Discussion in 'World History' started by ELITEOFWARMAN8, Oct 2, 2012.
Dachs, if you had to nominate someone for the title of "_______ the Great", who would you choose?
Cue Eirene in 3,2,1....
absolutely Khalid ibn al-Walid. he fought more than 100 battles and never lost.
"Best"? Eeeehhhh. Surely one would want to pick somebody more successful than Napoleon for a "best".
The question is 'best military leaders of all time'. we're talking several thousand years thats seen billions of people live and die.
Given the scope, how can anyone definitively say this person or that person is the best?
Assuming he did in fact do that. I think it's already come up in this thread that a proper historical record is super weak in this area, and most of the information comes to us through legend, similar to someone like Cincinnatus. Which is not to say that he wasn't a great commander, it's just very tough to say for sure.
Exactly. It's come up already, but there's no objective scale on which to rate "leadership," especially over that timespan. Thus any answer to "best ever" will always be subjective.
Probably Philip, why?
This isn't about definitive or objective choices, this is about a semblance of shared subjectivity and about expanding mutual knowledge bases. Obviously there's no definitive answer to the question, but that doesn't mean that there can't be a discussion about personal opinions, the reasons for same, and whether those make sense.
Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great. Would be interested to hear why.
That's what I thought. But there have been many other Phillips in history, just wanted to be sure.
Built a world-conquering military infrastructure virtually ex nihilo and proved himself extremely capable of wielding the army he created in the field. (The operational successes surrounding the battles of the Crocus Field and of Chaironeia were particularly important.) His successes were many; his failures, few and temporary. Was either directly or peripherally responsible for one of the few short-term quantum leaps in siege technology and practice in military history. And, most importantly, he accomplished everything he set out to do and more. At the beginning of his reign, Makedon was fighting enemies on three fronts, including a civil war and an intervention by the very powerful Athenians; almost solely through military skill, Philip crushed these threats and stabilized the extremely shaky country that he ruled, then in the course of two and a half decades brought that country from the brink of annihilation to the unquestioned mastery of Greece.
To what does this refer?
Philip's army was one of the first ones recorded to employ as wide a variety of siege engines as it did, contained an engineering corps of considerable experience (which showcased that experience in Alexander's campaigns) and was one of the first to make use of such devices as the torsion catapult.
It's remarkable chiefly because only a few decades earlier, Greek cities virtually never fell by storm or siege; blockade and/or betrayal were the order of the day. Offensive siege warfare wasn't impossible, but it was so rarely done successfully that it was of negligible relevance. Enter Philip, whose armies besieged and captured the Athenian and Athenian-allied fortified cities in the Propontine region and in the Chalkidike quite adeptly. After Philip, Hellenistic - and, later, Roman - armies rapidly developed an ever-larger arsenal of weapons, devices, and tactics for use in sieges, culminating in the heydays of Demetrios Poliorketes (whose naval and land engines are of course well known) and, later, the late Roman republican armies of Sulla, Lucullus, Pompeius, and Caesar.
How could Philip afford all these armies? It seems like the Maks pretty quickly got a large and excellent military, but how could such a small state overpower everyone like that? Sure, the immense talent of Philip II and Alexander was a major part of it, but their armies seemed large, professional, and well-equipped.
I don't think he was really up against any large states, the southern Greeks being so bitterly divided amongst themselves.
Also, while we're talking about it, I often see things written along the lines of 'Phillip's phalanxes revolutionized local warfare, making the old Greek hoplite formations (also called phalanxes?) obsolete. This new Macedonian battle style would reign supreme until being in turn made obsolete by Roman Legions.'
But then I never see any explanation of what made the Macedonian phalanx so strong; surely the sarissa can't be all there was to it, as it seems like someone else would have thought of that. And then also no reasons why the Roman legions would have been so much better. It seems to someone 2000 years later that the fighting formations and styles would have been relatively similar. Didn't the pre-Macedonian greeks at least arm themselves almost exactly the same way as Roman legionnaires would during the Early Republican period? The main difference being the Roman pilum rather than a fighting spear?
More effective resource use, plus some luck, is the usual attribution. Philip was able to employ the threats surrounding Makedon as a spur to implement reforms that increased his personal control of the aristocracy and allowed for larger armies. It also certainly didn't hurt that he was able to exploit the mines of Mount Pangaion to considerable fiscal effect. But an awful lot of the creation of Philip's military was basically elbow grease: the constant growth and nurturing of an initial kernel of troops, seasoning on campaigns, and victory. There was a positive feedback loop between campaigning and the size and quality of Philip's army, and it really showed if one compares the events of the Third Sacred War with the Battle of Chaironeia.
And he was adept enough, diplomatically, to exploit those rivalries for a time, yes, but he also had to eventually face a united coalition at Chaironeia, and during his Propontian campaigns he dealt with an Athens that was backed by the power of Iran. In comparison with Makedon's size and power, Philip's enemies were very large indeed. And the fact that he built the army that Alexander used to conquer Asia cannot be ignored, either.
To be entirely honest, I don't have much truck with this sort of comparative stuff on tactical systems, especially classical tactical systems, and technical incremental improvements. The fact that Philip's armies employed longer spears and lighter armor, enhancing their role as a cog in the overall syntagmic combined arms battle array as opposed to a single flexible war-winning force doesn't really have that much institutional relevance if you look at the performance of the troops on the ground. Experienced veterans were usually better to have almost regardless of how they were armed, and employing self-contained and varied combined arms forces was generally a better solution to winning a single set piece engagement than anything else regardless of the exact composition of those forces.
Philip's victories - especially his later ones - had more to do with his troops being a veteran combined arms force than with the length of their sarissa. Same for Alexander and the Diadochoi. Not that veteran combined arms fighting forces were invincible in battle - they clearly weren't - but if you wanted to win a set-piece engagement, they were the best generic solution. Rome's victories over the Makedonian-style armies of the eastern Greek monarchies had less to do with institutional tactical advantages than with specific tactical errors by Greek generals (e.g. Antiochos III throwing away the Battle of Magnesia with an overly zealous pursuit) or with Rome's colossal manpower advantage, which allowed it to weather numerous defeats that the Greek monarchies could not as easily sustain.
I thought Dachs' answer gave the silver mines in Pangaion a bit of a once-over, but they were at the core of the "how to afford it all" strategy. The Macedonian kings had won the Pangaion hills from the Thracians in the decades leading up to Phillip II's reign, such that by the time he became king, there were some very large silver mines pumping out ore for the minters in Macedon. Part of Phillip's initial consolidation of his kingdom, while facing threats from Illyria, Thrace, and even Athens for a time, involved simply buying people off until he could implement the reforms Dachs expanded upon. The silver was undoubtedly useful for this. In fact, so large was the volume mined from the Pangaion mines that it is blamed more than anything, except the capture and subsequent spending spree of the Persepolis treasures, for the massive inflation of silver prices during the Hellenistic era.
hitler wasnt a general at all and had no military knowledge. just political demagog.
Nobody likked him at all as leader. Why was he even the Nazi leader anyway?
He had just no qualities that deserves a leadership
I'll nominate Mannerheim's namesake - Also I'll go ahead and say Bolivar too.
This is basically it - in Classical times, economic growth came (in meaningful macroeconomic terms) from technological improvements (which were generally few), digging more money up, or stealing money from someone else. Philip managed II, and Alexander took III to an art form.
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