THE ILLYRIAN TRIBES
Textures: Strikerjd & Dark Fenrir, Models: Dark Fenrir & Palissa, Mapwork: Uranos, Historial info: Apostate & Team, Additional Art: Lupus & Snevets. Horse models and Textures Pinarus
The Illyrians are said to have made their appearance on the Balkan peninsula sometime around 1300 BC in the land that would become known as Illyria. The appearance of the Illyrians restrained the Thracians, who until then, were the only northern neighbours of the greeks just to the east. The death of the first Illyrian king, Hyllus, is recorded around 1235 BC. Their lands spanned the coast of the Adriatic and stretched inland, and crossed, the Danube. Illyrian tribes, such as the Messapians, are also said to have settled around the eastern shore of Italy. There are even references that show an Illyrian presence in Sicily. For at least the next millennium, they occupied the lands from the Danube, Sava, and Morava rivers to the Adriatic Sea and the Sar Mountains. Illyria was composed of a number of tribes – the Autariatae, Dassaretae, Chelidones, Taulanti, etc. – who are considered by scholars to be the Illyrians proper, whereas the many groups to the north – Pannoni, Dalmatae, Liburni, Lapodes – are considered to be a bit distinct from the Illyrians of the south. They are mentioned few times ancient Greek history, one of the first was by Anaximander around the 6th century BC who created a "world map" and included "Illyris" as the territory north-west of Hellenic lands.
In mythology, Cadmos and his wife Harmonia had a son, Illyrios. In the myth Cadmos and Harmonia abandoned their child near the Illyrian river, there a snake raised him until adulthood. When fully-grown Illyrius would go on to conquer all of Illyria where he then named the territory after himself. The myth also included most of the Illyrian tribes as the children of Illyrius. The Taulantioi, Maedoi , Egcheleis , Autariatai, Dardanoi would descend from his five sons Encheleus, Autarieus, Dardanos, Maedos, Taulas, Parauaebos. While the Parthinoi, Dassaretai and Daorsoi from his daughters Partho, Daortho, Dassaro. The Illyrians would go on to embrace this myth and adopt the snake as their key symbol.
To the Hellenic people, they were the barbarians who dwelled the mountains, the brutes that inhabited the highlands. For a long time Hellenic civilization only came into contact with them near the coastlines and managed to influence them through their settlements, while much of upper Illyria and the interior remained out of contact. The civilized world could only imagine the kind of savagery that occurred in those lands. The Illyrians carried on commerce and warfare with their neighbors and it's possible that the ancient Macedonians had intermixing with the Illyrians in the far north-west of Macedonia's land. The Illyrians also mingled with the Thracians in adjoining lands on the east. They raised and traded cattle, horses, agricultural goods, and metal goods fashioned from locally mined copper and iron. Feuds and warfare were constant facts of life for the Illyrian tribes and Illyrian pirates plagued shipping on the Adriatic Sea. Councils of elders chose the chieftains who headed each of the numerous Illyrian tribes. From time to time, local chieftains extended their rule over other tribes and formed short-lived kingdoms. During the 5th century BC, a well-developed Illyrian population center existed as far north as the upper Sava River valley in what is now Slovenia. Illyrian friezes discovered near the present-day Slovenian city of Ljubljana depict ritual sacrifices, feasts, battles, sporting events, and other activities.
The Illyrians were heavily influenced by the people around them. To the south, they came in contact with the Greek coastal colonies, Epidamnos and Apollonia, which evolved into great cities and heavily influenced the neighbouring Illyrians, who eventually became almost fully Hellenised and had a culture akin to that of the Greeks. The southern Illyrians played a considerable role in the Hellenic world. Their greatest king, Bardhyllus, who is the 2nd king whose name we know, reclaimed Illyrian territory taken by the Macedonians by defeating 4 of their kings and nearly destroying their entire kingdom before making peace with them near the time of his death. In 359 BC, King Perdikkas III of Macedonia was killed by attacking Illyrians. In 358 BC, however, Macedonia's Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great, defeated the Illyrians and assumed control of their territory as far as Lake Ohrid. Illyrians were a very dangerous foe! It’s not too hard to understand, why Macedonia could not become a powerfull kingdom before Phillip II! There was the “Northern Threat” from the savage Thracian tribes, there were the Hellenic city-states from the South, but the biggest problem came from the North-West: the Illyrians! Some time later, Glaukias the king of the Taulanti, raised in his court the boy who was to become the greatest Epirote king and general ever, Phyrrus of Epirus!
To the north, the Illyrians remained much more savage, influenced by nearby Celts and Dacians, they would gain a very barbaric and warrior like culture and lifestyle, and would base much of their combat on mountain guerilla warfare tactics. They had strong and powerful infantry, though not very well-equipped, small numbers of light cavalry, some light skirmish units, with Etruscan, Hellenic, Celtic and Thracian influences. But, they were strong men, fearless, powerfull and stubborn! They had fully clean shaven faces, fought almost barefoot and they wore simple sleeveless tunics with designs. Illyrians were notorious raiders, because they were the most dangerous pirates and land raiders in their time, masters of raiding at sea and on land. This made them rely heavily on looting and sacking, so much so that it became a way of life. It would be this culture that would make the Illyrians some of the best and most heavily recruited warriors of antiquity.
Archer warbands are used to harass and break up enemy formations, so that other warriors can then get in amongst their enemies. The members of the warband are lightly armed and equipped, relying more on speed as a protection from foes. Any archers caught in the open by cavalry will be in trouble unless they can withdraw to more favorable ground or behind a shield wall of friendly warriors.
Their simple bows have a short range and are ineffective against even leather armor at a range of 50 to 100 meters. These archers are at their best in wooded country, where their superior stealth skills learned on the hunt can be put to use.
The Illyrians have learned to fight in ordered formations and with short spears and javelins in order to break up the formations of their Greek enemy. They are not particularly reliable soldiers, but they are certainly better than those employed in the east. They can give a good account of themselves in battle if deployed properly. They wear no armor, and have only a light shield for protection, so most other infantry will slaughter them in droves. They can fend off light cavalry for a time, if need be.
Illyrian Light Spearmen
Historically, the Illyrians were a people that inhabited the northern part of modern day Albania and were bordered in the south by the Greeks of Epirus and Aitolia, and in the east by the Macedon kingdom and the Thessalians. Thus, they had to adapt their warfare to fight these enemies, a task they became frighteningly good at. By the time of Philip of Macedon, they had carved out a fairly large kingdom at the expense of Macedonians and Epirotes.
Illyrian Heavy Spearmen
Few Illyrian warriors, mostly those belonging to the upper social class, can afford weapons imported from Hellas and fight using long spears used overhand and large round shields. They also often prefer to wear a crested helmet which was named "Illyrian" after them, which was imported from Peloponnesos originally. They body protection of theirs is the heavier that can be found amongst most of the Illyrians. The heavy Illyrian spearmen fight well as personal glory is the way to status, but are more difficult to control compared to disciplined heavy Greek units and of course are not used to fight within a disciplined phalanx formation.
These are javelin skirmishers drawn from the unruly tribes of Illyria in the western Balkans. Together with their javelins, they are armed with a short sword or an axe and shield which, coupled with their innate aggression and mobility in rough terrain, makes them useful in close engagements with light troops, and for ambushes. However, the lack of any other armour means that once their javelins are spent, they are best kept away from heavier enemy troops, especially cavalry.
The Illyrians oftenly have a heartfelt love of loot though, and their desire to gain more often leads to rash behaviour in battle. Historically, the Illyrians were a people that inhabited the northern part of modern day Albania and were bordered in the south by the Greeks of Epirus and Aitolia, and in the east by the Macedon kingdom and the Thessalians. Thus, they had to adapt their warfare to fight these enemies, a task they became frighteningly good at. By the time of Philip of Macedon, they had carved out a fairly large kingdom at the expense of Macedonians and Epirots.
Illyrian Heavy Swordmen
Illyrians have often been a strong and independent foe of their Greek neighbors. During this period, there has been a fair amount of cultural and military influence through the contact with the influental Greek colonies in the Illyrian coasts and through the contact with the Macedon kingdom as well. The Illyrians have learned to fight in relatively ordered formations with swords, javelins and native Illyrian shields in order to break up the formations of their Greek enemy. This makes them a dangerous and versatile enemy, due to the fact that they carry an inordinate amount of light javelins and follow a literal shower of these javelins with a thunderous charge with swords. They are impetuous infantry wearing helmets imported from Hellas and other pieces of such Hellenic influenced equipement but cant be considered a heavy unit since the lack of heavy armour. If they are used properly can become a key unit in the army of any general with enough gold to afford them.
Illyrian light cavalry are fast moving horsemen armed with axes and javelins. They are not armoured, relying instead in their speed and in trying to catch the enemy by surprise. They are excellent for breaking up skirmishers, attacking light and medium infantry as well as light cavalry and pursuing already broken enemies to prevent them rallying and rejoining a battle. Their axes are useful against armoured enemies, even so they should not remain in a pitched battle with Spear armed warriors.
The Illyrian cavalry consists of fast moving horsemen armed with spears and javelins. They wear no armour but they are protected by carrying their large native shields and Hellenic influenced helmets. They are best used as a hit-and-run force and they are excellent for breaking up skirmishers, attacking lighter infantry such as missile troops as well as light cavalry and pursuing already broken enemies to prevent them rallying and rejoining a battle.
The Illyrian warlord is accompanied by fast moving horsemen armed with spears and javelins. They are wear a bronze cuirass as they are rich men and import weapons and arms from hellas, in addition they are protected by carrying their large native shields and Hellenic influenced helmets. They are best used as a hit-and-run force and they are excellent for breaking up skirmishers, attacking lighter infantry such as missile troops as well as light cavalry and pursuing already broken enemies to prevent them rallying and rejoining a battle.
Like all general's guards, this unit is best committed to the fight at the point of crisis, when the general's inspirational leadership and the combat power of his men can tip the balance. They are also well trained enough to fight effectively in continued hand-to-hand combat if needed.
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