
Jordan River, where walls were built around adopted a tight-packed infantry a tradition for others to follow.
8000 BCE. In the rst half of the third millennium formation. According to the Around 1760 BCE Hammurabi, ruler
BCE the rst cities emerged in Mesopotamia accompanying inscription, of Babylon, defeated the Elamites
and Egypt, as well as in the Indus Valley and Eannatum was wounded by and then subjugated the cities of
China. They created territorial states that were an arrow in the ghting but Mesopotamia to create an empire
won and held by armed force. triumphed over Umma. from Syria to the Persian Gulf.
There is no mistaking Lagashs
joy in the slaughter of war, for Territorial pharaohs
the stele depicts carrion birds Another center for the
Ancient arrowheads feasting on the entrails of the development of imperial
The Ancient Egyptians enemy dead. Yet it is doubtful warfare was Egypt. In the
typically tipped their that these early Sumerian wars Middle Kingdom era (about
arrows and spears with took a heavy toll, even on the 2040 to 1785 BCE) Egyptian
flint, copper, or bronze. lives of the defeated. Another pharaohs campaigned
Shapes varied from inscription records that on a later southward into Nubia and
barbed, which were hard occasion, Umma, again defeated built strings of fortresses
to extract from a wound, in battle, lost 60 carts and their to dene and defend their
to leaf-shaped. crewsprobably 120 men, given conquests. Their weaponry
one driver and one warrior per included bows, spears, maces,
vehicle. These casualties seem to and throwing sticks made
have been regarded as heavy. On the of wood, stone, copper, and
other hand, the deaths of foot soldiers bronze. The Middle Kingdom
are unrecorded and these may have ended in a troubled period
been far more numerous. when Egypt was dominated
by the Asiatic Hyksos, but
The Akkadian Empire after this the pharaohs of
The rulers of Lagash were not
unambitiousthere is a record of a Stele of Sargon of Akkade
military expedition to distant Elam in Naram-Sin, ruler of the Akkadian empire,
present-day western Iranbut it was is represented as a god trampling
not until the campaigns of Sargon of mercilessly upon the bodies of his fallen
Akkade around 2300 BCE that empire- enemies and revered by his soldiers.


the steppe into the lands of settled professional soldiers Unknown Akkadian ruler
agriculture and cities. It was probably rewarded for their This copper head was unearthed
from the same source that they adopted services with during excavations at Nineveh. By the 12th century BCE the Hittite Empire
the composite bow as a more powerful a grant of land. It was made at the time of had collapsed and Egyptian power was on the
alternative to the simple self-bow. The New recruits were Sargon of Akkade, and is wane. Mesopotamia too had entered a period
17 campaigns of pharaoh Thutmosis III trained in ghting often given that name. of fragmentation and instability.
(reigned 14791425 BCE) recorded by technique, drill, and
his royal scribes ranged from as far maneuvers at boot in some detail. Around RISE OF ASSYRIA
south as the fourth cataract of the camps, where 1460 BCE Thutmosis III led a Egypt underwent political disintegration
Nile in Nubia to Syria and the beatings to instill punitive expedition against the that destroyed its unity and left it prey to
Euphrates in the north. discipline were rebellious princedoms in Palestine. invaders. The country was conquered by
Ramesses II, in a long reign common. The corps Marching 12 miles (20 km) a day the Kushites in the 8th century, the
from 1279 to 1213 BCE, of bowmen was an across deserts and mountains, the Assyrians in the 7th century, and the
battled with a rival power, elite, the use of the Egyptians emerged in front of the city Persians in the 6th century BCE.
the Hittites, for control of composite bow in of Megiddo in force, catching their In Mesopotamia the
Palestine and Syria particular requiring exceptional skill. enemies unprepared. The battle that Babylonian empire founded
the Hittites expanding Archery was practiced from childhood. followed later was a swift rout, the by Hammurabi was overrun by
to the south from The aristocracy and the pharaoh enemy bolting to seek safety behind the the Hittites around 1530 BCE.
their native lands himself rode in chariots that were city walls while the rampant Egyptians Babylon ceased to be a major
in Anatolia. armed with a bow or mace. The soldiers plundered their abandoned camp. military force. It was overtaken
The common were supported by administrative staff Megiddo surrendered after a seven- by Assyria, a city-state on the
soldiers of the that kept records, organized supplies of month siege. northern Tigris that, by the 13th
Egyptian New century BCE, had developed into a
Kingdom were
a mixture of
volunteers and
Bring forth weapons! Send major power. From the reign of
Tiglath-Pileser III (745727 BCE) to
that of Ashurbanipal (669627
some of them forth the army to destroy the BCE), Assyria would establish its
Mesopotamian-based rule
long-serving 1819 ggover a large area.
rebellious lands! ASHURBANIPAL

food and weaponry for their campaigns, A more tightly contested battle was the day. This battle was followed by the
and ensured wells were dug along lines fought between the armies of Ramesses rst recorded peace treaty, a settlement
of march. Wall paintings depicting II and Hittite ruler Muwatalli at Kadesh that reected the even balance between
battles of the period show medical around 1275 BCE in the course of a war Hittite and Egyptian forces.
personnel attending to the wounded. for control of Lebanon and Syria. Both The later history of the Egyptian New
Egyptian warfare had religious sanction sides were able to deploy large numbers Kingdom is dominated by defensive
from the god Amun and was fought of chariotspossibly 2,000 of the wars. Ramesses III, ruling from 1186
with the ruthlessness of a crusade. lighter two-man Egyptian vehicles were to 1154 BCE, had to ght off incursions
Soldiers were known to collect body involved and 3,500 heavier three-man by Libyans and waves of invasion by
parts from slain enemies while prisoners Hittite chariots. The Hittites achieved raiders known as the Sea Peoples.
were sometimes impaled or burned surprise, attacking the Egyptians while The occasion for the rst recorded
alive. The luckier among the defeated their forces were divided. But the naval battle in 1176 BCE was fought
were carried off into slavery. massed Hittite chariots were halted on in the mouth of the Nile Delta between
the brink of victory by a bold counter- these raiders traveling by sea and a
Egyptian campaigns attack, led by the pharaoh himself, otilla of Egyptian river vessels packed
Because of the records the Egyptians in which the maneuverability of the with soldiers. By then, however, the
kept of their campaigns, it is possible Egyptian chariots and the skill of their power of Egypt and its armies was
to reconstruct a few military actions archers with the composite bow carried falling into steep decline.



Built of wood and leather, the Egyptian were wealthy aristocrats and would
war chariot was a lightweight vehicle sometimes embellish their vehicles
that was designed for maximum with precious metals. Even without
speed and maneuverability. It was this extra expense, chariots were
pulled by a team of two horses and, costly to build and maintain. While the
with widely spaced spoked wheels Hittites used their heavier three-
and the axle well to the rear, could man chariots as a shock force in
execute very tight turns. The two-man massed charges, the Egyptians seem
crew consisted of a driver and a to have used their chariots in a looser
warrior who shot arrows or threw harassing and skirmishing role in
javelins. The charioteers were support of the infantry. They also
supported by armed runners who used them to rescue the wounded.
sprinted alongside the vehicles on CASKET DETAIL OF TUTANKHAMUN
the battleeld. The chariot warriors RIDING A WAR CHARIOT

3000 BCE500 CE


Assyria was originally a relatively small

Mesopotamian kingdom that ruled the area
around the cities of Ashur and Nineveh on
Assyrian Conquests
the Tigris River. Its slow rise to supremacy The Assyrians created a powerful, brutal army as a tool for campaigns of conquest and sustained their
began in the 14th century BCE . empire through the exploitation of the conquered. Rulers such as Tiglath-Pileser III and Ashurbanipal
ESTABLISHED TRADITION were particularly fearsome military leaders with a clear-headed sense of the efficacy of terror.
In its early history, Ashur was subject to

conquest by more powerful Mesopotamian he beginning of the rise of Assyria Assyrian army was reorganized into The elite of the army were the native
states. It was part of the empires of Sargon of to imperial power is usually dated a ghting machine of unprecedented Assyrians who formed the corps of
Akkade and of the Babylonian Hammurabi back to the reign of Adad-nerari efciency and ruthlessness. charioteers and, with the passage
ff1617. The Assyrians had, however, a II, who came to the throne in 911 BCE. Instead of levies raised for short-term of time, the cavalry. The Assyrians
tradition of war-making, carrying out expeditions By the time Ashur-nasir-pal II had service, Tiglath-Pileser III preferred developed heavy four-horse chariots
become Assyrian ruler, from to form a standing army. with a four-man crew, probably two

The number of campaigns 883859 BCE, the empire The majority of the foot elite warriors and their shield-bearers,
carried out by King Tiglath- encompassed most of soldiers, who necessarily the latter also responsible for driving the
Pileser I (11151077 BCE) Mesopotamia and made up the numerical vehicle. Used en masse, these chariots
against the Aramaeans, according to Lebanon. But it was bulk of the army, were constituted a formidable shock force on
an ancient Assyrian inscription. only with the reign a mix of Assyrians the battleeld. The advantages of cavalry
of Tiglath-Pileser III, and foreigners were something the Assyrians probably
to subdue the neighboring mountain peoples from 745727 BCE, mercenaries learned from their contact with nomadic
who raided their territory. Their soldiers were that what is often employed for horsemen such as the Scythians, who
part-timers, who could only campaign for short referred to as the their specialist fought as skirmishers using the
periods before returning to work in the elds. Neo-Assyrian military skills, composite bow red from horseback.
empire achieved its contingents More usefully to the Assyrians, however,
ASSYRIAN EXPANSIONISM mature form. Not only supplied by was their later development of heavy
From the reign of Ashur-uballit I (13651330 BCE) were the frontiers of Scythian warrior in action tributary states of the
Assyrian military and diplomatic action became the empire extended The Scythians were among empire, and prisoners
more expansive. Once subsidiary to Babylon, south and east to include the steppe nomads who taught captured in the wars
the Assyrians became its rulers after their king, southern Mesopotamia, the Assyrians to ride horses into of conquest. They were
Tikulti-ninurta I, sacked the city in 1235 BCE. Palestine, and part of combat. This figure shows how equipped with bows, spears,
Assyrian power continued to wax and eastern Anatolia, but the Scythians were later imagined. shields, and armor by the
wane, subject to Babylonian resurgences
and incursions by peoples from outside
Mesopotamia. An early peak was reached under
Tiglath-Pileser I (11151077 BCE), but by the end of
The warriors I cut down
his reign the Assyrians were again under pressure,
this time from invading Aramaeans. It was not with the sword Their
until the late 10th century BCE that the Assyrian
drive for empire resumed with renewed vigor.
corpses I hung on stakes.

SCYTHIANS efcient Assyrian supply system. The

P H R YGIA Toprakkale
Gordium Assyrians gave pride of place to missile
Lake Van
LYD I A Halys Tushpa Lake
Harran Urmia weaponsin particular, powerful

i 608 : destroyed KI N GD OM

Sardis Anatolia a MAN N E A composite bows and slingshots. Each
u nt by Babylonians
Mo Nineveh archer was accompanied by a spearman
Ta u rus Carchemish
612 : Assyrian capital
605 : Defeat of Nimrud destroyed by who held a large wicker shield to defend
C I L IC IA Assyrian and Egyptian ASSYR IA Babylonians M E DIA
armies by combined M Ashur the bowman against enemy missiles and
Eu es Ecbatana
p 614 : destroyed who would also protect him against
forces of Babylonia op by Babylonians

Cyprus and Media ot


am close-quarters attack.

ia Diyala River
M ed ite r ranean Byblos Syria Tig
E L AM Assyrian territory
Sea Sidon Babylon
Tyre At its greatest extent, the Assyrian empire included all of
669 : Egypt is Syrian 689 : Babylon is
destroyed by Sennacherib. BABYLON IA Mesopotamia, southwestern Anatolia, western Iran, and
conquered by Assyrian Megiddo Desert Rebuilt by his successor
king, Esarhaddon, and ruled 605  Uruk
through native princes I SR AEL Jerusalem Esarhaddon and by Babylonian the entire eastern seaboard of the Mediterranean. In the
587 : destroyed king, Nebuchadnezzar II, Ur
Gaza by Babylonians (605562 ) 7th century BCE its armies penetrated deep into Egypt.
Lachish 853  Key
EGYPT 701  64847 : Ashurbanipal
Memphis destroys kingdom of Elam Assyria under Ashur-dan II (934912 BCE)
Sin ai for its support of Babylonians;
671 : captured by
Arabian lands are sown with salt Territory added by death
of Shalmaneser III (824 BCE)
Territory added by death

of Sargon II (705 BCE) The siege of Lachish

Territory added by death This artists impression of the siege of the

of Ashurbanipal (627 BCE) Judaean city of Lachish by Assyrian forces in


Greatest extent of Neo-Babylonian


0 400km 701 BCE is based on contemporary reliefs at

N empire (625539 BCE)
Thebes Nineveh. Bowmen back up the wheeled rams.
663 : destroyed by 0 400 miles Major battle or siege
Assyrian king, Ashurbanipal


Assyrian bowman catastrophically imploded. Under
An Assyrian archer draws his bow, Ashurbanipal (reigned 668627 BCE)
protected by his shield-bearer. Invented Assyrian armies campaigned deep into After the defeat of the Assyrians the
by steppe nomads, the composite bow southern Egypt, destroying the city of Neo-Babylonian empire ourished, until
was made from several pieces of wood. Thebes in 663. The Elamites, enemies the rise of a new people who would create
of the Assyrians in present-day western an even mightier empire: the Persians.
cavalryarmored riders Iran, were ruthlessly conquered between
with spears who practiced 642 and 639, their cities looted and NABOPOLASSAR AND NEBUCHADNEZZAR
the cavalry charge and laid waste, their population deported. The Neo-Babylonian empire was founded by
eventually supplanted In the terrifying words of Ashurbanipal Nabopolassar, victor over the Assyrians, and his
the charioteers. celebrating the defeat of Elam: I left his son, Nebuchadnezzar, who succeeded him in
The Assyrian state was elds empty of the voice of mankind. 605 BCE. Nebuchadnezzar is remembered
designed for the conquest Yet even during Ashurbanipals reign for destroying
of foreign lands. Roads the pressures on Assyria were growing. Jerusalem in 597
were built to allow the easy There were just too many enemies. A BCE , and for exiling the
movement of armies and a post system Assyrians practiced the deportation of Babylonian, Nabopolassar, made himself Jews of Judaea into
was created for rapid and effective peoples who opposed them. Whether in ruler of Babylon in 617 and initiated a Babylonian captivity.
military communications. Conquest combat or its aftermath, they readily series of campaigns that sapped
itself fed the military machine, giving practiced massacre and despoliation. Assyrian strength. He allied himself GREAT CYRUS
control of strategic resourcesiron with the Medes and with the steppe From Anshan, in the
from Anatolia for weapons, horses for The pressures of empire hordes, capturing and sacking Nineveh, old kingdom of Elam,
the chariots, and cavalry from western But the strains of maintaining a large the capital of the Neo-Assyrian empire, came a new leader
Iranand generating a supply of empire with restive subject peoples in 612 BCE. The remnants of the who swept through
manpower and of wealth in the form of were eventually to prove too much for Assyrian army continued the war in the Babylonian
tribute or plunder. Domination was Assyria. During the 7th century BCE alliance with Egypt, but the crushing empire, conquering
maintained by the exercise of terror strategic overreach set in: the Assyrian Chaldean victory at Carchemish in 605 lands from the kingdom of Croesus in
against those who dared to rebel. The empire reached its greatest extent and completed the destruction of Assyria. Anatolia to Central Asia in the space of 30
years (c.559530 BCE). In the new imperial
heartland of Cyrus the Great, Parsa (western Iran),
lived tribes who become known to the world as
the Persians. Cyrus built a grand columned
palace around great gardens at Pasargadae.
His son, Cambyses, conquered Egypt in 525 BCE.
3000 BCE500 CE


The origins of Ancient Greek civilization

are in many ways obscure, but the Greeks
themselves condently traced their history
The Greco-Persian Wars
back to the era of the Trojan War.
The campaigns fought by the city-states of Greece against the invading Persian empire, first in
490 BCE and then in 480479 BCE, are classics of military history. At Marathon, Thermopylae,
The poet Homers epic poem, the Iliad, probably and Salamis, Greek forces demonstrated their skill and courage against superior opposition.
created in the 8th century BCE, tells the story of the

Greek siege of the city of Troy. Historians have he great Persian king Darius I, 0 200km
surmised that, although mythologized, the whose long reign lasted from 0 200 miles Black
Iliad refers to a real event, probably a war 521486 BCE, had many Greek
between the Mycenaeans, who ourished in city-states within his domains. His 480 : Persians dig canal 492 : Persian eet is
for eet to cross Athos dispersed by violent storm
Greece from c.1500 to 1200 BCE, and the Anatolian predecessors had conquered Anatolia Peninsula, thus avoiding and invasion is called o
Hittites. The site of Troy has been tentatively and had gained control of the Ionian danger of storms
Pella TH R ACE Sea of
identied in the west of modern-day Turkey. The Greeks who lived on the eastern side Marmara
Mycenaeans fought with bronze weapons and of the Aegean. At the start of the Xer xes
Canal Abydus
chariots, in the manner of 5th century BCE the Ionian cities rose
their time. Homer in revolt against Persian rule. Darius
describes a style of sent an army and a navythe ships Larissa
warfare in which single supplied by another of his subject P E R S IA N
Gr eec e Aegean
combat between elite peoples, the Phoeniciansto crush Artemisium EMPIRE
Thermopylae 480  Sea Lesbos
warriors was common, the revolt. The Ionians received some 480  Plataea
but also the use of support from Athens and Eretria but Delphi
479  Chios Ephesus
Marathon Sardis
missile weapons and they were still humbled. In 494 BCE 490  ION IA 498 
Corinth Athens Mycale
group combat with the ringleader among the Ionian 479 
spear and shield. cities, Miletus, was destroyed by the 480  Lade
Peloponnese 494  Miletus
The disappearance of Persians and its population deported 494 
Mycenaean civilization in to Central Asia. Carried forward by
the 12th century BCE was the momentum of this campaign, the N
followed by a period of Persians decided to extend their empire Rh o d e s
disruption, which is often so it would cover the Aegean islands
referred to as the Greek Dark Ages. Out of this and mainland Greece. When Athens Greco-Persian wars Key
obscurity Greek city-states such as Athens, and Sparta rejected a demand for At the beginning of the 5th century BCE Greeks revolted Persian empire
Thebes, and Sparta began to re-emerge formal submission to Persian authority, against the expanding Persian empire. In the face of Greek opponents of Persia
around the 8th century BCE. Darius mounted a seaborne expedition strong opposition, they continued to fight the Persians Route of Xerxess army 480 BCE
to bring the city-states to heel. in the Mediterranean until 480 BCE. Route of Xerxess fleet 480 BCE
By the 6th century BCE the Persians could claim Greek resistance its citizens were expected to perform Persian victory
with much justication to come from the heart At this time Athens and Sparta were military service when required, turning Inconclusive battle
of civilization, compared with the Greeks who exceptional societies. Over the previous out with their own weaponry and Persian Royal Road
lived on its periphery. The empire founded century Athens had evolved its own armor. Sparta was a militarized society
by the Achaemenid ruler, Cyrus the Great, democratic system of government and in which male citizens were raised as The Persian force that landed at
between 559 and 530 BCE ff 1819 soldiers and lived in barracks from the Marathon, 25 miles (40 km) from
controlled Mesopotamia and was later extended Persian soldiers at Susa age of 20. On land both Spartans and Athens, in August 490 BCE was small
by his son, Cambyses, to include Egypt, thus This frieze from the palace of the Persian king Darius I Athenians fought chiey as armored by imperial standards; roughly
combining two major centers of early civilization. at Susa depicts soldiers on parade. They may be infantry, or hoplites. Each carrying a 20,000 men were put ashore,
members of Dariuss imperial guard, the Immortals, the stabbing spear and a shield, along with some horses for
elite infantry that formed the core of the Persian army. the hoplites fought in a the cavalry. The Athenians
tight formation known as appealed to Sparta for support,
a phalanx (see p.23). but the Spartans claimed to
Although the Greeks be unable to dispatch soldiers
did also employ auxiliaries immediately for religious
equipped with bows and reasons. Rather than wait for
slingshots as skirmishers, the Sparta to nish its religious
focus on the tight-knit phalanx festival, Athens sent its hoplites
of citizen-soldiers made their to challenge the Persians while
armies contrast starkly with the they were still on the beach.
forces of the Persian empire. The Greeks were outnumbered
Bowmen were a vital element in by at least two to one, but they
their style of warfare, which gave formed up in phalanxes and
missiles primacy over close attacked. The onrush of the
combat, as were cavalry and Athenian infantry turned the
chariots. Persian armies were battle into a close-quarters melee
large and well organized, in which Persian archery
operating under and horses could play no
professional generals, Hoplite ax and sword effective part. The shocked
and their campaigns were Weapons carried by the Greek invaders extricated
well planned with due infantry included axes and the themselves with difculty
attention to logistics. short, curved kopis swords. and at heavy cost in lives.


of triremes. These fast, maneuverable
galleys, armed with a ram at the prow
and rowed by 170 oarsmen, were to After defeating Xerxess invasion force the
prove crucial to the outcome of the war. Greeks launched a counter-offensive, but
The 200,000-strong Persian army the city-states were often as eager to ght
crossed the Hellespont in spring 480 one another as to attack the Persians.
BCE, led by Xerxes in person. It marched
south down the coast toward Athens, FREEDOM FROM PERSIA
with a eet of more than 1,000 war The oensive against Persia was led by Athens,
galleys and supply ships following which formed the Delian League of city-states
offshore. The Athenians persuaded to prosecute the war. The main goal was to
their allies to advance north to meet free the Aegean islands and the Ionian
the invaders. The Greek eet fought Greek cities of Anatolia from Persian rule.
an indecisive battle with the Persians Athenian-led forces also campaigned at length
off Cape Artemisium, while a force in Cyprus, and in 460 BCE Athenian triremes
of 7,000 hoplites and skirmishers were sent to Egypt to support an anti-Persian
commanded by the Spartan ruler rebellion. The Egyptian expedition was a
Leonidas took up a strong defensive disaster, but in general Athens was successful
position in a narrow pass at in extending its own power and weakening
Thermopylae. There, they fought a Persian inuence in Anatolia and the Aegean.
holding action for three days, the
restricted battleeld preventing PERSIA TAKES CONTROL
the Persians exploiting their By 450 BCE the Greek city-states were ghting
vast superiority in numbers. among themselves, as Sparta led a reaction
Eventually, the Persians against the increasingly dominant position
found a path through the of Athens. During the later stages of the
mountains that brought Peloponnesian War of 431404 BCE
them down on the rear 2223 gg, Sparta allied itself with the Persians
of the Greek position. against Athens; in the Corinthian War of 395387
Leonidas and the cream BCE, Athens allied itself with Persia against Sparta.
Corinthian helmet Meticulous plans of his hoplites fought on As a result of its participation in these wars of
Greek hoplites wore The Persian preparations took heroically until they Greek against Greek, Persia regained control
bronze helmets, like this four years, giving Athens and were annihilated. of the Ionian cities and part of the Aegean.
one, which gave protection Sparta plenty of time to look
to the face and neck. They also to their defenses. Most of Destruction of Athens
provided an opportunity for display the city-states in northern As the Persians continued
with their fine horsehair crests.

When Xerxes I ascended the

Greece gave their
allegiance to Persia,
but the city-states
their advance, Athens was
evacuated, its population
carried to the safety of the
10 THOUSAND Greek hoplites and
auxiliaries took part in the battle
of Marathon.
Persian throne in 485 BCE, he of the Peloponnese island of Salamis, where
inherited the task of punishing the
presumptuous Greek cities. This time
allied themselves
with the Athenians
the Greek eet was now
stationed. The Persian
6 THOUSAND Persian soldiers were
killed in the battle of Marathon.

there was to be no hastily organized and Spartans. army sacked and then intercept a wrongly anticipated Greek
seaborne expedition, but a well- Themistocles, a occupied Athens, withdrawal. When battle was nally
planned, full-scale land invasion with political leader in as the Greek army joined off Salamis, the reduced Persian
naval support. The preparation of the Athens, persuaded withdrew further eet was routed, smashed by the rams
invasion route by Xerxess engineers his fellow citizens to the south so of the rapidly maneuvering triremes
was astonishingly thorough. They built to devote the that it could defend with their skillful teams of oarsmen.
two pontoon bridges across the narrow wealth from a the Peloponnese. Xerxes abandoned all hope of victory
but treacherous straits of the Hellespont newly discovered The Spartans were that year and withdrew northward
(the Dardanelles) so that the massive silver mine to keen to pull back to winter his quarters.
army could march from Asia into building a large eet the eet as well, but Called away for other imperial duties,
Europe. They also dug Themistocles was Xerxes left for the east with part of his
a canal cutting across Mast and sail not insistent that the army, leaving his general, Mardonius,
an isthmus by Mount carried into battle triremes stand and to continue the campaign the following
Athos in Macedonia, ght. The Greek eet year with the remainder. The Greek
so the Persian eet that was heavily outnumbered allies, after many hours of bickering
was accompanying the probably 300 warships to at least among themselves, gathered all their
army on its journey 700 in the Persian eetbut Xerxes manpower resources to eld an army
would not have to sail threw away much of this numerical probably numbering 80,000, not greatly
around a notoriously advantage by dispersing inferior to the force available to
dangerous promontory. Stempost in form of a shtail his superior naval Mardonius. At Plataea in July 479 BCE,
forces, and the two armies clashed in a confused
Bronze-sheathed ram
placing blocking battle that the Greeks were able to win
squadrons to because of the superior ghting qualities
Three banks of oars
of the hoplite infantry. Mardonius was
A Greek trireme killed along with many thousands of his
The trireme was a light, soldiers. At the same time, a seaborne
quick, maneuverable raid destroyed the remnants of the
warship designed to sink Persian eet beached at Mycale. Persias
enemy ships by ramming. invasion of Greece had failed.

3000 BCE500 CE

The Peloponnesian War


Peloponnesian War
Dates 431404 BCE
Location Greece, Sicily,
and the Aegean Sea
Between 431 and 404 BCE a war was fought between rival alliances of Greek city-states led by Athens and
Sparta. Partly because the two cities had contrasting strengthsSparta more powerful on land and Athens
more dominant at seathe conflict was for many years indecisive. It ended with humiliation for Athens.

he fragmentation of the Greek for support and in 432 Sparta declared The warfare was characterized by the
B E F OR E world into independent city-states war on Athens. Fighting began the similarity between the opposing sides,
presented many opportunities following year. Pericles devised a which fought with essentially the same
for conictdisputes over allegiance, strategy based upon the naval power equipment and tactics. The core of the
The origins of the Peloponnesian War lay territorial boundaries, and affronts of Athens and its Delian League rival armies was the heavy infantry
in the growing wealth and power of Athens to honor. Around 460 BCE a clutch allies. Withdrawing within the hoplite, a citizen-soldier
and the fear and resentment that this of such issues brought a drift to war. walls of their city, the ghting in a tight-knit
engendered in other Greek city-states. Relations between Athens and Sparta Athenians would survive formation, the phalanx
were embittered by an exchange of sustained by supplies (see TACTICS). The hoplites
THE GOLDEN AGE insults over the Athenians role in brought in by sea, were supported by
After the defeat of the Persian invasion of helping the Spartans suppress an while using their eet large numbers of
Greece in 480479 BCE ff 2021, Athens uprising of helots (serfs or slaves). to raid the shipping skirmishers, the
assumed leadership of an alliance of city-states and coasts of the peltasts, men of
around the Aegean, the Delian League.
The original purpose of the 100 PERCENT of Spartan males
aged 20 to 54 were sent to the
battle of Mantinea in 418 BCE.
League states. Five
lower social status
who used missile
league was to ght the times the Spartans weaponsbows,
invasion of the Persians, but
it turned into an informal
Athenian empire with the
30 THOUSAND men took part in
the naval battle of Arginusae,
in 406 BCE.
rampaged through
the territory around
Athens, but without
slingshots, and
javelins. Once on
enemy territory, any
other league members decisive effect. The army would plunder
providing troops and The city-state of Megara revolted Athenians made and lay waste at
tribute for Athens to use against its overlord, Corinth, a member good use of their will. Campaigns
as it wished. Cities that of the Spartan-led Peloponnesian naval strength by were short because
rebelled were ruthlessly League; Athens backed Megara. Thebes establishing a base at part-time soldiers
crushed by Athenian aspired to leadership of the cities of the town of Pylos on needed to return to
military action. The Boetia, a role denied it by Athens; the the Peloponnesian coast, their farms. A eet was
wealth extracted from Spartans backed Theban aspirations. from which they raided far more expensive to
the league during this period underpinned the After a series of skirmishes and Spartan territory and encouraged maintain than an army, and
Golden Age of Athens under the leadership of campaigns, the Athenians and Spartans revolt among the Spartan made heavy demands
Pericles, and the Athenian statesman believed agreed a Thirty Years Peace in 445 BCE. helots. When the Spartans Maximum facial protection on manpower. A
that the interests of the city lay in developing It lasted less than half that time. attacked the Pylos This example of an early Greek helmet trireme required a
trade around the Mediterranean. The Spartans, garrison in 425 BCE they follows the shape of the skull, and is crew of 200, most
traditionally acknowledged as the leading The road to war were outmaneuvered by made from a single piece of bronze. of them experienced
military power in Greece, were affronted In 435 BCE Corinth faced a revolt by its Athenian sea and land oarsmen, although
by the rise of Athens and turned the colony Corcyra (Corfu). The Athenians forces and defeated. The Athenians, they were typically lower class citizens
Peloponnesian League of city-states, which they backed the Corcyrians and sent a force on the other hand, were beaten badly rather than hoplites. The naval
led, into a counter-balance to Athenian power. of triremes to prevent the Corinthians by Spartas allies, the Theban-led dominance of Athens depended on
from re-imposing their rule. Corinth Boeotians, at Delium in 424 BCE, a its superior nancial resources and its
appealed to the Peloponnesian League reminder of their weakness on land. skilled population of seafarers

destruction of the majority of their
warships, the Athenians vainly tried
GREEK PHALANX to escape overland. Harassed by cavalry The Spartan victory in the Peloponnesian
and light troops with bows and javelins, War did not bring peace or unity to the
The armored Greek hoplite infantry fought in the remnants of the expeditionary force Greek city-states. Weakened by civil strife,
a tight formation called a phalanx. Carrying surrendered, ending their lives as slaves they fell under the rule of Macedonia.
shields and spears wielded overarm, the laboring in Sicilian stone quarries.
hoplites usually advanced close enough This comprehensive Athenian WAR RESUMES
together for each mans right ank to be disaster encouraged the Spartans. They Ten years after the end of the Peloponnesian War,
protected by the shield of the comrade to made an alliance with Persia, which a new conict broke out. The Corinthian War
his left. The formation was typically eight provided funding to build a eet that set Sparta against Corinth, Athens, Thebes,
rows deep. When phalanx met phalanx, could compete for naval supremacy. and Argos. These allies were dependent upon
opposing hoplites stabbed at one another Athens was in trouble, riven by political the support of Persia, which re-imposed its rule
from behind their shield wall or clashed disputes and unable to make good the on the Ionian cities of Anatolia.
shield to shield (known as othismos) in loss of experienced oarsmen and sailors
a shoving match. Most casualties occurred at Syracuse. The Athenians achieved AN UNEASY PEACE
when a phalanx broke up, exposing the a last naval victory at the battle of The Corinthian War ended in a compromise in
hoplites to piecemeal slaughter. Arginusae in 406 BCE, but Sparta was 387 BCE. Thebes aspired to leadership in its own
more readily able to make good its region, Boeotia, but this was resisted by Sparta.
heavy losses than Athens its relatively Inspired by General Epaminondas,
and boat-builders. As on land, there war into a new theater, with disastrous light number. Athens was utterly the Thebans defeated the
were no adequate supply arrangements, consequences. In 415 they sent an dependent for food supplies on Spartans at Leuctra in
triremes beaching regularly to forage or expedition to Sicily, seeking to defeat grain imported from the Black Sea 371 BCE. In reaction
buy food from coastal towns. Sea battles the dominant city of Syracuse and bring and the war came nally to focus to the threat of
were ramming contests decided by the island into their empire. Supported on Spartan efforts to sever that Theban hegemony,
dexterity of maneuver. by a relatively small Spartan force lifeline by winning control of Athens aligned
under Gylippus, the Syracusans resisted the Hellespont (the Dardanelles). itself with Sparta.
Athens defeated an Athenian siege for two years. Athens Under Lysander, the Spartan Epaminondas
The rst round of the Peloponnesian poured in more troops, but by 413 it eet seized the straits and, at the scored another
War came to an end in 422 BCE, after was they who were trapped, their eet battle of Aegospotami, crushed an victory over Sparta,
the chief war leaders on the opposing blockaded in Syracuse harbor. After Athenian eet sent to win them Athens, and their allies
sides, the Spartan general, Brasidas, a failed breakout attempt ended in the back. Athens surrendered in 404 BCE. at Mantinea in 362 BCE, but
and the Athenian demagogue, Cleon, he was killed in the battle,
were both killed while campaigning
in Thrace. Despite a resultant peace
agreement made the following year,
So many cities depopulated preventing Thebes proting from its triumph.
The Greek city-states were exhausted. When
Philip II of Macedon invaded Greece in 338
skirmishes continued uninterrupted
and a full-scale battle was fought Never before had there been BCE , he defeated the combined armies of
Athens and Thebes and united the country
at Mantinea, north of Sparta, in 418 by force, organizing the city-states into the
BCEa Spartan victory that conrmed
the supremacy of their hoplites. At this
so much killing. Macedonian-led League of Corinth.

point the Athenians extended the THUCYDIDES, THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR, BOOK I, 23, 411 BCE

Ancient Athens
The Parthenon and other glories of Athens built in
the 5th century BCE were paid for with the proceeds
of empire. The Peloponnesian War broke out in the
middle of the citys cultural Golden Age.
3000 BCE500 CE

Conquests of Alexander

King Philip II of Macedon made his country

the leading power in Greece and created
the army with which his son, Alexander,
would conquer a great empire. Alexander of Macedon was a military leader endowed with skill, daring, and ambition. Only 32
years old when he died, he created an empire that stretched from Greece and Egypt to northern
When Philip became king in 359 BCE , India. His heroic campaigns of conquest influenced imitators as distant as Napoleon and Hitler.
Macedonia was a relatively backward state.

As a young man he had lived in Thebes, where y the time Alexander inherited Persian capital Persepolis
he had witnessed a change in Greek warfare; the Macedonian throne from his The ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Persian
professional soldiers were replacing the part-time assassinated father, Philip II, in empire, Persepolis was occupied by Alexanders
citizen hoplites, and cavalry and skirmishers were 336 BCE, he was already an experienced Macedonians in 330 BCE. It was heavily damaged by
playing an increasingly important role. Combining ghting commander. Aged 18 he had fire at that time, whether deliberately or accidentally
led the Macedonian cavalry charge at is not certain. Its ruins testify to its ancient glory.


of Alexanders empire in square miles
the battle of Chaeronea. His initial
moves as king were decisive and
ruthless, killing his main rival for power
Through the following year Alexander
practiced siege warfare, overcoming the
(5.4 million square kilometers). in Macedonia and crushing a rebellion resistance of the coastal cities of Tyre and
by the city of Thebes. In 334 he was Gaza and punishing their inhabitants
Macedonias horse-riding aristocracy with an ready to carry out his fathers project with enslavement or massacre for the
infantry phalanx armed with the two-handed for an invasion of the Persian empire. trouble they had caused. In Egypt he
sarissa spear, Philip formed a standing army The army that Alexander led across was diplomatically welcomed as a
that defeated Athens and Thebes at the the Hellespont into Persian-ruled Asia liberator from Persian oppression,
battle of Chaeronea in 338 BCE. He assumed Minor was a hybrid force. The cavalry and one oracle (at the Siwah oasis)
leadership of the Greek cities grouped in the (the Companions), whom Alexander javelin-throwers, and Crete archers. addressed him as a son of Zeus. He
League of Corinth and began preparations for led in person into battle, were There was also a train of siege engines. founded the city of Alexandria as a
an invasion of the Persian empire. In 336 Macedonians. The armored The rst victory of his campaign was future capital for his Egyptian realm.
Philip was assassinated and infantry was Macedonian won at Granicus in western Anatolia, Instead of waiting to be attacked,
succeeded by his son. and Greek. Thessaly against a Persian satrap whose army Alexander preferred to take the offensive
provided light contained a large contingent of Greek and in the spring of 331 he marched
cavalry, mercenaries. Alexander then proceeded out of Egypt toward Persia. Darius
Thrace to liberate the Greek cities of the region awaited him on the far side of the Tigris
from Persian ruleeven if they did not in Gaugamela. Recruited mostly from
want liberation, which some did not. Persias central and eastern domains,
this was a predominantly Asiatic army,
An underestimated threat with Indian war elephants, Scythian
In Persepolis the Persian king, Darius horsemen, and chariots. Alexander
III, at rst perceived only an irritating devised a battleplan that would allow
local disturbance on the western edge the shock effect of his Companion
of his vast empire. He launched a naval cavalry to negate the numerical
counter-offensive in the Aegean and advantage of the Persian host. Most
plotted to raise Athens and other of his troops were committed to a
Greek cities in revolt against Alexander. desperate holding action while he

Heaven cannot brook two

suns, nor earth two masters.

When this plan failed and Alexander led the cavalry and elite infantry units
headed eastward across Anatolia in a thrust through the Persian center
in 333, Darius advanced to meet where Darius himself was positioned.
him with a large army. Alexanders The emperor ed and Alexander turned
instinct was to seek out, engage, and his cavalry back to overwhelm the
destroy his enemys army, whatever army abandoned by its leader.
the odds. The two forces met late in
the year at Issus (see p.26) near the Consolidating the empire
Syrian-Turkish border. The battle ended The victory at Gaugamela and Dariuss
in a shock defeat for the Persian king, subsequent murder by his own satraps
leaving the eastern Mediterranean open opened the way for Alexander to claim
to Macedonian conquest. the succession to the Persian imperial
throne. Three years of campaigning
The face of Alexander were required to establish his control
Alexander took great care to control his public over the satrapies of Bactria and
image. The sculptor Lysippos was engaged to create Sogdiana further to the east. Just as
an idealized image of the conqueror that was then he had adopted local symbols of power
imitated by all subsequent artists. in Egypt, Alexander now took on some


0 500km
N Spring 326 : Leading an army of
0 500 miles some 80,000 troops and 30,000
camp-followers, Alexander crosses When Alexander died his plans for
Indus and marches on Taxila
Lissus Theodosia expanding his empire were halted.
Philippopolis Aral Tashkent
B l ack S e a Sea Nonetheless, his conquests left a long-term
Pella Spring 333 : Over 30 cities
Granicus Alexandria Eschate legacy of political and cultural changes.
Aegae in Lycia surrender to Alexander
334  (Kokand)

Chaeronea Spring 328 :
Heraclea Sinope xu


338  Thebes s Capture of
Corinth Pergamum (Samarkand) Sogdian Rock

Athens Trapezus
Sparta Ephesus
Sardis Gordium Bukhara Sogdian Rock Later commentators viewed Alexanders

M Lystra
Nautaca Alexandria ad Oxum conquests as a means of extending Greek
ed Knossos Alexandria (Ai Khanoum)
ite Issus Gaugamela (Merv) Aornos
civilization throughout the world. He
rra Tarsus 333  331 
nea Nineveh Meshed Bactra 327 
Taxila envisaged integrating his empire ethnicallyfor
n Se Salamis Carrhae
Cyrene a Amol Hydaspes
Arbela Hecatompylos Susia 326 
Bucephala example, by marrying his Macedonian ocers
Sidon Palmyra Sangela
Tyre up
Ecbatana Rhagae Alexandria Areion to Persian wives and training young Persians
Paraetonium Damascus hr
Sanctuary of 332  ate ig Gabae Alexandria to ght as hopliteswhile at the same time
s ris
Ammon Gaza Jerusalem Susa Arachoton
(Siwa Oasis)
Alexandria P ER SIA (Kandahar)
imposing Greek culture and values.
Pelusium Nov 331 : Surrender Babylon Sep 326 :
Memphis of Babylon At Hyphasis river,
Feb 331 : Jun 323 : Alexander Pasargadae Opiana Greek troops
Alexander visits oracle dies in Babylon Persepolis Alexandria refuse to go AFTER ALEXANDER

of Ammon at Siwa Oxyrhynchus

SepNov 332 : Siege (Gulashkird) any further. After Alexanders death his generals fought
Jan 30, 330 : Army turns back

of key Persian fortress of Gaza. Pe Alexander reaches

Alexander wounded by catapult bolt rs Pura over his inheritance 2829 gg. Ptolemy
ia n Persepolis Pattala
ul took Egypt, Seleucus gained Syria and Iran,
Syene f
Key Arabian Gwadar and Antigonus controlled Anatolia, but they
Empire of Alexander Peninsula INDIAN

Dependent regions Length of the Macedonian
Route of Alexander OCEAN sarissa spear in metres,
Major battle equivalent to 23 feet.

Alexanders territory fraying bonds between the Macedonian in present-day Iran, back to Persia, a all lacked his vision. They abandoned his projects
Alexanders great desire was to wage war on behalf band of brothers. He won a grueling mistake that cost thousands their lives for integrating Persians and other ethnic groups
of all Greeks. In only ten years after succeeding Philip II, battle against the rampaging chariots to dehydration and exhaustion. into the upper ranks of the empire, ruling as
his father, Alexanders army conquered much of Asia, as and war elephants of King Porus at Alexander was still full of plans for Macedonians over conquered peoples. However,
well as parts of northern India, North Africa, and Europe. the Hydaspes (see pp.5455), but his further expeditions and campaigns, but the inuence of Hellenic culture and the Greek
soldiers were becoming exhausted and his health had suffered due to his battle language was extended deep into Asia; for
of the customs and dress of the Persian set a limit to his conquests by insisting wounds and from the strains of years example, Indian sculptures of Buddha reected
court. In 327 he married a 16-year-old on turning back at the Beas River in the of campaigning. In 323, a month short Greek representations of Apollo. Alexandria,
Bactrian princess, Roxanne, as a way Punjab. Alexanders army marauded of his 33rd birthday, he died in the city Alexander founded in Egypt, grew
of reconciling that restive region of his down the Indus to the sea. Then he Babylonrumor said of poisoning, but to be one of the greatest cities in the
empire to his rule. marched across the Gedrosian desert, it was probably of a fever. ancient world, a major center of Greek art and
The expedition that Alexander led learning, as well as of trade and government.
into India in 326 probably appeared
the best means at his disposal to restore

The battle of Issus

This Roman mosaic representation of the battle of
Issus was probably copied from a 4th-century BCE
wall painting. Alexander (left) and Darius (right) lock
eyes across a battlefield dominated by sarissa spears.

Fought in November 333 BCE, the battle of Issus was the second of
Alexander the Greats three victories in his campaign against Persian
king, Darius III. Alexanders 50,000-strong army was outnumbered
by two or three to one. It was a triumph of the attacking spirit of the
Macedonian cavalry and the inspirational leadership of Alexander,
a warrior who always led from the front.

he battle took place near the hypaspistselite hoplite infantry. Like
modern Turkish border on the Alexanders army, the Persian forces
strategically crucial route to the were ethnically diverse, including
Levant coast. Advancing south into Greek mercenaries forming a phalanx
Persian territory, Alexanders forces alongside Persian infantry in the center.
were surprised to nd Dariuss army While Alexander, on horseback with
behind them. Keen to face the enemy, spear and sword, led the Companion
they turned and marched north to give cavalry, Darius commanded from
battle. The Persians took up a defensive behind the front line, positioned in a
position behind a steep-banked stream. chariot among his elite imperial guard.
Against a numerically superior enemy,
it was important for Alexander not to Macedonian triumph
be outanked. He stretched his line Alexander ordered a general advance.
thinly across a 1.6-mile (2.6-km) front The tight formation of the Macedonian
from the Mediterranean shore on the infantry phalanx lost cohesion moving
east (his left) to the foothills of the forward over rough ground and
mountains inland. When the Persians crossing the stream. Dariuss infantry
sent men into the mountains to bring were able to penetrate gaps in the
them down in the Macedonians rear, bristling barrier of spears and to cut and
Alexander dispatched his Thracian stab at men in the exposed core of the
skirmishers, skilled in the use of the phalanx. But on the left the Thessalian
javelin, to block their path. horsemen performed well against the
strongest concentration of Dariuss
Order of battle cavalry, while on the right Alexander
On the left of Alexanders line were led a charge of the Companion cavalry
his Thessalian horsemen, unarmored that swept all before it. Wheeling in
light cavalry. The infantry phalanx in from the ank, Alexanders horsemen
the center consisted primarily of bore down upon the rear of the enemy
Macedonians armed with the long, infantry who were driven onto the
two-handed pike known as the sarissa. anvil of the Macedonian phalanx.
Because of the stretching of the line, Darius and his entourage ed the
the phalanx was far shallower than the battleeld to avoid capture. Much of
usual 16 ranks. Alexanders armored the infantry was trapped and cut down
Macedonian horsemen, the Companion where it stood, while large numbers of
cavalry, held pride of place on the eeing cavalry and skirmishers were
right of the line, supported by Greek pursued and massacred.

Plain on the Gulf of Iskanderun,
5 Companions wheel present-day Turkey
N into Persian center,
destroying army
2 Companions press November 333 BCE
Issus Persian left ank
Gulf of FORCES
Iskanderun Persians: 110,000;
Macedonians: 35,000
4 Thessalian cavalry Pina
ru s
pin down Persian right Rive
Thessalians Companions
Persians: 50,000 (allegedly);
3 Central phalanx crosses river phalanx Macedonians: 450
and engages Persian center ALEXANDER
Payas covering Alexander Sarcophagus
us s force
1 Alexander drives Persian an in This detail of the Alexander Sarcophagus, made in
A mu n t a
covering force back M o
KEY Sidon (southern Lebanon) in the 4th century BCE,
0 1km across river
Persian forces shows Alexander leading his Companion cavalry.
0 1 mile Macedonian infantry A Persian soldier lies trampled underfoot.
Macedonian cavalry

3000 BCE500 CE


Alexander of Macedons great empire

ff2425 stretched from Greece to
India and included both Persia and
Egypt. When he died in 323 BCE ,
there was no obvious heir.

Alexanders wife, Roxanne
resented by his Macedonian
followers because she was
Bactrianwas pregnant.
Otherwise the only candidate
from Alexanders family was
a feeble bastard half-brother,
Arrhidaeus. Neither would be
able to rule except as puppets
of the generals. Alexanders
second-in-command, Perdiccas,
appointed himself regent.
Alexander had adopted the Persian
system of satrapies to rule his empire.
The Macedonian generals continued this
system, authorizing various of their number
to run different parts of the empire as
satraps, while the aging Antipater became
viceroy of Macedonia.

Alexanders Successors

Wars of the Diadochi

Dates 322281 BCE
Location Chiey Asia
Minor, Syria, Greece, and
Macedonia, although a
few battles were fought For 50 years after his death, Alexander the Greats successors, known in Greek as the Diadochi, fought
as far east as Persia
over his inheritance. Using the plundered wealth of imperial conquest to fund their wars, they founded
three major dynasties: the Ptolemies in Egypt, the Seleucids in Asia, and the Antigonids in Macedonia.

sked on his deathbed to whom At rst all assumed that one man would The settlement sketched in Babylon
he left his empire, Alexander end up controlling the whole empire, on Alexanders death swiftly unraveled.
is said to have replied: To the and several believed their chances were Perdiccas, self-appointed regent of the
strongest. Alexanders generals good. Ptolemy gained appointment as empire, tried in vain to assert his
hardly needed this invitation to satrap of Egypt and carried off the body authority over Ptolemy and Antigonus.
a power struggle after his of Alexander with him. Embalmed and He invaded Egypt but his troops were
death. Macedonian displayed, the corpse became a great
aristocrats were tourist attraction and brought Ptolemy Ruins of Apamea in Syria
hard-ghting, much prestige. Based in Anatolia, Apamea was one of many Hellenistic cities in Asia
hard-drinking Antigonus One-Eye, a bluff old warrior founded or enlarged by Seleucus I. Vast stables were built
men, and naturally of limitless energy, also set about here to house his war elephants and cavalry horses. The
quarrelsome. staking a claim to the succession. city continued to flourish throughout the Roman era.

He added, and these were his last words, that

all of his leading friends would stage a vast
contest in honor of his funeral.

Macedonian rivals By the usual logic of multi-sided power AF TER

The coins bear the heads of Pompey I (left), struggles, the success of Antigonus and
Seleucus I (center), and Demetrius Poliorcetes, Demetrius drove the other Diodachi to
son of Antigonus (right), the three principal combine. In 301 BCE Cassander and The empire had been carved up into three
generals who fought to inherit the vast empire Ptolemy were joined by Lysimachus, main successor states, which remained
created by Alexander the Great. ruler of Thrace, and Seleucus, satrap of mutually hostile. Alongside them, other
Babylonia, in an anti-Antigonid alliance. smaller dynasties arose, especially in Asia.
Macedonian rule. The successors They decided to defend Macedonia
armies were primarily composed indirectly, by an offensive in Asia that OTHER HELLENISTIC DYNASTIES
of Macedonians and Greeks, Antigonus and Demetrius could not Hellenistic cities kept alive the heritage of
mercenaries who readily deserted ignore. While Ptolemy snapped up Alexander across Asia. Far to the east on the River
any leader who seemed to be losing Palestine and Syria, Cassander, Oxus, a Greco-Bactrian kingdom ourished in
or lacked the money to pay them. They Lysimachus, and Seleucus marched c.245125 BCE. Finds
naturally continued Alexanders style of into Anatolia. Battle was joined at at Ai Khanoum
warfare, with battles conducted by an Ipsos. Antigonus and Demetrius had have revealed a
infantry phalanx armed with long pikes, slightly the larger army, but Seleucus fascinating blend of
supported by cavalry and skirmishers had brought almost 500 elephants with Greek and Persian
with missile weapons. Their armies were him from the East, the fruit of a treaty artistic styles and
much larger than any Alexander led, with the Indian Mauryan empire (see religious beliefs. A
and they employed war elephants, pp.5455). Demetrius led the cavalry comparable fusion
introduced after contact with India. of Eastern and

lost in the Nile Delta, many becoming

food for crocodiles; the regent himself
Clash of the pretenders
At rst Antigonus looked the likely
150,000 The approximate
number of soldiers
who took part in the battle of Ipsos in
Western cultures
is found at the hilltop

shrine of Nemrut Dag, built in the 1st century CE

was murdered by his discontented winner. He gained control of most 301 BCE. The Antigonids had some 80,000 by the ruler of Commagene in present-day Turkey.
followers. In Macedonia Alexanders of the empire in Asia and built a eet men, the alliance that opposed them
son and half-brother met violent in Phoenician shipyards to extend his a slightly smaller army of 70,000. CONTINUING CONFLICT
deaths. Arrhidaeus was murdered by dominance on land to the sea. Ptolemy The Ptolemies and Seleucids disputed control of
Alexanders mother, Olympias. She beat off an attack on Egypt led by charge on the Antigonid right and Syria through the 3rd century BCE. At the battle
was then herself killed, along with Antigonuss son, Demetrius, in 312 BCE swept all before him, but Seleucus of Raphia in 217, the Seleucid army of Antiochus
Alexanders son and wife, after but the Antigonid navy defeated used his elephants to block Demetriuss III was defeated by Egyptian ruler Ptolemy IV.
Cassander, son of the now deceased Ptolemys warships off Cyprus in 306 horsemen from coming to the aid of the Antigonid Philip V of Macedon came to the aid
viceroy Antipater, seized control of and laid siege to the independent Greek Antigonid infantry, which wilted under of Antiochus, and their combined power was
Macedonia. This welter of blood set island city of Rhodes. With Ptolemys a rain of arrows. Many of the foot sucient to push Egypt back on the defensive.
the tone for all that was to follow. aid the Rhodeans held out, despite soldiers decided it was a good moment But none of the three states was a match for
Macedonian generals competed with Antigonuss deployment of the latest to change sides, and the 80-year-old the rising power of Rome. Philip V allied with the
scant regard for the inhabitants of the siege engines, including giant catapults Antigonus was killed by a javelin. Carthaginian Hannibal against the Romans
lands they fought over. The only and siege towers. In gratitude, Rhodes The great victor of Ipsos was 3233 gg. After the Carthaginian defeat in
subjects whose support they actively named the Egyptian ruler Ptolemy Seleucus. He emerged in control of 201, Philip was the target for Roman vengeance.
sought were those of the Greek cities, Soter (Savior). This setback did not most of the empire in Asia, which he The Roman legions cut apart the Macedonian
which were also the most troublesome prevent the Antigonids invading Greece shared with his son, Antiochus. The phalanx at Cynoscephalae in 197.
source of intermittent rebellion against and threatening Macedonia. successors might now reasonably Antiochus was defeated by the
have settled for kingship in their Romans at Magnesia in 190 BCE.
TA C T I C S respective regions. This was indeed the Seleucid power shrank to nothing,
policy of Ptolemy, who in 283 achieved eroded by Rome in the west and
WAR ELEPHANTS the rare feat of dying in his own bed the Parthians in the east. The
of natural causes, handing Egypt on Antigonid dynasty came to an
First used in south Asia, war elephants served to his son. But elsewhere bloody feuds end after a nal defeat
as elevated command posts, platforms for continued. Lysimachus succeeded in by Rome at Pydna
soldiers armed with bows and javelins, and making himself king of Macedon, but in 168. Ptolemaic
chargers to trample infantry underfoot. was killed by Seleucus in 281 at the Egypt survived until
They were eective against cavalry, because battle of Corupedium. Seleucus did 30 BCE, when the last
horses disliked their smell. The Seleucids not live to enjoy his victory, however, of the Ptolemies,
used Indian elephants, while the Ptolemies being assassinated the moment he Cleopatra VII, died
deployed smaller, African forest elephants. set foot in Macedon to claim the and Egypt became a
Although they inspired terror, elephants were throne. Ironically, it was the defeated province of the Roman
themselves easily panicked, running amok Antigonids who ended up as rulers empire 3839 gg.
and causing havoc among their own troops. of Macedon. Demetrius had died as a
prisoner of Seleucus, but from 276 his STATUE OF ROMAN LEGIONARY
GREEK TERRACOTTA FIGURINE OF A WAR ELEPHANT son, Antigonus Gonatus, won control
of Macedon and most of Greece.

Samnite warriors
This 4th-century BCE tomb fresco from southern
Italy shows Samnite tribal warriors in their distinctive
armor and plumed helmets. The Samnites fought
both as enemies and allies of Rome.

The Rise of Rome


The Roman Republic was not a likely contender for imperial power in the 4th century BCE. Yet its
relentless fighting spirit and refusal to accept defeat enabled Rome to subject Samnite tribes and
Greek colonies to its rule. Control of southern Italy would prove a springboard for wider empire.
1 Samnite Wars 2 Pyrrhic Wars
Dates 343290 BCE Dates 280275 BCE

Location Central and Location Southern Italy n 387 or 390 BCEthe date is Etruscan soldier Romes next targets were the Greek
Southern Italy and Sicily disputeda Roman army was Etruscan infantry wore bronze helmets colonies of southern Italy. In 281 BCE
defeated at the Allia River by the and armor of bronze plates, and carried the Romans attacked Tarentum
Gauls, erce warriors who had invaded a round shield and a spear. They were (modern-day Taranto). The city
northern and central Italy. Rome was overcome by the more warlike Romans. appealed for help to one of the
B E F O R E occupied and the Gauls left only after most experienced war leaders in
being paid a large sum in gold. This Roman aggression the Greek world, King Pyrrhus
humiliation revealed the defects not From around 343 to 275 of Epirus. The army with
The origins of Rome, dated by the Romans only of Romes city walls but also its BCE the Roman legions which he arrived in
themselves to 753 BCE , are shrouded in battle tactics, modeled upon the Greek fought a series of wars Italy was typical of
legend. The growth of the city into a phalanx. In the course of the 4th century that established Romes the post-Alexander
signicant regional power took centuries. military reforms produced a more domination over era in the eastern
exible and effective army that would southern Italy. Mediterranean.
ROMES FIRST VICTORIES win the Romans a far-ung empire. The ercest of Most of his troops
The dominant people in Italy during the early The Roman army was a militia of their enemies at were spear-wielding
years of Rome were the Etruscans. Rome was part-time soldiers, structured according rst were the infantry, but he also
merely one of many small Latin communities of to the social status and age of the citizens Samnites of the had light and heavy
central Italy whose warrior bands fought one cavalry, several thousand archers,
another over land or livestock.
By the 5th century BCE, under the inuence
of the Greeks, who had founded cities in
The Romans fought ercely and a score of war elephants. At
Heraclea and Asculum in 280279,
Pyrrhus twice defeated the Roman
southern Italy, the Romans had adopted a new
style of warfare. Their citizen militia fought as
reckless of their lives. legions through the impact of his
elephants and cavalry. Yet the
armored hoplites with thrusting spear and PLUTARCH ON THE BATTLE OF ASCULUM IN HIS LIFE OF PYRRHUS battles were won at such a heavy
shield in an infantry phalanx ff2223. pricePyrrhus is alleged to have
By the early 4th century they had established in its ranks. Since citizen-soldiers had to Apennine mountains, who said, One more such victory and I
their independence of the Etruscans and their supply their own equipment, the richest often fought in alliance with am lost. After a nal drawn battle
dominance over other Latin cities. With formed the cavalry, being able to afford other peoples resisting at Beneventum in 275, Pyrrhus
their allies they would now have to face more a horse, and the poorest served as lightly Roman expansion, such as went home, allowing Rome to
formidable enemies, including the Greeks, who armed skirmishers, with the armored the Gauls and the Umbrians. There complete its domination of southern
had ourishing colonies in southern Italy. heavy infantry in between. Two annually were three Samnite Wars: in 343341, Italy. The Roman legions had successfully
elected magistratesthe consulsshared 327304, and in 298290. stood up to one of the most advanced
overall command. That such an amateur The Romans were not always professional armies of the day.
arrangement should have proved an victorious. At the battle of the Caudine
empire-winning force was partly due Forks in 321, a Roman army was
to weapons and tactics. Instead of the ambushed in mountain terrain and AF TER
forced to surrender as Samnite warriors

13,000 According to one

estimate, the number
of Pyrrhuss soldiers killed fighting the
rained missiles down upon the trapped
legionaries from impregnable heights.
Typically, having accepted humiliating
The expansion of Rome took on an
unstoppable momentum in the century
Romans at Heraclea in 280 BCE, the first peace terms to secure the soldiers after victory in the war with Pyrrhus.
of the Greek kings Pyrrhic victories release, the Romans then refused to
battles won at devastating cost. carry out the terms once the men were A MEDITERRANEAN EMPIRE
freed. Rome was sometimes beaten on Roman control of southern Italy brought conict
hoplite thrusting spear, the heavy the battleeld but it never accepted with the Carthaginians in Sicily. In 264 BCE
infantry were equipped with a throwing defeat. A hard-fought victory over this led to the rst of the Punic Wars 3233 gg.
spear and a sword for close combat. The Samnites and Gauls at Sentinum in The Second Punic War of 218201 ended
legions into which troops were 295 opened the way for the Roman with Rome dominating the whole of the western
organized, each 4,5005,000 pacication of the mountain Mediterranean. In the 2nd century BCE victories
strong, were subdivided into tribes. The Samnites over the Antigonid rulers of Macedonia and
maniples of 120 men, eventually took a place the Seleucids in Syria ff2829extended
which could maneuver as allied auxiliaries of Roman rule into the eastern Mediterranean.
independently on the the Roman legions. The creation of such an extensive empire
battleeld. The soldiers put pressure on the existing Roman military
accepted rigorous discipline Pyrrhus system. An army of part-time citizen-soldiers
and training, forming a The king of Epirus in Greece, Pyrrhus was ill-suited to lengthy overseas campaigns
The Appian Way tight-knit, highly committed was an experienced campaigner and providing garrisons in far-ung territories.
The Romans began building the first of their famed force. The legions were who often led from the front. In The legions would eventually have to become
military roads, the Via Appia, during the second supported by auxiliaries support of Greek colonies, he a full-time professional force 4243 gg.
Samnite War in 312 BCE. The road allowed legionaries recruited from Romes fought against the Carthaginians in
to be moved swiftly south from Rome. subordinate Italian allies. Sicily as well as the Romans in Italy.

3000 BCE500 CE


The destructive series of wars between

Rome and Carthage began as a relatively
minor conict on the island of Sicily, which
The Punic Wars
lay between the two states. In the 3rd century BCE the rivalry between the Romans and Carthaginians developed into a life-or-death
struggle. An invasion of Italy by the Carthaginian general, Hannibal, brought the city of Rome to the
Sited on the coast of North Africa in modern-day brink of disaster, but the Punic Wars ended in the total destruction of Carthage.
Tunisia, Carthage was a colony founded by

Phoenicians from the Levant around 800 BCE. he First Punic War, from 264 to
The Phoenicians were seafarers and Carthage 241 BCE, began as a land conict
grew rich on maritime trade. By the 3rd century in Sicily. The Carthaginians
BCE its naval power allowed it to dominate were dependent upon supply and
much of the western Mediterranean. It had reinforcement by sea from North
a strong presence in Sicily, where its main enemy Africa. Rome was not a naval power,
but in 261 BCE decided to create a
eet from scratch, as the only means
of driving the Carthaginians out of
the island. What followed was, in
terms of the numbers of ships and
men committed, by far the largest
naval war fought in the ancient world. or sunk. This disaster left them incapable Roman warships
of preventing a Roman landing in Africa. This relief of Roman war galleys shows vessels with
CARTHAGINIAN GOLD COIN Building a navy In 255 Rome seemed on the brink of double banks of oars packed with soldiers. Roman
Taking Carthaginian warships as their winning the war, but severe setbacks naval tactics centerd on the boarding of enemy ships.
was the Greek city of Syracuse. At the same models, the Romans managed to build followed. The Roman expeditionary
time, Rome was extending its power southward 100 quinqueremes and 20 triremes in 60 failed African expedition, ghting
through Italy. Between 280 and 275 BCE King
Pyrrhus of Epirus, intervening in defense of
the Greek cities in the area, fought both the
days. A quinquereme was a hefty vessel,
rowed by 300 oarsmen and capable of
carrying 120 soldiers. The Romans could
680 The number of ships engaged
in the battle of Cape Ecnomus
in 256 BCE, according to Greek historian
was once more concentrated in Sicily.
Carthaginian forces, under general
Hamilcar Barca from 247, adopted a
Carthaginians in Sicily and the Romans in not match the skilled Carthaginian Polybius. If the estimate of 286,000 men purely defensive strategy, resisting sieges
southern Italy ff 3031. After Pyrrhus left, seamen in maneuver, but their on board is correct, this puts it among and engaging in raids and skirmishes.
Roman forces pushed down to the toe of Italy. legionary marines were a formidable the largest naval battles in history. Their position grew increasingly
Their anxiety about the Carthaginian presence in boarding force. Rome won a series of precarious. In 241 a desperate effort to
Sicily led them to cross the straits of Messina victories from Mylae in 260 to Tyndarus force in Africa was routed and almost resupply the remaining Carthaginian-
in 264 to lend support to the Mamertines, a in 257 BCE. In 256 the Romans prepared annihilated after a devastating charge held cities in Sicily was thwarted when
band of mercenary soldiers in conict with both a seaborne invasion of North Africa. by Carthaginian massed elephants at a grain eet from Africa was intercepted
Syracuse and Carthage. This intervention escalated The Carthaginians intercepted the Tunis. At sea hundreds of Roman by a Roman eet at the Aegates Islands.
into a full-scale war for possession of Sicily. invasion eet off the Sicilian coast at warships were lost in storms. The costs The Romans sank or captured 120
Cape Ecnomus, but in the battle that of the prolonged war threatened to of the heavily laden ships. Carthage
ensued lost almost 100 ships captured exhaust Romes resources. After the agreed to abandon Sicily and pay a
large indemnity in return for peace.
Roman territory 264 BCE The second war
218 : Hannibal crosses Alps Roman gains by 238 BCE For a long time the Carthaginians were
with 26,000 infantry, 9,000
Roman gains by 200 BCE in no state to resume war with Rome.

cavalry, and 15 war elephants



Carthaginian empire 264 BCE The desire for revenge was passed

Py Tolosa Placentia Carthaginian territory 200 BCE down a generation, Carthaginian


Numantia re
n e Narbo Trebia 218  A p Hannibals campaign (219202 BCE) general, Hannibal, inheriting it
Iberian es Massalia en Ariminum

 Pisae Campaigns of Scipio Africanus fromhis father, Hamilcar Barca. Spain,
 2 10


Peninsula 8 

1 Rhodae Lake Trasimene Metaurus (210206 BCE and 204202 BCE)

Tarraco 2 where both Rome and Carthage were

219 : Hannibal takes Saguntum; Emporiae 217  207 
Roman victory

Rome declares war Corsi c a Perusia expanding their inuence, provided

Dertosa to Rome 238  Carthaginian victory
Aleria Rome the ashpoint for renewed war. In
Ilipa Saguntum
206  Baecula Ostia Cannae 219 Hannibal seized the Spanish city
209  Olbia 216 
208  Capua
Gades B a le a r e s Sardinia of Saguntum in deance of Rome.
Tingis Malaca Carthago Mediterrane Tyrrheni an Tarentum The following year he led an army
Nova an S Carales Sea Thurii
Rusaddir ea Croton from Spain through southern Gaul
Iol A eg a tes Mylae 260 
Cartenna Saldae and across the Alps into Italy.
Utica Lilybaeum Hannibals armyincluding Spanish
204  Si ci l y Messina
ountains Carthage
Atlas M 202 : Hannibal returns to
Ecnomus tribesmen, Libyan infantry, Numidian
256  Syracuse horsemen, and Gallic warriors recruited
North Africa to defend Zama Hadrumetum
Carthage but is defeated 202  en routedescended into Italy from the
by Scipio Africanus Alpine passes with a few surviving war
149146 : Third Punic War; elephants and struck toward Rome.
AFRICA Carthage besieged and then
Romes wars with Carthage A Roman army sent to meet them
destroyed by Roman army
Magna The first war was decided in Sicily and was ambushed and destroyed at Lake
on the waters surrounding the island. The Trasimene. Fabius, appointed dictator
Sahara Charax second spread from the Iberian Peninsula to lead the Roman war effort under
0 400km
to the mainland of Italy, and finally to the now desperate circumstances, adopted
0 400 miles North African heartland of Carthage. a strategy that won him the nickname


Cunctator (delayer), avoiding
pitched battle with Hannibals superior
forces. This did not satisfy the Romans
no other nation would After the defeat at Zama, Carthage was
bellicosity. In 216 Fabius was dismissed
and the Romans and their allies not have succumbed beneath stripped of its military power, but Romes
thirst for vengeance would not be satised
confronted Hannibal at Cannae. The until its rival had been utterly destroyed.
outmaneuvered Romans were encircled
and systematically butcheredas many
such a weight of calamity. DESTRUCTION OF CARTHAGE
as 48,000 men may have been killed. ROMAN HISTORIAN LIVY ON ROMES REACTION TO THE DEFEAT AT CANNAE The most prominent advocate of renewed military
action was the Roman orator, Cato the Elder,
A protracted struggle heat ray. Few reinforcements reached from Sicily. At rst the Carthaginians who ended every speech with the statement:
Despite these losses Rome refused to sue Hannibal from Carthage. When his sued for peace, but Hannibals return Carthage must be destroyed! In 149 BCE
for peace and resumed Fabian delaying brother, Hasdrubal, led another army with his army stiffened their resolve and the Romans sent an army to besiege the city,
tactics. Hannibal maintained his army from Spain over the Alps in 207, he was peace negotiations broke down. In 202 accusing the Carthaginians of breaking their treaty
in southern Italy year after year, living defeated and killed by the Romans at the Hannibal faced Scipios army at Zama. with Rome. The siege went badly until the arrival
off the land, but had no clear strategy battle of the Metaurus. When Hannibal Scipios forces were strengthened by the of Scipio Aemilianus, adoptive grandson of
for bringing the war to a successful nally returned to Carthage in 202, he defection of the Numidian cavalry from Scipio Africanus. The city was rst blockaded to
conclusion. Some cities took the had been in Italy for a total of 16 years. the Carthaginian side. The battle was near-starvation and then, in 146 BCE, taken by
opportunity to rebel against Roman Roman general Scipio, a survivor close-fought but ended in total victory assault. The Carthaginians fought desperately, a
domination, among them Syracuse in of Cannae, had executed a triumphant for Rome. Carthage admitted defeat and nal core of resisters burning themselves to death
213. The Romans retook the city in 211 campaign in Spain from 210 to 206, was stripped of its navy and its remaining in a temple. All surviving Carthaginians were
after a long siege, despite the inventor scoring a series of victories over the colonial possessions around the western marched o into slavery. The Romans then razed
Archimedes providing the Syracusans Carthaginians. After returning to Mediterranean. Scipio had earned the the city, leaving not a single building standing.
with ingenious defensive devices, such Italy, in 204 he mounted an cognomen (nickname) Africanus
as a ship-lifting claw and an incendiary invasion of North Africa by which he is known to history.

Battle of Zama
This is a fanciful Renaissance representation of the final
battle of the Second Punic War, Scipios victory over
Hannibal in 202 BCE. Carthages African forest elephants
could not have carried quite such a load of soldiers.
3000 BCE500 CE

The Gallic Wars


Between 58 and 51 BCE Roman general, Julius Caesar, defeated the tribes of Gaul in a series of campaigns
that combined military efficiency with subtle diplomacy and ruthless massacre. Caesar exploited the
divisions between his enemies and extended the frontiers of empire by piecemeal conquests.
1 Caesar's Gallic 2 Caesar's invasions

Wars of Britain n 59 BCE Julius Caesar, a member Rome, calling for military support when By 54 BCE Caesar had expanded the
Dates 5851 BCE Dates 55, 54 BCE of the aristocracy with a modestly they needed it and joining the Romans Roman-ruled area of Gaul from southern
Location France, Location Southeast
Switzerland, and England
successful military record, served in attacks on rival tribes. But they did France to the Atlantic, Channel, and
Belgium as a Roman consul. This one-year not expect that they would be reduced North Sea coasts. Publicized by Caesar
appointment was traditionally followed to a permanently subservient status. himself in his written accounts of his
by a posting to govern a province. Since wars, these successes greatly enhanced
Caesar was a close ally of Romes most Gaul, Germany, and Britain his reputation. His term as provincial
B E F OR E successful general, Pompey, and its Caesars rst wars in Gaul after taking governor was extended from ve to
richest citizen, Crassus, he was given up command in 58 BCE were fought in ten years. The campaigns had enabled
control of the extensive area of alliance with the Aedui, tribes that lived him to improve the training and
By the end of the 2nd century BCE Rome Cisalpine Gaul (northern Italy), between the Saone and Loire rivers. The combat experience of his legions
had established a Mediterranean empire Transalpine Gaul (Provence), and rst enemy was the Helvetii, a people and weld them into an army
but was still vulnerable to attack by tribal Illyricum (the Balkans) for ve from Switzerland who set out loyal to himself, rather than to
peoples from the north. years instead of the usual to migrate to western Gaul. the Republic. The legions were
one-year term. It was an Caesar fought and defeated not invulnerable: during the
NEW ENEMIES AND A NEW ARMY opportunity for Caesar them, forcing those that campaign against the Belgic
From 113 BCE Rome found itself at war with to win military survived to return to tribes in 57 BCE they were
the Cimbri and Teutones, Germanic tribes gloryimportant for a their homeland. Then nearly defeated by a surprise
migrating from the Baltic to invade the territory politically ambitious the Aedui asked for
of the Romans and their allies in Gaul. The manand to nd protection against
plunder to pay off his the Germanic

80,000 The number of

Roman soldiers
who died fighting the Cimbri at Arausio
considerable debts.

A warlike people
warrior, Ariovistus;
Caesars legions
confronted him in the
(modern-day Orange, France) in 105 BCE. Cisalpine Gaul and Vosges and drove him
Illyricum were peaceful, Coin of Julius Caesar back across the Rhine.
Roman legions suered heavy defeats, but in Transalpine Gaul Born into the Roman These defensive
experiencing their worst casualties since the Caesar found ample scope aristocracy in 100 BCE, Julius campaigns were followed
Punic Wars ff3233. The tide was turned for war-making. Among Caesar was a towering political by a series of much bolder
under Gaius Marius, who defeated the the Celtic tribes known to figure as well as a great general. operations that extended
Teutones at Aquae Sextiae (modern-day the Romans as the Gauls, the boundaries of Roman
Aix-en-Provence in southern France) in 102 BCE. warfare was endemic. The tribes had domination. On the pretext again of an
To strengthen the Roman forces for that traditionally been led by warrior attack on a Celtic ally, Caesar invaded
campaign and for a war against the Berber chieftains who raided their neighbors the territory of the Belgic tribes to the
Jugurtha in North Africa, Gaius Marius and distributed the proceeds to reward northeast in 57 BCE. The following year
recruited volunteers from among the poorest their warband. Although Gallic societies he defeated the Veneti in Brittany. In
Roman citizens into the legions. Formerly a were evolving away from this primitive 55 BCE he ventured beyond the borders
citizen militia, the Roman army mutated into model, tribes formed alliances against of Gaul, bridging the Rhine for a foray
a professional force of full-time career one another and in order to defend into Germany and taking two legions
soldiers. Military leaders also began to vie for against pressure from outsiders such across the English Channel on board 80
political power: Marius and his rival general, as Germanic people from east of the transport ships. This landing in Britain
Sulla, twice fought civil wars for control Rhine. From the Gauls point of view, was repeated the following year on a
of Rome, in 8887 and again in 8382 BCE. the Roman presence tted quite easily larger scale, the Romans advancing as
into this world. They were happy to far north as the Thames River, although
enter into temporary alliances with Caesar left no permanent presence.

Celtic decorated knife and sheath

The Celts of Gaul and Britain had a love of
elaborate decoration, as seen on the handle
and sheath of this dagger found in Londons
Thames river. The blade is made of iron.


Gallic hero of 5453 BCE. The Belgic tribes revolted
Vercingetorix, a chieftain of the Arverni, led the most and a Roman column was ambushed
extensive resistance to the Roman conquest of Gaul. and annihilated. Another garrison had Caesars victory at Alesia guaranteed
He is celebrated by this statue in his native Auvergne. to be rescued by a relief column. The Roman rule in Gaul, which was to last for
following winter Vercingetorix, who the following 500 years. Roman troops
attack while making camp near had established himself as leader of returned to occupy Britain in 43 CE .
the Sambre River. All legionaries the Arverni, succeeded in uniting the
by this period fought as heavy tribes of western and central Gaul in GROWING RIVALRY
infantry, with skirmishers and an uprising against the Romans. Caesar The prestige that accrued to
cavalry provided by various went on the offensive, but Vercingetorix Caesar through his campaigns
auxiliariesGauls and cleverly avoided pitched battle. His in Gaul were a threat to
Germans, along with plan was to let the Romans exhaust the position of his rival
other peoples from themselves in long sieges of fortied general, Pompey, in
as far aeld as Crete hill towns, while depriving them of Rome. Caesar was not
and North Africa. supplies through a scorched earth policy allowed the celebration of
The Romans were and harassing them with his cavalry. a triumph and, in 50 BCE,
superior to their Caesar succeeded in taking the town of was ordered to disband his
Gallic enemies in Avaricum after a 25-day siegealmost army. Instead, he marched
discipline, logistics, the entire population was massacred on Rome and civil war
and engineering when the town fellbut Gergovia, near followed 3839 gg.
skillsfortication modern-day Clermont-Ferrand, was
and bridge- successfully defended against the legions. THE PRICE OF REBELLION
buildingbut in a Caesars triumph for his Gallic victories
face-to-face ght, a Showdown at Alesia nally took place in Rome in 46 BCE. At the
Gallic warrior was still a For a while the Gallic and Roman triumph, Vercingetorix, held prisoner since
formidable opponent. armies skirmished and shadowed one Alesia, was rst displayed to the Roman public,
Widespread resentment another. Finally, Vercingetorix installed then executed by strangulation.
against the Romans began his army at the fortied hill town of
to show itself in the winter Alesia, where he was besieged. Some

I did not undertake the war for private

ends, but in the cause of national
liberty. And since I must now accept my
fate, I place myself at your disposal.

of his cavalry broke through the Roman themselves attacked from both sides
lines and rode off to call on the allied as Vercingetorixs warriors coordinated
tribes to send reinforcements. Once attempted breakouts with attacks on
Caesars legionaries had completed the the Roman fortications and lines by
fortications around the town, it was his allies outside. There was a moment
under total blockade and the Gauls when the legionaries were almost
began to starve. They attempted to send overrun, but they held and the relief
away their women and children but the force was eventually driven off.
Romans would not allow it. When a Vercingetorix had no choice but to
Gallic relief force arrived, there was surrender, riding into Caesars camp
bitter ghting. The Romans found and laying down his arms at his feet.



During the siege of Alesia in 52 BCE, RECONSTRUCTION OF
Caesar set his legionaries to build two
lines of fortications around the hill
townone to keep Vercingetorixs
Gallic army in and the other to
defend the Roman besiegers against
an attack from the rear by a relief
force. Totaling 22 miles (35 km)
in length, the fortications consisted
of a series of ditches and an earth
and timber rampart, with a tower
every 80 ft (25 m) as well as 23 forts.


Military engineers have always been at the forefront of technology.
Their skills range from map-making and constructing fortifications,
to bridging rivers, building strategic roads, and blowing up enemy
installations. At the same time they are fighting men whose lives
are in constant danger.

ilitary engineering has been
a feature of organized warfare
since earliest times, and was
already sophisticated when the
Assyrians ruled the Fertile
Crescent (see pp.1819).
Even when
levels were low,
engineers were
put to use on
fortications, such
as those of the rst walled cities of Versatile siege weapon
the Middle East and the Maori village Roman engineers used ballistas to fire bolts and stones at
strongholds of New Zealand. troops and walls up to 500 yd (450 m) away. At short
The greater resources of larger states range on a low trajectory, ballistas were highly accurate.
and empires increased the scope of
their military engineering. The army of in the 1930s along Frances border
the Achaemenid empire of Persia (see with Germanyand the German-built
pp.2223) built military roads, pontoon Atlantic Wall in France, which the
bridges, and canals, but the ancient Allied forces encountered in 1944.
Romans (see pp.3047) seem to have As well as permanent structures,
been the rst to employ professional engineers have long been responsible
engineers as specialists in their army. for eld fortications, siege works, and
Since Roman times, their work has camps set up in haste. A daily task for
been both defensive and offensive; a Roman engineers was to march ahead
mixture of building an armys defenses of the army to construct a camp,
and breaking those of the enemy. surrounded by a ditch and a rampart,
for each nights rest. In modern times,
Construction engineering eld fortications (traditionally a trench
Many military construction projects or palisade) have been further defended
strategic roads and railroads, water by barbed wire, mineelds, and anti-tank
supply systems, and facilities such as traps. In World War I (see pp.26677),
barracksare all but indistinguishable these evolved into elaborate defensive
from civilian projects. Indeed, they systems in which soldiers lived
have often had civil as well as military for months on end.
uses. For example, US Army engineers By clearing obstacles,
carried out the mapping of the American improvising roads, bridging
West in the 19th century, and the US rivers, and creating
Army Corps of Engineers is responsible
for ood defenses today.
The key permanent works of military
engineers, however, have always been
fortications. These range from border
defenses such as the Great Wall of China
and Hadrians Wall through medieval
stone castles and walled cities to the
many elaborate 16th- to 18th-century
star-shaped forts of the style associated
with French engineer the Marquis de
Vauban. Fortications of the 20th
century include the Maginot Linebuilt

Roman engineers at work

A spiral bas relief on Trajans Column, erected in Rome
in 113 , commemorates the emperors victory in the
Dacian Wars, and has scenes of soldiers engaged in
construction, such as making bridges or siege ramps.

Building a Bailey bridge in World War II

The Bailey bridge was designed to be quickly and easily
transported and put together with the help of ordinary O 701 BCE Assyrian engineers mine walls and build
troops. Here, US troops are bridging a river in Italy. ramps during the siege of Lachish in Palestine.
O 480 BCE Persian engineers prepare for an invasion
temporary bases, engineers have of Greece by digging a canal across the Mount
also historically had a vital function Athos isthmus and making pontoon bridges
in enabling troops to advance or retreat across the Hellespont.
at speed. Just as Roman engineers built
O 52 BCE At the siege of Alesia in Gaul, the Romans
bridges out of boats, in World War II build fortification lines totaling 24 miles (39 km).
(see pp.288305) the Allied armies made
O 73 BCE The Romans build a mountainside siege
Bailey bridges from prefabricated steel
ramp to assault the Jewish fortress of Masada.
segments that they carried with them
on trucks and put up across rivers. O 122 CE Work begins on building Hadrians Wall,
To the same end, engineers have built marking the limit of the Roman empire in Britain.
airstrips on Pacic islandsa speciality O C.1500 The introduction of the star fort, or trace
of the US Navy Seabees (Construction italienne, adapts fortification and siege warfare in
Battallions, hence CBs) in World War Europe to the gunpowder era.
IIand carved out helicopter landing O 1678 Vauban is appointed General Commissioner
zones and rebases in the Vietnamese for Fortifications by Louis XIV of France. He takes
jungle (see pp.32223). More recently the art of fortification and siegecraft to new levels.
they have built a pipeline, served by 20 could be rolled up to the level of the under enemy lines to place mines, and
pump stations, from Kuwait into Iraq to elevated fortications. Roman sappers labored to build miles of front line,
protect the coalition forces fuel supply also tunneled under enemy walls so support, and communication trenches.
during Operation Iraqi Freedom (see that they would partially collapse and Vast explosions were set off under
pp.34849) and set up outposts for open breaches for an assault. German lines at the Somme, and at
NATO troops in the hostile terrain of The siege role of combat engineers Messines Ridge in 1917, where
Afghanistan (see pp.34041). did not fundamentally change 10,000 German troops were killed
until the gunpowder age. by the almost simultaneous
Combat engineering When cannon were rst detonation of 19 huge mines. VAUBANS FORT DE LA PRE ON THE LE DE R
Through much of recorded history, introduced into warfare,
combat engineersalso known as with devastating effect on Hazardous occupation O 1802 The US Army Corps of Engineers is created.
sappers, or pioneershave above all stone-walled castles, they Military engineers have always O 1812 Napoleons army retreating from Moscow is
been identied with siege warfare. Just were at rst the responsibility risked their own lives in the saved from annihilation when engineers improvise
as construction engineers specialize in of engineers, just as catapults course of carrying out their often a bridge across the freezing Berezina river.
building fortications, sappers are the had been. However, the highly dangerous duties. O 1862 The Union side in the American Civil War
men tasked with overcoming them. creation of independent They can suffer high casualty creates a Military Railroad Construction Corps.
Roman combat engineers built and artillery services took this Royal Engineers insignia rates, either because they O 1864 Union engineers construct a 2,170-ft
operated siege engines such as stone- burden off engineers. The British Royal Engineers are operating in exposed (660-m) pontoon bridge across the James River,
and bolt-throwing ballistas (catapults) to Tunneling under enemy can trace their origins to the positions in advance or to the longest floating bridge in military history.
batter enemy defenses. They also built walls long continued to be Norman Conquest of 1066. the rear of the main body O 1914-18 European armies in World War I build
huge, iron-tipped battering rams and a vital part of siege warfare, of the army in mobile a vast system of field fortifications on the Western
mobile towers, and constructed earth but in the gunpowder age a small bomb warfare, or because of their offensive Front, from the English Channel to Switzerland.
and timber ramps so that these machines called a petard was usually placed at role in siege warfare. Mining under
O 1930 France begins construction of the Maginot
the end of the completed tunnel and walls is a dangerous activity, as is racing
Line, a fortification along its border with Germany.
exploded to make the breach. forward under enemy re to place
Like tunneling, digging complex charges against the gates of a fortress, O 1942 The US Navy founds Construction
Battalionsthe Seabees.
trench systems to approach the walls as British sappers did during the
in preparation for an assault was an two-month siege of Delhi in 1857 in O 1943 The Allies introduce the Bailey bridge
art brought to a high pitch by engineers the Indian Mutiny. during operations in
of the 17th and 18th centuries. These Modern combat engineers, in the Italy. Each can take
techniques were same spirit, are trained to carry out the weight of a line
of tanks.
required afresh small-unit raids to lay charges against
in the trenches enemy targets. In World War II, sappers O 1944 On D-Day
of World War I. On were tasked with blowing up German Allied combat
the Western Front defensive positions overlooking the engineers land on
engineers tunneled Normandy beaches on D-Day, as well as Normandy beaches
with clearing obstacles planted by the to attack the Atlantic
Wall fortifications,
enemy on the beaches. Mine-clearing
and construction
became one of most dangerous tasks
engineers build an
carried out by engineers in World War
artificial Mulberry
II. Today, in Iraq and Afghanistan, an
harbor to help with
equally dangerous task is dealing with WORLD WAR II SEABEES
troop landings. RECRUITMENT POSTER
booby-traps and roadside bombstwo
O 1967 US Army engineers
common killers in modern guerilla wars.
use the Rome Plow, an armored bulldozer, to
clear areas of dense jungle in the Vietnam War.
Preparing the ground
US troops getting ready to invade Iraq from Kuwait O 2003 US Army combat engineers build a record
in 2003 take cover while a Kuwaiti engineer uses a 220-mile (354-km) fuel pipeline to supply
coalition troops in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
bulldozer to widen a ditch-crossing for them at an
abandoned UN checkpoint on the Kuwait-Iraq border.

Roman Civil War
Between 49 and 30 BCE a series of armed struggles determined who would rule the Roman world
as it mutated from republic into empire. Legion fought legion, loyal to their generals rather than
the state. The eventual victor was Octavian, who would later be known as the Emperor Augustus.

n 56 BCE Julius Caesar, then Originally the junior partner in the
building his reputation as a Triumvirate, Caesar had earned fame
general in the Gallic Wars and wealth in his Gallic campaigns Civil War between
(see pp.3435), held meetings wealth he used liberally to ensure the Octavian and Antony
Dates 3130 BCE
with Crassus and Pompey in personal loyalty of his legions. Location Greece and
northern Italy. The Triumvirate, After some initial hesitation, Pompey Egypt
the political alliance the three threw in his lot with the anti-Caesar
had formed, was under strain, faction in the Roman Senate, which
but an agreement was reached. demanded that Caesar leave his army
Caesar was conrmed in his in Gaul and return to Rome. Instead,
command in Gaul for a further on January 10, 49 BCE, Caesar led his
ve years, Crassus was given legionaries across the Rubicon, the by sea to seek refuge in Egypt. Seeking
control of the rich province of river that marked the border between to avoid offence to the victorious Caesar,
Syria, and Pompey remained in Cisalpine Gaul and Italy proper. Within Egyptian ruler, Ptolemy XII, had Pompey
Rome while serving as absentee weeks he occupied a largely unresisting killed the moment he stepped ashore.
governor of Hispania. This Italy and forced Pompey to ee across
arrangement ended when the Adriatic. Instead of pursuing him, Caesar assassinated
Crassus was ignominiously Caesar headed west, securing control Pompeys death did not end the civil
defeated by a Parthian army at of Hispania. Returning to Rome, he war. While Caesar enjoyed an affair
Carrhae in 53 BCE. Both Crassus had himself declared dictator. with Ptolemys sister, Cleopatra, and
and his son were killed. supported her claim to the Egyptian
Caesar was at rst distracted The defeat of Pompey throne, Pompeian forces rallied. After
by the crisis of Vercingetorixs Pompey had meanwhile established some brisk campaigning in Asia, Caesar
uprising in Gaul, but once the himself in Macedonia, where he had to ght battles at Thapsus in North
Gauls had been pacied the assembled an impressive army drawn Africa in 46 and Munda in Spain in 45
issue of his relationship with from Romes eastern provinces. He also BCE before his victory over Pompeys
Pompey had to be resolved. had a powerful war eet. In January faction was complete. It proved
48 BCE Caesar nonetheless succeeded nonetheless short-lived. Returning to
Cleopatra in transporting seven legions across Rome Caesar was declared dictator-for-
Although often represented the Adriatic, joined later by four more life. Shortly after, on March 15, 44, he
as the Egyptian goddess Isis, legions under his follower, Mark Antony. was assassinated by a conspiracy of
Cleopatra was a Macedonian Outside the port of Dyrrachium, in Roman senators, led by Marcus Junius
descendant of Alexanders present-day Albania, they were Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus,
general, Ptolemy. She had confronted by Pompeys numerically claiming to defend freedom and the
liaisons with both Julius superior army. Short of food and water, Republic. Ironically, his body fell at
Caesar and Mark Antony. Caesars legions were in a precarious the foot of a statue of Pompey.

Absolute power is what both

B E F O R E Pompey and Caesar have
In the 1st century BCE the Roman Republic was POWER SHARING
sought. Both want to be kings.
racked by violent social conicts in Italy and From 7371 BCE an army of escaped slaves led by CICERO IN A LETTER TO HIS FRIEND ATTICUS, 49 BCE
by power struggles within the ruling elite. the former gladiator Spartacus waged guerrilla
war in southern Italy. This uprising was position. The two sides engaged in a Caesars death opened a new round
REVOLT AND CIVIL WAR brutally crushed by the wealthy Marcus cagey contest, constructing fortications of civil strife. Brutus and Cassius ed
The generals Publius Cornelius Sulla Licinius Crassus, aided by Pompey. and counter-fortications and ghting Rome and power was assumed by a
and Gaius Marius led the suppression The latter went on to carry out some costly skirmishes, before Caesar Second Triumvirate: Mark Antony, an
of a revolt by some of Romes successful campaigns to suppress skillfully disengaged and marched into experienced ofcer who had served
Italian allies, known as the Social piracy and extend Romes empire in Greece, shadowed by Pompey. The under Caesar in Gaul as well as in
War, from 91 to 88 BCE. At the end of the the eastern Mediterranean, earning the armies met again on a plain outside the civil war; Caesars chosen heir,
war Sulla led his army into Rome to expel appellation the Great. In 60 BCE he Pharsalus. Outnumbered two to one, Octavian, an inexperienced boy of 19;
Marius. The dispute was not resolved formed an alliance with Crassus and Caesar nevertheless accepted a challenge and Lepidus, a cavalry commander.
until 82 BCE, when Sulla defeated a the ambitious Julius Caesar ff 3435 to give battle. By aggressive use of his They did not control the eastern
Marian army outside Rome. Sulla ruled to dominate Roman politics. This is infantry cohorts he rst drove off provinces from Greece to Syria,
for two years as dictator before retiring. POMPEY THE GREAT known as the First Triumvirate. Pompeys large cavalry force and then however, which remained in the hands
smashed his infantry formation. of the Republican forces. Brutus and
Pompey escaped the debacle and ed Cassius took up a strong defensive


position near Philippi East, losing large numbers of troops in
in eastern Macedonia, the process. Starved of reinforcements
where they confronted an by Octavian, he fell back on the support Victorious in the civil war, Octavian was
army of similar sizeprobably of Cleopatra of Egypt, establishing able to establish his personal rule over
around 100,000 menled by himself with her in Alexandria. the Roman empire, while maintaining a
Antony and Octavian. Two battles were faade of Republican institutions.
fought at Philippi in October 42 BCE. In Octavians final moves
the rst Brutuss forces overran By 35 BCE the Triumvirate was at an end. A NEW ROME
Octavians camp in a surprise assault Lepidus had been ousted by Octavian, The defeat and death of Cleopatra in 30 BCE
that found the young triumvir absent who then mounted a propaganda brought Ptolemaic rule in Egypt to an end.
from his post. At the same time, Antony campaign against Antony and his Octavian ordered her heir, Julius Caesars son
successfully attacked Cassiuss fortied allegedly scandalous behavior in the Caesarion, to be strangled, and Egypt became
position. Wrongly believing Brutus also east. In 32 BCE the Roman Senate was a province of the Roman empire.
to have been defeated, Cassius fell upon persuaded to declare war on Antony In 27 BCE the Roman Senate authorized
his sword. The Republicans were not and Cleopatra. Antony planned an Octavians extensive powers over the empire
defeated, but their morale was wavering amphibious invasion of Italy, exploiting and gave him the title Augustus, by which he is
and after a three-week stand-off Brutus the strength of the Egyptian eet, but generally known. In practice, his power depended
felt obliged to give battle again. Rival only made it as far as Actium on Greeces not on the Senate, but on the support of the
legions clashed in a vicious close-quarters Ionian coast. The eet that Agrippa had full-time professional soldiers of the
ght that Octavian and Antony won. created was even stronger and allowed Roman army 4243gg. He stabilized this
Left with inadequate forces to continue Octavian both to ferry an army across
the war, Brutus too committed suicide. to Greece and to subject Antony and CAESAR The family name of Julius
After this victory Octavian returned Cleopatra to a naval blockade. Octavian Caesar evolved into an imperial title.
to govern in Rome while Antony installed himself in a fortied position It survived into modern times as the
campaigned in the east. Both met with and refused to give battle, waiting while German Kaiser and the Russian Tsar.
serious challenges. Sextus Pompeius, his opponents forces withered through
a son of Pompey the Great, had seized malnutrition and disease. In desperation force, establishing xed terms of service and
Sicily, deploying a war eet to hold off Antony led a naval breakout in turning the legions into permanent formations,
Octavians legions. Octavian tasked his September 31 BCE, but most of his eet each with its own traditions and identity.
general, Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, with was trapped and destroyed. Antony and Augustus died in 14 CE. He selected his own
building and equipping a eet to take Cleopatra escaped back to Egypt, where heir, his stepson, Tiberius. The lack of a formal
on Sextus Pompeius. Agrippa destroyed they were pursued by Octavian. Deserted system of succession, whether hereditary or
most of the rebel warships at Naulochus The first emperor by a large part of his army as the Romans elective, left plentiful scope for future power
in 36 BCE, allowing Octavian to retake Octavian was Julius Caesars great-nephew and his approached Alexandria, Antony took his struggles. Nonetheless, the empire was to
Sicily. Meanwhile, Antony undertook political heir. Victor in the civil war, he discreetly own life, an example soon followed by prove remarkably durable.
an overambitious invasion of Parthia, assumed the powers of an emperor, ending the Cleopatra. Octavian was left in sole
successor power to the Seleucids in the Republican system of government in Rome. command of the Roman empire.

Battle of Actium
Attempting to sail out of Actium, Antony and
Cleopatras fleet encountered Octavians warships
commanded by Agrippa. Antony and Cleopatra
escaped, but lost at least 150 ships in the battle.

A Distant Posting
Formal greeting
from Niger and

Flavius Cerialis was an officer in the Roman army in 100 CE, stationed in a rainswept fort at the northern
extremity of the empire. Details of his life and the lives of his men have been revealed through hundreds
of letters and notes, written in ink on postcard-size wooden tablets that have survived to the present day.

indolanda was a Roman fort in their province of origin. The Vindolanda Vindolanda tablet
northern England. Built before tablets include disparaging references This letter, found by archeologists excavating an ancient
the construction of Hadrians by the Batavian soldiers to the local rubbish heap at Vindolanda fort, is addressed to Flavius
Wall, it was a distant outpost of the people, referred to derisively as Cerialis by fellow officers Niger and Brocchus. It wishes
Roman world, providing a base for Brittunculi (little Britons). Flavius success in meeting the governor of Britannia.
troops policing the border between the Like the soldiers under his command,
province of Britannia and unconquered Flavius was Batavian, but unlike them clothing was issued from central
Caledonia to the north. he was a Roman citizen. He must have stores, the troops received extra items
been wealthy, for he sent in parcels from their families at
Frontier guard enjoyed equestrian home. Similarly, food was in plentiful
From 97 CE the forts status, an aristocratic supply with grain and bacon prominent
garrison consisted of rank that was only open among items sourced locally, but
two cohorts of Batavian to men who could luxuries were imported to liven up the
troops, plus a wing of satisfy a strict property diet. Flavius expected to have olives,
cavalry from Spain. qualication. His wife, spices, and wine on his table, and even
Flavius Cerialis was the Sulpicia Lepidina, lived ordinary soldiers managed to procure
prefect commanding IX with him in his quarters pepper and oysters.
Batavorum, a body of at the fort. One of the Garrison life had many features that
some 500 men. The letters is an invitation would be familiar to soldiers today:
Batavians were for Sulpicia to come to morning parades, guard duty, drill,
auxiliariestroops a birthday party thrown patrols, and clerical work compiling
drawn from the subject by the wife of Aelius ofcial reports. The messages on the
peoples of the empire. Brocchus, an ofcer in wooden tablets include requests for
They were a tough the nearby fort of Briga. leave, presumably very desirable from
Germanic people whose what must have been at times a grim
homeland was in the Roman legionaries Home comforts postingespecially in the frequent bad
area of the present-day This frieze is from Tropaeum Traiani The fort under Flaviuss weather. Ofcers were naturally
Netherlands. Their in Romania on the empires Eastern command was largely interested in personal advancement,
ghting qualities were European frontier. Most Roman troops self-sufcient. It had hoping for a recommendation from
much admired by the were stationed on the borders. its own shield-maker, one of their superiors that might bring
Romans and they had brewed its own beer, promotion or, in Flaviuss case, angling
served in the invasion and conquest and made and repaired its own shoes. for a meeting with the provincial
of Britain from 43 CE. It was standard In around 100 CE its soldiers built their governor. The eventual fate of Flavius
practice for provinces to be garrisoned own bathhouse. Accommodation for Cerialis is unknown, although his
by men from elsewhere in the empire. the commander was comfortable, colleague, Brocchus, was later
The likelihood of revolts was much but the soldiers slept in dormitories, recorded as commander of a cavalry
greater when soldiers were stationed probably under woollen blankets on unit in the Eastern European province
among their fellow countrymen in mattresses on the oor. Although of Pannonia, another distant posting.

I have sent pairs of socks from Sattua,

Hadrians Wall today
Roman legionaries and auxiliaries stationed on the
northernmost frontier of the empire probably faced
slightly milder winters than those of modern times. Even
so, there would have been frequent rain and snow. two pairs of sandals and two pairs of
underpants Greet all your messmates.
The tablets are thin pieces of wood, with
messages written on them in ink. About the
size of a modern-day postcard, they are
usually less than a half-inch thick and folded
to protect the contents. The name of the
addressee is written on the other side.
3000 BCE500 CE

The Roman Empire

The period between the beginning of the reign of Augustus in 27 BCE and the
end of the reign of Marcus Aurelius in 180 CE is often called the Pax Romana
Roman peace. Apart from suppressing scattered internal rebellions, the legions
garrisoning the empire fought wars only at or beyond its frontiers.

he last phase of expansion of Hanover. Arminius was commanding
the Roman empire occurred in a body of auxiliaries ghting for the
the period between the reign of Romans, while secretly forming a tribal
Augustus (27 BCE14 CE) and the end alliance to oppose them. At the
of the reign of Emperor Trajan in 117 CE. Teutoburg Forest in 9 CE, three legions
The Romans were tempted to cross the under Publius Quinctilius Varus were
long land frontiers of their provinces ambushed by Arminiuss forces and
in Western and Southern Europe and massacred. The Romans had their
to press further into Asia from their revenge through punitive expeditions
provinces in the eastern Mediterranean. led by Germanicus between 14 and 16
They also traversed the English Channel CE, but the tribes across the Rhine were
to occupy much of Great Britain. never subdued as the Gauls had been.
Although the Roman legions were a
formidable ghting force, the campaigns Romans in Britain Cavalrymans helmet
that they were engaged in were far The conquest of Britain began under Roman cavalry helmets often had a hair pattern on
from supplying the empire with an Emperor Claudius in 43 CE. Rome had the bowl. In the 1st century CE cavalry made up a
unbroken string of successes. The exercised an inuence over Britains small part of a legiontypically 120 men out of 5,000.
battles they fought often revealed their Celtic peoples ever since Julius Caesars Auxiliaries provided most of the armys horsemen.
vulnerability when faced with enemies
employing very different tactics on
what was to the Romans alien terrain.
An early reminder of the limits of
The Romans owed the conquest of the world to
Roman power was provided by a defeat
at the hands of the Germanic tribes led
no other cause than continual military training.
who lived in the area of present-day
two expeditions across the Channel in Scotland. In 142 the Antonine Wall, outbreak of civil war that followed the
almost a century earlier. There were built along the line of the Clyde and the death of Emperor Nero in 68. After
B E F O R E puppet kingdoms that paid tribute to Forth rivers in central Scotland, was the legion once more fought legion, as
Rome, and Roman support for an Roman empires most northern frontier in the days of Caesar and Pompey,
ousted allied king provided an easy in Britain; it took 12 years to build, but Vespasian emerged as emperor. He
The key to the power of the Roman empire pretext for military occupation. Four was held for only 20 years. appointed his son, Titus, to continue the
was a stable, well-drilled professional legions ferried across from Boulogne war in Judaea. In 70 CE Jerusalem was
army. Emperor Augustus (27 BCE 14 CE) sufced to overcome initial resistance in Extending the empire taken by the Roman army after a long
planned the nal phase of its development. the southeast, but Caratacus, a chieftain Romes preoccupation with maintaining siege, its temple was destroyed and the
of the Catuvellauni tribe, escaped to and extending its imperial frontiers was revolt effectively ended. A small Jewish
ARMY REFORMS continue the ght further west. By 47 CE occasionally disrupted by disturbances group held out in the hill fortress of
Coming to power through civil war ff 3839, the whole of southern England was within the empire. In 66 CE the province Masada until 73 CE. The taking of
Augustus knew that the army was the foundation under Roman rule, although resistance of Judaea rose in revolt. Vespasian, an Jerusalem and Masada were both classic
of his rule. He made the legions permanent in Wales continued despite the eventual experienced military commander who examples of Roman siege warfare, with
formations with names and numbers. All capture and execution of Caratacus. had taken part in the invasion of Britain the use of rams, ballistas, and siege
legionaries had to be Roman citizens and The Romans were distracted from in 43, was sent to suppress the revolt, towers. At Masada, on the coast of the
he established a xed term of service for warfare in Wales in 60 CE by a major but his campaign was interrupted by an Dead Sea, the building of an immense
soldiers, eventually set at 25 years. Completion revolt in eastern England, led ramp was required to bring
by Boudicca of the Iceni tribe. the siege engines up the

130,000 The number of

legionaries in
the army of Augustus. Auxiliaries
After this had been suppressed,
it took another 16 years for all
of Wales to be brought to heel.
mountainside. In neither case
did the citys defenders stand
a chance in the face of the
equaled this number, giving a total Conquest to the north proved Roman forces; at Masada the
army strength of around 260,000. more problematic. The Romans population nally committed
advanced into Caledonia suicide to avoid capture.
of service was rewarded with a grant of land. (modern-day Scotland) and In 98 CE the Roman empire
Non-citizen allies of Rome provided auxiliaries won a victory at Mons Graupius came under the rule of an
to ght alongside the legionaries. Almost in 84 CE, but the tribes of the exceptional military leader,
all legionaries were stationed at permanent region escaped their long-term
forts around the margins of the empire. The rule. When Hadrians Wall was Trajans Column
Praetorian Guard was often the force that built as a defensive perimeter to Erected in Rome in 113 to celebrate victory
made or unmade emperors in power struggles. the British province in 122 CE, in the Dacian Wars, Trajans Column depicts
it was much further south than military life. Here, auxiliaries, with their
the previous wall that they built distinctive oval shields, slaughter Dacians.


Dagger and scabbard
Worn on the opposite side of a legionarys
belt from his sword, the dagger, or pugio, By the end of the 2nd century CE the
was a useful secondary weapon. great age of Roman expansion was at
an end. The empire was subjected to
Mesopotamia who fought mounting internal and external strains.
chiey as mounted archers,
had inicted a notorious defeat STABILITY RESTORED
on the Romans at Carrhae in In the 3rd century CE the Roman empire almost
53 BCE and remained a potential disintegrated. Barbarian invaders overran the
threat to Romes eastern provinces. frontiers as rival claimants battled for the
On the pretext of a disagreement imperial throne. The empire was saved from
over Armenia, but out of a desire collapse by the Emperor Aurelian (reigned
above all for military glory, Trajan 270275) who restored unity, defeated the
invaded Parthian territory in force, Goths, and endowed Rome with defensive walls.
overrunning Mesopotamia, reaching
the Persian Gulf, and capturing the ROMES FOUR RULERS
Parthian capital, Ctesiphon. When Trajan In 293 Emperor Diocletian devised a tetrarchy,
died of natural causes in 117, the Roman four co-rulers, to defend the over-large empire.
empire had reached its greatest extent. Two senior emperors (with the title Augustus)
Trajans gains in Mesopotamia could reigned together, each assisted by a junior
not be sustained. Under his far less emperor (with the title Caesar).
warlike successors, Hadrian and The four rulers acted as
Antoninus, the legions pulled military commanders,
back to defensible borders. based near vulnerable
Marcus Aurelius (ruled frontiers rather than in
161180) fought many Rome. This system allowed
wars, but they were the empire to reassert its
mostly defensive military strength, with, in
actions against particular, a rare victory
renewed pressure over the Sasanids, the
on the borders successors to the
from Germanic and Parthians in Persia. The
the Spanish-born Emperor Parthian aggression. tetrarchy collapsed after
Trajan. He indirectly owed his rise Diocletians abdication in
to power to King Decebalus of Dacia 305. This led to another
(roughly modern-day Romania) who Roman empire under Hadrian period of civil war as
had refused to be cowed by Roman This map shows the Roman empire in 120 CE STATUE OF TWO
claimants to the title
military campaigns under Emperor during the reign of Emperor Hadrian (reigned 117 TETRARCHS of Augustus proliferated.
Domitian. The subsequent fall of the 138 CE). Hadrian gave up the territory gained by his
humiliated Domitian allowed Trajan predecessor, Trajan, in his wars against the Parthians.
to emerge as emperor, and dealing
with Dacia in order to reassert Roman
authority in the region was thus the
rst item on his agenda. Trajan fought Hadrian's Wall c.122 
0 500km
N o r th S e a
two campaigns in Dacia. The rst in N
Deva Eburacum 0 500 miles
Gladius and scabbard 101102 was followed by a peace that BRITANNIA
The Roman legionarys short left Decebalus on the throne as a Isca Silurum Londinium Elb
Vetera G E R M A N
sword, the gladius, was Colonia Agrippina Bonna T R I B E S
equally suitable for slashing
6.5 MILLION The area AT L A N T I C Durocortorum Mogontiacum

and thrusting. The shaped covered OCEAN Argentoratum

Carnuntum S A R M AT I A N S
handgrip was made of bone, by the expansionist Roman empire in AQUITANIA Vindobona
Burdigala Aquincum
with a wooden pommel. square kilometers (2.5 million sq miles) Legio VII lps Brigetio
Gemina Lugdunum A Apulum
after Trajans conquest of Dacia in 106 BCE. E

Ravenna Singidunum Da DACIA Troesmis


Narbo n ub
Viminacium Durostorum
puppet ruler. When the Romans left, LUSITANIA ITALIA Novae Sea
Corduba s THRACIA
Decebalus rebuilt his army and began a le ar e Rome Satala
B Byzantium Nicomedia
to show signs of causing trouble again, Tingis Carales Thessalonica Melitene
Caesarea M e EPIRUS Ancyra
so in 105106 Trajan returned, d i ASIA Samosata
t e Ephesus Zeugma
TINGITANA r r Corinth

assaulted and laid waste the Dacian a Athens LYCIA Antioch


capital, Sarmizegethusa, and absorbed Lambaesis N u m i d i a n Syracuse ACHAIA Raphanaea SYRIA
Atlas Mountains e IA
a n
Dacia into the Roman empire. Trajans CYPRUS PA RTH
S e
a Caparcotna
Syrian Desert
Column, erected to mark this triumph, RI

CA Cyrene Caesarea Maritima Bostra

Lance and pilum records exceptional feats of engineering, Jerusalem
The pilum, or javelin (right), was such as bridge building, accomplished Key ET CRETA Alexandria Nicopolis
a standard legionary weapon. by the legions, as well as the defeat Roman empire c.120 CE
Legionaries threw their javelins and enslavement of the Dacians. LYCIA Province in reign of Hadrian Ni

before advancing to engage In 114, when Trajan was over 60 Legion headquarters

with the sword. Roman cavalry, years old, he embarked upon another Fortified frontier
whether they were legionaries remarkable military venture in the Frontier 120 CE
or auxiliaries, carried lances. east. The Parthians, rulers of Persia and Approximate frontier 120 CE

In the first two centuries CE, the Roman empire was constantly
threatened by Germanic tribes from beyond the Rhine and the
Danube. Emperor Marcus Aurelius spent much of his reign
(161180 CE) campaigning against the Quadi, Marcomanni, and
other tribes along the Danube frontier. This relief decorating a
marble sarcophagus in Rome shows the helmeted Roman
legionaries getting the better of their Germanic foes.
3000 BCE500 CE

The Late Roman Empire


2 3

1 In the final period of the Roman empire in the west, from around 350 CE, Germanic tribes increasingly
dominated warfare in Europe, whether as enemies or as allies and auxiliaries of Rome. By the time
Attila the Hun ravaged Gaul and northern Italy in the 450s, the western empire was disintegrating.
1 Roman wars 3 Campaigns
with Persia of the Huns

Dates 230384 CE Dates 434453 CE
he career of Emperor Julian, The Vandal general
Location Present-day Location Hungary, known as the Apostate, reveals The Roman general Stilicho had a Vandal father and
Iraq and Syria Germany, France, and much about the state of the a Roman mother. He served faithfully as a defender
northern Italy Roman empire in the 4th century CE. of the failing Roman empire until his execution in 408,
2 Fall of Western
Roman Empire to A nephew of Emperor Constantine I, a victim of political intrigue.
Goths, Vandals, and he narrowly survived with his life in
other Germanic tribes
the round of massacres and usurpations auxiliariesfor example, from allies
Dates c.375476 CE
Location France, Spain, that followed Constantines death in of Rome beyond the frontierswas
Italy, and North Africa 337. When Constantius II emerged as a long-established tradition, but
victor in this vicious power struggle, increasingly tribal warbands served
he appointed Julian his subordinate alongside the legions under their own
co-emperor in the west while he fought chieftains as allies or federated people.
B E F O R E Sasanid Persia in the east. But when The prominence of barbarian soldiers
Constantius ran into trouble ghting in the Roman army was to be crucial
the Persians and called for Julian to to the development of events as the
The Roman empire survived near- bring his army to the east, the Gallic western empire declined.
disintegration in the 3rd century CE , but it legions refused to go and instead Roman forces became
remained divided, prone to civil strife, and proclaimed Julian emperor. A civil more varied. Although
under severe pressure from its neighbors. war was avoided because Constantius armored legion
died of a fever in 361. infantry remained
DECLINE OF ROME Now sole emperor, Julian led a large central, there was
In 324, after winning a long series of wars against army deep into Sasanid territory in 363. a growing emphasis
imperial rivals, Constantine I established The expedition was a disaster. Julian was on missile weapons,
himself as sole emperor, but his death was killed in a skirmish and the Romans had with specialist
followed by a further collapse into civil war. The to accept humiliating peace terms. This artillery units and
eastern and western halves of the empire were was an empire in which emperors were bodies of bowmen.
elected by armies and mostly lived as Cavalry had an increasing

The number of Roman emperors military commanders; in which the impact on the battleeld. The
assassinated in the half century need to campaign simultaneously on Romans deployed heavily
between 235 and 284 CE. different frontiers led to divisions of armored horses and riders in
authority; and in which resources were aristocracy of Roman senators, but by imitation of the Persian cataphracts, as
increasingly divided. The wealth and power stretched to cope with the military the end of the 3rd century they were well as lighter cavalry with spears and
lay in the east, where Constantine created an problems posed by external pressures. career soldiers, drawn from anywhere mounted archers. These developments
alternative capital at Byzantium (Constantinople). in the empire. These senior ofcers were doubtless a response to the
Romes faltering army made and unmade emperors. occasional setbacks the Romans
BORDER CONTROL The Roman army that faced these Shortages of material resources suffered at the hands of enemies who
The western empire was under constant pressures in the 4th and 5th centuries showed in a decline in the quality of were practised in missile and cavalry
pressure from tribes beyond the Rhine and CE was signicantly different from the equipment, and shortages of manpower warfare, such as the Goths who
Danube, who raided across the frontier army that had enforced the Roman were even more evident. The volunteers defeated Valens at Adrianople in 378.
and sometimes settled within Romes borders. Peace (Pax Romana) of the 1st and 2nd who came from the poorer strata of
The eastern empire had a dangerous centuries. It was divided into border Roman citizens no longer dominated Weak political leadership
neighbor in the Sasanids, a dynasty that took forcespermanent garrisons for the the ranks. The legions were staffed The mounting problems of the Roman
over control of Persia from the Parthians forts and fortications around the mostly by conscripts, although the empire did not, however, stem from
in 224. Successive Roman emperors had much frontiersand mobile eld armies border forces included a large number such defeatspitched battles were rare
the worse of ghting with the Persians. in any case. The issue, especially in the


So many murders the dead western empire, was a failure of
political organization and resources.
The Romans were unfortunate to
could not be numbered. confront at this point in their history
a major movement of the Germanic
CALLINICUS, DESCRIBING THE INVASION OF ITALY BY THE HUNS, C.450 CE peoples. During the second half of the
4th century Ostrogoths and Visigoths,
stationed deeper inside the empire. of hereditary soldiersthe children Vandals, Burgundians, and Lombards,
The eld armies could be a reserve of career legionaries settled in the area Franks, Alemanni, and Saxons were
to respond to military emergencies where they served. The army had long all driven westward or southward by
wherever these occurred, but they were ceased to be ethnically Roman, but was pressure from nomadic steppe
also power bases for their commanders recruited from across the multi-racial horsemen, chiey the Huns, who
who needed to uphold their slice of empire, including from barbarian attacked them from the east. Although
authority inside the empire. The senior tribes who had been permitted to settle the Roman empire continued to apply
ofcers who commanded the armies within the empires frontiers. The long-established processes by which
had previously been drawn from the employment of non-citizens as such people were settled, Romanized,


and taken into the armed forces forces included a large contingent of under the leadership of the dreaded
as auxiliaries and allies, the tide Visigoths, led by their chieftain, Alaric. Attila, revealed an empire that had lost
was too powerful to be controlled. Stilicho defeated the usurper, but soon coherence and control. The Romans The collapse of the Roman empire in the
The battle of Frigidus in 394 and found himself engaged in a prolonged succeeded in checking Attila at a battle west was followed by the creation of new
its aftermath show a failing system in struggle against Alarics rampaging near Chlons in 451 but only his death kingdoms, mostly by Germanic chieftains.
action. The battle was fought between followers, transformed from allies into in 453, not in battle, brought the Huns The Roman empire continued in the east.
forces loyal to Emperor Theodosius, enemies. In 410, after Stilichos death, forays to an end. By then the Roman
ruling from the eastern empire, and the Visigoths sacked Rome, the rst empire in the west was falling apart. COLLAPSE IN THE WEST
a usurper in the west. Theodosiuss time the city had fallen to hostile forces The fall of the western Roman empire is
forces were commanded by Stilicho, in almost eight centuries. Yet only a few traditionally dated to 476, when Emperor
the son of a Vandal father and a Roman years later, the Romans were again Romulus Augustus
mother. The other side was commanded appealing to the Visigoths as allies to was deposed by the
by Arbogast, a Frank. Both were help ght the Vandals, another commander of Romes
generals in the Roman army. Stilichos Germanic people. Germanic allies in
The incursions of the FRANKISH Italy, Odoacer. But
Attila the Hun Huns into Roman AX Odoacer did not claim
The Huns were steppe horsemen who fought mostly territory between the imperial title, which was held by
as mounted archers. Under Attila, their fearsome 441 and 452, Emperor Zeno at Constantinople.
leader from 434 to 453, they raided and pillaged
the Roman empire for a decade. FILLING THE VOID
Germanic kingdoms were established as the
empire fell. In Gaul the Franks established
a powerful state under Clovis. The Visigoths
ruled Spain, from which they had evicted the
Vandals who themselves established a kingdom
in North Africa. In Italy Odoacer was defeated
by the Ostrogoths under Theodoric in 493,
Theodoric then ruling as theoretically a viceroy
of the eastern emperor in Constantinople.
Under Emperor Justinian in the 6th century,
there was a determined, but failed, eort to
restore imperial control over Italy and
the rest of the western Mediterranean
6263 gg. Nor was the memory of the empire
lost in Western Europethe Frankish ruler,
Charlemagne, was to claim the imperial
title in Rome in 800 6869 gg.

The beginnings of warfare in ancient China

saw peasant soldiers armed with bronze or
The Warring States Period
stone weapons under the command of
Warfare in ancient China was refined through centuries of civil conflict. Feudal domains that flourished
aristocratic warriors in chariots. in the absence of a strong central authority competed for territory, expanding the resources devoted to
EARLY DYNASTIES war until the climactic battles of the 3rd century BCE led to unification under Emperor Qin.
The rst dynasty in China was the Shang,

ruling around the Yellow river valley from 1600 he rulers of the Zhou dynasty states that included Jin, Qi, and Qin.
to 1050 . The Shang was succeeded by created a feudal system in which There were many conicts within and
the Zhou, which introduced the use of iron power was devolved to regional between these loosely structured states. China in the Warring
weapons. The Zhou supported a substantial lords, who depended on the allegiance Battles involved the offensive use of States Period
Dates 475221 
standing army that campaigned against the of their own vassals controlling smaller chariotswhich in earlier times were
Location Central and
barbarians around the borders of the realm. areas. Conict was inevitable in such eastern China
The Zhou dynasty ocially lasted until 256 , an unstable system. In the Spring and Ancient Chinese bronze sword
but in reality central authority disintegrated Autumn Period the southerly state Dating from the 4th century , this sword shows the
in the course of the 8th century BCE, initiating of Chu, centered on the Yangtze river, persistence of bronze weapons into the Iron Age of the
a long and complex period of wars between emerged as one of the most powerful Zhou dynasty. Such weapons were mass produced.
competing Chinese states. This is known as the players, competing with Yellow river
Spring and Autumn Period. Beginning around
770 , it was a long prelude to the Warring
States Period, the start date of which
historians conventionally give as 475 .


Peasant soldiers from the terracotta army
The terracotta figures buried with Emperor Qin Shi
Huangdi in 210  give a faithful impression of the The establishment of the Qin dynasty REPELLING THE HORSEMEN
mass of conscript peasant infantrymen who made ended the Warring States Period, but The Han empire established by Gao was
up the bulk of any ancient Chinese army. proved short-lived. However, China threatened by the Xiongnu, nomadic horsemen
remained unied until 220 CE, under who were based in the northern steppes. To keep
states developed increasingly efcient the Han dynasty. the horsemen out, the Han reinforced the Great
central administrations that could Wall that Emperor Qin had built. Moreover, Han
conscript hundreds of thousands of IMPERIAL RULE armies were sent through the wall to attack the
peasant infantrymen and equip them After the death of the rst emperor, horsemen in their home territory in an
with mass-produced iron weapons. Qin Shi Huangdi, in 210 , China looked attempt to defeat them before they
Heavy siege crossbows came into set to return to the civil conict of the could get anywhere near the Great
widespread use, as did small crossbows Warring States Period. The successor Wall. The combined measures
carried by skirmishing infantrymen to the throne, Qin Er Shi, was weak succeeded, the Xiongnu were
pushed out in front of the line of battle. and incompetent, and rebellions beaten, and eventually the
soon broke out. A serious bid for horsemen were reduced to

450,000 According to
ancient Chinese
sources, the number of Zhao soldiers who
power was made by Xiang Lang of
Chu, who was contested by Liu
Bang, a general controlling Han. Liu
mere tributary status.

died at the battle of Changping in 260 BCE. Bang won the contest and, as Under the leadership of Emperor
Emperor Gao, founded the Han Wu (14187 ), marauding Han
Chariots were still usedcrewed by dynasty, reconsolidating armies penetrated south as far
three men and pulled by four horses imperial authority in China: as the Mekong river in Vietnam,
but cavalry took over as a shock force. a state of aairs that would last west into Central Asia, and
The Chinese learned about mounted another 400 or so years. CONFUCIAN GOD OF WAR into northern Korea.
warfare from ghting the nomads on
their frontiers. Wuling, ruler of Zhao,
created the rst fully-edged Chinese
cavalry around 300 BCE, ordering his ally not by marching to confront the Despite such tactical subtleties, victory
elite soldiers to abandon traditional Wei army directly, but by making a in the great Chinese power struggle
robes for trousers. He used both feinting move toward the Wei capital. eventually went to the state that could
mounted archers and heavy cavalry. When the Wei army then of necessity mobilize the maximum resources for
But the core of any Chinese army was warfaremen, weapons, food, and
still the conscript peasant infantry, other supplieswith the greatest
mostly armored for ghting in close efciency. The victor in this early
formation with long halberds and pikes. version of total war was Qin.

The art of war The mighty Qin

Constant warfare in China led to the A state in western China, Qin underwent
sophisticated discussion of strategy political and social reforms that, by the
and tactics. This was the 3rd century BCE, gave it a
period when the great powerful centralized
military thinker government that
probably employed only as mobile known as Sun had crushed the
command platforms. The chariots were Tzu wrote his residual independence
sometimes massed in large formations, famous work, The Art of the old feudal aristocracy.
with Jin reportedly elding 700 of them of War. Written around 400 BCE, Government ofcials and
in the defeat of Chu at Chengpu in 632 it is generally considered to be military commanders were
BCE. But armies can rarely have been the worlds rst treatise on the appointed on merit, and the
large, given the limited resources of theory and practice of warfare. population was mobilized for
the fragmented feudal territories. In it he recommends the use of public works and war. Being
close to the nomadic horsemen

An army avoids strength of the north, Qin also had access to a

supply of good horses, a crucial edge
as cavalry grew in importance.
and attacks weakness. Through the rst half of the 3rd
century BCE, Qins aggression forced
SUN TZU, THE ART OF WAR, 4TH CENTURY BCE the other states to form alliances and
mobilize their own resources. Zhao, for
Massive state armies deception, and avoiding battle on example, conscripted all men over the
The Warring States Period proper the enemys terms. He also stresses age of 15. There were epic battles, as at
emerged through the reorganization the importance of intelligence, and Changping in 260 BCE, where a Zhao
and consolidation of the larger Chinese highlights the impact of morale Bronze chariot decoration army was encircled and massacred in a
statesinevitably a gradual process. on the outcome of conict. This gold-inlaid bulls head adorned a chariot shaft long encounter that may have involved
Jin, probably the most powerful state Sun Tzus theories were successfully in the Warring States Period. Chariots were owned a million men. Under the rule of King
by 475 BCE, broke up into three: Han, put into practice by the Qi general, Sun by elite warriors with a taste for ostentatious display. Ying Zheng from 246 BCE, Qin crushed
Zhao, and Wei. The four Bin, when he defeated the superior all its enemies, although the campaigns
other states that eventually forces of Wei, rst at Guiling in 354 BCE, moved to defend its capital, Sun Bin against the Chu tested it to the limits.
dominated the contest for then again at Maling in 342 BCE. On succeeded in luring it onto terrain Finally, though, in 221 BCE Ying Zheng
power in China were Chu, each occasion, remarkably, Sun Bin where it could then be surrounded and declared himself the rst emperor of a
Yan, Qi, and Qin. These seven relieved the enemys pressure on an destroyed by his own waiting forces. unied China as Qin Shi Huangdi.

3000 BCE500 CE

The Three Kingdoms

Beginning with the Yellow Turban peasant revolt of 184 CE, the authority of the Chinese Han emperors
was fatally weakened and a struggle developed for the succession between rival warlords. The failure
of anyone to win total power left China divided into three warring kingdoms.

he Yellow Turban rebellion was a men confronting the 100,000 troops
B E F OR E response to the poverty, injustice, of his rival, Yuan Shao. There was a
and famine suffered by Chinas stand-off between the two armies, Yuan
peasant population. These conditions Shao hesitating to attack an enemy
The Han dynasty (206 BCE 220 CE) ruled made them responsive to the teachings dug into a strong defensive position.
China for more than four centuries. It was of Zhang Giao, who proposed a mix of As the months passed, the outcome
a period of military and economic growth, religious and magical beliefs as a turned on who could keep his men
and cultural achievements. solution to the peoples sufferings. and horses supplied with food and
The movement attracted hundreds fodder. With the larger army, Yuan Shao
A MIGHTY EMPIRE of thousands of followers, had the bigger problem. Cao Cao sent
The Han empire probably had the worlds most who wrapped yellow out detachments of troops to harass
powerful armed forces in its day. In the 1st scarves around their heads his enemys supply lines and destroy
century CE its armies campaigned as far south to mark their allegiance. grain stores. Many of Yuan Shaos
as Vietnam, where a revolt led by the sisters, Marshaled into mass malnourished troops surrendered
Trung Trac and Trung Ni, was crushed in 43 CE, armies, they inicted a and Cao Cao then
and as far west as Central Asia. In 96 CE the number of severe defeats on vanquished the
imperial general, Ban Chao, led a Chinese military the empires professional weakened foe.
forces. It took the Han Eight years later

of the Chinese population according
generals close to one
year to bring the revolt
under control.
it was Cao Caos
turn to be worsted
in a battle won by the
to a census in the late Han dynasty. Pacication numerically inferior
was not, however, side. Two southern
expedition to the Caspian Sea at the heart of enough to restore Crossbow trigger warlords, Liu Bei and
the Parthian empire. The Silk Road, the great the stability of the This bronze trigger is all that remains Sun Quan, formed an
trade route that carried Chinese silks to Rome increasingly fractious of a crossbow used by a soldier from alliance to resist Cao
and the Mediterranean world, ran through imperial dynasty. Following Wei, one of the Three Kingdoms. Caos increasingly
Parthian territory. The Romans fought regular the death of Emperor Ling The piece is dated to the year 242 CE. successful efforts to
wars with the Parthians, Emperor Trajan in 189, power within the unify China. The
ff 4243 invading their empire in 114, but imperial palace was seized by Dong warlords depended upon their control of
no direct contact between the Han empire Zhuo, an exceptionally brutal military the Yangtze Riverthey were organized
and the Roman empire is recorded. commander. His authority was to ght on water while Cao Caos forces
In the course of the 2nd century CE the Han immediately contested by other generals were entirely land-based. But marching
empire went into decline, undermined by the leading armies in the provinces and south to attack them with a large army,
attacks of steppe nomads, corrupt ocials, and chaos ensued. Dong Zhuo was soon Cao Cao captured the river port of
the excessive privileges of landowners. assassinated and Cao Cao, who had led Jiangling and with it enough boats to
cavalry forces in the suppression of the sail his troops down the Yangtze. At
Yellow Turbans, took control of the a point known variously as Chibi or
imperial government. Like the Red Cliffs, they encountered the
Key Dong Zhuo, he was unable warlords forces commanded by general
Approximate frontiers c.250 CE N to win the allegiance of Zhou Yu. Cao Caos northern soldiers
DI Nomadic people provincial warlords and the had traveled a vast distance into an
Battle W U H UAN power struggle continued.
Gobi ellow Rive XIANBEI Historic battles 800,000 According to ancient
sources, the number

DI Bo Hai Later known as the Prince of soldiers with Cao Cao at Red Cliffs;
WEI of Wei (and posthumously historians now estimate 220,000 took part.
220640  Ye llo w as Emperor Wu), Cao Cao
Changan Luoyang Sea
fought in two battles that are alien environment. They were exhausted
Jiankang classics of Chinese military and disease raged in the ranks. Above
Chengdu Red Clis history because of the odds all they were inexperienced in ghting
ngtz 208  facing the victors. The rst, at on water. Cao Cao lashed his boats
SH U Guandu on the Yellow River together to make a stable platform
221263  WU
222277  in 200 CE, saw Cao Cao at the for his soldiers. Zhou Yu prepared
Taiwan head of an army of 20,000 reships and sent them to drift down
to destroy Cao Caos eet that had Cao Cao on the Yangtze
South China divided become immobilized. The resulting This illustration from the 14th-century epic
Ch in a The northern kingdom of Wei was conagration was enough to persuade the Romance of the Three Kingdoms,
Sea centered on the Yellow River, the Cao Cao to lead his weary forces back shows the Wei commander on the eve of
0 500km Hainan traditional heartland of Chinese culture. north by land, a withdrawal that under the battle of the Red Cliffs, fought in 208 CE.
0 500 miles Shu and Wu controlled the Yangtze. constant harassment turned into a rout.


The nature of Chinese armies and their
equipment in the time of Cao Cao and
the subsequent Three Kingdoms wars The wars of the Three Kingdoms
is far from certain, since much of our devastated the Chinese economy and led to
information comes from texts, such as depopulation, leaving the country exposed
the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, that to the incursions of steppe nomads.
seem closer to legend than history, but

of Chinese citizens according to a census
In a process similar to that experienced by
the contemporary Roman empire, steppe
tribesmen collectively known as the Wu Hu
from the early Jin dynasty (265316 CE). had begun migrating into lands within the
boundaries of the Han empire. The much
archeologists have conrmed much weaker Jin dynasty established in 264 could not
that was divined from written sources. cope with the tide of barbarian horsemen, who
Armies were large by any standards, took control of northern China in the 4th century
sometimes numbering in hundreds of as the country split into the Sixteen
thousands, but almost certainly short Kingdoms. Many Han Chinese migrated to
of the 800,000 attributed by the ancient the south, into the area around the Yangtze.
chroniclers to Cao Cao at the Red Cliffs.
They were equipped with iron and ONE NATION AGAIN
steel weapons and armor; horses China was not reunited until 581, when the
were armored as well as the men. short-lived Sui dynasty established control
Crossbows were an important element, over both the north and the south. The Tang
used both as hand-held infantry dynasty in 618 marked the beginning of
weapons and in larger versions as eld a golden age of Chinese civilization.
artillery. There were even rapid-re
crossbows, known as zhuge nu, that
red bolts stored in a magazine by the
simple operation of a leverprecursors Arrow and spear heads
of modern repeater ries. Warfare Chinese arrows, whether fired from
included sieges for which various siege crossbows or from field artillery, were
engines had been developedmobile frequently tipped with iron and steel. They
towers, battering rams, and torsion would also be coated with flammable
catapults. Incendiary devices had an materials to set fire to vessels.
important place in the Chinese
armorythe reships used at the battle The northern state of Cao
of the Red Cliffs were packed with dry Wei was by far the strongest
reeds and wax, but other of the Three Kingdoms, but
substances were available for its power was balanced by
placing on the tips of arrows an alliance between the
or coating projectiles southern kingdoms of Shu
hurled by catapults. Han and Dong Wu. The most
Cavalry formed the famous general of the Three
aristocratic elite of Kingdoms period was Zhuge
Chinese forces, although Liang, who led the armies of
large numbers of steppe Shu. He mounted a series of
horsemen were also campaigns against the Wei
recruited as auxiliaries. from 228. Known as the
River warfare employed Northern Expeditions, these
much the same weaponry campaigns were resisted and
as was used on land, the eventually defeated by the
warships being propelled cautious Wei commander, Sima Yi, who
by oar and sail. avoided battle and kept his forces safe
in fortied positions until Zhuge Liang
Waging war in China was forced to withdraw through
After the defeat at the Red exhaustion and shortage of supplies.
Cliffs, Cao Cao had to content himself After Zhuges death in 234, Shu went
with regional power. Caos domains into decline. The descendants of Sima
came to be known as Cao Wei, while Yi conquered Shu in 263 and the
Liu Bes power base was called Shu following year established the Jin
Han, and Sun Quan ruled Dong Wu. dynasty, which ruled all of China
Although these are known as the Three except Wu. Remembering the fate
Kingdoms, they were not ruled by of Cao Cao at the Red Cliffs, the Jin
kings but by claimants to the title of prepared for the conquest of Wu by
emperor, for the last nominal Han building their own eet and by training
dynasty emperor was deposed after the large numbers of soldiers as marines,
death of Cao Cao in 220. The Three in order to win control of the Yangtze
Kingdoms were destined to ght one River. In 280 Wu was overwhelmed by
another, because each aspired to rule the Jin armies, bringing the era of the
the whole of China. Three Kingdoms to a close.







Ideally, helmets need to be made of light but strong material. Increasing the degree
of protection they afford has usually been at the expense of comfort, mobility, and
all-around vision. As well as protection, helmets offer a chance for display, although
purely functional designs have predominated since World War I.

1 This Sumerian helmet is 4,500 years old; made of gold, century. Obk The lobster-tail helmet of an English Civil War
it was probably worn in ceremonies in the ancient city of Ur. cavalryman evolved from the Ottoman chichak. O bl The
2 The Chalcidian helmet, worn by Ancient Greek hoplite Japanese samurai helmet (kabuto) comprised a bowl
(9TH CENTURY) infantry, was made of bronze and topped by a horsehair (hachi) and neck protection (shikoro), often elaborately
crest. O
3 The Roman legionarys iron helmet is in the decorated. O bm The British heavy cavalry helmet of the
Imperial Gallic style of the late 1st century CE. O
4 This Viking Napoleonic period was primarily decorative rather than
helmet belonged to a 9th century Swedish warrior; it functional. Obn The Prussian Pickelhaube, topped with a spike
protected his face with a spectacle visor and nose guard. for the infantry and a ball for the artillery, was adopted in 1842.
5 The medieval knights basinet, from the late 14th century, The leather helmet proved inadequate as protection in World
protected the face with a hounskull (dog-face) hinged visor War I. Obo The German Stahlhelm steel infantry helmet, with
and the neck with a mail aventail. O 6 The sallet, developed its distinctive coal scuttle shape, was introduced in 1916
in Italy, was worn by foot soldiers across much of Europe in during World War I trench warfare. O bp This World War I
the 15th century. O 7 The chichak helmet was worn by British tankmans helmet incorporated chain mail for defense
Ottoman cavalry in the 16th century. O 8 The close helmet of against splinters of metal. O bq The M4 ak helmet, made
the 16th-century knight oered good protection but was also of steel covered with green cloth, was worn by US bomber
an elaborate display of the wearers wealth. O 9 The morion crews in 194445. O br This British infantry helmet, typical of
open helmet was worn by the Spanish infantry of the 16th late 20th-century head protection, is made of synthetic Kevlar.




3000 BCE500 CE

Stupa of Ashoka
The Mauryan emperor, Ashoka, built this
Buddhist stupa at Sanchi in Madhaya
Pradesh. Ashoka may have converted to
Buddhism in reaction to the horrors of war.


Ancient Indian civilizations developed in

the swathe of territory across the north of
The Mauryan Empire
the subcontinent from the Indus valley in
The wars of the Mauryan emperor Chandragupta and his successors demonstrated the military
the west to the Ganges in the east. sophistication of the largest Indian states in the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE. With their full-time soldiers,
THE MAHABHARATA Indian armies were expensive to maintain but were effective instruments of conquest and domination.
Evidence for warfare in ancient India comes mostly

from the Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata. n 326 BCE the Macedonian conqueror, Porus was defeated by Alexander at Chandraguptas origins are obscure
This recounts the 18-day battle of Kurukshetra Alexander the Great (see pp.2425), the battle of Hydaspes, unable to cope and so is his precise relationship with
between the rival clans of the Pandavas led an army through the Hindu Kush with the devastating exibility of the Alexander (it is unclear whether the
and the Kauravas. The Mahabharata is legend into northern India. He was confronted Macedonian cavalry and the discipline two men actually met), but by around
rather than history, but it sketches a style of by the army of a king whom the invaders of the infantry phalanx. Both sides 321 BCE he had established himself as
warfare that was probably true to life. Both sides called Porus, the ruler of a powerful were to be inuenced by this collision the ruler of the kingdom of Magadha,
assembled and supplied large armies, both state in the Punjab. The size of Poruss of cultures. Alexanders successors seizing power from the Nanda dynasty
fought in horse-drawn chariots, and both army seems to have been impressive; adopted the elephant, while in India in a series of well-orchestrated military
employed war elephants. The chief weapons accounts that have survived, written a young man called Chandragupta campaigns. This was a startling
were the bow, the javelin, and the mace. much later, suggest 20,00030,000 Maurya was inspired to regenerate achievement given the sophisticated
infantry, 300 chariots, and possibly Indian military power and to emulate nature of the Nanda states armed
200 war elephants deployed in the van. Alexanders campaigns of conquest. forces. Chandragupta may have


warriors were one of the seven
castes into which Mauryan society was
Mauryan empire divided. These were full-time, highly One legacy of the Mauryan empire was Between about 319 and 415, under Chandragupta I,
Dates 321181 BCE trained professional soldiersmen who an idea of the potential unity of India. In Samudragupta, and Chandragupta II, the Gupta empire
Location Northern and practice nothing but warlike exercises practice, the subcontinent was disunited expanded to claim suzerainty over a substantial area
central India
and receive high pay from the state and exposed to invasions from the north. of the Indian subcontinent. One boastful Gupta
in war and peace alike. The money they inscription refers to Samudraguptas
received was sufcient for them to pay THE GUPTA EMPIRE victories over 21 kings. However,
for servants, grooms for their horses, A variety of states ourished historians have cast doubt on Gupta
charioteers, and men to keep their in the aftermath of the Mauryan claims to have ruled distant parts
weapons bright and manage the empire, including an Indo- of India that may in reality have only
employed a form of guerrilla warfare, elephants. Megasthenes emphasized Greek kingdom (an offshoot owed them some vague allegiance.
for some sources suggest that outlying the warriors high morale, twice of Alexander the Greats
areas were progressively taken under describing them as being of good cheer. conquests) ruled in the 2nd NOMADIC INCURSIONS
the rebels control until a tightening Indian warfare was dominated by the century BCE by Menander Soter in In the 5th century the Guptas came
noose closed around the Nanda capital. use of missile weapons; Megasthenes the area of modern-day Pakistan under increasing pressure from
states that close-quarters battle rarely and northern India. The most the White Hunssteppe nomads
War with the Seleucid empire happens between Indians. Their bow, ambitious attempt to recreate the from Central Asia who wore down
Chandraguptas authority was initially the standard infantry weapon, was Mauryan empire was made by a the empires defenses and eventually
concentrated in the east of the Indian equal in length to the man who carries dynasty that came to power in destroyed it, laying waste the cities
subcontinent, in Bihar and Bengal, but it and shot a long, heavy arrow that the 4th century CE, and whose and monasteries of the Ganges plain.
soon he pressed westward, lling the could penetrate any armor. Foot rst emperor adopted the name But the Indian warrior tradition was
power vacuum left by Alexanders soldiers also carried a broad, two- Chandraguptafrom which far from exhausted, reviving from
rampaging campaign and subsequent handed sword and a long, narrow the dynastic name Gupta the 8th century in the Rajput
withdrawal. By 305 the Indus River ox-hide shield. The horsemen were was then derived. GUPTA-ERA BUDDHA kingdoms of northern India.
had become the border between light cavalry skirmishers, riding
Chandraguptas realm and the territory bareback and throwing javelins. War
claimed by Alexanders former general, elephants were crewed by a mahout
Seleucus Nicator. Between 305 (elephant driver) and four after his fathers death. His most famous the southernmost area of the great
and 303 the Mauryans and soldiers who shot arrows campaigns as ruler were fought around peninsula and Sri Lanka. Yet the empire
the Seleucids fought a and threw javelins from 265262 BCE against the kingdom of outlived Ashoka for only 50 years. The
war for the control of atop the animals back. Kalinga on the east coast of India. last Mauryan emperor, Brihadratha,
Gandhara, a wealthy The elephants main Ashokas rst invasion of Kalingan was overthrown in a coup in 185 BCE
region covering military use, however, territory was repulsed, leading him and the various component parts of the
what is now was less as a weapons to assemble overwhelming forces for a empire went their independent ways.
Kashmir, northern platform than as a second campaign. The Kalingans again
Pakistan, and weapon in itself; it resisted, but they were overcome after
eastern Afghanistan. was used to trample a savage battle by the Daya River.
Although there is no enemy infantry and According to an inscription attributed
historical record of the gore them with its tusks. to Ashoka himself, 100,000 Kalingans
ghting, Chandragupta Chandragupta died were killed and 150,000 were deported
must have won the war, around 298 BCE. The (presumably as slaves) and many more
since Gandhara passed Mauryan imperial legacy resources provided by died as a result of the devastation
into Mauryan hands. This coin features Chandragupta I, his conquered territories wrought by the war and its aftermath.
In the peace treaty that ruler of India in the 4th century CE. He no doubt facilitated The same inscription states that Ashoka
ended the conict, took the name of the founder of the further expansion of the later experienced an extreme revulsion
Chandragupta agreed Mauryan empire six centuries earlier. Mauryan empire under against the brutality of conquest. This
to provide 500 elephants his successors. Bindusar, led him to convert to Buddhism.
for Seleucuss army as a sign of good who ruled until 272 BCE, pressed
faithan impressive number of further south along the west coast A peaceful Buddhist state
animals, but small compensation of India as far as Mysore, but it was Ashoka appears to have broadly followed
for the loss of such valuable lands. Bindusars son, Ashoka, who took the Buddhist precepts in the benevolent
At this time Chandragupta ruled Mauryan empire to its furthest limits. later years of his reign, which ended
from the Ganges plain across to peacefully in 234 BCE. There is no
the Indus and the northwestern Reign of Ashoka suggestion that he disbanded his
borderlands of the subcontinent, as well Although the details of his life are army or abandoned the use of force,
as part of central India. This formidable poorly documented, Ashoka appears but any sensitivity to the sufferings
empire was visited by a Greek envoy to have been a formidable warrior from of a defeated enemy and the human
of Seleucus, called Megasthenes, who an early age and to have won a vicious cost of war is so rare in the pre-modern
wrote an account of what he saw on armed struggle for the succession world that Ashoka undoubtedly
his trip. According to Megasthenes, against his brothers in the four years deserves his reputation as an
exceptionally humane individual.

When an independent country The Mauryan empire united

more of the Indian subcontinent
than any state until the Moguls in

is conquered, the slaughter the 16th century CE, leaving out only

Mounted Mauryan warrior with bhuj

of the people is grievous This carving shows a Mauryan warrior carrying a rare
kind of ax called a bhuj. A cross between a sword and an
EDICT OF ASHOKA, REFERRING TO THE CONQUEST OF KALINGA ax, the weapon is native to northwestern India.

ffMedieval battle scene
Sieges of high-walled cities and castles played an
important part in the wars of the late Middle Ages, both in
Europe and Asia. This illustration from a French account
of the Crusades shows foot soldiers armored in the style
of the 15th century, fighting in front of a city under siege.

500 1500
Many wars were fought in the name of the
religions of Islam and Christianity. Weak,
quarrelsome states were prey to conquest by
nomads such as the Mongols, who created
the greatest empire the world had ever seen.


500 1500
uring the period 5001500 CE, glory, but failed in the West where medieval warfare, high status was
centralized states in Europe Christianized Germanic kingdoms generally identied with ghting
and Asia were often weak and were established. Both Byzantium on horseback. This was especially
vulnerable both to nomadic invaders and Sasanid Persia were then true of armored cavalry, from the
and to dissident warlords with local confronted with the armed expansion cataphracts of the Byzantine empire
power bases. Neither technology nor of Islam. Arab armies inspired by the and the Persian Sasanids to the knights
organization gave any great advantage to new Muslim faith conquered vast of Western Europe. The spread of the
central authority or settled civilizations. territories from Spain to India. stirrup, improved metalworking for
War was endemic in many regions, Western Europe was vulnerable armor and swords, and the breeding
especially in Western Europe, and to invaders and raidersVikings and of bigger horses all contributed to the
organized warfare often degenerated Magyars, as well as Arabsbut the evolution of the medieval knight.
into plunder and piracy. As people sought region experienced a military High- status warriors, whether
refuge from insecurity inside castles and resurgence from the 11th century. European knights or Japanese samurai,
behind town walls, siege warfare and Almost constant warfare between adopted chivalric codes of honor and
the building of strong fortications became West European Christian states viewed warfare as rst and foremost
the cornerstone to military success. stimulated the development of new a means of demonstrating personal
At the beginning of the period the military tactics, while the Crusades prowess. Infantry were mostly of low
rulers of the Byzantine empire made founded short-lived Christian states status and consigned to an auxiliary
a determined effort to restore the in the eastern Mediterranean and battleeld role rather than the central
Mediterranean empire of Rome to its full drove back Islam in Spain. place they had held in Ancient Greece
or Rome. Nonetheless, in European
A Viking shield Nomads and knights warfare properly organized foot
Colorful shields were an important part of the seafaring In China the Tang dynasty soldiers, especially when
Vikings battlefield equipment. They were usually made was able to restore imperial Mace from China armed with longbows or
of wood that was covered with leather and painted. The rule in the early medieval This decorated iron mace crossbows, and later with
principal Viking weapons were spears, swords, and axes. period. Subsequent dynasties, would have been used by a pikes, became increasingly
such as the Song, which ruled Mongol warrior on horseback. inuential from the 14th
in the south, often had to pay century onward.
off various nomadic tribes as insurance
against attack from the north. Whether Technical advances
Turks, Mongols, Jurchens, or Tartars, the Technological progress was tful and
nomadic horsemen of the steppes were often less important than fresh tactics
formidable warriors, armed with the longbow, for example, was a rather
composite bows, skilled in primitive weapon in itself but surprisingly
maneuver, and ruthless to the effective when deployed en masse by
defeated. Under charismatic the English in the Hundred Years War.
leaders such as Genghis Gunpowder weapons developed rst in
Khan and Timur, their China, where they were in extensive use
warlike qualities made by the 14th century, yet marginal in their
them at different times overall impact. It was in Europe around
conquerors of China, 1450 that cannon started to change the
Persia, the Middle face of war, ending the reign of stone
East, Russia, and castles by battering down their walls.
eventually the Throughout this time a wholly separate
Byzantine empire. tradition of warfare was maintained in
In order to make the Americas, in the absence of both the
their conquests wheel and the horse. Metalworking was
permanent, they rare and weapons were generally edged
adopted many or tipped with stone. This did not prevent
of the skills the creation of large empires, with both
and customs the Incas in Peru and the Aztecs in
of the settled Mexico extending military domination
civilizations. In over substantial areas.
502506 568 627 732 793
The Byzantine (Eastern The Lombards and other Byzantine emperor Heraclius At the battle of Tours (or Viking raiders from
Roman) empire fights Germanic ethnic groups defeats Sasanid emperor Poitiers) the Franks under Scandinavia sack the
a war with the Persian cross the Alps and conquer Khosroe II at Nineveh in the Charles Martel turn back a monastery of Lindisfarne
Sasanid empire. Further northern Italy. war against the Persians. Muslim raiding force on the coast of Northumbria
wars are fought in 526532, advancing north from Spain. in northern England.
539543, and 572590. 577
Victory over the Britons at
the battle of Deorham in the
southwest gives the Saxons
control of much of England.

524 63234 800

During their successful Under Caliph Abu Bakr, leader Charlemagne is crowned Holy
conquest of the Burgundian of newly established Islam, Roman Emperor by the pope
kingdom, the Franks defeat Arabia is brought under in Rome.
King Sigismund at the battle Muslim control and Arab
of Vzeronce. armies invade the Sasanid
and Byzantine empires.

Emperor Charlemagne

598 The battle of Karbala, Iraq, 751

Initiating the Goguryeo-Sui in 680 The Turkish peoples of
wars, the Chinese Sui dynasty Central Asia come under
emperor Wendi attacks the 680 Muslim influence after
Korean kingdom of Goguryo, The Prophet Muhammads Muslim Abbasids defeat Tang
but is repulsed. grandson, Husain ibn Ali, Chinese at the battle of Talas.
his family, and 54 of his
followers are massacred at
Karbala by the army of
Umayyad caliph Yazid I.

641 687
Arab armies conquer the In Merovingian Gaul,
Sasanid empire and invade the battle of Tertry makes
Byzantine-ruled Egypt. Pepin the effective ruler
of the Franks.
Forces from Japan and from
Tang dynasty China clash in
Korea at Baekgang.

Justinian I (reigned 527565) 61418 674677 711 772 806

Persian Sasanid emperor An Arab siege of A Muslim army crosses from Charlemagne, ruler of the Muslim caliph Harun
53354 Khosroe II conquers Constantinople fails; the North Africa and invades Franks, begins a series of al-Rashid campaigns
Justinian I, known as the Jerusalem and goes on Byzantines possibly use the Spain, conquering the campaigns against the Saxons in Anatolia and forces
Great, attempts to restore to invade Anatolia during first ever incendiary weapon, Visigothic kingdom. and the Lombards. the Byzantine empire
Roman rule in the western the ongoing conflict with Greek fire. to pay tribute.
Mediterranean. His general the Byzantine empire.
Belisarius defeats the Vandals
in North Africa and the
Ostrogoths in Italy.

Cataphract (heavy cavalryman) of

the Sasanid dynasty (226640 CE)

718 8th-century Frankish ax

In a siege of Constantinople,
the Arabs fail for a second
time to take the city.

In Spain Muslim forces are
rebuffed at Covadonga in the
northern region of Asturias.

840860 906 1013
Viking longships make Magyar horsemen from Danish king Sweyn Forkbeard
numerous raids around the the Hungarian plain overrun invades England, defeating
coast of Europe from Ireland Moravia and invade Saxony Anglo-Saxon King Aethelred II.
to France and southern Spain. and Bavaria.

An Anglo-Saxon seax sword

911 955 1016 The battle of Hastings,1066, 1118

In France the duchy of Otto I, Saxon king of Cnut, King Sweyns successor depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry King Alfonso I of Aragn
Normandy is founded Germany, defeats the Magyars as king of Denmark, defeats defeats the Almoravids and
by settled Norsemen at the battle of Lechfeld. Edmund Ironside at Ashingdon 1066 captures the city of Zaragoza
led by Rollo. and becomes ruler of England. In England, King Harold II in Spain.
980 defeats Harald Hardrada
A new wave of Viking at Stamford Bridge, but is
invasions begins in England. defeated by William of
Normandy at Hastings.
Harold is killed in the battle.

865 929 1071

A Danish Viking army lands In Spain Abd ar-Rahman The Seljuk Turks led by Arp
in England and begins proclaims himself caliph Aslan inflict a crushing defeat
campaigns of conquest. of Crdoba and campaigns upon the Byzantine emperor
against the Christian kingdom Romanus IV at the battle
878 of Len. of Manzikert.
Alfred the Great, king of
Wessex, defeats the Danes
at the battle of Edington.

Turkish Seljuk warriors

885 938 Mahmud of Ghazni, far 1028 112627

A Viking army lays siege to Ngo Quyen defeats the right (9711030) King Cnut conquers Norway, Jurchen steppe warriors take
Paris, but fails to take the city. Chinese and establishes an adding it to his realms of the Song Chinese capital
independent kingdom in England and Denmark. Kaifeng, despite the use of
In Central Asia, Mahmud of
northern Vietnam. gunpowder thunderclap
Ghazni defeats the Saminids.
bombs to defend the city.
Olag Trygvasson, king of
Norway, dies at the battle of
Svold, defeated by Sweyn
Forkbeard, king of Denmark.
Viking longship

100030 109599 1129

Mahmud of Ghazni fights The First Crusade. Knights The Knights Templar,
17 military campaigns in from Western Europe march established in Jerusalem,
India, establishing the across Anatolia and capture is officially recognized by the
Ghaznavid empire, which Antioch and Jerusalem. Church as a monastic order
stretches from Samarkand dedicated to fighting
to the Ganges. for the Christian faith.

A crusaders helmet

105163 1160
Minamoto Yoshiie, fighting in In Japan the Heiji Rebellion
the Nine Years War in Japan, pits the Taira samurai clan
establishes the ideal of the against the Minamoto clan;
samurai warrior. the Taira are victorious and
form the first samurai-
dominated government.

1176 1281 1415 1449
At the battle of Legnano After an initial raid in 1274, English king Henry V defeats Oirat steppe horsemen wipe
in northern Italy, Emperor Kublai Khan launches a a much stronger French army out a Chinese army and
Frederick Barbarossa is seaborne invasion of Japan at Agincourt, France. besiege Beijing; the
defeated by the forces from Korea; it is repelled experience pushes the
of the Lombard League. by Japanese resistance Chinese empire to strengthen
and a typhoon (kamikaze and extend the Great Wall.
or divine wind).

Invasion of Japan
by Kublai Khan

118085 Mongol leader Kublai Khan 1337

The Gempei War in Japan. Taking the Byzantine city
The Minamoto clan defeats 1241 of Nicomedia (Izmit), the
the Taira and subsequently A Mongol army ravages Ottomans extend their rule
establishes the shogunate. Poland and Hungary, over most of Anatolia.OStart
defeating Christian knights of the Hundred Years War
at the battle of Liegnitz. between England and France.

1187 1250 1346 142034

Saladin, the Kurdish ruler of In Egypt, a crusade led English king Edward III defeats Led initially by Jan Zizka, the
Egypt, defeats the Christians by Louis IX of France ends French king Philip VI at Crcy. Hussite heretics in Bohemia
at the battle of Hattin and in disaster when the army is Longbows are crucial to the resist a crusade by the forces
occupies Jerusalem and Acre, defeated and the king taken victory. The English also of Emperor Sigismund, using
triggering the Third Crusade. prisoner.OMameluk slave deploy small cannon. cannon and handguns.
soldiers take power in Egypt.

118992 12821302 1369 1429 Fall of Constantinople, 1453

Third Crusade. The crusaders War of the Sicilian Vespers. Turkish military leader Timur Inspired by Joan of Arc, the
retake Acre but fail to reach Charles of Anjou and the (Tamerlane) establishes his French turn the tide against 1453
Jerusalem. English king kingdom of Aragon fight for capital at Samarkand; in the English at the siege of Ottoman forces under
Richard the Lionheart signs a control of Sicily. campaigns through the rest of Orleans. Mehmed II overcome a
treaty with Saladin, by which the century he conquers Asia much smaller Christian force
Christian pilgrims are allowed 1298 from Persia and Syria 1430 and take Constantinople.
to visit Jerusalem. In the Anglo-Scottish Wars, to northern India. Joan of Arc is captured
English king Edward I defeats by the English and burned
the Scots under William at the stake as a witch.
Wallace at Falkirk.
Edward I of England

1211 1265 C.1486

Mongol leader Genghis Khan, Charles of Anjou is declared German emperor Maximilian I
having unified the steppe king of Sicily by Pope pays for the creation of
tribes, invades northern Clement IV. Unpopular mostly pike-armed mercenary
China. Start of the French rule leads to the War bands, the landsknechts.
Mongol conquests. of the Sicilian Vespers.
Columbuss first voyage to
the Caribbean paves the way
for the European conquest
of the New World.
Charles of Anjou sails
to Sicily in 1265

1314 137080 Joan of Arc, French heroine 1494

English king Edward II is Led by Bertrand du Guesclin, and martyr Charles VIII of France invades
defeated by the Scots under the French regain much of the Italy, beginning more than
Robert Bruce at Bannockburn, territory lost to the English in 1435 half a century of Italian Wars.
re-establishing Scottish the Hundred Years War. French king Charles VII hires
independence. Jean and Gaspard Bureau to 1498
organize artillery for his war Vasco da Gamas voyage
1325 against the English. to India opens up Asia to
In Central America the Aztecs trade and colonization by
found a capital at the lake city European powers.
of Tenochtitln.


The Rise of Byzantium

For centuries the Byzantine empire remained true to its origins, a redoubt of Roman civilization in
the east. However, most of its dealingsin war as in peacewere with Asia and its peoples: this left
its mark on the military culture of Byzantium, informing both weaponry and tactics.

he Arabs called them the Rum. Empire rebuilder
Their city may have been founded Justinian I (far right) was
by the Greeks, it may have looked a Byzantine emperor in
eastward into Asia; but the Byzantines a truly Roman mold.
always saw themselves as Romans. Their Nicknamed the emperor
empire perpetuated that of Rome, even who never sleeps, his
if its western statesand its nominal 3 armies recaptured much
capitalhad been routed by barbarians. 1 of the territory that had
This applied in the military sphere too: been lost to the Barbarians.
the old legionary structures were kept,
as were the old Roman values of order, 1 Justinian's war 3 Heraclius's War
discipline, and logistical efciency. against the Vandals against the Persians
For a while, in the 6th century, it Dates 533534  Dates 613628 
Location North Africa Location Anatolia, Syria,
seemed possible the lost territories might
Palestine, Mesopotamia
be recovered. The emperor Justinian 2 Reconquest of Italy
I (52765), famous for his codication Dates 535554 
Location Italy and Sicily
of Roman law, laid out plans for a more
ambitious project: the renovatio imperii,
or renewal of the empire.
this country for some years, but the
Into Africa hostilities had now turned into open
That this could be more than an empty war. Belisarius triumphed at Dara in
dream owed much to the daring and 530, but after a stalemate at Callinicum
skill of Justinians military commander, the following year, the Byzantines and
Belisarius. Born Persians agreed an
around 505, he is
believed to have
been of Greek or
Thracian ancestry.
25 The percentage pay cut
imposed on Byzantine troops
in 588, prompting a
inconclusive peace.
Justinian still felt
strong enough to
mutinywhich invited an attack by Persia embark upon a
In 528, having and hence an expensive war. new campaign in
risen through the a different theater
ranks of the Byzantine army, Justinian and sent Belisarius out to conquer the
made him his commander in the Iberian Vandal kingdom in what for centuries
war (fought not in the Iberian Peninsula had been the Roman province of Africa.
but in the little Caucasian kingdom of Though now established in eastern
Iberia). Byzantium had been locked in Algeria and Tunisia, the Vandals were
conict with Persias Sasanid rulers over of Germanic origin. In 429, with Romes


Byzantiumbeside the Bosphorus Roman empire had moved to the east. The
River where the city of Istanbul now rst Christian emperor, Constantine I, built
standswas founded as a colony by his city here, naming it Constantinople
Greek traders in 667 BCE. after himself. His successor, Emperor
Theodosius II (408450), bolstered
CONSTANTINES CAPITAL the capitals defenses, building
Byzantium was an important what became known as the
trading center, pivotally placed Theodosian Wall.
between Greece and the
Mediterranean on one side and A NEW EMPIRE
the rich cities of western Asia Constantinople would soon
on the other. The conquests of overtake Rome in importance,
Alexander ff2425 brought the but when the western empire
Middle East into the Greek cultural sphere. fell to the barbarians in the 5th
It remained so after the Roman conquest century ff4647, Constantines
of the 2nd century BCE ff3031. By the city was left the unrivaled center of
4th century CE the economic base of the CONSTANTINE I a primarily Asian Roman empire.


Sasanid sword western empire in turmoil, they had his disposal, of which
Persias Sasanid rulers were immensely proud of their swept southward through Spain before 10,000 were infantry
warlike traditions. A sword like this one was not just crossing the Straits of Gibraltar. Sacking and the rest cavalry.
a weapon but a status symboloften elaborately Roman Carthage, the Vandals soon Victory came swiftly
decorated with silver. set up their own capital there. at the battle of Ad
Conned to the coastal plain, Decimum. Fortune
the new Vandal kingdom favored the Byzantines.
was insignicant in terms The city of Carthage was
of territory. However, it captured, and Africa
made the perfect base was recovered.
for onslaughts across
the Mediterranean: in Power struggle
455 the Vandals had In 535, exhilarated by
sacked Rome itself, and this success, Justinian
they continued to torment sent Belisarius to reclaim
the eastern empire. In 533 the Italian homeland,
Justinian dispatched at this time under the
his invasion-eet. occupation of the Ostrogoths. By 536 Military horsepower
Belisariuss army was Rome had been secured. However, the Cataphracts used the movement of their horses to their
small: he had some war for the rest of Italy was not to be so advantage, gleaning extra power from the animala
15,000 troops at easy: in the following years, the balance riders lance was usually chained to the horses neck
of power in the peninsula shifted back and hind leg, using momentum to strengthen a lunge.
and forth through a gruelling series of
pitched battles and city-sieges. In 540 Iraq. But the relief this brought was a
Belisarius recaptured the Ostrogoth cruel illusion. The exhausted imperial
base, Ravenna, making it the capital armies had succeeded only in clearing
of a re-established western empire. the way for invasion by the Arabs.
However, these gains were hard to That Constantinople held out for
hold. The Goths were not beaten and the next 500 years against more Arab
by the early 550s were resurgent in Italy. assaults is testimony to the empires
Problems were mounting for the empire: naval power, and to the potency of
in 568 Italy was invaded from the north Greek Fire, the great Byzantine secret
by the Germanic Lombards, while in weapon. Believed to have been a blend
577 the Slavs and Avars invaded the of burning oil and tar propelled by
Balkans from the north and east. a pumpa sort of medieval ame-
In Asia, meanwhile, the war with throwerit played havoc with the
Persia had resumed in 572. It would enemy in an age of wooden ships.
continue intermittently for 50 years,
shaping the Byzantine war machine.
Persias strength in cavalry had to be AF TER
countered. The Sasanids could deploy
thousands of cataphracts, armored
horsemen who charged with lances Decades of war in western Asia had left
raised, smashing into the enemy with both Byzantium and Persia drained. Neither
a force that even the toughest, most was able to hold up the expansion of the
disciplined infantrymen could not Arabs through the 7th century.
withstand. After the shock of the rst
impact came the terrifying confusion BELEAGUERED BYZANTIUM
as the units of cataphracts drew their The decline of the Byzantine empire from this
bows and showered arrows all around. time on was inexorable, and it was permanently
on the defensive. But long after the bulk of
Fighting back its land-territories had gone, it remained an
The Byzantines saw no alternative important naval power. In between attacks
but to match the Persian threat directly. by the Arabs came assaults by many dierent
They assembled cataphract units of their enemies, from the Varangians (Ukrainian-
own, reinforcing them with light and based Vikings) 7071 ggto the Bulgars.
heavy infantry. The Byzantines were Wars with these groups in the 9th, 10th, and
short of people. Most of their soldiers 11th centuries saw Constantinople under threat,
were foederati, recruited from the many while the states in Italy and Sicily were taken by
barbarian peoples who were bound by the Normans in the 11th century.
treaty to the Byzantine cause; others In 1204 Constantinople was sacked by the
were mercenaries. But all served the armies of the Fourth Crusade 7677 gg. It fell
empire well. The Persians were kept at to the Ottoman Turks 10607 gg in 1453,
bay and at last, in 627, the armies of and became their capital for almost 600 years.
Emperor Heraclius scored a daring
victory over the Sasanids at Nineveh,



In 610 the prophet Muhammad retreated

into the desert and received the rst of
a series of revelations that were to lead
The Ascent of Islam
to the proclamation of Islam. The 7th century saw the birth of Islam, and with it an extraordinary campaign of conquest.
In the space of a few generations, much of the known world was brought under Muslim rule.
Arabia was a place apart, remote and inhospitable: The consequences of this metamorphosis have lasted into modern times.
its people were nomadic herders and desert

traders. While the very northernmost areas hen, in 632, the prophet or dromedary, was used as a beast bitterness, and caused the split between
appear to have been occupied, rst by the Muhammad died, he left of burden rather than a mount, but the rival Islamic traditions of Sunni and
Persians ff 2021 behind not just a new it was far quicker and more versatile Shia which continues to this day. Even
and then by the religion but a cause for which his than any wheeled cart. so, Iran was secured and Afghanistan
Romans ff 4243, followers were prepared to ght and taken, while an advance-guard poured
the main part of the die. Till then a collection of warring Out of the desert across the Hindu Kush into what is now
peninsula remained tribes, the Arabs had found a shared Abu Bakrs challenge as rst caliph Pakistan. In the west, Tripoli was taken
largely undisturbed. ideal, an identity in which they was bringing together all the Arab and ships seized the island of Cyprus.
could unite. Within a century, the tribes. Only under his successor, Muawiyyah Is Umayyad dynasty,
A MISSION prophets message had been carried Umar ibn al-Khattab, from 63444, with its capital at Damascus, imposed
A warlike attitude over an area reaching from northern did the campaign of conquest begin a degree of unity and order on the Arab
was forced on Spain to Central Asia. in earnest. It did so with explosive

THE KAABA, MECCA, Muhammad from violenceUmars armies pouring The area,
the beginning: the Arab horsepower out of the Arabian Peninsula to in square
rulers of his native The Arab warriors had no heavy attack the southern borders of the km (3,860 sq m), of the empire by the 8th
Mecca saw his message as destabilizing and he weaponry or armor: they relied Byzantine empire. In 636 Islam century CE; all ruled by the Umayyads.
and his followers eventually had to leave. After principally on their swords, which smashed a Byzantine force at
the hijrahthe move to Medina in 622they were straight and double-edged and Yarmk, now on the border world. That world was still growing: in
had to ght for their survival. Inspired by their carried in wooden scabbards. Their between Syria and Jordan. Two the early years of the 8th century, Arab
sense of mission, they triumphed at the battle main weapons, though, were speed years later Jerusalem was taken. armies advanced westward from Libya
of Badr in 624. Though defeated and almost and surprise, as well as a passionate The Arabs had conquered Syria, across the Maghreb. In 711 the rst
destroyed at Uhud in 625, Muhammad and his commitment to their beliefs. Palestine, and Egypt by 641; raiding party of Arabs and Islamicized
followers recovered to win the battle of the The Arabs had also been they had also defeated the Berbers crossed the Straits of Gibraltar
equipped for war by their way Sasanids. As yet, they were into Spain: Tariq ibn-Ziyads warriors
JIHAD An Arabic word meaning of life. Nomadic pastoralists, too few in number to take far- crushed the defenders sent to ght
struggle. Jihad could mean a literal they had grown up tough, reaching areas of the Persian them. By 718 virtually the whole of the
war for Islam or an inner battle for with superlative riding skills. empire, but they quickly Iberian Peninsula lay in Muslim hands.
personal renewal. They had the nest horses made new converts and
in the world: fast, resilient, consolidated their position. Battle of Karbala
Trench in 627. Three years later they captured and intelligent, but also In the following decades, Completely surrounded and hopelessly outnumbered,
Mecca. By the time the prophet died in 632, his docile. The Arabian camel, the empire-building effort Husain ibn Ali, his half-brother, Abbas, and their supporters
followers had grown accustomed to the idea that was hampered by internal fought heroically to the death.
believers had to ght to make the truth prevail. Brass alam divisions. At Karbala in Iraq in
His successor, the rst caliph, Abu Bakr, brought This ornate alam (or standard) honors the 680, the army of Umayyad Caliph
all the Arab tribes under Islamic rule. martyrdom of Husain ibn Ali, who was killed at the Yazid I overcame that of Husain ibn AF TER
battle of Karbala in 680. He is mourned each year in Ali, the prophets grandson. The
Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar. massacre that ensued left a legacy of
The Arab attempt to conquer Europe was
Zaragoza Poitiers 732 thwarted at the battle of Poitiers in 732.
The Islamic world F R AN KI SH However, the Islamic hold on the Middle
718 EM P I R E
In just a few generations, UMAYYADS yre Toulouse 721 EUROPE East remains strong to this day.

7561031 ne
the Arabs extended their es Narbonne 720 KHA Z AR E M P I R E
Toledo Talas River
empire across much of Seville Cordova Barcelona
Ar al
Ro Barbate Granada
the known world, from 711 Rome Dan Sea The Moors, as the Arabs were also known, would
B l ack S e a

the Atlantic to the Indus 674677 C au casus Am

Transoxiana gradually be pushed southward through Spain

ALMORAVIDS Carthage Sicily Constantinople u Samarkand

BY Z A Tiis during the Reconquista 9899 gg. Even so,

and beyond. 10561147 M a g h r e b NTINE E Da

Kairouan M P I R E Theodosiopolis a Bukhara
the Islamic kingdom of al-Andalus was to ourish


720 it
e Rhodes Kabul

Tripoli S e a r r a 654 Battle of the Masts Nineveh 627 for several centuries.

ne Mosul Nehavend Nishapur



an 6 Eu


54 Damascus ph 642 Iranian


Yarmk 636 e s Baghdad Plateau Multan A LASTING LEGACY

Alexandria Karbala
S a h a r a 642 680
Isfahan The long-term consequences of some of these
Heliopolis Qadisiya 656 Persia events can be traced in the modern era. The
640 634 636 er Hormuz

Key Egypt Jerusalem sia split between Sunni and Shia underlay the bitter

conict between Iraq and Iran in the 1980s

Muslim lands by 634 lf

Medina Muscat
34243 gg and added additional complexity

Muslim lands by 656 N Badr Nejd

624 Oman
Ar a b ian Sea to the occupation of Iraq 34849 gg. The

Muslim lands by 756 Mecca Arabian

d S

Abbasid caliphate at its Peninsula collision between the Islamic East and the West

greatest extent c.800 INDIAN also occurred in the war between NATO forces
Muslim raid with date Yemen and the Taliban in Afghanistan 34041 gg.
0 1000km OCEAN
Muslim victory N
Muslim defeat 0 1000 miles Aden Socotra

This 19th-century painting shows Husain ibn Ali (on horseback,
left), the grandson of the prophet Muhammad, during the battle
of Karbala in 680 CE. The encounter was sparked by Husains
refusal to swear allegiance to Yazid, who wanted the blessing of
the family of the Holy Prophet to legitimize his rule. Husain was
protected by a handful of relatives, many of them women and
children, and was slain during the confrontation.


Under King Clovis I (c.481c.511), the Franks

made themselves the masters of what had
been Roman Gaul. He and his successors
Frankish Expansion
are known as the Merovingian Dynasty. From the 8th century, the Franks extended their dominion over much of Western and Central Europe.
For all its internal dynastic conflicts, the Frankish empire brought a degree of stability to Europe that
The Franks were a Germanic-speaking people, had not been seen since Roman times, and it became a bulwark against Muslim expansion from the south.
one of a number that, in the 5th century, had

spilled across the frontiers of the western y the 8th century, the authority
Roman empire ff4647. of the Merovingians was greatly
Under Frankish law, reduced. Power had passed to the
landlike other aristocracy and to the Mayors of the
possessionshad to be Palace," but even here dissension was
shared out equally rife. In Austrasia Pepin II had been
among a mans sons. Dux (duke or leader) since 680. An
Equitable, perhaps, but invitation to intervene in a dispute
where kingship was between aristocratic factions in Neustria
concerned, a recipe for in 687 saw Pepin dominating the realm
war. A cycle of civil until his death in 714. This precipitated
conict developed in a crisis. Lacking surviving sons, Pepins
which individual rulers widow, Plectrude, tried to secure the
reunited the Frankish realms by force of arms, Mayors ofce for an eight-year-old
only to divide them up again among their sons. grandson, Theudoald, but Neustrian
nobles elevated their own candidate,
A WEAKENED MONARCHY Ragenfred, to Mayor. Then in 715
The authority of the Merovingian kings became they elected a new king, Chilperic II.
undermined by a rise in aristocratic factionalism.
The position Mayor of the Palacethe ocial Franks fight Franks
charged with ensuring the smooth running of the The Neustrians invaded Austrasia and,
royal householdgrew in importance. From 687 as Plectrude was agreeing terms with
it was monopolized by the Arnulng family. them, an illegitimate son of Pepins,
Charles, whom she had been keeping
in captivity, escaped. He attacked the

The men of the north stood

motionless as a wall.

Frankish war hatchet Neustrian army at Amblve, near Lige,

A small, two-headed ax with a as it withdrew, then forced Plectrude to
short handle, the francisca was surrender power. Now ruling Austrasia,
hurled at the enemy by the Franks Charles defeated the Neustrians at Vincy, east. On the death of Chilperic II, Riding to war in the 9th century
as they pressed forward, causing near Cambrai, in 717. Chilperic and Charles secured the election of a Joab leads his troops in this biblical battle-scene. Created
damage to shields and disruption Ragenfred allied themselves to Duke Merovingian king of his choosing, but for the Psalterium Aureum manuscript around 845, this
in the line as the soldiers readied Eudo of Aquitaine, but Charles defeated it took him until 730 to bring western contemporary illumination gives a colorful impression of
themselves for hand-to-hand combat. their armies at Soissons in 718. In Neustria completely under control. how the Frankish cavalry would have looked.
71819 Charles also subdued the Muslim Arabs and Berbers had been
Frisians and drove raiding Aquitaine and Provence from Carloman. A struggle for power seemed
back the Saxons, Spain since 721. In 732 Duke Eudo of inevitable, but Carloman died in 771
who had been Aquitaine was unable to resist a raid led and his men accepted Charles as king.
attacking his by Abd ar-Rahman, the governor of
Eye for territories al-Andalus, Islamic Spain, and called The Saxon wars
from the upon Charles for assistance. He won a In 772 Charles (Charles the Great or
decisive victory over the Muslims at the Charlemagne) led an army against the
battle of Poitiers in 732 and, when Eudo Saxons, whose incessant raids were still
died in 735, seized control of his duchy. causing problems in the northeast. His
From 734 Charles ruled without a attention was diverted to Italy in 773
king to legitimize his decisions. At his where the Lombard king, Desiderius,
death in 741, he bequeathed authority was supporting dissident Franks and
to his sons. One, Carloman, retired to a putting pressure on the papacy. Charles
monastery in 747; the other, Pepin, in besieged Pavia, the capital of Lombardy,
751 deposed the last Merovingian and until Desiderius surrendered in June
Arched iron had himself crowned King Pepin III, the 774. Then, with papal support, Charles
rst of the Carolingian line. When he persuaded the Lombard dukes to name
died in 768, his kingdom was divided him as their new king. Meanwhile, the
between his two sons, Charles and Saxons took advantage of his absence


The birth of Europe Key ANGLO-SAXON 808
Though beset by Muslims to the south and by Frankish kingdom 751 KINGDOMS ISI Hamburg



pagan Slavs on its eastern frontier, the empire Conquests of Pepin (751768) Utrecht

under Charlemagne grew strong and powerful Conquests of Charlemagne (771814) 782 804 Elbe
in its unique alliance of Church and State. Ghent Karlsburg Magdeburg
Regions recognizing Charlemagne
as overlord, at least nominally Soissons
Rouen F R A N C E
in Italy to rise up once again, launching Papal states (part of Holy Roman Empire) BRITTANY 718 Mainz
Rheims MARCH

a series of attacks into the northern part Frontiers c.814 Trier 806
of Hesse. Charlemagne responded with Battle 786 Nantes Orlans BOHEMI
another campaign against them. Up to E M P I R E O F C H AR L E M AGN E Ratisbon M O R AV I A N S
now, these campaigns had been punitive AT L A N T I C Vouill Poitiers ALEMANNIA EASTERN MARCH
507 Augsburg


expeditions to keep the enemy at bay. 803
But this began to seem unrealistic. At Bordeaux 769 788 CARINTHIAN
KINGDOM OF Clermont Lechfeld
the royal assembly held in Quierzy, Lyon 955 MARCH MARCH
Picardy, in January 775, Charlemagne MARCH
Oporto ES Milan LOMBARDY 776
774 CARNIOLA 79596
announced his plans for an invasion ro Pamplona Roncesvalles Toulouse Pavia AVA R S
778 774
subjugating the Saxons once and for all. Narbonne Genoa 80612:
AN Avignon under Frankish rule

That summers campaign was brutally I SH Bologna CRO

Tagus SEPTIMANIA Ravenna
Zaragoza 79 MA
5 RC 759 Marseille AT S
successful. Although an advance force Lisbon 778 H
Pisa Florence

an a Toledo Barcelona
was defeated at the Weser River by di Spoleto
Gu Corsica


IRMINSUL A wooden column or tree Guada Valencia Islan ean 774
a r i c ankish rul
lquivir e Rome
trunk on which Saxon religious worship Seville a l e der Fr Sea
Cordoba B 98: un
54 Benevento DUCHY
was centered. It appears to have been 7

Sardinia Naples OF BENEVENTO

seen as a pillar that propped up the sky. Granada

Widukind, Charlemagnes main army 0 400km Z
conquered huge territories, destroying
0 400 miles
the symbols of the Saxons pagan
religion wherever he went. Charlemagne was not Belt buckle AF TER
always able to make The Frankish sphere of influence
Setbacks and successes his authority felt so extended beyond the borders
Once again Charlemagne had shown easily, however. of the empire. This buckle for Charlemagne died in 814. Fortunately, the
his strength over the Saxons, yet once An invasion of a sword belt was found in customary succession-struggle was avoided
again it all seemed set to unravel, as a Muslim Spain in Oslo, southern Norway. because he had just one surviving son,
revolt in the early part of 776 compelled 778 was repulsed and Louis the Pious, who reigned from 814.
him to march south in haste to restore ended in disgrace with his dominated the Danube Valley, but
his rule in northern Italy. Hardly was his rearguard mauled by a force whose empire was disintegrating. THE SAXON SITUATION
back turned than the Saxons rose up in of Basques in the Pyrenees. Yet again, however, the Saxons Dicult as it had been to bring it about, the
rebellion. Within a few weeks, however, Even so, he later established exploited his absences to rise up conquest of the Saxons was enduring. Under
Charlemagne reappeared and crushed a secure foothold to the south against his rule. A renewed revolt Charlemagnes successors they were successfully
the Lombard revolt, robbing the Saxons of the mountain range with the surfaced in the year 778, and though absorbed into the Frankish state as tributaries.
of their spirit. This time, they accepted capture of Barcelona in 801. Charlemagne suppressed the uprising, The Dukes of Saxony eventually became kings
his authority. He promptly reinforced it Meanwhile, he had been ghting on it was clear that the Saxons were never and, from the time of Otto I (the Great)
by building a fortied city named after other fronts, his invasion of Bavaria simply going to acquiesce to Frankish crowned in 962emperors in their own right.
himself: Karlsburg (now Paderborn) in 777 bringing him into confrontation rule. It took until 782 for the king and
was an urban center and a statement. with the Avarssteppe nomads who his Franks to re-establish their hold: OTTONIAN The Germanic dynasty in
a vengeful Charlemagne supposedly power as great Saxon rulers between
conducted mass-executions during the 919 and 1024. Though descendants
Massacre of Verden. An effort was made of the Duke of Saxony, Henry I (the
CHARLEMAGNE to stamp out pagan practices among the Fowler), they were named after their
Saxons to ease their absorption into the first emperor, Otto the Great (91273).
The great-grandson of Pepin II, Carolus Frankish state. Not until 804, after the
Magnus, or Charles the Great was born in deportation of a number of Saxons into This strongly Germanic eastern section of the
748 and succeeded his father, Pepin III, as Francia, were they nally pacied. empire would, in time, part company with the
king in 768. His realms included much of western region, which had once been Roman
modern-day France and the southern and Fighting a new enemy Gaul. The division, agreed among Louis the
western parts of Germany, as well as north By the time Charlemagne was crowned Piouss sons at the Treaty of Verdun in 843,
and central Italy. On Christmas Day 800, as Imperator in 800, there were signs of eventually became permanent. Even so, the
Pope Leo III crowned him emperor. overstretch." Charlemagnes conquest Frankish heritage of this western realm was
Charlemagne consolidated and enlarged of the Saxons had brought his empire commemorated in the name of France."
his empire through a number of campaigns up against the frontier of the Danes in
against his enemies, who ranged from the southern Jutland. King Godfred was REBELLIONS AND RAIDS
Byzantines to the Danes, and from the Slavs sending eets to attack the northern In the meantime, troubles continued along the
to the Saxons. His remarkable eorts to make Frankish coast. Charlemagne at rst Frankish empires frontiers, with unrest among
his court a center of great learning and to had no answer to this problem, but after the Slavs and Danes on the one hand and the
raise the educational levels of the clergy Godfred was succeeded by his nephew, Basques and Bretons on the other. Carolingian
within his territories led to a golden age in Hemming, in 810, the emperor was able rulers of the 9th century also faced increasing
learning and the arts, referred to today as to push him into a peace treaty through problems from Viking raids 7071gg.
the Carolingian Renaissance. a combination of diplomatic persuasion
and military force.


Viking Raids and the

Norman Conquest
From the end of the 8th century for almost 100 years, Scandinavian shipborne attackers looted
the coastal peoples of Europe and North Africa. Over time the Vikings settled down to a life of
trade, but though their raiding days were behind them, they were just as formidable in war.

n June 8, 793, the great
B E F OR E monastery on Lindisfarne, Greenland
an island off Englands VOLGA

Northumbrian coast, was sacked ICELAND
c.860 Bulgar
With tillable land scarce in Scandinavia, and pillaged in the rst known
Staraya Ladoga 750
those without suffered. No land meant no Viking raid. As the monk Alcuin Reykjavik Trondheim
873 Novgorod 750
livelihoodand more prosperous societies of York reported: Never before c.860 Faroe Islands
c.800 Gnezdovo
were there for the taking. has such an atrocity been seen in Orkney Islands Birka
Britain as we have now suffered Kaupang K I E VA N
Shetland Islands RUS Itil
ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS at the hands of a pagan people N or th B alt ic
SeaLund Sea
The peoples of Scandinavia lived as farmers, The Church of St. Cuthbert British DENMARK Sarkel KIEVAN
keeping cattle, sheep, and pigs, and growing crops, has been spattered with the Isles Kiev RUS
Lindisfarne Hedeby 882
but land was at a premium. Much of the interior blood of the priests of God, 793 Hamburg POLAND
was mountainous, so people clustered around stripped of all its furnishings, Dublin 841 York 866 845
the coasts and the pressure on arable areas exposed to the plunderings of Limerick 836 Antwerp Sea
London 836 HOLY
was intense. Landless men without prospects the pagans. Unfortunately, such ROMAN HUNGARY


at home set out to prey on other, more successful, terrible, nightmarish scenes were as ef to Viking leader
Rollo by French 845

civilizations. To the extent that, initially at least, to recur only too frequently as king in 911 Nantes

BULGARIA Constantinople
they were impelled by environmental factors, the Viking raids became a fact of life. AT L A N T I C
Vikings can be compared FRANCE 860 REPUBLIC
OCEAN 844 859 E
with earlier raiders like Seafaring adventurers NAVARRE
LEN T Damascus
the Huns ff 4647. Monastic houses were a favorite CASTILE N
Sardinia Z A
targetthey had rich treasures, B Y
isolated settings, and helpless Lisbon Balearic Islands an
OF CORDOBA 859 a ne
844 Tunis rr
inhabitantsbut ordinary towns te
Seville di Cairo
and villages also fell prey to the 844 Me
brutal invaders. Danish Vikings FAT I M I D S
sailed back and forth across the N
0 800km
0 800 miles
North Sea to eastern England.
Vikings from Norway, though, took a Far and wide Key
more westerly course, stopping off at Whether raiding or trading, by sea or by river, the Area settled by Vikings
the islands of Orkney and Shetland Vikings reached much of medieval Europe and Asia Duchy of Normandy c.1100
en route for Ireland with its ancient and even ventured across the Atlantic. Norman conquests by 1100
monasteries. Vikings established bases Frontiers c.1100
at Dublin and along the Seine and Loire Approximate frontiers c.1100
Viking vessel rivers in France where they could wait Viking voyage, trade route, or raid
Streamlined for speed, the longship out the winter, ready to resume raiding Viking settlement
was fast enough for its crew to be able with the onset of spring. Town sacked by Vikings
to rely upon the advantage of surprise. The Vikings were skilled seafarers. 844 Date of voyage, raid, or sacking
Typically, it would lurk beyond the While some headed westward across
horizon, dashing for the coast once the Atlantic, setting up colonies in European captives to the city for sale
darkness fell. Some were dragon Iceland, Greenland, and ultimately that the Greek word sklabos (Slav) was
ships, with dragon-shaped prowsa North America, others explored the adopted as the general word for slave.
terrifying sight for unsuspecting quarry. warmer waters of the south. The 9th Many Vikings hired themselves out to
century saw raids along the coasts of the Byzantines as mercenaries, forming
Spain, Morocco, and even the Canary an elite unit, the Varangian Guard.
Islands. Swedish Vikings, meanwhile, Increasingly, war-parties banded
had ventured to the Black Sea.
BESERK Sometimes a Viking, crazed by
Ambitious incursions the excitement of battle, would tear off his
In 860 Vikings raided Constantinople. sark, or tunic, and fight barechested
However, they primarily came to the hence the expression, going beserk.
Byzantine metropolis in peace in order
to nd a market for the slaves they had together for more ambitious raids. In
captured on their journey south. In 991 a eet of over 90 longships appeared
fact, they brought so many Eastern off the coast of Folkestone in southeast


As the generations passed, Scandinavias

peoples began to move away from the
policy of plunder. Increasingly, they were
drawn into European society.

In time, as the Scandinavians became
Northern Europes medieval merchant
navy, the dreaded dragon ship made way for
the shorter, rounder knarr. The merchant navy
followed the same routes as their raiding
ancestors; now, though, they came peacefully
as traders, transporting goods such as timber,
weapons, ivory, and furs.

Viking ax The strong state the Normans had built in
A badge of wealth and status, a England fell apart in the Anarchy of the 12th
Vikings battle-ax was often ornate. century. The French House of Anjou took the
These sharp-bladed weapons were throne as the Plantagenet line 10203 gg.
deadlyone blow could kill instantly. Inlaid blade

England. It landed an army of up to

3,000 menincluding both Norwegian
228,000 The number of
coinsmany of
them Arab dirhamsfound buried in
and Danish Vikings. Marching up to Viking hoards, testimony to the value
Maldon in Essex, a trail of destruction of Viking trade in the east.
in their wake, they nally defeated
an Anglo-Saxon militia force led by Men who came On October 14, Harold During that time, the successors of Robert
Ealdorman Byrhtnoth. The invaders as raiders began to ranged his troops at the Guiscard had created a buoyant and prosperous
soon withdrew on payment of a large stay as settlers, top of Senlac Hill, near multicultural kingdom in Sicily, in which Norman,
ransom but not before the Anglo- as the Anglo-Saxon Hastings. William ordered Byzantine, and Arabic inuences came together
Saxon leader was killed. Chronicle for 876 records: his forces to feign retreat before in a complex fusion.
In this year Halfdan shared Harolds Anglo-Saxon army. The
Warrior kingdoms out the lands of Northumbria, ploy enticed the English down from
The Vikings were not just raiders, and they started to plow and make their advantageous position to the boggy
they were also highly formidable in a living for themselves. The Vikings ground below, where they were at the Byzantines, who had wanted to rid
larger-scale, static warfarethough were beginning to behave more like mercy of Williams cavalry. Even so, the their westernmost possessions of Arab
they were always individualistic in conventional conquerors. In the struggle continued for hours, and might usurpers. Having arrived as mercenaries,
late 9th century Olav easily have ended differently had Harold the Normans came back as conquerors,
Tryggvason made a not fatally fallen. By nightfall, victory wresting these vulnerable territories
kingdom out of Norway, for William was complete, and the from Byzantine rule. It was Robert
while early in the 11th English throne was his. Guiscard who won what turned into an
century King Cnut the Another Norman was meanwhile unseemly struggle of Norman warlords,
Great joined Norway and establishing himself in Italy. In the 1030s and carved out a kingdom for himself
Denmark with England Norman armies had gone to assist the in Sicily and southern Italy.
to form a Nordic empire.

Norsemen to Normans
Meanwhile, Norwegian
There was no village inhabited
Vikings or Norsemen
(the name Normans
between York and Durham.
had started to put down
permanent roots in France,
Norman body armor adopting the language, culture, and
Vikings seldom bothered with armor, but the Normans Christian religion. The Normans kept NORMAN MOTTE-AND-BAILEY CASTLE
did. As the Bayeux Tapestry shows, the Normans wore their longships but took up the French
chainmail hauberks that came down to the knees, with way of ghting, most obviously in their The Normans built many instant castles
a split in the chain to facilitate riding. use of armor and heavy cavalry, as the on campaign by what was known as the
events of 1066 would show. motte-and-bailey method. First, a motte, or
their ghting style. Their battle-axes, On September 28 of that year, mound of earth, was constructed (or an
swords, and circular, hide-covered certain the English throne was his, existing rise or outcrop used) with a wooden
wooden shields were items of immense William of Normandy (the Conqueror) stronghold, or keep, erected on top. A
prestigeoften beautifully worked and launched a eet of 700 ships, landing curtain wall was then placed around the
richly adornedwhile their owners had a formidable army on Englands south motte, enclosing an open area, or bailey,
intimidatory war names (Erik coast. King Harolds English army had in which arms could be stored and horses
Bloodaxe; Bjrn Ironside; Ragnar been forced to march from Yorkshire, grazed. These forts could be assembled
Hairy-Breeks) and had heroic poems where just days before it had fought off almost overnight and later rebuilt in stone.
composed about them by their bards. Harald Hardrada, the Norwegian king.



The Turks originated in the remote steppes

of Central Asia, and they were to have an
important impact on the affairs of the West
The Rise of the Turks
over many centuries. The Turks who appeared in the Middle East during the 9th century were outsiders and slaves, but they
were to exercise a powerful influence upon the regions history and, ultimately, upon that of Europe.
The many dierent Turkic peoples formed small Various Turkish empires were repeatedly to alarm Byzantium until, finally, they triggered the crusades.
and scattered nomadic groups. Their lifestyle

was prone to instability, as competition for water he Arab invasions of the from Daylam, a mountainous
and pasture could be intense. Historically, in 7th and 8th centuries region to the south of the
Central Asia, such environmental stresses left an enduring legacy. Caspian Sea.
have prompted mass-migrations of the sort Through much of the area The Buyids deposed the
that saw the Huns pushing westward into they conquered, the Arabic caliph and ruled in their
Europe ff4647 in ancient times. inuenceand Islamstill own right, but they in turn
prevail today. Yet the Arab started to be undermined

30 The approximate number of

Turkic languages still spoken
today. There are six main branches
nobility itself was less secure.
By the end of the 9th century,
it had survived not only the
by warlords in the regions.
In the end these territories
were conquered by the
within the Turkic language family. wars surrounding the split Ghaznavids, who were
between Sunni and Shia very much in the ascendant
UNREST IN THE MIDDLE EAST (over who was the rightful now, especially during the
Arab conquests ff6465 had transformed successor to the prophet reign of Mahmud of Ghazni
the Middle East and Persia, but by the beginning Muhammad), but also the overthrow Building alliances (9971030). At his death, the ruler left
of the 9th century, the rst shockwaves were of Damascus Umayyad dynasty by the Indian delegates are received at the court of Mahmud behind an empire extending from the
subsiding. The Abbasid dynasty held nominal Baghdad-based Abbasid caliphate (the of Ghazni. Not just a conqueror but a diplomat, Mahmud Zagros Mountains (western Iran) to
sovereignty over Islams dominions, but local caliphs saw themselves as the earthly was skilled in fashioning alliances and in making the the Indus River (in Pakistan). Regular
warlords were starting to assert themselves. enforcers of Allahs heavenly will). enmities of others work to his advantage. raiding east into India assured a steady
Whether now exhausted by centuries ow of booty that underwrote a golden
THE RISE OF THE GHULAM of conict, or simply spread too thinly swords, rather than the curved scimitar age of architecture, art, and culture. The
The end of the rst millennium brought a new over such vast dominions, the Arab of later times, and may also have carried Ghaznavids were to be overthrown in
wave of migration, propelling Islamicized nobility was growing weaker and its spears or lances.) their turn by yet another inux of Turkic
Turks into the region, many of them enslaved authority increasingly ignored. The ghulams served the Samanids nomads newly arrived from the Central
by the regions rulers. Skilled ghters, with well: so much so that they became Asian steppethe Seljuk Turks.
nothing invested in the rivalries and conicts Soldiers of the Samanids indispensable, and it was not long
of the Middle East, these ghulams (slave- In Iran, especially, regional identities before leading families among them Seljuk and his successors
soldiers) served with unquestioning loyalty. had been reasserting themselves and were wielding a great deal of power. The Seljuk Turks gained their name
local families were once again coming By the 10th century, in Khurasan (an because they had originally come
to the fore. In the east, in the early 9tharea including the east of Iran, the together under the leadership of Seljuk,
century, the Samanid dynasty had arisen Bukhara region of Uzbekistan, and a charismatic warlord. They cannot
among the Tajik peoples, establishing an much of Afghanistan) the Simjurids be seen as a people or a nation in
empire that extended into Afghanistan, had gone their own way, governing the normal sense. Toward the end of
Uzbekistan, and present-day
Pakistan. All this time
nomadic Turks were drifting
into the region from Central
[The Armenians saw] these strange
Asia: converted to Islam by
the Samanids, many were
men, who were armed with bows
recruited as slave-soldiers,
or ghulams. Like the other
nomadic peoples of the
and had owing hair like women.
1 Empire of 2 Great Seljuk
Dates c.9901020 Dates 10371157 Turks were superlative
Location Afghanistan, Location Iran,
horsemen and seasoned ghters, expert all but independently of their masters. the 10th century, Seljuk, leader of the
Iran, northern India Mesopotamia, Syria,
Palestine, and Turkey with the composite bow and with the In turn, this breakaway state was soon Kinik clan, had set himself up at the
sword. (They were armed with straight taken over by a rival ghulam dynasty, head of the Oghuz Confederation. This
the Ghaznavids, their name deriving brought together a large number of
from the city of Ghazni, where their nomadic communities who until then
Seljuk mace head founder, Alpi Tigin, had made his had been living in the Syr basin, an area
Beautifully decorated with headquarters in 962. of open grassland to the north and east
flowing foliage and fine Meanwhile, to the west of the empire, of the Aral Sea. It was a loose and
calligraphy, this bronze mace the Abbasid caliphs of Baghdad had opportunistic alliance, formed for the
head has raised fins to focus also recruited Turkic ghulams and purposes of conquest and plunder. It
the impact of any blow. The were coming under mounting was big and powerful, however: Seljuk
mace is stereotypically seen as pressure from their supposed slaves. attracted hundreds of adherents.
a Western weaponin contrast In the event, the caliphs managed Even so, the Seljuk Turks might have
to the Eastern scimitarbut to prevent a coup by the ghulams remained simply one more of many
the idea may well have reached but only by seeking the help (and such raggle-taggle warbands roaming
Europe through the crusades. by submitting to the bullying) of the the western steppe had Seljuk himself
Buyids, a dynasty of Iranian warlords not been impressed and inspired by the


teachings of Muslim missionaries. All

of his followers embraced Islam,
and when his grandsons, Tugril
Beg and Chagri, began their rst
raids on the northern frontier
of the Ghaznavid empire, they
did so with the justication
that they were ghting in the
prophets name.
However, Mahmud of Ghaznis
son, Masud I, saw himself as the
champion of Islam. He marched
out to meet the interlopers with a
mighty army, some 50,000 strong.
As this formidable force marched
northward, the Seljuks jabbed dynasty then ruling Egypt. He took Malik Shah holds court
and harried, cutting off enemy Armenia from the Christians in 1064, Arp Aslans son, Malik Shah, succeeded him in 1072,
supplies and preventing access and invaded the Byzantine empire four advancing the work his father had begun at Manzikert
to strategic wells. years later, occupying much of Anatolia by taking most of Anatolia from the Byzantines. He also
And they were ready for a (present-day Turkey). Arp Aslan then furthered the cause of Sunni Islam during his reign.
full-scale confrontation when took Syria, invading Palestine, Egypt,
the time came. The two armies and even Arabia itself in a bid to save his own skin, the majority of the
clashed at Dandankan (now in liberate the two holy sanctuaries of soldiers turned and ed the battleeld
eastern Turkmenistan), on May Mecca and Medina from Shiite rule. in abject rout. Arp Aslans army
23 ,1040. Dehydrated, hungry, The closer these supposedly pagan streamed after them.
and demoralized, Mahmuds Seljuk Turks came to Europe through In the years that followed, Muslim
men were defeated before the Turks overran Anatolia, fundamentally
order came to engage. The SULTAN A Turkish king or emperor. The transforming what had been a Christian
massacre that followed was word was originally Arabic and meant land with a Hellenistic culture. Now the
a mere formality: though strength or authority. The Seljuks Middle East was Islamic, and the stage
outnumbered by more than were the first to use it as a regal title. was set for one of the great showdown
two to one, the Seljuks cut struggles of the medieval age.
the Ghaznavids to ribbons. their campaign of conquest, the more
anxious Christendom became. When
Holy war Arp Aslan then destroyed the Byzantine AF TER
The Dandankan victory army at the battle of Manzikert in 1071
opened up a way to (present-day Malazgirt in Turkey), the
the west, heading West was in the The rise of the Seljuk Turks caused great
over the Ghaznavid grip of something consternation in the Christian West. Always
empire and beyond close to panic. regarded with suspicion, Islam was now
into Iraq. Tugril Beg seen as a direct threat.
seized Baghdad in Reaction
1055, taking the The Byzantine CHRISTIAN CRUSADES
enfeebled Abbasid emperor, Romanus The Seljuk capture of Jerusalem from the
caliph under his IV, had an army Fatimids in 1073 was of symbolic rather than
protection. The of up to 60,000 strategic importance for the West, but for a
Seljuk Sultans (as warriors at his fearful Christendom it seemed the nal straw.
they now referred disposal. Such vast Hence the eruption of support when, in 1095
to themselves) Warrior relief numbers ought, at the Council of Clermont, Pope Urban II
expected to rule Seljuk infantrymen prepare to enter in theory, to have proclaimed the First Crusade7475 gg.
jointly with the into battle in this carved Turkish relief made short work
caliphs. The Great from the 13th century. of the Turkish CONTINUED DISTURBANCES
Seljuk empire was cavalry force that, Meanwhile, the ow of nomadic invaders was
dedicated to the strictest at most, numbered only 20,000 men. set to continue, giving rise not just to the Mongol
principles of Sunni Islam But Arp Aslans warriors were battle- invasions 8081gg and the wars of Kublai
and to the punishment hardened. They were also bound to Khan 8485ggbut a second wave of Turks,
of indels of every kind. one another by ties of comradeship the Ottomans 10607gg. Slave-soldiers also
To Arp Aslan, Tugril and loyalty that were simply lacking continued to play a part in the history of war
Begs nephew and (on his in the Byzantine army, as its members when the Egyptian Mamelukes 7677 gg
uncles death in 1063) his comprised a motley assortment of seized power in Egypt in the 13th century.
successor, that included Frankish, Norman, Bulgarian, and
both Christian Byzantium German mercenaries. THE SELJUK EMPIRE SPLITS
and the Shiite Fatimid The extent of disunity among the In 1092, following Malik Shahs death, one son,
Byzantine troops became clear when, Kalij Arslan I, founded the Sultanate of Rum,
Masuds minaret as evening approached after an initial so-called because its Anatolian territories had
This magnificent minaret was built and inconclusive round of ghting, been taken from the Byzantines or Romans. His
by the Ghaznavid Sultan, Masud III, the Byzantine leader gave the order brothers established realms in Syria and Persia:
in around 1100. Wooden cushions to withdraw. A rational decisionbut the Seljuks were no longer the monolithic
between the tiers of brick afforded a communications breakdown brought menace they once seemed to the crusaders.
some protection from earthquakes. disaster. Fearing that their commander
had sensed defeat and was trying to


The First Crusades

Eye slit Hinged visor

A detached Christendom united in the crusades, the wars to recover the Holy Places of Jerusalem held
by Muslims for more than 400 years. Crusading quickly became both an organizing ideal and a way of
warring life: tens of thousands of people across Europe set out to win salvation through soldiering.

t the Council of Clermont in expected to ght as heavy cavalry territory, they were actually under a
1095, Pope Urban II called on themselves but had brought very large sort of siege themselves. Many had died
all Christians to join the ght for companies of infantrymen armed with of starvation and disease by the time
their holy faith, describing the plight of swords, shields, and bows. Antioch fell on June 2, 1098.
Christian Byzantium, its dominions The excited mood was quickly
overrun by a godless rabble that was sobered by the searing sun and rugged The crusader kingdoms
an impending threat to the Western terrain of Anatolias mountainsSeljuk It was a severely weakened armyonly
world. He nished his impassioned Turk territory. Of the 100,000 soldiers 12,000 in number nowthat marched
speech with the cry Deus hoc vult! who set out from Constantinople, only on to Jerusalem, and the prospect of
(God wills this). His speech roused 40,000 reached Antioch in Syria. Those another extended siege. In the event, it
ardor with its promise of eternal who did, in October 1097, found a city took the men only a few months to nd
salvation for those who enlisted; it also builtand fortiedon an intimidating their way through Jerusalems defenses.
red a greed for territories and plunder. scale. The crusaders settled down for a They celebrated with a spree of violence
Cheers erupted and in the weeks that siege, although, marooned in hostile and destruction. The crusaders then had
followed this enthusiasm spread
Crusaders helm across Europe, among rich and poor.
A flat-topped pot helm, or casque, enclosed the Thousands pinned crosses of red
crusaders whole head, protecting against enemy fabric to their tunics to show their

arrows and crossbow bolts. The helmets hinged allegiance to the cause of Christ: N o r th

visor and cheekbone-protectors form a cross. the First Crusade was as

Sea l

much a pilgrimage as an EN G L AN D Ba K I E VA N

all-out war. London


B E F OR E But this popularity posed POLAND
problems. Though highly
Paris Kiev
enthusiastic, the army that H O LY
The advent of the Seljuk Turks threw gathered in Constantinople RO MAN Car

EMPIRE Regensburg th

the entire Middle East into a state for the assault on the Holy F R AN C E ia D

of turmoil, but the effects were felt Land was disorganized, l p s IA

Lisbon yre
throughout Christian Europe as well. untrained, and very Kherson

n ees Venice

1147 Genoa
poorly provisioned. C A ST I L E Zaragoza PRINCIPALITY

Bla c k


A POWER UNDER SIEGE The crusaders were 1085 Corsica Sea 10981268

Ragusa A Constantinople

Islam had already made signicant inroads into mostly French, the pope Rome COUNTY

Cordoba N Nicomedia OF EDESSA

continental Europe, underlining what was already having earlier argued with Balearic N 1096 10981144

A Islands E

V EM Dorylaeum
a widespread feeling that Christendom was Germanys emperor, Henry ID Sardinia PI 1097, 1147 Edessa
EM RE 1144
IV. The French nobility P Sicily KINGDOM Antioch
IR Tunis
CRUSADE From the Latin word crux E OF ARMENIA 1098
meaning cross, a military campaign Ways of the cross Key Crete TRIPOLI
Western Christendom c.1096 Tyre 11021283
on behalf of the Christian faith. Any crusade represented an M e d i t e rra n ean Damascus
enormous logistical challenge for Orthodox Church c.1096 Acre
Sea Ascalon Jerusalem
under siege. Despite suering a setback against a medieval army. From the Second Islamic lands c.1096 Alexandria 1099
Frontiers of crusader states Damietta
the Franks at Poitiers, the Muslim Moors crusade onward, most voyaged FAT I M I D KINGDOM OF
were well-established through much of to the Holy Land by sea. Louis IX Routes of First Crusade C A L I P HAT E EGY PT 10991187
Spain ff 6465. The Turkish win at Manzikert, sought to approach it from the Routes of Second Crusade 0 800km Re
though obviously a blow for Byzantium, sent south, through Egypt. Major battle or siege N d
0 800 miles
shockwaves through the Christian world at

large ff 7273. Constantinople was clinging

on, but its wider empire had inexorably been
whittled away by the conquests rst of the Arabs THE CAPTURE OF JERUSALEM, 1099
and then of the Seljuk Turks.
The Fatimid defenders had successfully across onto the city walls. Quickly
RECLAIMING THE HOLY SITES resisted the crusaders siege of Jerusalem overpowering the guards, they opened
The capture of Jerusalem by the Turks in 1073 for several weeks and looked capable the gates and let their remaining
was of no signicance in itself (the city had of holding out indenitely. But the comrades in to commence their orgy
already been in Islamic hands). However, when Christians took their ships apart and of bloodshed. More than 30,000 Jews
the Byzantines appealed to Pope Urban II for used the ropes and wood to construct and Muslims are believed to have
assistance, he found the idea of a military two enormous siege towers. The been slaughtered in the following
expedition or crusade to recover the Holy Muslims were unfamiliar with such three days. In the Temple and the
Places for Christian pilgrims the perfect equipment and were undecided how Porch of Solomon, boasted Raymond
rallying point for a wider attack on Islamic power. to proceed until, on July 15, the rst of Aguiles, men rode in blood up to
group of attackers managed to swarm their knees and bridle reins.


to secure their prize. They set up a series Symbol of the Knights Templar contingent set off from
of states across Syria and Palestine, The seal of the Knights Templar Constantinople but
including the County of Edessa in depicts two knights on one suffered a shattering The First Crusade was a success for the
Armenia, the Principality of Antioch horselegend has it that this is a defeat at Dorylaeum, in Christians but the Muslims were on the
in Syria, and the Kingdom of Jerusalem. sign of the orders early poverty. southern Turkey, in 1147. ascent. Further battles between the two
A County of Tripoli (in what is now What was left of his army would breed lasting suspicion.
Lebanon) was added in 1104, with a way became apparent. A met up with the French
military order of soldier-priests set up knights heavy armor was an who, coming by sea, had A PERMANENT LEGACY
in 1120 to help protect the Holy Places. uncomfortable hindrance in the now landed safely. But bickering A breakdown of relations with Byzantium left the
The priests were named the Knights heat, and the wearer was easily between the new arrivals and the crusaders reliant on seaborne supplies, making
Templar after the Temple of Jerusalem. outmaneuvered by the swifter, more established crusaders compromised the securing of coastal bridgeheads vital. Further
Though the Temple of Jerusalem lightly armed Muslims. Arab cavalry their mission: the siege of Damascus expeditions were needed if the Christian presence
and other monuments were now in wore no armor, relying on speed and in 1148 broke down and the Second in the Middle East was to be maintained.
Christian hands, the territory outside agility, while the ghulam (armored Crusade ended in disarray. Despite the best eorts of the Christians,
Jerusalem was less rmly held. Hence slave-soldiers) brought the battle to The Muslims now had the initiative; the Muslims were in the ascendant. The Wests
the formation of the Hospitallers. These the enemy on their own terms. they were also red by the spirit of jihad, military shortcomings were to be cruelly exposed
people had long been caring for the sick reignited by their outrage at this second at the battle of Hattin 7677 gg, allowing the
in Jerusalem, but by the 1130s it was Muslim ghtback invasion by the West. Their struggle was Turks to retake Jerusalem in 1187.
clear that pilgrims needed more hostile The retaking of the County of Edessa renewed and at last, under the Kurdish After initial success, the crusading movement
protectionthe knights became their by the Seljuks in 1144 came as a shock. leader, Salah al-Din or Saladin. had succeeded only in building rancor
armed escorts. They too were militarized Pope Eugenius IIIs call for a Second between Christians and Muslims. The outright
as the Order of the Knights Hospitallers, Crusade was largely ignored, until it Outmaneuvered conict, which was resolved only by the Wests
and would build the citys defenses. was taken up by the popular French The army of Ilghazi of Mardin trounced the crusaders victory at Lepanto 12425 gg, was to leave
As the ghting continuedmainly in abbot, Bernard of Clairvaux; then at the battle of Ager Sanguinis (The Field of Blood) a lasting legacy of distrust.
the form of small-scale skirmishes and Frances King Louis VII and Conrad III in 1119. The heavily-armed Christians labored in the
raidsthe limitations of the Western of Germany followed. Conrad IIIs heat and dust of the Middle East.


Expulsion of the Crusaders

from the Holy Land Iron helmet

Saladins recapture of Jerusalem in 1187 came as a shattering disappointment. The self-confidence of

Christian Europe had been badly dented. Further crusades were mounted in the years that followed,
but a series of humiliating failures left the West feeling defeated and demoralized.

n anthology of ancient Bedouin
poetry by the 9th-century Arab
Later Crusades poet, Abbu Tammam, records the
Dates 11871291 words: the sword is truer than what is
Location Palestine, Syria,
told in books. In its edge is the separation
and Egypt
between truth and falsehood. One man
who carried this volume wherever he
went was Salah al-Din, famous as a
warrior yet a reader and thinker too.
Born in Tikrit, Iraq, of Kurdish ancestry,
he had risen in the service of Egypts
Fatimid caliphs; by 1131 he had set
B E F OR E himself up as sultan, founding his own
dynasty, the Ayyubids. The following
years saw him extending that power as
The capture of Jerusalem in 1099 had been he cut a swathe through the crusader
an undoubted triumph for the West. But states, nally taking Jerusalem in 1187,
the Holy Land was a long journey from but he always saw himself as ghting
Europe and Islamic opposition was growing. in the service of the truth.

NEW LEADERS EMERGE Kings in conflict

The First Crusade had come to a climactic An unusual gure by any standard,
Protective sleeve
end with the capture of Jerusalem in 1099 Saladin was a leader of extraordinary
ff7475. Most Christian believers felt that magnetism: he impressed his enemies
their mission had been accomplished, but their as much as he inspired his followers.
leaders knew that without control of the The Third Crusade, declared within wiped out. Leopold made it through,
hinterland, the Holy City was vulnerable. a few weeks of Saladins recapture of but with only a few thousand troops
Fighting continued and, as time went on, it grew Jerusalem, is often referred to as the he could do little to help the crusader
harder to see how the Christian presence in the Crusade of Kings; it is so-called king, Guy of Jerusalem, who was
Middle East was to be maintained. To make because it was led by kings Richard the bogged down in a stalemate with
matters worse, a new generation of energetic Lionheart of England, Philip II of France, Saladin outside Acre.
Muslim leaders, like the Emir of Syria, Nur and Frederick I of Germany. Frederick I The port city was important to the
ad-Din, and Saladin, were coming to the fore. set off in 1188, months before his fellow Christians, who could not anticipate
monarchs, and drowned while crossing holding on to Jerusalem (in the event
After Saladins capture of Jerusalem a river in Anatolia en route to the of their retaking it) without some safe
in 1187, Henry II imposed a Saladin Holy Land. His successor, Leopold V way of bringing in supplies. Not until
Tithe in England to fund a crusade of Austria, was unable to take charge 1191 did Philip and Richard arrive: the
that, in the event, never took place. effectively in the ensuing panic and reinforcements they brought with them
a huge German army was practically were decisive and Acre was taken.
Nur ad-Din had worked hard to unite Islam after
KING OF ENGLAND (11571199)
the collapse of the Second Crusade, inspiring his
followers with a cold-blooded determination RICHARD I
to drive out the indels. As far as Syria
went, he succeeded. In 1157 he had conned By the time Richard I was 16 his father
the Knights Hospitallers to their fortress and Henry II had entrusted the young king with
destroyed the army that marched out from the command of his own army, sent to
Jerusalem to relieve them. In 1162 he captured crush a rebellion against his rule in France.
Raynald de Chatillon, Prince of Antioch (he was His valor earned him a French nickname:
to hold him prisoner for 16 years). Coeur de Lion or Lionheart. He met his
Saladin was ultimately Nur ad-Dins rival (the match in Saladin, however, and, for all his
two had came close to open war), and shared determination and dazzling generalship,
Nur ad-Dins overriding aims: Saladin was also his Third Crusade was at best only partially
a politician of rare talent and a general of genius. successful. To this day, Richard remains
one of Englands most celebrated kings.


Relations between Richard and Saladin remained calm as they inched along. few years later. The last great owering
were amicable at rst but the situation The kings aims, in fact, went further of the crusading ideal came with the
deteriorated whenapparently certain than keeping his army intact: he hoped Seventh Crusade, escorted by King A series of ignominious failures had left
that the Saracen leader was tricking that his apparently beleaguered situation Louis IX (St Louis) of France. Again, Europe exhausted, demoralized, and
himthe English king had 2,700 would tempt the enemy into a full-scale the idea was to attack from the west, disenchanted with the crusading dream;
Muslim prisoners killed. Saladin charge. On September 7, at Arsuf, north through Egypt. Louis took with him an yet it managed to nd a new focus.
reciprocated with mass executions of of Jaffa, the pressure from Saladins army of 15,000, including his mounted
his Christian prisoners. But there was forces became so unrelentingly intense knights, his regular infantry, and
that the Christian Knights Hospitallers crossbowmen. After a hopeful start,
Saracen armor could tolerate no more and, in their however, Louiss force was defeated by
A suit of chain mail in the style of a Saracen warrior of mounting frustration, broke rst. Even an army led by Baibars, the Mameluk
the crusader period. Medieval armor was flexible and
could be relatively light to wear, and provided good
protection both from thrusts and slashing strokes. [Richard the Lionheart] was
courageous, energetic, and

MUSLIM CHRONICLER BAHA AL-DIN, 12TH CENTURY Christendoms rulers launched crusades against
the pagan Slavs on their eastern borders, as well
now Richard remained in control of sultan. The king and his entire as Orthodox Christians in the Balkans. Cathars,
the situation, his generalship turning company were taken prisoner and an Hussites, and other heretic groups were
certain defeat into triumphalbeit enormous ransom was demanded for also targeted 9495 gg. The military orders
not the denitive victory he had the restoration of the monarch. still prosperedin some cases they had gained
desired. The result was inconclusive. In 1270, unfazed, Louis embarked on great wealth and powerbut the Knights Templar
Saladin and his army of Saracens an Eighth Crusade, but only made it to was nally disbanded in 1305. Meanwhile,
had suffered a disastrous setback; Tunis, where he died. A Ninth Crusade Islams inuence grew; still the Turks came
Richard the Lionhearts reputation led by Englands Edward I began the in from the eastern steppe.
had been boosted, though it following year, but Edward fared rather
was difcult to see any tangible less well against the Mameluks.
benets from his victory. He
himself was recalled to England Siege of Zara
soon after, having failed to win The Fourth Crusade began
back the holy city of Jerusalem from with an amphibious landing
Padding underneath the the Saracens. and ended with the sack of the
chain mail helped deflect The Christians would have to keep Catholic city of Zara. The city
arrows, while a kaftan on top ghtingand some were reaping huge defenses were assailed with the
allowed the wearer to be might of 150 siege engines.

recognizedand prevented The number of knights
his metallic armor from taken by King Andrew
overheating in the sun.
II of Hungary on the Fifth Crusade.
Each knight, in turn, had a party of foot
soldiers. It is believed to have been the
also rancor within the Christian camp. largest crusading army ever.
Unable to agree with Richard over
how to proceed next, Leopold returned rewards. When the Fourth Crusade was
home; while Philip II also had to leave called in 1199, Enrico Dandolo, the
the eld following reports of unrest Venetian Doge, made sure that Venice,
back in France. which provided much of the water-
borne transport, earned a lot of money.
The road to Arsuf And Genoas rulers were little better in
This left Richard alone at the head of their proteering. The Fourth Crusade
the Third Crusade, he was undaunted, was to have a hideous conclusion when
planning his mission in great detail. On the eet diverted to Constantinople and
August 22, 1191, he left Acre, marching its Christian troops sacked the city,
his army south to where they could killing many thousands as they burned
nd food and water. Progress was slow: and looted for three full days.
they were harried by Saladins
mounted archers, but Richards The final battles
bowmen maintained their own hail of The Fifth Crusade (121721) took a
arrows to keep the attackers at bay. novel approach: the idea was to attack
To their right, the cavalry were able through Ayyubid Egypt. Bogged down
to make progress relatively safely, while and beaten, the Christians never reached
up ahead the baggage train lurched the Holy Land. In 1228 the Sixth
along, shielded by both the infantry and Crusade saw Germanys king Frederick
horses. Meanwhile, their ships tracked II diplomatically negotiate the return
them down the coast to fend off any of Jerusalem, though the concessions
potential threat from the seaward side. he made outraged his fellow Europeans.
Under Richards leadership, his men The Holy City was in any case retaken a


Warrior Saint
A true saint and a true soldier, King Louis IX of France personified the crusading movement in all its
idealistic ardor, its heroism, and its haplessness. His piety could not be doubted, and his personal
kindness was legendary, yet he burned with rage to see the Holy Places of Jerusalem in Islamic
hands. Twice he led by example, setting out on crusades to fight the Muslims. But the Seventh Reliquary crown
This jewel-encrusted crown
Crusade was ultimately a disaster and the Eighth ended prematurely with his death. was presented by St. Louis to a
Dominican convent in Lige. It
once contained relics of the True

y the time Louis IX ascended Not peace but the sword Cross and fragments of the
the throne of France, there On a weapon fit for a crusading king, the bones of Christian martyrs. It is
had been no fewer than six stylized three-petalled fleurs de lys symbolize on display in the Louvre, Paris.
crusades. Only the rst had been the French royal virtues of faith, wisdom, and
an unqualied success. Perhaps chivalry, as well as the Holy Trinity.
it now took a visionary to
continue to believe in the weakling. He won a
crusading ideal. A boy of 12 reputation for decisive
when he was crowned in 1226, he leadership and physical courage.
reigned with the guidance of his Things took a more worrying
mother for the rst few years, and turn when one rebel, Hugh of
retained a certain childlike Lusignan, allied himself with
innocence all his life. Henry III of England, but Louis
In 1239 Louis spent a fortune defeated them at Taillebourg in
buying what was believed to be western France in 1242.
a fragment of the True Crossthe
cross on which Christ had Two Jerusalems
been cruciedand the Crown Two years later, as he recovered
of Thorns that Christs tormentors from a bout of malaria, Louis
had forced him to wear. To house learned that Jerusalem
these holy relics in Paris, he built was back in Muslim hands.
the stunning Saint Chapelle. One Emperor Frederick II had
of Frances greatest Gothic churches, negotiated its return in
it was a riot of extravagant vaulting 1228, but now Egypts
and stained glass. But if Louis Ayyubid rulers had retaken it.
liked grand gestures, he was also Louis barons must have felt
portrayed as a humble Christian: he was still delirious when he
contemporary representations proclaimed a Seventh Crusade.
show him kneeling to wash the The visionary and the soldier
feet of his poorest subjects. came together in Louis career as
a crusader. His ultimate ambition
The young king was to build a New Jerusalem in
Louis youth seemed an open France. The coming of this heaven-
invitation to Frances power-hungry on-earth is prophesied in the New
barons. But his tough and determined Testament Book of Revelation. Louis
way with a series of rebels made it hoped that he and his people might
clear thatpious or nothe was no show themselves worthy of the New
Jerusalem by recapturing the old one.

Louis first crusade Archangel with

Once again, the dreamer proved holy scripture
determined: by 1248 Louis had
assembled an army of 3,000 knights, The crusaders took Damietta in 1249, Last crusade and death
5,000 crossbowmen, and 7,000 foot only to be caught out by the annual Back in France, Louis spirit was
soldiers. They sailed from the port Nile ood. When they nally managed undimmed. In 1267 he called another
of Aigues-Mortes in southern France, to make their move, in April 1250, their crusade directed against the powerful
specially rebuilt for the purpose, via army was pinned down by the Sultan new rulers of Egypt, the Mamelukes.
Cyprus, to Damietta, in the Nile Delta. of Egypts forces, and then almost This time, he started further to the
Louis aimed to establish a bridgehead annihilated at the battle of Fariskur. west. In July 1270, he landed his army
here before approaching Jerusalem Despite leading with great distinction at Tunis and besieged the city, but, after
and the Holy Land from the south. in the eld, Louiss strategic planning drinking contaminated water, Louis fell
left much to be desired. He was sick and died on August 25. Many of
Christian soldier captured, along with his two brothers, his soldiers suffered the same fate, and
Contemporary chronicles see no conflict between Louis and an enormous ransom had to be the crusade was abandoned. Yet, for
pious humility and his kingly pride, nor between his roles paid for his return. On his release, he all his failures, his idealism had been
as a believer and as a battler for Christ. To help finance spent time in the Holy Land, helping to an inspiration to his contemporaries.
his crusades, he confiscated money from the Jews. refortify cities against Muslim attack. He was canonized in 1297.

I have warned you many times The armies that
obey me cover mountains and plains, they are as
numerous as the pebbles of the earth, and they
march upon you grasping the swords of fate.

French crusaders
French kings had a long tradition
of crusading. Here, Louis
great-grandfather, Louis VII, is
shown embarking from Cyprus
on the Second Crusade in 1148.

Japans Gempei Wars

With its feuding families, its warring samurai, and its epic scale, the story of the Gempei Wars (118085)
has the ring of heroic myth. Yet the conflict convulsed Japan for five terrible years, leaving a lasting
historical and cultural legacy. Moreover, it transformed the countrys military institutions and attitudes.

immering since the humiliation
of the Heiji Rebellion three years
before, the wrath of the Minamoto
I put my neck to the sword. Its
boiled over in 1180. Taira no Kiyomori,
having rst forced Emperor Takakura to
cut is but a breath of wind.
grandson on the throne. The Minamoto
gurehead, Prince Mochihito, was the took fright, assuming it was a surprise Horsemanship was held in high
half-brother of Takakura and was angry attack: though superior in strength, the regardmemorable descriptions
at being cheated out of the succession. men were unnerved and ed. In 1181, abound in the Heike Monogatari
Taira no Kiyomori issued orders for at Sunomatagawa, the Minamoto did even though the samurai fought
Samurai warfare Mochihotos arrest. Minamoto Yorimasa attempt a nocturnal ambush, but were mainly on foot. Accomplishment
Minamoto and Taira fight in a flurry of swirling banners and his samurai set off to spirit him to detected in the darkness and defeated. in archery was essential; not just
and flashing tachi swords. Some ride into battle, lances safety. The Taira caught up with them: What strikes the reader of the Heike with the full-length daikyu but
leveled like Western knights, but most have dismounted Prince Mochihito was put to death, but Monogatari, the great 13th-century epic also with the shorter hankyu
and engage in single combat. Minamoto Yorimasa avoided capture account of the Gempei Wars, is how both bows could be used on

Curved blade

Single edge
Samurai sword up-close and intimate the ghting was. horseback. The cult of the katana, or
The warriors sword was his proudest possession, the Like the heroes of Homers Trojan War, samurai sword, was yet to be
Though his ofcial status was divine, the symbol of his military prowessand, potentially, the warriors make stirring speeches before established, but the warrior still took
tenno or emperor, of Japan was in medieval instrument of his ritual suicide if he were vanquished. battle and trade insults as they engage pride in his skill with the long, curved
times a marginal gure. Real power rested in single combat. This is all part of tachi sword and with the dagger.
with the nobilityand was hotly contested. by disemboweling himself in the rst Pride was all-important: the samurai

By the 9th century dominant dynasties were
known act of seppuku. From that time,
this ritual suicide had its special place
in the samurai code, enabling defeated
1,300 The number of ships that
are thought to have clashed
at the battle of Dan-no-Ura in the Inland Sea.
followed the Way of the Warrior, or
bushido, which made an ethic of valor
and heroic self-sacrice in war. But the
emerging, their ascendancy embodied in the warriors to die with honor. The Taira clan were crushingly defeated. samurai who willingly gave up his life
strength and prowess of the armies of samurai did so in the certain knowledge that he
warriors they had assembled. These factions Death and drama the literary convention, affording an would be rewarded with both honor
are known as clans, since they grew up around Minamoto Yoritomo now took up opportunity for building suspense. and everlasting fame. The desire of the
important families, though most of those ghting the leadership. He struggled to begin But it also reects the realities of the individual ghter for such a dramatic
for them were not blood relations. with but, at Fujigawa, luck came to his time. There was no more noble calling and noble death helps explain
rescue. Hearing the rustling of birds than that of the soldier; samurai were whyserious and bloody as the
THE FADING FUJIWARA wings in the night, the Taira sentries schooled in their vocation as small boys. Gempei Wars wereso much of the
The Fujiwara clan quickly established its
presence, holding sway as sesshos, or regents,
and wielding the emperors authority on his 0 250km Nie
behalf. By the 12th century, however, its 0 250 miles Kuriygawa
inuence was ebbing fast and other families N Hiraizumi
were poised to take its place. Sea of Fujiwara base Key
KOREA Japan A Tamatsukuri
Areas of control in early 1180s
(East Sea) Sado Miyanouchi
CIVIL WAR IN JAPAN P Minamoto Yoritomo
Conict, raging for generations between the A Atsugashi-yama Minamoto Yoshinaka
powerful Minamoto and Taira clans, nally
J 1189: Fujiwara clan
Oki Kurikara
ared up into a full-blown civil war. The Hogon Shinohara Northern Fujiwara
1183 Yokotagawahara
Rebellion of 1156 saw the Fujiwara themselves Misasa 1183 Approximate frontiers
Tsushima Kiso
reduced to gureheads as the Minamoto and Mizushima Kyoto Honshu Utsunomiya Minamoto campaign
Taira fought over who should have power behind Dan-no-Ura 1183 Heian-kyo Awazu 1184 Fujigawa Battle
1185: Taira Fukuhara Sunomatagawa 1180
the scenes. Three years later, after the Heiji leaders killed Yashima 1185 Uji-gawa 1180
Dazaifu Ichi-no-Tani Nara Numazu Odawara
Rebellion, the Taira came out on top, and
Shikoku 1184Osaka
established Japans rst samurai government; Hososhima Ichigodani Ishibashi-yama Conflict across the islands
Iya Tokushima 1180: Yoritomo
the Minamoto, however, felt they still had Yokokurayama The focus of the fighting moved back
temporarily defeated
absolutely everything to ght for. Kyushu and forth across Japan during the five
PAC I F IC OC EAN years of the Gempei Wars (118085). Few
Shibushi communities were able to remain detached.


Ceremonial Samurai armor
Iron plates, laced together and then lacquered over
against rust, formed the basis for this high-ranking The Gempei Wars cast a long shadow
Samurais armor. A tightly woven surcoat provided extra over the subsequent history of Japan. Their
protection, while the curved helmet deflected blows. impact was as much in the political and
cultural spheres as in the military.
action now seems staged. An
exchange of arrows by both sides was SHOGUN RULE
typically followed by a battle that In 1192 Emperor Go-Toba gave Yoritomo the title
unfolded as a series of highly formal of shogun, or Supreme Commander. This was
single combats between warriors. no more than an acknowledgement of what
everybody knew: that real power in Japan
Changing times, changing fortunes resided with the Minamoto. Shogunates would,
This ritualized way of making war could with only the briefest interruptions, remain in
not be sustained. In the Heike Monogatari, power until the second half of the 19th century.
the Minamoto drew the Taira into an The Kamakura shoguns, named for their capital
engagement of this kind at Kurikara Kamakura, saw o the Mongol invasion of the
in 1183but only as a decoyand 13th century 8587 gg.
the bulk of Minamoto Yoshinakas
army crept around to attack from A WARRIOR TRADITION
the rear. Yoshinaka tied torches Still more lasting, if less tangible, was the impact
to the horns of frightened cattle, of the Gempei Wars on the military culture of
which were sent stampeding Japan. Traditions
into the Taira. The Minamoto and values
gained the advantage. established in
Despite this, in the following medieval times
months, the Minamoto were were to resurface
split by a number of bitter in the modern
power struggles. Yoritomo, age. To an
loyally backed by his cousin, extraordinary
Yoshitsune, emerged the extent, they still
victor. Luckily for him, the informed the
Taira had been unable to regroup in military mind-set
time. At Ichi-no-Tani in 1184, the of 20th-century BATTLE OF THE GENJI AND
Minamoto went on the offensive, Japan, as became
forcing the Taira to fall back on their evident in the war with Russia 25455 gg, the
home territory around the Inland Sea. Sino-Japanese War 28283 gg, and in the
Pacic theater of World War II 30203 gg.
All at sea
In 1185 Yoritomo set out to take the
Tairas main fortress at Yashima, off
Shikoku. He had a party of men build climactic engagement of the Gempei
res in the hills inland to persuade the Wars came a few weeks later at
Taira that his army was approaching Dan-no-Ura. This was technically a
from that direction. The Taira took naval battle, though it was really more
to their ships to make their escape, a land battle at sea. Warriors red off
only to nd the Minamoto showers of arrows as they came into
sailing at them from the range of one another, before boarding
seaward side. each others vessels to continue ghting
The battle of Yashima was in hand-to-hand combat. It was a
more of a humiliation than rigorous test of samurai strength, and
a real defeat for the Taira, one that Yoritomos Minamoto won,
as most of them managed to decisively destroying the power of the
make their way to safety. The Taira once and for all.

J A PA N E S E G E N E R A L ( 1 1 5 9 1 1 8 9 )

Yoshitsune was born in 1159, the year
of the Heiji Rebellion. According to tradition,
he was trained in the arts of war by Sojobo,
mythical king of the tengu spirits of Mount
Kurama. In 1180 he joined his cousins,
Minamoto Yoritomo and Minamoto Noriyori,
in raising an army to ght the Taira clan.
Yoshitsune fought and killed a fourth cousin,
the jealous Yoshinaka. He went on to win vital
triumphs over the Taira but nally fell out with
Yoritomo, who had him murdered in 1189.



Tough, erce nomads ranged the eastern

steppe, warring over livestock and resources.
From time to time they banded together to
Mongol Invasions String-bridge

attack communities in the world beyond. The Mongols were viewed with outright horror by civilized nations. They were happy to let
their savage reputation go before them, but their strategic sophistication tells another story.
The Mongol nomads lived on the move; however, The Mongols were fighters with flair and intelligence, who learned with every conquest.
this changed in the 12th century when the various

tribal groups coalesced around a charismatic lmost extinct in the modern This freewheeling warrior of the steppe tirelessly until they became second
leaderthe man known to history as Genghis world, the nomadic-pastoralist had already shown himself a cunning nature. Mongol soldiers traveled
Khan. He brought peace to the warring nomads lifestyle was an unusual one and and calculating politician. Now he light: most had only layers of
and established a political and military body. He those people who lived it developed an revealed his infallible instincts as a seasoned leather, sewn onto a fabric
also revelled in his status as bogeyman: All cities, extraordinarily specialized set of skills. politician and administrator. He broke support, by way of armor, although
he said, should be razed so that the Time after time, in both ancient and up the old hierarchies in Mongol the lancers would be stiffened with
world may once again become a medieval history, these society, marginalizing the traditional plates of iron or bone. Agility in the
great steppe in which Mongol aptitudes had translated elite. Instead, he gave leadership saddle kept the soldiers safe for
mothers shall suckle free seamlessly from the open steppes positions to his most trusted the most part; their diminutive
and happy children. of Central Asia to the eld of war. friendsor to promising ghters horses possessed stamina and
Superlative horsemanship; skills plucked from the ranks. Having speed, and were able
A TIDE OF TERROR with the bow and arrow and humbled the powerful, he won to travel considerable
Since ancient times a other weapons; all but the gratitude of more vulnerable distances in a relatively
tide of warlike nomadic unimaginable toughness groups by outlawing the sale of short time. So much so
peoples had drifted and endurance: the wives and by excusing the poorest that settled peoples
westward out of Central Mongol people were people from paying taxes. Genghis who received news of
Asia to bring terror to equipped with all of Khan divided his warriors up into Mongol attacks some
the civilizations of the these. For generations, groups of ten (arbans), a hundred distance away
Middle East and Europe. though, they went to (zuuns), 1,000 (myangans) and frequently Bowstring
The Huns, headed by ATTILA THE HUN war only with one 10,000 (tumens)taking care to underestimated just
the fearsome Attila, had another, tribe against cut across tribal lines of loyalty. how quickly the
sent a shockwave through the Roman world tribeexcept when That way he introduced a degree brutal invaders
ff4647; the Seljuk Turks had thrown an enterprising of regimentation to the anarchic would arrive.
Christendom into confusion ff7273; but warlord fostered a larger warfare of the steppe. While he
the Mongols were surely the most terrifying warband for an assault on a had no wish to tame his ghters A narrow escape
yeta fact made worse by Genghis Khans settled community reasonably ferocity, he took careful steps The Mongol army
Gold-painted grip
voracious blood lust. close at hand. Thus it was from to control it: rape and plunder swept like a storm
small beginnings that Genghis without his sanction were through East Asia,
Khan and his sons created the strictly barred. invading Xi Xia,
biggest land the kingdom in
empire ever At a gallop northwestern
seen, ranging Genghis Khan hardly needed China, in 1207.
all the way Mongol quiver to train his men in archery The Mongols
from the Mongols often carried and close-quarters ghting, sacked Zhandu
Pacic Ocean two quivers of arrows, however, he ensured that (Beijing) in 1215,
to Central one easily accessible they practiced daily to hone before heading
Europe. and one in reserve. their skills. Maneuvers on south into the
horseback were an essential heartland of the
Order from chaos part of herding and hunting life, but Middle Kingdom. Shaft
In their scattered, there was always scope to iron out Moving west, their
ever-mobile tribal imperfections. Rigid regimentation armies attacked the
communities, the might have been alien to his approach, cities of the Central
Mongols were not but discipline was not. Time after time, Asian Silk Road, and by
the most promising his horsemen caught out enemy forces 1222 they were making
material for nation- when they appeared to break formation a diversion into northern
building. Certainly, and ee in disorderprompting mad India. The following year they
many of the tribal pursuitonly to regroup at an instants ventured into the southern
leaders resented Russian steppe. By the time their

Genghis Khans rise The percentage of the enigmatic leader died in 1227, the
to prominence. But, Earths land mass that was empire of the Mongols extended from
by coaxing some and under Mongol rule at the the Pacic Ocean in the east to the
forcing others, by giving height of their empire. Caspian Sea in the west, and Khans
a promise here and successors were menacing the Arab
administering a little notice, wheel around, and fall upon countries of the Middle East. The
pressure there, Genghis their helpless enemy. (Western pace of the Mongols progress was
Khan slowly fashioned European cavalry forces were to adopt
The sack of Baghdad the Mongols into a coherent people. this trick in the centuries that followed.) A Mongols bow
Genghis Khans grandson, Hulegu, took the Abbasid By 1206, when he was about 40 years Many of his warriors were to ght as Made of wood, horn, and sinew, with strings
capital in 1258. The Mongols destroyed the citys dykes, old, Genghis Khan could at last claim armored lancers; in fact, Genghis Khan of animal hide, the composite bow melded
trapping the caliphs army behind a sea of water. Those to be the Khagan, or Great Khan, himself developed particular mounted maximum tension with minimum length. An
who did not drown were slaughtered in the ensuing battle. the undisputed ruler of the Mongols. maneuvers for these men, drilling them adept archer could string a bow on horseback.


R U SSIAN Bolgar
Liegnitz Lake Baikal
1241 POL AN D Kiev

E U R O P E Esztergom
Mohi 1241 ASIA Karakorum
Gran Kalka River
1241 H U NGA R Y 1222 Ar al Balkhash EM P I R E O F T H E
1242 Caspi an CHAGATA I
B l a ck S e a
Sea K HA NATE Gobi
Bukhara Kashgar Beijing
Anatolia Sivas Ningxia
Merv Samarkand Zhongdu
Mediterrane Sicily
Nishapur 1213
an Aleppo Herat Balkh 1279: Conquest of 127374
Sea 58 Southern Song Empire Kaifeng
Damascus Baghdad 12 completed by Kublai Khan
Hamadan Kabul 1 27 Yangzhou
1297 Xiangyang 3 1275 JA PA N
Alexandria 1258 Isfahan TI B ET
Ain Jalut 1327 Him 126873
Cairo I L- K H A N AT E Lhasa e
1260 alaya n g tz Hankou Ningbo



Sahara Ormuz In ges

Medina Dali C H I NA 7
1 27
Patna Bur ma

AFRICA Guangzhou

Mecca 1277
India Pagan 1287

Peninsula Hanoi
Ar a b ian

Nil B ay o f

So u th

Ben g a l
C h in a
Laccadive Sea
Key Islands Ceylon
Empire of Genghis Khan
Empires of Genghis Khans successors c.1290 Maldive
Approximate frontiers c.1290
0 1500km Sumatra
Campaigns of Genghis Khan
Campaigns of Genghis Khans successors 0 1500 miles
Mongol victory Java

Mongol defeat

The Mongol empire naphtha to putrid animal carcasses 1240 Mongol troops sacked the city AF TER
Genghis Khan set about building the most extensive land over the highest battlements; and they of Kiev after a gruesome siege. gedeis
empire ever seenan empire that had influence over had engines that could shoot dozens armies continued westward, separate
approximately 100 million people. It survived long after of re-arrows at a time. They also had warbands making exploratory forays The Mongols were nomads by nature,
his death, though it did break up into smaller khanates. another weapon: sheer terror. When into Poland and Hungary. On April 9, and never really took to the settled life;
Samarkand in Uzbekistan fell after a 1241, at Liegnitz, in Poland, a small camping among their conquests, for the
dizzying, yet their military prowess siege in 1220, the Mongol leader had subsidiary unit led by the Mongol most part they remained outsiders.
depended on a great deal more than the inhabitants rounded up and led to a general, Sbedei, smashed the Silesian
speed. Genghis Khan had never stopped plain outside the city walls. The hapless army of Duke Henry II. Just two days ADVANCING EMPIRE
learningand never stopped improving people were then slaughtered and their later, Sbedeis main military force Only in China, conquered by Genghis Khans
his ghting force. Wherever he had grandson, Kublai Khan, did the nomadic
gone, along with his other plunder, he
had captured talent: weapons-makers,
armorers, and, above all, engineers.
They are inhuman more Mongols put down real roots. Kublai Khan
wholeheartedly embraced the civilized culture
he found therethough his Mongol
This most nomadic of armies had
become supreme in the most static form
like monsters than men. antecedents showed clearly in his
aggressive foreign policy
of warfare: the Mongols were renowned MATTHEW PARIS, 13TH-CENTURY CHRONICLER, ON THE MONGOLS 8687 , most notably
for their skill in siegecraft. in his attempts to
They could ll the deepest moats skulls arranged into a pyramida sign defeated the Hungarians at Mohi: invade Japan.
at speed with sandbags; their giant of victory and a warning to those who the way to Western Europe, with all In Russia the
catapults (feats of engineering that might have been tempted to resist. its riches, now lay wide open. Mongol empire
could conveniently be taken apart for The conquests continued under Then from the east came the news endured in the
transporting on horseback, only to be Genghis Khans son, gedei. His forces that gedei Khan had died. All the shape of the Golden
reassembled quickly when needed) invaded Russia in 1237, leaving a trail Mongol chiefs were called back for a Horde. This semi- CASQUE (HELMET)
could hurl anything from aming of devastation wherever they went. In conclave to elect his successor. By the independent arm of the
time his successor, Gyuyuk Khan, was empire lasted into the 16th century and for
in place, the Mongols were preoccupied much of the timeafter all the carnage of its
with other campaigns in the eastern creationthe Golden Horde enjoyed a great
GENGHIS KHAN regions of their realm. Much the same deal of peace and prosperity.
happened later, in 1259, when Hulegu
Genghis Khan is a title that translates as Khans armies were ravaging the Middle COPYCAT CONQUEROR
Very Mighty King. The man who earned East en route to Egypt: the region was The West could consider itself extremely lucky
himself this accolade was born Temujin reprieved by the death of his brother, to have escaped invasion, though it would have
in c.1162, the son of a minor chieftain. On Mngke Khan. Not, however, before another scare in the 14th century when Timur
his fathers death, the young Temujin was Baghdad had been taken, Hulegus Lenk and his armies came rampaging out
ostracized and learned the hard way how to Mongols literally outdoing themselves of the east 8889 . A Turkic Mongol by
stand up for himselfby ghting. By 1206 in wanton cruelty. Anything up to descent, Timur modeled himself on Genghis
he had won his title of Khan, forging a united half a million people may have been Khan and sought conquest after conquest:
people out of an array of squabbling tribes. slaughtered in the bloodletting that ultimately, India and western Asia bore the brunt
He had also created a strong war-machine, followed the Iraqi citys fall, as the and his reputation as a barbarous conqueror grew.
as China, India, and others were to nd out. worlds most beautiful metropolis
was razed to the ground.

The army of Hulegu Khan, a grandson of Genghis Khan, attacks
the city of Baghdad in 1258, destroying what was then the center
of Islamic power. Hulegus army, the largest ever fielded by the
Mongols, was bolstered by Chinese, Turkish, Armenian, Persian,
and Christian soldiers. In this near-contemporary manuscript,
Chinese artillerymen break the citys defenses. Estimates of
the death toll range from 200,000 to 1,000,000.


To a Mongol warlord, China was one of the

worlds great prizes, a land of wealth and
untold splendor. Genghis Khan had come
here for booty, but had chosen not to linger.

China had a long history of
nomadic incursions: the
Central Asian Hsiung Nu
had made periodic
incursions into the
Middle Kingdom in
ancient times. Next
had come the Khitan,
the Tanguts, and, in
the 12th century, the
Jurchens Jin empire
occupied the north.

The advent of the Jin
empire forced the
Song dynasty to YUE FEI
transfer its capital
from northerly Kaifeng to Linan (present-day
Hangzhou). The armies of this Southern Song
managed to hold back the Jurchen raiders
and so an uneasy equilibrium was maintained.
Genghis Khans campaign had begun in China,
but the northern region had borne the brunt. Not
until the time of his grandson Kublai Khan did the
Mongols establish a lasting presence further south.
In Korea, the three kingdoms of Koguryo, Silla,

The Wars of Kublai Khan

and Paekche had been united as Koryo by
King Wang Kon of Koguryo in the 10th century.

EAST AND SOUTHEAST ASIA China posed a military and cultural challenge for the Mongols. Yet Kublai Khan was able to make
The conquests himself a new kind of Mongol ruler here. He was just as warlike, though: he attacked neighboring
and campaigns
of Kublai Khan states, from Burma to Korea, and twice attempted to invade Japan.
Dates 126094
Location China, Korea,

Japan, Vietnam, and Java ublai Khan had come into contact carve out a new Chinese empire reforms may be interpreted as
with Chinese culture as a young for himself may well have been attempts to recast traditional
man, while working as governor bolstered by this period of feuding. Chinese society along Mongol lines.
of the Mongols southern territories. The While Kublai Khan had emerged
Jin empire and Xi Xia were regions of the victor, he had lost a degree of Stalemate at Xiangyang
China under nomad rule. The young support in the Mongol heartlands and Kublai Khan did not object to waging
Mongol warrior Kublai was an ardent admirer of Chinese an oppositional faction had grown up war on his adoptive country. He began
The mounted archers of civilization, and covetous of Chinese around his nephew, Kaidu. By 1271 by besieging Xiangyang in 1268, a
the Mongol armies were wealth and technology, and so was keen he had committed himself so far to strategically vital city as it controlled
out of their element in to add the Middle Kingdom to the his project that he declared himself access to the Han River and hence to
Chinas highly urbanized Mongol empire. He had been Huangdi, or emperorthe founder the Yangtze, and to the fertile plains of
environment, but they ghting against the Southern of a new Chinese Yuan dynasty. central China. Kublai Khan attacked
quickly adapted to Song in China when This new title meant little, in that with 100,000 mounted warriors, and
the new conditions. he got news of his he did not yet control the majority he was equipped with trebuchets
brother Mngkes of the areas to which he was laying catapults that could ing rocks across
death in 1259, and claim, but it would have been full the river into the city. However, the
he faced a bitter of signicance for the Han Chinese. Song defenders had widened the river
struggle for succession By appropriating it, Kublai Khan was at the vital point and padded their
with his younger brother, sending out a powerful signal that he walls so that the missiles were
Ariq Bke. It was not until came, not merely as a conqueror, but
1264 that Kublai Khan as a new emperor. He underlined this Chinese fire-lance
was able to return to his by establishing his capital on Chinese Contemporary chronicles agreed that the one Chinese
long-term plans. But soil, in Daidu (Beijing). How deep his weapon the Mongols feared was the fire-lance. It was
his courage and self-reinvention as a Chinese ruler ran used at close quarters, and flames shot out from the
determination to is difcult to know: many of his later gunpowder-packed canister at the end.

Defending Japan
Japanese samurai swarm onto the Mongol commanders
KUBLAI KHAN vessel at Hakata Bay in 1281, seeing off the second of Kublai Khan enjoyed a successful reign and,
Kublai Khans two failed invasion attempts. by opening China up to change, transformed
Grandson of the great Genghis Khan, Kublai the whole country; but his Yuan dynasty
Khan was born in 1215. He became Khagan, support, sustained it for the best part was to last less than 100 years.
or Supreme Khan, in 1260 after the death of ten years, and managed this over
of his elder brother, Mngke. A scholar of thousands of kilometres in an area that AN EMPIRE IN DECLINE
Chinese language and culture, renowned for could hardly have been less suited to Kublai Khan showed open-mindedness in his
his intelligence and enlightenment, in 1271 the traditional tactics of the Mongols. military innovations, and his reforms placed
he established the Yuan dynasty. With his the empire on a stronger footing, encouraging
grandfathers gift for government and Ill-prepared ventures economic innovation and increasing social
administration, Kublai Khans new role Subsequent invasions were rather less harmony with the help he gave the poor.
as Chinese emperor meant his adopted successful. In 1274 a seaborne assault Kublai Khan died in 1294. He was followed
country was all the stronger for his rule. of Japan at Hakata Bay on Kyushu was by his grandson, Temurbut his succession
thwarted when a storm destroyed the was as troublesome as Kublai Khans had
Mongol eet. Kublai Khan sent a second been. Later Yuan emperors failed to reign
rendered harmless. Kublai Khan The Songs last stand came at the naval invasion eet in 1281. Again, tradition successfully over such a vast empire.
responded by building a eet of ships to battle of Yamen in March 1279. Though has it, a typhoon dispersed the attackers
blockade the river. But the Song were outnumbered, the Yuan ships succeeded ships; modern experts have suggested DISASTERS AND DOWNFALL
able to hold out almost indenitely. In in enclosing the Song eet in a narrow that both eets were too hastily built A series of droughts and oods in the 1340s
the end, they held out for six years. The bay. The conned ships were tied and inadequately prepared. Some even brought the agrarian economy to its knees.
breakthrough came with the advent of question whether the divine winds The governments inability to cope created anger
counterweighted trebuchetsdesigned
specically for Kublai Khan. These new
catapults could send 661-lb (300-kg)
5,000 The number of ships said
to have been constructed
by Kublai Khan to prevent river-borne
were anything more than the usual
bad weather.
An invasion of Burma in 1277 fared
and unrest. The Red Turban Rebellion broke
out in the 1350s. Led by Zhu Yuangzhang, these
Han Chinese rebels brought down the Yuan
missiles a distance of 1,640 ft (500 m). supplies reaching the Song at Xiangyang. much better. The country was quickly dynasty in 1368. Zhu Yuangzhang went on
conquered and reduced to client status. to found the Ming dynasty.
New departures together in a line, so when the Yuan But successive attacks on Vietnam were In Korea, meanwhile, the kings of Koryo were
Xiangyang had been the Song dynastys attacked, they were afforded a oating thwarted. In Korea, however, Kublai overthrown in a military coup in 1392 by General
strongest fortress: once it fell, nothing walkway to the central Song agship. Khan used more guile, and lent discreet Yi Seongyi: his Choson dynasty was to remain in
could stop the Mongols from streaming Kublai Khans success in conquering support to King Wonjong against his power until the last years of the 19th century.
through the heart of China. By 1276 China was extraordinary. He contrived rivals: in return, he gained Koreas
most of China was in Mongol hands. a miracle of organization and logistic loyalty as a vassal state.

Timur in triumph
Soldiers file before Timur Lenk, holding out the heads
of the vanquished defenders of Baghdad, which they are
building into a pyramid outside the city walls. It is said
that Timur ordered each man to bring him two heads.

The Conquests of Timur


The conquests and

campaigns of Timur
Dates 13791405
Location Uzbekistan,
Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey,
For the settled civilizations of Western and Southern Asia, the threat from the Central Asian steppe southern Russia, and
was gaining momentum again. Even Christian Europe was unnerved. The more they demonized him, the northern India

better Timur Lenk liked it; he reveled in his self-styled status as a second coming of Genghis Khan.

imur Lenk began his rise, in the atrocity as an instrument of strategy. Kush. From the Punjab to Delhi, they
B E F O R E best steppe tradition, as a raider Wherever he went, he built pyramids sacked every city they passed. It is said
and livestock-rustler. By his early of skullsa warning to the world, and they killed as many as 100,000 civilians
20s, he headed a warband 300 strong. monument to his murderousness. before they even reached the capital.
To outward appearances, all was quiet on His air for ghting was already Pushing west through Azerbaijan into The Ottoman Turks also fell short
the Central Asian steppe by the 14th century, evidentas were his rigor and courage. Christian Georgia, he forced the king to of Timurs Islamic standards. In 1402
but warlords still jostled for advantage, Like his idol, Genghis Khan, however, convert to Islam before heading south he marched against Sultan Bayezid I
setting their sights on greater things. he was a politician too. Deftly playing through Armenia and back into Iran. In at Ankara. Bayezids defeat gave Timur
off the enmities and ambitions of men 1387 he took Isfahan, but then rebels a dubious role as savior of Christian
SETTING A PRECEDENT much more powerful than himself, killed Timurs tax collectors. Again, he Byzantium and the Turks conquest of
In the 13th century Genghis Khan had emerged Timur had made himself the leader of proved implacable in his anger. Constantinople was put back 50 years.
from nowhere with his Mongol warbands to the Barlas clan by 1360; eight years By 1404 Timur had achieved all he had
establish the biggest land empire the world later he was leader of the Chagatai Perpetual motion set out to do. The Middle East was his;
had ever seen ff8283. To the ambitious Confederation.No one was in any doubt Timur was always a nomad at heart, his sumptuous tomb stood pride of
warlord, his story oered an alluring vision of where the real power lay. Making a raider rather than an empire-builder. place in his capital, Samarkand. He was
what ruthlessness and courage might achieve. Samarkand his headquarters, he vowed He governed by fear, mounting punitive laid to rest in it the following year.
to transform it into one of the worlds patrols at any sign of trouble. By 1393
A DUBIOUS HERITAGE greatest cities. he was back in Iran, crushing a rebellion
Transoxania, in present-day Uzbekistan, now But before he could do so, Timur with his customary cruelty. Attacks on AF TER
belonged to the Khanate of Chagatai. Named for had to make himself the master of the Baghdad and Kurdistan were followed
one of Genghis Khans sons, the territory was steppe: his by raids on the
still ruled by his successorsthe Barlasa
Turkic-Mongolian group who prided themselves
on their illustrious line of descent, though
campaigns of
the 1370s took
him east into
28 The number of pyramids, each
one comprising 1,500 skulls, that
were counted by a chronicler of 1388 in
Golden Horde,
sacking and burning
as he went. The
To the great relief of his subject nations,
Timur Lenk turned out to be an anomaly.
His successors Timurid dynasty quickly
there is thought to be little merit to their claims. the Altai region a half-circuit of the walls of Isfahan, Iran, impression is of a destroyed itself through inghting.
and north into after Timur Lenks sacking. leader eaten up by an
the Golden insane blood lust; but FOUNDING EMPIRES
Horde. Only when Central Asia had Timur was more rational than that. The One refugee from the Timurid dynastys
been secured did he direct his energies sacking of southern Russia cut off one succession-struggle was the Muslim conqueror
south and west. He began in 1381 by of the main commercial corridors Babur. In the early 16th century he invaded India
invading Iran, a land of small states between East and West. Trade had now and founded the Mogul dynasty 12021 gg.
once united under the Mongol to pass through his own territories. In the meantime,
Ilkhanids. First Herat, then other cities Whatever horror he induced in the the Ottoman Turks
fell. Few offered any serious resistance. civilian populations of the countries he were to recover from
conquered, Timur inspired adulation their defeat at the
Strategy of atrocity and undying loyalty in his men. As his battle of Ankara to
Only afterward, when Timur had left, conquests continued, his army grew in reassert their hold
did the region rise in rebellion. And only size till it eventually numbered 200,000. over Anatolia, taking
then was Timurs true nature displayed. A master-tactician, he loved ruses and Constantinople in
Turning back to put down the revolt, he feints; his troops would pretend to ee 1453 and widening
did so with a cruelty that was little then suddenly regroup and attack. their empire into
short of frenzied. At Sabzevar he had Timur was a Muslim and frequently Europe 10607 gg.
2,000 living prisoners heaped with mud professed to be ghting for his faith TIMUR HANDING HIS
and masonry, literally building them even if many thousands of his victims CROWN TO BABUR
into the fabric of a tower. Yet there was were Muslims too. In 1398 he led his
method in his madness: he was using army over the mountains of the Hindu
A fitting memorial
Timurs magnificent mausoleum, Gur-e Amir, still stands
in Samarkand. His body, embalmed with rose water,
musk, and camphor, lies in an ornate coffin. A single
I am the scourge of God Decorated mace
block of jade marks his tomb.
appointed to chastise you. Used in close combat, the mace was a heavy club that
was common among the Mongols. These weapons were
TIMUR LENK TO THE RULERS OF DAMASCUS, 1401 simple to make and could be as effective as swords.


In Western Europe during the Middle

Ages, relations between the papacy and
Guelphs and Ghibellines
the emperors were strained at bestand Italy witnessed mounting opposition between emperors and popes in the 12th and 13th centuries. The
their struggle for power would continue. northern states banded together in the Lombard League, and the focus switched to the south after the
SETTING A STANDARD Sicilian Vespers uprising. The Guelphs and the Ghibellines, two fluctuating alliances, fought these wars.
When Charlemagne, king of the Franks,

had himself crowned emperor by eatly resolving some political and incursions into northern Italy, he chose when he launched an invasion, seizing
Pope Leo III in 800, he created a institutional issues, the creation representatives from the region for an Crema in 1159 and Milan in 1162. When
new model for the relationship of the Holy Roman Empire of assembly, the Diet of Roncaglia (1158). Fredericks men played football with
between Church and state the German Nation was a masterstroke. severed heads at Crema, the people
in Europe ff6869. German However, this new union invited power Victory at Legnano responded by slaying captured soldiers.
ruler, Otto I, ratied the contract struggles, and tensions were quick to In Italy prominent cities like Piacenza, Pope Alexander III was outraged, and
when he went to St. Peters for show. The Hohenstaufen dynasty in Milan, Padua, Venice, and Bologna were
his coronation as emperor. Germany came to power in 1138 with trying to extract themselves from the
the Emperor Conrad III determined to intrusive local bishops. They found an
TROUBLED TIMES avoid a repeat of the humiliations visited ally in the pope, since the bishops were
The association between the two institutions was on his predecessor, Henry IV. In 1155 appointed by the emperor, not by Rome. 1
tested by the Investiture Contest of the 11th Pope Adrian IV made Frederick I Frederick served notice of the callous
century. Emperor Henry IV was at odds with the (Barbarossa) emperor. After several way with which he intended to rule
papacy over rights and was excommunicated in 2
1076. He was compelled to make penance at
Canossa, begging papal forgiveness.
The Concordat of Worms (1122) formally
These are not men, rather
ended the power struggle between the emperors
and the pope. Thereafter, while a semblance of
they are devils, whose only 1 Wars between
the Hohenstaufens
2 War of the
Sicilian Vespers
and the popes Dates 12821302
unity was restored, relations remained uneasy
and a tussle began over control of Italy. wish is a battle! Dates 11581266
Location Chiey
Location Sicily, southern
Italy, and Malta
northern Italy


Battle of Benevento of a famous Hohenstaufen stronghold, full-blown war and spilling over onto
Charles I defeats Frederick IIs son, Manfred, in 1266, and they were strong supporters of the the mainland of southern Italy. As their
to secure Sicily and put an end to Italian Hohenstaufen emperor. The papal party christened armies slugged it out, the pope added to TREBUCHET
rule. The importance of this victory to the Angevins finds themselves the Guelphs and took their the chaos by excommunicating Peter
testimony in this painting, made almost 200 years later. name from the Hohenstaufen and inviting Philip III of France and his Catapults of various sorts had been used
opposition, the Bavarian House of Welf. son, Charles of Valois, to invade his on the battleeld and in siege situations
sent out the army of the Commune Conict between the two factions kingdom in the Aragonese Crusade. since ancient times. Roman ballistae
of Rome, but it was severely mauled continued for the rest of the 12th worked like giant crossbows, shooting
at Monte Porzio in 1167. Thwarted, century and well into the 13th. In the Battles at sea heavy bolts; other engines were used for
the pope gave his support to the cities 1230s the Lombard League (now part of Philip and Charles hoped to nd allies hurling rocks. Such engines had relied on
when they formed a defensive alliance, the Guelph faction) suffered defeats at in a nobility already known to be at odds the torsion of twisted or ratcheted rope,
the Lombard League. the hands of Frederick II. The with their king, Peter III. In the event, and there were limits on how powerful
In 1174 Fredericks forces most severe came in 1237 though, a full-scale French invasion was they could be. But from the 12th century,
swept over the Alps again, at the Cortenuova. defeated, the people rising up in support engineers were employing the force of
besieging Alessandria. Its Certain victory was leverage, compounded by the use of
people fought frantically:
even when the imperial
sappers dug their way
snatched after the new
emperor brought 8,000
Muslim archers from
8,000 The number of French
people believed to have
been slaughtered in the course of the
counterweights. The arcing ight of
the missiles thrown took them
over ramparts. These new
beneath the city walls, Apulia in the southern Sicilian Vespers insurrection of 1282. trebuchets could propel
they beat the attackers toe of Italya region huge rocks over greater
off. The siege nally where Arab inuence of Peter and his lords. The French were distances and with
ended and the Lombard was still strong. stopped at sea as well, Peter III with an an accuracy never
League was victorious. immense advantageRoger di Lauria seen before.
Peace negotiations Frederick II The Sicilian Vespers commanding his eet.
began but broke down Barbarossas grandson, Frederick II, In 1262 Pope Urban IV The dashing Admiral di Lauria had
in 1176. Battle was made further conquests into Italy in conferred the throne already proved his worth, winning a
joined at Legnano. the 13th century. of Naples and Sicily on great victory over the Angevins at the
Fredericks army had Charles of Anjou. This battle of Malta on July 8, 1283. Now his
more than 4,000 armored knights; that was highly provocative, given the victory at the battle of Les Formigues,
of the Lombard League comprised opposing claim of Manfred of Sicily, off the coast of Catalonia in 1285, was
mainly infantrymen. Their 1,000 or who was related by marriage to the observed as a decisive reverse for the
so knights were outnumbered: when Hohenstaufen family. Even so, Charles crusade. The admiral was disciplined
the imperial cavalry charged, they ed. enforced his case, defeating Manfreds and daring, and could trust the captains
The infantry had dug in behind the army at Benevento in 1266. Manfred of his galleys to break formation, feign
defenses, however, forming a phalanx himself was killed in the ghting. ight, and lead enemy vessels out of
around the carroccio (ox wagon). They Charles did not convince Sicilians of position in the knowledge that they
his right to rule. At Vespers (the evening could be commanded back to order

The number of galleys service) in Palermos Church of the Holy at a moments notice.
captured by Roger di Lauria Spirit on Easter Monday 1282, this But when, on Peters death in 1285,
on July 4, 1299, at the battle resentment erupted into rioting. In the Pope Urban IV tried to restore Sicily AF TER
of Cape Orlando. weeks that followed, hundreds of people to the Angevins, the conict ared up
associated with the Angevins (the House all over again. While James, the elder
presented their long spears like pikes of Anjou) were killed. Charles cracked of Peters surviving sons, was happy The struggle between popes and emperors
and stood rm; behind, crossbowmen down, and Manfreds heir (by virtue of to agree to the terms, the younger, had gone on for more than two centuries
and archers wore down the enemy. The their relationship by marriage), Peter III Frederick III, was preparing to ght. now, the conict assuming a range of
Lombard cavalry now regrouped, before of Aragon, came into the conict on the Their fathers admiral was again different guises at different times.
charging back in to defeat the emperor. Sicilians side. He landed with an army decisive. Fighting now for James, in
in Sicily and had himself favour of the treaty, Roger di Lauria A CONTINUING CONFLICT
Guelphs and Ghibellines crowned at Palermo. What defeated Fredericks eet at the battle The papacy was never to be a military power
Frederick had to endure the humiliation had been a local insurrection of Cape Orlando in 1299, and then in its own right. But the Church continued to be
of signing the Peace of Venice, a treaty was soon spiraling into a again at Ponza, on June 14, 1300. a powerful inuence in political affairs
with the Lombard League that had and a thorn in the side of successive emperors.
been brokered by the pope, but
tension between the two sides CARROCCIO An ox wagon carrying
continued. The situation was made both the armys standard and an altar
worse by the fact that some Italian at which mass was said before battle.
people supported the emperors: Heralds encircled it, sounding their
the cities and landowners in trumpets throughout the fighting.
central Italy were more worried
about the papacys interference It was not until the 16th century that a resolution
in their affairs than about any of sorts was nally attained when Emperor
encroachments by the emperor Charles V triumphed over the power of the
from the north. This group came papacy during the Italian Wars 11415 gg.
together as the Ghibellinesthe
name is supposed to have been a COMPETING CONCERNS
corruption of Waiblingen, the title The Church was to have other preoccupations:
with the mounting threat of heresy in
Troubled waters Europe 9495 gg, and with the Ottoman
Charles I voyages to Rome for his investiture Turks in the east 10607 gg.
as king of Sicily in 1265. Key battles in the War
of the Sicilian Vespers would be fought at sea.


Monument to a mercenary
A mercenary is loyal to whoever pays
him. This statue in Venice depicts
Bartolomeo Colleoni, a condottiere
(contractor) who fought in the
15th-century wars between Milan
Professional soldiers who fight for a living and pledge their loyalty
and Veniceand served both sides to whoever pays them, mercenaries have been seen by many as
at different times.
no better than hired assassins. Throughout history, however, the
recruitment of mercenaries has been an essential part of warfare,
and it is a practice that continues in several parts of the world today.

n earliest times men fought for their
families, for their homes, and out of
loyalty to their chieftain in return for
land. Conscription (compulsory military
service), however, become the norm
as large, centralized states emerged in
Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt (see
pp.1617). Sargon I of Akkad is the
rst king known to have conscripted
an army, and in New Kingdom Egypt
up to 10 percent of males were forced
by the pharaoh into military service. In
both cases a soldiers time was spent as
much working on engineering projects
as it was ghting in battle.
Smaller states, however, were not
equipped to raise and maintain large
armies through conscription. Nor was Nubian mercenaries in Egypt
conscription always viable, even for This ancient Egyptian mural depicts Nubian mercenaries,
large empires, as large portions of who were soldiers with no stake in Egyptian society, and
the population could not always no loyalty to anyone except the pharaoh who paid them.
be removed from vital jobs to join
the army. Hiring mercenaries was down the Russian river system to the
therefore an obvious recourse for Black Sea in the 9th century, a number
states of all sizes, as mercenaries enlisted in the service of the rulers of
are both already trained and Byzantium. By the 10th century there
available as needed. was a permanent Varangian Guard of
these Viking mercenaries, several
A noble trade thousand strong. Likewise, Turkic
The mercenaries themselves warlords who drifted westward with
usually came from warrior elites their warriors out of the Central Asian
who saw the waging of war as the steppe placed themselves and their
only t occupation for a man of warbands in the service of Islamic
honor. Such groups came with rulersthough the Sultans later found
weapons, skills, and a ready- it more convenient to buy or capture
made esprit de corps that could boys as slaves, whose primary loyalty
be placed at the service of a would be to them. Often, mercenaries
king. The cavalry of the were recruited because they could offer
Persian army (see special skills. Sasanid Persia supplied its
pp.2021), which own armored cataphracts, for example,
from the 6th but hired other cavalry and even
century BCE elephant divisions from further aeld.
made Cyrus and
his successors so Private armies
feared, were Iranian The Renaissance (14th17th centuries)
warriors ghting as mercenaries. From saw the rise of national armies, but also
the 3rd century BCE, Celtic warbands the emergence of free market economies
from Central Europe were in and private enterprise in Europe. As
the service of both Egypts a result, the creation of private
Ptolemaic rulers and the armies became a lucrative
kings of Asia Minor. business, organized by
Such arrangements
were often formalized Celtic mercenarys coin
over the longer term. Found in the port of Dover on
After the rst Vikings the south coast of England, this
(see pp.7071) found Carthaginian coin was probably
their way from Sweden brought home by a Celtic mercenary.

German landsknecht mercenaries

A field captain on horseback talks to two landsknechts in
this early 16th-century illustration. Going to war was a trade O 6th century BCE Iranian steppe nomads fight
for generations of young men in the early-modern era. as mercenary cavalrymen for the kings of Persia.
O 3rd century BCE Celtic mercenaries serve Egypts
generals-for-hire such as Italys condottieri, Ptolemaic rulers and the kings of Asia Minor.
or contractors (see pp.11415), many
O c.240 BCE The Mercenary War, an uprising of
of whom were veterans of the crusades
unpaid mercenaries against defeated Carthage
(see pp.7477). Soldiers from certain
at the end of the First Punic War.
countriesSwiss pikemen, and German
O c.800 Turkic ghulam slave-soldiers serve the
landsknechts, for instanceeven came
Abbasid caliphs in the Middle East.
to specialize in mercenary war. More
and bigger conicts came in the wake O 911 The first recorded mention of a Varangian
of the Reformation, and mercenaries Guard of Viking mercenaries in Byzantium.
offered skills and disciplines that no O 1250 Mamluk slave-soldiers seize power in
group of conscripts could match. Egypt and establish a lasting dynasty.
Many men in this era came to depend O 1259 The first recorded mention of Gallowglass
on the mercenary life; it has been soldiers from Scotlands Highlands and Islands.
estimated, for example, that one-fth They serve the Gaelic chiefs and Norman lords
of all Scottish males born in the 17th of Ireland for the next three centuries.
century went soldiering for foreign O 1476 Swiss pikemen attract attention across
masters at some point in their lives. Europe with a spectacular victory over Charles
the Bolds Burgundians at the battle of Grandson.
Servants or masters? Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I founds the
Mercenaries have not always been the first landsknecht units at about this time.
answer to their employers problems O 1519 Spanish adventurer Hernan
sometimes they have presented Corts launches his invasion of
challenges of their own. Inevitably, Mexico. He will keep a share of any
their loyalty is only ever provisional. booty he brings back for the
Around 240 BCE, after Carthages defeat Spanish Crown.
in the First Punic War (see pp.3233), O 1531 Francisco Pizarro campaigns
unpaid soldiers rose up against the city against the Incas in Peru; like Corts,
in what is known as the Mercenary his pay will be a share of the booty.
War. Irish and German mercenaries
O 1534 Landsknechts employed by the
mounted a similar revolt in 1828 at no particular incentive for them to be endure in the modern era of national Bishop of Mnster against Anabaptist
the end of the Argentina-Brazil War. fair or humane. They have often seen armies. Mercenaries are useful for rebels go over to other side when he
Mercenaries have often ended up plunder as a perk. The landsknechts unofcial engagements, such as the finds himself unable to pay them.
holding the upper hand over their became notorious for collecting not just arms-length involvement of the US in
O 1631 The Massacre of Magdeburg:
employers. Condottieri such as Braccio their mercenary pay, but protection the Angolan Civil War in the late 20th
mercenaries slaughter an estimated
da Montone and Muzio Sforza became money from civilians too. Mercenaries century. They are also useful where
25,000 people, mostly civilians.
prominent gures in early 15th-century have also committed terrible atrocities, sending ofcial troops to ght is likely
O 1817 The first recruitment of Nepalese
Italian politics. Brought in by the such as their participation in the to be unpopular. This has been the case,
Gurkha mercenaries by Britains East India
Nicaraguan government to help put Massacre of Magdeburg during the for example, with the use of private
Company. The arrangement will later be
down a rebellion in 1855, American Thirty Years War (see pp.14243). military contractors (mainly Blackwater,
formalized, with Gurkha regiments
mercenary leader William Walker made now called Xe) by the US in Iraq. By
integrated into the British Army.
himself president within a year. Modern-day mercenaries 2009 there may have been as many
Accountability has always been a Lack of accountability is part of the as 100,000 private contractors in Iraq, O 1831 The French Foreign Legion, an
army of mercenaries of all nationalities,
problem. Mercenaries have no stake in appeal of being and hiring a mercenary, in spite of considerable international
is founded in colonial Algeria.
the countries they ght in, so there is and helps explain why mercenaries pressure to ban their activities.
In 1989 the United Nations passed the O 1912 British and US mercenaries join the
International Convention Against the Nationalists in the Chinese Revolution.
Recruitment, Use and Training of O 196065 European mercenaries fight on
Mercenariesa resolution that nally all sides in the post-colonial
came into force in October 2001. The Congo Crisis. LANDSKNECHTS
resolution bans the use of military O 1975 The Angolan Civil War
contractors, who have since redened begins. Western governments
themselves as security services offering fund mercenaries to help UNITA and FNLA
armed guards to their employers. rebels, after Cuba sends troops to support the
However, numerous countries have government. Mercenaries are to play a similar
yet to sign the convention, including role in the Mozambiquan Civil War (197792).
the US and the UK; as always, it is still O 19952001 Foreign mercenaries directly
cheaper to buy short-term services than employed by a South African private company,
to pay for an extended standing army. Executive Outcomes, support government
Until war itself is banned, it seems the forces in Sierra Leones civil war.
mercenary soldier will always be with us. O 2003 So-called military contractors take charge
of support roles in Iraq, in the aftermath of the
Mercenaries in Angola US-led invasion of the country and overthrow
Portuguese mercenaries fought alongside soldiers of Saddam Hussein. Most of these mercenaries
of the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA) in are employed by a private company, Blackwater.
the Angolan Civil War of 19752002. Angola was a
Portuguese territory from the 16th century to 1975.


Crusades in Europe EUROPE

As the 12th century progressed, the medieval order came under increasing pressure. The authority 3
of popes and kings began to wane. Home-grown heresies and popular resistance soon appeared as 1
dangerous as the external, Islamic threat: the answer, once again, was to embark on a crusade.

he Middle Ages are commonly and his teachings were seen as evil Knights responded. A well-established
described as an Age of Faith. too. The worldliness of the Church was military order, they had been founded
1 Albigensian 3 Hussite Wars
Crusade Dates 141934
But the more fervently men and obvious, and, far from being the Bride in Acre at the time of the Third Crusade. Dates 120929 Location Bohemia
women believed in their religion and of Christ, preached the Cathar, Arnald These German priests, like the Knights Location Southwest
its ideals, the more susceptible they Hot, the Church was espoused of the Hospitallers before them, had begun by
were to disillusionment. By the 12th Devil and its doctrine diabolical. tending the sick and wounded; in time 2 Wars of the
century the wealth and power of the they interpreted their duty more widely. Teutonic Knights
Dates 12301410
Church was giving rise to resentment. Crusade against the Cathars By 1198 the knights role as ghting Location Prussia,
People saw it as being too close to the Such teachings found many followers, clerics had been acknowledged by the Lithuania, and the Baltic
kings and nobles who exploited and and as far as Pope Innocent III was Church. Their function in the Prussian
oppressed them. concerned, this could not be ignored.
Some people, like the Cathars of The heretics were like the Saracens,
the Languedoc in southwest France, he said, and in 1209 he duly proclaimed
rejected Christianity altogether. Theirs a crusade against this enemy within.
was a dualistic universe in which God From a military point of view, the
and Satan were at war and love and Albigensian Crusade was a grotesquely
power were locked in eternal opposition. one-sided affair: it took its name from
The soul was immortal and belonged in the town of Albi, a hotbed of the heresy.
heaven, the realm of God, of light. All Though local magnates like Count
that was material and earthly belonged Raymond of Toulouse were involved,
to a darker, evil worldthat of Satan or for the most part the enemy were
Rex Mundi, the king of the world. Since defenseless peasants. All the ostentation
Christ was the Word made esh, he of the medieval war machineknights
on horseback with huge processions of
foot soldiers, including crossbowmen

Christendom, now beleaguered both within

10,000 The number of men
who enlisted in the
Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars
and without, reverted back to the ideology of Languedoc in 1209.
and method of Holy War to resolve its
problems and quash dissent. and archers, as well as companies of
mercenarieswere deployed against
IDEALISTIC RUSH unarmed civilians. Sappers (military
Pope Urbans call to Christians to join engineers) with siege-engines smashed
his crusade ff7475 had echoed down through the walls of provincial cities.
through the generations; it resonated on into the There was no magnanimity toward
13th century and beyond. Naturally, Europes the defeated. The crushing of heresy was
sacred work. On July 22 ,1209,
HERESY An opinion or doctrine at crusaders sacked Bziers and killed
variance with established religious 20,000 men, women, and children.
beliefs. In the Middle Ages, the Christian More than 1,000 people were burned
church considered heresy a crime that alive after taking refuge in a church.
could be punishable by death. Though Pope Innocent II tried to rein in
the carnage from about 1213, it had
rulersand their subjectspreferred to gained buoyant momentum and as
remember the rush of idealism that had many as a million people are thought to
originally inspired the wars with Islam rather have died.
than the dismal failure of the more recent
crusades ff7677. The Teutonic Knights
On Europes eastern frontiers, the Baltic
ENEMIES WITHIN Slavs were recalcitrant under the shaky
The Islamic threat had not vanished entirely, rule of the Polish kings. After recurrent
but Christian Europe faced new hazards at invasions they remained obdurately
home. Discontent with the Church was unpaciedand pagan. When a call to
growing; an increasingly educated public was defend the faith went out, the Teutonic
tiring of its tyrannical ways. Those in power,
however, saw this new threat in the same way Battle of Muret
as they saw the Islamic menace. Simon de Montforts crusaders take on the Albigensian
army of Raymond of Toulouse, in 1213. De Montfort
died besieging Raymonds stronghold in 1218.


Crusade was not in doubt: by the Samogitians Holy Roman Empire of the German
from c.1230 they swept (pagan tribesmen from Nationand of Pope Martin V, who
through Prussia and northwestern Lithuania) proclaimed a crusade in 1420 for the The crusading ideal was not yet dead as
beyond into present- and suffered a defeat destruction of the Wycliftes, Hussites, a philosophy, though it was constantly
day Lithuania, Lativa, that triggered a bloody and all other heretics in Bohemia. being reinterpreted in response to changing
and Estonia. They uprising across Prussia. More crusades followed in 1421 conditions and changing times.
fought as armored and 1424. These campaigns proved
cavalry, followed Prussian resistance inconclusive, thanks to the nerve and CONTINUING CONFLICTS
into the eld by light This was not their rst resourcefulness of the Hussite rebels In Spain the conict between the Christians
cavalry and infantry. The humiliation: to begin and the leveling effect of the hand-held and the Muslims went on. The Reconquista
pope had granted Prussia with the Teutonic Knights cannons they used. had been going on for centuries now and,
to the order as a Currency of the realm had campaigned not only These cannons could hardly have though well advanced, had yet to be
monastic stateso, in The Teutonic Knights were able to against Prussian pagans been cruder: literally, they were little completed 9899 gg. It was to last until 1492,
theory, they were its carve out their own religious state but also against the cannons held in the hand, their 8 in (20 each side taking and then retaking territories.
rulers. But, in practice, in Prussia, and even issued their Orthodox Christians cm) barrels mounted in wooden casing. The Teutonic Knights war against Russian
this was untamed terrain own currency, like this coin. of Russia. Attacking the The gunner cradled this in one hand,
and the knights struggled
against guerrilla factions. During the
battle of Durbe in 1260, the knights
city of Novgorod in 1240,
they were defeated in 1242 by Prince
Alexander Nevsky at the Battle on the
trying to keep it pointing in the direction
of the enemy while he bent over to light
the gunpowder charge with a spill or
8,000 The number of Teutonic
Knights killed at the
battle of Grunwald. A further 14,000
allowed themselves to be surrounded Ice. Here, they had been drawn out match. But accuracy or penetration- were captured or fled.
onto the frozen surface of Lake Peipus power mattered little, given that these
by Alexanders tactical retreat: the weapons were deployed against an Orthodoxy had been a crusade against the cross.
slipping charges of the heavily armored enemy who came charging en masse, But soon conicts between fellow Christians
knights were repelled by a resolute and who had no protection against shot became the norm. The Reformation saw the
infantry, and those who did not fall through armor or through tactics. French Wars of Religion 13435 gg and
through the thin ice became easy Mounted knights were losing their the cruel Thirty Years War 14243 gg.
targets for archers. advantage over infantry. Gunpowder But the method of war itself was undergoing
The Teutonic Knights was democratizing war. change, and the religious conicts of the following
then concentrated on centuries were to provide the perfect testing-
Prussia, where they ground for ever more powerful, more accurate,
consolidated their and more sophisticated rearms.
position throughout the
14th century. Other TACTICAL REVOLUTION
states were growing in The revolution in technology brought a
power, however: 1410 revolution in tactics. Heavily armored knights
saw a showdown with lances gave way to lighter cavalry armed
contest with the with pistols as well as swords. Infantrymen
armies of Lithuania learned new drills for the coordinated loading,
and Poland. During aiming, and ring of their matchlock and
the battle of wheel-lock muskets. Artillery was also to play
Grunwald (also an increasingly important role, its presence in
named Tannenberg), turn exerting a powerful inuence on tactics
more than 20,000 in the eld of war.
knights are believed The fact that the Christians were ghting
to have faced up to among themselves did not mean other threats
30,000 enemy had gone away. The Ottomans rise changed the
cavalry, making this one of the East; in 1453 they took Constantinople
biggest battles of medieval times. Both The Treaty of Thorn 10607 gg, and following centuries would see
sides had thousands of infantrymen, Signed in 1412, this agreement brought peace between them twice besiege Vienna 12223 gg.
crossbowmen, and archers. The knights Poland, Lithuania, and the Teutonic Knights, but the
also had artillery, and viewing that as reparations it called for would ruin the Teutonic state.
an advantage, they kept much of their
cavalry in reserve. But downpour
doused their gunpowder, and when
news came in that their general, Ulrich HUSSITE WAGENBURG
von Jungingen, had died, morale
collapsed and they ed in disarray. The wagenburg, or wagon fort, was created
by arranging carts to form a square enclosure,
Warfare reformed giving lightly armed infantry a way of resisting
Fighting with gunpowder had its charging knights. Crucial to Hussite strategy,
disadvantages; nevertheless, this new the idea of using wagons to create a wall
technology offered a way forwarda was not new, but its use by the Hussites
fact that became evident in the Hussite marked a real innovation. Set up discreetly
Wars. Today, the teachings of Czech and quickly, the wagenburg was consistently
reformer, Jan Hus, are seen as paving placed within ring range of the enemy.
the way for Martin Luther and the Inside, men with hand-cannons could safely
Reformation. But in his day, Hus was open re. The charging enemy found a solid
condemned as a heretic and burned wall of wagons, while the Hussites could
to death on July 6 1415. His followers keep up a steady barrage or sally forth
rose in rebellion against the Bohemian among the horsemen with pikes or ails.
Crown, which had the assistance of the


Anglo-Scottish Wars
The conflict between England and Scotland that began in the late 1200s continued intermittently for BRITISH ISLES

more than half a century. The period is known in Scotland as the Wars of Independence, yet the Scots Anglo-Scottish Wars
Dates 12961328,
were not fighting to gain their freedom, but rather to hold on to the independence they already had. 133257
Location Southern
Scotland and northern

ohn Balliols coronation in 1292 higher ground above the river until sitting ducks. The arrows opened England
was an uneasy compromise to the the English vanguard had crossed the up gaping holes in their formations
succession of King Alexander III of narrow bridge, after which they surged through which the English knights
Scotland. Far from respecting Balliols downhill en masse. Seizing the bridge, could charge. Hundreds died as Wallaces
rule, Edward I of England insisted on the Scots set about the English armys revolt met its bloody end.
his overlordship. Balliol looked to France advance-party, while Surrey and his family was not in a forgiving mood.
for support, forging an alliance in 1295. remaining troops looked on helplessly The road to Bannockburn Supported by Edward I, they surprised
Edward reacted from the other Wallace escaped to France and did not Robert at Methven, west of Perth, in
furiously, invading SCHILTRON Square or circular formation side of the river. return until 1303. He was caught and 1306, almost wiping out his force.
Scotland. His army of infantry, with pikes presented outwards Psychology did executed in 1305. The year after, the Robert was reduced to ghting a
sacked Berwick- to create an impregnable wall of spikes to the rest: although young Robert the Bruce killed his rival, guerrilla war. In April 1307, his men
upon-Tweed before ward off enemy cavalry. Wallaces victory John Comyn, in a quarrel and ascended rolled giant boulders down a steep
defeating the Scots had by no means the Scottish throne as Robert I. Comyns hillside onto an unsuspecting English
at Dunbar, forcing John Balliol been complete, the demoralized Earl
to abdicate. Edward carried off the of Surrey ordered his men to retreat
Stone of Scone, on which the kings from the battle.
of Scotland had traditionally been Enraged, Edward then led a second
crowned, and placed it in Londons invasion, with 10,000 infantry and
Westminster Abbey. 2,000 knights. On July 22, 1298, he met
Wallace at Falkirk, south of Stirling.
Wallaces uprising Heavily outnumbered, the Scottish
The following year, the Scots patriot knights ed. Formed up in defensive
William Wallace led a rebellion of schiltrons, however, the spearmen
minor nobles against the English. On held rm, exacting heavy
September 11, 1297, they met the Earl casualties on Edwards army.
of Surreys army at Stirling Bridge over In response, the English
the Forth River. Three hundred Scottish king brought up his reliable
knights were matched against ten times longbowmen: the Scots in
as many English cavalry, while some their static schiltrons were
10,000 Scots infantry faced up to more
than 50,000 English. Fight to the death
The heroism of Wallaces victory has Soldiers slug it out with bow and arrow,
justly been acclaimed, but the battle sword and ax, in this illustration from the
was also a triumph of tactical cunning Holkham Bible, written just a few years after
and discipline. The Scots waited on the battle of Bannockburn.


There was no such thing as Britain during power of the native-born princes was over,
the Middle Ages. Instead, there were two and Prince of Wales became a new title
separate kingdomsEngland and Scotlandand awarded to the English rulers son and heir.
an autonomous principality, Wales.
ENGLANDS PRE-EMINENCE The death of Alexander IIIs
England had size and wealth, but granddaughter in Scotland
the integrity of Scotland and Wales sparked a crisis in 1290.
went unquestioned. English kings The kings sons had already
had enough diculty keeping died, so the succession lay
their existing realm together: their open, with 14 claimants,
hold on the north was always shaky. including Robert the Bruce,
the Competitor. Edward I
THE INVASION OF WALES judged the decision, demanding
Stronger than his predecessors, king Edward I invaded the right of overlordshipthat of supreme lord
Wales in 1277 to punish the deance of Prince or feudal superiora right that was angrily
Llewelyn. When the latter rebelled in 1282, Edward rejected by the Scots. Robert had a sonalso
invaded again, smashing Welsh resistance and Robert the Bruceas determined as his father that
building a chain of castles to cement his rule. The Scotland should be the kingdom of the Bruces.

A N G L O - S C OT T I S H W A R S

army in Glen Trool, Galloway. Although front of his own lines on open ground. English bow and arrows
not much of a battle, Bruce took his He wore no armor and carried only The continuing inability of the English mounted
triumphs where he could nd them. a battle-ax. The knight charged, lance knights to deal with the schiltron of the Scottish
Edward I died in the summer of 1307. lowered for the kill. Refusing to inch infantry prompted a move toward mass
His son and successor, Edward II, was in sight of his watching soldiers, Robert deployment of longbowmen.
weak and indecisive, though he could calmly sidestepped and swung his ax,
still call upon a big and powerful army. splitting the Englishmans helmet and Diminishing returns
skull wide open. The moment was an Bannockburn was Scotlands nest

700 The number of villages in

Northumberland that were
burned to the ground by William Wallace
omen for the next days battle.
Again, the Scots formed schiltrons.
Yet, in the years since Falkirk, the
hour. Deposed in 1327, Edward II was
succeeded by his son, Edward III. The
king made common cause with the
and his army in the aftermath of his troops had learned to advance without disgruntled disinherited faction (the
victory at Stirling Bridge in 1297. losing formation: the schiltron was no Balliols and their supporters) against
longer purely defensive. As the Scots Robert the Bruces young son, King
Over 2,000 knights and some 14,000 advanced, their enemy was forced back. David II. In 1332 John Balliols son,
infantrymen came north with him in The English ed, many dying in the Edward, defeated the Scottish army
1314. They met Roberts army south of stampede across the Bannock Burn. at Dupplin Moor near Perth. By July
Stirling, in open country beside a 1333 Berwick was under siege, and
streamthe Bannock Burn. the English inicted a shattering defeat
On June 23, during their preliminary at Halidon Hill. The town surrendered.
maneuvers, an English knight spotted
Robert the Bruce on his horse out in Dunstaffnage castle
As a stronghold of the Balliol cause, this 12th-century
fortress outside Oban in the west of Scotland was
besieged by Robert the Bruce in 1308 following the
battle of the Pass of Brander.


The capture of Berwick was a key turning

point: the way was now open for the
English, and the Scots could mount no
credible defense against them.

The full-scale conquest and occupation
of the country appeared inevitable. The Scots
oered small-scale resistance with hit-and-run
attacks and skirmishes, but knew they could
not win a head-on confrontation with the
English. Their strategy of harrying and hoping
was to succeed beyond their wildest dreams.
Englands momentum in Scotland slowly ebbed
away through the 1330s and beyond, with
Edward increasingly preoccupied with his
hostilities with France 10203 gg.

In 1357 David II signed the Treaty of Berwick
with Edward III, agreeing that the English king
should succeed him in Scotland on his death. The
Scots as a nation never accepted this, however,
appointing their own king, Robert II, when
David died in 1371.

The Anglo-Scottish conict continued.
Scotland remained its own kingdom, even after
the devastating defeat at Flodden in 1513. A
dynastic crisis forced the Union of the Crowns
in 1603James VI becoming James I of England
when Elizabeth I died childless. Full union of the
two countries did not come until 1707.



Medieval Spain was rst conquered by

the Moors in the 8th century, with many
regions soon falling under the authority
The Spanish Reconquista
of the caliphate of Crdoba. The identity of Spain was forged in fighting; the Reconquistathe reconquest of those territories
taken by the Moorswas, for centuries, the guiding project of the nation. These wars became the
Since the prophet Muhammad rst proclaimed stuff of legend for subsequent generations, but the reality was often messy and confused.
his message in the 7th century, a series of Arab

conquests had spread the word of Islam he Spanish Reconquista started as A boat departs for the crusades
through much of the known world. Crossing a ght for survival and became a Equipped for action and clad in armor,
the Straits of Gibraltar, the Moors (the Muslim power struggle, only gradually did Spanish knights of the 13th century show
inhabitants of North Africa) had taken most it take on the character of a crusade. By their commitment to a strongly militarized
of Spain ff 6465. Their advance in Western the middle of the 8th century, the Moors version of the Christian faith.
Europe had been held by the Franks at the battle had occupied almost the entire Iberian
of Poitiers ff 6869, but this left almost all of Peninsula. In 722, however, amid the small-scale turf wars. Combat
the Iberian Peninsula in Moorish hands. Only in mountains of Asturias to the north, the was mostly between mounted
a tiny pocket, in the mountains of Asturias in the Muslims had been held by the local knights: any local peasants
far north, did Christian rulers still hold sway. who might have made up

The number of towers in the the infantry were usually
A GLITTERING KINGDOM fortified walls encircling the needed on the land. At the
Most of what we think of today as Portugal and Spanish city of vila. same time, there were truces
Spain were under the control of the caliphate of in ghting with the Muslims
Crdoba, proclaimed in 929 by Abd ar-Rahman Visigothic ruler, Pelayo, at the battle of some of them of long duration.
III. The Moors referred to their Spanish kingdom Covadonga. Here, at least, the idea of Frankish incursions across the Pyrenees, The Moors had their own divisions,
as al-Andalus: centered on the south, in the a Christian Spain endured. the kingdoms of Navarra, Aragn, and with inequalities between the Arab elite
region known today as Andaluca, it was a place of In the centuries that followed, the Catalonia emerged. Although this was and the North African Berber rank-and-
region of Asturias not only ourished a patchwork of little states that warred le leading at times to tension and, in
MOZARAB A Christian living in but managed to extend its boundaries. as much with one another as with the some cases, open conict.
Moorish Spain who had adopted In 910, indeed, it was divided into two. Moors, all of northern Spain had now The Reconquista was more messy
many aspects of Muslim culture. A new kingdom, Galicia, was established fallen into Christian hands. and confusing than the later mythology
Mudejars, conversely, were Muslims in the west, with a new state centerd would have us believe. The story of
living under Christian rule. on Len. Next to this, the kingdom of War without end the renowned El Cid is case in point.
Castile was created: the two later united Within these little kingdoms too, Rodrigo Daz de Vivar
wealth and culture. Toledo, the Visigothic as the kingdom of Castile and Len in conict was very much the norm, (c.104599) was a truly
capital of the country, became a major center the 11th century. To the east, following with local lords locked in endless formidable gure; but
under the Moors as well. After quarrels among
the rulers of the al-Andalus, this region went its Castillo de Loarre
separate way, becoming an independent From its perch in the Pyrenean foothills
kingdom under the control of the caliphate. in Aragn, this 11th-century stronghold
commanded what was then the border
between Navarra and Muslim Zaragoza.

True believers, ght against

the indels who are near you,
and be hard on them

F R AN C E Fortunes of war
Oviedo to France Toulouse
Santiago de The Reconquista only appears continuous and
Compostela BARN Carcassonne
NAVARRA inexorable in retrospect: the frontier was porous; The Reconquista substantially molded
L ICIA Len Pyrenees
GA Pamplona ANDORRA loyalties either side of it were divided. Very early-modern Spainvery much for the
LEN Burgos Huesca Girona
gradually, however, the Christian kingdoms worse, it might be argued. Religious and
Valladolid C ATA L O N I A extended their influence over southern Spain. political conformity was rigidly enforced.
Oporto 1118 Lrida
Eb Barcelona


Coimbra vila A Tortosa Under Christian control by 1100 1469 saw the accession of the Catholic Monarchs,
Teruel G 1148
Mallorca Under Christian control by 1180 Ferdinand and Isabella. Their marriage brought

Alcntara Toledo
Santarm Tagus 1085 Palma Under Christian control by 1280 the kingdoms of Navarra, Aragn, and Castile
Sagrajas 1086 Valencia 1229 Under Christian control by 1492 together into a single Spain, so they were catholic
Cuarte 1238
Lisbon C A S T I L E 1096 Ibiza Balearic Frontier of Almoravid Empire c.1115 in the sense of being universal. But they were
1147 Badajoz Calatrava
Alarcos Islands
Alcacer vora 1230 1195 Las Navas de Frontier of Almohad Empire c.1180 also Catholic in the religious sense: indeed,
1217 Tolosa 1212 Alicante
a Frontiers 1493 the royal couple were fanatical in their faith and
Seville Murcia
Ourique 1139
Jan 1246 1243 Se 1230 Date of reconquest in their insistence that it should be practiced
Silves A l g a r v e n
Andaluca Lorca
n ea Christian victory throughout their territories. Under their authority,
Jerez Granada 1488
Faro e and that of their successors, the Inquisition
dit Muslim victory
1231 1492
1249 Almera
Cdiz Tarifa Mlaga sought to root out not only Christian heretics
1262 1292
Tangier Ceuta 1415 less comfortable under the Almoravids. but anyone
to Portugal Z AY YA N I D S After one audacious raid, King Alfonso observing the
brought 10,000 of them back with him rites of Islam
AFRICA for resettlement along the Ebro in the (or, for that
0 200km far northwest. matter, of
0 200 miles In 1139 another Alfonso won a Judaism).
victory, defeating the Almoravids at The desire to
he was also a profoundly ambivalent to their consternation. A Berber Ourique, in what is now the south of purge society
one, as his very nickname shows. Cid movement, dedicated to both moral Portugal. Here, Alfonso Henriques, son of every trace
is no Spanish word, but comes from and spiritual renewal within Islam, of Henry of Burgundy, who also claimed of its Islamic
the Arabic sayyidi (chief or boss). the Almoravids disapproved of the the title of Count of Portugal, led his past led to an
He was a warlord, loyal mainly to easygoing attitudes they found in considerably outnumbered Christian obsession with ideas of limpieza (racial and
himself. Amid the complicated Moorish Spain, and now set about army to a victory. In the cold light of religious cleanness or purity).
realities of a rapidly changing transforming it into their own kind military history, this result, although
situation, he found himself of aggressively Islamic state. unexpected, seems to have been the ACROSS THE OCEAN
ghting on the Muslim side The Almoravids started reversing consequence of failing communication The nal expulsion of the Moors, as it happened,
on more than one occasion. the conquests of the Christians, but met and disagreements on the Moorish side. coincided with Columbuss discovery of America.
Though real, religious their match in 1094 at Valencia. El Cid Not unnaturally, the Christians were The opening up of a New Spain in the colonial
oppositions sometimes paled took the southeastern city after a overjoyed at this most unexpected Americas was to be justied as a continuation of
into insignicance beside siege of 20 months: he set up triumph and were quick to attribute the Christianizing struggle of the Reconquista.
other enmities. It was as ruler there, ostensibly in it to divine agency.
not unusual for Muslim Alfonsos name. In many It was in fact this triumph that
and Christian leaders ways, El Cid was the last in brought the modern country into
to form alliances a line whose attitude to the being. Alfonso declareddefying Almohad Caliph, came from Morocco
against rivals in their struggle with the Muslims Castile and Lenthat he intended to and took personal command of the
own camps. Even so, by remained opportunistic. But reign over his conquered territory as kingdoms armies. He inicted a
slow degrees Christian kings such pragmatism was becoming Afonso I of Portugal. That countrys shattering defeat on Alfonso VIII in the
were extending their sphere of unacceptable. Even as the Almoravids capital, Lisbon, was liberated following battle of Alarcos, earning himself the
inuence: in 1074 Ferdinand I were changing the tone of the conict a six-week siege by crusaders en route title, by which he is still remembered,
of Len took Coimbra, now in on the Muslim side, there was a clear for the Holy Land: the local bishop al-Mansur (the Victor).
Portugal, from the Moors. shift on the side of the Christians too. promised them the right of rape and
The calling of the First Crusade in plunder in the city in return. Final victory
Holy war 1099 placed the conict with the The Almoravids found themselves The Disaster of Alarcos was followed
In 1077 Alfonso VI, king of Moors in a new perspective, as a faced with another enemy in the 12th by other reversals for Alfonso. But at
Castile, announced that he was sacred struggle to reclaim Iberia century. This time, they were Muslim. the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa, he
the Emperor of all Spain. No for the creed of Christ. These were the Almohads, also Berbers, won his revenge. Leading his army
longer content to tussle with his and also seeking Islamic renewal. stealthily over the mountains of
fellow kings, he saw himselfin On the offensive Having already Andaluca, he
aspiration, at leastas ruler of
the peninsula as a whole. He
captured Toledo, until then the
It was a struggle the Christians seemed
to be winning: in 1118 King Alfonso I
of Aragn and Navarra took the city
taken over the
territories of the
Almoravids in
30,000 The number of

killed at the battle of Alarcos, 1195,

sprang a surprise
Christian combatants attack upon the
Almohads. The vast
center of a rich and prestigious of Zaragoza. El Batallador (The North Africa, according to chroniclers of the day. Muslim armyby
Muslim state. Battler) soon made deep inroads into establishing Muslim losses were fewer than 500. all accounts up to
Thrown into panic, the rulers the south, where Christian Mozarabs their capital at 300,000 strong,
of al-Andalus called on assistance happy under Moorish rule for many Marrakesh, they invaded al-Andalus in although this amount is dubious
from the Almoravids, who had generationswere nding life a lot 1147. In doing so, they reversed what was all but exterminated in the brutal
recently taken power in North had been the gradual weakening in ghting. The Reconquista had acquired
Africa. The Almoravids went on El Cids sword Moorish resistance to the Reconquista. unstoppable momentum. Even so, the
to beat Alfonso at the battle of An inscription claims that this weapon is Tizona, Even so, the northern kingdoms struggle was to continue for the best
Sagrajas in 1086. But their ght the legendary sword of El Cid. Metallurgical scented victory and pressed hard to part of three centuries: it would not be
was only just beginning, as the analysis has shown that the steel blade was repel them. Begged by his ofcials in until 1492 that the Moors were nally
elite of al-Andalus found out forged in Crdoba in the 11th century. al-Andalus, Abu Yusuf Yaqub, the expelled from Granada.

The triumph of the longbow
Longbowmen and crossbowmen fire at point-blank

range in this stylized 15th-century depiction of the
battle. It was the longbowmen who determined the
outcomeand changed military history for ever.

The long and bloody story of the Hundred Years War was to have
many more twists before it ended: the English victors in the battle
at Crcy in northern France in August 1346 would go on to lose the
war. But Crcy was still decisive: it was not just an army that was
defeated that day, but the mounted knight, his military function,
andabove allhis whole ethos, the code of chivalry he stood for.

he English were in good heart on unnerving the soldiers as the sky grew
crossing the sea to Normandy. ominously dark. Suddenly, lightning
Their landing had not been ashed, thunder clapped, and the
expected by the French. They all but heavens opened. Then, just as abruptly,
sauntered into Caen, liberating large the skies cleared, the downpour ceased,
quantities of wine before continuing on and the sun came out again. Now,
their way. Longbowmen slipped off though, it glinted on the armor of the
into wayside woods, returning with English knights, dazzling the French.
deer and other game. Edward III and
his army were living the high life. A deadly rain
In the French front line stood Genoese
A demoralized army crossbowmen, cruelly exposed: they
The French, though at home and had not had time to unpack their long
numerically much stronger, felt far less shields, and their bowstrings were
cheerful. Mobilized in haste, they were soggy from the rain. Dispirited, they
exhausted from their forced march broke as battle commenced and the
north. Undersupplied, they were rst English and Welsh arrows hit
hungry and dehydrated. Even in home. As they ran, the French knights
Picardys green countryside there was contemptuously cut them down.
not enough water for their thousands The French cavalry charged, and the
of horses. Besides having no fewer than air again turned blackwith showers
three commandersPhilip VI himself, of English and Welsh arrows. Panic and
blind King John of Bohemia, and confusion gripped the French. The
Charles, Count of Alenonthe French archers shot so marvellously, recorded
army was top-heavy with knights and the 14th-century Flemish chronicler
nobles. It felt paradoxically leaderless. Jean le Bel, that some of those on
Edwards men were lined up along a horseback, feeling these barbed arrows
ridge, with his longbowmen (up to which did such wonders, would not
10,000-strong) under the command of advance, while others ... capered
his sonthe Black Prince, Edward, hideously, and others turned their
Prince of Walesgrouped in wedges on backs on the enemy. Chaos became
either side. The French would have to carnage, the hill a heaving mass of
attack uphill and brave the arrows as screaming men and horses.
they advanced on the English center. Nightfall ended the slaughter. The
An unsettling stillness fell upon the French had been trouncedand the
sultry summers afternoon. Rooks mounted, armored knight humbled by
descended in huge, chattering ocks, the low-born longbowman.

0 1km
Picardy, northern France
0 1 mile
August 26, 1346
EDWARD KING PHILIP French: 25,00060,000;
English: 10,00020,000

Crcy 2 French cavalry French: probably 4,000 dead;
charge into path of
retreating Genoese English: 200 dead
1 English and Welsh

longbowmen disperse French infantry

Genoese crossbowmen Fontaine French cavalry
Genoese crossbowmen
N English, Welsh, and Irish infantry
English and Welsh longbowmen


The Hundred Years War held at a distance by Edwards archers:

every time the French charged, a fresh
blizzard of arrows cut them down.
Edward now turned his attention
to Calais: its defenses seemed just about
The insistence of Englands kings that they had the right to reign over France as well sparked off impregnable, so he resigned himself to
a conflict which continued on and off for more than a century. Over that period, developments in a lengthy siege. It took almost a year to
starve the city into submission. Edward
military tactics and the advent of firearms technology gradually changed the face of medieval warfare. brought in settlers to make this crucial
port an outpost of England. (It became

n October 19, 1337, Edward III Poleax an important center for the wool trade.)
B E F O R E wrote to Philip VI of France, Three weapons in one, the poleax had a spike for
upbraiding him as a usurper, thrusting, an ax-head for chopping, and a hammer for Siege and slaughter
our enemy and adversary. However, crushing: the shaft was protected by steel The year 1347 saw the destructive
In the 1300s England and France were uid declaring war was one thing, strips, or langets. power of humanity eclipsed by that
concepts; kings and lords meant more than actually waging it another: of the Black Death. Up to a third of the
nation-states. The Plantagenet kings were Edward faced a frustrating population of Northern Europe may
rooted in English society and tied to France. struggle to fund his ght. Edward IIIs son, Edward, have been killed by the bubonic plague;
Not until 1340 was battle Prince of Wales or the Black serious hostilities had to be suspended
SOURED RELATIONS joined: on June 24 English and Prince. Although the English for some years. By the 1350s, though,
Suspicion between England and France had French eets clashed at Sluys, off had a few cannontheir rst the English were ready to start ghting
existed since the Norman Conquest of 1066 Flanders, whose independence known appearance on the battleeld again. The Black Prince ravaged the
ff7071. William and his Edward had promised to defend in Western historythey did not country as he launched a chevauche
successors had been kings against French encroachments. The shape the battle. Instead, it was the a campaign of plunder and slaughter
in England, with lands in battle of Sluys was not so much a innovative use of an ancient intended to demoralize the French and
Normandy and Aquitaine, but naval encounter as a land battle at
only vassals of the kings of
France. They disliked deferring
to the countrys kings. Anglo-
sea. The French had chained their
ships together to form a wall, but
while this presented a solid front, it
We shall claim and conquer
French relations were not
helped by Louis VIII of
made their decks into a continuous
battleeld. Longbowmen aboard
our heritage of France
France. He had aided the English vessels rained arrows LETTER FROM EDWARD III TO PHILIP VI OF FRANCE, 1337
mutinous English nobles on to the advancing French eet,
in their attempt to softening up any resistance before weaponthe longbowdeployed deplete their resources. In 1356 the
topple King John boarding parties were dispatched. here en masse. On the Black Princes French, under Jean II, tried to make a
in the rst Barons The French held out for eight signal, says chronicler Jean Froissart, stand at Poitiers; as at Crcy, their army
War of 121517. bloody hours, but were eventually The English archers took one pace massively outnumbered Englands.
forced to capitulateup to 18,000 forward and poured out their arrows Again, though, the longbow won the
A WEAKENED KING soldiers and sailors were killed. Yet, so thickly and evenly that they fell day, causing dreadful casualties among
As Duke of Aquitaine, Englands Edward II became despite the loss of their eet, the like snow. The carnage was horric, the French while the English went
exasperated with being an underling to successive French were by no means beaten. compounded by the heavy cannon
kings of France: in 1324 his anger boiled over re that followed. What was most Hostilities begin
in the War of Saint-Sardos. Edward was An unequal struggle discouraging for the French was the During the naval battle of Sluys in 1340, the French fleet
defeated and found his position on both sides Small-scale skirmishes and truces fact that they never actually engaged were tied together in a defensive wallunable to move,
of the Channel weakened. His French queen, alternated until, in 1346, Edward III their English enemy. Trained for they were at the mercy of the English. The triumph gave
Isabella, was sent to negotiate on his behalf, and invaded France. He landed at Calais close-quarters ghting, they were England control of the Channel for the rest of the war.
Edward of Windsor, the future Edward III, was but, for the moment at least, ignored
left in no doubt of his fathers humiliation. the port city. Instead, his soldiers
advanced inland, burning and looting
CLAIMS TO THE THRONE along the way. At Crcy they found a
Frances throne had been left vacant when the French army waiting.
Capetian line became extinct with the death Though the English were hugely
of Charles IV in 1328. His rst cousin, Philip VI, outnumbered, there were other
succeeded him. However, Englands Edward III inequalities to be considered: Philips
was the late kings nephewhis mother, Isabella, 40,000 troops were largely untrained
had been Charless sister. His claims were not

without merit, even though they came The number of English knights
through a female line. believed to have been killed at
the battle of Crcy. Fewer than
300 footsoldiers fell. But more
than 1,500 French knights were killed
and several thousand infantry.

Hundred Years War and his nobles distracted by faction-

Dates 13371453 ghting. Edward arrayed his men
Location Chiey
along a ridge in a V-formation. His
northern France, also
Flanders and Gascony 5,000 spearmen were in the center,
his mounted knights (4,000 in all)
on either side, and divided between
the anks, some 7,000 longbowmen.
They were under the command of

The siege of Orlans looked across the Channel to a France either side, so the French soldiers
The English used artillery, the French hand-cannon, divided by discord. His invasion of 1415 could not fully exploit their advantage. AF TER
but firepower lost out to inspiration. After six months began disastrously, though: he lost half The majority of their knights were
of stalemate from 142829, Joan of Arcs counter-attacks his men to the plague within weeks of preparing to ght on foot, while the
lifted the Siege of Orleans in just nine days. landing in Normandy. The survivors set rear ranks remained mounted: once So protracted a conict could not help but
off for Calais but soon found themselves the ghting started, they swept around have a lasting impact on both countries.
substantially unscathed. A truce of sorts facing a huge French army at Agincourt. to charge the English longbowmen on Enmity between France and England
was agreed, the ghting aring up once More than 20,000 French soldiers either ank. After their earlier defeats, continued for centuries afterward.
more in the 1360s before subsiding from faced fewer than 8,000 Englishmen. the French were intent on neutralizing
the 1380s onward. When Henry V But while the battle was fought on open the threat of archers at the outset; but, FURTHER DIVISIONS
ascended the English throne in 1413, he ground, woods hemmed the men in on forced back by the hail of arrows, they When Pope Julius II quarrelled with France in the
became snarled up in their own lines, 16th century, King Henry VIII of England took
leaving the entire French force in a state the pontis side. But the kings own falling-out
of confusion as the English advance with the Church did nothing to improve relations:
JOAN OF ARC began. It was Crcy and Poitiers again; rather, the Reformation drove a further
another victory for the English longbow. wedge between Protestant England and Catholic
A peasants daughter, Joan of Arc was just But the archers ascendancy was of France. Henry hoped to use the religious conict
16 when, in 1428, she appeared out of short duration. Gunpowder was playing to extend his French possessions. In the event,
nowhere, citing an order from God to drive a more important part in a conict that though, Mary I lost the port of Calais in 1558.
the English out of France. She promised to was settling down into a series of sieges.
lead her countrymen to victory over the However, it had a function in the eld ENDURING ENMITY
invaders and, won round by her conviction, of battle too. Improved alloys allowed The two countries clashed again during the
Charles VII had her tted with armor. The the manufacture of more powerful, French Wars of Religion 13435gg, the
girl-soldier led the French to several stable cannons, which, in 1453, would reign of Louis XIV 15253gg, and in the
important victories. In 1430, however, she deliver a deadly counterblast against War of the Spanish Succession 15455gg.
was captured by the English. Still only 19, the English archers at Castillon. Later Indeed, it was not until the second half of the
she was burned at the stake as a witch, that same year, Bordeaux was taken 19th century that France and Britain were able
though she was later revered as a patriotic and the English army was at last to build an enduring friendship.
martyr and, eventually, canonized in 1920. expelled. Calais apart, France belonged
to the French Crown.






SWORD (1860)

(1000 CE)






A weapon, a personal talisman, a mark of rank, a status symbol: for centuries the
bu INDIAN TULWAR (1801) sword was all these things. But even though it has become obsolete on the battlefield,
the sword is still regarded by many to be the eternal accoutrement of the warrior.

1 This German Bronze-Age sword dates from about O
7 This European swept-hilt rapier was a thrusting infantry
1000 BCE. It was designed for slashing and was often more weapon. The rapier was also the duellers weapon of choice.
eective than a spear. O
2 Viking swords were made of iron. O
8 The basket-hilted broadsword is closely associated with
In use from the rst millennium, iron was stronger than the 18th-century Scottish Highlander. O
9 The khanda was
bl TURKISH SABER (19TH CENTURY) bronze and could be pattern-weldedblending separate bits the sword of choice for Indias Sikhs of the 19th century.
of iron to form a stronger, longer whole. O
3 This medieval O
bk The Indian tulwar originated in Persia and was the
Italian sword from the 15th century had its blade quenched typical sword of Mogul India. The curved blade is traditionally
in water for extra toughness; a crossguard helped protect the Indian. O bl This Turkish saber from the Ottoman empire is
users hand. O4 This Highland hand-and-a-half sword inscribed with texts from the Koran. O bm This Turkish-style
was developed in Scotland in the 16th century. It was light, kilij, or scimitar, evolved from the sabers of the steppe
yet powerful, and could be wielded with either one or two warriors; the yelman, or aring toward the tip, enhanced
hands, hence its name. O 5 The katana of the 16th century its cutting power. O
bn The hanger was issued to English
is the archetypal Samurai Sword. O6 This double-handed foot soldiers in the 19th century. It is a variation of a short
broadsword was made to be wielded with both hands. It was hunting sword. O bo This Model 1850 infantry sword was
not designed as a piercing weapon and has a blunt end. worn, but not much used, by Union ocers.