While fighting the Gallic tribes to assert control over northern Italy, the Roman Republic becomes distracted to the power that Carthage begins amassing in Spain. Until the legendary Carthaginian General, Hannibal Barca, storms onto the scene to ignite the Second Punic War. In 218 BC, leading his army in an incredible march to ultimately burst through the Alps and invade Italy, before delivering a stinging defeat upon the Romans at the Battle of Ticinus. Where the young Scipio would lay witness Hannibal’s terrifying tactical genius, yet bravely charge into the battle to save his father’s life.
In this episode we begin exploring the awe-inspiring lifetime of Scipio Africanus (236 – 183 BC). One of the greatest military commanders of antiquity, who guided the Roman Republic out from its darkest moment. In the Second Punic War, leading brilliant campaigns, winning scintillating battle victories to propel Rome as the unrivalled power of the Mediterranean. Starting our story by digging into Rome’s tumultuous history up to Scipio’s youth, alongside the culture and virtues that influenced his understanding of the world and intense expectations to add to the legacy of his great patrician house.
Joined by Elliot Gates from the Anthology of Heroes podcast, we reach the conclusion of our story on Leonidas I. Under the shadow of the Achaemenid Persian Empire’s enormous second invasion of Greece, we explore the strategy and actions of the Spartan King leading to the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC. Going deep into this violently primal clash, ending in a heroic last stand for Leonidas, his 300 Spartans and allies. That, from the moment they fell, transported their sacrifice and legacy into the realm of legend, with Leonidas as the iconic standard by which all Spartan Kings were measured.
Joined by Elliot Gates from the Anthology of Heroes podcast, we dive into the life of Leonidas I. The Spartan King who led one of the most incredible last stands in history at the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC. Exploring Sparta’s development into a severe and militaristic society, possessing the finest warriors of ancient Greece, so utterly dedicated to the Spartan state above all. Including the brutal training Leonidas endured as a youth and the events leading up to his crowning. Coinciding with a time of a grave threat, as the mighty Achaemenid Persian Empire launched its first invasion of Greece.
In the series finale following the life of Judah Maccabee “The Hammer”, Gil Kidron joins me to discuss the Maccabean Revolt broadening from a religious conflict into a war for independence. With Judah reshaping his guerrilla force into a veritable Hebrew field army, daring to take on the superior armies of the Seleucid Empire in pitched battle. Initially meeting with a grave setback, followed by Judah’s greatest battlefield victory. The prelude to his death in a heroic last stand that would inspire the revolt to continue beyond his lifetime, eventually achieving the dream of Judean independence in 140 BC.
Joined by Gil Kidron from A Podcast of Biblical Proportions, we continue with the incredible story of Judah Maccabee “The Hammer” and the early years of the Maccabean Revolt. Initially, a small rebel band, driven by religious zeal, bringing civil war to Judea. But with Judah assuming its leadership early on and transforming them into a fierce guerrilla force. Unleashing devastating ambushes within the Judean wild-lands to win a series of astounding battle victories over the Seleucid armies through 166 – 164 BC. Unexpected successes, greatly expanding the size of the rebellion, but also its ambitions.
Gil Kidron from A Podcast of Biblical Proportions joins me to bring you the incredible story of Judah Maccabee “The Hammer”. A Hebrew priest, turned guerrilla warlord, who would win spectacular battlefield victories in an unexpectedly fierce rebellion against the mighty Seleucid Empire during the 160s BC called the Maccabean Revolt. A conflict with origins laying in bitter Judean factionalism, between those embracing Hellenism versus ardent Hebrew traditionalists. Smoldering resentment that erupted into bloody civil violence due to the meddling of the erratic Seleucid King Antiochus IV.
In the series finale, with Nader Shah poised to continue the dominant run of his Afsharid Iranian Empire, a failed assassination marks the tipping point for his complete mental unravelling. As Nader maliciously lashes out at all around him while pillaging his people to fuel an incessant pace of warfare. Igniting rebellions throughout his realms that he stomps out with excessive brutality and the unhinged Shah heaping more atrocities upon the Iranian populace. Leading to his assassination in 1747, leaving behind a disaffected, divided and economically ruined empire, plunged into a state of anarchy.
Having just secured the Iranian crown, Nader Shah begins disrupting the religious bedrock of his nation, while draining its resources to feed his fearsome military machine. Crushing all internal unrest and recapturing the last of Iran’s lost domains, before looking abroad. Winning a series of dazzling battlefield victories to overwhelm the Mughal Empire and then smash the Khanates of Central Asia in 1740. Bringing Nader to the apex of his power as an unstoppable King of Kings, but under the darkening shadow of his worsening mental health, hinting at dire future consequences for his reign.
Recently named as Regent of the Iranian Empire, Nader sets out on the war path to reclaim Iran’s lost domains, only to be handed a devastating defeat by the Ottomans. A dire setback that threatens to cast him into oblivion, forcing Nader to show a tremendous force of will to quickly rebuild his broken army. Before returning to the field to avenge the loss, crush his domestic rivals and then deliver an incredible victory at the Battle of Yeghevard. Bringing the Ottoman Empire to its knees and raising Nader’s authority to unassailable heights, to finally assume the throne as the Shah of Iran in 1736.
Newly rooted as savior of the Safavid Iranian Empire and source of power behind the throne of Shah Tahmasp, Nader begins seeding the notion that his ascendancy is Divinely influenced. Strengthened by his spectacular lightening campaign waged against the mighty Ottoman Empire, before racing across Persia to stamp out a dangerous rebellion. This however, giving Tahmasp the breathing space to attempt emerging out from Nader’s shadow, in launching a foolhardy expedition that ends in disaster. A humiliation that Nader leverages, in 1732, to break the Safavid God-ordained stranglehold on power.
Despite breathing life in the bid to restore Shah Tahmasp II to the throne in Persia, Nader is soon caught up in the petty intrigues of his unstable King. Resulting in Nader launching a military coup to firmly take control of the Safavid army. Modernizing and reshaping it into a ferociously effective force. Then embarking on campaign in 1729, displaying sheer strategic and tactical military brilliance to win a series of astonishing victories to dislodge the Afghan Hotaks from their occupation of Iran. Returning Tahmasp to his rightful place, but in service to Nader, the Shah in all but name.
Under the shadow of a crumbling Safavid Iranian Empire, torn apart by rebellion, foreign heavyweights and destined to fall to the Afghan Hotak dynasty in 1722, Nader is pulled into the chaotic maelstrom. Emerging from the rubble as a rogue warlord within Khorasan until a renegade Safavid prince (Tahmasp II) appears in the region, looking to regain the empire. Nader entering his service and quickly proving himself indispensable to the Iranian Shah in exile, headlined by Nader’s engineering of a stunning victory over the Abdali Afghans at the Battle of Sangan in 1727.
In this episode we begin uncovering the lifetime of Nader Shah (1688 - 1747), that last of the Great Asiatic Military Conquerors. A brilliant battlefield commander who reversed the fortunes of 18th century Iran, salvaging it from the teeth of internal and external foes. Beginning as the unlikely story of an insignificant and poverty stricken youth, hardened by his chaotic environment. Struggling to survive within the crumbling Safavid Iranian Empire, its foundation now rotting due to a series of lethargic monarchs, disconnected to the harsh realities and changing headwinds of the wider world.
In this episode, Professor Strauss, a leading expert on ancient military history and best selling author, joins the podcast as a featured guest. We explore the attributes and motivations that define those that reach the upper echelons as the most effective military leaders in antiquity. Before going deeper into one of the greatest, Octavian, the future Augustus and first Roman Emperor. Discussing his spectacular rise in the face of a formidable opposing duo, Mark Antony and Cleopatra. All of whom are featured in his newest book “The War that Made the Roman Empire: Antony, Cleopatra and Octavian at Actium.”
In the series finale exploring the lifetime and dazzling achievements of King Philip II of Macedon, Philip leads his unstoppable army to win scintillating victories against both familiar and new Balkan foes. Before stumbling heavily, failed sieges on Greek cities that reignites war with the Athenians, under whom a formidable Greek coalition is formed. The prelude to Philip’s crowning achievement, his astonishing victory at the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BCE, asserting Macedon as the unquestioned master of Greece. Followed by his death and colossal legacy, having ushered in a new era in antiquity.
With Thermopylae blocked to his passage, Philip II of Macedon leads his forces back north, asserting dominance over friend and foe alike. Triggering the powerful Chalcidian League to flip their allegiance to Athens and attempt a daring invasion into Macedon while Philip is abroad. Who unleashes a clever diversion and an overwhelming counterattack to decisively end the threat, firmly entrenching Macedon as a major power in Greece. A status galvanized in 346 BCE through masterful deception and diplomatic brilliance, used to seize Thermopylae with Greece now wide open to the Macedonian King.
Continuing a spectacular run of military successes, King Philip II of Macedon leads his army to erase Methone off the map, the last Athenian city near Macedonia’s domains. Allowing Philip to focus on the expansion of his kingdom, including a campaign into Greece that abruptly ends with a humbling defeat against Phocis. Forcing Philip to retreat and leverage the strength of the gods, returning to win a stunning victory at the Battle of Crocus Field in 352 BCE. Gaining control of northern Greece, but prevented from moving southwards, finding the Athenians blocking his path at Thermopylae.
Showing glimpses of bold aggression under its newly named King, Philip II, Macedon’s neighbours grow increasingly unsettled. Anticipating a backlash yet unwilling to compromise on remaking his kingdom into a dominant power, Philip begins securing alliances, while struggling under the weight of a Macedonian economy still in tatters, unable to finance the expansion of his menacing but relatively small army. Causing Philip to embark on an audacious path, pouncing on the city of Amphipolis and its lucrative gold mines and plunging Macedon into war with the mighty, but distracted, Athenians.
Having guided Macedon from the edge of collapse, Philip II establishes an uneasy peace with the surrounding nations of classical Greece and the Balkans. Using this short reprieve to continue the reinvention of the Macedonian army and begin repairing the internal divides that had long plagued his kingdom. Then striking back out against his enemies in his 2nd year in power. In 358 BCE, first taking on the Paeonians, followed by a defining test against King Bardylis of the Dardanians and Illyrians. Raising alarm all around and setting the stage for a monumental clash with the mighty Athenians.
While held hostage in the city of Thebes, Philip II of Macedon is afforded a top tier military education, profoundly impacting the astute young man. This happening as the Kingdom of Macedon wrestles with internal court intrigues and murder, before facing a renewed wave of foreign incursions that ends in disaster and death of the reigning king. Having returned to his homeland, Philip is elected as the interim leader in 359 BCE, using diplomatic guile and cunning to save the realm from the edge of collapse while buying valuable time to begin molding the Macedonian army into an unrivalled force.
We begin exploring the path blazed by Philip II of Macedon (382 – 336 BCE). A military and diplomatic genius who ushered in the Rise of Macedon, bringing Greece to its knees and that laid the foundation for the conquest of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In order to appreciate how truly unbelievable this ascendancy was, we backtrack deep into the tumultuous history of the Kingdom of Macedon leading up to Philip’s youth, to understand the depths of his starting point, a nation teetering on collapse, scarred with internal disunity and ever threatened by powerful neighbours.
In the final episode covering the Danish Viking King Sweyn Forkbeard, we follow along as he relentlessly wages his war of attrition against Aethelred "the Unready" of England. A 10 year marathon, steadily draining their economic and military power, sapping their morale and will to put up a viable resistance. Culminating in a full scale invasion in July 1013, that by the end of that year, would have him ascend to the throne as the first Viking King of England. We then review Forkbeard's legacy, who ushered in one of the most monumental achievements of the Viking Age during its twilight years.
Peace has taken hold in Scandinavia. However, not all people of Nordic ancestry are free from the threat of violence, as the English King Aethelred “the Unready” unleashes a genocidal scourge upon those settled on his lands in November 1002, known as the St. Brice’s Day Massacre. We explore the events leading to this day of infamy, before following the terrifying retribution led by the Danish Viking King Sweyn Forkbeard, who will take something far more valuable than plunder from England...a strategy to bring the nation to its knees.
After having wrestled the Danish crown from his father's cold grasp in 986, Sweyn Forkbeard goes off raiding in England in the pursuit of riches to finance his future endeavors, leaving behind numerous enemies that collude to usurp his kingdom while he is abroad. Left in a desperate situation, the winds of fortune soon change for Forkbeard, fueling an unbelievable resurgence that sees him regain Denmark, add Norway to his domains and establish himself as the preeminent monarch in all of Scandinavia.
We begin exploring the path forged by Sweyn Forkbeard. The son of King Harald Bluetooth, growing up in a time of great instability during the late 10th century. Newly unified, Denmark remains marked with factionalism and external influences, including the onset of conversion to Christianity. Underneath all of this, a deeply strained relationship with his father that eventually boils over into civil war, seeing Forkbeard pry the Danish Kingdom from Bluetooth's hands.
Viriathus (Viriato), the newly raised general of the Lusitanian resistance, unleashes the War of Fire (147-139 BCE) upon the Roman Republic. Convincing other Hispanian tribes to rise up in defiance and using Guerrilla style tactics to achieve dazzling victories, making Lusitania the graveyard of numerous Legions. The Romans finally resort to treachery to end the threat, but are unable to extinguish his legacy that continues to inspire people to this day.
In this episode, we get introduced to the incredible story of Viriathus (Viriato). A lowly barbarian shepherd who, in 147 BCE, appears virtually out of nowhere to lead the Lusitanian tribe in a fierce resistance of the Roman Republic conquests in Hispania (modern day Portugal and Spain), employing imaginative tactics to achieve spectacular results against Rome's mighty Legions.
In this final episode covering Amir Timur (Tamerlane), we review his twilight years where he inflicts a series of stinging defeats against the Mameluke Sultanate. Before facing off against the surging Ottoman Empire for supremacy of the region, reaching the pinnacle of his power and the greatest extend of the Timurid Empire. We then look at his broader legacy and the lasting impacts that this warlord made on the world.
In retribution to the attack on the heart of the Timurid Empire, Amir Timur (Tamerlane) launches a series of vicious campaigns against one of his greatest adversaries. Tokhtamysh, Khan of the Golden Horde, his one time protégé, now turned bitter enemy. Before embarking into India, seeking the untold riches of Delhi, where further atrocities also await.
Now the undisputed ruler in Transoxiana, Timur looks abroad, conquering to enhance the size and prestige of the Timurid Empire. Where we also see the emergence of a notable dark side, resorting to brutal violence and horrific acts to submit nations to his will.
Through a series of epic battles, Timur and Husayn rid Transoxiana of its Moghulistan Khanate overlords, before facing off against one another in a deadly struggle for control of the region.
Introduction and the early days of Timur, detailing the political and social environment before his birth, and his transition from rising star to on the run fugitive.