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The Atlantean Army - till 361
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1. The Atlantean Army till 361

Initial comments:

There are three parts to this section: a history of the Atlantean Army (in four parts), a series of maps of the Atlantean Empire and its neighbours (five in all), and some tables of battles, in various orders, which refer you to the relevant map to find the sites. There is also section on the Atlantean Navy. You may also like to refer to an article on the military geography of the Great Continent, which is in the section on geography: Military geography


Prior to the founding of the First Empire by Lir-Craonos in 199, all the main noble houses within the territory of Atlantis had private armies, with which they would fight each other at regular intervals. One of the main reasons why Lir-Craonos was able to unite all the nobility under his leadership in the new Empire was that he ended up with the largest and most efficient of these armies. Until the Helvran wars after 250, the Emperor had only a small standing army, but he would augment it up to 10000 or 15000 by recruitment if war threatened. The main nobles were allowed to maintain very small permanent forces, and were required in wartime to recruit up to 5000 men to augment the Royal Army, as it came to be called.

During the Helvran wars, which involved relatively huge armies over a period of many years, a nucleus of a professional army, serving for at least 5 years was built up. Numbers increased gradually to a peak of 170000 at the end of the Helvran wars; after some demobilisation, they were at a level of 110000 in 305, of which 75000 were Royal, and 35000 Noble Armies, out of a total population in the Empire of about 19 million. As the number of Provinces in the Empire increased, so the military art had to be studied ever more seriously and professionally. Military Academies for officers were set up, and after 292, the College of Military Art to study strategy and tactics. Within the Provinces, Military Governors were given control of the forces within that Province. Noble armies were increasingly sidelined. Particularly after the Family Wars of 305-314, many noble armies were disbanded, and those retaining the privilege of raising independent armies for the Empire were reduced to 5 in number. By the time of the Imperial Wars after 355, the Atlantean Army had reached a size approaching 500000. This period was the last in which independent Noble forces participated, and after 361 all non-Imperial forces were abolished.


Before 240, the Atlantean Army was an infantry-based militia, armed with swords and shields and some armour. The way in which this force developed and changed over the next 120 years to become the all-powerful and brilliantly led army of the Second Empire was a result, initially, of continual attempts to adapt to and meet the challenge of the armies of the various countries and peoples with which it came into conflict. Thus the First War with the Phonerians (240-245), who used small, mobile forces, often armed with bows, and with much cavalry, (the thachelbeli in Phonerian), encouraged the Atlanteans to take cavalry more seriously, and incorporate small forces into their armies.

The conflict with the Helvrans introduced the Atlanteans to the highly disciplined, rigid and phalanx style units of the Helvrans, armed with pikes and swords. Atlantis was very impressed by this phalanx, which it had never met before, and incorporated the Helvran word, kengen, into its own vocabulary (cengen). The Atlanteans countered these tactics eventually, not by copying them, but by finding a way of beating them using well-disciplined forces with a good proportion of bowmen on a basis of agile swordsmen (by 270, one bowmen to every four swordsmen). Initially the bowmen used ordinary bows and arrows, but after 260 they began to adopt the (wooden) crossbows, already in use 

Atlantean swordsman, 260

in Eliossie, which were to become an inseparable part of the Second Empire Atlantean armed forces. In addition, the Atlanteans made increasing use of siege artillery, especially catapults and torsion crossbows. These style of units also provided Atlantis with victory against the Chalcrans and various Southern forces over the following 30 years.


From the reign of Ruthoyon I onwards, the armies of Atlantis gradually developed into the classic force of the Second Empire, known often as the "Imperial Atlantean Army", which was to gain and maintain the great Atlantean Empire until the Revolution of 585. We have already seen how noble armies withered away in this period, and the Army as a whole became completely professional. Military leadership also became professionalised through the founding of Military Academies, and the study of strategy and tactics were instituted by the College of Military Art.

Army units varied in size till the 330s when the great military Emperor Ruthoyon II established them at about 9 -11000 men each, each being called a PUEGGIS. Numbers of these were permanently stationed in the various Provinces, under the control of the Military Governors, and each was given a number. These forces were largely composed of infantry, in sub-units called OCHOSIX of about 800 men (after 360). There were 8 or 9 of these per PUEGGIS, plus two OCHOSIX of cavalry and some artillery.

The Second War with the Phonerians (315-325) again taught the Atlanteans of the importance of cavalry and also, for the first time of mounted infantry. The latter became a vital part of the tactics of the Army after 360, speeding forwards in advance of the main army to seize tactically important terrain. Infantry remained predominantly composed of swordsmen, which for a while after 320 also had spears for defence, but the proportion of crossbow men gradually increased to one-third by 330, and one half by the 350s. The power of the crossbow men grew gradually throughout this time, especially when, after the 350s, they were made of steel rather than wood, and hence gained a much greater range and strength. Also the bayonet-crossbow was invented and introduced after 310. This ultimately led to the demise through irrelevance of the swordsmen, though not until after 400. Before then crossbow men were deployed in groups with swordsmen on their flanks, several ranks deep. This rather defensive arrangement became much more offensive after that time as the increasing numbers of bowmen were put on both flanks of the swordsmen in each unit, and the depth of each unit was much reduced.

After 320, field artillery was adopted, which was able to move with increasing ease right on to the battlefield to support the armies.

Thus it was that by the beginning of the reign of Atlaniphon I, in 361, the basis of the great armies of his and later reigns had been laid.

To read the next part of this history, click on The Army- 361 - 585

Home Page        The Army- 361 - 585   Battle sites central area   Index of Atlantean Army and Navy battles-alphabetical order  Index of Atlantean Army and Navy battles-chronological order  Military geography   The Atlantean Navy