Evolution of warfare

From the impenetrable phalanx to brutal trench warfare, battle tactics and tools have seen much changes over the years. Find out these changes impacted the world and history as we know it.

Ancient Era

Classical Era

Medieval Era

Renaissance Era

Alexander the Great, born in 356 BCE, was a prominent military leader and one of the most successful conquerors in history. He inherited the throne of Macedonia at the age of 20 after the assassination of his father, King Philip II. From 334 to 323 BCE, Alexander embarked on a remarkable military campaign that expanded his empire across three continents.

Julius Caesar was a Roman military and political leader who played a significant role in the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. He lived from 100 BCE to 44 BCE. Caesar’s military genius and tactical innovations contributed to his successful conquests and rise to power. Caesar was known for employing a wide range of tactical strategies during his military campaigns. Here are some of the notable tactics he used:

Genghis Khan, born as Temujin in the late 12th century, was the founder and emperor of the Mongol Empire, one of the largest empires in world history. He is known for his exceptional military prowess, innovative tactics, and the establishment of a highly organized and disciplined army. Here are some details about his tactics and the composition of his armies:

Napoleon Bonaparte was a military and political leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution in the late 18th century. He went on to become Emperor of the French from 1804 until 1814, and again briefly in 1815. Napoleon is widely regarded as one of the greatest military commanders in history, known for his innovative tactics and strategic brilliance.

The discovery and mastery of bronze allowed for the development of stronger and more durable weapons such as swords, spears, and axes.

The basic tactics of mounted warfare were significantly altered by the stirrup. A rider supported by stirrups was less likely to fall off while fighting, and could deliver a blow with a weapon that more fully employed the weight and momentum of horse and rider.

Gunpowder made men equal on the battlefield as a bullet would negate all the years of training a knight receives while making armour and cavalry less effective therefore preventing the knights, lords and Kings from ruling through force as gunpowder made warfare and rebellion both easier to occur and harder to crush.

Alexander The Great

Speed and Mobility: One of Alexander’s key tactics was his ability to rapidly move his army across vast distances. He utilized a highly mobile force that could outmaneuver and surprise his enemies. This mobility allowed him to strike deep into enemy territories, disrupting their lines of communication and taking them off guard. The Phalanx: Alexander heavily relied on the Macedonian phalanx, a tightly packed formation of heavily armed infantry. The phalanx consisted of soldiers called hoplites, armed with long spears called sarissas and protected by a large shield called a hoplon. The phalanx formation provided formidable defensive capabilities and allowed for a coordinated offensive push.

Julius Caesar

  • Speed and Mobility: Caesar emphasized speed and mobility in his operations. He understood the importance of surprise and frequently utilized rapid marches and forced marches to catch his enemies off guard. Siege Warfare: Caesar was skilled in siege warfare and understood the importance of capturing fortified cities to gain control over territories. He employed innovative siege tactics, such as building ramps, siege towers, and using battering rams, to breach enemy defenses. Concentration of Force: Caesar often concentrated his forces to overwhelm his enemies. He employed the principle of “divide and conquer,” using multiple legions to encircle and defeat enemy armies separately.

Genghis Khan

Cavalry Dominance: Genghis Khan’s army primarily consisted of skilled horseback warriors, known as Mongol horsemen. They were expert archers capable of firing arrows accurately while riding at high speeds. The Mongol cavalry was the backbone of his forces and played a vital role in his conquests. Mobility and Speed: Genghis Khan emphasized mobility and speed in his military campaigns. His armies were highly mobile, allowing them to cover vast distances in short periods. This swiftness provided them with an element of surprise, enabling them to launch devastating attacks on unsuspecting enemies. Psychological Warfare: Genghis Khan understood the importance of psychological warfare. He employed fear tactics to intimidate his adversaries, often resorting to ruthless brutality to instill terror in his enemies. The reputation of the Mongols for their ferocity and mercilessness often preceded them, causing many cities and kingdoms to surrender without resistance.

Napoleon Bonaparte

One of Napoleon’s key tactical innovations was the use of the Corps system. He divided his large armies into smaller, self-sufficient units known as corps, each commanded by a trusted general. This allowed for greater flexibility and faster decision-making on the battlefield. Napoleon could maneuver his corps independently, overwhelming his opponents by concentrating his forces at decisive points. Napoleon’s armies consisted of a combination of different units. The backbone of his forces were the infantry, which formed the bulk of his army. He relied on highly disciplined and well-trained infantrymen, who were capable of executing complex maneuvers with speed and precision. These soldiers were often armed with muskets and bayonets.

Frequently asked questions

Several sources note that his elite guards were taller than most Frenchmen, and thus Napoleon had the appearance of being shorter than he really was. Yet interpretations of Napoleon’s death certificate estimate that his height when he died was between 5’2” and 5’7” (1.58 and 1.7 meters).

Historical accounts state that while Cleopatra was married to her younger brother and co-regent, she also married Caesar because Egyptian laws at the time allowed for polygamy.

Some modern historians, such as James Davidson, see this as evidence of Alexander’s homosexuality. However, the ancient sources report Alexander as sexually active with women throughout his life and how in adulthood he brought concubines to bed every night.

To date, the Mongol Empire is the largest contiguous land empire in human history. Genghis Khan made several incursions into the Indian subcontinent when he chased the Jalal al Din, the last ruler of the Khwarezmian Empire, all the way to the Indus river in 1221.