The battle of Leuctra, fought between the forces of Sparta and the Boeotian League led by Thebes, in early July 371 BC, altered forever the map of ancient Greek history. In a single afternoon, what the ancient Greeks of the early 4th century BC had come to understand as their world order was swept way. The Theban tactics at Leuctra included the revolutionary ideas of deployment in depth and of a refused flank, where part of a formation was drawn up in echelon. These tactics and their implementation indelibly changed the history of western warfare and are still studied and put into practice to this day. The deep Theban phalanx at Leuctra also led directly to the revolutionary and victorious Macedonian phalanx of King Philip and his (more famous) son, Alexander. Who was behind these innovations and the course of the battle itself are, however, tricky subjects to get to grips with.
This episode was written by Murray Dahm,
Murray Dahm is an ancient and medieval military historian from New Zealand, living in Australia. He has written more than 100 articles on various aspects of ancient and medieval military history, as well as other historical topics from all periods (ranging from the history of opera to the runic alphabet and recipients of the Victoria Cross). He is the author of COMBAT 40: Macedonian Phalangite vs Persian Warrior: Alexander confronts the Achaemenids, 334-331 BC from Osprey publishing. He is a regular on the Ancient Warfare Podcast.