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Philip's Reorganization of the Macedonian Army

The situation in Macedonia was grave in 359 B.C. when the current Macedonian king, Perdiccas, and 4,000 Macedonian troops were slaughtered1 in battle with the Illyrians, hostile neighbors from the north of Macedonia. In this moment of crisis, Philip persuaded the aristocrats to recognize him as king in place of his infant nephew, for whom he was now serving as regent after the loss of the previous king in the field. Philip then rallied the army by teaching the infantrymen an unstoppable new tactic2. Macedonian troops carried thrusting spears fourteen feet long, which they had to hold with two hands. Philip drilled his men to handle these heavy weapons in a phalanx formation, whose front line bristled like a lethal porcupine with outstretched spears. With the cavalry of aristocrats deployed as a strike force to soften up the enemy and protect the infantry's flanks, Philip's reorganized army promptly routed Macedonia's attackers and suppressed local rivals to the new king3.

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