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Swordplay and Knife-play of Medieval Knights – Patrick Luo Final Project Blog 6

Now that weapons, knives, and duels have been discussed in the previous blogs, it’s time to talk about swordplay and knife-play. This topic is widely sought out by scholars, researchers and historians since studies on culture and military training in an individualistic setting are usually missing or hard to find (Jaquet 7). Swords and knives are practically found with every warrior since the beginning of the Medieval Century. But without technique, one cannot rise the ranks in their army. Majority of the warriors were taught by teachers or family members since school for military combat was too expensive and only nobles or royal knights could attend (Jaquet 552). Most of these lessons started with hand-to-hand combat to knives moving to wooden swords and financially practicing a certain technique with real/practice swords (Jaquet 547, 411).


Durer, Albrecht. Saint Bartholomew (S. Barthélemy) (Saint Bartholomew Standing with Sword and Book). 1523. Artstor,

One reason why the school was so expensive could be correlated to the painting above. Saint Bartholomew, one of twelve apostles of Jesus is shown wielding a bible with his right hand and a knife on his left hand. It is believed that if you take up a sword under the name of God, you must be righteous and dignified. One way to be so during the Medieval era was to donate to the church. So if you were to take up sword lessons, the majority of the revenue would be donated to the church.

There are many styles of swordplay and knife-play when the 15th century came around, but there was one technique that was most prominent, fencing. Johannes Liechtenauer, a German fencer, played a critical role in fencing-training with students (Wikipedia 1.2). The evidence of this lies in hundreds of Fechtbücher (fencing-books) being published with credits to Liechtenauer for originating the style or having an influence on a technique being created.


Folio 80r. Wiktenauer contributors. “Albrecht Dürer.” Wiktenauer, the World’s Largest Library of HEMA Books and Manuscripts. Wiktenauer, the World’s Largest Library of HEMA Books and Manuscripts, 26 Oct. 2018,ürer.


Folio 81r. Wiktenauer contributors. “Albrecht Dürer.” Wiktenauer, the World’s Largest Library of HEMA Books and Manuscripts. Wiktenauer, the World’s Largest Library of HEMA Books and Manuscripts, 26 Oct. 2018,ürer.

In the images above from Albrecht Dürer, it demonstrates the positions and movements of fencing (Wiktenauer 2.2). It’s believed these illustrations come from Johannes Liechtenauer’s fencing style since these were made in the early 15th century in Germany. It was about the late 14th century to early 15th century that Liechtenauer’s fencing-style was being published (Wiktenauer 1).

Some advantages of using the fencing-technique are due to its versatility. The method is popular with various types of weapons and is very suitable for broadswords and even daggers. With fencing, it can deliver strong, destructive blows or be used for parries. The structure technique is perfect for both light and heavy swords. The severity of the blow doesn’t determine how successful the attack is. But it’s the ability to disarm an opponent, the ability to deliver a second blow, footwork, and speed determines the success of a sword strike (Molloy 122). If a knight wants to change their sword to match a certain technique, they would “mill-sharpen” their swords. This means they would sharpen their swords, shorten their length, and or temper their weapons in a mill during the middle of battle (Walton 989). Once the sharpened sword is complete, most knights would be using the fencing style since it’s style is widely used by many swords or dagger types (Wikipedia 1.2).


Folio 38v. Wiktenauer contributors. “Albrecht Dürer.” Wiktenauer, the World’s Largest Library of HEMA Books and Manuscripts. Wiktenauer, the World’s Largest Library of HEMA Books and Manuscripts, 26 Oct. 2018,ürer.

In the images above from Albrecht Dürer, it demonstrates the positions and movements of using a knife (Wiktenauer 2.3). The major features of using a knife are to grab the opponent’s wrists and hands (shown with the blue figure in the top and the red figure in the bottom). By controlling the opponent’s wrists, it limits how they can move and allow you to stab or immobilize them.

I believe the Wikipedia article I chose is a good article for my topic because the information correlates with the Albrecht Dürer illustrations on sword-play. The time period of the article matches with my primary and secondary sources (late 14th century to early 15th century). The article has information that spans after the time-period of this blog and how the variating sword techniques and combat styles originated from the source (Wikipedia 1-3). While I was researching the famous names in the article, particularly Albrecht Dürer and Johannes Liechtenauer, their names appeared on scholarly sources such as books and art pieces. With Dürer’s painting of Saint Bartholomew being one of the sources used in this project. The final reason this article is good for my topic is that they list the weapons types for some of the fighting styles, particularly fencing (Wikipedia 1.2).

Primary Source:

Jaquet, Daniel, et al. Late Medieval and Early Modern Fight Books: Transmission and Tradition of Martial Arts in Europe (14th-17th Centuries). Brill, 2016.

Wiktenauer contributors. “Albrecht Dürer.” Wiktenauer, the World’s Largest Library of HEMA Books and Manuscripts. Wiktenauer, the World’s Largest Library of HEMA Books and Manuscripts, 26 Oct. 2018,ürer.


Secondary Source:

Durer, Albrecht. Saint Bartholomew (S. Barthélemy) (Saint Bartholomew Standing with Sword and Book). 1523. Artstor,

Molloy, Barry. “Martial Arts and Materiality: A Combat Archaeology Perspective on Aegean Swords of the Fifteenth and Fourteenth Centuries BC.” World Archaeology, vol. 40, no. 1, 2008, pp. 116–134. JSTOR, JSTOR,

Walton, Steven. “Words of Technological Virtue: ‘The Battle of Brunanburh’ and Anglo-Saxon Sword Manufacture.” Technology and Culture, vol. 36, no. 4, 1995, pp. 987–999. JSTOR, JSTOR,

Wikipedia contributors. “Historical European martial arts.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 20 Dec. 2018. Web. 23 Dec. 2018.

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Duels History and Purpose – Patrick Luo Final Project Blog 5

Now that we have talked about swords and knives, we can now talk about how duels are started. The phrase “throw down the gauntlet” means to literally throw your heavy gauntlet to your opponent to challenge them into a duel (Harrison). The challenged party would then have to take up the gauntlet and duel. With how honorable knights were back in that era, the could determine a battle if a knight was leading the battle (Harrison). The level of duels were sometimes miscommunicated. Sometimes the duelers were dueling to sever a limb, taking one’s life, or simply making a hit on their armor with now death. With duels being misinterpreted as that, many lives were lost and sometimes the battles wouldn’t end due to one believing a duel wasn’t fair. It was believed the first duels originated during the 5th century in the early Amorite kingdoms located at the Mesopotamia and Babylonia (present-day Western Asia) (MacDonald 147).

In the Na’ar (Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon), it mentions people going about duels and how some will allow a person to earn a title. An armored man was summoned to duel a person with hardly any armor as punishment. As the one without any armor was able to evade his blows, the armored man was able to block his blows. The title for the armored man was armor-bearer (MacDonald 158). Most titles can be bestowed for having a father who was a notable knight (Macdonald 159). For example, one could say they are Scot, son of William. Where in this example, William would have been William the Great.


In the picture, it shows how some duels are fought. Each person would have their respective weapons and armor. As shown, it could be interpreted that this duel was miscommunicated by the knights. The one on the right is trying to sever the other’s leg while the one of the left is going for the head and taking the kill. Or it can also be interpreted as the knight on the left is preparing a swing to take the leg while the knight of the right is having a swifter blow.

Another huge factor in duels is that most blades are dull instead of sharp to prevent shattering or chipping of blades and ending a duel (Medieval Combat). Another technique used in duels are disarming techniques (Medieval Combat). If an opponent doesn’t have their weapon, they can either continue the duel and die or they can own their losses.

Works Cited

Primary Source:

Harrison, Elizabeth. “What Does It Mean to ‘Throw Down the Gauntlet’?”, A&E Television Networks, 26 Mar. 2014,

Secondary Source:

MacDonald, John. “The Status and Role of the Naʿar in Israelite Society.” Journal of Near Eastern Studies, vol. 35, no. 3, 1976, pp. 147–170. JSTOR, JSTOR,

“Medieval Combat.” All-Gauge Model Railroading Page, Milihistriot Quarterly, Combat.htm.

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Medieval Knives Design and History – Patrick Luo Final Project Blog 4

Knives (or daggers) played a huge role during the medieval era since it is the last resort weapon for every knight and warrior (Dandridge 145). The first knife was created during the prehistoric era and has constantly evolved since then. The first metal knife was made during the Bronze Age (3000 BC – 1200 BC) in present-day Norway (Dandridge 148). Knives were also assumed to be used to cut off fingers, ears, heads, or toes of tough opponents to keep as spoils of wars or turn in bounties. The knives were made with stronger hilts compared to other swords and a secure pommel (Dandridge 148). The daggers were also strong enough to stab through chainmail (Medieval).


Queste del Saint Graal  (Post-Vulgate cycle), Mort Artu , fol.28v .. ca. 1380-1400.. Artstor,

In the picture, King Arthur’s Round Knight Perceval is shown sleeping on the shoulder of a lion. It shows his knife on his side on the bottom right corner. This painting was created during the late 14th century and symbolizes after a grueling battle, you can always rely on your knife. In the painting, there is a second panel where it shows his dream of him combating a dragon rider and a lion rider with his dagger. This shows that noble knights are willing to fight to the end even if their blades and shields are destroyed. With a knife, it can be used to win the hardest battles and collect spoils of wars.

Knives can also be seen as a dangerous weapon if you have it as a hand. During an excavation of 1985, there was a corpse of a man who had a missing hand but a dagger in its place (Frost). It was suspected that a knight lost his hand during battle through an amputation and used a dagger as a prosthetic hand. It was also suspected he lost his hand through capital punishment (Frost). However, it is known to be an intimidating weapon when you get into bar-fights or small-town skirmishes (Frost).

Knives come in varying sizes and shapes. They could either be double-edged or single-edged, curved or straight, short or long, and more (Dandridge 148). But it can be assumed that most daggers used for battle can be about the size of your forearm (Medieval).

Works Cited

Primary Source:

Dandridge, Pete, and Mark T. Wypyski. “Sword and Dagger Pommels Associated with the Crusades, Part II: A Technical Study.” Metropolitan Museum Journal, vol. 46, no. 1, 2011, pp. 145–152. JSTOR, JSTOR,

Secondary Source:

Frost, Natasha. “This Medieval Skeleton Has a Knife for a Hand.”, A&E Television Networks, 17 Apr. 2018,

Queste del Saint Graal  (Post-Vulgate cycle), Mort Artu , fol.28v .. ca. 1380-1400.. Artstor,

“Medieval Poniard and Dagger.” All-Gauge Model Railroading Page, Milihistriot Quarterly,

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Medieval Scimitar Design and History – Patrick Luo Final Project Blog 3

The Scimitar is associated with the Saracens from Arabia Petraea (Scimitar). It is also commonly associated in the Holy Land as well (land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea in today’s geography). It originated from Arabia while it was in the Roman Kingdom and was popular during the 13th century (Staff). This weapon was commonly used to fight against the Crusaders and against the Crusader Sword. It was a common weapon to use on horseback due to how light it was and its distinct curve (Staff). It was highly effective against armored knights due to the distinct curve, the force generated while on horseback, and how much swifter the blows can be delivered compared to the Medieval Arming Sword (Staff).


The length of the sword was typically 30 to 36 inches (with 3-4 inches being the hilt size and the rest being the blade size) (Scimitar). The Scimitar weighed between 3-4 pounds with a width of 2-3 inches. Its hilt is considered smaller than the Medieval Arming Sword (can be distinguished in the Scimitar picture and from the Medieval Arming Sword picture from the previous blog). This sword wasn’t ideal for stabbing enemies but was considered the gold standard for slash wounds. During the Second Crusade, the Scimitars play a drastic role in the Salahuddin army in the 12th century (Staff). It completely outclassed the Crusader Sword due to the Scimitar’s superior speed, ability to parry blows due to its curve, and effectiveness while on horseback. After the showing of the Scimitar’s lethalness, it was also used by the Mongols, Rajputs, and Sikhs (Staff).

Jean d’Alluye from the Abbey of La Clarte-Dieu based from France depicts the model of an ideal knight. With a long-sleeved and hooded mail shirt, mittens, coif, spurs, a Crusader Sword, and a shield, this was the outfit of a knight of the 12th-13th century (Nickel 123). Although this was the image of a knight, he depicts how a Scimitar from the Islamic world can cause damage to this knight of the 12th-13th century (Nickel 123). However, there aren’t a lot of Scimitars preserved as well as the Crusader Swords or the Medieval Arming Sword. This was most likely due to the hilt being smaller, making it easier to break during battle (Nickel 126).

Works Cited

Primary Source:

“Scimitar.” Life in the Middle Ages, Lords and Ladies,

Secondary Source:

Nickel, Helmut. “A Crusader’s Sword: Concerning the Effigy of Jean D’Alluye.” Metropolitan Museum Journal, vol. 26, 1991, pp. 123–128. JSTOR, JSTOR,

Staff, Editor. “Scimitar.” Medieval Middle Ages, Medieval Middle Ages, 8 Feb. 2013,

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Medieval Arming Sword Design and History – Patrick Luo Final Project Blog 2

The Medieval Arming Sword was considered the most popular secondary sword in the 15th century due to being lighter, shorter, but still deadly (Willis). With the increasing popularity of longswords and greatswords in the late 14th century to early 15th century, most knights wielded two blades (a longsword or greatsword paired with a Medieval Arming Sword) (Medieval Swords). The reason why it is called the Medieval Arming Sword is that once you lose your larger sword or if you end up in a situation where you can’t freely swing your longsword or greatsword, you would arm your secondary sword (in this case, it would be the Medieval Arming Sword) (Willis). It was believed the first locations these Medieval Arming Swords originated from was modern-day Belgium (Willis).

Arming Sword.jpg

The length of the sword was typically 30-35 inches (where 4-5 inches is the hilt size and the rest being the blade size) (Willis). The Medieval Arming Sword weighed between 2-4 pounds and the width of the sword was 2-2.5 inches (Willis). With the style of this blade, it allowed for easier, swifter, and more accurate blows. This also allowed users to dodge and evade blows from enemies wielding large, double-handed weapons (Medieval Arming Sword). In the picture, it shows how smaller it is compared to the previous Crusader Sword in the past blog post.

With the smaller length of the blade and how it was lighter than regular broadswords, women favored the Medieval Arming Sword (Stock 56). Most of these swords were hidden in a women’s leg armament strap so they could assassinate or kick people out from bars and taverns (Stock 57). With the hilt being a perfect size (sample hilt in the picture) and weight to move around in, it made women effective warriors back in the 15th century. It was reported that some women were trained to use swords and weapons during the 12th century (Stock 56). With the rise of women during these centuries, some even armed themselves in armor and became knights while hiding their identity has a woman (Stock 61). The Medieval Arming Sword in the picture is also a common sword found in Amazon warrior depictions and art (Stock 63).

Works Cited

Primary Source:

Willis, Wil. “Medieval Arming Sword.”, A&E Television Networks, 20 July 2015,

Secondary Source:

Stock, Lorraine Kochanske. “’Arms and the (Wo)Man’ in Medieval Romance: The Gendered Arming of Female Warriors in the ‘Roman D’Eneas’ and Heldris’s ‘Roman De Silence.’” Arthuriana, vol. 5, no. 4, 1995, pp. 56–83. JSTOR, JSTOR,

“Medieval Swords.” Life in the Middle Ages, Lords and Ladies,

“Medieval Arming Sword and Falchion.” All-Gauge Model Railroading Page, Milihistriot Quarterly,

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Crusade Sword Design and History – Patrick Luo Final Project Blog 1

The Crusader Sword is a mighty sword introduced in the 6th century and a common sword for Crusaders during the 12th-15th century (Medieval Swords). It wasn’t the most popular sword during the 6-11th century due to other broadswords being more popular (Medieval Swords). It became a favored sword ever since the First Crusade from 1095-1099 and has been an iconic sword from that battle (Willis).

Due to all the pillaging and people taking their spoils of war, it is hard to determine where the first Crusader Sword was made in the 6th century. But it is believed it may have originated in East Europe (Willis). After the First Crusade, there was a mass production of these swords since it symbolizes a person’s faith to God (Willis).

Crus Sword

The length of the sword is typically 30-45 inches (where 4-5 inches is the hilt size and the rest being the blade size) (Willis). It weighed between 3-5 pounds and the width of the sword was 2-3 inches (Willis). It is similar to a broadsword in size comparison, however, the only difference is the hilt and how the blade is made (Medieval Swords). In the picture showing a Crusader Sword, it shows a gradual fading so the edge of the blade doesn’t have 3 points like a typical broadsword (Willis). As for the hilt, broadsword is generally more curved while the hilt for the Crusader Sword pictured in this blog is wider (Willis). The Crusader Sword is also paired with a scabbard where most warriors and knights hold on their right hip just like the broadsword pairings (Catling 143).

It was suspected Sir Arnat Visconti’s (a 14th century noble from Cyprus) sword was a Crusader Sword (Catling 142). With his sword in his right hand, it paired well with his heart-shaped shield with his 2 wyverns (Catling 142). Just like Sir Visconti, other notable 14th century knights used Crusader Swords such as Sir John Tenouri, Sir Thomas Prevost, Sir Philipe de Milmars, Sir Heude de Vis, Sir Thomas de Montholif, Sir Aigue de Bessan, and Sir John Antiaum (Catling 143). It was especially common to use this sword from those who are affiliated with the Church of the Augustinians, Nicosia in the mid-late 14th century (Catling 143).

Works Cited:

Primary Source:

Willis, Wil. “Crusader Sword.”, A&E Television Networks, 21 Aug. 2018,

Secondary Sources:

“Medieval Swords.” Life in the Middle Ages, Lords and Ladies,

Catling, Hector W. “A Medieval Tombstone in the Paphos Museum.” British School at Athens Studies, vol. 8, 2001, pp. 139–144. JSTOR, JSTOR,

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Bayeux Tapestry – Scene 57

As an Object:

The Bayeux Tapestry is said to be made up of degreased wool and nine pieces of linen that were treated by alum to ensure the dyes would stay before it was spun (Bloch 494). The other colored parts of the tapestry were dyed thread in addition to the dyed wool. Upon examining the Bayeux Tapestry, some parts of the colored areas wasn’t as faded as the others. This means that some parts of the Bayeux Tapestry weren’t exposed to sunlight as much as the others. It was also discovered with Carbon-14 dating that tapestry borders and central panels were embroidered after the tapestry was hung between the fifteenth and seventeenth century (Bloch 494).

Considering the timeline, it was believed that the tapestry was made between and after the conquest, resistance, or revolt (Bloch 493). Some professors find the Bayeux Tapestry an interesting topic and due to the timeline not having an exact timeline, they created assignments for students to research if the tapestry was made between or after the conquest, resistance, or the revolt (Carter 31).

As Content:


“William Rides To War – Scene 3.” The History of Britain’s Bayeux Tapestry, Britain’s Bayeux Tapestry, 2014,

“William, mace in hand, gives a speech to encourage his soldiers (William Rides).”

With the description provided, William, Duke of Normandy, would be on the red horse and the mace in hand. This picture is suspected to be William the Great’s army heading into the Battle of Hastings of October 14th, 1066 (Carter, Historians 24). With the new battle in the horizon, William’s army of calvary was terrified of King Harold’s army, not confident in their formation, and recollecting that no Norman’s ever being a King of England (Tanton). Seeing this as a huge weakness, William raised his mace and rallied his men. With the battle cry and in the scene provided, it seems to have helped his men recollect their spirits and rush into war (Tanton).

King Harold’s army was composed of infantry and filled with archers. With the mobility of riding a horse and disciplined training, William the Great’s army overpowered King Harold’s and he became the first Norman King of England.

On the tapestry, there is a crow on the top right corner pointing to King Harold’s army. I believe this signifies his ill fortune and death. Without William’s speech to his troops, I believed they wouldn’t have won due to having a poor mentality.


Primary Sources

Wilson, David M. The Bayeux Tapestry: The Complete Tapestry in Color. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1985. Print.

“William Rides To War – Scene 3.” The History of Britain’s Bayeux Tapestry, Britain’s Bayeux Tapestry, 2014,


Secondary Sources

Bloch, R. Howard. “Speculum.” Speculum, vol. 81, no. 2, 2006, pp. 493–494. JSTOR, JSTOR,

Carter, John Marshall. “Doing What Historians Do: Using the Bayeux Tapestry to Discover the Past.” The Clearing House, vol. 70, no. 1, 1996, pp. 24–25. JSTOR, JSTOR,

Carter, John Marshall. “Writing Games in the Bayeux Tapestry.” The English Journal, vol. 74, no. 7, 1985, pp. 31–34. JSTOR, JSTOR,

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Likely People who were King Arthur

Who was King Arthur? – Caci Kynaston/ Cassandra57

If we wish to know who the historical King Arthur is, we need to look at the historical records of the time. Some qualities that all the “historical texts” indicate:

  • Arthur was a great warrior king
  • He died c. 540
  • “Killed” by Mordred (Annales Cambriae and Historia Brittonum)
  • His final battle was at Camlan (Geoffrey of Monmouth)

Location may the most important thing to look at when deciding upon a historical King Arthur. This is because the legend of Arthur was mainly used as a political move by the Normans to instill divine right when they conquered England. They used Arthur as the true King of England, who they were descended from, to defend the conquest of why they should be the rightful rulers. Camlan is a real mountain pass in Wales, which happens to be near the 4th largest stronghold/city in Roman Britain — Virconium. It is also near Monmouth, where the author, who popularized the Arthur legend, Geoffrey is from.  


Maps taken from lecture by David Hartwig 2018.

The ruler of this city was Owain Ddantgwyn c. 500, the King of Powys. Owain was known as “The Bear King” (Bonsing and Jones) which connects him to the name Arthur, which has two root-words for bear: “Arth” which is the Celtic root and “Ur” which is the Latin root. Having that Celtic root further implies that a historical Arthur would be from Wales.

Another reason Owain is a good candidate for being the historical Arthur is his family. The legend goes that Arthur was fatally wounded by his nephew (or illegitimate son) Mordred. This is historically correct for Owain, who was killed by his nephew Maglocunus (Bonsing and Jones). Another interesting point is Owain’s father. Owain was the son of Enniaun Yrth, king of Gwynedd. The kings of Gwynedd were known as “Dragons.” Therefore, Owain’s father could be known as Yrthyr-pen-Dragon, which bears a striking resemblance to Arthur’s father’s name, Uther Pendragon (Bonsing and Jones). Owain may have also married a woman named Guinevere, but that fact has not been historically verified.

Owain Ddantgwyn is the best possible candidate for the historical Arthur because he fits all of the characteristics that the primary historical sources agree upon. His timeline fits with the estimate of when Arthur would have lived. He helped to fight off the Saxon invaders and was known as a great warrior. He was killed by his nephew. Yet most importantly, he is the most logical candidate geographically speaking, which is the most important factor because of why the Arthur legend even started.


Artuir ap Pedr (550 – 620) – scaleydragon – Patrick Luo

There are many King Arthur candidates. I chose Artuir ap Pedr who was the king of Welsh and name is pronounced the same a Arthur. It was suspected that the geographical location of Welsh is the same as the one read in King Arthur’s stories (King 120). Another reason why Artuir ap Pedr is most likely King Arthur from the sources is due to his sister, Niniane being equated and named Lady of the Lake (Ashley 16). Merlin was also the lover of Niniane from Artuir ap Pedr’s history (Ashley 16). With King Arthur’s treasures, Artuir ap Pedr’s treasures and exploits were said to be the same, if not, extremely similar to the story (Ashley 16). He is also cited from multiple sources that his battles and physical features are the same as King Arthur (Parry 572, Pacal).


Julia Margaret Cameron (English, 1815-1879). King Arthur. 1874. Artstor,

The reason why Artuir ap Pedr may not be a likely candidate for King Arthur is due to him being born in 550 while King Arthur was said to be born in 500(+/- 10 years) (King 119). Aside from his birth, Artuir ap Pedr was known to not be the best of fighters. This would be hard to imagine that Artuir ap Pedr actually fought and won against the Saxons in King Arthur’s tales (Ashley 16). Since Artuir ap Pedr was born decades after King Arthur, it may be possible that he was named after him (Matthews). It may also be possible that parts of their stories could be coming from entirely different events, one particular example is the Gwent episode (Ashley 16).

In conclusion, with Artuir ap Pedr’s birth being so late after King Arthur’s, it is very likely to say he isn’t the famous King Arthur we know dearly. With his feats being so similar to the other King Arthur, it is possible that it was in fact him living up to his given name. With the geographical location, Welsh it is in the same area of Wales (East Britian). So the most likely candidate still leads to Owain Ddantgwyn.


  • The historical King Arthur was thought to be from Welch and Artuir ap Pedr was from Welsh (Parry 572, Pacal).
  • Artuir ap Pedr’s sister (Niniane) was called and equated to be the Lady of the Lake (Ashley 16).
  • Artuir ap Pedr’s exploits during his time as King of Dyfed is said to be similar or the same as King Arthur’s reported treasures (Ashley 16).
  • The geographical location of Artuir ap Pedr’s era lines up with King Arthur’s historical sites (Ashley 16, King 120).


  • Artuir ap Pedr was born in 550 while King Arthur was said to be born in 500(+/- 10 years) (King 119).
  • It’s hard to imagine Artuir ap Pedr fighting the Saxons as told in King Arthur’s tales (Ashley 16).
  • It’s possible that Artuir ap Pedr was named after King Arthur’s tales since he was born decades after King Arthur’s tale (Matthews).
  • “The Gwent episode may relate to an entirely different historical event (Ashley 16).”


Ambrosius Aurelianus (430 – 500)-somebodycallixii- Kimberlee Whitmore

Ambrosius Aurelianus is another likely candidate for King Arthur. He was  a Romano-British leader who lived near the time of Arthur. His name could have easily been construed over the years to become Artorius and eventually Arthur.

Gildas writes that he was a war leader who won an important battle against the Anglo-Saxons sometime in the 5th century. This combat could have been the Battle of Badon Hill. This a battle claimed to have been the culminating fight of the contentions Arthur lead. If it was not the Battle of Badon that Ambrosius fought in it likely followed combat he lead. It is difficult to pinpoint because the names of the combatants are never mentioned directly by Gildas. Although we don’t know which battles Ambrosius fought we can say that he was certainly a great military leader. In the Historia Bittonum Ambrosius is said to be a ‘King among kings of the British nation.’ by Nennius. This is the first mention of Ambrosius as a king of any kind.

The trouble with naming Ambrosius Aurelianus as King Arthur is that the timing does not line up. The texts that mention him place this age around the rise of Vortigern. This event is placed around 425 CE by Nennius, but much later at about 460 CE by Geoffrey of Monmouth.  Since the year 425 CE is from older texts, it is likely more accurate and is used more often to place his birth. This is an age difference of about 30 years and is of great importance when considering whether Ambrosius could be the historical King Arthur. This date would make him quite old when participating in the most famous battles of King Arthur, which are often placed in the early 6th century. He would not have lived to see the Battle of Camlann in 537 CE if this date is used, and he would have been quite old if his birth year was 460 CE.

Ambrosius Aurelianus is unlikely to be the sole historical figure the legendary King Arthur is based on. If King Arthur is a culmination of people, the heroics of Ambrosius probably contributed to the tales.


Aedan Mac Gabran (526-608 CE) Fifth King of the Irish- Scots:  Beholdaman

Aedan Mac Gabran was the fifth  King of the Scottish in Dal Riata, and often noted with the surname Pendragon, a name given by his cousin, Saint Columba of Iona, upon his coronation (pedigree resource file). He was married to a Domelch o Gwynedd verch Maelgwyn, a Welsh princess whose name translates to: Domelch of Gwynedd, of the Maelgwyn line (Áedán Mac Gabráin, Rí Na Dál Riata.). Her lineage could lend to the name Gwendolyn. It should be noted that Aedan and Demelch supposedly had a son named Arthur, who is often considered a candidate for the title of THE king Arthur, however, he never became King as he died well before his father in the battle of Maeatae, in approximately 590 CE(Áedán Mac Gabráin, Rí Na Dál Riata.). The existence of this son is often called into question and widely considered to be a product of revisionist history.

He is considered to have been the most powerful king at the time and King Aedan had many battles against the saxons as well as being one of the first Christian Kings of Scotland, which fits with the arthurian quest for the holy grail (Cowing). He is also well known for having ventured to many islands in “the west sea” while campaigning(Cowing). In legend, King Arthur traveled to an island in the west sea called Avalon, where he was sent to be healed.


After being defeated by Æthelfrith, King of Bernicia, Aedan abdicated the throne in 574 CE and spent his days in a monastery, where he died in 608 (Nash). It is possible that Aedan could have sought refuge in the monastery founded by Saint Columba, his cousin, on the island of Iona. Many medieval kings are known to be buried on Iona, though records and markers have been destroyed over the years, leaving only 48 known royal tombs.

There are a few reasons why Aedan may not be the legendary King Arthur. First and foremost is the matter of his name. The only connection he has to the name Arthur is a son that may not have even existed. He has no known nicknames similar to Arthur. The second issue is how well documented his life was. Though much of his life is still shrouded in mystery, enough about it is known thanks to Saint Columba. The third problem is that there are already many recorded myths and legends surrounding King Aedan Mac Gabrain. How can two seperate legends spring from the same man?

It is likely that King Arthur is a legend based on an actual person. Aedan Mac Gabrain is as good a candidate as any proposed thus far.


Works Cited


Ashley, Michael. A Brief History of King Arthur. Robinson, 2010.

“King Arthur.” The R. I. Schoolmaster, vol. 5, no. 4, 1859, pp. 119–120. JSTOR, JSTOR,

Julia Margaret Cameron (English, 1815-1879). King Arthur. 1874. Artstor,

Matthews, John, and Caitlin Matthews. The Complete King Arthur: Many Faces, One Hero. Inner Traditions, 2017.

Pacal. “Dowsing for King Arthur.” Skeptical Humanities, Word Press, 31 Mar. 2011,

Parry, John J. “Modern Welsh Versions of the Arthurian Stories.” The Journal of English and Germanic Philology, vol. 21, no. 4, 1922, pp. 572–600. JSTOR, JSTOR,


Annales Cambriae., Accessed on 4 Nov. 2018.

Bonsing, John and S. Rhys Jones. “Historical Arthur.”, 21 June 2007, Accessed on 4 Nov. 2018.

Geoffrey of Monmouth. Historia Regum Britanniae., Accessed on 4 Nov. 2018.

Nenius. Historia Brittonum., Accessed on 4 Nov. 2018.

Beholdaman – somebodycallixii

“Pedigree Resource File,” database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 4 November 2018), entry for KING Scotland Aedan /MacGABHRAN/, cites sources; “Sanders Jones Wilkins Snyder” file (2:2:2:MMD8-L9C), submitted 8 June 2014 by bob sanders_4 [identity withheld for privacy].

Cowing, Emma. “Fabled King Arthur ‘Was a Scottish Warlord’.” Lifestyle, 17 Nov. 2013,

Nash, David. “HISTORICAL CHRONOLOGY of the EARLY KINGDOMS of SCOTLAND PART 1: AD 498-597 .” EBK: Historical Chronology of the Early Kingdoms of Scotland AD 498-597, Nash Ford Publishing, 2001,

“Áedán Mac Gabráin, Rí Na Dál Riata.” geni_family_tree, 3 Nov. 2018,Áedán-mac-Gabráin-Rí-na-Dál-Riata/6000000003318435827.

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Legionary Religion and Weapons

Weapons – scaleydragon

Weapons played a huge role in military, religious, and societal standing in the Legionary times in Rome. Arrowheads made or break armies, axes made to change fighting methods, spears had various symbolic meanings, and a weapon that started the evolution of all iron weapons. This weapon was the Styli (or pen).

Sagittae, or arrows, were excavated from Concordia and were well-preserved (Salvemini, Arrowheads 1228). These arrows were either triangular, flat, or quadrangular (Salvemini, Arrowheads 1229). Triangular arrowheads were designed to penetrate armor (Salvemini, Arrowheads, 1229). “The bladed heads once removed leave a flat slit of a wound, which the muscles surrounding the wound would help to close by automatically contracting. The more pronounced blades of the tri-lobed points would generate cuttings in three directions, plus a punch hole, causing the same reflex muscle action to hold the wound open. This would inhibit clotting, allowing blood to flow freely from the wound and make it much more open to infection (Salvemini, Arrowheads, 1229).” Flat arrowheads were designed to aid equestrian archer’s skills. They were usually fired from compact bows to fly straight (also aided from the arrowhead’s heavier weight) (Salvemini, Arrowheads, 1232). Quadrangular arrowheads were used to penetrate armored enemies in Legionary armies (Salvemini, Arrowheads, 1234). Although arrows and axes were the only weapons that didn’t have an impact on a Legionary’s status.


“> 3 SIDE BLADE ARROW HEAD < Very RARE Ancient Roman Legionary Archery Weapon • $34.98.” PicClick, 26 Aug. 2018,

There are three types of axes, simple large axes with triangular hilts, simple axes with holed bottoms, and crescentic axes with a pike on the other side. Simple large axes were made to be heavy to deal sharp, blunt blows and the triangular hilts were used for better grip (Montanari 238-239). Simple axes with holed bottoms were made to be lighter to wield and easier to maneuver (also possibly used as projectile weapons) (Montanari 239-240). Finally, crescentic axes were made to deal significant blows with its crescent side. For the pickaxe side, it’s meant to pierce armor and pin enemies to the ground if needed (Montanari 240-241). The axes were used but not as popular as spears and swords.

Spears were popular due to being a symbolic weapon. It could represent nobility, righteous devotion to the church, and standing in the armies (Montanari 241-242). Most spears were in a lozenge shape and the spearhead metal and hilt of the spears would distinguish other Legionary statuses. The most important weapon during the Legionary time aside from the spear and sword would be the Styli.


IETE Journal of Education Binomial Sampling Charts Revisited with Graphical and Analytical Arguments – Scientific Figure on ResearchGate. Available from: [accessed 18 Oct, 2018]

Styli had a huge impact on weapon manufacturing and religious assemblies since they were used for creating maps, being used for mailing services, writing religious scripts, and more (Salvemini Styli 1.1). Most well-preserved Styli were made out of iron, it was speculated that crating Styli was a common practice to train blacksmithing skills (Salvemini Styli 1.2). When one could craft Stylis then they would move onto spears, arrowheads, swords, and axes. A Styli’s look could determine someone’s standing in an army, church, or in society (Salvemini Roman). The more gold or copper accents on the iron Styli body would mean higher class in a Legionary army and within churches.

Roman Funerals- Kimberlee Whitmore

Funerals and burial, as in many cultures, were very important to the Romans. There were many rituals and events associated with a Roman funeral. Professional mourners were hired to comprise a large portion of the funeral procession; musicians, dancers and sometimes mimes who mimicked the dead or their ancestors were also hired (Sumi). The body, carried in a bier, would follow.


The end of the procession would have been the deceased’s family and friends, following behind the body. Funerals were very public, very loud events, and a great celebration. The more important you were the larger your funeral procession and the events surrounding it would be. The death of an emperor would result in a grand event for his funeral, there would be a parade though the center of the city and many eulogies and speeches would be delivered (Favro). The rituals of the funeral were performed to exactness, many believed that if they were not performed correctly the dead would have a difficult transition to the afterlife (Hope). Many of the records that remain about Roman funerals only describe the funerals of the very rich and may not accurately represent what the average funeral would have been like (Thompson).

Early in the Roman empire it was very common to cremate the body, inhumation, or burial, had become more common by the mid second century and predominant by the mid third century though the end of the Roman empire (Thompson). When the body was cremated it was taken to the necropolis and burned on a funeral pyre. Ashes and any remains, such as bone fragments and teeth, would be gathered and put into an urn and the urn would be buried. It was believed that until the body was contained within the urn the dead’s spirit had not yet crossed the River Styx and was still present (Fife). If the body was to be buried it would be placed in an intricately decorated sarcophagus before burial. An epitaph was often included on the urn or sarcophagus, this inscription would include the name of the deceased, their birth day and life span, their relations, political offices or military rankings they held and often some form of sentiment. After the cremation and/or burial of the body a feast would be held, it was a marker for the soul to move on to the afterlife and for their family to continue on without them (Fife).


Funerals in the military would have been similar to other Roman funerals, but likely not as lavish. The conditions they lived in could have made it difficult to perform the intricate ceremonies, the dead were highly honored, although their funerals were quite simple. If the funeral had to be carried out quickly after a battle the soldiers would be buried in a mass grave or given a mass cremation, this was always avoided if possible, so the dead could be honored separately. At permanent garrisons of the Empire a small portion of the soldiers’ pay was set aside for funeral expenses. Many of the cemeteries at these outposts had special areas set aside to build pyres that would be reused multiple times for different individuals (Thompson).

Roman funerals were events steeped in ritual and ceremony, members of high society would have lavish and very public funerals, while the funeral of a soldier was often much simpler and less celebratory.

Deities – Cassandra57

The Romans had many gods and goddesses which they worshiped. However, there were only a few main gods that had to do with warfare: Mars, Bellona, Honos, and Victoria. Roman military leaders and soldiers would honor these gods in order to be successful in battle. Each of these gods had a different role to play in warfare and each was essential to the Romans.


Mars is the god of warfare, agriculture, and animal husbandry and was perhaps one of the most important gods to the Romans. He is said to have been the father of Romulus and Remus, who founded Rome (Scopacasa). Therefore, Mars was seen to be the protector of the Roman land (Scopacasa). Many of the rituals/celebrations which take place between March and October (the war season) can be traced back to the honoring of Mars. One interesting point about Mars is the fact that many of his legends include him appearing on the battlefield and fighting amongst the soldiers, “However, once set loose on the battlefield, Mars was considered capable of indiscriminate destruction” (Scopacasa). Mars was also so important that a typical sacrifice to him consisted of a bull, ram, and a boar all at once (Scopacasa). Mars was important in warfare because he was able to rally the troops and bring enough bravery and spirit of war in order to succeed in battle (Scopacasa).

Bellona is the Roman goddess of war, and her role was mostly associated with foreign warfare. In literature, her symbols typically include a shield, a spear, a torch, and a trumpet (Holland). Her temple is located outside the city of Rome, and this is where the senators would meet in order to discuss or declare war on foreign nations (Holland). When Rome would declare war on another land, it became a ritual to cast a spear from Roman land to outside the city in the direction of the land they were declaring war on. However, when that land was simply too far away, the spear would be cast in front of Bellona’s temple because it was seen to represent all foreign lands (“Fetial”). Bellona was important because she helped the Roman troops while they were fighting abroad.


Honos is the Roman god of chivarly, honor, and military justice. He was also commonly associated with the god, Virtus, who represented bravery and military strength. Honos is typically depicted with a cornucopia and a branch or sceptor (Dowling).  He would have been important to the Romans during times of war because they wanted to be worthy of the spoils in which they gained. The Romans also were concerned about whether a war was righteous or not (“Fetial”). Therefore, adhering and praying to Honos would be seen as a way to keep their fight just.

Victoria became a prominent goddess because of her ability to determine the victor in battles (“Victoria”). She became the personification of victory and was often depicted with wings like the Greek goddess Nike (Thornton). Successful generals would worship her as they returned to Rome (“Victoria”). It is obvious as to why she was seen as important to the Romans since she could determine who was the victor over life and death (“Victoria”). Her importance can also be seen by the multiple temples dedicated to her, the most important being the one on Palatine Hill (Thornton). She even has a golden statue in one of the temples dedicated to Jupiter, the head god to the Romans (Thornton). Prayers and sacrifices to Victoria would help lead to victory on the battlefield.

Important Military Festivals and Holidays- Halle

In the Roman calendar the new year starts in March. This is so that the years can start with the Campaign season. While there are many significant festivals throughout the year, I will only be focusing on those during the military season, March through October, and those immediately related to them.

Martius (March) 1st is the birthday of Mars for whom the month is named. It is also a celebration of a battle early in Rome’s history wherein wives and children kept their soldiers from walking into a trap. The war was won when the king, here unnamed, sacrificed a bull to the God Jupiter. Phoebus dropped a shield (2)  from the sky to trick Rome’s opponents (Ovid). The 9th is the festival of sacred shields, also called the dancing of the shields after the dancing priests of Mars, the shield given to the Roman King on the battle of Martius, and the original eleven replicas made to conceal its identity, are taken out to hearten the people and the army. It was also believed to be a way for the army to have good luck in the upcoming campaign season (Warde, 44). There is an account where the shield that fell from the sky was replaced by a replica, and that campaign season was a disaster (Warde, 46). The 14th is the second of the Equirria, chariot racing and discus throwing dedicated to Mars (Ovid). The 17th of march is a celebration of Jupiter userping Saturn, this is symbolic of Rome dethroning its enemies. 23- The purifying of trumpets and a sacrifice to “the Strong God” (Ovid). The 23rd and the 24th are also for the Purification of the Trumpets, most likely tubas, which were primarily used in the military (Warde, 64).


Capitoline Museums. “Colossal statue of Mars Ultor also known as Pyrrhus – Inv. Scu 58.” Capitolini.information.

A recreation of a Roman sculpture of the war god Mars, for whom the month of Marius, now March, was named.

April the 21st is a historical festival where the Vestal Virgins cleanse the city and the citizens. It was also a day to honor Romulus, the founder of Rome, for blessing the walls of Rome to never fall (Ovid). There are many rites involved with the Founding celebration including: repeating the prayer four times, and jumping over a flame three times. Similar celebration similar to this are found all over Europe, probably due to the spread of the traditions via the army (Warde, 83).

October 15th (ides) is the date of an ancient horse sacrifice to Mars. The origin and reason for this sacrifice is unclear, it is hypothesized that the winning horses from the Equirria, or perhaps the best war horses from the campaign season, were sacrificed to Mars. This was likely done as a thank you to Mars (Warde, 242). This sacrifice marks the end of military campaign season (Ovid). The literal sacrifice is phased out by the start of the republic, though the celebration stays (Warde, 242). The 19th is a ritual cleaning and storage of weapons for winter dedicated to Mars. This sacred cleansing was known as Armilustrium,  there is evidence that the sacred shields make a second appearance (Warde, 250).

download (1).jpg

Ancient shield illustration from Nordisk familjebok
A depiction of the sacred shield bequeathed to the king by the Gods.

Februarius (February) 27th is Equirria, first of two horse racing festivals to Mars, Ovid claims this festival to be based on the chariot runs that Mars himself made (Ovid). “The Equirria occurred between King’s Flight and New Year, bridging the period of ‘disorder’: held immediately before the new moon, they prepared the way for the reestablishment of order with the new month and year (Rüpke)”

Works Cited

“> 3 SIDE BLADE ARROW HEAD < Very RARE Ancient Roman Legionary Archery Weapon • $34.98.” PicClick, 26 Aug. 2018,

IETE Journal of Education Binomial Sampling Charts Revisited with Graphical and Analytical Arguments – Scientific Figure on ResearchGate. Available from: [accessed 18 Oct, 2018]

Montanari, Daria. “Early Bronze Age Levantine Metal Weapons from the Collection of the Palestine Exploration Fund.” Palestine Exploration Quarterly, vol. 150, no. 3, Sept. 2018, pp. 236–252. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/00310328.2018.1491937.

Salvemini, Filomena, et al. “Morphological Reconstruction of Roman <italic>styli</Italic> from <italic>Iulia Concordia</Italic>—Italy.” Archaeological & Anthropological Sciences, vol. 10, no. 4, June 2018, pp. 781–794. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s12520-016-0390-4.

Salvemini, Filomena, et al. “Morphological Reconstruction of Roman Arrowheads from Iulia Concordia: Italy.” Applied Physics A: Materials Science & Processing, vol. 117, no. 3, Nov. 2014, pp. 1227–1240. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s00339-014-8511-3.

Salvemini, Filomena, et al. “Residual Strain Mapping of Roman Styli from Iulia Concordia, Italy.” Materials Characterization, vol. 91, May 2014, pp. 58–64. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.matchar.2014.02.008.

Favro, Diane, and Christopher Johanson. “Death in Motion: Funeral Processions in the Roman Forum.” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, vol. 69, no. 1, 2010, pp. 12–37. JSTOR, JSTOR,

Fife, Steven. “The Roman Funeral.” Ancient History Encyclopedia, Ancient History Encyclopedia, 18 Jan. 2012,

Hope, Valerie M., and Janet Huskinson. Memory and Mourning : Studies on Roman Death. Oxbow Books, 2011. EBSCOhost,

Sumi, Geoffrey S. “Impersonating the Dead: Mimes at Roman Funerals.” Oral History Review, Oxford University Press, 15 Jan. 2003,

Thompson, T.j.u., et al. “Death on the Frontier: Military Cremation Practices in the North of Roman Britain.” Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, vol. 10, 2016, pp. 828–836., doi:10.1016/j.jasrep.2016.05.020.

Dowling, Melissa Barden. “Honos.”, Wiley Online Library, 26 Oct. 2012, DOI: 10.1002/9781444338386.wbeah17204. Accessed on 21 Oct. 2018.

“Fetial.” Encyclopedia Britannica, the Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., 24 Feb. 2016, Accessed on 21 Oct. 2018.

Holland, Lora L. “Bellona.”, Wiley Online Library, 26 Oct. 2012, DOI: 10.1002/9781444338386.wbeah17071. Accessed on 21 Oct. 2018.

Scopacasa, Rafael. “Mars.”, Wiley Online Library, 26 Oct. 2012, DOI: 10.1002/978144433836.wbeah17258.

“Victoria.”, Accessed on 21 Oct. 2018.

Ovid. Fasti. Translated by Frazer, James George. Loeb Classical Library Volume. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1931.

Warde, W. The Roman festivals of the period of the Republic, 1847-1921.

Capitoline Museums. “Colossal statue of Mars Ultor also known as Pyrrhus – Inv. Scu 58.” Capitolini.information.

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From India to Persia. Alexander The Great’s Return.

  1. Place your blog in time and space: – medievallyme

Alexander the Great achieved many things throughout his life, a life that stretched from 356 BC to 323 BC, by most estimates. His reign ran from 336 BC to 323 BC, and much of that was spent on campaigns to conquer the world as Alexander knew it, even though his maps were incorrect about the world’s edge (“Indian campaign of Alexander the Great” 2018.) After Alexander had conquered Persia in 326 BC, he set his sights on India. The Conquest of India began in 327 BC and ended with Alexander returning home without conquering India after the battle of the Hydaspes River and the mutiny of his troops. After allowing himself to be persuaded by his troops and the signs that the gods were forcing him to turn back, such as an eclipsed moon which was a bad omen at the time, Alexander had to make a plan of how to return. If he returned through what was likely the easier route, through the kingdom of Porus, Pauravas, to Taxila and Gandara, he would be able to easily reach Alexandria in the Caucasus. But he risked looking like he had failed if he took that route. Therefore, he decided, in the end, to go to the ocean and utilize his ships to get back to Persia and Babylonia. This path would take them west, back to the Hydaspes river, with Alexander founding cities on the way. Once enough ships had been built, Alexander and his men could finally leave, with the fleet being escorted by two armies who marched on the west and east banks, but all did not go according to plan. They lost many ships and many more lives during the attempt. The Indus river which Alexander followed was populated by many people, who, unlike most, resisted Alexander’s control and conquest. Those who resisted met with a destructive, merciless genocide and found themselves under control of Alexander in the end. Those who were left, quickly surrendered and Alexander continued his journey home. Alexander continued southward, attacking and conquering all who were unlucky enough to end up in his path. However, he wanted to continue his journey up to the nearby sea when revolts prevented him. He continued his journey home. “One of the armies that was sent out to suppress the rebellions was commanded by Craterus, and was under orders to continue to the west, through the Bolan pass to Carmania and Persis. He commanded about a third of the army, including the war elephants; this means that Alexander did not want to expose all his men to the dangers that were ahead. After all, a large part of them would have to march through the Gedrosian desert, others were to sail along the almost unknown shores of the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf(Lendering 2017).” His troops suffered greatly in the desert, but the natives of the desert suffered more so. However, they made it through and Alexander returned to Babylon where he resided for his final days.


(Lendering 2017)


Yeager, J. Alexandri Magni Itinera. Public Domain, 1823.

  1. Army – sombodycallixii – 2.1 Sections of the army – beholdaman – 2.2 numbers and make up of the army

Before exploring the conquests of Alexander the Great it is important to know how the Macedonian army functioned. There were two main sectors of this army the infantry and the cavalry. The infantry would have made up the bulk of the army, they were the foot soldiers, known as pezhetarios in Greek. The sarissa was the primary weapon of the heavy infantry, it was essentially a long pike. It had a sharp blade of iron on the offensive and and a spike on the opposite so that it could be braced on the ground during an attack. The spike also acted as a counterbalance for the sarissa, as the weapon was several meters long (English 16). Because of the weapon’s length it was purely an offensive weapon, and was ineffective for defense. The effectiveness of this weapon was vital to the formation of the troops that wielded it.  They fought in an improved phalanx formation, every member of the phalanx would have had a sarissa of the same length, allowing for the formation to create an impenetrable wall of spears. Should a break occur in the wall of spears they lost nearly all effectiveness (English 7). The infantry troops that traveled with Alexander were highly trained on how to fight and move on any terrain, something that was a weakness in for less trained soldiers fighting in similar fashion. While traveling it is likely that the weapons were carried by the baggage train, as marching with the lengthy weapons would have been impractical, if an attack was suspected the weapons would have been carried vertically by the infantrymen. In situations were the sarissa would have been an impractical weapon a hoplite spear or javelin would have been used. The infantry wore very little armor to increase mobility. They wore only a small shield that attached to their arm and shoulder, so their could wield their weapons with both hands (English 25).

Much was asked of the infantry and by the time they reached India they were exhausted from the fighting and travel. When they reached the Hyphasis river they revolted against Alexander and his desire to reach the ocean. They refused to march forward and as a result Alexander eventually agreed to turn back, claiming that he had received a message from the gods that continuing the campaign would be unfavorable. He still insisted that they still sail down the Indus to the Southern Ocean and return home from there (Worthington 251-253).

Alexander’s cavalry was instrumental in his success during his campaign. The cavalry was the main strike force of the army. They were divided into two sections. The first were known as the prodromoi, they were the lighter cavalry, they were typically used as scouts and surveyors. The other section consisted of the Companion cavalry, they were used more directly in battle (Wasson). The cavalry were armed with a shorter version of the sarissa, called a xyston, that would have been easier to wield while riding, though it was stated to be no less than 8 cubits long, or about 3.5 meters. This weapon had a spear point on each end, so that if it were to break, the rider could turn it around and still have a weapon, it was light enough to be thrown as a javelin (English 56). In addition to the xyston they also carried a sword for close combat. A sizable portion of the cavalry during the campaign to India would have been comprised of previously Persian cavalry. It is likely that they were incorporated into the cavalry from early on, and did not have separate ranks. Part of what made Alexander’s cavalry so successful is that members of each section were able to perform the tasks of the other without much trouble, this allowed for exchange of riders to perform whichever task was needed. The versatility and training of Alexander the Great’s army is what lead to his great success throughout his campaign.


Alexander the great took approximately 120,000 foot soldiers and 15,000 cavalry into India and returned with barely a fourth of them (Plutarch). Alexander disband the expensive and unruly mercenary armies hired while in Asia and replaced with native soldiers (Bosworth, 148). These new armies were tasked with maintaining newly conquered lands in Alexander’s name and did not make the return trip. This left 48,000 men marching toward the coast. After the mutiny at Opis, which forced Alexander to cease expanding his empire east, he was bitter toward his men and commanders. This showed in his treatment and choices in moving his army back to Persia and eventually Macedonia. He chose a meandering path that separated him from many of his commanding officers. Veterans were dismissed and given land in Asia as reward, with very little hope of returning home (Bosworth, 3,5).

There were many more battles on the way back to Macedonia. During one, known as the siege of Malli, Alexander had received his reinforcements of 30,000 infantry and 6,000 cavalry (Worthington, 253). With his numbers replenished with men from Greece, Thrace and Babylon, he laid siege to Malli. 6,500 foot and 2,000 calvary went north with Alexander, including mounted archers, the rest were divided between Craterus, Philip, Hephastion, and Nearchus to attack the city from all directions (Worthington, 254).  During battle Alexander was shot in the chest and out through the neck and his men, upon seeing their king lying prone in his own blood, went into a rage winning the battle by genocide (Plutarch). At various stages of his recovery, Alexander bolstered his mens’ courage by riding and walking among them, some were moved to tears and cheering (Worthington, 256).

Upon reaching the coast the army was divided, 18,000 were to return by boat under the command of Admiral Nearchus (Bosworth, 145) while Alexander lead the remaining 30,000 by a southerly route (Bosworth, 142). This division was to keep Nearchus, and other high ranking officials, from further influencing soldiers against Alexander (Plutarch). However, he didn’t have to worry about maintaining support from his men. Despite their insistence on abandoning the campaign, they remained notoriously loyal.

Alexander allegedly lead his portion of the army through the Gedrosian desert to establish his historical dominance over “previous rulers, such as Semiramis, Queen of Assyria, and Cyrus the Great, who had lost almost all of their men” (Worthington, 261) trying to cross. This decision is widely cited as the biggest military blunder of Alexander’s reign (worthington, 261).  During the difficult journey through Gedrosia the wounded and ill were left behind to either die or recover and follow to army later (Plutarch). At this point, while still engaging in battles, these was very little recruitment happening while still in Asia. The army would have consisted of primarily macedonians and persians trained like them, with a few native soldiers to aid with terrain and field medicine specific to the area (Bosworth, 5,7). The home army of Macedonia had been ordered to meet the returning army in Persia to help squash a forming rebellion (Bosworth, 148).


  1. Supplies – Cassandra57

An army is only as good as it’s soldiers, and soldiers need food, water, and armor. With an army of 30,000 men, there had to be plenty of supplies in order for Alexander the Great’s campaign to be successful. On the way back from India, Alexander decided to cross the Gedrosian desert. This came with many hardships having to do with food, water, and other supplies.

It is helpful to note that the Macedonian soldiers were required to provide their own armor, which was often passed down through generations. However, this was not always a possibility. Alexander accounted for this and ordered 25,000 pieces of armor to be delivered to India for the soldiers (MILHISVIS). This should have provided for the clothing needs of the army for the conquest of India and the return home.

Alexander the Great’s return from India was met with many hardships while crossing the Gedrosian Desert. According to Plutarch, when Alexander’s army first came to Gerdosia, “[They] found great plenty of all things, which the neighboring kings and governors of provinces, hearing of his approach, had taken care to provide. When he had here refreshed his army…” (44). This would have given the army rest before crossing the desert and supplied them for the journey. However, water and food rations were scarce, and many soldiers and pack animals died from dehydration and sun exposure during the crossing of the desert.

Water was especially a concern while marching across the dry sand dunes. Alexander tried to stay close to the coast, but there was never a guarantee of when they would find drinkable water. Once they found a water source, Alexander would often make his camp a few miles from it. He did this because the soldiers were so thirsty that they would drink too much or fling themselves into the pool or stream and end up drowning themselves which contaminated the water for everyone else (Nicomedia). Alexander, however,  was not oblivious to the struggles of his army. One famous story relates how scouts who were sent ahead to search for water came back and put some of the water they brought back into a helmet. As soon as Alexander received the helmet of water, he poured it onto the sand in front of all his troops because if they couldn’t drink, neither would he. This was said to have rallied his army enough that it was as if they had all drunk from the helmet (Mensch 262).

Food was another concern while crossing the Gedrosian desert. At one time Alexander and his army came across a place in Gedrosia that had a lot of grain. Alexander sealed as much as he could of this to send to his other troops. However, the soldiers, being so overcome with hunger, disregarded Alexander’s wishes and ate the grain themselves. Instead of punishing them, Alexander pardoned them and requested that more grain be ground so that the soldiers could purchase it (Mensch 259-260). It was also common that soldiers would kill one of the pack animals once the supplies it was carrying ran out and claim that it died from exhaustion or dehydration so that they could eat it (Nicomedia).

Crossing the desert was a long and difficult journey. Soldiers often became desperate and acted purely out of extreme hunger and thirst. Through Alexander’s leadership and understanding of the hardships he was putting his army though, his troops made it across Gedrosia despite the lack of proper provisions.


  1. How do you find your way in an era without GPS and with only rudimentary maps? – medievallyme

        The people of today often take for granted how much easier things have become for them because of the rise of technology. Even now, computers, smartphones, and the Internet allows for almost instant knowledge of whatever suits their fancy. And often, that information is correct, and people can discover why it is correct with just a twitch of the wrist. However, in older times, this was not the case. For seafaring folk, the secret was staying in sight of the land, where they could line up landmarks to the distant shore to figure out where they were going (Tyson 1998.) But that could only get people so far. Those who wanted to travel would have to rely on other things, such as celestial navigation, which utilizes the stars at night and the sun in the daytime (Whitaker 2012). This was a relatively easy navigation due to the fact that required very simple knowledge of the skies above. Ironically, in this day and age, celestial navigation would be all but impossible for those without extremely good vision or tools, due to light pollution. And these techniques were enhanced by the development of charts, and tools to track and record the observations of the heavens, even when they were out of their depth. They developed the mariner’s compass, which utilizes magnetism to work. However, these were often incorrect due to the lack of understanding of magnetic variation (Wells 2016.) Therefore, the variety of options gave those who wanted to travel some ability to do so, but they were only as good as the tools and knowledge that created them.


  1. Baggage Train and how it affected the march of the troops – scaleydragon

Alexander the Great’s baggage train consisted of either two-wheelers, four-wheelers, or six-wheeler carts with horses, camels, and “under-the-yoke” animals (also known as oxen carriages) (Hammond, 2011).
Alexander the Great acquired many treasures during his way to India. On his way back, he tamed Indian Elephants with the help of Indian Elephant Hunters to add to his treasures and baggage train (Kimmich 300). Although two elephants were killed in this hunt, the rest were added to Alexander the Great’s treasure. These elephants numbered to at least 30 (Kimmich 300).


Anonymous. Untitled (two elephants in combat). circa 1700. Artstor,

He had his troops create ships from wood that numbered to be a fleet. The fleets had to be enough to carry up to 3000 sacrificial animals, 10,000 sheep, the 30 acquired war elephants, 200 talents of silver, 700 Indian Riders, and the rest of his troops (ranging from 13,000-14,000 infantry and 3,000-5,000 cavalry) (Kimmich 300, 470, 471). During Alexander the Great’s conquest from India and going back to Persia, it was known that he would leave some spoils of war in cities or areas where he was dubbed royalty or was defeated (Gogiashvili 199). This decreased how much his troops had to carry back to Persia but not by a lot since he was known to still carry a lot of his spoils. He would also celebrate each victory and use his sacrificial animals for the occasions (usually when he won battles or dubbed of royalty) (Kimmich 300).
Alexander the Great was known to have a large army, but a lot of the troops died from storms and harsh weather (Kimmich 332). This affected how much his supplies needed to be tossed to maintain the pace of the army. However, his army and supplies would always be replenished via gifts, foreign recruits, and spoils of war (Kimmich 331). So his baggage train always fluctuates depending on the location, weather, and where his troops stand in inhabited areas.
With the deaths of many troops, losses of battles and skirmishes, and daunting trails and roads, Alexander the Great’s baggage train formation was fantastic at keeping his troops’ morale high enough to push through the negativity. Each calvary was restricted to once calvary to one groom to move wagons of their loot and it was reported that high officers would bring lute girls to raise morale and relief stress from the long marches in full heat and equipment (Kimmich 32). It was also noted he would leave some baggage trains behind or hidden for days during battles and skirmishes (Kimmich 30).
Alexander the Great would abandon some baggage trains in larger battles. He would say to his troops that if they don’t overcome the enemy by any means necessary, their baggage train would mean nothing to them if they were dead. But if they succeed, they wouldn’t need their baggage trains anymore since they would have their enemy’s supplies and baggage (Kimmich 497). For battles, Alexander the Great’s enemies would always be up against veteran troops under the direction of a military genius who is in a do-or-die situation and is willing to do anything to win. This always set up Alexander the Great to rise in almost all situations.

In general, Alexander would have strict, quick marches, blitzkrieg battles, and tossing/abandoning of baggage trains during his trip from India to Persia. The delays to his trip back were definitely weather, troops dying, and terrain such as desert hills (Hammond, 2011). The pace was quick but had a lot of setbacks.


  1. How do we know this information? – scaleydragon

A lot of our sources were historians or historians/translators sourcing histories. Johann Gustav Droysen is a notable German historian who studies Alexander the Great’s conquest from Persia to India with Flora Kimmich translating his works. Kimmich also translated other novels such as Wallenstein and Fiesco at Genoa.
Plutarch, a notable Greek-Roman biographer and Arrian of Nicomedia, a notable Greek historian both studied Alexander the Great and are both hailed as some of the best sources for Alexander the Great’s biography and life.
Some of our other sources are organizations or bloggers are professionals in the history field or is citing sources who are experts in the field. Military History Visualized is run by an Austrian who has a Master of Arts in History from the University of Salzburg (Austria) (MilHisVis FAQ).

7. Interesting Information – scaleydragon

Alexander the Great rode Bucephalus, a “horse with fire-breathing nostrils”  (Gogiashvili 204).

8. Works Cited/References – scaleydragon, medievallyme, Cassandra57, sombodycallixii, beholdaman

Anonymous. “Untitled (two elephants in combat).” circa 1700. Artstor,

Bosworth, A. B. “Alexander the Great and the Decline of Macedon.” The Journal of Hellenic Studies, vol. 106, 1986, pp. 1–12. JSTOR, JSTOR,

English, Stephen. The Army of Alexander the Great. Pen and Sword, 2009. EBSCOhost,

Gogiashvili, Elene. “Alexander of Macedon in Georgian Folktales.” Folklore, vol. 127, no. 2, Aug. 2016, pp. 196-209. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/0015587X.2016.1147221.

Hagerman, Christopher. “In the Footsteps of the ‘Macedonian Conqueror’: Alexander the Great and British India.” International Journal of the Classical Tradition, vol. 16, no. 3/4, Dec. 2009, pp. 344-392. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s12138-009-0130-6.

Hammond, N. G. L. (2011). Army transport in the fifth and fourth centuries. Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies, 24(1), 27-31.

“Indian Campaign of Alexander the Great.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 23 Sept. 2018,

Kimmich, Flora, et al. “Johann Gustav Droysen: HISTORY OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT.” Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, vol. 102, no. 3, 2012, pp. I-605. JSTOR, JSTOR,

Lendering, Jona. “Alexander 2.13-2.16.” Livius, 16 Jan. 2017,

Lendering, Jona. “Map of Alexander’s Indian Campaign.” Livius, 16 Jan. 2017,

MilHisVis. “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).” Military History Visualized – Offical Homepage for the YouTube Channel, Miltary History Visualized, 30 Mar. 2018,

MilHisVis. “The Logistics of Alexander the Great.” Military History Visualized – Offical Homepage for the YouTube Channel, Miltary History Visualized, 22 May 2016,

Nicomedia, Arrian of. “Alexander in the Gedrosian Desert.” Pliny the Younger – Livius, Livius, 28 Aug. 2016,

Ptsinari. “Alexander the Great: a Very Competent Expert in Finances.” Archaeology Wiki, Archaeology & Arts, 30 Nov. 2012,

Yeager, J. Alexandri Magni Itinera. Public Domain, 1823.

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