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Military engineering: J.P. Verboom’s anti-fortification attack system of parallel lines (1687)

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Designs of Jorge Próspero Verboom on an engineering system concerning the envelopment and isolation of an enemy fortress, and mostly a system of parallel lines of attack (and protection of artillery and infantry), 1687. Verboom was a Flemish engineer in the service of the Spanish crown, one of the best of his time. The third plan of his, deals with the design and geometry of a typical fortress with bastions.
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Fortification plans of Fort San Diego, Acapulco

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Plan of Fort San Diego, Acapulco, Mexico in 1776, designed by Spanish engineers a few years after 1600 (Instituto de Historia y Cultura Militar, Madrid).

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Militaty architecture: Fortification plans by S. Fernández de Medrano, 1677

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As many of the readers will surely have guessed, militaty architecture and even more, Renaissance militaty architecture, is among my favourite pursuits. These plans on the construction of the characteristic bastion fortifications, belong to the treatise “Rudimentos Geométricos y Militares” by the Spanish engineer Sebastián Fernández de Medrano, printed in 1677 at Brussels. Spanish and Italian engineers at the service of the Spanish crown were among the best in the world at that time.
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Μία περίπτωση ελληνικής επιρροής στο αρχαίο ιβηρικό οπλοστάσιο: κελτιβηρικό κράνος χαλκιδικού τύπου

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στη σύζυγο μου Νέλλη, για την έμπνευση και την ενθάρρυνση που μου προσφέρει

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Η κελτιβηρική περικεφαλαία χαλκιδικού τύπου

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Π. Δεληγιάννης

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Για την ακρίβεια, αυτό το κείμενο αφορά ένα αντικείμενο με το οποίο ασχολούμαι στη μελέτη μου: The Greek influence on the weaponry and armoury of the Iberians, Turdetani and other ancient peoples of the Iberian Peninsula.

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Οι σχέσεις των Ελλήνων θαλασσοπόρων με την Ιβηρική Χερσόνησο υπήρξαν πανάρχαιες, ήδη από την εποχή του Μινωικού και του Μυκηναϊκού πολιτισμών, αν και ήταν περιορισμένες. Μετά την κατάρρευση του Μυκηναϊκού κόσμου και γενικά του κόσμου της Ανατολικής Μεσογείου λόγω της οικονομικής κατάρρευσης και των εισβολών των Λαών της Θάλασσας (13ος-12ος αιώνες π.Χ.), οι σχέσεις των Ελλήνων με τους λαούς της Ιβηρικής διακόπηκαν για αρκετούς αιώνες, έως την Αρχαϊκή Περίοδο (700-479 π.Χ.). Τότε, Ελληνες θαλασσοπόροι από τη Σάμο, τη Φώκαια, τη γειτονική Μασσαλία και άλλες πόλεις, ανακάλυψαν πάλι την Ιβηρική Χερσόνησο και αποκατέστησαν τις εμπορικές σχέσεις με τους λαούς της. Κυρίως η Φώκαια και η θυγατέρα της, Μασσαλία, πρωτοστάτησαν στην ίδρυση ελληνικών αποικιών στις ανατολικές ακτές της Ισπανίας, δηλαδή στην αρχαία εθνική περιοχή των Ιβήρων. Παρότι παλαιότερα θεωρείτο ότι οι Ιβηρες ήταν η μεγαλύτερη εθνική ομάδα της χερσονήσου, τις τελευταίες πέντε δεκαετίες διαπιστώθηκε ότι συνιστούσαν ένα περιορισμένο ποσοστό του πληθυσμού της το οποίο κατοικούσε στη βορειοανατολική ακτή της Ισπανίας. Οι σύγχρονοι Καταλανοί είναι οι βασικοί απόγονοι των Ιβήρων.

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A case of Hellenic influence on the ancient Iberian weaponry: a Celtiberian helmet of Chalcidian design

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03 Views of the Celtiberian helmet of Chalcidian type. Its crest-holder is of Italian design.
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By Periklis  Deligiannis

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Actually, this text concerns an item from my study: The Greek influence on the weaponry and armoury of the Iberians, Celtiberians, Turdetani and other ancient peoples of the Iberian Peninsula.
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The contacts of the Aegean seafarers with the Iberian Peninsula were ancient enough, ever since the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations, although they were very limited. After the dissolution of the Mycenaean world and in general the Eastern Mediterranean world due to the economic collapse and the invasions of the Sea Peoples (13th-12th centuries BC), the relations between the Greeks and the peoples of the Iberian Peninsula were interrupted for many centuries until the Archaic Period (700-479 BC). In the Early Archaic Era navigators from Samos, Phocaea, Zakynthos, Massalia and other Greek cities, “rediscovered” the Iberian peninsula and restored trade relations with their peoples. Mostly Phocaea and her daughter-city Masallia, took the lead in establishing Greek colonies on the eastern coast of Spain, that is in the ancient ethnic territory of the Iberians. Although earlier in the 20th century it was thought among the scholars that the Iberians were the largest ethnic group of the peninsula, actually it was proved that they constituted a small portion of the population, living on the northeast coast of Spain and the immediate hinterland. The modern Catalans are the main descendants of the Iberians.

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AD FINEM DESOLATUM! : ROME’S FEROCIOUS 2nd CELTIBERIAN WAR (154-133 BC) Part II

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Modern reconstruction of the fortifications of Numantia, Spain (source:  Wikipedia commons).
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By Periklis Deligiannis

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CONTINUED FROM PART I

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Scipio realized that the Roman war effort should focus on Numantia, the center of the resistance. When he observed her strong walls, made of stone and plinths and supported by wooden towers and defensive obstacles in front of them, he understood that the fortress-city (rather a town according to the Greco-Roman standarts) which had repelled four Roman armies, could not be conquered by assaults and generally by an energetic siege. For this reason, he decided to cut her of the rest of Spain, surrounding her with a powerful ring of fortifications extending 10 km around the city. The Roman siege wall consisted of a wooden wall with towers in which ballistae and catapults were installed. There were also six legion camps embedded in the siege wall. In overall, 60-70,000 Romans would face a few thousands of Numantine defenders who were inside the town together with a few more thousands of non-combatants. The neighboring Celtiberian tribes did not help Numantia because of fear for the huge Roman army and mainly their envy for her growing power and influence. Once again, the typical Celtic discord was the strongest “weapon” of the Romans in their wars against any Celtic enemy.

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AD FINEM DESOLATUM! : ROME’S FEROCIOUS 2nd CELTIBERIAN WAR (154-133 BC)

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centurionΑ Republican Roman centurion leads his legionaries through a storm of arrows. Artwork by Radu Oltean.
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By Periklis Deligiannis
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In the 4th century BC, the ethno-linguistic situation in the Iberian Peninsula (or simply called Iberia) was settled. Most likely, her area was shared by at least five ethno-linguistic groups. The three of them consisted of indigenous peoples of the Pre-Indo-European Mediterranean substrate: the Vasconian or Aquitanian group dwelled in the northern area, being the ancestors of the modern Basques. The Vascones belonged to the same group with the pre-Celtic Aquitani of southern Gaul. The southern part of the Peninsula belonged to the Tartessian group, with the Turdetani being its principal tribe and the River Ana (today Guadiana) being its northern border. The eastern Mediterranean coast of Spain was dwelled by the Iberian group. Some decades ago it was believed that the Vascones and the Tartessians were branches of the Iberians, but today it is almost certain that they were independent ethno-linguistic groups. This ‘misunderstanding’ was due to the Greek and Italian navigators/explorers who first came into contact with the Iberians. Because of this meeting they called “Iberia” the whole peninsula when in fact the Iberians were a rather limited part of the total population. In the mentioned period, the original Tartessian group was already divided to a Paleo-Tartessian and a Turdetanian subgroup.
The other two ethno-linguistic groups of the Peninsula were Indo-European: the Lusitani who were linguistically an Indo-European population but probably pre-Celtic, and the Celtiberians who were linguistically Celts. Some researchers believe that the Lusitani spoke proto-Celtic dialects originating from the local Urnfield Culture, older than the Celtiberian dialects (being  q-Celtic, rather originating from the Hallstatt Era) but there are many objections to this view.

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THE SPANISH ARMADA CONQUERS ENGLAND (1588): AN HISTORICAL SCENARIO- Part Ι

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A Renaissance image of the Spanish Armada confronting English ships.

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Neptune Spanish galleonA modern reconstruction of a Spanish galleon (constructed for the movie ‘Pirates’).

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By Periklis Deligiannis

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This is an historical scenario that I have written about what would have happened if in 1588 the Armada of Spain had defeated the English fleet and the Spanish had conquered England. The scenario extends to the critical impact of such a march of events to the history of Europe and the World. Although it is written in the form of an “historical narrative” (because I was asked to write it in that form for a journal) it is based on actual and – I hope – cogent historical arguments which I mention in the text.

I did not take into account some random factors which in real history favored the English, while in the present scenario I supposed that they did not, for example the weather conditions which actually favored them much (in fact the Armada was defeated by the weather and not by Lord Howard’s fleet). First I quote an introduction comprising the actual historical events until the departure of the Armada. Next follows the scenario, being an estimate of mine on how the events would have evolved if the Spanish were victorious.

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HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION

During the 16th century the Reformation of the Protestants against the arbitrariness of the Papacy and the Inquisition has divided the Western Christian world. Around 1587, the supporters of Catholicism had rallied around the Habsburgs whose dynasties possessed two of the three most powerful European thrones, the ones of Spain and the Holy Roman Empire of the Germans. In addition, the Spanish throne had inherited large areas of Europe (Portugal, Flanders, half of Italy, and others) while other European regions (eg some Italian states) were its protectorates.

The third most powerful European kingdom, France, was under the control of the Catholic League. The French King Henry III was essentially a ‘hostage’ of the leader of the League, the Duke of Guise who in his turn was manipulated mostly by the Spanish king. The stubborn French Protestants (the Huguenots) despite the carnage of the night of St. Bartholomew at their expense, were still numbering almost 1,000,000 causing instability in France and giving the opportunity to the Catholic League to substitute the royal power. Spain had additionally annexed the extensive network of the Portuguese colonies. The Spanish Empire controlled the most productive parts of the Americas and the numerous Spanish and Portuguese colonial settlements and posts around the world. The abundant American gold which was transported by the Spanish convoys in Madrid’s royal treasuries, ensured the supremacy of the kingdom over any other in Europe.

According to several scholars, the Spanish Empire was the most powerful in the planet, more powerful than the empires of the Ottomans, the Mughals (“Mongols”, in fact Turks) of India or the Ming of China. On the other hand, Protestantism had officially prevailed in England, Scotland, and the Scandinavian, northern German and Baltic countries. However, a large proportion of the population of the English kingdom remained Catholic because all Irishmen and a significant proportion of the Englishmen and Welshmen remained faithful to the papal church.

The Protestant doctrine of Calvin had prevailed in Scotland, however the majority of the Scottish Highlanders and a significant proportion of the Lowlanders remained Catholic. The Germanic Protestants of the Netherlands (ancestors of the Dutch) used to revolt from time to time against the Spanish domination. Their struggle for ethno-religious freedom, in combination with other factors, led to their gradual differentiation from the rest of the Germans. Thus during the 16th-17th centuries arose the Dutch nation.

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FROM PROVINCES TO STATES: the Spanish Viceroyalties, audiencias and provinces in America

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By  Periklis  Deligiannis

european aggresion

European knights of the 15th century. The heavy  cavalry of the Conquistadores belonged to this type. The native Central and South American warriors could do very little against these armoured and mounted war machines.

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Viceroyalties and Audiencias, 16th Century

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the initial Spanish colonies in the Americas were divided administratively in two viceroyalties: the Viceroyalty of New Spain, comprising the Caribbean, Mesoamerican, North American and Pacific colonies of Spain, and the Viceroyalty of Peru comprising her South American colonies.
Each Viceroyalty was divided in audiencias. The audiencia was a high court of justice exercising judicial, political and military power in the Spanish colonies.
The Viceroyalty of New Spain was divided in the audiencias of Nueva Galicia (modern NW Mexico and SW USA), Mexico (modern Central Mexico and the Caribbean coast of the US), Guatemala (Chiapas, Yucatan and modern Central America), Hispaniola (Cuba and Florida) and Santo Domingo (Haiti/Santo Domingo, Puerto Rico and all the lesser islands of the Caribbean, plus “Little Venice” i.e. modern Venezuela). The Viceroyalty of New Spain included also the Philippines and all the other Spanish islands of the Pacific.

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

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By  Periklis    Deligiannistercio
A  Spanish  tercio  in  a  modern  artwork (source:  Desperta  Ferro).  The  Spanish  army  was  the  strongest  European  army  of  the  mid  16th  century,  belonging  to  the  Hapsburgs.
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Charles  V  Hapsburg  was  the  most  powerful  European  monarch  of  the  first  half  of  the  16th  century.  The  Hapsburg  family/dynasty  (known  also  as  Habsburg)  was  able  to  expand  rapidly  its  territories  and  to  become  possibly  the  strongest  dynasty  ever  in  the  thrones  of  Europe,  in  a  unique  way:  not  so  much  through  waging  wars  and  conquests  but  mainly  through  dynastic  marriages  and  choosing  spouses  for  their  brood,  who  would  be  classified  today  as  “very  wealthy  brides.”  Their  dowries  were  not  simply  money  and  wealth  but  thrones,  kingdoms  and  the  treasures  that  accompanied  them.  But  this  policy  of  the  Hapsburg  dynasty  does  not  reduce  the  competence  and  the  fighting  ability and  spirit  of  the  Austrian-Hapsburg  imperial  army,  who  was  one  of  the  strongest  and  most  effective  in  European  history.  The  immense  Hapsburg  Empire  had  to  be  supported  by  an  army  of  a  similar  level,  mostly  in  quality.  In  the  period  that  this  article  is  referred  to,  the  Hapsburgs  controlled  not  only  the  Austrian  army,  but  a  “multitude”  of  several  European  military  forces  (mercenaries  in  a  great  percentage)  and  mostly  an  imperial  army  stronger  than  the  Austrian,  the  Spanish  one.

Harquebusier by Francisco Galiano

Α  modern  representation  of  a  harquebusier  of  the  1st  half  of  the  17th  cent. (copyright: Francisco Galiano).

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