Alexander's father, Phillip II, ruled Macedon from 359 to 336 BC. Alexander's accomplishments may not have been achieved if it weren't for his father's military and political efforts. Philip's military work included fortifying the Macedonian army and establishing alliances, which would prove necessary for many of Alexander's conquests. One strength of the Macedonian army was their tactics and formation of the phalanx, which was created by Philip. The Macedonian phalanx had a variety of formations; however, for the most part, it was composed of a sixteen men on a side, with a total of 256 men in each unit. The soldiers were equipped with a sarissa, a thirteen-foot spear. In addition, the formation of the phalanx was able to transform into a line or wedge shape, which would be indicated by flags and trumpet signals. Another strength of the Macedonian army included their cavalry. Alexander divided his cavalry into three sections, light cavalry, companion cavalry, and heavy elite cavalry. The most interesting of the three is the companion cavalry, which consisted of the Macedonian nobility. The companion cavalry was made up of 200 men, who were equipped with a twelve-foot lance called the xyston. At the time, no army was as well organized or as technologically advanced. With Alexander's devotion and valor, he would lead these armies and create the largest empire of his time.
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