Updated February 12, 2020 Alexander the Great, King of Macedon from 336 - 323 B.C., may claim the title of the greatest military leader the world has ever known. After their first victory, the Macedonians went to the south, where the Persian stronghold Sardes surrendered and the Macedonians could occupy Greek cities like Ephesus, Priene, and Miletus. After subduing all of the Persian Empire, his army marched east and got as far as India before turning back home to Macedon. Three years before, an army of Macedonians and Greeks had crossed to Asia behind the young king of Macedonia, Alexander III, known better to history as Alexander the Great. This created just enough slack in the Persian line for Alexander to strike. When Alexander was young, he was taught to fight and ride by Leonidas of Epirus, a relative of his mother Olympias, as well as to endure hardships such as forced marches. Alexander the Great is regarded as one of the most influential people in history. He camped the Macedonian army in the hills above the battle site to fuel up and rest while he drew up a game plan. Philip reorganized all of Macedonian society around a professional army and raised elite fighting forces of infantry, cavalry, javelin throwers and archers. (136 kg) of supplies over a long distance. The book begins by outlining the basics concerning how to move an army in the ancient world and the difficulties of keeping a large army supplied as it moves along a campaign. But he never made it home. FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. a) Cavalry. According to Arrian, Alexander used Arachosian, Bactrian, Parapamisadaean, Sogdian, Indian, and Scythian troops. The Macedonian Phalanx, a rectangular infantry formation, was developed by Philip II of Macedon and used by his son Alexander the Great to conquer other armies. According to legend, Alexander killed Darius’ chariot driver and almost captured the Persian king before he fled once again on horseback. After quickly dispatching a small regional army near the town of Granicus, Alexander had his first real test against Darius and his Persian Royal Army near the coastal city of Issus. Previous wars such as the Persian and Peloponnesian War had demonstrated that the old ways were no longer dependable. The Macedonian Phalanx, a rectangular infantry formation, was... Alexander Used Political Campaigns to Rule Greece. Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group/Getty Image. Darius still commanded a massive army, but Persia was receding on the world stage while Macedon had the momentum of an ascendant military super power. Alexander owed a tremendous debt to his father for leaving him a world-class army led by experienced and loyal generals. On their way back along the Indus, Alexander was wounded by Malli warriors. The Persians, fearing a night attack, remained in ready formation all night, anxiously awaiting a charge that never came. Darius grew frustrated with the lack of progress, so he sent in another 10,000 cavalry, almost his entire left flank. Alexander the Great takes power. He would draw enemy troops toward one flank, then wait for a momentary gap to open up in the center of the enemy lines for a head-first cavalry charge. Just as he did with his father at Chaeronea, Alexander personally led the Macedonian cavalry charge at Issus, which cut right to the heart of the Persian defenses, just as planned. How Alexander the Great Conquered the Persian Empire Philip II Left Alexander the Great a Fierce Army. In all the battles he participated, Alexander the Great led from the front of the battle. Alexander III, king of the ancient state of Macedon, is often heralded as one of history’s greatest military commanders. This did not include camp followers. In the interim, Darius regrouped and called in reinforcements from the East, while Alexander marched his army South into Egypt. His empire spread from Gibraltar to the Punjab, and he made Greek the lingua franca of his world, the language that helped spread early Christianity. Next lesson. Alexander the Great was one of the most talented generals who ever existed, but he was helped a great deal by his exceptional army. The Battle of Issus, in which Alexander the Great secured a decisive victory over Darius III of Persia. At dawn, the Macedonians took the battlefield. Alexander counter-struck with a regiment of 1,500 mercenaries tasked with holding the right-hand position. The Battle of the Granicus: May 334 BC. The vast Eurasian empire that Alexander the Great (356–323 B.C.) and defeated an all-star alliance of Athens and Thebes at the Battle of Chaeronea. There has been considerable debate as to when Alexander first used Orien… During the 4th century B.C., no man understood that better than Alexander the Great. But Persia’s rule as a dominant empire would finally be brought to an end by a brilliant military and political strategist, Alexander the Great. Rise of Rome. The two armies wouldn’t meet again for another two years. Most historians of Alexander's campaigns have stated that the sufferings of his men on that march were out of all proportion greater than anything they had had to endure in Asia. Twice a week we compile our most fascinating features and deliver them straight to you. He and 80 officers wedded Persian women to get the ball rolling in the hay. It was a wide, flat valley that, unlike Issus, would allow the Persians to take full advantage of their lopsided numbers, an estimated 250,000 Persian troops facing off against Alexander’s 50,000. “Just as Darius begins the charge, the Macedonians launch a devastating cavalry attack that goes right into the gap cunningly created by Alexander’s tactics,” says Wrightson. Gone was the shorter “dory” or Greek wooden spear (7 feet long), and in its place was the much longer sarissa, an 18- to 22-foot hunting spear with an iron tip that could puncture heavy armor and impale charging cavalry horses. He immediately initiated a series of military reforms. The historic centers of Greek power were the city-states of Athens, Sparta and Thebes to the south, whose leaders regarded the Macedonians as barbarians. The battle served as a coming-out party for 18-year-old Alexander, who bravely led the Macedonian cavalry charge that broke through the Athenian ranks and secured victory for the upstart kingdom. Even the way soldiers bathed was tightly regulated. While staying in the ancient Mesopotamian city of Opis, Alexander made the controversial decision to send Macedonian veterans home, sparking fears that he intended to relocate the capital of his empire to Asia.Â. He also worked hard in other ways to maintain the l… However he ensured they were well-fed. But he would try his troops' patience too much, prompting his remarkable army to mutiny. It was remarkable, mainly, because it was a standing army. Alexander the Great recognized that rigorous discipline, unity, and uniformity were the lifeblood of his killing machine, aka his massive army. Alexander III was born in 356 B.C. One of history’s first true super powers, the Persian Empire stretched from the borders of India down through Egypt and up to the northern borders of Greece. While we tend to think of Alexander’s whole army, including his Phalangite phalanx, as an elite force, Alexander had his own core of hand-picked expert troops. In the century leading up to Alexander’s reign, Persia was furthered weakened by a civil war and other internal rebellions. When a man was killed, another rose to take his place. According to an anecdote told by Macedonian author Polyaenus, Philip once dismissed a mercenary officer "for taking a warm bath, which apparently even Macedonian women would not do after giving birth." The highest positions were in the Royal Companion Cavalry, the king’s own personal squadron, and in the Royal Hypaspists, an elite 500-man infantry unit that surrounded the king in battle. At Issus, Alexander debuted the battle strategy that would assure him victory after victory during his remarkable reign of conquest. It is not clear if the definition of “companion” came from the fact that … … Per the Ancient History Encyclopedia, the king proclaimed, "Remember upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all.". In the autumn of 331 bc, Alexander the Great won a decisive victory over the Great King Darius III of Persia at the Battle of Gaugamela. All Rights Reserved. Jeff Bezos Reportedly Considers Himself the Alexander the Great of Modern Exploitation Jezebel - Emily Alford. When Alexander returned to Persia from his Egyptian conquests, Darius tried to delay the inevitable clash as long as possible, eventually deciding that if there was going to be a rematch, it would be on Daruis’ terms. It could carry more than either a mule or horse, being able to transport 300 lb. But he would try his troops' patience too much, prompting his remarkable army to mutiny. Armed with a military juggernaut, the Macedonian monarch turned islands, mainlands, and almost every other land in the known world into his empire. A stunned Darius reportedly hopped on his horse and fled, with the rest of his army close behind. Backed by his shiny new army, Philip marched south in 338 B.C. But before Alexander could push into Persia, he had to take care of business back home. OK, there was no such thing as high school in the fourth … The troops wore uniforms to foster cohesion and drilled tirelessly to master the tightly packed phalanx formation that Philip innovated. Diadochi and the Hellenistic Period. “As soon as Alexander came to the throne, he openly stated that he would carry on his father’s plans,” says Graham Wrightson, a history professor at South Dakota State University and author of Combined Arms Warfare in Ancient Greece. Alexander was able to train regiments from across his empire; at the great review of his forces in 324BC, there were apparently 120,000 men in his army, including contingents from Arachosia, Bactria, Sogdia, India, Scythia, and Egypt. No other Greek city-state other than Sparta was able to keep an army permanently mobilised. His father, Philip, was interested in cultivating a refined future king and so hired Lysimachus of Acarnania to teach the boy reading, writing, and to play the lyre. India proved to be much bigger than the Macedonians had supposed. The beneficiary of his father's brilliance, Alexander would prove to be an extremely skilled military strategist and amazing motivator who preached, "There is nothing impossible to him who will try." Our mission is to provide a free, world-class education to anyone, anywhere. Darius’ strategy was to cut off Alexander’s supply lines from behind and force the Macedonian troops to turn around and face off. Sort by: Top Voted. Alexander the Great, also known as Alexander III or Alexander of Macedonia, (born 356 bce, Pella, Macedonia [northwest of Thessaloníki, Greece]—died June 13, 323 bce, Babylon [near Al-Ḥillah, Iraq]), king of Macedonia (336–323 bce ), who overthrew the Persian empire, carried Macedonian arms to India, and laid the foundations for the Hellenistic world of territorial kingdoms. At the heart of the Persian army were the “Immortals,” an elite regiment of 10,000 infantrymen whose numbers never changed. Each soldier swore an oath of loyalty to the king. But Alexander will not be outplayed. Darius and his generals chose a battle site near the town of Gaugamela. The mouth of the Indus lay some 800 miles to the south, and they had not even seen the valley of the Ganges. The Reason Alexander The Great's Army Revolted. A Standing Army. This tutelage would instill in Alexander a lifelong love of reading and music. Appalled by the treasonous act, Alexander had the man tortured and executed before declaring himself the undisputed king of Macedonia, Greece, and now Persia. This is a child's book on Alexander. The Battle of the Hydaspes was Alexander’s last great pitched battle. Alexander's Army In the 4th century bc, the Macedonian army was the best in the world. For centuries this light-skinned, pagan people have claimed to be the long-lost descendants of Alexander the Great's world-conquering armies, which invaded this region in the fourth century B.C. The Battle of Gaugamela began on the morning of October 1, 331 bc, when two great armies drew up for battle to determine the destiny of empires. In battle, Alexander the Great personally led the charge at the head of the royal squadron of the Companion cavalry, usually in a wedge formation. Alexander responded with what’s known as his “pawn sacrifice” of several thousand troops destined to die as a set up for the final move. So as he turned his attention back to Persia, Alexander framed his campaign against the Achaemenid Empire as a patriotic retaliation for Persia’s failed invasion of the Greek mainland a century earlier. Much like Alexander the Great conquered the world by courting the loyalty of a vast army who worshipped him like a deity, Jeff Bezos apparently … It was Alexander’s father, Philip, who single-handedly transformed the Macedonian army into one of the most feared fighting machines in the ancient world. At the time of his … The Allied Greeks – Delving into the scope of the infantrymen, earlier we talked about how around … Battle Strategy. In the spring of 334, Alexander and Parmenion crossed the Hellespont and attacked the local Persian army, which was defeated near the river Granicus in the northwest of what is now called Turkey. Alexander recognized that rigorous discipline, unity, and uniformity were the lifeblood of his killing machine. The battle was the conclusion of his epic campaign to avenge the Persian invasion of Greece 150 years before. For more than two centuries, the Achaemenid Empire of Persia ruled the Mediterranean world. Immediately after Alexander was made king, Thebes rose up to challenge his authority—a big mistake. As Alexander and his elite Royal Companion Cavalry raced into the heart of the Persian defenses, they were momentarily surrounded by the enemy, but the experienced Macedonian sarissa regiments fought their way through. As Britannica recounts, he had vanquished Persia and triumphantly entered Egypt, which embraced him as "a deliverer." After suffering humiliating back-to-back defeats in Greece in the 5th-century B.C., Persia stopped expanding. Alexander the Great. But there were also signs that the Persian Empire was already in decline. The animist Kalash are outwardly different from the darker-skinned Pakistani Muslims who live in the lowlands below them, so it seemed plausible. Diadochi and the Hellenistic Period. This is the currently selected item. He invaded and vanquished part of India, only turning back after his war-weary army insisted. Weaponry also got an upgrade under Philip. Alexander the Great is one of the most extraordinary individuals in history. No man is an island unto himself, and no king conquers an island alone. Always the savvy strategist, Alexander knew that he couldn’t rule the Greek mainland by fear and brute force alone. A full-blown mutiny ensued. Then he ordered the entire Macedonian line to march quickly to the right. For a 32 page book, it does a pretty good job covering the Great King's history, with the usual caveats that apply to Alexander (very little actual primary sourcing and the secondary sources are written >150 years after his death). Roughly 12 years into his historic reign on the Macedonian throne, Alexander the Great had more than lived up to his epithet. Whether motivated by Greek pride or the spoils of imperial conquest, Alexander picked up where his father left off and marched into Persia in 334 BC, where his army of 50,000 would be tested against the largest and best-trained fighting force in the known world. The Greek city-states of Athens and Thebes weren’t thrilled to be under the thumb of “barbarian” kings, particularly since it infringed on their democratic ideals. The march thither from Oria occupied in all sixty days. Philip took a poorly disciplined group of men and turned them into a formidable army. Alexander faced his first big test not long after crossing … The army supposedly reached 120,000 front-line troops at one point. Realizing their gambit backfired, the mutineers backed down and got back in line. Aristotle Was His High School Teacher. Alexander inherited a well-trained army from his father and trained them even further. Other cavalry troops would protect the flanks of the Macedonian … Army pay was meager but was paid promptly. Alexander planned to create a "master race" through the intermixing of Macedonians and Persians. - Alexander the Great They were present at the grand army revue Alexander assembled in 324 BC. “Alexander creates a propaganda campaign that the Macedonians are invading Persia on behalf of the Greeks, even though Macedon wasn’t part of Greece and didn’t fight on the side of Greece in the original Greco-Persian wars,” says Wrightson. It’s estimated that King Darius III of Persia was in command of a total of 2.5 million soldiers spread across his vast empire. That conflict featured the famous Battle of Thermopylae, where 300 Spartan warriors made a heroic last stand against tens of thousands of Persian invaders. What Alexander did value and perhaps what kept his army smaller, was the mobility and speed gave military advantage. in the small Kingdom of Macedonia. In 325, after Alexander had recovered, he and his army headed north along the … At the age of 14… The Macedonians weren’t always a force to be reckoned with. Not only did the Macedonian army easily crush the Thebian rebellion, says Wrightson, “but Alexander razed Thebes to the ground and sold the entire city into slavery, except for one house owned by the descendants of his favorite poet.”. 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