Alexander's Thessalian Cavalry
This paper examines the organization, numbers and tactics of the Thessalian cavalry unit in the army of Alexander the Great. It is argued that already Philip II recognized the importance of Thessaly as a recruiting ground for heavy (noble) cavalry with regard to his planned invasion of Asia, and that it was partly for this reason that Philip closely integrated Thessaly in the Argead imperial system, cultivating personal relations with the Thessalian noble families also as a counterweight to the power of the traditional Macedonian noble cavalry, the hetairoi (Companions). Alexander inherited these arrangements. The Thessalians on their part joined Alexander’s expedition more enthusiastically than other Greeks because of these pre-existing bonds with the Macedonian royal family and because the promise of honor and booty agreed with the heroic mentality of the Thessalian aristocracy.
(c) 2011 Rolf Strootman, Utrecht University, History and Art history, Faculty Member
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