King Philip II: The King Of Macedonia

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The Macedonian line is certainly coarse and inelegant, but it protects behind its shields and lances immovable wedges of tough, densely packed soldiers. The Macedonians call in a phalanx, an infantry column that holds its ground. They stand man to man, arms interlocked with arms. They wait eagerly for their commander’s signal, and they are trained to follow the standards and not break ranks. - Quintus Curtius Rufus When Phillip II became king of Macedonia in 359 BC he was forced to make several decisions that would impact his kingdom. Philip’s older brother and predecessor Perdiccas III had just been defeated and slain along with 4,000 other men in battle against Illyria. (Sage, 167) Philip found himself in a situation that was the culmination…show more content…
The traditional hoplite phalanx used swords which was the first thing changed by Philip. They started using smaller shields and longer spears called sarrisai.(1-9) The sarissa soon became a trademark of the Macedonia phalanx and consisted of pike or cornel wood that averaged 18 feet in length with a spear head that weighed between 2-3 pounds and butt spikes that could be driven into the ground to support the spears against the rushing enemy. (1-13-14) The lance was two pieces fitted together by a bronze coupling sleeve which made in sturdy, improved the balance, and decreased the bend making it less likely to break or snap in battle. The use of the sarissa forced the Macedonians to change the size and shape of their shields from a large concaved shield to a smaller and less concaved shield with no rim and an elbow sling that was supported by the shoulder. (1-14) It is not known what armor the men of the phalanx wore, but it is speculated by several historians that the infantrymen wore either bronze or leather cuirass or a lighter linothorax (a cuirass made of glued layers of lined). (1-15) The front line must have worn some kind of breastplate to help protect their chest. The historian Polyaesnus claims that Alexander armed soldiers that had fled in previous battle with hemithorakion (armor that only covered…show more content…
Though the phalanx was the most advanced and formidable formation of the time it still had a weakness. While the front of the phalanx was composed of shields and hundreds of spear tips, the rear and sides of the phalanx were left wide open for attack. Philip trained them to be extremely mobile and the ability to turn the entire formation around in the matter of seconds, but this was not a guaranteed protection. Another way to protect their weakness was to have the phalanx’s fight side by side with not enough room in between to be susceptible to an attack or they would surround the phalanx formations with formations of calvary units. Rough terrain also hampered the phalanx as they would lose cohesion, as this was shown in the battle of Granicus. The Granicus River ran between the two armies of Alexander and Darius and played a large role in the battle hampering the Macedonian phalanx. The terrain forced them to fight hand to hand making their sarissas worthless and left them vulnerable to the quicker spears held by their enemy(Stoneman, 39). The Macedonian phalanx was too well trained to panic and eventually gained the upper hand in the fight and routed the Persians, proving once again the superiority the new phalanx had over its
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