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French Military Architecture in Malta

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Source: Militaryarchitecture.com

Militaryarchitecture.com presents the first in an exclusive series of lectures by Dr. Stephen C. Spiteri on Military Architecture and Fortification.

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ROMA INVICTA (Part II): THE BATTLE OF THE SABIS (57 BC)

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RomanWithout wasting any time, the legionaries of Legio X crossed again the river Sabis to help Caesar’s men against the Nervii. Reenactment of imperial era legionaries by the Polish Historical Association Legio XXI Rapax, photo by Cezary Wyszynski.

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By Periklis Deligiannis
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CONTINUED FROM PART I

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Caesar marched with his six oldest legions towards the river Sabis sending first a body of cavalry to find a safe location where he would establish his camp. The newly founded XIII and XIV Legions followed at a distance, protecting the Roman supply convoy.
The Roman cavalry corps had crossed the river Sabis to its right bank along with bodies of light infantry and skirmishers in order to oversee the Belgae. However, the Celts suddenly dashed from the forest, screaming war cries and brandishing their swords. Soon they repelled the terrified Caesarian cavalrymen and crossed the river swimming. When they reached its left bank they began ascending speedily the hillside, heading towards the top of the hill where the Roman soldiers were working on the construction of the camp. Caesar found himself in a very difficult situation since he had to act instantly to rescue his unorganized and unarmed legionaries. He had to give orders to sound the bucinae, to raise the red vexillia calling the legionaries to hurry for battle, to gather his men who were cutting trees, etc., all this ‘in just a moment’ as he characteristically writes in his memoirs.
Fortunately for the Romans, Caesar had ordered his officers not to leave their soldiers until the construction was completed; thereby they were able to quickly gather their legionaries. The Romans were additionally helped by the high level of their military training and discipline. When the more isolated legionaries realized the danger of the stormy attack of the Belgians, acted with characteristic collectedness. They did not search for their units; on the contrary they grabbed their arms and armour and ran to the nearest Roman vexillium (war standard) that was lifted up. Thus in an incredibly short time, a battle line was formed. It was a typical manifestation of the robust organization and discipline of the Roman army, one of the many features that made it an unconquerable (invictus) killing  machine.

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ROMA INVICTA (Part I): Preparations and primary Operations of Caesar’s First war on the Belgae

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Romans

Reenactment of Roman legionaries at English Heritage Festival in 2011 (photo by Lichfield Lore). The picture could very well represent legionaries ready for combat in the dense forest of Belgica, but the problem is that the depicted legionaries are of the Imperial era.
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By Periklis Deligiannis

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In 58 BC the campaign of Julius Caesar for the subjugation of Gaul was going on. That year he overwhelmingly defeated the Germanic Suebi (Swebi) who also intended to conquer Gaul under their king Ariovistus. In the next year, the Roman general turned against the threatening Belgae. Many Gauls felt relieved by the destruction of the Suebi who had been threatening their homeland. Others understood that Caesar intended to turn their country into a Roman province.
The Belgae were a large conglomerate of Celtisized peoples mainly of the Northwestern pre-Celtic ethno-linguistic group (pre-Teutonic Germani) as it seems, whom the Germans had expelled from their cradle (in the east of the Rhine), thereby they settled in northeastern Gaul, mostly between the rivers Seine, Marne and the Rhine. However the Belgae included some Celtic proper and Germanic tribes and clans.
After their settlement in Gaul they had almost completely adopted La Tene culture (typical Celtic). Caesar in his ‘De Bello Gallico’ describes them as the most warlike and brave among the Gauls. The Belgians were additionally strengthened due to their long wars against the Germans. The majority of them were fanatically anti-Roman and their leaders and nobles supposedly kept their morals intact without succumbing to the Roman bribe attempts. The Belgae tribes were united in a tribal confederation on the basis of their common origins and culture.
The Belgae realized that Caesar would campaign against them and thus their leaders started to exchange hostages in order to further strengthen the bonds of their union.

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CANADIAN ARMIES ON THE WEB (Governmental site)

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By Periklis Deligiannis

A Governmental Web site with plenty of material that has really impressed me is the Canadian Military History Gateway, and especially its Online Reference Books under the general title ‘Canadian Military Heritage’. Materials on that web site were produced and/or compiled by the Canadian Department of National Defence and various partners, namely Rene Chartrand and Serge Bernier who wrote the texts and a group of renowned military illustrators: G.A. Embleton, Eugène Lelièpvre, Michel Pétard, David Rickman, Ron Volstad and others (I apologize for not mentioning all of them, due to lack of time).
The site also includes numerous photographs of classical paintings, drawings and diagrams of forts, battlefields, weapons, maps, statues, portraits and anything else related to Canadian Military History. Enjoy it!

Below are some  illustrations and photographs of the site with their captions. Τhe captions were written by Rene Chartrand and Serge Bernier (Chartrand wrote the texts refereeing to the period AD 1000-1871 and Bernier the texts of the years 1872-2000):

v2_c1_s02_ss02_02

Grenadier of the French Guyenne regiment (left) and a corporal from the Béarn regiment (right), circa 1756

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THE GALLIC-CELTIC INVASION IN MACEDONIA & THRACE – CHANGES IN SOUTHERN GREEK TACTICS, Part II

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 hoplites

The battles against the Gauls were of the last to be fought by the hoplites. During the fifty years that followed, hoplite warfare was abandoned mainly due to the new socio-political conditions that prevailed in the Greek World. In the artwork: Hoplites of the Archaic era (artwork/copyright: Karl  Kopinski).

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By Periklis Deligiannis

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Continued from PART I

The hordes of Bolgios and Kerethrios were the vanguards of the Gauls because shortly after (279 BC) the main Gallic army appeared led by Brennos (Brennus) and Akichorios, which invaded Macedonia through the Axios Valley. The Senonian Gaul conqueror of Rome (387 BC) was also called Brennos, a ‘name’ which was probably the Celtic title for the king. Centuries later, the Welsh word brennin had the same meaning (king). Brennos was the supreme warlord of the Galatians while Akichorios, Bolgios and Kerethrios were probably his lieutenants (commanders). The Celts were marching with their families in wagons, evidence that they intended to settle in the area. They were strengthened by their vassal warriors: Illyrians, Dardanians, Thracians, fugitive slaves and others. The ancient sources quote that the third (and main) Gallic horde consisted of 150,000 infantry and 15,000 to 60,000 cavalry, figures generally dismissed as exaggerated. The number of infantry is almost common in all ancient writers and probably account for all combatants and non-combatants. If we remove from that number the non-combatants (about 3/4 of the ancient populations), then the warriors would be around 35 to 40,000 men. The real number of the cavalry cannon be estimated, but a figure of 10,000 is plausible. Each Gaul cavalryman (a noble with armor) was accompanied by two horsemen. This military unit of three riders was called “Trimarkesia” (from the Celtic word “mark” which meant among other things, the horse).

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THE GALLIC-CELTIC INVASION IN MACEDONIA & THRACE – CHANGES IN SOUTHERN GREEK TACTICS, Part I

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 By  Periklis DeligiannisCelts

The ancient peoples of the South-Central Balkans and the routes of the Gallic invasion in the region and in Asia Minor.

In 366 BC the metropolitan Greeks watched the Gauls in combat for the first time, and they were certainly impressed. It was then that Dionysius of Syracuse, who had many Celtiberian and Padanian Gallic mercenaries in his service, sent 2,000 of them to aid his overseas ally, Sparta. Thucydides describes the flexible tactics used by the Celtic horsemen against their Greek opponents. Theopompos of Chios mentions the conflicts between the Galatians (Gauls, in the Greek lang.) and the Illyrian tribes in an area located in the vicinity of the river Naro of Dalmatia. During the Archaic Period, the Glasinac culture  flourished in modern Bosnia; a culture that  later became the powerful tribal union of the Autariatae Illyrians. In 359 BC Bardylis, probably the king of the Autariatae, and his forces defeated the Macedonian army killing the king Perdiccas and 4,000 of his men, paving the way for Philip II to the Macedonian throne. Next year, Philip II avenged by crashing the Autariatae and killing 7,000 of them. However the worst for the Autariatae was the beginning of their war with the Danubian Gauls.

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ON THE PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY OF THE ANCIENT CELTS

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pergamon__dying_gaul

GaulThe  two  more  renowned  sculptures  of  the  Pergamene  School  on  the  Gauls/Galatians:  the  ‘Dying  Gaul’  and  the  ‘Gaul  who  commits  suicide  after  having  killed  his  wife’.

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By  Periklis  Deligiannis

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  I have to refer to an old theory on the Celtic physical anthropology, which even today has a great number of supporters although it is based mainly on a misunderstanding interpretation of the representation – especially of the physical type – of the Galatian warriors by the ‘Pergamene sculpture School’, of the reports of the ancient Greek and Latin authors on the Celts and of other secondary data. This theory is influenced by the ‘Teutonic School’ of physical anthropology in the 19th-early 20th centuries (the archaeologist Gustav von Kossinna and the anthropologist Hans Gunther being its last main representatives), which had a kind of obsession on discovering Nordic warrior nobilities as ruling elites on almost all the ancient European peoples, including the Mediterranean peoples, and also on the Iranians, the Indians, the Egyptians and others. According to the theories of that School, the Nordic noble warriors were the real creators of the Celtic, the Roman, the Greek, the Indian and other ancient civilizations.

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ENGINEERING PATIENTLY A GLOBAL EMPIRE: The HAPSBURG EXPANSION-PART II

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 Lepanto 1571

The  Battle  of  Lepanto  (1571)  was  a  great  naval  victory  of  the  Habsburgs  against  the  Ottoman  Turks.

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By  Periklis    Deligiannis

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Eventually  Joanna  (Juana)  was  left  the  only  heir  to  the  Spanish  throne,  and  she  and  Philip  became  the  essential  rulers  of  the  Spanish  Empire  after  the  death  of  Isabella  in  1504  (her  father,  Ferdinand  of  Aragon,  had  no  formal  rights  to  the  throne  of  Castile,  i.e.  the  bigger  kingdom).  Their  son,  Charles  of  Habsburg,  the  future  Charles  V,  was  meant  to  hold  the  greatest  inheritance  of  thrones  and  territories  in  Europe  and  overseas.  In  1506  Philip  the  Handsome  died,  and  in  1507  Joanna  was  found  unable  to  rule  due  to  mental  illness  and  was  removed  from  the  throne.  Her  father,  Ferdinand,  ruled  Castile  and  Aragon  as  a  regent  until  his  grandson  Charles  come  of  age.  The  two  federated  Iberian  kingdoms  remained  officially  segregated  until  Charles  later  joined  and  assimilated  them  into  the  Kingdom  of  Spain  (1516).  Thus  the  Habsburgs  absorbed  the  Castilian  dynasty  of  Trastamara  (both  Ferdinand  and  Isabella  were  Castilians)  as  it  had  happened  with  the  Burgundian  dynasty.

 Harquebusiers

A  fine  representation  of  Hapsburg  Spanish  harquebusiers  of  the  1st  half  of  the  17th  cent. (copyright:  Adrian G Vzon)

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MASSALIA (MARSEILLE): FORGOTTEN ANCIENT SEA POWER – PART II

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 By  Periklis    DeligiannisAntibes

Antibes  during  the  Renaissance,  the  ancient  Greek  Antipolis,  the  third  largest  Massaliot  colony.  The  ancient  Greek  city  covered  about  the  same  area.

CONTINUED  FROM  PART  I

       The  Gauls  (Celts)  gradually  extended  their  territory  in  modern  South  France  at  the  expense  of    the  Ligurians,  the  Iberians  and  the  Wasconians  (ancestors  of  the  Basques),  either  by  conquest  or  by  the  direct  adoption  of  the  La  Tene  culture  by  the  aforementioned  natives  and  thence  their  upcoming  Celtisization.  At  first,  the  Massaliots  did  not  clash  with  the  newcomers.  As  we  have  seen,  the  two  peoples  were  familiar  to  each  other  due  to  their  trade  and  the  beneficial  effect  of  Massalia.  Now  they  had  territorial  contact  also.  Besides  their  common  commercial  interests,  they  had  common  geopolitical  as  well,  since  they  both  ruled  Ligurian subjects.  In  the  early  4th  century,  the  entire  Gaul  had  become  a  Massaliot  zone  of  commercial  and  cultural  influence.  For  this  reason,  the  Massalialiots  had  very  little  or  no  regard  for  the  control  of  the  Iberian  Peninsula  and  the  Columns  of  Hercules  (modern  Gibraltar)  which  they  had  left  to  the  Carthaginians.  After  all,  the  Carthaginian  power  prevented  them  from  this  aim.  The  only  interesting  for  both  peoples  beyond  the  Pillars  of  Hercules,  was  the  tin  of  the  Cassiteridae  islands  (probably  the  Isles  of  Scilly  in  Cornwall),  which  however  the  Massaliots  acquired  without  problems  via  the  commercial  roads  of  Gaul.  In  contrast,  the  Carthaginians  had  to  undertake  the  long  and  dangerous  sea  voyage  from  the  Mediterranean  to  Britain  via  the  Atlantic,  because  the  roads  of  Gaul  remained  forever  closed  to  them  due  to  the  Massaliot  influence  in  the  land.  Because  of  this  situation,  there  was  an  unofficial  agreement  between  Massalia  and  Carthage,  whereby  Gaul  was  a  Massaliot  zone  and  the  Iberian  Peninsula  was  a  Punic  zone.  Later  the  agreement  became  official,  when  the  two  sides  fixed  the  boundary  between  the  two  zones  in  the  River  Iber  (modern  Ebro  in  Aragon,  Spain).

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MASSALIA (MARSEILLE): FORGOTTEN ANCIENT SEA POWER – PART I

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Marseille Ancient Harbor
The  ancient  harbor  of  Marseille  (Lacydon).
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By  Periklis    Deligiannis

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In  the  7th  century  BC,  the  Greek  navigators  and  colonists  appeared  in  almost  all  the  Mediterranean  coasts,  managing  to  settle  in  the  greater  part  of  them.  In  the  coast  of  Western  Liguria  (modern  SE  France)  the  Greeks  encountered  the  Celts  for  the  first  time  after  the  Mycenaean  era.  But  when  they  arrived  in  the  region  as  traders  (8th  century  BC),  the  indigenous  inhabitants  were  the  Ligurians  (Ligures),  a  people  of  Neolithic  origins  who  had  adopted  centuries  ago  a  variety  of  the  proto-Celtic  Urnfield  culture. The  first  Greek  settlers  –  Rhodians  and  Phocaeans  from  Asia  Minor  –  founded  a  trading  post  at  the  modern  site  of  Saint  Blaise  which  soon  became  a  real  city,  possibly  with  the  name  “Heraclea”  or  “Mastrabala.”  But  soon  afterwards,  Heraclea-Mastrabala  declined  due  to  the  depositionn Heraclea-Mastravtablerios (age   of  silt  in  the  estuary  of  the  Rhone  River  that  disabled  the  city’s  harbor.  Heraclea  was  overshadowed  by  Massalia,  a  new  Greek  colony  founded  around  600  BC  in  a  better  site.
The  foundation  of  Massalia  (modern  Marseille)  was  a  major  event  in  the  history  of  the  Gauls  and  generally  the  Celts,  strongly  affecting  their  ethnogenesis,  culture  and  evolution.  The  Massaliot  cultural  influence  in  the  Celtic  Halstatt  and  La  Tene  cultures  (through  trade  and  other  relations)  was  especially  important.  The  commercial  network  of  Massalia  used  the  major  rivers  of  Gaul  (Rhone,  Loire,  Garone,  Seine  et. al.)  reaching  the  North  Sea  and  the  British  Isles.  The  Laconian  crater  excavated  in  modern  Vix  of  Northern  France  is  a  famous  artwork  which  was  brought  there  by  Massaliot  merchants  on  behalf  of  the  local  royal  family.  Numerous  Greek  elements  were  adopted  in  the  Gallic  culture,  ranging  from  everyday  life  to  artistic  expression.  Marseille  ‘exported’  to  the  Gauls  its  own  Ionic  culture  (the  Massaliots  were  Ionic  Greeks)  and  simultaneously  functioned  as  an  “intermediary”,  spreading  in  the  same  people  the  technology  and  the  culture  of  mainland  Greece  and  the  Greek  colonies  in  Italy (Magna  Grecia).  The  city  grew  rapidly  becoming  the  commercial  harbor  of  most  of  the  Gallic  world,  whose  products  were  channeled  to  Massalia  and  then  they  were  distributed  to  markets  in  the  entire  Mediterranean.  The  Mediterranean  products  followed  accordingly  the  reverse  path,  reaching  finally  the  Galatian  customers.  Massalia  was  the  commercial  and  cultural  “gate”  of  the  Celts  to  the  South.  One  of  its  most  important  contributions  to  the  Celtic  world  was  the  Greek  alphabet,  which  was  spread  to  Gaul  and  a  great  part  of  Britain.

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LIBER HOMO LIBERI POPULI: DUMNORΙΧ OF THE AEDUI AGAINST CAESAR AND ROME (PART II)

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 By  Periklis    Deligiannisvercingetorix 

Vercingetorix  (statue)  was   influenced  by  Dumnorix’s  policy  and  tragic  death.

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By  Periklis    Deligiannis

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CONTINUED FROM PART  I

In  the  subsequent  years,  Caesar  conducted  his  famous  Conquest  of  Gaul,  crashing  the  Suebi  of  Ariovistus  and  the  Belgians.  After  the  Roman  victory  over  the  Belgians,  Diviciacus,  the  main  supporter  of  the  Gallic  collaboration  with  Rome,  disappears  from  Caesar’s  narrative.  Liscus  also  disappears  from  his  narrative  but  this  is  explainable  because  he  probably  could  not  be  the  Aeduan  Vergobretus  any  more.  After  all  he  rather  gained  his  office  with  Diviciacus’  political  support  (the  latter  was  the  unofficial  leader  of  the  tribe).  Diviciacus’  disappearance  is  the  real  mystery. 

  Diviciacus  probably  did  not  believe  that  the  Gauls  could  cope  with  the  dual  military  pressure  of  the  Romans  and  the  Germans,  and  he  preferred  the  former.  Apart  from  his  decisive  diplomatic  and  counseling  assistance  to  Caesar,  he  was  the  main  founder  of  his  numerous  allied  Gallic  cavalry.  The  antithesis  of  Diviciacus  was  Dumnorix,  who  believed  in  Gallic  power  and  did  everything  for  the  freedom  of  his  people.  Dumnorix  appears  later  as  the  main  political  leader  of  the  Aedui  (and  possibly  their  Vergobretus)  when  he  was  Caesar’s  hostage.  The  most  likely  hypothesis  for  Diviciacus’  “disappearance”  in  57  BC  was  either  his  physical  death,  or  his  murder  possibly  by  Dumnorix’s  incitation.  Then  or  a  little  later,  Dumnorix  succeeded  him  in  the  unofficial  leadership  of  the  Aedui. 

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