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This blog presents my different wargames armies, after action reports, campaigns which I have run, some scenarios and a presentation of some of the different rules I play. The pages at the top of the blog contain historical information on the periods that interest me. They are an aid to my poor memory, and not in any way exhaustive nor necessarily correct. As I am an Englishman living in France, some pages are in English and others in French...sorry, I am too lazy to translate...

I hope this blog offers you much enjoyment and some inspiration !

The Classical Period


THE PERSIAN EMPIRE
550-479

According to tradition, the Achaemenid Empire was founded by Cyrus the Great, who defeated his overlord, Astyages the Mede, around -550. During his reign, Cyrus captured Babylon (-539), Lydia, Cappadocia and Armenia in the West, and added Sogdia and Bactria to his vast Empire. He died in -530 whilst campaigning against the Scythians.

His son Cambyses conquered Egypt in -525; he was succeeded during a period of widespread revolt by Darius I the Great (522-486), who may or may not have stemmed from the same family. Darius reorganized the Empire into satrapies, founded Persepolis and built the great palace of Susa. He also extended the Empire into Thracia and Macedonia, and subdued the Scythians.



In -499, the Ionian Revolt broke out against Persian rule, and spread to Caria and Cyprus, with the active support of Athens and Eretria. It lasted until -493. Considering that the existence of an independent Greece would forever trouble the stability of the Persian Empire, Darius I decided on an invasion. The first phase of the Greco-Persian wars ended with Greek victory at Marathon (-490).
Darius’ son and successor, Xerxes I (485-465) organized a second, more massive, invasion force. Entering Greece from the north – with little resistance met in Thracia, Thessaly or Macedonia – his army was delayed by the Spartans at Thermopylae (-480) , then defeated at Salamis a few weeks later. Xerxes was forced to retire to Asia Minor and although his general Mardonius captured and razed Athens, he was soundly defeated at Plataea in -479.  The Greeks then assembled a huge army (perhaps 40,000 men, provided mostly by Athens, Sparta and Corinth) and crossed into Asia Minor, where they defeated the Persian army again at Mycale. This led to a widespread revolt in Ionia.

The Greeks spent the next thirty years reducing Persian garrisons in the Chersonese, Macedonia, Thracia, the Aegean Islands and Ionia, up until the “Peace of Callias” in -449. Persia thereafter contented itself with setting Greeks against Greeks, setting Athens against Sparta during the Peloponnesian Wars. In -411, however, they entered into a formal alliance with Sparta and provided naval power to use against Athens, in return for exclusive control of Ionia. The Ionian cities resisted and even appealed to Sparta for help, which was provided in -396 (Expedition of Agesilaus), but Sparta returned once again to the Persian camp, during the “Corinthian War”.  The “Kings Peace” in -387, a treaty sponsored by Persia, laid humiliating conditions on the weakened and divided Greeks; the Spartans chose to sacrifice the cities of Asia Minor to consolidate their hegemony on the mainland. During a half-century, Ionia fell once again into the Persian sphere, until the campaigns of another “barbarian”, Phillip of Macedonia, and his son Alexander.


PHILLIP OF MACEDONIA, AND GREECE

Macedonia before Phillip.

Before the rise to power of Phillip, the Macedonia kingdom was threatened on all sides. The Thracians were already in possession of eastern Macedonia. Thebes, the strongest Greek military power since the fall of Athens, and the defeat of Sparta in 379 BC, continuously intervened in internal Macedonian politics. Greek colonies on the Macedonian frontier, particularly Olynthus, were an obstacle to Macedonia's economy and presented a military danger. In the north-west, the Illyrians had occupied the kingdom.
In -359, king Perdiccas III suffered a disastrous defeat against the Illyrians. 4,000 Macedonian soldiers, including their king lay dead on the battlefield. Phillip inherited a kingdom on the brink of disaster, made worse by the secession of the Paionian tribes.

The early years.

As king, Phillip was able to put into practice the military theories he had imagined during his years as a Theban hostage. In 358 BC he met the Illyrians in battle with his phalanx, and utterly defeated them. He then invaded Illyria itself, conquering all Illyrian tribes deep into the country, only stopping short of the Adriatic coast. In 357BC, he married Olympus, sealing a long-lasting alliance with the Epirote king Alexander the Molossan.

The same year, he broke his treaty with Athens and attacked their colony of Amphipolis, and various other Greek cities on the coast. The Thracians were also pushed back to the Mesta River. Thessaly was conquered in 352 BC, bringing Phillip to the gates of Greece : he even marched to Thermopylae, but found it garrisoned by an allied force of Athenians and Spartans.

In 348 BC, the Macedonian army attacked the Chalcidice peninsula and defeated the Greek city-state of Olynthus. This city, and 31 other Greek polis in Chalcidice were treated brutally : demolished and razed to the ground, their Greek citizens sold as slaves, and their land distributed to the Macedonians. 348 BC marked the end of Greek settlements on Macedonian soil.



Greek resistance to Macedonia.

In -346, Phillip secured a seat at the Delphic Council, the first time that a Macedonian entered a circle that was sacred to the Greeks. The Macedonians were considered non-Greek, ie. barbarians. This situation helped Demosthenes dress Athens against him.
Phillip now turned his attention to Thrace, which he submitted in -339 after several long campaigns. His conquests brought him to the Greek coastal city of Byzantium.  His siege of it was unsuccessful, Byzantium receiving aid from the mainland Greeks, and from the Persians, that Macedonian expansion had begun to trouble. -339 also saw a victory over the Scythes on the banks of the Danube. The booty taken was lost, and Phillip severely wounded, when Thracian tribes attacked the returning Macedonian army, which shows that Thracia was only loosely pacified.
A far greater threat was, however, brewing. Greek civilisation united - Athens, Sparta, Thebes, Corinth - had assembled an army of 35,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry. Phillip hastily mustered 30,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry, and met the Greeks in -338 at Chaeronea. This battle was seen, by later Greek and Roman historians, as the end of Greek liberty and history. The Greeks were organised by Phillip into a League, who appointed himself "Commander of the Greeks".

The death of Phillip.

In the spring of 336 BC, Philip begun the invasion of Persia. He sent generals Attalus and Parmenio with an advance force of 10,000 Macedonian troops, to cross over into Asia Minor and pave the way for the later advance of the main army. Whilst the Macedonians were crossing the Hellespont, in Macedonia everything was ready for the grand celebration for the wedding of Philip's daughter Cleopatra to prince Alexander of Epirus, brother of Olympias. On the second day of the celebration, Philip was struck with a dagger and killed on the spot.



Macedonia after Phillip.

Phillip's son Alexander, as is well known, led the Macedonian army to found an empire of great splendour. Upon Alexander's death, the Greek cities rebelled and began the Lamian War.
They were ultimately defeated by Antipater, who reinforced the Macedonians with 10,000 veterans from the Asian campaign. Greece was submitted to Macedonian kings (Antipater's line continuing with Cassander) for the next century and a half, until the three Macedonian Wars (-215 to -205, 200 to -196 and -172 to -168) with Rome brought an end to the Macedonian line at the battle of Pydna. Macedonia was divided into four puppet republics, controlled from Italy. A brief rebellion in -146 by Greeks and Macedonians, known as the Achaean Wars, caused Macedonia to be transformed into a Roman province.


THE RISE OF ROME
500-241

The "Italian" peoples.

These Indo-european speaking peoples arrived in Italy in two waves, the first occurring around 1500 BC, the second, towards the year 1000 BC. Two linguistic groups can be distinguished, the Oscan-speaking Ombro-Sabellians and the Latins.
Among the first group are the Ombriens, Sabines, Volscians, Aequi/Eques and Hernici generally known as the "Hill tribes". Further south, in the Apennine foothills, but also on the west coast of Italy, were settled the powerful Sabellian tribes, who caused great difficulties to Rome throughout the 4th century BC.
During the mid-5th century, the Sabellians conquered the plains of Campania (seizing the Etruscan city of Capua in -423).
From this period on, the Sabellians, whilst remaining ethnically homogenous, split into four different cultural groups. The mountains of central Italy are occupied by the Samnites, the plains to the west by the wealthy and Greek influenced Campanians, and the toe of Italy by Lucaniens and Bruttians.
The Latin language was shared by the various tribes living around the Tiber estuary, including of course the Romans and the Latins. A similar language was spoken by the Sicels, the Italian tribes of Sicily.

Other Indo-European peoples.

The heel of Italy was occupied by the Iapyges, who had doubtless migrated across the sea from Illyria. To the north of them, along the north-eastern Italian coast, were the Picenians, of uncertain origin. They in turn were neighbours of the Venetes, another non-Italian people.

Minor non Indo-European peoples.

The Indo-European immigrants appear to have sumberged and subsumed the earlier inhabitants of Italy, of whom few traces remain. The western iles - Sardinia, Corsica - retained however their older cultures, whilst the Ligurians continued to occupy the north-western region of Italy.

The Etruscans.

As soon as historical records are available, an enigmatic and highly individual people are on the scene. The Etruscan (or Tusci) language is still waiting to be deciphered, but it is clearly not Indo-European. The origins of this people are still a subject of discussion. For the Ancients, they were a dominant elite who had sailed to Italy from western Asia - Lydia in particular - around 750 BC, about the same date as the founding of Rome.
For others, they were just one of many peoples forming or pushed by the Indo-European immigrations. Another hypothesis is that the Etruscans were settled in Italy in the Stone Age, long before the Indo-Europeans arrived.

The Celts.

The Celtic peoples appear in the Lombardy plain around 500 BC, and exert constant pressure on Etruscan civilisation. Among the main Celtic tribes of Italy are the Senons, who settled in Picenium, and later, upon the invitation of Denys I of Syracuse, in Apulia, the 'heel' of Italy. The Insubres settled in Lombardy, the Cenomons occupied the Brescia region and the Boeians settled around Bologna.

Magna Greca.

Greek colonists arrived on the Italian and Sicilian coasts as early as 800BC, founding the cities of Cumae, Syracuse and Tarentum.
"Greater Greece", as this narrow coastal strip of Greek settlement was known, exerced a strong influence on the various Italian tribes, including the early Romans. Etruscan culture was also deeply penetrated by Greek art and thought; however, the Italian tribes, especially the Samnites, seem more heavily influenced by Etrusca than Greece.

The Carthaginians

Punic settlements in Sicily date to circa 800 BC. Carthage fought numerous wars with the Greeks of Sicily, most notably with the city of Syracuse. Carthaginian ambitions in Sicily ultimately led to the First Punic War with Rome.

KEY DATES
-540 : an alliance of Carthage and the Etruscans allow the latter to crush the Phoceans (Greeks of Marseille) at the naval battle of Aleria. The Phoceans are chased out of Corsica and Sardinia.
-496 : Battle of Lake Regillum. The Romans defeat a coalition of neighbouring Latin tribes, and come to dominate the Tiber estuary area.
-480 : Sicilian Carthage is seriously mauled by an alliance of the cities of Magna Greca, led by Syracuse.
-474 : Hieron of Syracuse defeats the Etruscans at the battle of Cumae. Menaced by the Celts in the north, Etruscan influence wanes in central Italy, replaced by the Samnites and the Sabines. Roughly at this date (-507according to tradition), Rome throws off its Etruscan kings and adopts the consular republican system.
-405 : Denys I 'the Ancient' is tyrant of Syracuse. A long war with Carthage begins; Denys I also extends his power over the mainland cities of Magna Greca.
-390 : the Celtic tribes, who have already overrun Picenium, sack Rome (which is still an insignificant town at this time, exerting only local influence). They spread east and south. Denys I employs them against other Greek cities of Italy.
-380 : Reformed by the Dictator Camillus, the Roman army begins its long conquest of Italy.
-343 : First Samnite War (to-341). The Samnites resist Roman expansion to the south throughout the 4th century BC.
-340 : Latin Wars (to -338). Rome - aided by the Samnites - submits its neighbours. Rome is no longer the simple leader of a Latin League, but a reigning city. The conquered Latins are given Roman citizenship and adopt Roman political customs. Rome adopts manipular warfare around this time, possibly from the Samnites.
-338 : the city of Tarentum calls on Archidamos III of Sparta to protect it against the Italian and Celtic peoples threatening her. The Spartan king is killed on Italian soil.
-334 : Alexander I of Epirus, known as the 'Molossan', is sollicited by Tarentum to help it against its traditional enemies.
Alexander, who is the brother of Olympus and thus brother-in-law to Phillip of Macedonia, crosses the sea and combats Celts, Bruttiens and Lucaniens.
-327 : Second Samnite War (to-302). Roman expansion is blocked by the bitter resistance of the Samnites. This war includes the humiliating defeat of the Caudine Forks, where the entire Roman army is obliged to pass under the yoke.
-299 : Third Samnite War (to-290). The Samnite tribes are broken at the major battle of Sentinum in -295. A coalition of Samnites, Oscans, Ombriens, Etruscans and Celts is defeated by Rome and its Latin, Hernici and Picenian allies. The Samnites continue to fight Rome, allying with Pyrrhus and later with Hannibal, but they no longer pose a serious threat.
-282 : Roman victory over an Etrusco-Celtic coalition at Lake Vadimon brings about the submission of all the Etruscan cities. They are incorporated into the Republic in -265.
-280 : Menaced now by Rome, the Tarentines call on Pyrrhus of Epirus, descendant of Alexander the Molossan. Pyrrhus defeats Rome on several occasions, and even goes on to inflict several defeats on the Carthaginians in Syracuse. The champion of the Italian Greeks is however defeated at Beneventum (-275. He returns over the sea, campaigning with little success in Macedonia.
-275 : It is around this time that the military systems of the two great Classical civilisations of Italy undergo major changes. It is widely thought that the defeats against Pyrrhus inspired a reform of the Roman army and improved manipular tactics. As for the Greeks, they abandon the hoplite in favour, first of theurophoroi, peltasts carrying a long spear, and then of Macedonian-style phalanxes. Pyrrhus re-armed certain Tarentine hoplites as phalanxes; on the continent, hoplites are abandoned by Thebes around -250 and by Sparta around -225.
-271 : Tarentum falls to Rome; Magna Greca is brought under Roman domination, except in Sicily.
-264 : The First Punic War (to-241) begins. After two decades of fighting, the Romans throw Carthage out of Sicily forever. Syracuse alone retains its independance, as a Roman ally. It is integrated into the Republic after the Second Punic War, as the price of its treason.
-225 : The Roman victory of Telamon turns the tide against the Celts. Cisalpine Gaul is progressively occupied by Roman troops from -224 to -180.


EPIRUS
400-272

The Epirotes were a Greek-speaking people but retained the ancient tribal system (ethnè), their few towns never acquiring the status of poleis. The country was divided amongst fourteen tribes, foremost of which the Chaones in the north (modern day Albania), the Thesprotes and the Molossans.


The Molossan royal line, known as the Eacides, was said to descend from Neoptolemus, Achilles’ son. They progressively united Epirus. In -357, one of their princesses, Olympias, niece of the ruling king Arymbas, was married to Phillip II of Macedonia and accompanied by her brother Alexander. Phillip II later imposed him on the Molossan throne in -350, overthrowing Arymbas.
Alexander I of Epirus, foreshadowing Pyrrhus’ later feats, embarked for Italy upon the request of Tarentum, where he fought their Samnite, Lucanian and Bruttian enemies (-334). He was killed there three years later, leaving a baby son, Neoptolemus, and the throne passed to his wife Cleopatra, a daughter of Phillip II, then to Olympias herself in -324.

Olympias was overthrown by a rival branch, into which Pyrrhus was born in -319. In -317, Neoptolemus was placed on the throne thanks to the Diadoch Cassander, now regent of Macedonia.  
The baby Pyrrhus was taken to safety and reached Illyria. Its king, Glaucus reinstated his throne to the 12-year old Pyrrhus in -307. Five years later he was chased off again.

He joined the Antigonid cause as a companion of Demetrios the Besieger, and was on the losing side at Ipsus (-301). He nonetheless remained faithful to Demetrios, was appointed governor of his Greek possessions and was then nominated as one of his hostages to Ptolemy’s court. There he gained the favour of Berenice, Ptolemy’s principal wife, and married her daughter Antigone. Ptolemy eventually provided him with money and men, allowing him to retake the throne of Epirus in -297.

Pyrrhus completed the unification of Epirus, which he extended even into Acarnania and into parts of Illyria.  Before long, his ambitions made an enemy of Demetrios the Besieger. Supported by the other Diadochs, Pyrrhus overcame Demetrios in -288 and the Macedonians offered him the throne. He was however forced to share it with Lysimaque. The two kings cohabited uneasily until -286, when the failure of Demetrios’ last expedition in Syria left Lysimaque's hands free. Pyrrhus lost the Macedonian throne to him in -285. Lysimaque was later killed (-281) and Seleucos I, victorious, assassinated by Ptolemy Keraunos, who became King of Macedonia.

It was at this point in time that the city of Tarentum, threatened by Roman expansion, sought a champion in Greece and settled on Pyrrhus “believing him to be the most at leisure of all the kings, and a most formidable general” (Plutarch). Keraunos, who was glad for the occasion to rid himself of a turbulent and ambitious neighbor, provided Pyrrhus with 5.000 Macedonian pikemen.  Ptolemy II of Egypt lent him 20 elephants and promised to protect Epirus during his absence. To this force, Pyrrhus added 18.000 Epirote pike, 2.500 archers and slingers and 3.000 Thessalian cavalry, then landed in Italy in -280. As part of his army was lost in a storm at sea, he enrolled the apparently unwilling Tarentines and marched against Rome. Samnite and Lucanian help would not be forthcoming until Pyrrhus defeated the Romans at Heracleia in -280.

Overtures of peace to Rome were rejected, and the battle of Ausculum followed in -279. This battle put a temporary halt to Roman ambitions but cost Pyrrhus heavily.
He received overtures from several Sicilian cities, especially Agrigentum and Syracuse, who requested that he rid the island of its tyrants, and of Carthage. At the same time, an embassy came from Macedonia to offer him the throne, Ptolemy Keraunos having perished at the hands of the Gauls.  After much hesitation, and despite the protests of Tarentum, Pyrrhus chose Sicily, “since Libya was felt to be near”.

The Epirote army arrived in Sicily in -278. The popularity of initial successes soon changed to accusations of tyranny when Pyrrhus set out to forcibly raise a great fleet to attack Libya.
A request for help from the Samnites and from Tarentum, faced with fresh Roman expansion, provided the Epirote with an excuse to leave the “storm-tossed ship” of Sicily. He once again faced the Romans at Beneventum in -275; the battle is inconclusive but Pyrrhus was now at bay. Appeals for assistance to the entire Greek world went unheard and the Epirote king left Italian soil late in -274.

Macedonia was now in the hands of Demetrios’ son, Antigonus Gonatas, proclaimed king after having defeated the Gauls in -277.  With plentiful Celtic mercenaries, Pyrrhus set out to take the Macedonian throne once again and forced Gonatas to flee to his southern Greek possessions. Invited into the Peloponnese by a Spartan exile of royal blood, he plundered Laconia (-272), but failed to take Sparta itself. Wintering in the vicinity, Pyrrhus was solicited by the anti-Antigonid faction of Argos. The gate of the city having been opened by treason, Pyrrhus’ army entered it; the king, aged 47, was killed in bitter street-fighting, stunned by a roof-tile thrown down at him by an old woman.

His son, Alexander II, held Epirus together until his death in -242 but the Eacide dynasty failed in -232, replaced by a Republic. Tribal unity ended during the Third Macedonian War (171-168) when the Chaones went over to Rome. The Molossans paid dearly their loyalty to Macedonia; Paul-Emile deported 150,000 of them.


SICILY
800-241


Though difficult to date, Phoenician settlement of the western Mediterranean is slightly anterior to that of the Greeks, and dates to around -800 / -750. Rivalry between Greeks and Phoenicians began early; although the latter initially gave way, Greek settlement in Spain c.-640 encouraged more vigorous action.
Around -540 the Phoenician colonies in the western Mediterranean come under the control of Carthage. Around the same time, allied to the Etruscans, the Carthaginians defeat the Phocean Greeks in the naval battle of Alalia, forcing them to abandon Corsica.

Sicily now became the main battlefield between the Carthaginian and Greek civilizations.  The “Sicilian Wars” lasted (punctuated obviously by long periods of peace) from c.-510 down to the arrival of the Romans in Sicily in -264, which led to a short-lived alliance between the old rivals. What follows are the key dates in this long-running conflict:

-510 : Carthage resists against a new wave of Greek colonists, leading to war between them and the cities of Akragas, Selinonte and Gela. The Pheonicians have the upper hand.

-480 : the Greek cities of Syracuse are racked by war and one of them calls upon the aid of Carthage. The Pheonicians, intending to profit from the fact that the Greek mainland is distracted by war with Xerxes I, sends a powerful expedition. It is defeated wholesale by Hieron, the tyrant of Syracuse, at the battle of Himera.

-410 : After the defeat of the Athenian expedition of -415/3, rivalry between the Greek cities of Elymia, Selinonte and Syracuse leads to further Carthaginian intervention. Selinonte and Himera are taken in -409 and the latter razed. War is declared on Syracuse in -406. Attrition forces the Carthaginians to conclude a ceasefire.

-398 : the tyrant Denys the Elder of Syracuse breaks this ceasefire, but the rapidity of the Carthaginian response brings them to the very walls of Syracuse. Plague in the enemy army, however, saves the Greeks in -396. The war with Denys the Elder lasts until the death of the tyrant in -367.

-345 : after 22 years of peace with Denys the Younger, the Carthaginians are invited into Syracuse by a rival faction; they are however defeated. When Timoleon takes power in the city in -343, he launches raids against Pheonician possessions in Sicily.

-341 : Battle of the River Crimissos. A heavy defeat for Carthage leads to a return to the status quo. Carthage rules over the western third of the island, the Greek cities, of which Syracuse is preeminent, the remnant.

-315 : the tyrant of Syracuse Agathocles takes the rival Greek city of Messene. Carthage, who cannot permit Syracusan hegemony in Sicily, intervenes. Agathocles attacks their territory and provokes a Carthaginian reaction in -310.

-310 : Syracuse is once again under siege. Agathocles takes a surprising and bold decision: he decides to embark his army (mostly of mercenaries) and land it in Africa. This had the desired effect; the Carthaginians broke off the siege and transported their army back to their homeland, where Agathocles promptly defeated it at White Tunis.  He received aid from the Cyrenians and counted on the Diadoch Ptolemy I sending him a navy, which however never arrived. The situation for Carthage was poor, their home territory ravaged and, in Sicily, the cities of Agrigente and Gela threw out their Phoenician garrisons. However, Agathocles had problems of his own, facing mutinies within his army and ending up assassinating the Ptolemaic governor of Cyrene. He departs for Syracuse, leaving his sons in charge of the African expedition.

- 307 : Agathocles, who has by now taken the title of King, imitating the Diadochs of his era, returns to Africa where his sons are struggling in the face of internal dissensions and Carthaginian counter-attacks. He is defeated near Tunis. Peace, concluded in -306, leaves Carthage as the absolute master of western Sicily. In the east, however, Syracuse has once again established its domination.

Agathocles intervenes in Bruttium in -304 and in -299/298 takes Corcyre (Corfu) from Cassander. He then marries his daughter Lanassa to Pyrrhus of Epirus, with Corcyre as her dowry. In -289, Agathocles was even preparing a new expedition to Africa when he was assassinated.

-278 : Pyrrhus arrives in Sicily upon the request of Syracuse and Agrigentum, he himself intending to attack Carthage, to which end he forcibly set about raising a great fleet. Despite significant successes against the Carthaginians (Mount Eryx, -277; Lilybaeum -276), his policy turned the Greeks of Sicily against him. Pyrrhus left the island in -275.

-264 : First Punic War. Having extended its power over all of mainland Italy, the Romans now turned their attention to Sicily. This led to an alliance between Syracuse and Carthage, both of whom were defeated by Rome at Messana, in -264.

Syracuse was besieged and changed sides. It would be rewarded for this by the status of independent ally and great influence in Sicily until its betrayal of Rome in the Second Punic War, leading to a three-year siege and its sack in -212.

-262 : after defeating the Carthaginians at Agrigentum, the Romans now attempted to throw them off the island. After an expedition to Africa in -256, which began successfully (victory at Adys), but ended in disaster (defeat of Regulus by Xanthippus at Tunis, loss of the fleet on the homeward journey), the Romans resumed operations in Sicily.

-241 : although land operations are at a stalemate, Roman victory on the seas (Battle of the Aegete Islands) cuts Hamilcar off from Carthage and forces him to negotiate peace. The Carthaginians leave Sicily after three centuries of presence.







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