The Assyrian Cavalry’s Rise to Prominence, Part 1

The Assyrian Cavalry’s Rise to Prominence, Part 1

Extensive investigation is required when writing an historical novel and we devoted countless hours striving to make our narration of the events taking place in The Black Angel of the Lord as accurate as possible. To save the story from becoming a history lesson, large portions of historical details had to be omitted from the final draft of the book. Too much information can also cause a drifting away from the story line and no one wants that. However, we think our readers might find some of the investigation most interesting so we incorporated some of that research into informative blogs. Assyrian dominated what we now call the Middle East during much of the 8th and 7th centuries B.C.E. One of the most important factors in their success was their understanding of how to maintain a superior cavalry. Such capabilities are comparable to the U.S.A. supremacy over the skies today. Around 708 B.C.E., the Assyrians found themselves in a situation where their cavalry’s superiority was seriously challenged. The king of Babylonia, Merodach-baladan, was exiled due to his revolt against Assyrian control. Still, he continued his rebellious behavior from exile, rebutting Assyrian authority and demanding that his country should be second to no other. The hostility between the two nations escalated and led to war. Sargon II, King of Assyria, called for a council meeting with his military leaders. He selected his son, Prince Sennacherib, and his son’s high ranking officer companion, Holofernes, over all other military officers to march the Assyrian army into Babylonia and stamp out all civil unrest by whatever means necessary. Not every general at the meeting approved of the king’s decision; nevertheless, they supported his choice. King Sargon’s motivation in selecting Sennacherib and Holofernes to lead the army was to provide his favorite son an opportunity to gain the recognition needed for a future king, with a trusted and highly skilled new leader of military men at his side. While the Assyrian army confidently prepared for war with Babylonia, the self-proclaimed Babylonian king, Merodach-baladan attempted to unite the Babylonian states against Assyria, but failed. He was at a huge disadvantage primarily because forty percent of the combined Babylonian states called for neutrality with Assyria. Merodach-baladan knew a strong cavalry could dictate the outcome of a battle and, through a valiant effort of negotiation, he was able to persuade the neutral states to relinquish their cavalry riders for a handsome payment. The neutral states left the decision to the horsemen: ride with Merodach-baladan for pay, or stay neutral. Overwhelmingly, the decision was to join the exiled king.  Merodach-baladan, now convinced that he had the upper hand with his newly-rebuilt cavalry called ‘the men of iron,’ eagerly...

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