- Created on 25 August 2009
- Last Updated on 23 June 2013
- Written by Nero666
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The notion of a Median empire is often misconstrued as a centralised state along the lines of the succeeding Persian kingdom as in the above picture. In reality the Medians were normally a vast confederacy of clans and tribes which only rarely united to form a single front. However during the dark times of the Assyrian empire the Median states were continually forced to endure raids from the warlike emperor's troops and often had to work as mercenaries for the Assyrians to make ends meet. It was during these periods of military service to the Assyrians that the Medians acquired the title "The Mighty Medes" due to their insurmountable skill in the saddle. Moreover some of the more westernmost Median states were subject to the status of a "secondary state" under the Assyrian empire. They operated and maintained the trade routes that flowed into Assyria from the east and took a percentage of the earnings for themselves. This influx of wealth forced the economic divide between the clans to grow. However the irregular economic advantages proved to be nowhere near enough compensation for the lack of independence and continual raids in Media.
In 614 B.C. the Assyrian empire was facing an insurrection from the men of Babylon and their King Nabopolassar. Cyaxares saw his opportunity to strike for freedom and marched at the head of the united western median states to attack Assyria. After winning a magnificent victory at Assur, Cyaxares met Nabopolassar and formed a solid alliance with him. The united forces went on to finally extinguish the power of the Assyrians once and for all. After winning great distinction for the Medes in this war Cyaxares went home to Media and left Babylon to pick up the pieces of the broken Assyrian empire. The Medians returned to their original patterns of life and abandoned the fortresses that the Assyrians had built to watch over their trade routes. Life was peaceful in Media and the men were free again.
However this peace would not last long as the warlike Lydian empire set its sights on the worryingly powerful Median states. Moreover tensions were strained further when King Alyattes of Media refused to extradite several Scythians who had committed crimes against The Median warlord. Cyaxares and his family still held a great deal of prestige amongst the Median states and he was able to unite them once again in war against a foreign enemy. However the Lydian war proved ultimately indecisive although Cyaxares was able to conquer a great deal of territory between Iran and Asia minor. With the war's end sealed by an eclipse and ensuing marriage alliances Cyaxares returned home once again but this time as a ruler of foreign peoples. This was where the Median state began to take form as a real kingdom.
These days the heroic Cyaxares has passed on and left what he had created to his son Astyages. However the Median states are not all as happy about Astyages hereditary gains as they could be. Astyages carries a great deal of prestige thanks to his father however he may have to assert his authority over some of the Median cities before he is seen as a true ruler. Astyages might find a convenient scapegoat further to the south to unite his people behind him and solidify his position as King of the Medes.
Astyages is fortunate enough to command some of the finest cavalry in the world. The Medians have also been influenced by the nearby presence and raids of the Scythians to the north. To this end they are able to field nimble horse archers in addition to their heavy cavalry. On the infantry front their main strength lies in their archers but in close combat they will fall prey to heavy infantry. The units are divided up and brigaded according to their clans to symbolise the fragmentary nature of the Median empire. As such each clan will have certain elements they bring to the field and some of them will only be recruitable in certain parts of the Median Empire.
The Strukhat Clan
These spearmen are drawn from the most common and widespread of the Median clans, The Strukhat. They are mostly farmers or herdsman but still maintain a feudal obligation to muster for war when needed. Armed with a large tower shield the shield bearer has excellent protection from enemy missile fire. However the shield itself is only made from conditioned wicker and leather so it does not afford superior protection in the melee. The Strukhat do battle wearing a quilted linen cuirass and wielding a six foot spear so as such they are capable of holding the line against enemy infantry until supporting troops can engage.
Strukhatian archers form the mainstay of the Median army when coupled with their shield bearing counterparts. Coming from a fine Iranian archery tradition and utilising the devastating dathabam tactics these archers can be used to great effect on the field. Their main skill is in disrupting enemy formations before they can reach friendly troops and then supporting the resulting counter attack. However they are not heavily armed or armoured and as such can be exposed to danger if caught without support and forced into close combat.
The landed gentry of the Strukhat clan go to war mounted atop the finest steeds in all the world. The Nisean horses are massive creatures bred extensively to carry armoured riders into battle. The Strukhatian nobility take greater care to protect themselves since they eschew shields as too cumbersome on horseback. As such they wear a cuirass of Iron scales and a bronze helmet to turn aside blows in close combat. They carry two javelins to throw into enemy ranks before closing in for the kill with their swords. These horsemen can be used to neutralise enemy cavalry or harass enemy infantry but should not be sacrificed on the spears of heavy infantry.
The Budii clan
The Budian clansmen hail mostly from the north eastern regions of Media and as such are more heavily influenced by the nearby Scythian presence and the recent period of Scythian occupation. Because of this influence these warriors use the Sagaris axe in close combat and are generally a more aggressive and warlike clan than their Strukhat cousins. Hence the Budian archers can hold their own at least for a short while in the melee purely on the strength of their ferocity.
Because of the greater Scythian influence in the Budian area and the need to counter the fast moving warriors on the edges of northern Media the cavalry from the Budian clan primarily use the bow on horseback. As such they are swift and deadly horse archers that can decimate an army without having to get into close contact at all. If the need to close with enemy cavalry or light infantry occurs then the Budian horsemen carry the fearsome Sagaris axe to deal with their opponents. However they are not geared up for protracted struggles in close combat and should primarily be used as skirmishers if they are to be used to their greatest effect.
The Busae Clan
The Busae are not technically an Iranian tribe but they factor under the Median sphere of influence. They are an indigenous tribe known as the "Mannae" but referred to as "Buza" by the Medians. The Busae are situated on the borders of the Iranian plateau and have more in common with the Sumerian city states than anyone else although they do show mild Scytho - Iranian influence. They fight in a style which is very similar to the old Elamite and Babylonian styles but since they have not been independent for a good while their military tradition has waned. As such they fight for the nearby Median lords as shield bearers and can be depended on to hold a line with their wooden shields and long spears.
The Busae peoples do not have an extensive military tradition but many poorer sections of society fight with simple slings and stones. These soldiers are very cheap and their slings are extremely effective in large numbers. The obvious abundance of sizeable stones mean the hardy warriors won't run out of ammunition quickly and their very light attire means that they can quickly retire before an enemy assault. However if they are caught by enemy infantry it won't be long before they break and flee. A wise commander will keep these skirmishers supported at all times.
The lower classes of Busae society are unable to afford the large shields and spears of the infantry and thus many of them are obliged to make war with bows and arrows. The near east has a fine archery tradition and the Busae are no exception to that. These soldiers are able to rain a deadly volley onto the enemy with excellent accuracy. As long as they are supported by heavy infantry these troops will be able to cause extensive damage to the enemy lines and throw them into disarray.
The Arizanti clan
The Arizanti clan are the noblest of all those in Media and the leading families share a common link through this heritage. They can afford far greater armaments and amour than their lower class counter parts. As such they wear a corselet of Iron scales painted gold and far more colourful garments to boot. But their lavish appearance is at a great contrast to their military skill. As Iranian aristocrats their abilities with the bow and spear are tested every day in training and hunting on the plains of Media. Their skill with the bow in particular is exceedingly impressive and can match even the honour guard of the Persians; to this end they don't carry bulky shields. In close combat they are hampered by a lack of shield but their heavy armour means they can take a good beating before needing support troops.
The cavalry of the Arizanti are the flower of the Median military. They ride the most meticulously bred Nisean steeds in all of Iran and can afford the finest equipment. On top of their excellent armament their extensive experience and training in cavalry tactics make them incredibly formidable warriors. These soldiers represent the finest evolution of the Iranian fighting art. They can be committed to charge with their spears at critical formations of enemy cavalry or in devastating flanking manoeuvers.
The Median King Astyages
Historical Research - Rez
Texts - Rez
Graphics - Vikrant1987 (main units), Professor420 (Median King), Halie Satanus (Fixing up broken units)
Coding - Nero666
Special thanks to Professor420 and Halie Satanus who took time out of their schedule to help us out!
And of course a massive thank you to all the fans who keep us working hard with your helpful comments and praise!