Day 171 – Ken here (M)(3-1-2010)
(DEF II, v.3, ch.27, pp.40-50)(pages read: 1140)
The Rise of Cavalry over Infantry Topples Empires – as Big as the Use of Iron Against Bronze
Egypt, Babylon, and Iron
Revolutions come from unlikely places. A empire-breaker happened in human civilization about 1500-1300 BCE when peoples in Asia Minor (Anatolia) began making iron weapons that cut through bronze like butter. It wasn’t long before the old key players – Babylonia and Egypt were on their knees, and the new players – Hittites and the Doric Greeks – were firmly in control. Although, as
with any military advance, everyone in the game quickly adopted the new technology and the playing field was evened out again.
This from Wiki:
The Iron Age in the Ancient Near East is believed to have begun with the discovery of iron smelting and smithing techniques in Anatolia or the Caucasus and Balkans in the late 2nd millennium BC (circa 1300 BC).
The use of iron weapons instead of bronze weapons spread rapidly throughout the Near East or the southwest Asia by the beginning of the 1st millennium BC. Anatolians had begun forging weapons out of iron, which was a superior metal to bronze, by 1500 BC at the latest.
The use of iron weapons by the Hittites was believed to have been a major factor in the rapid rise of the Hittite Empire. Because the area in which iron technology first developed was near the Aegean, the technology expanded into both Asia and Europe simultaneously, aided by Hittite expansion. The Sea Peoples and the related Philistines are often associated with the introduction of iron technology into Asia, as are the Dorians with respect to Greece
Babylon sank into chaos, Egpyt survived, but dynasties fell, and Egypt only came back in an altered, greatly strengthened form as the New Kingdom. This from Wiki (on Babylon):
The date of the sack of Babylon by the Hittite king Mursilis I is considered crucial to the various calculations of the early chronology of the ancient Near East, since both a solar and a lunar eclipse are said to have occurred in the month of Sivan that year, according to ancient records.
The fall of Babylon is taken as a fixed point in the discussion of the chronology of the ancient Near East. Suggestions for its precise date vary by as much as 150 years, corresponding to the uncertainty regarding the length of the “Dark Age” of the ensuing Bronze Age collapse, resulting in the shift of the entire Bronze Age chronology of Mesopotamia with regard to the chronology of Ancient Egypt
The Cavalry and the Roman Empire
The 300’s saw the rise of the cavalry (as opposed to the use of foot soldiers – legions, cohorts, Alexander’s phalanxes, etc) in warfare. Partly from encounters with the Persians, and partly from the now-continuous infiltrations/migrations of mounted steppes peoples (Huns, etc) into the Empire and the barbarian nations bordering the empire, the key forces in the modern (4th century/5th century army) are the mounted troops. Theodosius wipes out the “usurper” Maximus of Britian’s cohorts due in a large part to his use of the deadly mounted barbarian troops – Huns, Alani, Goths.
It is a new era, a new empire. Barbarians loyal in battle, and loyal because they are given land by the empire are fighting under nominal Roman rule against other barbarians who have a similar stake in another part of the Roman world under another Roman ruler. It all sounds suspiciously like a poor-man’s Feudalism – mounted knights with land given in return for military service fighting other knights out of loyalty to a man/ruler (not racial, national concerns). Can the Dark Ages and the Middle Ages be far behind?
The old world has passed, the new has come. But no on has recognized it yet.
Strong Women – the empress Justina
Remember Justina? She was the one Valentinian I had heard about from his wife – how beautiful, young, and alluring she was. She was the one whom Valentinian I either divorced his wife for, OR made a law allowing Romans to have 2 wives. A very strong, young lady.
Here she is, after Valentinian is dead, protecting her young son and current and future emperor Valentinian II. She is also managing to anger an entire half-empire, and the whole capital city and defying the strongest prelate in the land to his face – all for the sake of religious beliefs (Arianism) and to protect/promote her son’s rule. She is a strong woman.
After the public turns against her, she flees to the West, on her own, and manages to get her daughter Galla, in for many a private interview with Theodosius, emperor in the East. Galla ends up by marrying Theodosius, and, wonders never cease, Theodosius musters the full strength of the East (even though Theodosius has significant barbarian problems of his own to deal with – and Persia to worry about – and a capital city of his own that hates his religion (Theodosius is Catholic, the East is Arian, and Theodosius is forcing the conversion of the East at knifepoint – much like Justina tried to get an Arian church for herself in Milan)). But… Galla is victorious, Justina is victorious, Theodosius marches and wins, and Valentinian II is restored to the West, Maximus dies. And Justina’s story comes to an end, she died shortly after the battle was won. A remarkable woman.