History 123- Great Battles of World History
September 10, 2013
Battle of Thermopylae- The last day of the Battle of Thermopylae in 480BC saw the
Battle of Agincourt- On the 5th October 1415, an English army primarily made up of
longbowmen defeated a larger French army.
Battle of Lepanto- on October 7 1571, a Spanish and Italian fleet defeated the fleet
of the ottoman Turks off the coast of Greece.
Battle of Nagashino, on June 28 1575
The Battle of Waterloo, on June 18 1815.
The clash between the greatest generals of the time—Napoleon I, Emperor of the
French and Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington.
Battle of Gettysburg on July 3 1863, bloodiest battle fought on North American soil.
What is the importance and meaning of this battle of the civil war as a whole? How
does it affect how we view the American Civil War, what does this mean?
Battle of Somme on July 1 1916- bloodiest day in in history for the British history.
This was because of new products of warfare and weapons were being introduced
during WWI, i.e. the machine gun
Battle of Kursk, on July 5 to August 23 1943. Involving close to 3million men,
Kursk was one if the largest battles in history.
Bombing raids of Hamburg during Operation Gomorrah (July 24 to August 1
Vietcong fire in the city of Hue during the Tet Offensive (January to May 1968)
September 12, 2013
The Greek Way of War
I. The most famous last stand in History
Happened 2500 years ago in Greece. Do some readings and fill in!!!!
II. The Greek defenders
-The Greeks were not united they had what is estimated to be 1000
different city states, but they do have common language, religion,
culture… they called non-Greeks Barbarians - Sparta in the 5 Century was already the leader in warfare, and
enemies were in constant war with Athens, aka other Greeks.
- Engaged in hand to hand combat
-The hoplite’s most important piece of equipment: his shield or
hoplon. The shields were constructed from wood covered with a thin
sheet of bronze. Its total weight was about 16pounds the holite
strapped the shield to his left arm and controlled it w/ his left hand.
The shield was three feet in diameter and had a pronounced dish
The Corinthian helmet, the most common hoplite headgear during the
5 century, the weight was about 5pounds in weight, made of bronze,
with no padding… no ear holes either
WHAT ARE THE LEG THINGS? REVIEW
The cuirass was the most important hoplite armor after the hoplon
itself. It consisted of a bonze front plate and back plate… weighted
Principal weapon had a spear: 6-8ft long made from ash or cornel
wood, as a back up they also carried a sword.
In phalanx, hoplites would stand shoulder to shoulder to a depth of
eight ranks or more. The men of the first three ranks would lower
their spears, while those of the back ranks raised their spears.
-The phalanx formation was only possible b/c of the hoplon.
-The hoplon allowed the front ranks of hoplites to form a shield wall
-The wide diameter of the hoplon protected the left side of the man
standing to his immediate left.
“Helmets and breastplates are for ourselves, but the shield is for the
-The rear ranks also had an important use for the hoplon. Its dish
shape allowed rear rankers to put their shoulders and much of their
bodies into the shield
-They would then rest front.
-Greek warfare was simple and straightforward. The phalanx did not
require special or prolonged training. The hoplite did not need
extensive arms practice to use his spear and shield.
-The 5 century Greek hoplite was an amateur. Greek city-states
required to all citizens to fight in their defense as a condition of
-W/ 1 important exception, all Greek armies were militias and all
Greek hoplites part-time warriors.
Characteristic #2 terrifying and Deadly
-Ancient Greek warfare was deadly and terrifying as humanly possible
w/in the limits of Iron Age technology. -Phanlanx collision: the opposing the Phalanxes charged together
after a short run
-Two hoplite phalanxes in the “othismos” or push. From a 5 century
-The push occurred when two phalanxes became locked in combat.
The front-rankers would stab and hack at each other w/ their
weapons. The rear rankers would push on their comrades in front to
-The push continued until one phalanx collapsed. The defeated
hoplites attempt to flee, while the victors pursue for a short distance.
Characteristic #3 Physically Tasking
-the hoplite panoply—the full kit of armor, shield and arms—
represented a huge physical burden on the Greek warrior. According
to modern anywhere from forty to seventy pounds.
-over the course of the fifth and fourth centuries, the Greek hoplites
progressively lightened the panoply.
-“turn with your shield with it or on it.”
-the Spartan mother was saying come back alive with
your shield or come back dead on your shield, never lose your shield”
Characteristic #4 Decisive
- Sparta was a unique society: it was organized for war.
- At the heart of Sparta’s militarized society was a state-run
educational system, the agoge.
- At the age of 7, Spartan boys left their homes and were enrolled in
- At 20 the Spartan boys were considered men. They left the
barracks-schools and joined 1 of the messes that formed the basic
units of the Spartan army
- Only until he was 30 could a Spartan soldier return to his family
and rejoin society.
- The Spartan soldiers were the only full time professional soldiers
in the whole Greek world.
-The Greek Way of War: Hoplites and Phalanxes
-Four Key Characteristics of Greek Warfare
- The Spartans
III. The Persian Invaders
-when he went to war, the Persian Great King summoned troops from all
over the Empire.
-despite it heterogeneity, the bulk of the imperial infantry in similar style
-most Persian infantry were archers. They were armed with a short
-one of the most feared arms of the Persian army was its cavalry -Persian cavalry was primarily light horse. The troopers’ primary
weapons were javelins. They would use axes or swords for hand-to-hand
-most Persian cavalry were not “shock” cavalry. In other words, they
could not charge formed infantry.
-Overwhelming strength. The Persian Empire had the resources to
mobilize a huge army. It also had the logistical knowhow to bring that
army incredibly long distances.
-Intelligence and mastery
****The problem for the Persians were they weakness on the battle
field matched up with the strengths of the hoplites
-The Persian Empire
-The Persian Imperial Army: Archers, Cavalry, and Immortals
- Persian Strengths and Weaknesses
IV. The Persians against the Greeks
- The Origins of Conflict
- The First Persian Invasion of Greece
- The Miracle
September 16, 2013
The Last Stand of the 300” at Thermopylae
I. The Greco-Persian Wars
Our principal primary source for the wars between the Greeks and
the Persians is nothing less than the founding work of the Western
Around 450 BC, Herodotus, a Greek from the coast of what is now
Turkey, decided to write a work that would explain the recent
conflict between the Greeks and the Persians.
Herodotus called his work “Researches” or Historia: “Herodotus of
Halicarnassus, his Researches are here set down to preserve the
memory of the past by purring on record the astonishing
achievements both of our own and of other peoples; and more
particularly; to show how they came into conflict.”
The Persians did create their own account of the battle of
Thermopylae, therefore we have to go through Herodotus to
understand the invasions of Greece.
In 490BC, Great King Darius launched the 1 Persian invasion of
Greece, an amphibious operation to punish Athens and the other
city-states that had aided the Lonian Revolt After Darius died, his Son Xerxes inherited the plans and
preparations for the conquest of Greece.
--Herodotus and his “Historia”
--Xerxes and the Second Persian Invasion of Greece
Xerxes assembled the imperial army, drawing contingents from
every satrapy (province) of the Persian Empire.
Herodotus states that the army numbered 1.2M men. Modern
historians est. its strength at 250,00 men.
Xerxes also called up the imperial navy, made up of squadrons
drawn from the Phoenicians, Egyptians, and lonian Greeks and
totaling 1,207 warships
--Greek Defensive Preparations
The Greeks now the Persians will be back and they know they will
be back in enormous numbers
Many Greek city-states joined together into an alliance under the
leadership of Athens and Sparta. Other states remained neutral
and yet others sided with the Persians.
By the time of Thermopylae most of the Greeks had decided to
either be neutral or side with the Persians and not participate in
Sparta would lead the Greek allies on land. Its army of 10,000
hoplites would form the core of the defense. Sparta’s Kings would
be the same supreme commander on the sea. (Remember Sparta
always has 2kings)
Athens would make its major effort at sea
Statesmen and soldier Thermopile’s…………
Thermopylae is named after the hot springs
The pass in Thermopylae isn’t wide enough for all of the Persian
By 400-something BC the Greeks are hearing Great rumors about
the Persian coming
Persia absolutely respected the neutral Greek states
When the Persian invasion army approached Greece in late
summer 480 BC, the Spartans were celebrating the religious
festivals of the Cadmeia and Olympia.
To avoid the wrath of the Gods, they refused to dispatch their main
army to the pass of Thermopylae until after the festivals were
The Spartans decided to send one of their two kings, Leonidas,
with a picked force of 300hoplites. They were to join an army of
hoplites from other cities.
This force would act as an advance guard to hold the pass against
the Persians until the main Greek allied army could arrive. At the same time, the allied navy would deploy to Artemisium and
await the Persian fleet
After 4days of waiting King Xerxes began the battle by sending the
Medes against the Greeks.
The Mede’s attacks were bloodily repulsed. Xerxes reinforced
them with Persian troops were Susa and the fighting went on all
Leonidas rotated the Greek contingents so that all took a turn at
the wall and each Persian attack was met by fresh troops
The pass was too narrow for the Persians to unleash a heavy
barrage of the arrows, nullifying their advantage in archery.
Spartans used a tactic where they would pretend to flea, then once
the Persians broke their formation and w