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History of Military Prowess

The Warriors of Greece is a Living History Reenactment Group honoring all of Greece’s courageous warriors throughout time but concentrating mainly on the era of the Greco-Persian War around the 5th century B.C.

The phenomenal record of Greek military prowess from ancient times until now is unquestioned.  But how does one account for the uniquely lethal warmaking skills of the Greeks?  How did a relatively isolated people of less than two million in the southern Balkans change the character of civilization in the ancient Mediterranean, in the process founding the principles of later Western warfare itself?

  The Spartans often proudly boasted that no Spartan woman had ever had to endure the humiliation and horror of a plundering, pillaging foe or witness the destructive, rampaging smoke and fires of a conquering army.  After defeating the Persians in 479 B.C. Greece would remain free from foreign invasion for over three centuries.  When the Romans finally arrived on the scene their triumphant legions owed much of their battle success to the hallowed Greek approach to warfare which they tried to emulate.  Greek armor designs were copied by other nations, weapons systems like Greek fire & ballistics were technologically light years ahead of their time.  Greek tactics and techniques were vastly superior to anything the ancient world had to offer as evidenced by the fact that hundreds of thousands of Persians were slaughtered during the Battles of Marathon, Thermopylae, Salamis and Plataea compared to only a few hundred Greeks killed. 

The brilliant Greek commander Alexander the Great, the world’s youngest and only undefeated warrior conquered wealthy Persia, the largest and most powerful empire on earth destroying its enormous armies and killing millions of its soldiers while losing less than a thousand Greeks doing so. 
When any of the world’s warring nations whether they were Persians, Carthaginians, Egyptians, Romans or any others looked for military guidance there was usually a Greek willing to offer his society’s martial expertise for a price.  Most of the greatest gladiators fighting in Rome’s famed coliseum and elsewhere were Greek including the most famous gladiator of all, Spartacus who would eventually lead an army of gladiators against Rome bring her armies to their knees for years and terrifying her citizens.  Greek mercenaries hired by nations in need of superior warriors almost always made up the best troops of that country’s army.

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire to the Vandals, Goths and other barbarians, the Eastern Roman Empire (known as the Greek or Byzantine Empire) lasted over a thousand years longer.  Eventually mighty Constantinople, capital of the Empire, alone, outnumbered, completely surrounded, running out of food, water, ammunition, medical supplies and reinforcements and cut off from help from the rest of Christendom finally succumbed to the overwhelming, numerically superior onslaught of the massive invading hordes of brutish muslim ottoman turkish interlopers.  After a heroically ferocious last stand which cost the marauding intruders dearly in men and material for every inch of ground, even the courageous Emperor Constantine himself though swarmed under a hail of boorish, murderous louts never surrendered.  Fighting bravely to the end Emperor Constantine being the noble warrior he was and in defense of his beloved people continued swinging his great battle sword with devastating effect bathed in the blood of dead muslim turkish trespassers as the greatest city in the world fell on one of history's darkest days – May 29, 1453.  As the Gateway to Europe from the East, the Greeks continued fighting the occupying Turkish forces for 400 years, all the while enduring horrific atrocities to the Greek civilian population but never surrendering.  The Greeks mastered the art of guerilla warfare and instilled terror in the hearts of the frustrated Turks who could not control the Greek people and because of this the Turks were not able to continue on with their plans to conquer the rest of Europe.  Finally in the Revolutionary War of Greek Independence, Greece was the first of the many suffering Christian nations to shatter the chains of muslim Turkish oppression and free themselves from the bonds of Ottoman slavery.  Once again Greece was the defender of Europe and Western Civilization. 

During World War II Greece was the last remaining European country on the continent left standing in the fight against the Axis Powers of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.  The proud, fiercely independent Greeks put up such strong resistance that the entire world took notice and watched in awe as tiny Greece held out against all odds.  The Greek resistance to the Nazis is now universally recognized as the turning point of World War II and the reason for the eventual Nazi defeat. 

After World War II the first battles of the Cold War took place in Greece.  When the Soviet Union was plunging much of Europe behind an Iron Curtain of Communism the Greeks once again led the way in the fight for freedom.  During the terribly costly Greek Civil War from 1946-1949 which pitted brother against brother Greek Freedom Fighters defeated Communism and once again kept Greece free.

During the Korean War Greece provided much needed troops to the UN's war effort.  A highly decorated Greek brigade was well known for its prowess in battle and it was common knowledge that if the Greeks were on your flank you knew that side was safe.  The men of that unit were only allowed to grow a moustache if they had killed an enemy in hand-to-hand combat and yet almost every member of that brigade wore moustaches attesting to their bravery and skill at arms.

These few examples on this page and far too many more to mention attest to the extraordinary combat effectiveness of the Greeks at war over the centuries.  To learn more about individual battles click on the links in the menu above.  Zito Hellas!

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