MAC-25 Thessalian Cavalry



The Army of the Kingdom of Macedon was among the greatest military forces of the ancient world. The Thessalians are frequently referred to as the best cavalry units in the Macedonian army. This is thought to be because they were raised from the aristocracy of Thessaly, and were the finest horsemen in the Greek world.

The Vanguard squadron was the Pharsalian ile, which formed Parmenio’s personal bodyguard on the left wing at Gaugamela. It was the Thessalians counterpart to the Royal squadron of the Companions.
The Thessalians were identified by their distinctive national cloak, which was identifiable by the two points hanging down both in front and behind the wearer. These cloak ends used to bellow out behind the galloping horseman and gave the cloak its Greek nickname of “Thessalian Wings.” Otherwise the details of dress are similar to the Companions.

Its organization and weaponry were similar to the Companion cavalry, though the earlier Thessalian way of fighting emphasized the use of javelins. The Thessalian cavalry was famed for its innovative use of rhomboid formations, said to have been developed by the Tagos (head of the Thessalian league) Jason of Pherae. This formation was very efficient for manoeuvering, as it allowed the squadron to change direction at speed while still retaining cohesion.

This tactic was later developed by Philip of Macedonia into the Macedonian Wedge formation.
The numbers given for Alexander’s invasion of the Persian Empire included 1,800 such men. They were typically entrusted with the defensive role of guarding the left flank from enemy cavalry, allowing the decisive attack to be launched on the right. They often faced tremendous opposition when in this role. At Issus and Gaugamela, the Thessalians withstood the attack of Persian cavalry forces, though greatly outnumbered.

The Thessalian heavy cavalry accompanied Alexander during the first half of his Asian campaign and continued to be employed by the Macedonians as allies until Macedon’s final demise at the hands of the Romans.