Early Macedonian 655 BC - 359 BC

Warm. Ag. 0. Rv, H(S), H(G), O, RGo, Rd, BUA.
If a Highland C-in-C: H(S). If a Lowland C-in-C: O, V, M.
Nominal list scale: 1 element equals 128 men (half normal scale).

C-in-C - as nobles, Irr Cv (O) @ 17 AP 1
Sub-general from same region as C-in-C - as nobles, Irr Cv (O) @ 17 AP 0-1
Highlander ally-general - as nobles, Irr Cv (O) @ 12 AP 0-2
Nobles - Irr Cv (O) @ 7 AP 3-7
Prodromoi, etc. - Irr LH (O) @ 5 AP 0-1 per 2 Nobles
Levy - up to 1/4 Akontistai, Irr Ps (I) @ 1 AP, rest Irr Ax (I) @ 2 AP 48-120
Upgrade Levy Ax in Highland commands to Irr Ax (O) @ 3 AP All
Replace Akontistai with archers and/or slingers - Irr Ps (O) @ 2 AP 0-6
Replace Levy with Macedonian or Greek hoplites - Irr Sp (O) @ 4 AP 0-1/6
Replace Levy by mercenaries - Illyrians as Irr Ax (S) @ 4 AP, Paionians as Irr Ps (S) @ 3 AP, Thracians as Irr Ax (O) @ 3 AP, Greeks as Reg Ps (S) @ 3 AP 0-12

Only if a Highland C-in-C:
Illyrian allies - List: Illyrian (Bk 1)

Only if a Lowland C-in-C in ca. 570 BC:
Infant King's crib - Irr Wg (I) @ 2 AP 0-1

Only if a Lowland C-in-C from 437 BC to 425 BC or after 367 BC:
Athenian allies - List: Later Hoplite Greek (Bk 2)

Only if a Lowland C-in-C from 424 BC to 422 BC or in 382 BC to 381 BC:
Spartan allies - List: Later Hoplite Greek (Bk 2)

Only after 413 BC:
Upgrade nobles to Irr Kn (F) @ 14 AP if ally-general, 19 AP if other general, 9 AP otherwise All
Upgrade Lowland Levy Ax with bronze shields to Irr Ax (O) @ 3 AP 0-1/3
Further upgrade Lowland nobles to Regular Kn (F) @ 31 AP if general, 11 AP otherwise All/0

Only if a Lowland C-in-C in 392 BC or 369 BC to 368 BC:
Thessalian allies - List: Later Hoplite Greek (Bk 2) 0-24

Only if a Lowland C-in-C after 370 BC:
Upgrade Lowland nobles as Companions - Regular Kn (F) @ 31 AP if general, 11 AP otherwise All
Upgrade Lowland hoplites or levy as trained Pezetairoi - all Reg Ax (O) @ 4 AP or all Reg Ax (S) @ 5 AP 4-16

Only if a Lowland C-in-C in 368 BC:
Greek mercenary allies - List: Later Hoplite Greek (Bk 2)

This list covers Macedonian armies from the establishment of the Bacchiad dynasty in Lynkestis as a rival to the Argead dynasty of lower Macedonia until Philip II's elimination of his effective rivals for the throne. It does not include Philip II's reformed army however, which is the subject of a separate list. Macedonia was divided into 2 regions, the highlands, including the sometime-kingdoms of Lynkestis, Elimiotis and Orestis, which were eventually subjugated by the Argeads, and the Argead kingdom of the lowlands. The poor state of the infantry prompted various rearmament and training programmes from the reign of Archelaos onwards, although with little effect until the days of Philip II. The cavalry in contrast were highly regarded. Generals must be classified as either Lowland or Highland, and may not command troops originating from the opposite region. Generals may always dismount as hoplites or Pezetairoi. Only one external allied contingent may be used. No more than 6 elements of each type of non-allied mercenary may be used. If Athenian allies are used in 359 BC, Pezetairoi need not be used; similarly a Macedonian allied contingent accompanying an Athenian army in 359 BC need not contain any Pezetairoi. If used, the WWg (I) must be in the army's largest command.


List dates: The origins of the Argead kingdom are lost in mythology, and they probably moved east from Orestis down to the plains ca. 700 BC. The Lynkestian kingdom derived from the Bacchiads (Strabo 7.7.8) who were expelled from Corinth sometime around 658 BC to 655 BC (depending upon the calculation), and rich archaeolgical from Lynkestis date ca. 650 BC. The end date of the list is moved back to the year of Philip's consolidation of his power following his brother's defeat by the Illyrians, since Diodoros states his reforms were started at that time, and not in 355 BC as the current list would have it. Note this intentionally still overlaps (in 359 BC only) the Philippic Macedonian list.

List scale: Macedonian armies of this era contained many poor quality troops, so that the usual list scale has had to be halved to accommodate forces at the "usual" AP range. To fight battles at true scale, all list minima and maxima must therefore be halved. Options are included for highland-led armies, since these could be quite large, and acted independently of (and sometimes against) the lowland king's wishes even during the 5th century and after when the Argeads claimed sovereignty over all of Macedonia.

Terrain: The highlands are extremely mountainous, and hence are granted a compulsory H(S); the lowland plains were famous for their gardens ('of Midas') and agricultural products, hence the compulsory O. Although the highlands did include some reasonably large lakes, these are not included as WW since they were inaccessible to enemy shipping.

Generals: While there is a case for allowing hoplites to be led by a general, this is much better simulated by dismounting a general than purchasing a separate foot element, which implies the general did not normally fight mounted, which is clearly not the case: the Macedonian aristocracy were horsemen as a matter of course. Only one subordinate general is allowed, as large armies tended to be coalitions; as the highlands asserted their independence as much as possible from the lowlands there is no option for lowland troops to ally with a highland C-in-C.

Nobles: I believe there should be no option to grade these as Kn (F) in the 420s or earlier, when their equipment as shown by a coin consists of throwing spears (see the picture below); their perfromance as described by Thukydides is indeed admirable, but since the opposition is horsemen graded as LH (O), Cv (O) is plainly sufficient (or even better). The minimum numbers are greatly reduced. Elimiotis had 400 horsemen under Derdas in 382/1 BC (Xen.Hell. 5.2.40), which amounts to just 3 or 4 elements' worth even at half normal scale. Philip had just 600 horsemen in 358 BC (Diod. 16.4.3). A complete lowland army including two vassal highland kingdoms is therefore unlikely to have been able to muster much more than 10 element's worth, including generals and light horse.

Prodromoi, etc.: These are not directly attested in this period, but are likely given their later use - most especially after Archelaos' cavalry organisation reform at the end of the 5th century BC. Some Paionian mercenaries and/or allies may be assumed to be included. Numbers are likely to have been in proportion to the number of heavy cavalry fielded.

Levy: To judge by later accounts, the mass of the foot levy were armed with wicker shields and javelins, and to judge from Thukydides in the 420s performed poorly, hence the (I) rating. Philip's army in 359/8 BC had 10000 foot, and that was after over 4000 had been killed earlier serving with his brother (Diod., 16.2.5), and this at a time when he could not rely on the highland regions, hence the large numbers available (and required). Even a single highland district such as Lynkestis could put a reasonable number of men in the field - enough to challenge Brasidas' army for instance. I made the number of skirmishers proportional to the rest of the men rather than list them separately, since that is I believe more realistic, and I have made them optional, since their existance is rather hypothetical.

Highland levy: These are assumed to be more efficient than the lowlanders, since they had both more practice fighting neighbouring tribes, and could challenge the more numerous Lowlanders effectively, and hence are graded as Ax (O).

Archers and slingers: These are upgraded from the other skirmishers so that they need not be taken in allied contingents if so desired, they inclusion of slingers is base on the numerous finds of sling bullets from Olynthos bearing the names of Macedonian generals, and the assumption that such troops existed earlier. Only 1000 archers (and slingers?) seem to have existed even in Alexander's army before the conquest of Persia, hence the numbers are limited to less than this number.

Hoplites: Not all the infantry were poorly armed. Even the highland districts could field hoplites, as attested by Thukydides (and yet many modern works claim Macedon had no heavy infantry prior to Philip II!), and the king had access to dwellers of various Greek cities around the coast. Their numbers could be quite substantial, the two Chalkidian cities of Akanthos and Appollonia had 800 hoplites alone to offer for a campaign against Olynthos. Replacing the levy means they can be brought along as part of an external allied contingent, such as Amyntas serving with the Spartans. I see no reason to downgrade the Lynkestian hoplites to Irr Sp (I) as in the current list. They considered themselves good enough to fight Brasidas' men, and while they lost, that is probably simply because they were outnumbered more than due to a lack of military ability (and they were fighting against an uncommonly good commander after all). Certainly their defeat was far from overwhelming: they soon rallied on a nearby hill rather than fleeing the field which implies, if anything, above average morale, not worse!

King's crib: Also mentioned briefly by Ammianus, Justin relates how the Lowland Macedonians once carried the crib of their infant king into battle against the Illyrians to inspire the men, placing it immediately behind their battle line. The exact date of the battle in question is unkown.

Mercenaries and Illyrian allies: In addition to the large Illyrian mercenary contingent anticipated by the Lynkestians recorded by Thukydides (and thus best represented by a separate allied contingent so that it can flank march and thus fail to arrive), Xenophon records that Amyntas was instructed to hire mercenaries by the Spartans for their war against Olynthos. The neighbouring Paionians, Thracians and Illyrians are all recorded as intervening in Macedon, and are likely sources of such troops, as are Greek peltasts from the Chalkidian cities. I give no date restriction for Illyrian allies; their use against the Lowlanders could have been possible at almost any time, they aided the Lynkestians in driving out Amyntas in 394/3 BC for instance. Pausanias the Lynkestian tried to obtain Thracian backing for his bid for power in 359 BC (Diod. 16.2-3) but Philip managed to bribe the Thracian king into cancelling the expedition before it even started so I do not allow Thracian allies; similarly for the Paionian intervention.

Athenian allies: Athens and Macedon were allied in the field from 432 BC to 431 BC, and cooperation was possible at any time from the Athenian foundation of Amphipolis until the Spartan intervention in 424 BC which saw its capture. Although in 432 BC Athens was the dominant partner (and is thus allowed a Macedonian allied contingent in its list), this would not apply at other times when large Athenians forces were not present. Athens for instance at one time supported Perdikkas II's brothers against him (Thuk. 1.57-59) with 1000 hoplites and 30 ships. In the 4th century, Argaios, Philip II's brother, led a mercenary army including 3000 Athenian allied hoplites plus a fleet (who turned out to be somewhat unreliable) against Philip in 359 BC; it is unclear what Macedonian support he had, so it may be best treated as an Athenian army however; in the preceeding decade the usurper Ptolemy has also recived Athenian military support.

Spartan allies: Brasidas' death and the subsequent Peace of Nikias meant the dissolution of Spartan-Macedonian cooperation in 422 BC. A small Spartan force was sent in advance in 382 BC in favour of Amyntas (Xen.Hell. 5.2.24) and was supposed to be 2000 strong, but part of it never arrived, having treacherously occupied the Theban citadel on the way. Diodoros later records 3000 Spartan hoplites in this campaign and hence I have not restricted the numbers of Spartans allowed; however the very much larger force that followed this intervention down to 379 BC should be covered by one or two Macedonian contingents (since Derdas, the ruler of Elimiotis also provided a large contingent) in a Spartan army: the Spartans army used then was some 10000 strong, and included numerous other Spartan allies in addition, and was clearly the dominant partner.

Thessalian allies: the extent of Thessalian involvement in Amyntas' restoration is rather unclear given the lack of records in the literary sources; it was probably therefore not major. Thessalians also accompanied the Macedonian intervention in Larissa in 369 (or possibly 368) BC. In the latter case, their numbers were also likely small, as according to Diodoros (15.61.4) they were an exiled party; accordingly I have limited the numbers of troops appropriately to less than 3000 men.

Post 413 BC options: Thukydides (2.100) reports that the king Archelaos sometime between 413/2 BC and 400/399 BC "reorganised the cavalry, the arming of the infantry, and equipment in general". The arming of the infantry probably refers to the introduction of the rimless bronze-faced Macedonian shield, between 60 and 75 cm in diameter, the first archaeological/pictorial evidence for which is dated at ca. 400 BC. Accordingly, the infantry may be upgraded to Ax (O) as more suitably equipped for close combat. The proportion allowed is however limited, as Curtius refers to men even in Philip II's day as carrying wicker shields. The reference to a reorganisation of the cavalry is taken as licence to upgrade the king's Companions (the highlanders would not have been covered since they were not under his control) to regular status, compulsory after 370 BC (see below), while the reference to "equipment in general" I take as the date when the Macedonian cavalry started to use a single spear/lance for melee, as they did under Alexander III, rather than the pair of heavy throwing spears shown previoulsy (see picture below). Derdas' (highland) horsemen at Olynthos in 382 BC certainly proved very effective, charging aggresively (Xen.Hell. 5.2.41-2) and killing many Olynthian horsemen.

Coin of Perdikkas II

A coin of Perdikkas II (454-413 BC) showing a Macedonian cavalryman carrying two heavy javelins/throwing spears, or possibly a spear and a javelin.

Pezetairoi: According to a fragment of Anaximenes (a contemporary of Philip), these were founded by king "Alexander". This can't be the famous Alexander (Alexander III), since the pezetairoi were certainly in existance in his father Philip's lifetime (see the remarks on Theopompus below). Alexander I from the early 5th century BC seems altogether too early to me, given the implied regular nature of such troops, coupled with the lack of any mention of such troops in Thukydides. Alexander II, who reigned from 370 BC to 368 BC seems the obvious choice (the objection that his reign was too short to have any lasting influence on the military is to my mind very weak - why is two years too short a time to organise an army?). Anaximenes records them being organised in units (lochoi) with files of 10 men (dekades); and that this was also the time that the cavalry as a whole were first called Companions (hetairoi). He states that all the infantry were called Pezetairoi, but I allow at most 2000, the probable number of Philip's footguards, as Theopompos, also a contemporary of Philip, states that Philips guards were called Pezetairoi; perhaps Alexander's short reign was enough to train the best troops, but that projected plans for training the levy were not carried out before his murder. There is no reason to think that such troops were armed in anything other than the normal Macedonian manner - ie. with javelins, and hence are graded as Ax, not Sp.

Mercenary Greek allies: these cover the troops raised by the Theban general Pelopidas in support of the enemies of Ptolemy. They turned out to be unrealiable: Ptolemy had bribed them not to fight.

This page last modified 26 October, 2002

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