Battle of Kinoskephal

Winners are not judged
By the beginning of the II century BC. er The Roman Republic undoubtedly became the strongest Mediterranean state. Neighbors in the east jealously followed the successes of the Roman arms during the Second Punic War, and after the victory of the Romans they became seriously afraid for their independence. It is primarily about the Hellenistic monarchies, the heirs of the empire of Alexander the Great, Macedonia and the power of the Seleucids. And as history has shown, they feared for good reason: at this time the party of supporters of the further expansion of the Roman world to the east took over in the Roman Senate.
For the Greeks, the situation was aggravated by the fact that the states of the Balkan Peninsula and Asia Minor were experiencing hard times: the supreme power was weakened, the policies were torn apart by contradictions between the oligarchy and the democratic movements, which turned into civil wars. Macedonia has long lost the majesty and power of the times of Alexander the Great, as well as control over most of Greece, where two major coalitions were formed - the Aetolian and Achaean alliances, which constantly fought with each other, then with other neighbors.
New Alexander?
The king of Macedonia to the beginning of the new war with the Romans was Philip V, who, unlike his predecessors, had not only ambition, but also the talent for their implementation. Over the 20 years of his reign, he managed to significantly expand the zone of influence of his monarchy, and in the midst of the war of Rome with Hannibal, Philip took the side of the latter, but failed to defeat the allies of Rome in the Balkans and render any substantial assistance to Hannibal. In 205, peace was concluded, which became the prologue to a new war.

Philip V of Macedon. (

After the final defeat of Hannibal and Carthage, many Roman senators planned to seriously take on the eastern neighbors and, above all, to avenge the Macedonian king. However, the Roman people were categorically against the new full-scale war - the memories of the war with Hannibal were still too fresh, but the senators of the “war party” were able to persuade the people to threaten the people with persuasion and persuasion. It remained only to find a reason.
From local war to total
Philip at this time waged another war with the Greek polis - Rhodes and Pergamum. Cities sought to transfer the war to the Balkans in order to take Philip away from their walls and eliminate the threat to trade. The Athenians fervently supported the idea of ​​a struggle against the Macedonian "tyrant", but the Aetolian alliance did not seek to enter the war. Then the Rhodians and Pergamians turned to the Romans for help, formally justifying Rome’s entry into the war by the fact that Philip had violated the terms of the truce - allegedly the Macedonian troops devastate the fields of the Greeks with the connivance of the king. The Greeks hoped to use the Romans in their own interests, but in the end they were cruelly miscalculated.
The Roman ambassadors presented an ultimatum with obviously impracticable demands, which Philip could not agree with. And at the beginning of the year 200 BC. er war was declared. 3000 veterans were transferred to the Balkans. 1000 more soldiers went to Athens to ensure the security of Attica. In fact, the campaign of the year 200 passed without any active actions on both sides. Philip sought to get rid of opponents from among the Greeks, and the Romans were busy clarifying the situation and forming a strong coalition of forces against the Macedonians. On the side of Rome were the Aetolians, Achaeans, Illyrians and others. Seleucid king Antiochus maintained neutrality, which was on hand to the Romans.

"Greek world" in 200 BC. er (

New Scipio African?
In 198 BC. er Titov Flaminin arrives in the Balkans - he has just been elected consul and sent to Greece. Tit Flaminin was a talented and ambitious politician and commander. He went through the Hannibal war, where he gained extensive military experience, then became a quaestor, and in 198 he was elected consul (he was then just over 30 years old, although he was 43 years old at the age of consul). Philip, whose position was becoming increasingly difficult, proposed peace negotiations. Titus Flaminin unexpectedly agreed - no one guaranteed the commander a consular post for the next year, and the end of the war on favorable terms would have been quite satisfactory to both the senate and Flaminius himself. Once again, Philip was offered immoderate conditions for peace and negotiations, which continued for a considerable part of the year, ended in nothing.
The end is nearing
The decisive battle took place in the next 197 BC. er During the winter, Philip tried to mobilize maximum forces to defeat the main forces of the Romans and their allies on the battlefield. This would change the balance of forces in their favor - the Greeks will clearly be shocked by the defeat of the best army in the world and will think twice before resisting the forces of the Macedonian ruler. Tit Flaminin was also not against the general battle - in order not to delay the war it was much easier to crush the enemy forces in the field, because who knows if he will become consul next year?
Opponents met in Thessaly and for some time moved along parallel courses along a ridge of stony hills called Kinoskephalas (in Greek “dog heads”) - Philip on the north side, Tit Flaminin on the south. The army camped at Melambia (Philip) and Thetidia (Tit Flaminin). At night there was a thunderstorm with rain, and in the morning there was a dense fog.
Forces of the parties
Tit Flaminin had at his disposal 2 legions with allied troops - a total of 5,000 thousand skirmishers and light infantry, 12,000 line infantry and 2,400 Italic horsemen. The Aetolian detachment also joined the Roman army - 6,000 light infantry and 500 superior light cavalry. Total under the command of Titus Flavinia was about 26,000 people. Approximately the same size army was able to gather and Philip V, the core of which was a phalanx of sarisophores (16,000 people), armed with 6-meter spears. The flanks covered the Peltasta detachments (3,500 men) - soldiers armed with a large pelta shield, a short spear, and a mahaira sword convenient for chopping. Light infantry consisted of Thracian and Illyrian detachments (4,000 men in all) with bows and darts. In cavalry, Philip was somewhat inferior to the enemy quantitatively (2000 versus 3000), but in no way qualitatively. In addition, the Romans concentrated on the battlefield 20 elephants transferred from Africa.
Manipula against phalanx
The clash of the Macedonian and Roman armies at Kinoskefalah was a clash of two military models, one of which had dominated the fields of Hellas for several centuries, and the other was only born, but was already a very special case of the development of tactics and organization.

Macedonian warriors II century BC. er (

The army of Philip was a classic Hellenistic army (except for the lack of cavalry) - a direct follower of the army of Alexander the Great. The main principle of the phalanx is a closed movement. Phalanx could only attack, and, exclusively on flat terrain, so as not to break up in the ranks. The main weapon of phalangite was a long spear-sarissa, the auxiliary weapon was the Xyphos sword. The construction of the phalanx was very close - so that the back rows pressed on the front, increasing the onslaught, and along the front of the phalanx represented a forest of spears - no less than five sarissas bristled before each phalanx. The phalanx inflicted a terrible ramming strike with its entire mass in such a way that the head-on collision of the phalanges was a terrifying sight. The main drawback of the phalanx was the lack of flexibility - any break in the front could lead to a catastrophe, not to mention its defenselessness when it struck the flank or the rear. Theoretically, the minuses of the phalanx were leveled by the military organization of Alexander the Great, in which the flanks of the phalanx were covered by detachments of hypaspists (later Peltastes) and excellent cavalry, which easily overturned the enemy flanks, eliminating the threat to the phalanx. However, Philip at Kinoskefalah did not have a decisive superiority in cavalry, and the actions of the phalanx were hampered by the hills that divided opponents.

Organization of the Roman Legion. (

The Roman military organization, unlike the Macedonian, was much more flexible: the legion was divided into 30 maniples (120 or 60 people), each of which was a separate military unit. The structure of the Roman legionnaires was much less dense - there were two phalangites for one legionnaire, and the maniples could freely change their position in the building in accordance with the plan of the commander. The phalanx was designed for one powerful one-time strike, the construction of the Legion, on the contrary, was “echeloned”: the first line of maniples consisted of recruits — gastatas, the second of veterans-principles, the third of the most experienced soldiers of the triarii.
Interestingly, a huge step in the development of Roman tactics occurred during the second Punic War, when the Roman army moved from phalanx to a divided order of battle. Legionnaires were armed with a short gladius sword, a large oval shield that covered most of the legionnaire’s body, and dressed in lightweight armors (gastatas) or chain mail (principles). In battle, the legionnaires stabbed the gladius, inflicting terrible wounds on their enemies. In general, the strength of the Roman army was an exceptionally high level of organization and discipline, which made it possible to move to a more complex manipulative system. The cavalry did not play a significant role in the Roman army.
The future is foggy
None of the parties knew the exact location of the enemy. Philip sent an reconnaissance detachment (1000-2000 people) to Kinoskefalam, and he sent most of the troops to procure supplies, not counting on a major battle that day. Tit Flaminin also decided to reconnoiter and sent a small detachment (1,300 men) to the hills. The detachments noticed each other only when they collided closely - the fog had not yet dissipated and visibility was approaching zero. A clash ensued, in which the Macedonians prevailed. However, Tit Flaminin sent reinforcements to his detachment (1500 Aetolians), with whom the Romans managed to break the Macedonian detachment. But then the commander of this detachment appealed to Philip, who sent an even more impressive detachment to help (3,000–5,000 people, all cavalry). The Romans were crumpled.

The scheme of the battle of Kinoskefal. (

The battle of the main forces
Now Philip decided to attack the Romans with the main forces and, having crossed the Kinoskephalos, to impose battle upon them. At the head of the right wing (14,000 people), he went to the ridges of hills. Tit Flaminin did not plan a decisive battle on this day either, but he brought the legions and detachments of the Aetolians out of the camp, built them and, at the head of the left wing (14,000 people), rushed to the aid of his vanguard. The Macedonian avant-garde leaned back, but at this time the right wing of the Macedonians was already descending from the top of the hills - the fact is that the left wing went like a second train, as the hills were difficult to reach. Philip sent the entire advance guard to the right flank of his squad, since the rest of the Macedonian army had to turn on its left. Tit Flaminin at the head of the left wing resolutely rushed forward. Bristling with spears came the Macedonian phalanx. The Romans entered the ranks of the phalangites and ... were rejected. The regular Macedonian phalanx was too tough for the Roman soldiers. The left wing of the Romans leaned back, then began to retreat more and more actively. It seemed like it would be all over.
But Tit Flaminin was not taken aback - he turned with his right wing against the left wing of the Macedonians, who had just started to descend to the plain and did not have time to form. Phalangites Philip, seeing elephants and the whole mass of Roman infantry, did not accept the battle and rushed to run. While the bulk of the right wing rushed after the retreating Macedonians, 20 maniples attacked Philip's phalanx to the rear. It was then that the lack of flexibility in the phalanx played a role - Philip was unable to quickly deploy part of his phalanx against the threat from the rear (although technically this was quite possible), because he was too keen on pursuing the retreating wing of the Roman army. The phalanx stopped, and then was defeated by a counterattack of the left wing of the Romans. Massacre began, the Macedonian king miraculously escaped.
Woe to the vanquished!
Antique historian Polybius reports about 8 thousand dead and 5 thousand prisoners among the Macedonians. According to him, the Romans lost no more than 700 people killed. And although the losses of the Romans are probably underestimated, and the Macedonians, on the contrary, are too high, the fact that shortly after the Battle of Kinoskefalah Philip asked for peace and actually surrendered to the victor, clearly shows that the defeat of the Macedonians was complete.
The Battle of Caenquecéphalas became the “baptism of fire” of the Roman legions against the Hellenistic phalanx, where all the advantages and disadvantages of both military systems were quite clearly manifested, but the Roman manipulative system, which with various changes would dominate the Roman army until the IV century, was an obvious favorite. . er Macedonia, as a result of the Second Macedonian War, was relegated to the level of a small regional power, until it became a Roman province after the Third Macedonian War (171–168). Tit Flaminin announced the "liberation of Greece" and celebrated the triumph in Rome. Philip, although he remained king of Macedonia, nevertheless, undertook to coordinate all foreign policy actions with Rome and maintain an army of no more than 5,000 people.

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