a Spartan admiral and statesman who was very influential during the final years of the Peloponnesian War and for the decade following. He was thought to be the son of a helot mother and a Spartan father. It is not known how he rose to eminence: he first appears as admiral of the Spartan navy in 407 B.C., and two years later, he led the Spartans to a decisive victory at Aegospotami, and then blockaded the harbor at Athens until their surrender a year later. By 404 B.C. he was the most powerful man in the Greek world and set about completing the task of building up a Spartan empire. He was very influential in the replacement of democratic governments throughout Greece, with oligarchies under the control of Spartan governors.

But Lysander’s boundless influence, and the honours paid him, roused the jealousy of the kings and the ephors, and, on being accused by the Persian satrap Pharnabazus, he was recalled to Sparta. Soon afterwards he was sent to Athens with an army to aid the oligarchs, but Pausanias, one of the kings, followed him and brought about a restoration of democracy. On the death of Agis II., Lysander secured the succession of Agesilaus, whom he hoped to find amenable to his influence. But in this he was disappointed. Though chosen to accompany the king to Asia as one of his thirty advisers, he was kept inactive and his influence was broken by studied affronts, and finally he was sent at his own request as envoy to the Hellespont. He soon returned to Sparta to mature plans for overthrowing the hereditary kingship and substituting an elective monarchy, but his efforts were fruitless, and his schemes were cut short by the outbreak of war with Thebes. In 395 B.C., Lysander invaded Boeotia from the west, receiving the submission of Orchomenus and sacking Lebadea, but the enemy intercepted his despatch to Pausanias, who had meanwhile entered Boeotia from the south, containing plans for a joint attack upon Haliartus. The town was at once strongly garrisoned, and when Lysander marched against it he was defeated and slain. He was buried in the territory of Panopeus, the nearest Phocian city. An able commander and an adroit diplomatist, Lysander was fired by the ambition to make Sparta supreme in Greece and himself in Sparta. To this end he shrank from no treachery or cruelty; yet, like Agesilaus, he was totally free from the characteristic Spartan vice of avarice, and died, as he had lived, a poor man.

—Adapted from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Ivan the Terrible’s Fits Ushered in the Romanovs (1530-1584)

This list could have been all tsars. These rulers were raised under conditions guaranteed to make anyone a sociopath. Most of them saw close relatives murdered by other close relatives. Though abused relentlessly as children, as adults they had both absolute power and a sword of Damocles over their heads. Ivan’s father died when Ivan was only three, and his mother was poisoned when he was eight. During his minority an unruly gang of noblemen governed the land, and starved, beat, and neglected the boy and his brother. He took the abuse out on small animals, which he would throw off the roofs of palaces. Hurling things about proved good practice for the tsar-in-training. At 16, Ivan marched into the throne room, grabbed the leader of the noblemen, and threw the man to Ivan’s trained hunting dogs.

Ivan’s reign was marked by violent paranoia. When Ivan suspected a nobleman wanted the throne, he dressed the man up as a king, put him on the throne, and gutted him. Ivan created a special police force, the members of which rode around with dogs’ heads hanging from their saddles and could murder anyone at any time, in public. Once, when Ivan heard a rumor that a town called Novgorod was rebellious, he killed every single person in the town, sewed the town’s archbishop up into a bearskin, and had his dogs hunt the bearman down.

It’s hard to write all that and then use the phrase, “conditions deteriorated,” but, somehow, conditions deteriorated. Ivan started having fits. In paintings he’s depicted as having a prominent nose and forehead. These are the way kind (and probably fearful) artists rendered calluses that Ivan had built up by banging his head on the stone floor in front of religions icons. Ivan would also have fits of rage. During one fit, he kicked his pregnant daughter-in-law in the stomach and caused her to miscarry. His son, an able and promising ruler, yelled at him. Ivan beat his son to death with his scepter, then went into paroxysms of remorse. It was that moment that changed history. Ivan was a member of the ancient Rurik line of nobility. With the only strong heir to the throne swept out of the way, Russia descended into chaos after Ivan’s death. At last, nobles cast around for any noble family that the nation could rally around. They came up with an heir called Michael Romanov.

1910 Treaty of Annexation[Annexation of Korea by Japan]

(August 22, 1910)
The Proclamation
Notwithstanding the earnest and laborious work of reforms in the administration of Korea in which the Governments of Japan and Korea have been engaged for more than four years since the conclusion of the Agreement of 1905, the existing system of government in that country has not proved entirely equal to the duty of preserving public order and tranquillity; and in addition, the spirit of suspicion and misgiving dominates the whole peninsula.

In order to maintain peace and stability in Korea, to promote the prosperity and welfare of Koreans, and at the same time to ensure the safety and repose of foreign residents, it has been made abundantly clear that fundamental changes in the actual regime of government are absolutely essential. The Governments of Japan and Korea, being convinced of the urgent necessity of introducing reforms responsive to the requirements of the situation and of furnishing sufficient guarantee for the future, have, with the approval of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan and His Majesty the Emperor of Korea, concluded, through their plenipotentiaries, a treaty providing for complete annexation of Korea to the Empire of Japan. By virtue of that important act, which shall take effect on its promulgation on August 29, 1910, the Imperial Government of Japan shall undertake the entire government and administration of Korea, and they hereby declare that the matters relating to foreigners and foreign trade in Korea shall be conducted in accordance with the following rules:

The Treaty
His Majesty the Emperor of Japan and His Majesty the Emperor of Korea, having in view the special and close relations between their respective countries, desiring to promote the common wealth of the two nations and to assure the permanent peace in the Far East, and being convinced that these objectives can be best attained by the annexation of Korea to the Empire of Japan, have resolved to conclude a treaty of such annexation and have, for that purpose, appointed as their plenipotentiaries, that is to say, His Majesty the Emperor of Japan Viscount Terauchi Masatake, Resident-General, and His Majesty the Emperor of Korea Yi Wan-Yong, Prime Minister, who upon mutual conference and deliberation have agreed to the following articles:

Article 1. His Majesty the Emperor of Korea makes the complete and permanent cession to His Majesty the Emperor of Japan of all rights of sovereignty over the whole of Korea.

Article 2. His Majesty the Emperor of Japan accepts the cession mentioned in the preceding article and consents to the complete annexation of Korea to the Empire of Japan.

Article 3. His Majesty the Emperor of Japan will accord to their Majesties the Emperor and ex-Emperor and His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince of Korea and their consorts and heirs such titles, dignity, and honor as are appropriate to their respective ranks, and sufficient annual grants will be made for the maintenance of such titles, dignity and honor.

Article 4. His Majesty the Emperor of Japan will also accord appropriate honor and treatment to the members of the Imperial House of Korea and their heirs other than those mentioned in the preceding article, and the funds necessary for the maintenance of such honor and treatment will be granted.

Article 5. His Majesty the Emperor of Japan will confer peerage and monetary grants upon those Koreans who, on account of meritorious services, are regarded as deserving such special recognition. Article 6. In consequence of the aforesaid annexation the Government of Japan assume the entire government and administration of Korea, and undertake to afford full protection for the persons and property of Koreans obeying the laws there in force to promote the welfare of all such Koreans.

Article 7. The Government of Japan will, so far as circumstances permits, employ in the public service of Japan in Korea those Koreans who accept the new regime loyally and in good faith and who are duly qualified for such service.

Article 8. This treaty, having been approved by His Majesty the Emperor of Japan and His Majesty the Emperor of Korea, shall take effect from the state of its promulgation.

In faith thereof:

Resident General Viscount Terauchi Masatake

Prime Minister Yi, Wan-yong

On Aug. 29, 100 years ago, the treaty annexing Korea to Japan was promulgated, a week after its signing. It was not a treaty between equal partners. The 1905 Korea-Japan Convention had already made Korea a protectorate of Japan. Under the annexation treaty, the Korean emperor handed sovereign power over his country to the Japanese emperor “completely and forever.” Thus Korea became a colony of Japan.

The government general of Korea, set up to rule colonial Korea, was an unusual entity. Its head (governor general) was a Japanese general or admiral under the direct control of the Japanese emperor — the sovereign of the Japanese empire.

An unfortunate fact about the Japan-Korea relationship after the Meiji Restoration is that Japan emulated the United States’ “black ship diplomacy.” To open Korea for trade with Japan, Japan sent seven naval and nonmilitary vessels in 1876 and forced an unequal treaty on Korea — as the U.S. and other Western powers had done to Japan — to make that country open two ports, with extraterritorial jurisdiction provided for Japanese.

There is the view that Japan’s 35 years of colonial rule improved Korea’s infrastructure, education, agriculture, other industries and economic institutions, and thus helped Korea modernize. But one should not forget the discrimination and sufferings that the Korean people experienced under colonial rule. These days many Japanese visit South Korea as tourists, and economic ties between that country and Japan are strong. But unless Japanese learn some basic facts of modern history involving the two countries, solid future-oriented bilateral relations are unlikely.

For example, if Japanese remember Hirobumi Ito only as Japan’s first prime minister, they are being forgetful. He also served as the first Japanese resident general in the protectorate Korea. Japanese should know that Koreans regard An Chung Gun, who assassinated Ito in Harbin on Oct. 26, 1909, as a person who carried out a “noble undertaking.”

As one would expect, Koreans resisted Japan’s strengthening its authority over Korea. The most conspicuous form of resistance was armed struggle. A Japanese military record, for example, indicates more than 2,800 incidents of armed struggle from August 1907 to the end of 1910. Nearly 17,700 Korean participants in the struggle were killed.

Japan carried out a comprehensive land survey of Korea from 1910 to 1918 to establish property rights. Many farmers were forced to become tenant farmers because they could not produce documented proof that they owned their land.

Although rice production increased, a sizable portion of the rice was shipped to Japan. A South Korean book says that during the Pacific War, 40 to 60 percent of Korea’s total cereal crops were “plundered by Japanese imperialism.”

Perhaps the most thoughtless thing Japan did in Korea, which caused strong resentment among Koreans, was its attempt, after the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945, to assimilate Koreans as true subjects of the Japanese empire. Schoolchildren were forced to make a pledge of allegiance to the Japanese empire and the emperor every morning. The same Japanese textbooks used in Japan — compiled by Japan’s education ministry — came to be used also in Korea.

In October 1942, the government-general of Korea suppressed an attempt by Korean intellectuals to compile a large Korean language dictionary with hangul (Korean alphabet). They were arrested on suspicion of violating the Peace Preservation Law — a notorious thought-control law for punishing those who had formed an organization to change Japanese polity and abolish private property. In 1940, Japan started pushing the use of Japanized names among Koreans. Local administrators applied various pressure, as the use of such names was regarded as the mark of being true subjects of the Japanese empire.

Japan started accepting Korean volunteers into its army in 1938 and began conscription in 1944. It also carried out a large-scale mobilization of Koreans as wartime workers. Many Korean women also suffered as military sex slaves.

Those who try to justify the annexation of Korea must not forget that Koreans have their own ethnic identity, history and culture. The nature of Japanese rule over Korea is symbolized by the fact that the government general of Korea in 1925 built the Chosen (Korean) Shrine — to enshrine Japan’s Sun Goddess and the Emperor Meiji — in the Korean colonial capital Keijo (today’s Seoul). The government general strived to build a shrine in every village and force worship there. Japan also failed to implement any laws in colonial Korea to protect people at the workplace even though such laws existed in Japan.

If the Japanese are interested only in pop culture or in the tourist spots of South Korea, their understanding of Korea will be too narrow. By the same token, if Korean people fail to objectively look at how Japan has changed (or has not changed) since the prewar and wartime period, they will miss the opportunity to fully understand today’s Japan.

197 B.C. Battle Cynoscephalae – Legion vs Phalanx

Other than a scattering of Greek colonies, the poorer, less civilized western Mediterranean had not been much of a concern for the Hellenistic kingdoms of the 3rd century B.C., but by its end, a new power had arisen in the west. These were the Romans, who had slowly spread from their city beside the Tiber to conquer most of Italy. They had then fought two bitter wars against their rival, Carthage, to emerge as the dominant force in the western Mediterranean. Now these upstarts were showing an inclination to spread into the eastern part of the sea.

Background to Cynoscephalae x

*In the autumn of 197 B.C., two armies representing two very different military systems engaged in a battle that would determine which of those systems was superior, with far-reaching consequences for world history. One of these armies was led by King Philip V of Macedon. The second was a Roman one commanded by Titus Quinctius Flamininus.

x The Romans had enjoyed success against their mostly barbarian foes in the west, but now they were encountering the highly skilled, professional, and experienced armies of the east. Because the two forces were almost exactly the same size, the battle constituted an important showdown between rival military styles and systems, with nothing less than the domination of the entire Mediterranean at stake.

The Opponents

x From the foundation of Rome in 753 B.C. until the Punic Wars about 500 years later, the Roman military was not noticeably better than its opponents in terms of training, professionalism, or equipment. In fact, it had suffered a number of defeats at the hands of various enemies:

Historical Map of the Battle of Cynoscephalae 197 BC
Phase III

*After breaking away from Etruscan domination, Rome was sacked by Gauls in 390 B.C.

o In 321 B.C., the Romans were beaten and ritually humiliated by the Samnites at the Battle of the Caudine Forks.

o In the 280s, the Greek mercenary general Pyrrhus destroyed two Roman armies.

o Finally, in the Punic Wars, the Romans lost several successive three times in Italy itself by the Carthaginian military genius Hannibal. Rome’s darkest hour came at the Battle of Cannae when, in one afternoon, Hannibal obliterated two entire Roman armies, killing between 60,000 and 80,000 men.

x Yet Rome usually ended up winning wars. The key to the Romans’ early success was a dogged determination never to give up, no matter what the cost, coupled with vast reserves of manpower drawn from the Italian cities they had conquered and given citizenship. These manpower reserves repeatedly enabled the Romans to keep fighting and rearing down there opponents.

x The Romans learned from their enemies, as well. They adopted weapons and tactics that took the best from each foe: for example, the short sword of the hill tribes of Spain, which evolved into the gladius and became an immediately recognizable symbol of Roman imperialism and military might.

x In its weapons, tactics, and organization, the army of Philip V of Macedonia was a direct descendant of the army commanded by Alexander the Great. At Alexander’s death, his empire had split using Alexander’s style of warfare. These Hellenistic kingdoms were powerful and wealthy, and collectively, they controlled the richer, more urban, more culturally sophisticated eastern half of the Mediterranean.

D Roman and Macedonian Forces and Technology

x By the time of Cynoscephalae, a new Roman army, with better weapons, better tactics, and more training, was in place. In its earliest phase, it probably fought in something like the phalanx used by the Greeks, but by the late 4th century B.C., it had begun to use a system sometimes called the manipular army.

x In this system, the army was drawn up in subunits called maniples, blocks of 120 men arranged into three lines on like formation.

o the hastati, wore a helmet and had a large oblong or rectangular shield called a scutum. They were armed with javelins and the gladius. The second line, the principes, were similarly equipped. The third line, the triarii, had longer thrusting spears and may have been composed of older men.

o There were also groups of lightly armed skirmishers called velites and a contingent of cavalry.

o In combat, the maniples used a loose formation that allowed soldiers in the back ranks to come forward and replace those in the front row, thus keeping fresh those actually engaged in the Fighting.

x A major advantage was the way the army was subdivided into with the massive Hellenistic Phalanx,which while powerful when lumbering forward for a direct assault, was slow and could not easily be subdivided or redirected.

x The heart of Philip’s Macedonian army was its phalanx, composed of a block of 15,000 men armed, just like Alexander’s phalanx, with the long sarissa. They were supported by about 10,000 cavalry, missile troops, and skirmishers.

The Battle

x Cynoscephalae represented much more than a clash between Rome and the Hellenistic kingdoms of the east. It was a battle between two different types of military systems. The two sides were almost exactly evenly matched at about 25,000 men each; thus, the battle would be a good test of which system was superior.
The battle opened with some confused skirmishing between small detachments, indicating to both generals that their opponent’s main force was nearby. Flamininus accordingly deployed his army in the customary formation: the three rows of maniples screened by the velites. By choosing to move immediately into combat formation, Flamininus gained an advantage: He would begin the battle with his troops arranged exactly as he wanted them. On the other hand, deploying immediately meant that his men had to line up on the slope of one of the hills, thus yielding the advantage of the higher ground to Philip’s army. By the time Flamininus’s men made contact with the enemy, the Macedonian phalanx had formed up and could add the momentum of a downhill charge to its already formidable strength. The Roman left could not resist the weight of this attack and began to give ground, retreating back down the slope. Even though they Romans kept their formation and did not panic. Flamininus had a few war elephants with him with which he opened gaps in the Macedonian lines—exactly the sort of weak points that the Roman manipular system was designed to exploit. Reeling from this assault, the Macedonian left began to run, pursued by the Romans.This was the crucial point of the battle. A substantial gap now developed between the two halves of the respective formations, effectively splitting them into separate battles. The Romans were in the process of winning one side, and the Macedonians the other, with overall victory still up for grabs.

A junior officer ordered a number of maniples from the right wing to break away, wheel 90 degrees to the left, and attack downhill against the rear right of the Macedonian phalanx that was threatening to overwhelm the Roman left. The effect was immediate. The men of the cumbersome Macedonian phalanx were unable to move to meet this new threat. Attacked from both the front and behind, the Macedonian right disintegrated, and the men were slaughtered as they attempted to run away.


Cynoscephalae ended the war. Following the victory, Flamininus announced that the Greeks were now free from Macedonian oppression. What the Greeks failed to realize was that the Romans now regarded them as their clients, and they had to do whatever Rome wanted.

In any case, the result of the battle of Cynoscephalae was a fatal blow to the political aspirations of the Macedonian kingdom; Macedonia would never again be in a position to challenge Rome’s geopolitical expansion. Although the peace that followed allowed Philip to keep his kingdom intact, Flamininus proclaimed that other Greek states previously under Macedonian domination were now free. Philip also had to pay 1,000 talents of silver to Rome, disband his navy, most of his army, and send his son to Rome as a hostage.

Suggesting Reading

Connolly, Greece and Rome at War.

Hammond, “The Campaign and Battle of Cynoscephalae in 197 BC.”

Plutarch, Life of Flamininus.

Polybius, History of Rome.

Adolf Hitler Could Have Won World War II. Here Is Why He Failed.

By:Warfare History Network

Key point: The Allies were disorganized and in disarray. However, Berlin would eventually make major strategic blunders such as invading the USSR.

In May and June of 1940 the attacking Germans had a supreme authority, Hitler, and an army that—if skeptical, even in places traitorous—was subdued and followed orders with astonishing competence. The Allied leadership who faced this tested and, in Poland, victorious combination of political leader and masterful military could not muster a winning one of their own.

Military Hopes Placed In Gamelin

They had, of course, four languages and four governments to deal with. They placed their military hopes in General Maurice-Gustave Gamelin (1872-1958), about whom his former subordinate, Charles de Gaulle, said, “This man, in whom intelligence, subtlety and self-control reached a very high level, had absolutely no doubt that, in the approaching battle, he was bound eventually to win.”

Gamelin served as Joffre’s Chief of Staff during the First Battle of the Marne. He then successively commanded in combat a brigade, a division, and a corps. In the 1920s he pacified the Druze tribes of the Middle East. In 1931 he was named Chief of Staff of the French Army, and four years later was appointed Commander-in-Chief-Designate (in the event of war) upon the retirement of General Maxime Weygand from that post.

During 1939-1940 Gamelin’s title was Chief of Staff of National Defense and C-in-C Land Forces. Under him was his C-in-C Northeast Front, General Joseph Georges (1875-1951), with whom Gamelin didn’t get along particularly well. In effect, Gamelin was the Generalissimo of an unwieldy structure that included neither the Air Force of General Joseph Vuillemin nor the Navy of Admiral Jean Darlan.

Allies Faced Muddy Political Structure

Politically, the structure was also muddied. Premier Paul Reynaud—who headed the civilian government from March 21 to June 16, 1940—had as a Minister of War a political rival, Edouard Daladier (1884-1970), whom he had succeeded as premier. It did not augur well for harmonious work once the German attack began.

The same was true of the British political situation in London’s War Cabinet. Arthur Neville Chamberlain (1869-1940) had been British Prime Minister for three years beginning in May 1937, and left office on the day of the German offensive in the West, May 10, 1940. The monarch and head of state—King George VI—wanted to appoint as his successor Lord Halifax (the former Edward Wood, 1881-1959), with Chamberlain’s approval.

“But,” according to author M.R.D. Foot, “[Halifax] refused the post: he was no military strategist and probably calculated he could restrain the impulsive Winston Churchill better by serving under him [and] was a self-confessed anti-Semite.” Thus it came to pass that the man whom both Chamberlain and Halifax had opposed politically for a decade left his post as First Lord of the Admiralty in the War Cabinet to become Prime Minister.

“Tiny” Ironside Named Chief Of The Imperial General Staff

Churchill inherited a murky military command. The reigning Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS) was “Tiny”: General Sir William Edmund Ironside (1880-1959), who was also anti-Semitic, 60, a Scot, and a gifted linguist (he taught himself Arabic while recovering from an airplane accident).

Commissioned an artillery officer, Ironside was in the South African War and later served as a spy in German Southwest Africa before World War I. During the war he was a staff officer with the Canadians until, in 1916, he became commanding officer of the British Army’s Machine Gun Corps, then commanded the 99th Infantry Brigade in September 1918. He led the Allied Expeditionary Force (AEF) at Archangel, Russia, during 1918-1919, and then served on the Sea of Marmara and in Persia.

Despite feeling that he was incompetent as CIGS, Ironside had foresight. He toured Poland in July 1939 and predicted that Poland would quickly be overrun by Germany, that accordingly there would be no Eastern Front there, and that France would not attack the German West Wall (called the “Siegfried Line” by the Allies). He also urged a military alliance with the very Russian Communists whom he hated.

Ironside wanted an eventual BEF of 20 divisions, twice what was actually in place on May 10, 1940. He correctly guessed that Hitler wanted to attack in the autumn of 1939 (bad weather and stubborn generals putting him off). Ironside’s fatal miscalculation as CIGS was that he took for granted that France was secure.

Ironside’s boss, Secretary of State for War Leslie Hore-Belisha (whom Ironside called “The Jew”) thought the coming struggle would be fought not in France at all, but in war-torn Spain, where the rival factions of both left and right, Communist and Fascist, were even then engaged.

Predecessor Named BEF Leader

When the formation of the BEF was announced on September 3—the day the Allies declared war—the French wanted as its leader Sir John Dill (1881-1944). Much to everyone’s surprise, they got John Vereck, Lord Gort (1886-1946), the man whom Ironside had succeeded as CIGS and whom both he (and virtually everyone else) thought was out of his depth in the top spot in London.

Gort had been commissioned from Sandhurst in the prestigious Grenadier Guards, and in World War I had been awarded the Distinguished Service Order as well as having been mentioned in dispatches eight times. Between the wars he served in China and India. Although promoted to lieutenant general by Hore-Belisha, he fell afoul of his boss, who sent him to France to run the BEF out of spite.

Gort Not Concerned Enough With Big Picture

Nicknamed “Jack” and “Fat Boy,” Gort nonetheless held the coveted Victoria Cross, but was too obsessed with detail and not concerned enough with the big picture. Considered ideal to command a division-sized unit in combat, Gort failed to prepare the British Army for modern, mechanized, armored warfare, didn’t believe in air-ground coordination, and—though a faithful ally to the French—for these reasons was the least likely choice to command the BEF.

Once the shooting started, Gort’s chief accomplishment was to briefly stop the Waffen SS and Rommel’s 7th Panzer Division on May 21 at Arras, and then effect the “Miracle of Dunkirk” that saved the British Army. He later commanded the Home Guard, Gibraltar, and Malta. He, Ironside, and Dill were all eventually promoted to Field Marshal.


Vizier c.2345-2181 BC

Kagemni was a vizier and judge during the reigns of three kings during the Sixth Dynasty. His tomb, which lies to the right of that of *Mereruka at Saqqara, was excavated in 1893 and contains ten chambers. The wall-scenes in this tomb reflect the customary range of ceremonies and activities found in Old Kingdom mastabatombs: there are various agricultural pursuits and Kagemni is shown hunting in the marshes and inspecting fisheries as well as receiving gifts from his attendants. Generally, the tomb-scenes of this period reflect the everyday activities of the people employed on the great estates and provide a valuable insight into the lives of the great nobles their families and of their estate workers.'s name is also known from a papyrus of the Middle Kingdom (c.1900 BC), which is now in Paris. In this text (often known as the 'Instruction for Kagemni') part of which is lost, it is clear that King *Huni (who ruled at the end of the Third Dynasty) had instructed his vizier to write down his own wisdom and experience to act as a guide for his children, among whom is the future vizier, Kagemni. The vizier, Kagemni, who possessed the tomb at Saqqara would have been alive several hundred years later, but the Middle Kingdom author of this text probably recalled Kagemni as the name of a famous Old Kingdom vizier and therefore included him in the text. genre of literature is sometimes referred to as 'Instructions' or 'Wisdom Literature'; these texts are believed to have originated during the Old Kingdom, and they are customarily couched in terms of advice given by an older man to his young charges. They offer counsel on how to pursue a successful course in life, and generally embody the Egyptian concepts of ethical and moral behaviour.

Heraclius (October 5, 610 – February 641 A.D.)R. Scott Moore

The last years of Phocas’ reign were troubled ones with many foreign threats, such as the Slavic incursions, and internal threats, such as violent religious conflicts and even unsuccessful rebellions. In 608, the exarch of Carthage revolted and dispatched a fleet under the command of his son, Heraclius, to Constantinople. Along the way, in Egypt, Heraclius joined forces with his cousin Nicetas who was able to capture Cyrenaica and Egypt from Phocas’ general Bonosos. Heraclius’ fleet continued on to Constantinople where he entered into secret negotiations with one of Phocas’ top military leaders, Priscus. Phocas had appointed him and he was married to Phocas’ daughter Domentzia. With the support of Priscus, the patriarch Sergius I, and the faction of the Greens, Heraclius was able to seize the city, have Phocas beheaded and became emperor on October 5, 610 AD.

Private Life

Heraclius, the son of the exarch of Carthage, Heraclius, and Epiphania was born around the year 575. When he was crowned as emperor in 610 AD, he married Fabia, who then took the name Eudocia. From this marriage, Heraclius had a daughter, Eudocia, and a son Heraclius Constantine, who was proclaimed as co-emperor in 613. Suffering from epilepsy, Fabia died in 612 and Heraclius married his niece Martina in 613. With Martina, Heraclius had nine children of which four died in infancy. Heraclius’ marriage to Martina was never received favorably by either the people of Constantinople or the Church.

Foreign Affairs

When Heraclius first came to the throne in 610, the Byzantine Empire was being attacked from numerous sides. In the west, the Avars and Slavs were expanding into the northern Balkans. The Slavs controlled the Danube regions, Thrace, Macedonia, and were soon invading Central Greece and the Peloponnesus. In the east, meanwhile, the Persians under the rule of Chosroes had begun a series of successful attacks on the empire resulting in the loss of Damascus in 613, Jerusalem in 614 (destroying the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and capturing the Holy Cross) and Egypt in 619. Recognizing the difficulty in fighting on two opposing fronts at the same time, Heraclius signed a peace treaty with the Avars in 619, and focused on the eastern half of the empire. In the spring of 622, Heraclius left Constantinople for Asia Minor and began training his troops over the summer, focusing on a more involved role for the Byantine cavalry.

Heraclius. 610-641. AV Solidus (21mm, 4.42 g, 6h). Constantinople mint, 5th officina. Struck 610-613. Helmeted and cuirassed facing bust, holding cross

In the autumn, Heraclius’ army invaded Armenia and soon won several victories over the Persians. The Avars, in the meantime, became restless and Heraclius was forced to renegotiate the peace treaty with them at a much higher tribute level. Heraclius then returned to the army and for the next several years unsuccessfully attempted to break through the Persian army and into Persia. In August of 626 while Heraclius and his army were in Lazica away from Constantinople, a Persian army attacked the city from the east while an army of Avars, Slavs, and Bulgars attacked from the west and from the sea. On August 10, the Byzantine navy was able to defeat the opposing fleet and then rout the combined Slav and Avar land force. With the defeat of their allies, the Persians retreated to Syria.
In the autumn of 627, Heraclius began to work his way into Persian territory winning an important battle in December at Nineveh during which most of the Persian army was destroyed. As Heraclius continued to move further into Persian territory, Chosroes was deposed and succeeded by his son Kavadh-Siroe whose first act was to secure a treaty with Heraclius. The treaty was very favorable to the Byzantines and returned all the former Byzantine territories to the empire. Within a few short months, Kavadh-Siroe fell ill and died after naming Heraclius as guardian of his son, Chosroes II. For all practical purposes, the Persian Empire no longer existed. In 630 Heraclius traveled to Jerusalem where he returned the Holy Cross to the city among much acclaim.
The defeat of the Persians created a larger problem for the Byzantine empire. The struggle between the Byzantines and the Persians had worn down both sides and the defeat of the Persians allowed the Arabs to quickly absorb what remained of the Persian empire. It also removed the buffer between the Arabs and the Byzantines allowing the two empires to come into contact and conflict. In 634 the Arab armies invaded Syria and defeated Theodore, the emperor’s brother, in a string of battles. Heraclius raised a large army that attacked the Arabs near the Yarmuk, a tributary of the Jordan, in the fall of 636. After a successful beginning, the larger Byzantine army was defeated allowing the conquest of Syria. The Byzantine defeat also led to the Arabs quickly taking Mesopotamia, Armenia and eventually Egypt.
Internal Affairs

While Heraclius enjoyed military success, major changes occurred internally under his rule. Greek replaced Latin as the official language of the empire and Heraclius adopted the Greek title of in place of the Latin Caesar, Augustus, or Imperator. The recovery of the eastern areas of the Byzantine Empire from the Persians once again raised the problem of religious unity, centering around the understanding of the true nature of Christ. The eastern areas, particularly Armenia, Syria, and Egypt believed in monophysitism, Christ having one nature composed of both divine and human elements. The other areas of the empire followed the orthodox view expressed at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 that decreed Christ had two natures united in one person. In an effort to bridge the gap between the two views and bring them back together, the Patriarch of Constantinople, Sergius, promoted the concept of monoenergism which proposed that the two natures of Christ had one energy. While this was received favorably at first, monoenergism soon had vocal opponents, among them the monk Sophronius who became patriarch of Jerusalem in 634 AD. The opposition to monoenergism led Sergius to propose a new doctrine that of monotheletism, the belief in a single will in Christ. Heraclius supported the new doctrine of Sergius and put it forth in an edict known as the Ekthesis, and posted it in the narthex of Hagia Sophia in 638. This failed to settle the controversy as it was rejected by the Orthodox, the Monophysites, and even the Church of Rome.


During the last years of Heraclius’ life, it became evident that a struggle was taking place between Heraclius’ son from his first marriage, Heraclius Constantine, and his second wife Martina who was trying to position her son Heraclonas in line for the throne. On the 11th of February 641, Heraclius died and in his will left the empire to both Heraclius Constantine and Heraclonas to rule jointly with Martina as Empress and mother of both.


Haldon, J.F. Byzantium in the Seventh Century: the transformation of a culture. Cambridge, 1990.

Herrin, Judith. The Formation of Christendom. Princeton, 1987.

Kaegi, Jr. Walter Emil. Byzantine Military Unrest, 471-843: an interpretation. Amsterdam, 1981.

Armstrong Whitworth Siskin

he Armstrong Whitworth Siskin (a siskin being a smallish yellow-tinged finch) was the primary air mount of many-a-Royal Air Force pilot in her heyday. She represented one of the earliest aircraft designs for the British in the post-war world (following World War 1) and became the nation’s first “all-metal” fighter. She proved a capable fighter aircraft throughout the 1920’s and even stood for a time in the 1930’s before being replaced by more modern implements. The aircraft served with a few nations overseas and became a popular acrobatic platform and racer during aviations “golden years” of the 1920’s.


Origins of the Siskin can be traced back to the RAF Specification Type 1 requiring the development of a capable single-seat fighter to utilize the overly optimistic ABC Dragonfly radial piston engine of 320 horsepower – a product of ABC Motors Limited (“ABC” standing for “All-British engine Company”). The Dragonfly found its own origins as a product developed in the latter years of World War 1. The powerplant proved optimistic in that it promised to deliver excellent performance to push a new generation of fighters to all-new heights. Unfortunately, the Dragonfly proved quite unreliable and temperamental and performed at levels well below the advertised numbers. The engine was ultimately cancelled when all of its deficiencies could not be ironed out in whole.

The Siskin grew out of the Siddeley-Deasy S.R.2 Siskin aircraft designed by Major F.M. Green. Green served as chief engineer at the Royal Aircraft Factory and had now become a part of the Siddeley-Deasy Motor Car Company. Not limited to the production of motor vehicles, the Siddeley-Deasy brand also delved into manufacture of engines and aircraft. The company was based out of Coventry and was founded by Henry Hugh Peter Deasy. While Deasy left in 1908, J D Siddeley came aboard and changed the company name to Siddeley-Deasy. From there, the company would gradually morph into the Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft firm (known formally as the Sir W.G. Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft Co. Ltd after their 1920 merger with Armstrong Whitworth) and became responsible for a large portion of Siskin production thereafter.

The initial Siskin of all-wood construction flew with the ill-fated Dragonfly engine for the first time in May of 1919. The aircraft itself proved a capable mount though the engine left much to be desired. As a result, the Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar of 325 horsepower was selected to replace the Dragonfly in future flights of the Siskin. The new Siskin went airborne on March 20th, 1921.

By this time, the British Air Ministry had made a decision to pursue all-metal fighters for their future needs – the fear being that another war could spell shortages of wood and thusly affect the capability of wood-based fighter production in the UK. As such, the Siskin was redesigned in 1923 to incorporate an all-metal aluminum alloy internal frame. The new design was affixed the designation of Siskin III and flown on May 7th, 1923. The Royal Air Force (RAF) took notice and ordered six such systems for evaluation. Tests were conducted in January of 1924 and proved quite promising to the point that the Siskin III was officially accepted into service with the RAF. The Siskin became the RAFs first all-metal fighter and saw a first-run production total of 64 examples for RAF.

The Variants

In all, the Siskin existed in only a handful of variants. There were the three Siddeley Deasy S.R.2 Siskin developmental aircraft which was followed two civilian Siskin II prototypes – the second becoming the prototype fighter model. The series took a change for the better with the arrival of the Siskin III, now an all-metal design, of which 64 were produced for the Royal Air Force.

The definitive Siskin became the Siskin IIIA of which some 348 were produced with 340 of these slated for the RAF and the remaining 8 for the Royal Canadian Air Force. The IIIA brought about a longer fuselage

HSwMS A26 (class)

The Swedish Navy had been attempting to secure a Next Generation attack submarine since the 1980s when the Soviet Union remained the primary threat of the region – and the world for that matter. The service enacted “U-bat 2000” led by local industry player Kockums to help fulfill the requirement before the end of the millennium. However, with the fall of the Soviet Empire in 1991, the need for such an expensive attack platform waned while the service made due with its Sodermanland-class and Gotland-class diesel-electrics for the foreseeable future. However, as age has crept into these late-1980s/early-1990s designs, it has become apparent that a new submarine design is still in order and this has, in turn, spurred interest in a next gen submarine platform once again.

By March 2015, the Swedish Government committed to the venture, now recognized as “A26”, and is intent on purchasing two new all-modern diesel-electric attack platforms built to the same standard by Saab Kockums AB (Saab Group). The boats will possess a displacement of 1,930 tons and have a length of 206.7 feet, a beam of 21 feet and a draught of 19.8 feet. The diesel-electric propulsion scheme will use the Stirling API system for underwater silent running and onboard stores will allow the boats to remain at sea for up to 45 days at a time before requiring resupply. The hull will be capable of depths down to 655 feet and the crew complement will number between 20 and 30 persons.

The proposed armament scheme is consistent with previous modern Swedish submarine designs, a mix of 4 x 533mm (21″) torpedo tubes and 2 x 400mm (16″) torpedo tubes (all bow facing). The boat will also have provision to carry naval mines as needed. There is also possible support for an 18-cell Vertical Launch System (VLS) to fire the American Tomahawk cruise missile is also planned.

The A26 will be completed with a modular design as its centerpiece, allowing a single boat framework to be customized to Swedish Navy needs while keeping operating costs minimal. Five major sections will make up the hull of the submarine to include its bow, sail and three aft sections. This allows each module to be built independently and be tested, modified, and/or replaced as needed with the new/revised section simply being reinserted into the submarines design flow. The submarine can, therefore, be customized to meet future demands as they arise and will more than likely be able to maintain a long-running career as a result.

Much thought has been placed in the submarine’s acoustic signature to help the boat maintain an advantage in the undersea hunting game while long-term maintenance is to be kept at a minimum to reduce in-dock times for maintenance, repairs and general overhauls. Beyond this is attention being paid to making the A26 a long-endurance attack submarine capable of deep water ocean operation – moving the Swedish fleet away from its usual coastline duties.

Of note is that the bow of the submarine has a multi-mission porthole which can house a mini-submersible to provide an extended set of “eyes” underwater – useful when supporting rescue operations or special forces actions.

Externally, the boat exhibits a conventional submarine arrangement. The sail, of a rather unique and low-profile design, sits ahead of midships and contains the needed sensors and communications equipment as well as the dive planes. The tailplanes (including the rudder) are arranged in an “X” pattern aft and is consistent with previous Swedish Navy submarine designs. The multi-bladed propeller unit sits just outside of the tailplanes.

To date, the A26 has had something of a prolonged and somewhat troubled development history centered between logistical, industry and political meandering issues all-the-while time slips away from the existing in-service Swedish submarine fleet. The Swedish Navy is planning on having its two A26 submarines online on or around 2022 and these will most likely begin their careers operating side-by-side with the existing Gotland-class boats. The current (2017) Swedish submarine fleet numbers five boats (3 x Gotland-class and 2 x Sondermanland-class).


4 x 533mm (21″) torpedo tubes
2 x 400mm (16″) torpedo tubes

Possible support for Tomahawk cruise missiles in an 18-cell Vertical Launch System (VLS).


Year: 2022
Status: In-Development
Ships-in-Class: 2
Named Ships: Unnamed Boat #1; Unnamed Boat #2
Roles: Hunter; Direct-Attack; Complement: 27
Length: 206.7 ft (63.00 m)
Width: 21 ft (6.40 m)
Height: 19.7 ft (6.00 m)
Displacement (Surface): 1,930 tons
Displacement (Submerged): 2,400 tons Propulsion: Conventional diesel-electric arrangement featuring diesel engines for surface running coupled with an electric motor for submerged travel. Speed (Surface): 16 kts (18 mph)
Speed (Submerged): 22 kts (25 mph)
Range: 6,952 nm (8,000 miles; 12,875 km)


Historical Map of Caesar’s Campaign in Gaul, 58 BC
Illustrating the Battle at Mulhouse (Mülhausen / Muelhausen) — September 58 BC
Caesar’s Campaign Against Ariovistus


Courtesy of the United States Military Academy Department of History.

EARLY WINTER IN 54 BC: a typically wet, grey November day in eastern Belgium. In a Roman military camp on the site of modern-day Tongres, close to where the borders of Belgium, Holland and Germany now meet, a council of war was under way. One full legion – ten cohorts notionally of 500 men apiece – and five additional cohorts had been brigaded together in winter quarters here, just to the west of the Rhine in the territory of a small Germanic-speaking tribe called the Eburones. At the end of each campaigning season, Julius Caesar’s standard practice was to disperse his legions to fortified encampments. The legionaries constructed these themselves, according to a standard pattern: ditch, mound, rampart and defensive towers on the outside, barrack blocks within. The length of the walls was dictated by an ancient formula: two hundred times the square root of the number of cohorts to be accommodated. Subdued tribes in the immediate neighbourhood were responsible for supplying the troops through the winter, until the grass grew again to support the pack animals, and campaigning could begin anew.

At first, all had gone well. The Roman force was led to its encampment by the two kings of the Eburones, Ambiorix and the rather older Catuvoleus. The fort was built on time, and the Eburones brought in the first food supplies. But about three weeks later, things started to go wrong. Encouraged by stirrings of revolt elsewhere, and roused by Indutiomarus, leader of the much more numerous Treveri, a neighbouring tribe from the Moselle valley, some Eburones ambushed and wiped out a small Roman foraging party. They then rushed the Roman ramparts, but quickly withdrew under a hail of missiles. The atmosphere in the Roman camp was suddenly uneasy, and it quickly intensified. Ambiorix and Catuvoleus set up a parley, both claiming that a bunch of hotheads was responsible for the attack, while Ambiorix in particular was keen to portray himself as a committed Roman ally. He said that a major revolt was certainly in the offing, with huge numbers of hired Germani about to descend on Gaul from east of the Rhine. It was not for him to tell the Roman commanders what to do, he pointed out, but if they wanted to concentrate their forces against the attack, he would guarantee the brigade a safe passage to either of two other legionary encampments situated about fifty miles away, one to the south-east, the other to the south-west.

Matters could not have gone better had Ambiorix written the script himself. The Roman force was commanded by a pair of legates, Quintus Titurius Sabinus and Lucius Aurunculeius Cotta. Their council of war was long and rancorous. Cotta and some of his senior subordinates were determined to stay put. They had food, and the camp was fully entrenched; Caesar would send reinforcements as soon as he heard of the revolt – and Gaul was famous for the speed with which rumour could travel. Sabinus, however, argued that the natives would not have dared to revolt if Caesar had not already left for Italy. Goodness only knew when news of the revolt would reach him, and the legions, dispersed as they were in their separate winter quarters, faced the prospect of being wiped out piecemeal. For Sabinus, therefore, the offer of safe passage had to be accepted. There was no time to lose. He was also influenced by the fact that the fort contained the least experienced of Caesar’s legions, enrolled only the previous spring, and used as baggage guards in the major battles of the last campaigning season. The council continued, with tempers frayed and voices raised, Sabinus deliberately letting on to the soldiers that a plan that would lead them quickly to safety was being ignored. Around midnight, Cotta gave way. The most important thing for morale was to maintain a united front among the officers. Hurriedly the legionaries prepared to leave, and at dawn they were off. Believing that Ambiorix had spoken as a friend, the Roman force left in marching, not battle, order, an extended column carrying most of its heavy baggage.

Two miles outside the camp, the route passed through thick woods and down into a deep valley. Before the advance guard had climbed up the other side, and while the bulk of the column was strung out along the valley floor, the trap was sprung. Eburones appear above them on either side and deluge the Romans with missiles. The fighting is drawn out, but the victory of the Eburones total. By dawn the next day, only a few Roman stragglers who went to ground in the chaos are left alive. The vast majority of the seven thousand-plus men who built their camp just weeks before are dead. A brutal sequence of events, and startling in their unexpectedness. Not the fate you’d expect to be meted out to any of the army of Julius Caesar, famous for that most grandiose of boasts:veni vidi vici – ‘I came, I saw, I conquered.’

The action, however, bears closer inspection. While this particular Roman force was overwhelmed, the details of the engagement graphically demonstrate the astonishing fighting capacities of the legionary soldier on which the Roman Empire itself was built. Sabinus lost his head as the ambush began: not surprising in a commander who must have realized immediately that he’d led his men into a death-trap. Cotta fared better. He’d smelt a rat all along and taken what precautions he could. When the missiles started flying, he and his senior centurions quickly pulled the drawn-out column into a square, abandoning the baggage. Now orders could be given and the cohorts manoeuvred as a unit, even though the tactical position was entirely against them. Ambiorix had the height advantage and sufficient control of his followers to use it. The Eburones avoided hand-to-hand fighting for several hours, simply pouring down missiles from above: spears, arrows, sling bullets. The Roman casualties rapidly mounted; every time a cohort made an ordered sortie to left or right in an attempt to get to grips with their tormentors, they exposed themselves to raking fire from the rear. Trapped, their strength ebbing away, the Roman force held on for an extraordinary eight hours. At this point Sabinus tried to parley with Ambiorix, but Romans did not discuss terms with an armed enemy, growled Cotta, despite having been hit full in the face by a sling bullet. Sabinus was struck down while still talking, and this was the signal for the Eburones to charge down for the kill. Many legionaries fought and died with Cotta in the valley bottom, but some still kept formation and made their way back to the camp two miles away. There the survivors kept the Eburones out until nightfall, and then, to a man, committed suicide rather than fall into the hands of the enemy. If the baggage guard would fight all day with no hope of success and commit mass suicide rather than surrender, Rome’s enemies were going to be in serious trouble.

The Rise of Imperial Rome

IF THE ROOTS OF Roman imperial power lay firmly in the military might of its legions, the cornerstone of their astonishing fighting spirit can be attributed to their training. As with all elite military formations – ancient and modern – discipline was ferocious. With no courts of human rights to worry about, instructors were at liberty to beat the disobedient – to death if necessary. And if a whole cohort disobeyed orders, the punishment was decimation: every tenth man flogged to death in front of his comrades. But you can never base morale on fear exclusively, and group cohesion was also generated by more positive methods. Recruits trained together, fought together and played together in groups of eight: a contubernium (literally, a group sharing a tent). And they were taken young: all armies prefer young men with plenty of testosterone. Legionaries were also denied regular sexual contact: wives and children might make them think twice about the risks of battle. Basic training was gruelling. You had to learn to march 36 kilometres in five hours, weighed down with 25 kilos or more of armour and equipment. All the time you were being told how special you were, how special your friends were, what an elite force you belonged to. Just like the Marines, but much nastier.

The result of all this was groups of super-fit young men, partly brutalized and therefore brutal themselves, closely bonded with one another though denied other strong emotional ties, and taking a triumphant pride in the unit to which they belonged. This was symbolized in the religious oaths sworn to the unit standards, the legendary eagles. On successful graduation, the legionary vowed on his life and honour to follow the eagles and never desert them, even in death. Such was the determination not to let the standards fall into enemy hands that one of Cotta’s standard bearers, Lucius Petrosidius, hurled his eagle over the rampart at Tongres as he himself was struck down, rather than let it be captured. The honour of the unit, and the bond with fellow soldiers, became the most important element in a legionary’s life, sustaining a fighting spirit and willingness to obey orders which few opponents could match.

To this psychological and physical conditioning, Roman training added first-rate practical skills. Roman legionaries were well armed by the standards of the day, but possessed no secret weapons. Much of their equipment was copied from their neighbours: the legionary’s distinctive and massive shield – the scutum – for instance, from the Celts. But they were carefully trained to make the best use of it. Individually, they were taught to despise wild swinging blows with the sword. These were to be parried with the shield, and the legionary’s characteristic short sword – the gladius – brought up in a short stabbing motion into the side of an opponent exposed by his own swing. Legionaries were also equipped with defensive armour, and this, plus the weapons training, gave them a huge advantage in hand-to-hand combat.

Throughout Caesar’s wars in Gaul, therefore, his troops were able to defeat much larger opposition forces; Ambiorix was well advised to keep his Eburones from rushing down from the heights until eight hours’ worth of missiles had greatly reduced Roman numbers. On a larger scale, legions were trained to manoeuvre as units, receiving their orders by bugle call and maintaining their cohesion even in the chaos of battle. As a result, any Roman commander worth his salt could deliver maximum force when opportunity presented itself, and retreat in good order if necessary. Disciplined, coherent forces have a massive advantage over even very large numbers of ferocious opponents acting as individuals, and it was only the ultimate tactical disadvantage of being trapped in a valley that prevented Cotta from bringing his cohorts to bear with telling effect. On more even ground, on another occasion, just 300 legionaries who had been cut off were able to defend themselves for hours against 6,000 opponents at the cost of only a few wounded.2

A Roman legion also had other skills. Learning to build, and build quickly, was a standard element of training: roads, fortified camps and siege engines were but a few of the tasks undertaken. On one occasion, Caesar put a pontoon bridge across the Rhine in just ten days, and quite small contingents of Roman troops regularly controlled large territories from their own defensive ramparts. Cotta’s advice to stay put that November day might well have proved successful. Three years before, another Roman force, comprising just eight cohorts, had been sent to overwinter in an Alpine valley at the headwaters of the River Rhône above Lake Geneva, because Caesar was looking to secure the St Bernard Pass. Confronted with an enemy that massively outnumbered them, they used their fortifications and tactical nous to inflict such a defeat on their attackers that they were subsequently able to effect an unharassed withdrawal.

The legions’ building skills could be just as effectively employed in offensive siege warfare – most famously in subduing Alesia, hill-fort and headquarters of the great Gallic leader Vercingetorix. Here, over a circuit of 14 miles, Caesar’s legions dug three concentric sets of ditches facing inwards – one 20 feet wide and deep, the other two 15 feet – full of booby-traps of various lethal kinds, backed by the standard ramp and palisade 12 feet high, topped with battlements and studded with towers at 80-foot intervals. When a Gallic relief force came to raise the siege, a similar set of barricades was added facing outwards. As a result, the Romans were able to prevent many attempts by their more numerous opponents to break in or out, fighting always with tactical advantage, the fortifications giving them sufficient time to rush reserves to the threatened spots. At another siege, that of the seemingly impregnable Gallic fort at Uxellodunum, Caesar used a tenstorey tower on a massive ramp, together with underground mines, to deny the defenders access to the mountain spring which was their only source of water, and so compelled their surrender.

Roman soldiers: cornicen — players of the cornu (horn). From the cast of Trajan’s column in the Victoria and Albert museum, London.
Roman legionaries. Bas-relief from Glanum (Saint-Rémy-de-Provence). Espérandieu 130. On display at Fourvière Gallo-Roman museum, Lyon.

If the Roman legion in combat was a professional killing-machine, it was also much more. Its building capacity could turn immediate military victory into the long-term domination of territories and regions: a strategic weapon on which an empire could be built.3

Caesar’s campaigns in Gaul belong to a relatively late phase in Rome’s rise to imperial domination. It had started life as one city-state among many, struggling first for survival and then for local hegemony in central and southern Italy. The city’s origins are shrouded in myth, as are the details of many of its early local wars. Something is known of these struggles from the late sixth century BC, however, and they continued periodically down to the early third century, when Rome’s dominance over its home sphere was established by the capitulation of the Etruscans in 283, and the defeat of the Greek city-states of southern Italy in 275. As winner of its local qualifiers, Rome graduated to regional matches against Carthage, the other major power of the western Mediterranean. The first of the so-called Punic wars lasted from 264 to 241 BC, and ended with the Romans turning Sicily into their first province. It took two further wars, spanning 218–202 and 149–146, for Carthaginian power finally to be crushed, but victory left Rome unchallenged in the western Mediterranean, and added North Africa and Spain to its existing power-base. At the same time, Roman power also began to spread more widely. Macedonia was conquered in 167 BC and direct rule over Greece was established from the 140s. This presaged the assertion of Roman hegemony over all the rich hinterlands of the eastern Mediterranean. By about 100 BC, Cilicia, Phrygia, Lydia, Caria and many of the other provinces of Asia Minor were in Roman hands. Others quickly followed. The circle of Mediterranean domination was completed by Pompey’s annexation of Seleucid Syria in 64 BC, and Octavian’s of Egypt in 30 BC.

The Mediterranean and its coastlands were always the main focus of Rome’s imperial ambitions, but to secure them, it soon proved necessary to move the legions north of the Alps into non-Mediterranean Europe. The assertion of Roman dominion over the Celts of northern Italy was followed in short order by the creation in the 120s BC of the province of Gallia Narbonensis, essentially Mediterranean France. This new territory was required to defend northern Italy, since mountain ranges – even high ones – do not by themselves a frontier make, as Hannibal had proved. In the late republican and early imperial periods, roughly the fifty years either side of the birth of Christ, the Empire also continued to grow because of the desire of individual leaders for self-glorification. By this date, conquest overseas had become a recognized route to power in Rome, so that conquests continued into areas that were neither so profitable, nor strategically vital. Thanks to Julius Caesar, all of Gaul fell under Roman sway between 58 and 50 BC. Further conquests followed under his nephew and adopted successor Octavian, better known as Augustus, the first of the Roman emperors. By 15 BC, the legionaries’ hob-nailed sandals were moving into the Upper and Middle Danube regions – roughly modern Bavaria, Austria and Hungary. Some of these lands had long belonged to Roman client kings, but now they were turned into provinces and brought under direct control. By 9 BC all the territory as far as the River Danube had been annexed, and an arc of territory around the Alpine passes into Italy added to the Empire. For the next thirty years or so, its north European boundary moved back and forth towards the River Elbe, before the difficulty of conquering the forests of Germany led to the abandonment of ambitions east of the Rhine. In AD 43, under Claudius, the conquest of Britain was begun, and the old Thracian kingdom (the territory of modern Bulgaria and beyond) was formally incorporated into the Empire as a province some three years later.

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