The phalanx (Ancient Greek: φάλαγξ; plural phalanxes or phalanges, φάλαγγες, phalanges) was a rectangular mass military formation, usually composed entirely of heavy infantry armed with spears, pikes, sarissas, or similar pole weapons. The term is particularly (and originally) used to describe the use of this formation in Ancient Greek warfare, although the ancient Greek writers used it to also describe any massed infantry formation, regardless of its equipment. Arrian uses the term in his Array against the Alans when he refers to his legions. In Greek texts, the phalanx may be deployed for battle, on the march, or even camped, thus describing the mass of infantry or cavalry that would deploy in line during battle. They marched forward as one entity.
The term itself, as used today, does not refer to a distinctive military unit or division (e.g., the Roman legion or the contemporary Western-type battalion), but to the type of formation of an army's troops. Therefore, this term does not indicate a standard combat strength or composition but includes the total number of infantry, which is deployed in a single formation known as a "phalanx".
Many spear-armed troops historically fought in what might be termed phalanx-like formations. This article focuses on the use of the military phalanx formation in Ancient Greece, the Hellenistic world, and other ancient states heavily influenced by Greek civilization.
The earliest known depiction of a phalanx-like formation occurs in a Sumerian stele from the 25th century BC. Here the troops seem to have been equipped with spears, helmets, and large shields covering the whole body. Ancient Egyptian infantry were known to have employed similar formations. The first usage of the term phalanx comes from Homer's "φαλαγξ", used to describe hoplites fighting in an organized battle line. Homer used the term to differentiate the formation-based combat from the individual duels so often found in his poems.
Historians have not arrived at a consensus about the relationship between the Greek formation and these predecessors of the hoplites. The principles of shield wall and spear hedge were almost universally known among the armies of major civilizations throughout history, and so the similarities may be related to convergent evolution instead of diffusion.
Traditionally, historians date the origin of the hoplite phalanx of ancient Greece to the 8th century BC in Sparta, but this is under revision. It is perhaps more likely that the formation was devised in the 7th century BC after the introduction of the aspis by the city of Argos, which would have made the formation possible. This is further evidenced by the Chigi vase, dated to 650 BC, identifying hoplites armed with aspis, spear and panoply.
Another possible theory as to the birth of Greek phalanx warfare stems from the idea that some of the basic aspects of the phalanx were present in earlier times yet were not fully developed due to the lack of appropriate technology. Two of the basic strategies seen in earlier warfare include the principle of cohesion and the use of large groups of soldiers. This would suggest that the Greek phalanx was rather the culmination and perfection of a slowly developed idea that originated many years earlier. As weaponry and armour advanced through the years in different city-states, the phalanx became complex and effective.
The hoplite phalanx of the Archaic and Classical periods in Greece (c. 800–350 BC) was the formation in which the hoplites would line up in ranks in close order. The hoplites would lock their shields together, and the first few ranks of soldiers would project their spears out over the first rank of shields. The phalanx therefore presented a shield wall and a mass of spear points to the enemy, making frontal assaults against it very difficult. It also allowed a higher proportion of the soldiers to be actively engaged in combat at a given time (rather than just those in the front rank).
Battles between two phalanxes usually took place in open, flat plains where it was easier to advance and stay in formation. Rough terrain or hilly regions would have made it difficult to maintain a steady line and would have defeated the purpose of a phalanx. As a result, battles between Greek city-states would not take place in just any location, nor would they be limited to sometimes obvious strategic points. Rather, many times, the two opposing sides would find the most suitable piece of land where the conflict could be settled. Typically, the battle ended with one of the two fighting forces fleeing to safety.
The phalanx usually advanced at a walking pace, although it is possible that they picked up speed during the last several yards. One of the main reasons for this slow approach was to maintain formation. The formation would be rendered useless if the phalanx was lost as the unit approached the enemy and could even become detrimental to the advancing unit, resulting in a weaker formation that was easier for an enemy force to break through. If the hoplites of the phalanx were to pick up speed toward the latter part of the advance, it would have been for the purpose of gaining momentum against the enemy in the initial collision. Herodotus states of the Greeks at the Battle of Marathon, that "They were the first Greeks we know of to charge their enemy at a run". Many historians believe that this innovation was precipitated by their desire to minimize their losses from Persian archery. The opposing sides would collide, possibly severing many of the spears of the row in front and killing the front part of the enemy army due to the bone-breaking collision.
The "physical pushing match" theory is one where the battle would rely on the valour of the men in the front line, whilst those in the rear maintained forward pressure on the front ranks with their shields, and the whole formation would consistently press forward trying to break the enemy formation. This is the most widely accepted interpretation of the ancient sources thus when two phalanx formations engaged, the struggle essentially became a pushing match. Historians such as Victor Davis Hanson point out that it is difficult to account for exceptionally deep phalanx formations unless they were necessary to facilitate the physical pushing depicted by this theory, as those behind the first two ranks could not take part in the actual spear thrusting.
No Greek art ever depicts anything like a phalanx pushing match, so this hypothesis is a product of educated speculation rather than explicit testimony from contemporary sources and is far from being academically resolved. The Greek term for "push" was used in the same metaphorical manner as the English word is (for example it was also used to describe the process of rhetorical arguments) and so does not necessarily describe a literal physical push, although it is possible that it did.
For instance, if Othismos were to accurately describe a physical pushing match, it would be logical to state that the deeper phalanx would always win an engagement since the physical strength of individuals would not compensate for even one additional rank on the enemy side. However, there are numerous examples of shallow phalanxes holding off an opponent. For instance, at Delium in 424 BC, the Athenian left flank, a formation eight men deep, held off a formation of Thebans 25 deep without immediate collapse. It is difficult with the physical pushing model to imagine eight men withstanding the pushing force of 25 opponents for a matter of seconds, let alone half the battle.
Such arguments have led to a wave of counter-criticism to physical shoving theorists. Adrian Goldsworthy, in his article "The Othismos, Myths and Heresies: The nature of Hoplite Battle", argues that the physical pushing match model does not fit with the average casualty figures of hoplite warfare nor the practical realities of moving large formations of men in battle. This debate has yet to be resolved amongst scholars.
Practical difficulties with this theory also include the fact that, in a shoving match, an eight-foot spear is too long to fight effectively or even parry attacks. Spears enable a formation of men to keep their enemies at a distance, parry attacks aimed at them and their comrades, and give the necessary reach to strike multiple men in the opposite formation. A pushing match would put enemies so close together that a quick stabbing with a knife would kill the front row almost instantly. The crush of men would also prevent the formation from withdrawing or retreating, which would result in much higher casualties than is recorded. The speed at which this would occur would also end the battle very quickly, instead of prolonging it for hours.
Each individual hoplite carried his shield on his left arm, protecting not only himself but also the soldier to the left. This meant that the men at the extreme right of the phalanx were only half-protected. In battle, opposing phalanxes would try to exploit this weakness by attempting to overlap the enemy's right flank. It also meant that, in battle, a phalanx would tend to drift to the right (as hoplites sought to remain behind the shield of their neighbour). The most experienced hoplites were often placed on the right side of the phalanx to avoid these problems. Some groups, such as the Spartans at Nemea, tried to use this phenomenon to their advantage. In this case, the phalanx would sacrifice its left side, which typically consisted of allied troops, in an effort to overtake the enemy from the flank. It is unlikely that this strategy worked very often, as it is not mentioned frequently in ancient Greek literature.
There was a leader in each row of a phalanx, and a rear rank officer, the ouragos (meaning tail-leader), who kept order in the rear. The hoplites had to trust their neighbours to protect them and in turn be willing to protect their neighbours; a phalanx was thus only as strong as its weakest elements. The effectiveness of the phalanx therefore depended on how well the hoplites could maintain this formation in combat and how well they could stand their ground, especially when engaged against another phalanx. For this reason, the formation was deliberately organized to group friends and family close together, thus providing a psychological incentive to support one's fellows, and a disincentive, through shame, to panic or attempt to flee. The more disciplined and courageous the army, the more likely it was to win – often engagements between the various city-states of Greece would be resolved by one side fleeing before the battle. The Greek word dynamis, the "will to fight", expresses the drive that kept hoplites in formation.
Now of those, who dare, abiding one beside another, to advance to the close fray, and the foremost champions, fewer die, and they save the people in the rear; but in men that fear, all excellence is lost. No one could ever in words go through those several ills, which befall a man, if he has been actuated by cowardice. For 'tis grievous to wound in the rear the back of a flying man in hostile war. Shameful too is a corpse lying low in the dust, wounded behind in the back by the point of a spear.— Tyrtaeus, The War Songs of Tyrtaeus
Each hoplite provided his own equipment. The primary hoplite weapon was a spear around 2.4 metres (7.9 ft) in length called a dory. Although accounts of its length vary, it is usually now believed to have been seven to nine feet long (~2.1–2.7 m). It was held one-handed, with the other hand holding the hoplite's shield (aspis). The spearhead was usually a curved leaf shape, while the rear of the spear had a spike called a sauroter ('lizard-killer') which was used to stand the spear in the ground (hence the name). It was also used as a secondary weapon if the main shaft snapped or to kill enemies lying on the ground. This was a common problem, especially for soldiers who were involved in the initial clash with the enemy. Despite the snapping of the spear, hoplites could easily switch to the sauroter without great consequence. The rear ranks used the secondary end to finish off fallen opponents as the phalanx advanced over them.
Throughout the hoplite era, the standard hoplite armour went through many cyclical changes. An Archaic hoplite typically wore a bronze breastplate, a bronze helmet with cheekplates, as well as greaves and other armour. Later, in the classical period, the breastplate became less common, replaced instead with a corselet that some claim was made of linothorax (layers of linen glued together), or perhaps of leather, sometimes covered in whole or in part with overlapping metal scales. Eventually, even greaves became less commonly used, although degrees of heavier armour remained, as attested by Xenophon as late as 401 BC.
These changes reflected the balancing of mobility with protection, especially as cavalry became more prominent in the Peloponnesian War and the need to combat light troops, which were increasingly used to negate the hoplites role as the primary force in battle. Yet bronze armour remained in some form until the end of the hoplite era. Some archaeologists have pointed out that bronze armour does not actually provide as much protection from direct blows as more extensive corselet padding, and have suggested its continued use was a matter of status for those who could afford it. In the classical Greek dialect, there is no word for swordsmen; yet hoplites also carried a short sword called the xiphos. The short sword was a secondary weapon, used if the dory was broken or lost. Samples of the xiphos recovered at excavation sites typically were found to be around 60 cm in length. These swords were double-sided and could therefore be used in both the swinging and thrusting motion. These short swords were usually used to slice the enemy's throat during close combat.
Hoplites carried a circular shield called a hoplon (often referred to as an aspis) made from wood and covered in bronze, measuring roughly 1 metre (3.3 ft) in diameter. It spanned from chin to knee and was very heavy (8–15 kg). This medium-sized shield (and indeed, large for the time considering the average male height) was made possible partly by its dish-like shape, which allowed it to be supported with the rim on the shoulder. This was quite an important feature of the shield, especially for the hoplites that remained in the latter ranks. While these soldiers continued to help press forward, they did not have the added burden of holding up their shield. But the circular shield was not without its disadvantages. Despite its mobility, protective curve, and double straps the circular shape created gaps in the shield wall at both its top and bottom. (Top gaps were somewhat reduced by the one or two spears jutting out of the gap. In order to minimize the bottom gaps, thick leather 'curtains' were used but only by an (unknown) percentage of the hoplites, possibly mostly in the first row only since there were disadvantages as well: considerable added weight on an already heavy shield and a certain additional cost.) These gaps left parts of the hoplite exposed to potentially lethal spear thrusts and were a persistent vulnerability for hoplites controlling the front lines.
The phalanx of the Ancient Macedonian kingdom and the later Hellenistic successor states was a development of the hoplite phalanx. The 'phalangites' were armed with a much longer spear, the sarissa, and less heavily armoured. The sarissa was the pike used by the ancient Macedonian army. Its actual length is unknown, but apparently it was twice as long as the dory. This makes it at least 14 feet (4.3 m), but 18 feet (5.5 m) appears more likely. (The cavalry xyston was 12.5 feet (3.8 m) by comparison.) The great length of the pike was balanced by a counterweight at the rear end, which also functioned as a butt-spike, allowing the sarissa to be planted into the ground. Because of its great length, weight and different balance, a sarissa was wielded two-handed. This meant that the aspis was no longer a practical defence. Instead, the phalangites strapped a smaller pelte shield (usually reserved for peltasts, light skirmishers) to their left forearm. Recent theories, including examination of ancient frescoes depicting full sets of weapons and armor, claim that the shields used were actually larger than the pelte but smaller than the aspis, hanging by leather strap(s) from the left shoulder or from both shoulders. The shield would retain handling straps in the inner curve, to be handled like a (smaller) aspis if the fight progressed to sword-wielding. Although in both shield size assumptions this reduced the shield wall, the extreme length of the spear kept the enemy at a greater distance, as the pikes of the first three to five ranks could all be brought to bear in front of the front row. This pike had to be held underhand, as the shield would have obscured the soldier's vision had it been held overhead. It would also be very hard to remove a sarissa from anything it stuck in (the earth, shields, and soldiers of the opposition) if it were thrust downwards, due to its length. The Macedonian phalanx was much less able to form a shield wall, but the lengthened spears would have compensated for this. Such a phalanx formation also reduced the likelihood that battles would degenerate into a pushing match.
The basic combat element of the Greek armies was either the stichos (meaning "file"; usually 8–16 men strong) or the enomotia (meaning "sworn" and made up by 2–4 stichœ, totaling up to 32 men), both led by a dimœrites who was assisted by a decadarchos and two decasterœ (sing. decasteros). Four to a maximum of 32 enomotiæ (depending on the era in question or the city) were forming a lochos led by a lochagos, who in this way was in command of initially 100 hoplites to a maximum of c. 500 in the late Hellenistic armies. Here, it has to be noted that the military manuals of Asclepiodotus and Aelian use the term lochos to denote a file in the phalanx. A taxis (mora for the Spartans) was the greatest standard hoplitic formation of 500 to 1500 men, led by a strategos (general). The entire army, a total of several taxeis or moræ was led by a generals' council. The commander-in-chief was usually called a polemarchos or a strategos autocrator.
Hoplite phalanxes usually deployed in ranks of 8 men or more deep; The Macedonian phalanxes were usually 16 men deep, sometimes reported to have been arrayed 32 men deep. There are some notable extremes; at the battles of Leuctra and Mantinea, the Theban general Epameinondas arranged the left wing of the phalanx into a "hammerhead" of 50 ranks of elite hoplites deep (see below) and when depth was less important, phalanxes just 4 deep are recorded, as at the battle of Marathon.
The phalanx depth could vary depending on the needs of the moment and plans of the general. While the phalanx was in march, an eis bathos formation (loose, meaning literally "in depth") was adopted in order to move more freely and maintain order. This was also the initial battle formation as, in addition, it permitted friendly units to pass through whether assaulting or retreating. In this status, the phalanx had twice the normal depth and each hoplite had to occupy about 1.8–2 metres (5 ft 11 in–6 ft 7 in) in width. When enemy infantry was approaching, a rapid switch to the pycne (spelled also pucne) formation (dense or tight formation) was necessary. In that case, each man's space was halved (0.9–1 metre or 2 feet 11 inches–3 feet 3 inches in width) and the formation depth returned to normal. An even denser formation, the synaspismos or sunaspismos (ultra tight or locked shields formation), was used when the phalanx was expected to experience extra pressure, intense missile volleys or frontal cavalry charges. In synaspismos, the rank depth was half that of a normal phalanx and the width each man occupied was as small as 0.45 metres (1.5 ft).
Several stages in hoplite combat can be defined:
Ephodos: The hoplites stop singing their pæanes (battle hymns) and move towards the enemy, gradually picking up pace and momentum. In the instants before impact, war cries (alalagmœ, sing. alalagmos) would be made. Notable war cries were the Athenian (elelelelef! elelelelef!) and the Macedonian (alalalalai! alalalalai!) alalagmœ.
Krousis: The opposing phalanxes meet each other almost simultaneously along their front.
Doratismos: Repeated, rapid spear thrusts in order to disrupt the enemy formation. The use of long spears would keep enemies apart as well as allow men in a row to assist their comrades next to them. The prodding could also open up a man to allow a comrade to spear him. Too hard prodding could get a spear stuck in a shield, which would necessitate someone in the back to lend his to the now-disarmed man.
Othismos: Literally "pushing" after most spears have been broken, the hoplites begin to push with their spears and spear shafts against their opponents' shields. This could be the longest phase.
Pararrhexis: "Breaching" the opposing phalanx, the enemy formation shatters and the battle ends. Cavalry would be used at this point to mop up the scattered enemy.
The early history of the phalanx is largely one of combat between hoplite armies from competing Greek city-states. The usual result was rather identical, inflexible formations pushing against each other until one broke. The potential of the phalanx to achieve something more was demonstrated at Battle of Marathon (490 BC). Facing the much larger army of Darius I, the Athenians thinned out their phalanx and consequently lengthened their front, to avoid being outflanked. However, even a reduced-depth phalanx proved unstoppable to the lightly armed Persian infantry. After routing the Persian wings, the hoplites on the Athenian wings wheeled inwards, destroying the elite troop at the Persian centre, resulting in a crushing victory for Athens. Throughout the Greco-Persian Wars the hoplite phalanx was to prove superior to the Persian infantry (e.g. the battles of Thermopylae and Plataea).
Perhaps the most prominent example of the phalanx's evolution was the oblique advance, made famous in the Battle of Leuctra. There, the Theban general Epaminondas thinned out the right flank and centre of his phalanx, and deepened his left flank to an unheard-of 50 men deep. In doing so, Epaminondas reversed the convention by which the right flank of the phalanx was strongest. This allowed the Thebans to assault in strength the elite Spartan troops on the right flank of the opposing phalanx. Meanwhile, the centre and right flank of the Theban line were echeloned back, from the opposing phalanx, keeping the weakened parts of the formation from being engaged. Once the Spartan right had been routed by the Theban left, the remainder of the Spartan line also broke. Thus, by localising the attacking power of the hoplites, Epaminondas was able to defeat an enemy previously thought invincible.
Philip II of Macedon spent several years in Thebes as a hostage, and paid attention to Epaminondas' innovations. On return to his homeland, he raised a revolutionary new infantry force, which was to change the face of the Greek world. Philip's phalangites were the first force of professional soldiers seen in Ancient Greece apart from Sparta. They were armed with longer spears (the sarissa) and were drilled more thoroughly in more evolved, complicated tactics and manoeuvres. More importantly, though, Philip's phalanx was part of a multi-faceted, combined force that included a variety of skirmishers and cavalry, most notably the famous Companion cavalry. The Macedonian phalanx now was used to pin the centre of the enemy line, while cavalry and more mobile infantry struck at the foe's flanks. Its supremacy over the more static armies fielded by the Greek city-states was shown at the Battle of Chaeronea, where Philip II's army crushed the allied Theban and Athenian phalanxes.
The hoplite phalanx was weakest when facing an enemy fielding lighter and more flexible troops without its own such supporting troops. An example of this would be the Battle of Lechaeum, where an Athenian contingent led by Iphicrates routed an entire Spartan mora (a unit of anywhere from 500 to 900 hoplites). The Athenian force had a considerable proportion of light missile troops armed with javelins and bows that wore down the Spartans with repeated attacks, causing disarray in the Spartan ranks and an eventual rout when they spotted Athenian heavy infantry reinforcements trying to flank them by boat.
The Macedonian phalanx had weaknesses similar to its hoplitic predecessor. Theoretically indestructible from the front, its flanks and rear were very vulnerable, and once engaged it may not easily disengage or redeploy to face a threat from those directions. Thus, a phalanx facing non-phalangite formations required some sort of protection on its flanks—lighter or at least more mobile infantry, cavalry, etc. This was shown at the Battle of Magnesia, where, once the Seleucid supporting cavalry elements were driven off, the phalanx was static and unable to go on the offensive against its Roman opponents (although they continued to resist stoutly and attempted a fighting withdrawal under a hail of Roman missiles, until the elephants posted on their flanks panicked and disrupted their formation).
The Macedonian phalanx could also lose its cohesion without proper coordination or while moving through broken terrain; doing so could create gaps between individual blocks/syntagmata, or could prevent a solid front within those sub-units as well, causing other sections of the line to bunch up. In this event, as in the battles of Cynoscephalae and Pydna, the phalanx became vulnerable to attacks by more flexible units—such as Roman legionary centuries, which were able to avoid the sarissae and engage in hand-to-hand combat with the phalangites.
Another important area that must be considered concerns the psychological tendencies of the hoplites. Because the strength of a phalanx depended on the ability of the hoplites to maintain their frontline, it was crucial that a phalanx be able to quickly and efficiently replace fallen soldiers in the front ranks. If a phalanx failed to do this in a structured manner, the opposing phalanx would have an opportunity to breach the line which, many times, would lead to a quick defeat. This then implies that the hoplites ranks closer to the front must be mentally prepared to replace their fallen comrade and adapt to his new position without disrupting the structure of the frontline.
Finally, most of the phalanx-centric armies tended to lack supporting echelons behind the main line of battle. This meant that breaking through the line of battle or compromising one of its flanks often ensured victory.
After reaching its zenith in the conquests of Alexander the Great, the phalanx as a military formation began a slow decline, mirrored by the decline in the Macedonian successor states themselves. The combined arms tactics used by Alexander and his father were gradually replaced by a return to the simpler frontal charge tactics of the hoplite phalanx. In the numerous wars of the Successor states the expense of the supporting arms and cavalry, and widespread use of mercenaries, caused the Diadochi to rely on phalanx vs. phalanx tactics.
The decline of the diadochi and the phalanx was inextricably linked with the rise of Rome and the Roman legion, from the 3rd century BC. Before the battle of the Caudine Forks, where the clumsiness of the Roman phalanx was displayed by the Samnites (the Romans had originally employed the phalanx themselves)  but gradually evolved more flexible tactics resulting in the three-line Roman legion of the middle period of the Roman Republic. The phalanx continued to be employed by the Romans as a tactic for their third military line or triarii of veteran reserve troops armed with the hastae or spear. Rome would eventually conquer most of the Macedonian successor states, and the various Greek city-states and leagues. These territories were incorporated into the Roman Republic, and as these Hellenic states had ceased to exist, so did the armies which had used the traditional phalanx formation. Subsequently, troops raised from these regions by the Romans would have been equipped and fought in line on the Roman model.
However, the phalanx did not disappear as a military tactic altogether. There is some question as to whether the phalanx was actually obsolete by the end of its history. In some of the major battles between the Roman Army and Hellenistic phalanxes, Pydna (168 BC), Cynoscephalae (197 BC) and Magnesia (190 BC), the phalanx performed relatively well against the Roman army, initially driving back the Roman infantry. However, at Cynoscephalae and Magnesia, failure to defend the flanks of the Phalanx led to defeat; whilst at Pydna, the loss of cohesion of the Phalanx when pursuing retreating Roman soldiers allowed the Romans to penetrate the formation, where the latter's close combat skills proved decisive. The ancient Greek historian Polybius goes into some detail about the effectiveness of the Roman legion against the Phalanx. He deduces that the Romans refused to fight the phalanx where the phalanx was most effective and offered battle only when they felt that they could exploit the clumsiness and immobility of the phalanx.
Spear-armed troops continued to be important elements in many armies until the advent of reliable firearms, but did not necessarily fight in the manner of a phalanx. A meaningful comparison can be made between the Classical phalanx and late medieval pike formations.
Particular parallels can be seen in the Middle Ages and Renaissance city-states of the Low Countries (modern Netherlands and Belgium), the cantons of Switzerland and the city-states of Northern Italy. Armies of the Low Countries were first armed with spears, then pikes, and were defeating French and Burgundian forces by the 14th century. The Swiss first used the halberd in the 14th century but—outreached by Austrian cavalry armed with lances—the Swiss gradually adopted pikes in the later 15th century. Swiss pike phalanxes of the Burgundian Wars were dynamic and aggressive resulting in the destruction of the 'modern' Burgundian army and the death of Charles the Bold. It is tempting to suggest that Swiss military authorities had read Classical sources and were consciously copying Hellenistic practices. Some Italian states raised their own pike units as well as employing Swiss mercenary pikemen in the 15th and 16th century. The Swiss were also copied by German Landsknechts leading to bitterness and rivalry between competing mercenary units.
Military historians have also suggested that the Scots, particularly under William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, consciously imitated the Hellenistic phalanx to produce the Scots 'hedgehog' or schiltron. However, this ignores possible Early Middle Ages use of long spears by Picts and others in Scotland. It is possible that long spear tactics (also found in North Wales) were an established part of more irregular warfare in parts of Britain prior to 1066. The Scots certainly used imported French pikes and dynamic tactics at the Battle of Flodden. However, this battle found the Scots pitted against effective light artillery and advancing over bad ground, which disorganised the Scottish phalanxes and left them easy prey to English longbow shooting and attacks by shorter but more effective English polearms called bills. Some have interpreted contemporary sources as describing the bills cutting off the heads of Scots pikes.
Pike and shot became a military standard in the 16th and 17th century. With the development of the bayonet the last major use of pike was the early 18th century with the weapon rapidly disappearing in Western European armies by the time of the Battle of Blenheim. A few pikes or half pikes and a few halberds were retained among regimental colour guards but even these were fast disappearing by the time of Napoleon.
The pike was briefly reconsidered as a weapon by European armies in the late 18th and early 19th century as protection for riflemen, whose slower rate of fire made them vulnerable. A collapsible pike was invented but never issued. It was also reconsidered by the Confederate Army at the time of the American Civil War and some were even manufactured but these were probably never issued. Pikes were again manufactured for a short time during World War Two, and became known as "Croft's Pikes".
Warfare occurred throughout the history of Ancient Greece, from the Greek Dark Ages onward. The Greek 'Dark Age' drew to a close as a significant increase in population allowed urbanized culture to be restored, which
led to the rise of the city-states (Poleis). These developments ushered in the period of Archaic Greece (800-480 BC). They also restored the capability of organized warfare between these Poleis (as opposed to small-scale raids to acquire livestock and grain, for example). The fractious nature of Ancient Greek society seems to have made continuous conflict on this larger scale inevitable.
Along with the rise of the city-state evolved a new style of warfare: the hoplite phalanx. Hoplites were armored infantryman, armed with spears and shields, and the phalanx was a formation of these soldiers with their shields locked together and spears pointed forward. The Chigi vase, dated to around 650 BC, is the earliest depiction of a hoplite in full battle array. With this evolution in warfare, battles seem to have consisted mostly of the clash of hoplite phalanxes from the city-states in conflict. Since the soldiers were citizens with other occupations, warfare was limited in distance, season and scale. Neither side could afford heavy casualties or sustained campaigns, so conflicts seem to have been resolved by a single set-piece battle.
The scale and scope of warfare in Ancient Greece changed dramatically as a result of the Greco-Persian Wars, which marked the beginning of Classical Greece (480-323 BC). To fight the enormous armies of the Achaemenid Empire was effectively beyond the capabilities of a single city-state. The eventual triumph of the Greeks was achieved by alliances of many city-states, on a scale never seen before. The rise of Athens and Sparta during this conflict led directly to the Peloponnesian War, which saw diversification of warfare. Emphasis shifted to naval battles and strategies of attrition such as blockades and sieges. Following the defeat of the Athenians in 404 BC, and the disbandment of the Athenian-dominated Delian League, Ancient Greece fell under the Spartan hegemony. But this was unstable, and the Persian Empire sponsored a rebellion by the combined powers of Athens, Thebes, Corinth and Argos, resulting in the Corinthian War (395-387 BC). Persia switched sides, which ended the war, in return for the cities of Ionia and Spartan non-interference in Asia Minor. The Spartan hegemony would last another 16 years, until, at the Battle of Leuctra (371) the Spartans were decisively defeated by the Theban general Epaminondas.
The Thebans acted with alacrity to establish a hegemony of their own over Greece. However, Thebes lacked sufficient manpower and resources, and became overstretched. Following the death of Epaminondas and loss of manpower at the Battle of Mantinea, the Theban hegemony ceased. The losses in the ten years of the Theban hegemony left all the Greek city-states weakened and divided. The city-states of southern Greece were too weak to resist the rise of the Macedonian kingdom in the north. With revolutionary tactics, King Phillip II brought most of Greece under his sway, paving the way for the conquest of "the known world" by his son Alexander the Great. The rise of the Macedonian Kingdom is generally taken to signal the beginning of the Hellenistic period, and certainly marked the end of the distinctive hoplite battle in Ancient Greece.Bolivian Socialist Falange
The Bolivian Socialist Falange (Spanish: Falange Socialista Boliviana) is a Bolivian political party established in 1937. Despite its leftist-sounding name, it was a far-right party drawing inspiration from fascism. It was the country's second-largest party between approximately 1954 and 1974. After that, its followers have tended to gravitate toward the government endorsed military candidacy of General Juan Pereda (1978) and, especially, toward the ADN party of former dictator Hugo Banzer. Its current status is unclear.FET y de las JONS
The Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista (FET y de las JONS, Traditionalist Spanish Phalanx and of the Councils of the National Syndicalist Offensive) was the sole legal party of the Francoist regime in Spain. It emerged in 1937 from the merger of the Carlist Party with the Falange Española de las JONS and was dissolved in 1977 by Adolfo Suárez's transitional government.Hellenistic armies
The Hellenistic armies is the term applied to the armies of the successor kingdoms of the Hellenistic period, which emerged after the death of Alexander the Great. After his death, Alexander's huge empire was torn between his successors, the Diadochi (Greek: Διάδοχοι). During the Wars of the Diadochi, the Macedonian army, as developed by Alexander and Philip II, gradually adopted new units and tactics, further developing Macedonian warfare and improving on the tactics used in the Classical era. The armies of the Diadochi bear few differences from that of Alexander, but during the era of the Epigonoi (Ἐπίγονοι, "Successors"), the differences were obvious, favoring numbers over quality and weight over maneuverability. The limited availability of Greek conscripts in the east led to an increasing dependence on mercenary forces, whereas in the west, Hellenistic armies were continuously involved in wars, which soon exhausted local manpower, paving the way for Roman supremacy. The major Hellenistic states were the Seleucid Empire, Ptolemaic Egypt and the Antigonid kingdom (Macedonia). Smaller states included: Attalid Pergamum, Pontus, Epirus, the Achaean League, the Aetolian League, Syracuse, and other states (like Athens, Sparta etc.).Hoplite
Hoplites (HOP-lytes) (Ancient Greek: Ὁπλιτης) were citizen-soldiers of Ancient Greek city-states who were primarily armed with spears and shields. Hoplite soldiers utilized the phalanx formation in order to be effective in war with fewer soldiers. The formation discouraged the soldiers from acting alone, for this would compromise the formation and minimize its strengths. The hoplites were primarily represented by free citizens—propertied farmers and artisans—who were able to afford the bronze armour suit and weapons (estimated at a third to a half of its able-bodied adult male population). Hoplites were not professional soldiers and often lacked sufficient military training. However, some states did maintain a small elite professional unit, known as the epilektoi ("chosen") since they were picked from the regular citizen infantry. These existed at times in Athens, Argos, Thebes (Greece), and Syracuse, among others. Hoplite soldiers made up the bulk of ancient Greek armies.In the 8th or 7th century BC, Greek armies adopted the phalanx formation. The formation proved successful in defeating the Persians when employed by the Athenians at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC during the First Greco-Persian War. The Persian archers and light troops who fought in the Battle of Marathon failed, because their bows were too weak for their arrows to penetrate the wall of Greek shields that made up the phalanx formation. The phalanx was also employed by the Greeks at the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC and at the Battle of Plataea in 479 BC during the Second Greco-Persian War.
The word hoplite (Greek: ὁπλίτης hoplitēs; pl. ὁπλῖται hoplitai) derives from hoplon (ὅπλον, plural hopla ὅπλα), the name for the type of shield used by the soldiers. However, the shield was more commonly known as an aspis, so the word hopla may refer to the soldiers' weapons or even their full armament. In the modern Hellenic Army, the word hoplite (Greek: oπλίτης) is used to refer to an infantryman.Macedonian phalanx
The Macedonian phalanx is an infantry formation developed by Philip II and used by his son Alexander the Great to conquer the Achaemenid Empire and other armies. Phalanxes remained dominant on battlefields throughout the Ancient Macedonian Period, although wars had developed into more protracted operations generally involving sieges and naval combat as much as pitched battles, until they were ultimately displaced by the Roman legions.Operation Phalanx (2010-2016)
Operation Phalanx was a United States National Guard program to assist the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the security of the United States-Mexico Border. Beginning in 2010, Phalanx was the successor operation to 2006-2008 program known as Operation Jump Start.In November 2016, DHS indefinitely halted the National Guard's aerial surveillance flights amid protests from U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas,) the Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, and Senator John Cornyn, (R-Texas), all of whom are pressing the Obama administration to restart the program in 2017.Since the beginning of Operation Phalanx in 2010, National Guard airmen flying UH-72 Lakota helicopters have been credited with stopping 64,000 illegal border crossings in the Rio Grande sector of the United States Mexico border, along with an additional 25,000 in the Laredo sector and 21,000 in the Tucson, Arizona area. More than 300,000 pounds of marijuana has also been seized in Phalanx operations.Phalanx, New Jersey
Phalanx is an unincorporated community located within Colts Neck Township in Monmouth County, New Jersey, United States. It is located near the Swimming River Reservoir and is across from Brookdale Community College in Lincroft. The community is named for the North American Phalanx, a communal agricultural community that existed in the 19th century. The community disbanded in 1854 following a fire but the main residence stood until November 14, 1972 when another fire destroyed it. Homes began to replace the former farmland beginning in the late 1970s and is now the primary composition of the area.Phalanx (comics)
The Phalanx are a fictional cybernetic species appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. They have come in conflict with the X-Men as well as other groups on several occasions. They form a hive-mind, linking each member by a telepathy-like system.Phalanx (horse)
Phalanx (1944–1971) was an American Champion Thoroughbred racehorse. In 1947, he won the Belmont Stakes and was voted American Champion Three-Year-Old Male Horse.Phalanx CIWS
The Phalanx CIWS (pronounced "sea-wiz") is a close-in weapon system for defense against anti-ship missiles, helicopters, etc. It was designed and manufactured by the General Dynamics Corporation, Pomona Division (now a part of Raytheon). Consisting of a radar-guided 20 mm Vulcan cannon mounted on a swiveling base, the Phalanx has been used by multiple navies around the world, notably the U.S. Navy on every class of surface combat ship with the exception of the San Antonio-class LPD, by the Canadian Royal Canadian Navy, the British Royal Navy, and by the U.S. Coast Guard aboard its Hamilton and Legend-class cutters. The Phalanx is used by 15 other allied nations.
A land variant, known as the LPWS (Land Phalanx Weapon System), part of the C-RAM system, has recently been deployed in a short range missile defense role, to counter incoming rockets, artillery and mortar fire.Because of their distinctive barrel-shaped radome and their automated nature of operation, Phalanx CIWS units are sometimes nicknamed "R2-D2" after the famous droid character from the Star Wars films.Phalanx Covenant
"The Phalanx Covenant" was a crossover storyline that ran through Marvel Comics' X-Men family of books in September and October 1994. One of its unique aspects was that the X-Men themselves only played a minor role in the story.Phalanx bone
The phalanges (singular: phalanx ) are digital bones in the hands and feet of most vertebrates. In primates, the thumbs and big toes have two phalanges while the other digits have three phalanges. The phalanges are classed as long bones.Results breakdown of the 2004 Spanish general election (Congress)
This is the results breakdown of the Congress of Deputies election held in Spain on 14 March 2004. The following tables show detailed results in each of the country's 17 autonomous communities and in the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla, as well as a summary of constituency results.Royal Phalanx
The Royal Phalanx (Greek: Βασιλική Φάλαγξ) was a military body composed of veteran officers of the Greek War of Independence, established on 18 September 1835. The Phalanx entailed military garrison duties, but mostly it was an honorific appointment, and a means to sustain veteran soldiers who had no other means of upkeep.Sarissa
The sarisa or sarissa (Greek: σάρισα) was a long spear or pike about 4–6 metres (13–20 ft) in length. It was introduced by Philip II of Macedon and was used in his Macedonian phalanxes as a replacement for the earlier dory, which was considerably shorter. These longer spears improved the strength of the phalanx by extending the rows of overlapping weapons projecting towards the enemy, and the word remained in use throughout the Byzantine years to sometimes describe the long spears of their own infantry.Seleucid army
The Seleucid army was the army of the Seleucid Empire, one of the numerous Hellenistic states that emerged after the death of Alexander the Great.
As with the other major Hellenistic armies, the Seleucid army fought primarily in the Greco-Macedonian style, with its main body being the phalanx. The phalanx was a large, dense formation of men armed with small shields and a long pike called the sarissa. This form of fighting had been developed by the Macedonian army in the reign of Philip II of Macedon and his son Alexander the Great. Alongside the phalanx, the Seleucid armies used a great deal of native and mercenary troops to supplement their Greek forces, which were limited due to the distance from the Seleucid rulers' Macedonian homeland.Swiss mercenaries
Swiss mercenaries (Reisläufer) were notable for their service in foreign armies, especially the armies of the Kings of France, throughout the Early Modern period of European history, from the Later Middle Ages into the Age of the European Enlightenment. Their service as mercenaries was at its peak during the Renaissance, when their proven battlefield capabilities made them sought-after mercenary troops. There followed a period of decline, as technological and organizational advances counteracted the Swiss' advantages. Switzerland's military isolationism largely put an end to organized mercenary activity; the principal remnant of the practice is the Pontifical Swiss Guard at the Vatican.
In William Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5, Swiss mercenaries are called "Switzers" (Switzer is actually what the Swiss were called in English until the 19th century, hence Switzerland).