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Die Slag van Carrhae (53 v.G.J.)

Die Slag van Carrhae (53 v.G.J.)



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Carrhae (53 v.C.)

Harran (Akkadies Harrânu, "kruisende paaie" Latyn Carrhae): antieke stad in Mesopotamië, bekend vir 'n tempel van die maangod Sin en die nederlaag van die Romeinse generaal Crassus in 53 vC ("slag van Carrhae").

Aan die vlakte oos van Harran is die Romeinse generaal Crassus, een van die triumvirs, in 53 vC verslaan deur die Partiese generaal Surena, wat veg vir koning Orodes II. Hy het hom goed voorberei nadat hy sy flank verseker het deur 'n alliansie te sluit met koning Artavasdes II van Armenië.

Die land is nie so droog soos soms veronderstel is nie. Alhoewel hierdie deel van Mesopotamië 'n steppe is, is daar riviere - Harran is in die vallei van die Balikh geleë - en landbou is beslis moontlik. 'N Weermag, selfs sewe legioene, kan homself hier voed.

'N Opsomming van die Geskiedenis van Rome sedert die stigting deur die Romeinse historikus Livy verklaar:

Marcus Crassus steek die Eufraatrivier oor, voer die oorlog na die Parthiese ryk en word verslaan in 'n geveg waarin sy seun ook val. Met die oorblyfsels van sy leër beset hy 'n heuwel en word deur die vyandelike leier, Surena, na 'n konferensie ontbied asof hy oor 'n wapenstilstand sou praat. Hy is egter gevange geneem en vermoor om te voorkom dat hy die verontwaardiging van die lewe bly. let op [Livy, Periochae 106.5.]

Die verhaal van die veldtog word in besonderhede deur Plutarchus in sy Life of Crassus vertel. let op [Plutarchus, Life of Crassus 16-33.] Die geveg self het deelgeneem naby die rivier, wat moontlik noord van die suide van die stad was na die nederlaag; die Romeine het in die nag na Harran vertrek; moerasse (!) was genoodsaak om te onderhandel en het hul generaal verloor.

Die belangrikste rede vir die oorwinning van die Parthia het niks te doen met verraad of 'n woestyn waarin die Romeine nie hul soldate kon ontplooi nie: hierdie faktore is uitgevind om te bedek dat die Partiërs beter was in getalle en kwaliteit. Hulle het beter toevoerlyne gehad, en dromedarisse het honderde duisende pyle vir hulle gebring. Dit het die stryd besleg.

Die dood van Crassus het beteken dat van die eens magtige triumviraat slegs Pompeius die Grote en Julius Caesar oorgebly het. Noudat daar niemand was om hulle in balans te bring nie, moes die twee mans vroeër of later 'n burgeroorlog voer.

'N Ander gevolg was dat die Romeine die ooste moes binnedring om hulself te wreek. Mark Antony het dit met gemengde sukses gedoen. Dit was aan Tiberius oorgelaat om die arendstandaarde terug te ontvang, 'n gebeurtenis wat behoorlik in die Romeinse propaganda gevier is.


Bou op tot oorlog

Crassus het laat in 16055 vC in Sirië aangekom en onmiddellik begin om sy ontsaglike rykdom te gebruik om 'n leër op te rig. Hy het sewe legioene (35 000 man), agt groepe hulpdienste (4000 man) en 4000 kavallerie grootgemaak, waaronder die 1000 Galliese ruiters wat Publius na Sirië gebring het. Die Armeense koning Artavasdes   het Cressus aangeraai om 'n roete deur Armenië te neem om die woestyn te vermy en het hom versterkings van 16,000 kavallerie en 30,000 infanterie aangebied. Crassus het die aanbod geweier en besluit om die direkte roete deur Mesopotamië te neem en die groot stede in die streek te verower.

Die Partiese koning, Orodes II, het in reaksie op Crassus se oorlogsvoorbereiding sy leër verdeel en hy het die meeste van sy soldate, meestal infanterie en 'n klein hoeveelheid kavallerie, geneem om die Armeniërs te straf en die res van sy magte gestuur, 9000 berede boogskutters en 1000 katafrakture onder bevel van die generaal Surena om die leër van Crassus te stuit totdat Orodes saam met die res van die leër uit Armenië kon terugkeer.

Crassus steek die Euthrates oor en vorder in Mesopotamië, waar hy Surena se leër teëgekom het naby die stad Carrhae.


Die Slag van Carrhae (53 v.G.J.) - Geskiedenis

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Slag van Carrhae (53 v.C.) - Marcus Lucinius Crassus was die rykste man ter wêreld in die 1ste eeu v.C. tog was dit Pompeius en Caesar wat al die eer gekry het as gevolg van hul militêre verowerings. Crassus wou dit verander deur 'n eie militêre sukses te behaal. In 53 v.C. besluit hy om Parthia binne te val en 'n skouspelagtige oorwinning te behaal oor die nuwe mededinger van Rome. Ongelukkig vir hom was hy beter daarin om geld te verdien as om gevegte te wen. Net soos Caesar, wat Gallië binnegeval het, het Crassus dieselfde gedoen in Parthia sonder toestemming van die senaat. Die veldtog word in detail deur die historikus Plutarchus opgeteken. Crassus het in 55 v.C. in die oostelike provinsie van Sirië in Rome aangekom. en het sy geweldige rykdom aangewend om 'n leër op te rig. Binne 'n jaar het hy sewe legioene en ongeveer 4000 kavallerie gehad. Hy marsjeer toe na die Partiese gebied. Sy seun, Publius Crassus, wat as 'n opkomende ster in die Romeinse samelewing beskou is, het by die ekspedisie aangesluit. Crassus besluit om die mees direkte roete te neem wat toevallig deur die woestyn was.

Aan die ander kant is die Partiese leër gelei deur 'n bekwame generaal met die naam Surena. Hy het slegs ongeveer 'n kwart van die troepe wat Crassus gehad het, maar hulle was almal op ongeveer 9 000 perdeboogskutters en 1 000 katafrakture, wat 'n soort swaar kavallerie was. Hy gebruik hulle plek teen die Romeine deur hulle verder in die woestyn in te trek. Naby die stad Carrhae (in die huidige suidoostelike Turkye), het Surena stilgehou en gereed gemaak vir die geveg. Die generaal van Crassus, Gaius Cassius (wat later bekend sou word omdat hy saam met Brutus saamgesweer het om Caesar te vermoor), het aanbeveel dat die leër in die tradisionele Romeinse lyn ontplooi word, met die infanterie in die middel en kavallerie op die flanke. Maar Crassus weier en beveel sy manne in 'n reuse -hol vierkant wat almal na buite kyk, wat dit onmoontlik maak om buite te wees. Dit was 'n verdedigingsformasie en was afhanklik van die vyand om dit te bereik, wat hy nooit gedoen het nie. Dit was in werklikheid die perfekte opset vir die Partiërs om die Romeinse leër te vernietig. Hy beveel sy perdeboogskutters om die Romeine van 'n afstand af om te draai en voortdurend na hulle pyle te draai. Crassus het probeer om skermutselinge uit te stuur om aan te val, maar hulle is altyd teruggejaag deur die voortdurende vlieg missiele.

Crassus het toe probeer om sy hele leër na die boogskutters te skuif, maar dit was te omslagtig en die perde het eenvoudig agteruitgegaan voordat dit naby kon kom. Uiteindelik het Crassus besluit om hulle te probeer wag om uit te vind dat hulle uiteindelik pyle sou opraak. Met hul toringskerms (scuta) en swaar pantser, was sy troepe goed beskerm en die meeste skade wat sy manne opgedoen het, was nie-dodelike beserings aan die ledemate. Hierdie strategie het egter misluk, want wat Crassus (aanvanklik) nie besef het nie, is dat Surena kameelkaravane gehad het wat bykans 'n eindelose aantal pyle aan sy troepe voorsien. Toe dit by hom opkom dat die Partiërs nie hul pyle gaan uitput nie, stuur Crassus sy seun saam met 1 300 Galliese kavallerie om die perdeboogskutters aan te val. Die Partiërs het die hele tyd teruggetrek terwyl hulle met die pyle in die proses skade aan die Romeinse kavallerie aangerig het. Hulle het die Romeine reguit in die katafrakture gelei, en terwyl hulle met die Partiese swaar kavallerie te doen gekry het, ry die perdboogskutters agter die vyand om en flankeer hulle. Die Romeine, insluitend Publius Crassus, is geslag.

Intussen het Crassus sy infanterie beveel om so vinnig as moontlik te vorder om sy seun te probeer help. Wat hy gesien het, het hom verskrik. Die Partiese leër het teruggekeer en een van hulle het sy seun se kop op 'n spies gedra. Die perdeboogskutters het hul aanval hervat en hierdie keer het die katafrakture by hulle aangesluit. Omdat die Romeinse leër nie meer gestig is nie, het die katafrakture hulle aangerand en groot skade aangerig. Hulle het die aanval aangehou tot die aand, en toe hulle uiteindelik terugstaan, beveel Crassus 'n terugtog na Carrhae en laat duisende gewonde soldate agter. Die volgende oggend het Surena 'n boodskapper na Crassus gestuur om te onderhandel. Crassus was huiwerig, maar sy manne dreig met muitery, en daarom het hy berou gegee. Surena het 'n wapenstilstand voorgestel en sou die Romeine in staat stel om veilig na Sirië terug te keer in ruil daarvoor dat hulle alle Romeinse gebied oos van die Eufraat afstaan. Dit sou 'n vernederende nederlaag vir Crassus tot gevolg gehad het en hy aarsel.

Daar het verwarring ontstaan ​​en daar het gevegte tussen die partye ontstaan. Crassus en sy offisiere (behalwe ten minste Cassius wat ons weet oorleef het) is dood. Dio Cassius, die Romeinse historikus, skryf beroemd dat die Partiërs gesmelte goud in die keel van Crassus gegooi het om sy berugte hebsug te bespot. Die oorblywende Romeinse leër by Carrhae, nou sonder leier, het probeer vlug, maar die meeste is doodgemaak of gevange geneem. Toe dit alles gesê en gedoen is, is ongeveer 20 000 Romeine dood en nog 10 000 gevange geneem. Ongeveer 10 000 het dit oorleef en veilig teruggekeer na die Romeinse gebied. Die Partiërs het slegs 100 manskappe verloor. Dit was een van die ergste nederlae in die geskiedenis van Rome. Desondanks het dit die magsbalans tussen die twee koninkryke nie beduidend versteur nie. Partia was nie naastenby magtig genoeg om Rome binne te val nie. In 'n wrede wending van die noodlot, is Surena, wat sterker was as ooit na sy wonderlike oorwinning, deur die koning van Parth, Orodes II, vermoor omdat hy gevrees het dat sy hoofgeneraal hom sou kon toeval. Terug in Rome was die nuus van die nederlaag so 'n skok dat die Romeinse regering nog jare lank huiwerig sou wees om enige soort veldtog in Parthia te begin, maar Julius Caesar het na bewering planne om binne te val, maar is vermoor voordat enige poging kon gebeur gemaak word.


Wat ons geleer het en#8230 uit die Slag van Carrhae

Marcus Licinius Crassus het in die lente van 54 vC in Sirië aangekom met die planne om die Partiese Ryk, wat op die huidige Iran was, binne te val. Plutarchus, wat die mees gedetailleerde verslag van die veldtog geskryf het, stel voor dat Crassus die militêre prestasies van Caesar en Pompeius, sy vennote in die Eerste Triumviraat, wou pas.

Crassus begin stadig. Gedurende die laaste helfte van 54 v.C. het hy verskeie stede in die noorde van Mesopotamië beset voordat hy in Sirië oorwinter het. Hy wag op sy seun Publius, wat saam met 1000 Galliese kavalleriste ooswaarts was.

Toe Crassus die volgende jaar uiteindelik aan die gang kom, het ondergeskiktes hom aangespoor om die Eufraat af te beweeg. In plaas daarvan marsjeer hy direk na Parthia verby die versterkte stad Carrhae (die huidige Harran in die suidooste van Turkye). Die Romeinse mag bestaan ​​uit sewe legioene (ongeveer 35 000 infanterie), vergesel van 4000 ligte infanterie en 'n soortgelyke aantal kavallerie. Crassus het die leër op hol vierkante ontplooi.

Die kleiner Partiese mag onder generaal Surena bestaan ​​geheel en al uit kavalerie. Daar was 9 000 gemonteerde boogskutters en 1 000 katafrakture- gewapende mans met lang spiese op gepantserde perde.

Slag is iewers in Junie van 53 v.C. Die katafrakture aanvanklik aangekla, maar was gefrustreerd deur die noue vorming van die Romeine en ingeslote skilde. Toe het die boogskutters wat op Parthia gemonteer is, gaan werk. Hulle saamgestelde boë het pyle met enorme krag gelanseer, voldoende om in die wapenrusting te dring.

Die Romeine het verwag dat die Partiërs die pyle sou opraak, waarna hulle kon voortgaan om kwartiere te sluit. Dit het nie gebeur nie. Surena het 'n kameeltrein gereël om sy boogskutters weer te voorsien. In frustrasie beveel Crassus Publius om 'n losbandjie (insluitend die Galliese kavallerie) te neem en die vyand aan te kla. Die Partiërs het teruggetrek, en Publius val daarvoor en volg entoesiasties totdat hy van die hoof Romeinse liggaam afgesonder is. Toe draai die Partiërs om, vermoor Publius en vernietig sy mag byna. Met die kop van Publius op 'n spies, ry hulle terug om die hoofaanval te hernu.

Teen die nag het die wanhopige Romeine besluit om weg te glip. Die terugtrekkende mag het 4 000 gewonde legioenen, wat die Partiërs doodgemaak het, laat vaar. Die Romeine het eers teruggekeer na Carrhae, maar sonder voorsiening, moes hulle weer terugtrek. Surena het toe gereël om Crassus te ontmoet, oënskynlik om terme te bespreek. Maar dit was 'n lokval. In die gevolglike geveg is Crassus doodgemaak, sy afgesnyde kop noordwaarts gestuur na die Partiese koning Orodes II, wat 'n veldtog in Armenië gevoer het. Uiteindelik het die Partiërs ongeveer 20 000 Romeine doodgemaak en 10 000 gevange geneem.


Legioene vs. Kavallerie

Die Romeine het nog nooit iets teëgekom soos die hoogs bekwame Partiese kavallerie wat spesifiek opgelei is om op oop terrein te veg nie. In die eerste plek was daar, anders as die Romeinse en Griekse leërs, geen Parthiese infanterie nie, slegs die berugte lansdraende katafrakture van gepantserde kamele (ongeveer 1000 in totaal) en liggepantserde boogskutters (ongeveer 10 000). Hulle het vinnig beweeg en vinnig geskiet. Hulle het klem gelê op mobiliteit en kundige perdry met vinnige aanklagte en kamtige terugtogte. Laastens was daar die beroemde Parthiese skoot toe 'n beroemde boogskutter op volle vaart van sy vyand sou wegry, en terwyl hy in sy saal ronddraai, 'n spervuur ​​van pyle oor sy perd se kruis skiet. Die taktiek was byna onmoontlik om teë te werk, en die Parthiese pyle kon deur die Romeinse wapenrusting dring, terwyl die lansiers selfs die vermoë gehad het om twee soldate tegelyk aan te val.

Aan die Romeinse kant van die geveg was die beroemde legioene, 'n soldaat wat baie meer aanpasbaar was in die hand-tot-hand-gevegte. Hy het dit reeds teen die Grieke bewys. Die gemiddelde legioenêr was gewapen met 'n pilum ('n swaar spies) en a gladius Hispaniensis ('n kort steek swaard). Hy het 'n bronshelm, 'n skild en 'n posmantel aangehad. Hy moes ook verskansingsgereedskap, beddegoed, mantel, kookgerei en rantsoene dra. Nie een hiervan sou hom teen die Partiërs help nie. Sy gebrek aan die nodige opleiding en onvermoë om te veg in die leegheid van die Siriese woestyn, sou hom 'n duidelike nadeel inhou.


Bucellarii

Vrydagmiddag het ek 'n solo Command and Colors Ancients -speletjie in die skuur gespeel. Ek het pas my nuwe Command & amp Colors Middeleeuse mat gekry met 11 x 13 vyf duim hekses van Deep Cut Studio, so ek wou dit graag in 'n speletjie probeer. Die scenario was die Slag van Carrhae met Crassus wat die Partiërs onder Surena die stryd aansê.

Die Romeine het op 'n hol vierkant ontplooi en vyf bevelkaarte gehad vir die ses van die Partiërs. Ek het die Parthian shot -reël gebruik vir ligte boogkavallerie uit die Command & amp Colors Middeleeuse spel, maar dit verminder tot een dobbelsteen eerder as twee wanneer ek ontduik. Dit was 'n taamlik harde en noue wedstryd, met die Romeine wat rekenskap van hulself gee. Uiteindelik wen die Partiërs 7-5 oorwinningspunte.

12 opmerkings:

Pragtige spel pragtige figure. Het Crassus sy spesiale drankie aurum geniet?
Groete, James

Dankie James, die CCA -speletjies is baie pret. Dit sou 'n nare manier wees om gedwing te word om gesmelte goud te sluk!

Wat 'n wonderlike stryd!

Dankie Michal, die Deep Cut Studio -matte is uitstekend.

Fantasties, hou baie van die kameeltoevoerstrein.

Dankie Phil, Xyston doen 'n lekker parthiese bagasie -kameel in 15 mm.

Nog 'n mooi ou spel, Mike. Goed om te sien!

'N Pragtige spel, waarskynlik reg dat dit 'n harde Parthiese oorwinning moet wees!
Beste Iain

Dankie Iain, ek vind die ahistoriese resultate altyd 'n bietjie ontstellend, alhoewel daar baie veranderlikes in enige speletjie is.

Ek sien u eenhede kyk uit na die plat rand van die heks. Dit was altyd my verstandhouding dat u eenhede na die skuins kant tussen die twee plat rande kyk. Maar ek het nie vir altyd C & ampC gespeel nie, so dit kan verkeerd wees. Fantastiese spel. Wat verteenwoordig die dobbelsteen agter die eenheid?

Dankie Dave, ek dink u het reg oor die voorkant van die eenhede, ek het dit net so gehad, sodat dit langs die hakke pas. Die dobbelsteen was pila -merkers vir die legioene.

Elephant Victory 273 BC - Seleucids versus Galatians Command and Colors Ancients Game

  Galasiërs aan die linkerkant ontplooi, Seleukiede aan die regterkant Teenoorkant val Seleucidiese olifante aan Galatiese krygers Galasiërs val op die le.


Partiese boogskutters in Carrhae

Die slag van Carrhae word dikwels uitgebeeld as 'n perfekte voorbeeld van die doeltreffendheid van boogskutters in die geveg. Dit is verstaanbaar. Dit was beslis 'n voorbeeldige gebruik van hierdie wapen, gekombineer met die klem op hoë mobiliteit, wat uiteindelik tot 'n byna perfekte oorwinning gelei het. As deel van die argumentasie word die vermoë van Partiese pyle om die beskermende toerusting van Romeinse voetsoldate (kettingpos, skilde) te benadruk, beklemtoon. Beide ons hoofbronne noem inderdaad spesifiek dat die Parthiese pyle die Romeinse beskermingsuitrusting deurboor het. Plutarch skryf:

". hulle het die begin van wanorde en vrees veroorsaak, want hierdie [legioene] het nou die snelheid en krag van die pyle gesien, wat skilde gebreek het en deur elke bedekking geskeur het, hetsy hard of sag." (121)

Cassius Dio voeg die volgende by oor Parthiese pyle:

"Hulle [pyle] vlieg in hul [van die Romeine] se oë en steek hul hande en al die ander dele van hul liggaam deur en ontneem hulle van hul wapenrusting hul beskerming en dwing hulle om hulself bloot te stel aan elke nuwe raket." ( 122)

Baie moderne geleerdes het hierdie bewerings geglo en beklemtoon of het ten minste die deurdringende krag van Parthiese pyle beklemtoon as een van die belangrikste faktore vir die oorwinning van die Parth. (123) Daar is selfs 'n mening dat Surenas die ontwerp van Parthiese pyle (en miskien boë? ) sodat hulle die wapenrusting van legioenen spesiaal vir die komende konflik met die Romeine kon deurboor. (124) Maar was dit werklik so? Is dit nie eerder 'n growwe oordrywing aan die kant van ons bronne om die dramatiese effek van hul vertellings oor die Romeinse tragedie en lyding van Romeinse soldate te versterk nie? Om te besef waar die waarheid is, moet ons 'n paar aspekte van die veldtog en die stryd self in detail ontleed.

Laat ons begin met wapens wat die Partiërs in die geveg gebruik het. Hulle perdeboogskutters was destyds toegerus met kragtige (125) saamgestelde, refleksboë, waarvan die ledemate in die rigting van die vuur gebuig was sonder boogsnaar, en wat van hout, horing en senings vervaardig was. Hierdie soort boog was baie algemeen in die oudheid (veral in die ooste) en kon baie verskillende vorme gehad het. Ons ken Parthiese boë nie net uit artistieke voorstellings nie, maar gelukkig ook danksy 'n seldsame, byna volledige voorbeeld, wat tot ons tyd oorleef het, gevind in Yrzi naby Baghouz en dateer uit die 1ste eeu vC - 3. eeu nC (126 ) Die greep en een ledemaat van die boog word behou. Die lengte in die hele kromming sonder boogstring was 1,47 m, of 1,275 m van die een ledemaat se einde na die ander. Dit is gemaak van hout, horing, been en senings. 'N Replika van die Yrzi -boog wat deur Edward McEwen vervaardig is, dui daarop dat die sterkte van die boog ongeveer 60–70 pond was. (127)

Wat ammunisie betref, het die Partiërs in Carrhae pyle met yster (waarskynlik trilobaat) doringkoppe gebruik. (128) Hierdie soort pyl was algemeen, wydverspreid en word dikwels in die oudheid gebruik. Daar is geen aanduiding dat die langwerpige, piramidale "bodkin" pylpunte, wat veronderstel is om ontwerp te word vir wapenrusting nie, gebruik is.

Met behulp van 'n rekonstruksie van 'n boog soortgelyk aan dié van Yrzi het Marcus Junkelmann verskeie toetse uitgevoer om die penetrasievermoë van pyle wat deur hierdie boog geskiet is, te bepaal. Dit is bewys dat pyle op 'n kort afstand deur kettingpos en bordwapens en deur skilde kan gaan. (129) Ongelukkig is die toetse ook nie op 'n langer afstand uitgevoer nie. Wat die vinnige energieverlies van die pyl tydens die vlug betref, is dit duidelik dat die penetrasie -resultate op langer afstande aansienlik erger sou wees. om ook diep genoeg binne te dring om die vyand werklik te benadeel. Dit is des te belangriker as in ag geneem word dat die soldate gewoonlik onder die wapenrusting verskillende gewatteerde baadjies gedra het, wat ook 'n beduidende invloed op die vermindering van die effek van 'n pyl gehad het. Oor die algemeen blyk dit dat die beskermende uitrusting (metaalwapen, helm, skild, ens.) Normaalweg pyle in die oudheid kon weerstaan ​​en dat die boogskutters nie baie doeltreffend was teen goed gepantserde infanterie nie. (131)

Die grootste probleem van sulke toetse en ramings is dat dit altyd onnauwkeurig en te algemeen is. Die rekonstruksie van wapens wat vir hierdie toetse gebruik is, is verre van perfek en weerspieël nie die oorspronklike oorspronklikes in detail nie (materiale en legerings wat gebruik word vir individuele komponente, produksieprosesse, ens.). Dit is duidelik dat 'n pylpunt van moderne harde staal byvoorbeeld ander resultate sou behaal as 'n baie minder volmaakte ou pylpunt. Soortgelyke probleme geld ook vir wapens en ander toerusting. (132) Natuurlik is daar ook 'n veralgemening van die resultate, wat natuurlik nie vermy kan word nie as gevolg van baie beperkte studiemateriaal wat ons uit hierdie tye het. In die praktyk lei dit tot die situasie dat toetse van replika's van saamgestelde boë en replika's van pyle teen staalplate of benaderde replika's van kettingpos-wapens gewoonlik op die ou wapens toegepas word, hoewel daar natuurlik verskillende soorte saamgestelde boë was, verskillende soorte kettingpos-wapens, verskillende soorte pyle, ens., en dit is dus moontlik dat sekere pyle effektief teen sekere soorte wapenrustings kon gewees het en ondoeltreffend was teenoor ander, en ander kombinasies sou selfs verskillende resultate lewer. As ons die doeltreffendheid van die Parthiese boogskutters in Carrhae wil evalueer, moet ons die bogenoemde inligting oor die deurdringende vermoëns slegs as 'n rowwe gids beskou en moet ons terugkeer na 'n noukeurige beoordeling van die inligting wat ons oor die geveg het.

Tekening van die rekonstruksie van die boog van Yrzi.
Geneem uit Brown, F. E .: 'n Onlangs saamgestelde boog, Seminarium Kondakovianum 9, 1937, p. 1–10.
'N Algemene evaluering van die fundamentele omstandighede van die hele veldtog toon aan dat die Partiërs in Carrhae die beste moontlike omstandighede gehad het om te veg, wat 'n mens ooit sou kon wens. Die Romeine was nie voorbereid op hul manier van veg nie en was heeltemal verras deur hierdie onverwagte situasie. Dit is moeilik om te sê of Crassus die Partiese kavallerie onderskat het, of dat hy op versterkings van die Armeense koning staatgemaak het, wat die Partiese voordeel van mobiliteit kon uitskakel. Dit is heel moontlik dat beide waar is. In elk geval het die samestelling van die indringende leër ernstig 'n groter aantal kavallerie en ligte infanterie gehad, wat die Parthiese ruiters doeltreffender kon beveg het. As gevolg hiervan kon die Romeine die Partiërs in die geveg feitlik nie benadeel nie. Surenas se krygers beoefen die tipiese tref -en -trap -taktiek van oostelike/steppelande. Surenas se manier van baklei het daarop staatgemaak dat hy nie tot 'n einde kom nie, totdat die vyand genoeg verswak is om selfs van aangesig tot aangesig te veg. Swaar gewapende legioenen het geen kans gehad om naby die perdeboogskutters te kom nie. Elke keer as hulle probeer het, val die Partiërs terug en tydens die terugtog het hulle die aanvallers (wie se beskerming laer was as hulle beweeg) laat stort deur 'n gekonsentreerde pylreën. Die Romeine het baie min kavallerie- en ligte infanterietroepe gehad en daarom kon die Partiërs ook maklik hul aanklagte afwys. Die vernietiging van 'n groot deel kavallerie en ligte infanterie tydens die groot aanval van Publius Crassus het die situasie nog erger gemaak.

Die inisiatief was daarna geheel en al by die Partiërs. Hulle kon kies wanneer, waar en hoe hulle sal aanval. Die Romeine is beperk tot die rol van passiewe verdedigers. Omdat die legioenen nie oor geskikte wapens beskik om op 'n afstand te veg nie (pila of ander spies kon net op 'n kort afstand gegooi gewees het), hoef die Partiërs nie terug te hou nie en kon hulle baie naby die Romeinse geveglyn ry. Hulle kon dus sonder groter gevaar op baie kort afstande skiet (selfs onder 40 meter, hoewel hulle met hul boë 'n effektiewe reikafstand van ongeveer 180 m kon bereik en die maksimum reikafstand nog hoër was, (133)) individuele teikens van hul skietery kies en neem voordeel van 'n hoër deurdringende krag van hul missiele op kort afstand. Die nou saamgestelde vorming van hul vyande was 'n baie goeie doelwit. Plutarchus verklaar dat die Romeinse geledere so dig was dat die Parthen selfs sonder mik kon amper nie misloop nie. (134) Boonop omsingel hulle in die loop van die geveg dele van die Romeinse slaglyn. Dit beteken dat die missiele tegelykertyd vanuit verskillende hoeke op Crassus se soldate begin vlieg het, wat hul verdediging ernstig bemoeilik het (hulle kon hul groot skild slegs in een rigting draai, sodat hulle slegs op pyle uit ander hoeke moes staatmaak hul wapenrusting, wat egter nie 'n deel van hul liggame beskerm het nie - ledemate, keel, dele van die gesig en kop). Gewoonlik kon boogskutters net droom oor sulke gunstige omstandighede.

Soos ons gesien het, het die Partiërs dus optimale omstandighede gehad vir die skietery. Daar moet op gelet word dat hulle ook genoeg tyd gehad het om van hierdie toestande gebruik te maak. Die slag van Carrhae was lank. Cassius Dio verklaar dat ten tyde van die hervatting van die gevegte na die nederlaag van die sorteer van Publius Crassus, dit ongeveer twaalfuur was:

'Die hitte en dors (dit was middernag en hierdie aksie het die middag plaasgevind) en die stof, waarvan die barbare soveel as moontlik opgewek het deur almal om hulle te ry, het die oorlewendes vreesbevange vertel, en baie het aan hierdie oorsake beswyk, selfs al is dit onwind. "(135)

Dit is moeilik om te sê of ons Cassius Dio in hierdie detail kan glo oor die middaggeveg. Die historikus skryf hoofsaaklik oor die verskriklike hitte, wat die lyding van soldate verhoog het, en dit is moontlik dat die nota omtrent die middag eerder 'n soort steun en hoogtepunt vir hierdie inligting is. In die vroeë oggend van daardie dag het die soldate op pad gegaan na die rivier die Balissus, waarskynlik iewers aan die rand van die woestyn. Ons weet nie presies wat die weermag vanoggend was nie, en daarom kan ons nie akkuraat die afstand, die reis of die nodige tyd bepaal nie. Tydens die optog is hulle ingelig oor die teenwoordigheid van die Partiërs in die streek en 'n ietwat ingewikkelde verandering van die optog na die strydvorming het gevolg. Na die aankoms by die rivier het Crassus 'n kort pouse toegelaat, waartydens die soldate 'n bietjie verkwik het, en daarna 'n korter opmars na die suide en die Partiese leër gevolg het. Dit is nie 'n maklike ding om 'n 40000 sterk weermag te beweeg nie, en al hierdie optogte en maneuvres moes 'n geruime tyd ('n paar uur) geneem het. Die aanklag van Publius Crassus en die uitwissing daarvan kon ook nie 'n kwessie van 'n paar minute gewees het nie. Om nie te sê dat die uitval plaasgevind het in 'n tyd toe die geveg al 'n geruime tyd voortduur nie. Dit is dus moeilik om te glo dat al hierdie gebeurtenisse (beide optogte, vormingsveranderinge, kort pouse, aanvangsfases van die geveg, uitwissing van Publius Crassus en sy troepe, hernuwing van volle gevegte met die hoofleër) almal gedurende die middag kon plaasvind . As die tydsdetails van Cassius Dio geglo kan word en die geveg teen die middag aan die gang was, is dit meer waarskynlik dat dit eerder van toepassing was op die begin van die geveg en nie op die latere fases daarvan nie (immers plaas Cassius Dio - anders as Plutarchus - die aanklag van die jong Crassus tot die beginfase van die gevegte by Carrhae). (136)

Dit wil dus voorkom asof die geveg ongeveer die middag sou kon begin. Dit het geëindig met die koms van die duisternis. (137) Die duisternis kom in hierdie gebied en hierdie tydperk ongeveer 7 uur plaaslike tyd, wat die lengte van die geveg van ongeveer 7 uur aandui. Selfs as ons nie vir Cassius Dio sou glo dat die geveg omstreeks die middag aan die gang was nie (soos ons gesien het, is sy inligting nie heeltemal betroubaar nie), dui die evaluering van individuele fases van die geveg op gevegte wat etlike ure duur. Na die eerste poging van 'n direkte aanval van swaar kavallerie het die skietery begin, tesame met pogings om die Romeinse formasie te oorskry. 'N Romeinse teenaanval wat deur ligte infanterie uitgevoer is, het gevolg, wat veroorsaak het dat die Partiërs terugtrek en hul vuur op hierdie ligte infanteriste konsentreer, wat weer hul terugtrekking veroorsaak het. Daarna het die skietery voortgegaan en 'n paar onsuksesvolle pogings tot Rome het ook plaasgevind. Aanvanklik het die Romeine gedink dat die Parte die pyle sal opraak, en hulle wag geduldig op die tyd dat daar 'n nabye geveg kom. Later het hulle egter opgemerk dat die Partiërs gereeld na die voorraadkamele ry om hul ammunisie aan te vul. Hierna het Publius Crassus en sy troepe aangekla en vernietig. Opnuut intensiewe skietery het gevolg en hierdie keer het die swaar kavallerie by die geveg aangesluit. As ons ons al hierdie verskillende fases van die geveg en hul verloop voorstel, is dit duidelik dat die geveg sekerlik etlike ure geduur het. Die Partiërs kon dus etlike ure onder baie gunstige omstandighede op die Romeinse leër skiet.

Laat ons nou die deurslaggewende vraag ontleed, hoeveel soldate is eintlik doodgemaak of gewond deur die Parthiese pyle in die hoofgeveg. Ons weet dat uit ongeveer 40000 Romeinse troepe (na die vertrek van Abgar se kontingent ongeveer 3000 man, wat in die totaal vermis is, ongeveer 10000 hulself kon red, 10000 gevange geneem en 20000 gesterf het. ( 138) Ons weet die volgende oor die ongevalle tydens die terugtog na Carrhae en verder na Sirië: ongeveer 1900 mans (4 kohorte) is saam met Vargunteius dood in die dapper geveg tydens hul terugtog na Carrhae. (139) Volgens Plutarchus met Crassus nog 1900 man (4 groepe infanterie en 'n paar kavallerie) uit sy groep en ongeveer 5000 man uit die groep van Octavius, wat hom kom help het, is dood (alhoewel Cassius Dio beweer dat die meeste van hierdie mans ontsnap het). (140 ) Dit is seker dat tydens die terugtog nog baie meer mense gedood is, maar ons het nie spesifieke besonderhede daaroor nie. (141) Dit is nodig om ook die manne wat aan die sortie van Publius Crassus deelgeneem het, af te skaf, omdat baie van hulle sterf op die snoeke van t hy swaar ruiters, nie net as gevolg van die boogskutters nie, en hulle sterf onder spesiale omstandighede. Ongeveer 5600 mans (1300 ruiters, 500 boogskutters, 8 groepe legioenen) is dood of gevang tydens die aanval van Publius Crassus. (142) As ons hierdie ca. 14400 mans, wat inderdaad gesterf het tydens die terugtog of in die leiding van Publius Crassus uit die totaal van ongeveer 20000 soldate wat in die geveg gedood is, besef ons dat slegs 5500 mans in die hoofgeveg gesterf het of ernstig gewond is as gevolg van direkte , 'n paar uur lange skietery van die Parthiese boogskutters. Natuurlik kan ons aanneem dat die kohorte wat Plutarch genoem het, nie in volle sterkte was nie (hetsy vanaf die begin of as gevolg van die loop van die geveg), aan die ander kant in die berekening is ook die soldate ingesluit wat tydens die dood gedood is terugtrek, maar daar is nie 'n spesifieke vermelding daarvan in die bronne nie, en ook die soldate is ingesluit wat deur die Partiese katafrakture vermoor is en nie deur die boogskutters nie. 'N Moontlike toename van die gevolglike getal sou dus nie baie hoog wees nie. Should we believe rather Cassius Dio than Plutarch in the information, that most of the men besieged on the hill during the events leading to Crassus' death escaped, the maximum number of casualties in the main battle would rise to around 12000.

There is one more information, which can help us a little bit to ascertain the number of men really killed by the Parthian archers in the battle. Plutarch writes, that at night after the battle the army left the camp and went on a march to Carrhae. About 4000 wounded were left on the site and these were slaughtered by the Parthians in the morning.(143) We know therefore, that in the main battle around 4000 soldiers were more than lightly wounded. What we do not know, is the number of dead. The issue of casualties on ancient battlefields was analysed in detail by K. S. Metz and R. A. Gabriel. Although their analyses are naturally only very rough and approximate, thanks to their research we can estimate, that the number of dead could have been approximately the same or rather lower than the number of wounded.(144) These authors found out, that a victorious army could in the ancient times expect the losses of ca. 5.5% dead and ca. 5.8% wounded in average. To a certain degree we can apply these results on the Roman army at Carrhae, although it lost in the end. The casualties on the side of the defeated began to rise dramatically only when the army collapsed and started to run away. Until both sides remained in direct combat and in unbroken battle formations, their casualties were roughly the same. Crassus' army, although defeated, did not collapse during the battle and did not run away, so there was no opportunity for a significant rise of battle losses during the flight. With regard to the above mentioned calculations, the number of dead could therefore be approximately the same as the number of wounded – that means around 4000 dead and 4000 wounded in the main battle. But with regard to the fact, that in the main battle there was very few of direct fight at close quarters and a fight at a distance with bows and arrows completely dominated, it is very probable, that such a situation produced much higher ratio of wounded to dead, than in conventional battles, because at a distance soldiers cannot finish up their wounded adversaries, who are unable to defend properly due to the wounds. We can therefore expect, that actually the dead were much less at Carrhae.(145) Should we now return to the previously calculated number of around 5500 men killed or seriously wounded in the main battle, it seems that this could roughly correspond also with the information we have about casualties in ancient battles thanks to the research of K. S. Metz and R. A. Gabriel (taking into account the specifics of the conditions at Carrhae).

There is, of course, a relevant objection, that many of the wounded attended the retreat to Syria/Armenia and therefore there could have been more men, with more serious wounds. It is certain that also some wounded tried to go on the night march,(146) however, they were probably only few. Only lightly wounded soldiers were able to try it, and we cannot regard such man as a real casualty, because they were still more or less capable to fight. The group of Vargunteius was able to show a very vigorous and brave resistance to a stronger force of the Parthians and it is therefore highly probable, that most of these soldiers were capable to fight and therefore without serious wounds. With regard to the groups of Crassus and Octavius, it is even less probable, that there were more than lightly wounded soldiers. These men had to undergo, tired from whole-day fighting, approximately 30–35 km rush and arduous march in the cold Mesopotamian night, whereas they could only hardly get any proper medical care during and after the battle (there was no opportunity for this and moreover, as we know, the broken and demoralized soldiers cared more about themselves and their own salvation, rather than about the others). The first decent care could have been given to them in Carrhae. Here, however, they stayed only for a short time, without enough time for a proper recovery, and then another difficult night march ended by another fight with the Parthians waited for them. It is not probable, that seriously wounded men could manage this. By some of the wounded the effects of infections of their wounds would also began to appear, which would prevent them from marching further.(147) More or less the same applies also to those 10000 men, who managed after long struggles to escape to Syria.

There is also the possibility, that other wounded soldiers were among those 10000 men, who were captured. Again, however, it is not very probable that seriously wounded were among them. These unfortunate men were later led in Surenas' triumph in Seleucia, then they had to undergo a very long and certainly exhausting march through Parthia and were subsequently settled in the region of Margiana.(148) Given the circumstances, the Parthians certainly had no interest in taking care about wounded Roman soldiers – which is confirmed by the fact, that they slaughtered 4000 wounded Romans left in the camp after the Roman retreat from the battlefield. What to do with men, who had not much chance to survive this demanding program (march to Seleucia, triumphal march and a very long march to Margiana)?

It would be vital for our evaluation of the effectiveness of Parthian archers at Carrhae to know at least an approximate number of arrows, that landed upon Roman legionaries. Unfortunately our sources do not help us much in this respect and it is impossible to find this information out. Even any just a little more accurate estimate is not within our reach. The only thing we can try, is a very rough outline of possibilities, which can help us to get at least an approximate, general idea about what the Romans had to face from the heaven.

Every Parthian archer could have carried probably around 30–40 arrows in his quiver.(149) We know that Surenas' tactics was based on mobility, avoiding close quarters fighting and shooting at the Romans from a distance. With such an intention he had to make sure, that his soldiers will not run out of missiles during a several hours lasting battle, otherwise his plans would fail. Therefore he loaded enough spare ammunition on a multitude of camels, who were positioned on the battlefield, and his archers rode to them to replenish their arrows. It is apparent, that already from the beginning it was envisaged that the archers will exhaust all their arrows and will go to replenish them at least once, but rather more times (a capable archer is theoretically able to shoot 30–40 arrows in ca. 3–5 minutes.(150) So if we count with a minimum number of 9000 Parthian archers, a minimum number of 30 arrows in a quiver and a minimum number of 1 replenishment of ammunition, we can estimate, that at least 270000 arrows were shot at the Roman formation (assuming that not one arrow from the second batch of arrows was used by any of the archers). It must be stressed, that we are counting with minimum numbers and any of the parameters (number of archers, number of arrows in a quiver and number of ammunition replenishments) could in fact be higher. Especially in the case of a very probable higher number of ammunition replenishments the number of arrows shot at the Roman army would increase dramatically. This whole calculation is very speculative, but in spite of this it can provide us with at least a rough outline of possible parameters of Parthian shooting at Carrhae. It is also an outline, that is quite conservative. K. Farrokh calculated (based on the speed the archers were theoretically able to shoot), that 10000 horse archers could theoretically release an almost unbelievable number of 1.6-2 millions of arrows in some 20 minutes at Carrhae. Although his calculation has quite serious shortcomings, it can also provide us with a guide to evaluate the effectiveness of Parthian arrows.(151)

Parthian horse archer on a plaque in the British Museum.
Taken from the website of the British Museum.
All of the above ideas left by themselves are largely speculative. Our extant sources and their nature unfortunately do not allow more. Most of them can be questioned by relevant objections. All together, however, they fit together and create a relatively credible picture of the events of those few days in the vicinity of Carrhae. In a summary we realise, that the Parthians showered a dense Roman formation for many hours (perhaps up to 7) with their arrows. This was happening under extremely favourable conditions for the Parthians. The Romans were not able to endanger the Parthians in any way, even though they tried. They could virtually only stand, suffer and hope for an early arrival of darkness. The Parthians, on the other hand, had the initiative and could choose places, time and methods of their attacks. In the course of battle the Parthians shot a huge number of arrows – very probably several hundred thousands (a very conservative, lowest estimate is above 270000 arrows). They had enough men, arrows, time and skill for it. In spite of all this, the Parthian missiles were able to kill or seriously wound a relatively few enemies with regard to the situation (may be even less than 5500 men maximally around 12000 men).

From the above analysis it is clear, that the reports of ancient historians about Parthian missiles piercing Roman shields and armours and killing men protected by them are just exaggerated literary instruments to increase the dramatic effect of the whole narrative on the reader and to portray in dark colours the desperate fate of suffering soldiers. In case of a strong, well-aimed and at a close distance fired shot the arrow could penetrate the shield or armour (certainly not both) and mortally or seriously wound the soldier. It is probable, with regard to the excellent conditions the Parthians had for shooting, that at Carrhae such occurrences were more often than in other battles. However, it is clear enough, that even at Carrhae and under such favourable circumstances, these occurrences were not very frequent and in the absolute majority of cases the Roman shields and chain-mail armours withstood the impacts and protected their wearers. Should the Parthian arrows really be regularly able to go through Roman protective equipment, the reports about the battle would have been very different - the Roman battle line would not be able to withstand such terrible volleys of arrows and in the end even repulse attacks of heavy cavalry. We can find support for this claim also in descriptions of the later campaign of Marc Antony against the Parthians. His legionaries were also harassed by great quantities of Parthian arrows, but they formed the testudo formation using their shields, and stayed protected behind them.(152) Also descriptions of other battles of Antony's soldiers with the Parthians suggest, that Roman shields were usually enough to protect them against arrows.(153)

Generally, arrows were not very successful in wounding and killing well-armoured soldiers. Nevertheless this does not diminish their importance in battle. Against soldiers without armour they could be very effective. And they were effective also against well protected soldiers. The effectiveness, however, did not lay in killing and wounding, but exactly in what we have seen on the example of Carrhae battle: in frightening, demoralizing and psychological breakup of the enemy. Especially by less experienced troops the consequences of archery may have been terrible. Archers (whether on foot or mounted) were also very useful as a support for other troops, which were able to prevent the enemy to come closer to vulnerable archery regiments and at the same time benefit from their firing.(154)

The battle of Carrhae has always been portrayed as a perfect example about how effective can archers be in battles, even against well-armoured soldiers. This example is still valid. It is just necessary to realise, that the effectiveness was not much in the penetrative power of the arrows and their ability to kill and wound men, but rather in sowing terror into their minds, demoralizing them and weakening their will to fight.


HEXAPOLIS

Posted By: Dattatreya Mandal October 26, 2014

Mankind’s history is replete with conflicts and wars, so much so that a few cultures had adapted themselves to the ‘daily’ travails of warfare. However, there are also rare cases when military victories were achieved against overwhelming odds without the implication of grand strategies or stately drills. In essence, many of such singular battles were won due to tactical brilliance of the commander, or deft use of topography, or just sheer courage and determination of the troops involved. So, without further ado, let us check out ten of such remarkable battles from history that were won by forces in spite of being outnumbered beyond the element of conventional expediency.

*NOTE 1 – These 10 battles were chosen to reflect different forces and scenarios from history, and so there might be other good examples of victories achieved against overwhelming odds – but we had to unfortunately leave them out. Furthermore, as the old dictum suggests – winning the battle doesn’t mean winning the war so, many of the incidences mentioned here may not have led to long term strategic dominance.

*NOTE 2 – Most of the figures mentioned in the battles are taken from earlier sources (some Medieval) – many of which might not have been fully precise with the numbers. Still we have tried our best to present unbiased moderate estimates of such figures.

1) Battle of Carrhae (6 May, 53 BC) –

We start off the list with a Roman defeat – and, it was not just any defeat. The battle marked the death of the much despised and probably the richest Roman of his time – Marcus Licinius Crassus (the very same general who subdued Spartacus). As for the conflict itself, it was the Parthians (from north-eastern Iran) who were pitted against the Romans, in the arid region of Carrhae, in Upper Mesopotamia (present-day along the borders of eastern Turkey). In terms of figures, the Romans had seven legions along with seven thousand auxiliary forces and a thousand Gallic crack cavalrymen which came to around a total of 45,000 to 52,000 men. On the other hand the Parthians had around a total of 12,000 soldiers with at least 9,000 of them being horse archers recruited from Saka and Yue-Chi people, and 1,000 being cataphracts (super-heavy cavalry).

In fact, the Battle of Carrhae can be counted among the first instances when the Romans came across the might of heavy cavalry, which was certainly a departure from infantry-dominated European battlefields of ancient era. And, in many ways, the battle proved the superiority in mobility of horse archers, as they unleashed a rain of arrows upon the constrained formations of the legionary forces. The final ‘coup de grace’ was delivered by a 1,000 tightly-packed cataphracts atop their mighty Nicean chargers – when they broke the ranks of the disarrayed Romans, who were already afflicted by the elusive horse archers of the steppes. Unsurprisingly, the unexpected defeat had long drawn repercussions, with the Romans in time adopting many of the shock cavalry tactics of their eastern neighbors.

2) Battle of Agincourt (25 October, 1415 AD) –

We chose the famous Battle of Agincourt in this list not just because of the figures involved. In many ways, the renowned engagement from the Hundred Years War, demonstrated the superiority of tactics, topography and archery over just heavy armor – factors that were obviously rare during the first decades of the 15th century. As for the battle itself, it pitted around 6,000 to 9,000 English soldiers (with 5/6th of them being longbow archers) against 20,000 to 30,000 French forces, who had around 10,000 heavy armored knights and men-at-arms. The haughty mindset of the French nobility participating in the battle could be somewhat gathered from chronicler Edmond de Dyntner’s statement – “ten French nobles against one English”, which totally discounted the ‘military value’ of archers from the English army.

As for tactical placement, the English army commanded by Henry V, the King of England, placed itself at the end of a recently plowed land, with their flanks covered by dense woodlands (that practically made side cavalry charges nigh impossible). The front sections of the archers were also protected by pointed wooden flanks and palings that would have discouraged frontal cavalry charges. But in all of these, the terrain proved to be the greatest obstacle for the armored French army, since the field was already muddy with recent occurrences of heavy rain. In a twist of irony, the armor weight of the French knights became their biggest disadvantage, with the mass of packed soldiers fumbling and stumbling across the soggy landscape – making them easy pickings for the well-trained longbowmen.

And, when the knights finally reached the English lines, they were utterly exhausted, while also having no room to effectively wield their heavy weapons. The English archers and men-at-arms still nimble-footed, switched to mallets and hammers, and delivered a crushing blow in hand-to-hand combat on the frazzled Frenchmen. At the end, it is estimated that around 7,000 to 10,000 French soldiers were killed (among them there were more than a thousand senior noblemen), while the English losses were around the paltry 400 mark.

3) Battle of Vítkov Hill (12-14 June, 1420 AD) –

One of largest battles fought during the Middle Ages, the Battle of Vítkov Hill pitted 12,000 Hussite forces under Jan Žižka against more than 50,000 crusaders (some estimates even cross 100,000), who were recruited by the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund. The Hussite traditions in itself related to one of the preliminary Christian movements before Protestant Reformation , and as such these primarily Czech peasants were sworn enemies of both the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire. After the execution of their leader Jan Hus, the Hussites fought an extended war of over 14 years, which more or less started from many small victories achieved over disjointed Catholic forces after March of 1420.

As for this particular battle, the Hussite forces had triumphantly entered the city of Prague – but soon found themselves under siege from the numerically superior crusaders. The Hussite leader Jan Žižka (or John Zizka in English) made a strategic decision to defend a vineyard that was protected naturally on the northern side by a steep cliff. The Vítkov Hill was further fortified with timber, stone and clay boundaries along with moats. The Hussite peasant soldiers fanatically defended these points with guns, flails and even pointed sticks – which pushed the crusading army down the sharp northern cliff. The resulting panic from the ‘fall’ led to over 300 knights being killed, which ultimately routed the army. The demoralized Catholic soldiers were forced to retreat in a disorganized manner, after which some of them took part in local guerrilla campaigns against the Hussites.

4) Second Battle of Acentejo (25 December, 1494 AD) –

Fought between the 700 Spanish forces who had invaded the island of Tenerife, and the native forces who numbered beyond 6,000, the Second Battle of Acentejo was an apt example that demonstrated the brutal effectiveness of firearms during their initial large-scale adoption in the battlefields of Europe. Interestingly, in prelude to this battle, there was another engagement in very same site during 31 May, 1494 – that pitted the native Guanches against an European alliance and the Gunaches emerged victorious by killing almost a thousand soldiers out of a total force of 1,120. So, Acentejo was also known as La Matanza (“The Slaughter”) by the Spaniards, and the first battle was the greatest defeat suffered by Spain during her Spanish Atlantic expansion phase.

However, after almost 6 months of the defeat, the Spaniards under Alonso Fernández de Lugo (who was wounded, but survived the first battle) regrouped and took up advantageous positions near the familiar site. They also divided up their forces into two lines, in a bid to make their firing salvos more effective. And effective they were – since the Spaniards routed the natives in a matter of just three hours. After the momentous triumph, Fernández de Lugo established a hermitage on the site, while a nearby settlement with the name of ‘La Victoria de Acentej‘ also cropped up, commemorating the battle.

5) Great Siege of Malta (18 May – 11 September, 1565 AD) –

Voltaire once said – ‘rien est plus connu que la siege de Malte’ (or ‘nothing is so well known as the Siege of Malta’). In many ways, the statement epitomizes the heroism and sheer willpower of the defenders of the tiny island-nation of Malta teen the world’s superpower during that period – the Ottomans. As for the number game, the Maltese forces led by Jean De Valette (the Grandmaster of the Knights Hospitaller) had around 8,500 men in their ranks, with just 2,500 among them being professional soldiers (and rest being armed civilians and slaves). On the other hand, the Ottomans had around 45,000 well-drilled troops at their disposal, with at least 6,000 of them being Janissaries – the elite infantry of the Turks.

The Maltese had the advantage of imposing fortifications, while the Ottomans were known for their expertise in taking out fortifications. And the vicious tone of stubborn defense and heavy cannon-fire was set by the first engagement of the siege – the capture of St. Elmo fort by the Turks, which cost them more than 6,000 men, including half the elite Janissary forces. Many of such mini-sieges and bottle-necked engagements followed after that, which ultimately drained the Ottomans of their initiative as well as moral. In the ensuing end result – the Turks suffered in the range of 10,000 – 30,000 men (from both combat actions and disease) the ‘successful’ defenders lost one-third of their men while it is estimated that there were 130,000 cannonballs fired during the entire course of the Great Siege.


CARRHAE

CARRHAE (Ḥarrān), town in Mesopotamia, where in May 53 b.c. a decisive battle was fought between the Parthians commanded by a member of the Sūrēn (Lat. Surena) family and the Romans under the triumvir M. Licinius Crassus, &ldquowithout doubt the most celebrated episode of Parthian history&rdquo (Bivar, p. 49). Our main source of information on this event is an unknown historian, probably a hellenized Mesopotamian (Tarn, 1951, p. 50, bottom), who witnessed the event and wrote an account used extensively by Plutarch in his &ldquoCrassus.&rdquo The unknown chronicler&rsquos account is well-informed and impartial and &ldquogives us a better account of the battle of Carrhae and its preliminaries than we possess of most battles of antiquity also we know what beide sides were doing&rdquo (ibid., p. 51). Livy&rsquos Die geskiedenis van Rome included a somewhat romanticized chapter on the invasion of Crassus now lost but used by Dio Cassius (40.12-27) and later historians of whose works fragments are extant. There are also notices by contemporary writers (e.g., Cicero, De divinatione 2.22, and Seneca, Epistles 4.7). These fragments and notices have been listed by Regling (esp. p. 357), Debevoise (pp. 78-79), and others. The most important studies include Rawlinson (pp. 150-78), Mommsen (pp. 341-53), Regling (pp. 357-94), Groebe, Smith, Günther (pp. 14-38), and Debevoise (pp. 70-95).

Causes. The traditional view that this episode was the consequence of Crassus&rsquo incompetence and personal quest for glory (cf. Cicero&rsquos verdict that there existed &ldquono cause for the war&rdquo in De finibus bonorum et malorum 3.22 cf. K. Schippmann, in EIr. II/5, p. 528 further references in Regling, p. 362 n. 1) must be discarded (Regling, pp. 362f. Ziegler, p. 32). The course of events had in fact been leading up to a confrontation for a century. On one hand Parthia had resurrected the Persian empire without adhering to a policy of systematic incorporation of neighboring nations (Ziegler, pp. 3ff.) on the other, Rome had expanded eastward in its pursuit of world domination and had subjugated various hellenized Iranians of Asia Minor by means of force, political intrigue, and brinkmanship. When Mithridates VI of Pontus fled before the Romans to his father-in-law, Tigranes the Great of Armenia, Lucullus pursued him. Marching on the Armenian capital Tigranocerta (near Mardin) he approached the Parthian border (Regling, pp. 358ff. Debevoise, pp. 70f. Ziegler, pp. 20ff. with refs.) and urged the Parthian king, whom Mithridates and Tigranes had asked for help, to remain neutral. He replied amicably to both sides and proposed to Lucullus that the Euphrates should be recognized as the boundary between Parthia and Rome (Plutarch, &ldquoLucullus,&rdquo 25ff. Appian, Mithridateios 87 Dio Cassius, 36.1ff. Sallust, Geskiedenisse 4 frag. 69 further references in Rawlinson, pp. 132ff., 152ff. Regling, pp. 359ff. Debevoise, pp. 70-71 and Ziegler, pp. 23ff.). But, while pretending to negotiate, Lucullus planned an attack on Parthia and was dissuaded only by the rebellion of his troops (Plutarch, &ldquoLucullus,&rdquo 30 Dio Cassius, 36.3 Appian, Mithridateios 87 Cicero, Oratio pro lege Manila 23-24 Sallust, Geskiedenisse 4 frag. 72). His successors went even further. While in the Caucasus region, Pompey sounded a possible conquest of the East, asking about the distance to India (Plutarch, &ldquoPompey,&rdquo 36 Pliny, Natuurlike geskiedenis 6.52), and he later invaded Gorduene, a Parthian dependency (Dio Cassius, 37.5.2). Gabinius, whose command included the territories of Syria, Arabia, Persia, and Babylonia (Cicero, De domo sua 60, 124 Debevoise, p. 77) lent assistance to Mithridates of Parthia, who had rebelled against his newly-crowned brother Orodes/Hyrodes (Dio Cassius, 39-56 Justin, 42.4.1 Appian, Syriaca 51, cf. Plutarch, &ldquoCrassus,&rdquo 21 ). This interference led to open hostilities between the Romans and the Parthians, who had remained their allies, at least nominally. The Romans considered Parthia to be just another Asiatic state, thereby misjudging its strong national identity, its abundant resources, and the determination of its people to defend their independence. Thus, to the Romans the successful conquest of the East seemed inevitable (Rawlinson, pp. 141ff. Debevoise, pp.70ff. Ziegler, pp. 23ff.) and came as a legacy to Crassus, who desired to rival the military achievements of Caesar and Pompey (on Crassus see Marshall). Calling the victories of Lucullus and Pompey &ldquochild&rsquos play,&rdquo he declared his aim to be the conquest of the East as far as Bactria and India (Plutarch, &ldquoCrassus,&rdquo 16). The Parthians, on the other hand, had good intelligence of the Roman affairs (cf. ibid., 17-18 Debevoise, p. 82) and prepared their defense accordingly (Rawlinson, p. 151 ).

The invasion. Orodes&rsquo young and able general of the Surena family (cf. Plutarch&rsquos praise of him, &ldquoCrassus,&rdquo 21) quelled the rebellions of Mithradates and Seleucia-Ctesiphon just as the Roman invasion commenced (Debevoise, pp. 79ff. a somewhat different account in Bivar, pp. 48-55). When Crassus was made governor of Syria in 55 b.c. &ldquoeveryone knew a Parthian war was intended&rdquo (Debevoise, pp. 79-80). It was an unpopular war (Plutarch, &ldquoCrassus,&rdquo 16 Regling, loc. cit., and pp. 359ff. Ziegler, pp. 32f.), but Caesar supported it, sending some 1,000 of his finest Gallic cavalry under Crassus&rsquo own son, Publius, to serve in the invasion (Plutarch, &ldquoCrassus,&rdquo 17). Crassus spent his first year in Syria, expelling a small Parthian garrison, fortifying towns, and probably training his troops he also plundered native sanctuaries (the temple in Jerusalem, the temple of Atargatis at Hierapolis-Bambyce), incurring the natives&rsquo hostility (Regling, pp. 364ff. Smith, pp. 237ff. Debevoise, pp. 78ff. Günther, pp. 14ff.). Early in May 53 he crossed the Euphrates at Zeugma (Plutarch, &ldquoCrassus,&rdquo 19, with Regling, p. 374) with a substantial force of 7 legions (nearly 34,000 men) of heavy-armed infantry, 4,000 horsemen, and some 4,000 light-armed foot soldiers (on the numbers see Günther, pp. 18ff. Debevoise, p. 33 with refs.). Furthermore, Roman allies pledged support. Abgar of Osrhoene (called Ariamnes by Plutarch, &ldquoCrassus,&rdquo 21) and an Arab leader, Alchaudonius, undertook to lead the Romans through the Mesopotamian desert (cf. Plutarch, &ldquoCrassus,&rdquo 22) across the Balicha (Balīḵ) river (details in Günther, p. 28 n. 2) and Ḵabūr toward Ctesiphon and to provide him with cavalry (Dio Cassius, 32.2 40.20 cf. Plutarch, &ldquoCrassus,&rdquo 22). Artabazes/Artavasdes, king of Armenia, however, had promised additional infantry and a considerable force of heavy cavalry, suggesting that Crassus should take the northwesterly route, pass through Armenian hills&mdashwhere Parthian heavy cavalry would be least effective, and then invade Parthia (Plutarch, &ldquoCrassus,&rdquo 19). This must have been accepted as a sound and feasible strategy given the preparations Orodes made for it (cf. Tarn, 1932, p. 607). His attempts at negotiation having failed (Plutarch, &ldquoCrassus,&rdquo 1618 Dio Cassius, 40.16). Orodes personally led the Parthian army into Armenia and safeguarded that flank (Plutarch, &ldquoCrassus,&rdquo 22), while his brilliant general, Surena, not yet thirty, took his own personal levies of 10,000 horse archers&mdasha thousand of them mailed (on the Parthian army, see army)&mdashand waited in Mesopotamia in case Crassus or his Arab allies should invade from the central sector (Plutarch, &ldquoCrassus,&rdquo 20ff. Günther, pp. 20ff. with refs.). The Iranians had usually fared badly against well-armed and highly-trained Greek or Macedonian infantry, and Surena&rsquos reliance on cavalry&mdashthe force best suited for the Mesopotamian plains&mdashwas a &ldquobrilliant idea&rdquo (Mommsen, p. 328). He realized that &ldquoarchers were useless without arrows this does not seem to have occurred to anyone before&rdquo (Tarn, 1932, p. 607). So he brought along 1,000 camels loaded with arrows, thereby providing his archers with an inexhaustible supply of missiles (Plutarch, &ldquoCrassus,&rdquo 25). &ldquoFor the first time in history, so far as is known, there had appeared a trained professional force dependent solely on long-range weapons and with enough ammunition for a protracted fight&rdquo (Tarn, loc. cit.).

Historians (since Plutarch, &ldquoCrassus,&rdquo 30) have often blamed Crassus for not having accepted Artavasdes&rsquo offer and guidance, following instead the advice of his treacherous Mesopotamian allies and taking the shortest route towards Ctesiphon through the Mesopotamian desert. This was the Arab trade route that crossed the Euphrates at Bambyce (Membij), passed to the southwest, crossed the Balicha river between Carrhae and Ichnae, and tilted down towards Babylonia (details of topography in Günther, pp. 22ff.). The duplicity of Abgar and Alchaudonius cannot be substantiated, however, and it is not certain that this desert route would have lacked water in mid-spring, when Crassus was traversing it (Debevoise, p. 85). The Armenian king, too, was probably playing a double game, as the northwesterly direction would have cost much more time. The Roman general, moreover, had left garrisons along the way, and was merely retracing his earlier route. Above all, he had no idea what the Parthians had prepared against him. Basing his views on earlier Roman conquests, he was convinced that he could dominate any engagements or circumstances (cf. Plutarch, &ldquoCrassus,&rdquo 17ff. Dio Cassius, 40.16). Keeping to the Euphrates, Crassus reached Bambyce, where his scouts reported enemy tracks suggesting that their cavalry was riding eastward along the Arab trade route. (The following account of the campaign is based on Plutarch, &ldquoCrassus,&rdquo 20ff., with Regling, Smith, and Günther.) Crassus&rsquos quaestor Cassius Longinus advised him to continue the march along the Euphrates, thereby securing supplies of water. But, desiring to pursue and catch up with what he mistakenly believed to be a retreating Parthian force, but what was, in fact, only a Parthian reconnaissance unit, Crassus could not take any other route (e.g., the regular Parthian road from Zeugma to Nicephorium and thence to Seleucia-Ctesiphon) than the Arab trade route with Abgar as his guide. Shortly thereafter Artavasdes&rsquo envoys reached him with the news of Orodes&rsquo occupation of Armenia. From then on, not only was Artavasdes unable to help Crassus, but also himself urgently needed help from the Romans (Plutarch, &ldquoCrassus,&rdquo 20-25).

The engagement. Crassus marched on, disregarding his men&rsquos tiredness as well as their increasing apprehensiveness as they heard rumors and reports about the power of the Parthian archery. On 6 May he and his tired and hungry men reached the Balicha river south of Carrhae. His officers advocated a night&rsquos rest and reconnaissance of the area, but, anxious to catch up with the enemy he halted only long enough to allow his men to eat in rank and then moved southward. At this time his scouts rushed in to say that the Parthian force was upon them. Abgar and Alchaudonius saw that all was lost and they left the field with their mounted warriors, an act that the Roman historians later interpreted as treachery and the cause of the disaster that befell the Romans (cf. Tarn&rsquos comments, 1932, pp. 608f.).

Crassus&rsquo plan of engagement as described by Plutarch (&ldquoCrassus,&rdquo 23) cannot be correct in all details. His battle formation, according to Regling&rsquos and Smith&rsquos studies, seems to have been as follows: He intended to group 48 of his battalions (or cohorts) in a hollow square to form a front an any of the four sides as the need arose. A small squadron of cavalry was placed alongside each infantry battalion. Only three sides of the square were completed before the engagement began, however. The left wing, under Cassius, flanked the river the center was commanded by Crassus, and the right by Publius. Publius&rsquos forces included 1,000 Gallic horsemen, 300 additional mounted fighters, 500 light-armed infantry, and a body of 8 battalions remaining out of the square for free maneuvers. The rest of the light-armed men were placed in front, while the baggage-train and other non-fighting attendants brought up the rear. The Parthians seem to have formed two loosely-connected sectors (cf. Plutarch, &ldquoCrassus,&rdquo 23ff.): first came a thousand heavy-armed, mailed cavalry (the cataphracts, see EIr. II, pp. 495f.) then the bulk of the army: 9,000 horse archers, whose &ldquocompound bow&rdquo was stronger than anything known in Europe and whose arrows could penetrate the Roman legionnaire&rsquos defensive armor (Plutarch, &ldquoCrassus,&rdquo 24-25, and Brown). A train of one thousand camels loaded with arrows was stationed in the rear.

The bravery, steadfastness, and experience of the Romans were undeniable, but they were prepared for hand-to-hand fighting and expected to face shots only for a short time before closing in (Plutarch, &ldquoCrassus,&rdquo 23-24). They had no experience with the compound bow, however, and, being on foot, were unable effectively to avoid or pursue the Parthian horsemen. The Parthians had all the mobility they needed, and their supply of missiles was immense. In consequence, it was the Parthians who carried the day, despite being outnumbered one to four by the Romans.

The timing of the battle was critical. It began in the afternoon of 6 May (= 9 June 701 of the Roman calendar), a time of year when it was still not too hot to carry out combat operations in that part of the Mesopotamian plain (details and sources of chronology in Groebe, pp. 315ff.). Bivar&rsquos overestimate of the effect of the heal upon the Romans (e.g., Camb. Hist. Iran III/1, pp. 52f.) is based on the Roman date, not the actual one.

The Parthians used the rising ground in front of the Romans to approach them unseen (Regling, p. 383). When they first came into sight of the Romans, they covered themselves to hide their armor, but when the line came closer they opened their capes, revealing their glittering margian steel helmets and breastplates (Plutarch, &ldquoCrassus,&rdquo 23-24). They charged the Romans from all sides and began discharging their powerful arrows. Then, retreating, they turned around in their saddles and kept shooting their arrows (the famous &ldquoParthian shot,&rdquo see Rostovtzeff, pp. 174ff.). Fearful of being outflanked on the right and unable to call a halt to the shooting, Crassus ordered his son to lead his men in an attack on the Parthians. The Parthians pretended to flee, gradually leading him away from the main army, then wheeled around, surrounded him, and shot most of his men. Only his Gallic horsemen were able to withstand or counter-attack the Parthians, but even they were destroyed by the heavy lancers (the cataphracts). Publius and his officers were wounded and committed suicide. Of his entire force of nearly 5,500 there were only five hundred survivors, all of whom were taken captive by the Parthians. A few had escaped earlier and brought the news to Crassus, urging him to rush to his son&rsquos aid, but when Crassus moved forward he met the returning Parthians, who exhibited Publius&rsquo head on a lance. The Parthians once more surrounded the Romans, continuing to shoot at them until nightfall.

The retreat. Contrary to their normal custom, the Parthians dismounted and camped near the enemy. Many Romans had fallen, and 4,000 were disabled by arrow wounds. The sight of the Parthians next to them frightened the Romans, and they resolved to flee. Crassus had lost heart and was no longer able to take command. His legates, Vargunteius, Octavius, and Cassius, took charge: leaving the dead and wounded behind, they fled north under the cover of darkness, most of them reaching the walled city of Carrhae by dawn. Vargunteius, however, lost his way, and was cut down with his four battalions by Surena on the following day. That day the Parthians spent taking the wounded Romans prisoners. On 8 May they surrounded Carrhae. With no hope of receiving help, Crassus soon decided to retreat by night to the town called Sinnaca (on this location see Tarn, 1932, p. 610 n. 1) at the foot of an Armenian mountain, where Parthian cavalry could not operate freely. Octavius and his 5,000 men made it, but Cassius and his 500 deserted. Crassus himself, having been misguided by a certain Andromachus (Plutarch), from Carrhae, was surrounded by Parthians when he and his two battalions finally reached the town at daybreak. Octavius rushed to his aid, and Surena offered Crassus peace and safe conduct in order to restore friendship with Rome (Plutarch, &ldquoCrassus,&rdquo 29). (Though often doubted, it is clear even from Plutarch&rsquos sarcasm that this was his aim: &ldquoCrassus,&rdquo 28ff., cf. Ziegler, p. 33 Dio Cassius, 40.26, says that &ldquoCrassus, without hesitation, trusted&rdquo Surena.) Urged on by his soldiers Crassus accepted. He met with Surena, who offered him a horse as he could not negotiate with the enemy leader on foot (cf. the case of Bahrām V and the Roman general Anatolius: Procopius, Oorloë 1.2) and asked for the treaty to be signed on the Euphrates, the boundary between the two empires, &ldquowhere most of the preceding peace treaties had been signed&rdquo (Debevoise, p. 91). Octavius, however, misunderstood the Parthian&rsquos intention, drew his sword, and slew the groom who was helping Crassus mount. A scuffle ensued, ending in a fight, and the Romans perished. Crassus&rsquo head and hand were cut off, the punishment for pact-breakers, and were sent to Orodes. Of the 42,000 Romans who had accompanied Crassus, 10,000 eventually reached Syria and were regrouped by Cassius for the defense of the region 10,000 were taken captive and settled at Marv and the rest were destroyed (on casualties and prisoners see Günther, pp. 37-38). Thus &ldquoended one of the worst disasters which the Roman arms ever suffered&rdquo (Tarn, 1932, p. 611).

Resultate (see particularly the important discussion by Timpe, pp. 104ff.). Surena&rsquos extraordinary victory had enormous consequences. It halted Roman expansion, gave Mesopotamia back to the Parthians, and consolidated the Euphrates as the boundary between the two powers. It placed Persia on an equal footing with Rome, making them political rivals for the next seven centuries (see especially Ziegler, pp. 33ff.). But the Romans also learned from their defeat and gradually developed their own cavalry on Parthian models (cf. army i). The Parthians, however, developed no plan of conquest. Their constant domestic conflicts proved too taxing to allow them to exploit their victory fully for further gains. Caesar planned a Parthian expedition, for which he estimated three years of preparation would be necessary, but was murdered before he could carry it out (Caesar, Bellum Gallicum 8.54f. Dio Cassius, 43.51, 44.46 Suetonius, &ldquoDivus Julius,&rdquo 44 Plutarch, &ldquoJulius Caesar,&rdquo 58, &ldquoPompey,&rdquo 56 references and discussions in Günther, pp. 39f. Debevoise, pp. 102-07 Timpe, pp. 110ff.). Furthermore, &ldquothe Palestinian Jews turned their eyes towards Parthia for deliverance from [Roman] oppression&rdquo (Debevoise, p. 94), and pro-Parthian Jews attained supremacy over pro-Roman rivals (ibid., p. 95 Neusner, pp. 28ff.). Unfortunately, Surena, the victor at Carrhae suffered the worse fate, for his popularity so increased that Orodes felt threatened by him and ordered him executed (Plutarch, &ldquoCrassus,&rdquo 33). His deed no doubt continued to leave its mark on oral tradition, and it has been suggested that he might have provided a historical prototype for the hero Rustam (Bivar, p. 51).

For the Classical authors any current edition (Teubner, Oxford, Loeb, etc.) may be used. For Sallust&rsquos Geskiedenisse, see B. Maurenbrecher&rsquos ed., 2 vols., Leipzig, 1891-93.

A. D. H. Bivar, &ldquoThe Political History of Iran under the Arsacids,&rdquo in Camb. Hist. Iran III/1, 1983, pp. 21-99.

F. E. Brown, &ldquoA Recently-Discovered Compound Bow,&rdquo Seminarium Kondakovianum, Annales de l&rsquoInstitut Kondakov 9, Prague, 1937, pp. 1-10.

N. C. Debevoise, A Political History of Parthia, Chicago, 1938.

P. Groebe, &ldquoDer Schlachttag von Karrhae,&rdquo Hermes 42, 1907, pp. 315-22.

A. Günther, Beiträge zur Geschichte der Kriege zwischen Römern und Parthern, Berlin, 1922.

B. A. Marshall, Crassus. A Political Biography, Amsterdam, 1976.

Th. Mommsen, Römische Geschichte III, Berlin, 1909.

J. Neusner, A History of the Jews in Babylonia Ek: The Parthian Period, Leiden, 1969.