Ancient warfare

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Rise of the Spartans: Timeline

Journey from the original Olympic games to the defeat of the Spartan juggernaut in this extract from our latest 15-page special on the rise of Sparta.   c.776 BC: Traditional foundation date for Olympic Games c.750 BC: Homer’s epics The Iliad and The Odyssey composed c.700 BC: Sparta conquers Messenia c.650 BC: Messenian Revolt followed by Spartan Reconquest […]

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WAR OF WORDS: ‘Legion’

‘Legion’ derives from the Latin legio, which itself comes from the verb legere, meaning ‘to choose’ or ‘to levy’. The legion represented the muster of Rome’s citizens in times of war. It appeared in English in the Middle Ages, and came to mean a large body of soldiers, or simply many people or things. In 1611, Shakespeare wrote in Cymbeline: ‘The Romaine Legions, all from […]

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BATTLE MAPS: Caesar’s Gallic War

In the years 58-51 BC, Gaul was conquered and added to the Roman Empire through the military campaigns of Julius Caesar and his legions. For the first time in history, tribal groups in north-western Europe were confronted with the violent expansionism of an imperial system.   Although Caesar’s war narrative is coloured by personal propaganda and imperial ideology, there is no doubt that the conquest had dramatic […]

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TIMELINE: The Sassanian Empire

The Sassanian Empire: Rome’s unbeaten rival in the East. With all its success and brilliance in Europe, the Mediterranean, and North Africa, Rome never conquered the Spah (‘military’) of the Sassanian Empire. Roman emperors such as Alexander Severus, Valerian, and Julian the Apostate tried and failed to subjugate Persia. Thanks to European and Iranian military […]

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10 Principles of Sassanian Warfare

The Spah (‘military’) of the Sassanian Empire were Rome’s unbeaten rivals in the East. Here we look at 10 principles of Sassanian warfare.

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THINKERS AT WAR – Marcus Aurelius

Iain King looks as the philosophy of Emperor Marcus Aurelius One of Rome’s most remarkable rulers, Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) is commonly regarded as the last of ‘the five good emperors’. Along with his predecessors – Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and Antonius Pius – Marcus brought stability to an unstable empire. The five presided over almost […]

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AD 937: Olaf’s Approach

The possible routes taken by Olaf Guthfrithsson, King of Dublin, in this little known Viking battle for Britain

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The Battle of Marathon- 490 BC

The Battle of Marathon saw wo entirely antithetical military and political traditions: cavalry, archery, and light-armed troops versus heavy infantry; coerced subjects against free militia; wealthy imperial invaders turned away by pedestrian defenders of farm and family. The verdict of Marathon proved that far from being rudimentary, the introduction of a true heavy-infantry militia and […]

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Visigothics sacking Rome 395-415

It was the first time since 390 BC that the city of Rome had fallen to a barbarian enemy. It shocked the world. It presaged the collapse of the greatest empire of antiquity. The major movements of Visigothic hordes under Alaric and his immediate successor, Ataulf, between AD 395 and 415. To read the full […]

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